The extreme, old-school aggression of Stälker’s full-length debut Shadow of the Sword starts out our lengthy venture through metal’s best of the year, just to let you rock addicts out there know that this list won’t be afraid of bringing the underground, heavy sh*t that you lot love to lap up in spades!
With its gritty riffs and production calling back to the primal proto-thrash of Venom and Angel Witch, Shadow of the Sword is a time capsule to the NWOBHM at its very darkest.
Shadow of the Sword is a disc that recaptures lightning in a bottle by emulating the murky sound quality and shoddy vocal mixing of heavy music’s UK roots. And in any other context, such things would spell the kiss of death for a record, but with Stälker’s music too both strongly rooted in but also expanding upon the work of early Slayer and Demon, it all just works to a tee in resurrecting rock’s most lauded era.
The way opener “Total Annihilation” and single “Shocked to Death” rattle with their ceaseless, Kerry King-like riffage is the perfect companion to the lengthy “Path of Destruction”, its slow, harmonic start channelling Iron Maiden at its most anthemic.
For those looking for a timeless experience, this album is not that. But what it is, is really solid metal perfect for the genre’s masses of old-school die-hards, as well as a blistering way to start out this huge list.