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Airforce – Strike Hard Award winner

Airforce
Strike Hard
by Rachel Montgomery at 29 August 2020, 4:01 PM

Normally, I hate bands that sound exactly like another one. Usually, if I hear that discount Bruce Dickinson voice on my speakers with the 80s power metal cheese, I groan. However, AIRFORCE was a surprising exception. Mainly because vocalist Flavio Linmo can sing. And the band can play. By the way, since their drummer was the original drummer for IRON MAIDEN, and they collaborated with the band’s very first singer, they have no excuse not to hit that iconic sound out of the park!

The opening song is straightforward, presenting a simple, speeding 80s style sound that lets you know what you’re getting for the rest of the album. Normally, I complain about bands that try to sound like IRON MAIDEN. However, when the vocalist is a talented dead-ringer for Bruce Dickinson and stays in his range, I don’t mind. “Fight” has a simple melody with a hard, steady snare behind some pretty decent vocals. The singer is clear, coherent, and has a smooth timbre which is impressive.

The second track, “Die For You,” takes on its own vocal characteristics, but continues the clear, operatic style from the first track. The refrain is especially smooth and shows great vocal control. I enjoyed the main riff for “Son Of The Damned.” It’s very lyrical. Plus, the melody change in the middle of the song shows great character. The song also throws in some surprises, like a belt at the end of the guitar solo. The vocals were subdued before this point.

The songs are characterized well through the vocals, but not necessarily through the melody. The balladic nature of “The Reaper” is great and makes the listener pay attention. However, at this point, the riffs throughout the album run into each other. They’re all mid-tempo, soaring melodies without too much differentiation. The biggest differences I notice are in the vocals, with smooth, subtle low notes in the previous songs, and higher, clear belts in this one.

We begin to see some melody shifts when they adopt musical painting. The narrative beginning of “Finest Hour” is a great setup for the rolling high-pitched riff that follows it. I like how one guitar keeps a staccato and contrasts with the smoother, rolling riff in the back. Of all the tracks, vocally, this is the most similar to Dickinson.  The galloping melody in “Don’t Look In Her Eyes” is captivating, even after the two tone changes.

War Games” begins like the album’s designated ballad but comes in with some biting guitars at the beginning. Nonetheless, it keeps a slow, steady tone. The vocals are rich here, utilizing their lower register to bring us some sweet notes.

The album leaves us with “Faith Healer.” The closing track promises us everything from the intro: ambiance, hard, clear riffs, and to leave us with a satisfying showstopper. They have a few bells and whistles, mainly some whirlwind guitar riffs thrown in. It keeps the guitars going as long as it can before fizzling out in a low, demonic laugh. All things considered, it’s a good way to end an album.

Overall, the melodies remind me of JUDAS PRIEST and the vocals definitely remind me of Dickinson. While I wouldn’t give this band points for originality, they’re solid enough that I’d tell IRON MAIDEN fans to go check them out.

Songwriting: 9
Production: 10
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9

4 Star Rating

Tracklist:
1. Finest Hour
2. The Reaper
3. Son Of The Damned
4. The War Inside
5. Band Of Brothers
6. Fight
7. Feel Your Pain
8. War Games
9. Don’t Look In Her Eyes
10. Die For You
11. Faith Healer
Lineup:
Flavio Lino – Vocals
Chop Pitman – Guitars
Tony Hatton – Bass
Doug Sampson – Drums
Record Label: Pitch Black Records
     


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