Airforce – Strike Hard (Pitch Black Records)

Airforce – Strike Hard (Pitch Black Records)

Solid, dependable metal from the UK...

Brit metallers Airforce have been extant in one form or another since 1987, though Strike Hard, their first album for Cypriot label Pitch Black Records, is only their second full-length outing in that third-of-a-century period. The current lineup features Portuguese vocalist Flávio Lino, who our Lusitanian readers may recognise from his appearance on the Portuguese version of TV show The Voice singing Judas Priest’s Painkiller; and of course the band also features Doug Sampson, the pre-Clive Burr drummer for Iron Maiden. Now, if those aren’t two cast-iron metal credentials I don’t know what are…

So, with all this in mind what does Strike Hard actually sound like? Overall, you’d have to say the band remain rooted to their 1987 inception rather than having any real affinity to metal of the modern day, with Maiden being the most obvious touchstone. Guitarist Chop Taylor occasionally visits the melodic solo style of Adrian Smith, whilst Lino has obviously been recruited for his ability to bellow in best air raid siren fashion. (As an aside, he actually sounds better on the darker, progressive metal of Wargames, where he adds a Geoff Tate-styled lower register to his armoury).

Opening track Fight lays the band’s cards on the table straight up, delivering a solid series of tried n’true metal tropes that let the listener know just where they are coming from. Son of the Damned and The Reaper are similarly impressive (with the latter featuring guest vocals from former vocalist Ivan Giannini), but the best material is loaded into the front end of the album, with the second half tailing away slightly before the band rallies with a rousing version of the old Alex Harvey chestnut Faith Healer to round out the album, aided and abetted by Sensational Alex Harvey Band guitarist Zal Cleminson.

Maiden fans will be further inflamed by the presence of Paul Di’Anno on Don’t Look In Her Eyes, which features a nice solo from Taylor, but at the end of the day it’s hard to see this album appealing to anyone with tastes that extend beyond the Irons and the NWoBHM in general. That’s not to say that Airforce aren’t any good – they clearly are able to hold their own in their chosen arena – but as purveyors of a very clearly defined metal niche they’ve limited their chances of reaching out to ears unfaithful to the Eddie creed. Still, with that said this is an enjoyable enough romp around the classic metal traps, and worth a listen if old fashioned is your thing…

Strike Hard releases on September 4th.

Ferry Templeton

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