1. When the Devil Comes Down – 03:55
2. Haunted – 05:16
3. Unbroken – 03:58
4. Take Me – 03:49
5. Straight Through the Heart – 05:11
Year of release: 2019
Nikki Stringfield is a young American guitarist, whom the public
associate mainly with the band The Iron Maidens (popular female Iron
Maiden cover band), in which she has been permanently performing since
2015. Her debut EP has just been released, containing five original
Starting the whole “When the Devil Comes Down” has something of The Pretty Reckless from around “Going To Hell”. It’s a slow, marching track, in which the drums are additionally boosted with clap-like reverbs, and loops also appear. In the interview that I conducted before the release of this material, Nikki admitted to me that the songs that will be on this album are divided into two groups: those in which more emphasis is placed on vocals and those in which the main role is played by guitars. “When the Devil Comes Down” is definitely in the first group. The instrumental layer is strongly condensed, and Nikki’s singing clearly comes to the fore.
Immediately, however, we have a jump to the second category: “Haunted” begins with a powerful wall of guitars, which smoothly changes into a nostalgic arpeggio, embellished with an equally poignant lyrical layer. The guitars are dense again, but here the individual tracks are more noticeable, I mean after the first listening it can be picked up what is stronger in which channel.
Speeding riff attacks with “Unbroken”, in my opinion the best song in this set. There is a lot of rhythmic picking. The slower fragments are again majestic, which makes the sound appear to me as a sophisticated hybrid of Slayer from around “World Painted Blood” and Within Temptation from “Hydra” regions. An interesting combination, isn’t it?
“Take Me” is another song in which the artist exposed her vocals the most. It is a catchy song quite in pop-rock style, but unlike “When the Devil Comes Down” there are no loops or reverb imposed on the drums, and also the guitars are sharper. Solid power ballad.
In the last song on the list, “Straight Through the Heart,” Nikki gives way to her Maiden fantasies. In fact, only the artist’s singing reminds us of who we are dealing with here. If Bruce Dickinson sang it, you could mistakenly consider this song as a recoil from the “Brave New World” or any other of the subsequent albums era, from the period with three guitars in the lineup.
Stringfield’s lyrics are typically “female”. You can hear that while writing lyrics for her songs, the artist was inspired primarily by her own experience. The instrumental layer reveals Nikki’s ambitions and her desire to strive for perfection. As I mentioned, rhythm guitars are dense and legible, while the solos are very diverse. Once they impress with virtuosity (“Unbroken”), and another time with balanced minimalism (“When the Devil Comes Down”, “Take Me”).
You can hear that the artist has put a lot of work into her EP and carefully thought out its shape. She proposed music that is accessible but at the same time sharp (except for promoting the whole “When the Devil Comes Down”), which could be liked by both Iron Maiden maniacs and fans of e.g. early Taylor Swift. I would love to listen to these songs live, I hope that I will be able to hear them soon.