STRIKER - Play To Win
November 3, 2018, a year ago
Wow! Wasn’t expecting this! Play To Win is the third album in three years from the Canadian metallers and I wasn’t sure what to expect after the lackluster self-titled effort from 2017. The music needled here is going to poke some fans the wrong way, but it’s a breath of fresh air for the band as Striker fully embraces their hard rock side and it almost feels like a long lost Dokken album.
There is definitely some angst and anger present as a portion of the songs seem to deal with family/friends that didn’t think they could make it as a metal band or told them to live for their dreams and it all ties up with the album title basically telling the listener to go for what you want and put 100% in it.
Dan Cleary has always been one of the strongest points of the band, but PTW is his showcase and establishes him as one of the best singers from the past decade. All that emotion is backed into the synth-backed ballad “Standing Alone” and the (hold your breath for this one) closing “Hands Of Time”, which feels like a shout back to all those who were against them and would serve as the perfect soundtrack to an ‘80s movie like St. Elmo’s Fire. These songs are either going to be loved or hated by the fans, but they work remarkably well and shows the band isn’t afraid of taking chances.
Heading to the rockers, lead single “Heart Of Lies” possesses a cool vibe and is sleek opener while the title track showcases a riff Whitesnake would be proud of. “On The Run” holds one of their best choruses and especially the outro latches onto a strong vocal part. “Summoner” is the heaviest of the cuts and is thrashy in places, but almost feels out of place compared to the rest of the platter, especially placed between the before mentioned “Standing Alone” and the mid-tempo drive of “Heavy Is The Heart”.
Play To Win will catch some long lost listeners by surprise, but the songwriting on Play To Win is Striker at their most impressive and I personally wouldn’t mind if they continued in this direction and keep taking chances with their sound. This is by far the surprise of the year and will be a top album of 2018 candidate (and also would have been perfect for 1988).