I don’t know much about Shokker. But I do know they kick ass. Actually, I know a little more than that. A bit of research tells me that Shokker are a Chicago-based four-piece heavy metal band formed in 2011. In their Facebook page bio, they describe their music as a blend of classic and modern heavy metal, and tout their sound as “a kick in the teeth and a foot up your ass.” Don’t be misled by the album title: III is actually Shokker’s first full-length album, not their third (although they previously released a 3-song EP in 2015, with all three EP songs being reproduced here).
A key ingredient to Shokker’s sound is the confident, compelling voice of Rachi “Raxx” Quinn. She’s a classic metal wailer of the highest order, reminding me of the likes of Nina Osegueda from A Sound of Thunder, Deborah Levine from Lady Beast, or Priya Panda from Diemonds. Musically, Shokker are very much in the traditional heavy metal mold, with just a touch of hard rock and more modern metal sounds to keep things out of full-blown retro territory. III should appeal to fans of everyone from Lady Beast to early Hessler, from Satan’s Hallow to Warlock and Zed Yago. This is sturdy, anthemic stuff, with old-school riffs, memorable choruses, and songs typically hovering in the four-minute range. Guitarist Casey Tremont’s fine performance raises eyebrows with his high-powered six-string pyrotechnics. And other than the unnecessary ballad “Hello,” every song on this 10-track, 40-minute album delivers the goods. The real standout in my mind is track 5, “Adrenaline,” which was also featured on the EP, a ripping, fast-paced number sporting a magnificent riff and an urgent, take-no-prisoners vocal performance from Quinn, snarling out lyrics like, “I go down like a shot of glass / A kick in the teeth and a foot up your ass.” Hah, now I know where the bio picked up that phrase. Anyway, the important thing is that “Adrenaline” rules, and I’ve become seriously addicted to that song, to the point where I obsessively hit the repeat button on my CD player to listen to it over and over again. Another highlight is “Turn Around and Run,” featuring another stellar, emotional vocal performance over a classy riff, a shredding solo, and a quiet bridge that seamlessly showcases the band’s dynamics. The album as a whole is quite strong and well-suited for rocking out with a beer on a Friday night. For a self-released affair, III predictably suffers from bare-bones cover art and layout (no booklet, lyrics, etc.), but the music is what matters and on that score Shokker have done a great job here.
The lyrics to the title track on III explore the premise that “everything must come in threes.” God, I hope that’s true in this case, because if it is, then that means we’re guaranteed to get at least two more full-length albums from Shokker. They’re onto something special here, folks. If classy, well-executed, no-frills, female-fronted traditional metal is your thing, then III belongs on your shopping list right away. Don’t let this one slip beneath your radar because of its self-released status and low-budget cover artwork. Shokker deserve your time. Fingers crossed I’ll get to see them live someday. These energetic songs should translate great in a loud, sweaty, rock’n’roll club.
~ Review by Kit Ekman ~