Review: Airforce “Strike Hard” [Pitch Black Records]

Review: Airforce “Strike Hard” [Pitch Black Records]

- in Reviews

British Heavy Metal band Airforce exists since the middle 80s in one form or another, yet the band’s discography is extremely short. Seems like musicians want to fix it and release their new album called Strike Hard.

In 1986 guitarist Chop Pitman and bassist Tony Hatton wanted to found a band and looked for a drummer; they met Doug Sampson, the very first Iron Maiden‘s drummer and that’s how Airforce was born. During next years there were several vocalists that changed each other and in the middle 90s musicians part ways. Chop takes the name “Airforce” with him. In 2015 label Watchout Records contacted with Airforce and asked for the song for the Origins Of Iron compilation with the presence of all previous Iron Maiden members. Next year Airforce releases a compilation album Judgement Day, which gained fans’ interest to the band. Chop and Tony resuscitate the band and in 2018 two EP were released. And now, in 2020 the time has come for the longplay.

The band was really lucky to find Flavio Lino, the vocalist of Portuguese Iron Maiden tribute band Iron Beast, especially after numerous changes of singers. Flavio’s vocal is really great, powerful and reminds young Bruce Dickinson a lot. So it’s not a surprise that Airforce chose him as a frontman – indeed it’s a finding for the band.

Strike Hard is a classic British Heavy Metal, of course. The first thing you notice is a lack of second guitar. Chop copes good with the task and Doug Sampson with Tony Hatton make up a great rhythm section but in some moments it’ll be really great to hear double guitar attack.

The opening song “Fight” gives clearly shows the listener what to expect from the album: mid pace, smooth rhythm section and guitar riff, which, no doubts, is 100% NWOBHM. The next “Die For You” slows the pace a little bit more and it makes the song to sound darker.

“Sons Of The Damned” has a catchy main melody and changes the motive sharply. “I Feel Your Pain” and “Band Of Brothers” are melodic songs too but I can’t say their main melodies are as catchy as “Son Of The Damned” one.

Vision Divine‘s vocalist Ivan Gianini and Paul diAnno can be also heard in this album. Together with Flavio they create quite interesting duos, where vocalists interrelate and highlight each other greatly.

But the biggest problem of this album, as for me, is a lack of dynamics in songs. Most of them are mid-paced tracks or sometimes even closer to slow pace and it cause an impression of monotony. Some dynamics appears only at fifth track “Finest Hour”, which sounds much better against the other songs. Again, in my opinion, if some songs were played a little bit faster, it will sound much better. Nevertheless, I think that musicians knew what they do very well.

And the Strike Hard ends with “Faith Healer”, Sensational Alex Harvey Band‘s cover with original S.A.H.B. guitarist Zal Cleminson. Frankly speaking, I’ve never heard about this band so I listened to original song to make my opinion about the cover. Well, Airforce kept the spirit of old school but at the same time they gave the song more or less modern sound.

Airforce strictly adhered to the genre’s canons and seems like they won’t step even a bit far from them; of course it’s their right as artists and songwriters, I don’t say it’s bad in no case. So, as a part of NWOBHM Strike Hard is a neat and quite smooth album with some interesting moments. At the same time it can be too old schooled but I guess it will hardly be a problem for classic Heavy Metal fans.

Strike Hard will be released on September, 4th via Pitch Black Records.

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