Struck By Lightning has been busy since being crowned one of Alive's Bands to Watch in January.


Struck By Lightning

Struck By Lightning has been busy since being crowned one of Alive's Bands to Watch in January.

They played the Scion Rock Fest alongside genre greats like Cannibal Corpse. They subbed in Thomas Owens for departed bassist John Peters. And now they're releasing about 500 copies of their stunning debut, "Serpents," on gatefold double vinyl through frontman Greg Lahm's new Soulless Creature label.

I'm a sucker for a sweet-looking record, so I was immediately smitten with my black-splattered golden discs. (Another 147 of this kind exist, plus 99 clear copies and 249 in plain old black.)

For non-audiophiles, amazing packaging makes a big-ticket vinyl purchase like this a lot more worthwhile - $25, sheesh - and Ryan Patterson's grim, mysterious imagery looks mighty badass blown up to LP size.

Granted, I already knew I'd like what I heard when the needle dropped. "Serpents" is a trim, focused and melodic set that never sacrifices brutality. It hits with the heft of a hardcore band but the dexterity of thrash, with Lahm barking out visions of destruction in grotesque annunciation.

It's a universal sort of metal record, a genre partisan-pleaser that even non-metalheads can shred to.


Ghost Shirt

A marathon seven-hour showcase Saturday at Rumba doubles as a release party for "The Hot 17," a new Columbus music book assembled by photographer Meghan Ralston, and "Domestique," Ghost Shirt's full-length debut.

Branden Barnett's band has been churning out one single per week this year at donewaiting.com, though at 21 tracks it seems they've fallen off pace. I thought "Domestique" was already finished when the singles project kicked off, but several of those tracks appear on this nine-song Anyway Records offering.

As always, Sam Kim's fiddle runs gleeful laps around baroque power-pop tunes a la Ra Ra Riot. Songs that could have been maudlin are played with bar-band punch. They ought to experiment with maudlin a bit - the crunch sometimes overwhelms the delicate music underneath.

Barnett postures as a Midwestern Elvis Costello, harmonizing with Kim at every turn. Amidst the uncharacteristic synth deluge of "Sleep," they duet; she takes the lead on delightful closing ballad "Jackhammer."

He remains one of the sharpest songwriters in town, and her talents can't be understated. Still, I'm left wishing they wouldn't have spread themselves so thin with the singles project and devoted their full attention to making a decent debut magnificent.