Legends of Human Spirit, the debut album by American four piece in symphonic power metal ShadowStrike is many things, and it is them all at once. First and foremost, it is overwhelming at every turn it takes. Every piece of it is blasted in full vibrancy and ultra saturation, and it’s equal part delightful and tiring. They released an EP titled Infinite Power in 2014, which at 38 minutes runtime was longer than what some bands call a full length album. For their first album, ShadowStrike have turned everything king sized. The songs are all long, a few of them too long, and the production makes sure no man gets left behind as every element is cranked to ‘epic’. The album hits off on a high note with opener Heart for Yearning Journey which encapsulates all things great with the album entire and the power metal genre as a whole; fast paced melodics, mighty rhythms, glorious soloing and epic vocals to boot. Really great way to kick off, but unfortunately, the album does take some hits later on.
Inspiration is obviously taken in heaps from European bands, with Dragonforce being the obvious comparison. Fortunately, ShadowStrike tends to not overdo it quite like Dragonforce, but still, the overwhelming blast of speedy, furious guitars and burning keyboard blasts are unmistakable. The epic proportions also lend some from the Italian school, landing the trappings somewhere around a comfortably homey European style that will sit well with most fans of traditional, epic power metal. Vocalist Matt Krais makes an interesting show. His voice is reminiscent of somewhere in between Olaf Hayer (ex- Symphonity, ex- Luca Turilli) and Ashley Edison (Power Quest, Dendera), and he soars with the epic winds, commanding the flow of the tunes, having all sorts of fun along the way. The musicianship too is just plain fun, with the guitars, care of Sean Walls and vocalist Krais, always bursting with energy; magic twists and solos abounding at every turn.
A few songs in, the biggest problem with the album soon becomes apparent. It’s just too much; too long, too everything. The megalicious blasts of keyboard solos and flying guitar sweeps are sure cool as heck, and at no part of the album will you be left bored, but the impressions are too many and the speedy gloriousness sorely needs something to break it off and create a sense of breath. They might have tried some of that with Ascension being a narrated intro for Fly With Me, and Where Sleeping Gods Wait getting slowly built up with a building keyboard intro, but it’s just not enough and the barrage of speedy, burning frets and frantic, soaring melodic soloing just overflows. Thing is, the album really doesn’t need to be ten tracks and over an hour long; cutting out one or two filler songs would be beneficial to the flow of the album. The high points should be more than enough to carry the album for the casual power metal fan, but ultimately it does lack depth and just becomes too much. As a debut album Legends of Human Spirit is a fine effort, but it’s going to take more than “make it epic!” to keep going.
Standout tracks: Heart for Yearning Journey, The Fiery Seas and Icy Winds