I’m not sure if The Stryder took their band name from the video game Stryder, which was one of my favorites growing up, but I’m going to assume they did. Like that game, which involved running around with a scythe like weapon-thing (and I’m showing off my geekness here, apparently), The Stryder kicks ass. I expected this album, from Equal Vision, to be more in-your-face hardcore with an emphasis on the hard. Instead, this band puts their emphasis on the rock.
I’m reminded from the start of Boy Sets Fire, not so much in sounding like them but rather in the style. The band mixes elements of hardcore, punk, and straight-ahead rock all together, and it works remarkably well. The songs go from driving and fast (but never too crazy – the band does refrain from screaming) to more melodic rock to a more punk style. It’s a mix that’s probably been done before a million times, but likely not as clean and all-out rocking as these guys are doing it.
I knew from the very beginning that I was going to like this album. “Sucker” starts with some of the most kicking rock I’ve heard in a while, blistering but with a softer and gentler chorus, reminding me of Boy Sets Fire only a bit less melodic in the vocal area. “Intoxicated” is a bit more punk-focused, with a style that reminds me a bit of Samiam in parts and even poppier in parts, a really interesting dichotomy in one song. This is one of my favorites. “11:11” is especially punk-rock, and I think it only fails because it is the most consistent of one style, although I love the chorus. “Breathe” uses several different vocals and some rocking guitar to really roll along. And “Sexy Black Train” actually has a more melodic, emo thing going on here, which is still fitting, and “King of Coronas” continues that style, going from softer and mellow to a harsher, Lazycain-style sound. There’s something weird going on on “New York Woman,” some weird Sublime rock thing, but the song improves after the silly lyrics at the beginning (“feed your puuuuppy”). “Got You Last” uses some great drum work and ups the intensity a bit, combining that punk and rock feel to great effect. And the closer, “Key of Crime,” actually uses piano and gets all quiet and mellow and deep. It does, perhaps, go on a bit too long (around 8 minutes with very little variation).
The guys in The Stryder are all around 18 or 19, and although they’ve been playing for more than six years, that immaturity is audible. The band could get a bit tighter and more consistent in styles. But their rock couldn’t get much better. These songs are catchy and fast and fun and really rocking, and I’ve been listening to it almost non-stop. As far as debuts go, this one is a doozy.