Date: March 26th, 2021
Go for constructive criticism.
First of all, a photo of a lead guitarist, however “artistic” it may be, is a really poor choice for a front cover. It was a poor choice for Yngwie, Joe and Steve just as it is a poor choice for Hrvoje.
Second of all, calling your album “Rapid Strike” with little to no actual rapid moments on it is simply misleading. Just for that one fact, I expected some rough and tumbling thrash metal head banger. None of that is to be found on the record. It is mostly in mid-tempo, not counting a couple of acoustic ballads.
Which brings me to the drums. As the man is simply listed in the promo sheet as “session drummer” (not even a name, believe it or not), it is no wonder he lacked the enthusiasm to make his playing at least a bit more versatile and playful. And it would certainly bring a whole lot to this album.
Next up, the vocalist. Bexie James has a nicely colored voice, but the girl just sounds as if she doesn’t quite belong on this record. At least in the overly hard rock / heavy metal parts of it. She delivers the goods in the mentioned ballads very well. However, in tracks where it is needed for her to show the nasty side of her vocals, she just doesn’t go the distance. Seeing how she is an English girl in a Croatian band, it is likely the lack of rehearsals as a band that didn’t allow for the better fit.
By the way, these things are not likely to be fixed with frequent use of vocal effects.
The bright, shining stars of the album are, you’ll never guess, the guitars. “Rapid Strike” does bring along a barrage of mean riffs. Solos are, expectedly, omnipresent and keep a high level of musicianship and care not to overdo with virtuosity and show-offs. However, the problem is that, especially in genre such as this hard rocking heavy metal, the guitars need a much stronger following to have their magic fully exploited.
Unfortunately, the one track that comes close to something like that is the closing “Shout It Out”. It has what it takes to make your blood boil and even keep spinning in your mind long after it’s been over.
Another thing that could have helped “Rapid Strike” reach its target is the production. It should have been much more dynamic to give out more of an adrenaline rush to the listener. This overly flat lined sound wastes a lot of energy this band certainly possesses.
Now, on a more subjective note, the thematic span this record presents is huge. From sad love songs, through topics of brotherhood, loyalty and betrayal, all the way to horror and the supernatural. I mean, the album starts off with “Just a Lie”, to be followed by “Night of the Unholy” and “Sweet Terror” and then you get a sweet ballad called “Sailing On”. Quite a range, you must admit.
When you add to all of the above the fact that it took Rapid Strike a full decade to come up with this, their second album, you get a real puzzle. Their self-titled album is far from being unbearable, unlistenable or just pure garbage. However, in an attempt to “reach out and touch the sky”, Rapid Strike, at least for now, is looking to similar fate as Icarus.