Review: Strÿkenine – Strÿkenine 1
Pride & Joy Music (July 16th 2021)
Reviewer: Jason Hopper
Gathering of Kings, Temple Balls, SunStrike, Wildness. If after reading those band names a smile has come across your face, then have I got another band for you. Strykenine, hailing from Sweden, is the next export that will make foreigners scratch their heads and say, “Is there something in the water there?” Many bands from this country know how to perform great sounding melodic hard rock, like it’s a master class offered at their local university.
The album opens with ‘Once And For All’, a moody, groovy mid-tempo rocker that makes me instantly think of Hardline’s Dr. Love. While it’s certainly reminiscent, it’s just different enough to stand on its own and is a great opener for the album. Vocalist Jacob Petäjämaa lets loose with some awesome screams on this track, and I do love a good scream.
From here we go into different tracks that allow the members of the band to shine. ‘All About Us’ is a four on the floor rocker where guitarists Andi Sarandopoulos and Alex Zackrisson get to trade off leads during the solo and both tear it up. ‘Toxic’ is where bassist Tony Bakirciouglu shines, with his opening groove reminiscent of early Skid Row, as does the keyboardists who punctuate with stark keys at all the right moments.
Let’s talk about those keyboards. While everyone brings their “A” game to this album, the MVPs of the album are keyboardists Patrik Törnblom and Passi Oksman. Some of my favorite parts of this album come from their playing. The two of them split the tracks, so it’s hard to tell if one stands out over the other or if both do a stellar job, but their contributions should not be understated. They help take songs like ‘Fool For Love’ and ‘Toxic’ and push them over the edge of “Good” into “Great” territory.
Two tracks fall into the mid-tempo/ballad category and of those, ‘All I Need’ is the better track. It has a stronger chorus and I love how the song rhythm shifts to double time to ride out the end of the tune.
Some slight criticisms about the album. While I think singer Jacob Petäjämaa does a great job, he sometimes overextends himself out of his vocal range. The result leads to him going slightly off-key, especially when he screams. He just needs to respect the range he has and reign it in slightly. The other critique is the band does little to stand out from their contemporaries. They sound great and perform well, but as stated in the beginning of this review, you know what you’re getting with this band and there are no surprises.
Some people may not have any issues with these critiques. It’s certainly not a dealbreaker for me. This album feels like a band just coming into their own. While this is a strong release, I feel this is just the beginning for them. As they gel as a band, I think they’re going to come up with some remarkable stuff. This album shows tremendous promise and should not be missed by those who love European melodic rock.