|Starbreaker Starbreaker||Frontiers Records|
Starbreaker is the big album of the moment and is a major talking point amongst fans. But does it deliver? Was there ever any doubt? This album delivers big time and will serve to further enhance the reputations of the two main identities behind it – TNT/Westworld vocalist Tony Harnell and Last Tribe guitarist/musician Magnus Karlsson.|
Having Tony Harnell on vocals will always bring comparisons to TNT, but Starbreaker is a different beast altogether and is only comparably to TNT in that both bands share the same vocalist.
The comparisons to Last Tribe are more recognizable, as this album falls into the musical sphere of that band - which is European hard rock and melodic metal.
Yes, this album is that heavy and without any doubt, Tony Harnell handles the pressure placed upon him with ease and sings for his life on what is easily the heaviest album of his career.
The crossover potential of this release is almost limitless, as you have the melodic rock fanbase Harnell brings to the project, added to the hard rock and European metal lovers of Last Tribe, who themselves are a band on the rise. Then there is the whole Masterplan fanbase, who could easily be converted to Starbreaker fans, due to the quality and intense power of the material.
Karlsson is a master of his genre and provides some ear-crunching riffs throughout the album. His placement of keyboards is perfect and the added texture of those help add to the character of the album.
Although written and recorded across two continents and three studios, this album sounds and flows very cohesively. Harnell and Karlsson prove to be an inspired pairing, coming up with some great songs together.
Fabrizio Grossi is the producer and bass player for this project, but this is not to be confused with the projects where his team of players stamps their sound across the whole album. Fabrizio's role was to take the music from Karlsson and mix it with the vocals of Harnell, while adding his own parts. No mean feat, but considering the obstacles, he has done a fine job.
The album may not be a perfect 100 as far as production, but it's extremely good and the energy of the songs is what captures your attention.
Extra credit for the intense delivery of the songs should go to drummer John Macaluso, who is all over this album. His double-time bombardment might be a little over the top at times, but it really drives this material home. The sound of the drums here – that snappy tin drum sound – is a further element that makes the album even more appealing to followers of current melodic metal.
Track By Track:
The album opens with an interesting short intro before guitars and the rhythm section burst through, with Harnell in full brazing glory appearing shortly after. The drums snap along at a rapid rate and the guitars of Karlsson are sonically deafening! Die For You is hard, heavy and right in your face, but the chorus is still glorious and after a verse of verbal intensity, features Harnell back in full melodic mode.
Lies is another cracking tune, but features the reverse of the opening track – a melodic verse that leads into an angst filled screamer of a chorus! I love the instrumentation of this track – a haunting vibe, with great keyboard fill, which leads into that powerful chorus, where the tempo is at least doubled to match the guitar onslaught.
Break My Bones begins with a crunch and a flurry of riffs before a wonderful melodic verse with a very smooth chorus floats over some well placed drum fills. The song then does a 180 spin into another ear crashingly heavy chorus, followed by some great guitar soloing and another big chorus.
Crushed is another high energy hard rocker, with another softer passage during the verse, this time broken in two by some vocal effects before a relatively straight forward chorus breaks through.
Days Of Confusion starts with a short, yet beautiful piano passage before the guitars blow it away! But it quickly returns, with a very soft and melodic vocal from Tony. Once again the chorus is far heavier, but the mood and melancholy of the song is carried through. Tony's powerful vocals through this track are a major highlight.
Transparent follows a similar pattern of heavy into, lighter verse and hard hitting chorus – and what a chorus – this is one of my favourite hooks of the album, which isn't far from a TNT style melody.
Light At The End Of The World features more piano, again laced with heavy guitar, but like Transparent, this track has a more melodic heart, with another great chorus.
Cradle To The Grave sees a slight change in style and format – this is a ultra heavy rocker with a modern twist and some seriously menacing guitar riffs. More powerful vocals and a solid chorus continue the enjoyment of the album.
Underneath A Falling Sky features another piano into before heading into a progressive rhythm, with swirling keyboards and changing tempos. A crunching riff and a moody vocal lead directly into a big melodic hard rock chorus, which acts as a direct contrast the rest of the song. The effect is perfect and the song is an album highlight.
Turn It Off features another strong chorus, but the tempo and rhythm of the song is very close to what has passed before.
Dragonfly is a hard hitting instrumental piece, featuring plenty of guitar flurries, but I'm looking for a vocal to kick in.
Save Yourself closes out the album with a rush. This is another high intensity track, with a pounding rhythm, fast tempo and urgent vocal. The chorus is classic Tony Harnell and is yet another strong contributor to the overall album quality.
The album is a winner in every regard and will be rated very highly by all those that purchase it. Both Harnell and Karlsson have done themselves and their fans proud and I look forward to future collaborations between the pair. Without a doubt, the very fine Starbreaker debut is just the beginning of a franchise. And I should also mention the fabulous artwork - eye catching and extremely well done, giving extra value to the package as a whole.
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