FIRST STRIKE from Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA. If you belong to those that really worship the US Ryche clones of the 90s, you sure are aware of this band. Also if you belong to the private CD hunters out there, then you are sure familiar of their same titled debut with the green snake on the cover, aren’t you?
The band delivered an excellent mixture of Melodic Heavy and Power Metal with some Progressive touches, following the early QUEENSRYCHE vibe. The double guitars and the amazing vocals were the band’s absolute trademarks, crafting their unique and individual sound.
Steven DeBlanc (Guitar), Charles Ortiz (Drums), John Fenol (Guitar), Vince Garcia (Vocals) and Bonzo Amin (Bass), this was the line up that created the FIRST STRIKE magic. And when I use the word “magic”, I really mean it. This type of inspired, powerful, first class Metal is pure magic to my ears.
The Ryche influence is very noticeable in here. In tracks like “I will Not Fall” (in my opinion the album’s best track), “Believe In a Dream” (a little melodic anthem for sure), “Call To Glory” (simply a Heavy / Prog Power masterpiece) and of course “Sail Away” which is one of the most beautiful Metal ballads released on the whole 90s US Ryche-following universe (the one we worship).
Ok, ok, early Ryche was a big influence for the band. But there is much more to discover and listen in here. First of all I like the way they handle their Classic Heavy Metal influences, offering solid riffing, noticeable breaks and of course some amazing lead guitar parts.
Of course I must point that one of the strongest feature sin the works of this band is the excellent vocal job that has been done. Amazing performance and amazing vocal melodies…
Their debut “First Strike” album was released back in 1995. 1000 CDs and 500 tapes were made. All copies were gone very quickly, so the album found an important place on the want lists of collectors, around the world.
The band gave various shows to promote their debut and they had started working on a second album that was never finished due to their split. Six originals that were supposed to be included in their second release, were recorded live straight from the soundboard, on a show at Gee Willigan’s in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA in 1995.This material is presented for the very first time on this re-issue, giving you the chance to discover for yourself the high levels that this amazing band would have reached if they hadn’t split. Let’s take a look on those songs:
“Never” will take you by storm. First class Prog / Power Metal with some Heavy touches here and there. Amazing vocal melodies and an excellent enigmatic main riff.
“Dawn Of Winter” could be the band’s magnum opus if that second album would have been completed. This is an absolute masterpiece, identifying the term “lyrical Prog / Power Metal”, the Metal we have born to serve, the one that runs inside our DNA! This song is so beautiful that I simply can not find words to describe it!
Are you in for some more amazing complex riffing that tops the melody’s mountains? So go for the “Rainbow’s End” song. This is also an amazing one. Same goes for the eponymous “First Strike” tune, it will take you by storm.
“Magic Mirror” follows and it also includes dome amazing guitar work, double complex riffing, clean main verses, with enough room for those amazing vocal melodies, the song also features a fantastic prog bridge, and an astonishing chorus.
“Hideaway” is the last bonus track: A fast piece of Prog / Power Metal, featuring some more Ryche-inspired complex meanwhile straight in your face riffing.
Well those six tracks present a seriously evolved sound compared to the studio works of the debut. The band was getting even deeper into the Prog / Power aesthetic, expanding each and every song’s part in a very special way. More melodies, more amazing complex riffing, more great lead parts and an overall result that is extremely catchy and into the point, that you are simple unable to stop listening to it!
I hope that some band members would read this, cause I have a message to send: Please reunite for a while and record this second album. Such masterpieces deserve a complete release.
Fortunately the sound quality of those live recordings is excellent and we can all hear those masterpieces on their current form, loud and clear.
Speaking about the sound quality I must add that everything on the re-issue is remastered from scratch and presented in the best possible sound quality. Never before seen photos, complete bio and lyrics are included, on a release that does real justice to the FIRST STRIKE legacy.
The CD will be out on 500 hand numbered copies.
If you worship early QUEENSRYCHE, CRIMSON GLORY, RIOT and HEIR APPARENT, this one is for you.
You can order the CD from here.