Shadow Warrior – Cyberblade
Taking notes from PAT BENETAR and THE RUNAWAYS, SHADOW WARRIOR is a traditional metal band that recreates all-female punk and rock acts so well, if I didn’t know better, they were from the late 70s or early 80s. This concept album, Cyberblade is also straight out of a Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episode, taking a cheesy tale about robot samurais from another planet and making it rock. For a debut album, it shows a lot of talent and promise.
The opening song rocks in with a dial like the beginning of QUEENS OF THE STONE AGE’s album Songs For The Deaf. Unlike Queens, Shadow Warriors set their stage as a radio station to tune into rather than the start of a surreal car ride. Rather, they begin with a news report about a steel samurai which will return at the close of the album. Right now, we’re treated to some great guitar noodling, sweeps and melodies as the albums launches in with a heavy ballad about space samurai. The opening number is catchy with some soaring hooks through the chorus.
The vocal melody in the second track, “Demolition Hammer” is delicious. Starting off the chorus with a fifth was the perfect choice to capture the listener’s attention, especially after grittier verses. The heavy drums in “Iron Hawk Rising” give the track distinction from the previous ones, landing it more in a garage rock song. The smooth vocals in the verses display great command of melody throughout, with some great choices for notation to keep the song captivating from start to finish. The key change in the final chorus blew me away, especially with the backup vocals.
The ambient opening of a sword being forged in “Demon’s Sword” is a noteworthy touch. The song is lower than their previous tracks and the vocals are clearer and more operatic than they were on previous tracks. Shadow Warrior really brings the power metal and sword & sorcery elements to this track in a magnificent way. It’s also definitive proof the singer has chops. The way her belt morphs into a screech was jarring, fitting into the darker tone of the song, and leading into a well-executed guitar solo. The fade at the end further cements it as one of my favorite tracks.
The thematic elements are also strong on the next track. “Headless Rider” also does an excellent job introducing the thematic elements of the song. Beginning with a revving engine, the song launches into a fast, speeding track that doesn’t let up. The way the song blends the pounding drums and rapid guitars is done to great effect, really bolstering the feeling like you’re speeding down a highway towards adventure.
The closing track, “Flight of the Steel Samurai”, begins slowly and melodically. When it picks up, it has the same feeling as a theme song, narrating the adventures of samurais in space. In bookend fashion, the album closes with a dial tuning into different broadcasts in different languages. Ultimately, this concept album was well-executed and shows some real talent. No wonder demo copies sold out so fast! This is a pretty great album and I’ll definitely be on the lookout for more from this band in the future!