STARBREAKER – Starbreaker


Frontiers Records
Release Date: July 13, 2005

User Review
0/10 (0 votes)

After several attempts in writing this review, the realization eventually surfaced that it has to come from a rather personal angle after enjoying Tony Harnell’s work with TNT for more than 20 years now, and also the albums cut with Riot’s Mark Reale, under the Westworld moniker. Tony has a distinctive way of making catchy melodies out of every vocal line, a talent that ranks him on top of the whole Melodic Rock/AOR genre. The fact that he hasn’t lost a thing vocally since TNT’s 1984 release, Knights Of The New Thunder, makes his throne out of reach for the young vocal aspirants still for several years to come.

This is by no means a solo project from Harnell, in case the initial praise rendered had you believing that for a second or two. Joining Tony are guitarist Magnus Karlsson from the Swedish band Last Tribe –- an act that has not yet been discovered by the masses but rightfully deserves to be — Fabrizio Grossi, the bass player whose task also included blending Karlsson’s and Harnell’s talents, and last but not least: John Macaluso, Harnell’s old skinbasher from TNT (also ARK-, and Yngwie-fame — never thought you’d see those two guys in the same band picture again, but never mind …). Whether this is a studio project or a band remains to be seen, but judging from the debut CD, one sure should hope the boys will come out on stage at some point. Before that happens, though, it’s safer to say that all bands are just studio projects.

Describing the music is where one would have to make a comparison to TNT. After all, half of the members of Starbreaker are TNT related. Magnus has a way with his guitar that is far from maestro Le Tekro’s thunderpicking (who isn’t?), but that only means he’s a different player. He doesn’t go for the crunchy riffs and hammering technique, but he sure knows how to keep the listener interested. Karlsson’s style makes the band more futuristic – without saying that TNT’s My Religion totally was a trip down Memory Lane (to check out that review click here).

Macaluso’s drumming fits well with Karlsson’s musical vision — the man is simply a force of power (both on stage and off). Don’t forget that TNT had their best rhythm section and made an album having the most live feel to it with this Sicilian-born percussionist.

The music? Hum, let’s call it Modern Hard Rock, not independent of elements from TNT’s late nineties releases, mixed with an undying love for, and perfect understanding of, catchy melodies. Starbreaker might as well be the overall heaviest band Harnell has fronted. No one comes close to the bottom and groove Tekro has, but a guitar player alone doesn’t make a band.

After the initial spin, the songs seemed to be too much alike, but after every additional listen to this CD, it grows like Catherine Zeta-Jones just walked by. Sure, this CD isn’t reaching full score – it has a filler or two – but most importantly it has a good handful of songs that will push this album into top 10 polls. Like TNT last year, whose My Religion CD easily was the best in the Hard Rock/AOR genre, Starbreaker’s release is Metal Express’ hot tip for 2005. With songs like the hauntingly melodic “Lies,” the gutsy “Break My Bones,” the heavy opener “Die For You,” the Modern Melodic “Crushed,” the piano-led power ballad “Days Of Confusion,” “Light At The End Of The World,” with it’s Savatage-like piano intro, and perhaps the best out of the whole bunch, album closer “Save Yourself,” where Harnell shows that he has lungs like no other – this is essential listening for fans of Melodic Rock/Metal.

Like mentioned earlier, Starbreaker is Melodic Rock for the future, and with business done right, these guys are able to relegate an act like Masterplan to the backseat. Let’s see how far the Frontiers mafia can push this band – and let’s hope to have another release next year.


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