BEST CLASSIC METAL OF THE YEAR : LIGHTNING STRIKES – Lightning Strikes (2016)
Near the end of the year, it’s time to recap about the best 2016 releases, by category.
For 0dayrox, the Best Classic Metal album of the year is LIGHTNING STRIKES self-titled “Lightning Strikes”. There’s other really good albums in this category, but we have chosen “Lightning Strikes” because it’s a lot of fun. Old-fashioned fun.
Coming from California and rocking like it’s 1985 here we have LIGHTNING STRIKES and their self-titled debut. And if the cover artwork and band’s logo looks a little outdated and truly ’80s it’s because both are how they dream it to be for their full length debut… thirty years ago.
That’s when Lightning Strikes, created by drummer Karpis Maksudian, started and folded, releasing only one single on seven inch vinyl that preceded the band’s 1987 breakup. Some thirty years on, Mr Maksudian has picked up the pieces and fresurrected Lightning Strikes which includes another founding member Cat Tate (Snew, ex Red Again) on bass, Rob Math (Leatherwolf) on guitar and Nando Fernandes (Hanger) at the microphone.
Lightning Strikes sounds really ’80s, some kind of Dio-meets-Tony Martin-era Black Sabbath. And they are darn good at it.
Not only that, they even brought Tony Martin onboard to provide lead vocals on two cuts; ‘301 A.D. (Sins of Our Father)’ and ‘Death Valley’, two of the best cuts on the record.
Additionally, the band also recruited former Dream Theater (and current Joe Bonamassa) keyboardist Derek Sherinian to fill the gaps between soaring vocals, overdriven guitars, and ripping solos.
While the opener ‘Victim’ along with its successor ‘Can’t Cross the Rainbow’ borrow from the perfections of DIO, ‘Death Valley’ (with the help of Tony Martin) reeks of late-’80s Sabbath. Martin’s contribution to the song works so well you might find yourself questioning the validity of time travel.
Martin shines as well on ‘301 A.D. (Sins of Our Father)’, but also I have to mention Nando Fernandes’ performance on the rest of the album, this guy really can sing.
But perhaps the highlight of the album is terrific guitarist Rob Math, one of the driving forces behind Lightning Strikes. He lays down some slick and soaring guitar lines and solos, definitely impressive.
Sherinian’s keyboards pop in and out of songs with great finesse, dropping a keyboard solo on ‘301 A.D.’, some ballady piano strokes on ‘Fear’, and organs a-plenty on ‘Bermuda Triangle’ and ‘Kamikaze’.
Speaking of ‘Kamikazi’, there’s another guest from Noah (Japanese band Avanchick) who provides his unique pipes to this album curveball. The song mixes his clean vox with gruff ones and unloads a bucketful of timeless riffs. A quite bizarre track, but the originality makes it really special.
Closer ‘We Don’t Rock Alone’ is another highlight, very much in the vein of Dokken & Queensryche early years. Not only does it add the perfect amount of energy and memorability to the album, but it also sports the disc’s best chorus. It’s the kind of track that reminds ancient metalheads everywhere that your best records live in the crates in the basement.
With a clever production by acclaimed producer Roy Z (Judas Priest, Bruce Dickinson) re-capturing the magic sounds of the mid-Eighties, ‘Lightning Strikes’ is pretty killer, especially if you love guitar forward classic metal in the DIO / ’80s Sabbath vein.
With some thirty years in making, my only hope is that this not just a “one-off” gig for Lightning Strikes.
01 – Victim
02 – Can’t Cross the Rainbow
03 – 301 A.D. (Sins of Our Fathers)
04 – Fear
05 – Death Valley
06 – Bermuda Triangle
07 – Kamikaze
08 – Stay With Me
09 – We Don’t Rock Alone
Nando Fernandes – lead vocals
Rob Math – guitar
Cat Tate – bass, vocals
Karpis Maksudian – drums
Derek Sherinian – keyboards
Noah – lead vocals on 7
Tony Martin – lead vocals on 3, 5
BUY IT !