RAIDER – Guardian Of The Fire

RAIDER – Guardian Of The Fire

Sometimes, a cool, tall glass of sweet Kadarka wine and some very good E standard death/thrash metal is all one needs to survive another viral pandemic, while stuck in a flat, in the so called "risk group" at 45, with 7 other people, half of whom are children. For this purpose, the Canadian debut, "Guardian Of Fire", akin to Testament through Megadeth by way of Slayer, more then serves the purpose.

Raider came into being in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ontario, Canada, in 2018, and straightway showed the world their chops with "Urge To Kill" demo. By the time of recording of this, the debut album, they caught the attention of the renowned promoter Jon Asher and his Asher Media Relations, the lineup clarified as Angelo Bonaccorso (vocals), Ira Lehtovaara (guitar), Gabe Rosa (guitar), Brandon Sanders (bass), Kevin Withers (drums). In playing fairly classic hybrid of death (Bolt Thrower, Slayer) and thrash (Testament, Megadeth, Kreator) Raider is not particularly inventive or grounbreaking, but what they lack in creativity they make up for with considerable skills on every band member’s part aided by the excellent, dynamic, selective and punchy production similar to Rick Rubin’s on Slayer albums.

Now, we all know that, though Slayer is (was?) a thrash metal band yet "Reign In Blood" through "Divine Intervention" albums are practically death metal in note and lyric and that these albums inspired a number of death metal bands such as Morbid Angel, and acts such as Deicide or early Sepultura sprung up thanks to these albums. We also know that thrash metal titans Testament flirted with death metal on "Low" through "The Gathering" albums and that there were also deathly elements on Megadeth’s "Rust In Peace" album. Finally, the thrash metal juggernaut Kreator have melded death and thrash seamlessly on the seminal "Pleasure To Kill". It is those gaps between thrash and death that Rider seem to be exploring on "Guardian Of Fire".

While most of the tracks are very good, one in particular, "Infernal Justice" approaches perfection, technical Mercyful Fate-ian Megadeth in frequent transitions, the only track worth every second of its length. Raider is not progressive, per se, but the rest of the tracks aim at progression by experimenting with pace changes or by playing the same riff in different configurations. Next to "Infernal Justice", though to a lesser degree, I would, then, mention "Offering Of Souls", with the notable nod to Death’s "Scream Bloody Gore", and the closer "Destroyer" with riffing similar to Megadeth’s "Headcrusher", but it must be emphasized that the overall, admittedly first class, guitarwork is most reminiscent of the Eric Peterson/Alexander Nathan Skolnick ore for probably the biggest influence on the album.

One significant flaw which won’t let me raise the score higher is the sameness of the material. By the time of the third track, "Endless Vengeance", you already know what to expect until the end and you turned out to be right. While "Endless Vengeance" is the biggest offender in this regard, the following title track is not far behind. Not everything needs to be included in a song but proper editing comes with experience and, after all, Raider is only 2 years old so I will spare them harsher criticism beyond already leveled.

I would encourage you to give this album a spin during your quarantine and to release pent up aggression and disappointment with world leaders regarding recent crisis, but if you’re in a mood for something innovative and groundbreaking best look elsewhere. Meanwhile, let this plant grow to see if it turns out a weed or blossoms into a beautiful flower.