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Jack Starr's Burning Star - Defiance (CD)

Jack Starr's Burning Star
Defiance
by Dimitris Kontogeorgakos at 12 October 2009, 1:17 PM

Every reference to the name of Jack Starr is connected to the guitarist's first days with VIRGIN STEEL. Jack Starr has been a part to the US band's story by contributing to the first two albums (and one EP). From the day he left the VIRGIN STEEL ranks, Jack took part in several bands like GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME and PHANTOM LORD but without building a long back catalogue. This album is Jack Starr's latest attempt under a band name that is already known from the mid 80s. BURNING STARR has released four full length album and Defiance is their fifth attempt hitting the stores two decades after the last one.
As a logical sequent from the 20 years gap BURNING STARR comprises a different lineup with Todd Michael Hall in the vocals and Ned Meloni who is Jack's longtime partner during the GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME and PHANTOM LORD days. Last but not least piece of info is about the band's record deal that is signed with MANOWAR's Magic Circle Music label that puts Joey De Maio behind the console.
Considering the Magic Circle contract and the name of De Maio in the sound production it is pretty clear that the Power Metal elements are expected to be found everywhere. Well, not in the Euro Power Metal vein but in the 'primitive' one, featuring galloping grooves, usually, mid to high pitched vocals and sing-along guitar riffs. This is in a few choice phrases what Defiance is all about. This also can be described as traditional Heavy Metal with strong doses of Power Metal in the mould of the early VIRGIN STEEL and MANOWAR from the Battle Hymns era. Hall proves to be a strong singer and can deliver the high pitches as well as the low ones and express the epic feeling present in songs like Once And Future King or the MANOWAR-like Defiance. Jack lays down some really good and catchy -most of the times- leads and solos with a guitar sound that breathes the 80s air. De Maio has done his part during the recording and production part adding a MANOWAR feeling in the rhythm section and especially in the drums. Here lies my complaint about Defiance; the rhythm section follows the aforementioned band's style that kind of spoils the nice vintage atmosphere. Especially, the drums are too much in MANOWAR's vein and taking into account the missing name on the drummer's spot in the lineup made me think of a drum machine (I hope that I am totally wrong on this). After all, the drums sound too 'plastic' for my ears…
Nevertheless, the album is very good featuring a heart US 80s sound in Inquisitor (HELSTAR came to mind with this), The King Must Die and the ton-heavy The Beast Inside with Dee Snider-sounding vocals. The cover version on RAINBOW's Catch The Rainbow is simply a nice treat but generally adds nothing to the original version apart from the comment that Todd is a very good singer. The album closes with the live recorded at the 2008 edition of 'Magic Circle' festival that originally comes from BURNING STARR second album No Turning Back.
So, if you are into the old school Power Metal from the US then this album is perfect for you. You have to overcome the De Maio thingie of course…

3 Star Rating

Tracklist:
Ancient Ones
Once And Future King
Defiance
Day Of The Reaper
Indian Nation
Black Cloud Of Thanos
The King Must Die
Inquisitor
Catch The Rainbow
The Beast Inside
Evil Never Sleeps (live at Magic Circle festival 2008)
Lineup:
Jack Starr  - Guitars
Todd Michael Hall - Vocals
Ned Meloni - Bass
Record Label: Magic Circle Music
     


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