“III” is the debut album by Chicago traditional Heavy Metal group Shokker and was released on May 9th, 2017. Now Shokker have been on a list of newer Chicago bands such as Spillage, Scars Of Armageddon and others that are definitely have chops when it comes to their original sound retrospectively. Finally Shokker have released their full length and it’s time to delve into hopefully a great start for these Chicago mainstays.
1.III-Opening with some really raw sounding chugging guitars into a more old school Heavy Metal beat with some more hard rock feeling , this tune has a really cool groove with Rachl Quinn’s vocals punching through super hard. She is definitely a powerhouse of a vocalist and it shows with this tune. Overall, this is a good opener with a good groove to it all around.
2.Hammerhead- This song has a very Y&T feel to it and is definitely one that I imagine works very well live. This tune also sports one of my favorite choruses on the album as well it really hits you hard and has a good hook to it. Casey Tremont really lets loose on his solo on this song and is a very solid guitarist, I just wish his solo’s were a tad higher in the mix. One of the heaviest tunes on the album.
3.Snake Eyes- This is another good tune in the vein of that early 80’s american metal vibe. It has a good simple straight forward beat to it that almost has a Dio-esque feel to it. The evil sounding background vocals are definitely a nice touch and the chorus is pretty strong as well and retains a more hard rock feel to it. A very straight forward but very fun song.
4.Life & Despair-The vocals on this song are some of my favorite on the album as they really seem very up front and with the infectious and simple hard driving riff it makes for a good song with a timeless sound. The chorus is one of my favorites as well with the shouting backup vocals. However, I do wish they were a bit higher in the mix so they could pop more. Overall, it is a good oldschool heavy metal tune done faithfully.
5.Adrenaline-This tune is probably the fastest on the album and is definitely my favorite for the power it packs. From the very strong vocal deliveries to the very on point guitar soloing, this is a tune that I would show everyone when being introduced to this band. This is definitely a prime example of a song that is made to be played live.
6.Blessed Be-This tune opens with some very shimmery flanged guitars and even though it is a more somber opening than the last few songs, it still has a catch to it that sets it apart from being a ballad. It soon enough kicks into a more Priest-esque riff and is done quite well. Shokker I think would have faired well in the 80’s with the very big hooks that their songs I could just see them turning up on MTV in 82-83. The chorus for this tune is possibly the strongest on the album for me and really hits hard. Overall, this is another song that has a solid structure to it that doesn’t feel monotonous especially this far into the album.
7.Turn Around And Run-That fucking scream that opens this song always gets me going even on my eighth listen, it still catches me by surprise. The song is yet another offering of that Heavy Metal/Hard Rock feel and at this point in the album I’d like to see these guys get to the size of Halestorm or bands like that because I honestly think they pack as much power for that size of an audience, possibly even better. Especially with how solid of an album this is seven songs in, this band is definitely one of the most solid I’ve heard from the Chicago area in recent times.
8.Midnight Sun-This tune has a major Thin Lizzy “Thunder and Lightning” era feel to it from the Sykes feeling riff to the very melodic backup vocals in the chorus that are a very nice touch as well. This is one of those songs that you play over and over just to hear the chorus again and again the band just hits the nail on the head really well with this one.
9.Hello-This song is definitely the most ballad-like track on the album and has a lot more of a melodic tone to it than any other song and is definitely the highlight of the the album vocally as Quinn really gives it all she has. It isn’t a bad tune at all as it does break up the pace a bit and the more raw production does tend to help this song as the guitars seem to pop a bit more during the clean parts. Overall, not a bad tune but it is kind of short for my liking
10.Justified-This is a decent closer as it is one of the more straightforward tunes on the album but does feel a bit lacking as every time I hear it, it just kind of ends. I feel like a bit more time would have made this song just be an epic raging closer. It does end on a weaker note compared to the quality of songs earlier on the album.
Overall, I give the album a good 7.5 out of 10. Shokker definitely managed to create a raw good heavy metal record with some hard rock ideas mix about and it shows in the songs. While the production can be a bit muddy and the band are definitely not reinventing the wheel, the charisma in how these songs are performed on record are more than enough to show that this band has good things to come. Hopefully this record gets around enough for them to branch out further and get people interested. Definitely if you are into that Y&T/Krokus sound or early American metal kind of sound, Pick this one up for sure it is a good time.