Raider
Guardian of the Fire

I have a hoodie in my closet. The thing is nearly two decades old, and it’s probably got more thread from holes and tears I’ve sewn up than it has original stitching. It’s got a few bleach spots, it’s been stretched and worn beyond any hope of elasticity, the original designs on the front and back have faded well beyond any kind of recognition. I could offer it to a buck-naked dude stranded in Antarctica, and I’m not sure he’d take the thing.

But if you took that hoodie away from me, I would hunt you down and hang you with your own intestines.

I’ve never been able to explain it in any kind of quantifiable way, but that hoodie is the most goddamn comfortable thing I’ve ever owned. It’s not just a physical comfort – I feel better wearing it – a feeling of familiarity and joy that, for whatever reason, fits right smack-dab in the middle of my ultimate comfort zone.

Ontario’s Raider is a lot like that broken-ass hoodie: It might not be anything new – but it’s familiar, it’s comfortable, and now that I have it in my life I’ll be very angry if anyone tries to take it away from me.

Guardian of the Fire is the band’s first full length offering, boasting a brand of thrashy death metal with just a hint of black metal venom for a little extra kick that just almost never sounds bad to me. It’s certainly not the most original sound ever conceived; Skeletonwitch, Exmortus and like have all taken us down similar paths before, though Raider maybe delivers a dirtier, Slayer-esque approach to things.

This is no frills metal made for metal fans. “Bound By No Fate” takes about .00003 seconds to get right down to business – immediately hitting you with a bellowing roar from vocalist Angelo Bonaccorso that lets you know exactly what you’re getting into with these guys – lots of riffs, and lots of fun. Guitarists Gabe Rosa and Ira Lehtovaara do a nice job changing up the pace throughout the album – thrashers like “Endless Vengeance” and “Infernal Justice” are balanced out nicely by slow(er) burners like the Pantera-influenced “Offering of Souls.”

No matter what trends come and go, or new, more interesting styles are crafted and evolved, there is always going to be a place for bands like this taking the tried-and-true methods of metal and making something that just feels good and cozy, just like there will always be a place in my closet for my beloved sweatshirt. The day may come where I have to let it go and give it a proper Viking burial, but until then I’ll continue to wear it and love it until the thing just disintegrates. A solid, dependable release worth a listen of two – maybe it’ll end up sticking around in your closet forever, too.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Steve K
March 30th, 2020

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