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Starblind - Darkest Horrors

Darkest Horrors
by Andrew Sifari at 13 May 2014, 9:59 PM

One of the greatest struggles faced by bands, as I have mentioned in some of my other reviews, is that of using inspiration as a template to create a unique musical vision. As someone who plays an instrument myself, I understand very well that this is no easy task. While Swedish Heavy Metal quintet STARBLIND show a good deal of promise on their debut album, “Darkest Horrors”, the band more often sound like IRON MAIDEN copycats than a NWOBHM-inspired act on this release, from the sound of the production to the songs themselves.

This problem isn’t nearly as apparent on the melodic, opening track “Ascendency”, which, aside from the awkward melody around the 0:18 mark, is fairly impressive. Guitarists Björn Rosenblad and J.J show off their electrifying guitar chops, while Mike Stark’s confident, high-pitched vocals compliment the music very well. “Blood in the Night” is a good follow up, with its gritty attitude, gang-shouted chorus and pounding drums, not to mention more guitar lead guitar pyrotechnics. The dual guitar harmonies, a hallmark of the classic Heavy Metal sound, are used to great effect here.

Then we get to “Crystal Tears”, which is where things start to go south slightly. To me, it sounds like the band taking a stab at “Children of the Damned”, but the results aren’t nearly as memorable as the aforementioned IRON MAIDEN classic. The title track has its moments, but it doesn’t really stand out much as a whole. “The Reckoning” is a potent slab of aggressive, yet still melodic Metal, and is one of the better tracks here. However, at the risk of sounding picky, the fact that the first solo sounds like it was lifted right out of something from “Powerslave” doesn’t really help the band’s claim to a unique identity. “Mountains of Madness”, though, does not have this problem, and is another decent if maybe derivative offering with some seriously shredding soloing.

“The Great Hunt” has a very Hard Rock / Proto-Metal feel to it with its crunchy, solid riffs and one of Stark’s best and most varied performances on the album. “I Stand Alone” is decent in much the same way as “Mountains of Madness”, with its memorable chorus and lead melodies, but is not that exciting overall. The band close things out with “Temple of Set”. This is one of the best instances of the band mixing their influences with their own style; it is a predominantly darker, mysterious track with plenty of twists and turns and admirable performances from each band member, concluding the album on a positive note.

I feel like I am being a little tough on STARBLIND, but it is only because they are a talented band that I feel could do better. Their songwriting skills are good, and musically, they can compete with anyone, but it would be nice to hear some more originality from these guys instead of borrowing so heavily from older acts. I would recommend “Darkest Horrors” to NWOBHM die-hards as well as IRON MAIDEN fans; it has its strong points, but overall it’s hardly the kind of stuff that will blow you away.

3 Star Rating

1. Ascendency
2. Blood in the Night
3. Crystal Tears
4. Darkest Horror
5. The Reckoning
6. Mountain of Madness
7. The Great Hunt
8. I Stand Alone
9. Temple of Set
Mike Stark – Vocals
Daniel Tillberg - Bass
Zacke Wikner - Drums
Björn Rosenblad - Guitar
J.J. - Guitar
Record Label: Stormspell Records


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