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Starbreaker Starbreaker Frontiers Records
FRCD232
Produced By: Fabrizio Grossi

Running Time: 52.27

Release Date: March 21

Released: EU

Musical Style: Hard Rock / Melodic Metal

Links: Frontiers Starbreaker Tony Harnell
97%
Songs: 97%
Sound: 94%
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 Bottom Line
The only small criticism of the album could stem from a certain familiarity between songs. It's not quite as varied as say, the TNT album, but that's a very small and minor point.
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.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
Starbreaker
TNT
Last Tribe

Line Up
Tony Harnell: Vocals
Magnus Karlsson: Guitars & Keyboards
John Macaluso: Drums
Fabrizio Grossi: Bass

Essential for fans of:
TNT
Last Tribe
Masterplan
Track Listing
Die For You*
Lies*
Break My Bones*
Crushed
Days of Confusion
Transparent*
Light at the End of the World
Cradle to the Grave
Underneath A Falling Sky*
Turn It Off
Dragonfly
Save Yourself*
--*Best Tracks


10/08/07: Robert - robmlisanti@aol.com
Rating: 90
I like everything about the cd, Tony's voice, great guitar work, Drums are excellent. Just wish the production was a litte fuller. Melodies are great.I like the mixture between Rock and Metal gives the cd depth and adding the piano was awesome.
If you like Masterplan, Pyramaze etc you'll like this cd.

05/11/05: Axe Machine - info@hugomusic.net
Rating: 92
One of the top albums of the year. Harnell literally sings his ass off and the opening four tracks are absolutely magical. Only downside which lost the album a point or two is that awful instrumental track. It breaks up the flow of the record and ultimately is unnecessary to the album as a whole. Other than that I have no complaints...top notch artwork and a bitchingly heavy sound. What might be classed by some as slightly under produced actually works in the albums favour on repeated listens, as Andrew has obviously spotted (hence such a good review)...the raw-ness of the record simply adds balls to these tunes. Easily one of Harnell's best records, and unlike some of Grossi's records where anyone could be singing the tunes on offer and it wouldnt make a difference, Harnell makes these songs his own and leaves you with the sense that any other voice wouldnt do justice to the work. Best Melodic Metal album of the year. Neither Last Tribe, nor TNT...something original. 92%

05/08/05: Jonny B - froloth@hotmail.com
Rating: 89
Ignore my previous review. It's better now that I've listened to it multiple times...if my previous post (and this post) is erasible at this point, I'd like them erased so that I can review it more properly in the future.

02/08/05: Jonny B - froloth@hotmail.com
Rating: 83
It's good for a melodic metal record, but I think Tony Harnell should stick to what he's best at (TNT & Westworld.) At best, Starbreaker sounds like an unpolished poor-man's Masterplan. I will stick to the true pro of melodic metal (Jorn Lande.)

12/07/05: Arney - daveandmel@kooee.com.au
Rating: 90
I found this particular release hard to get into initially, but after a few more spins & some quiet time away from the kids this CD really started to grow on me.I think,like any peice of good art,some things take time to fully appreciate & the more I listen to it the more I enjoy it.Many have said all the songs sound similar & start to blend into the same mould, & that may be the initial response, but once your more familiar with the content you'll see that this is not the case.Bottom line is that I am personally enjoying this release very much,& when all is said & done, thats all that matters.

25/06/05: Mike - micke_016@hotmail.com
Rating: 89
This is great record its no question about that. It is a updated sound, with some melodic touch. And Tony Harnell sings great as usual. But I have som problems with the production,I think it could be better. The drums sounds little strange sometimes, I give it a high rate anyway. But with a better production it have been more ponts.

15/06/05: Dick Head - dickhead@dickhead.com
Rating: 100
Andrew is right. And besides, the modern comment should give you an idea right away of where this guy is coming from. Some people are just too old school for their own good. Get a grip, it's 2005. Cut your mullet and move on:)

09/06/05: Andrew - ajm@melodicrock.com
Rating: 97
I have to respond to what I think is a very unfair comment below.

About rusting my reviews - how can anyone cliam to be mislead when MP3 samples of EVERY track is supplied to many releases, plus these interactive forums provide feedback from others.

Combine the 3 and there is just no possible way anyone could not be aware of what they are buying.
If my review/s are so totally wrong, then they would be exposed immediately.

Everyone is going to find a case where they do not agree with my personal view on any given album...but tosay one cannot trust the reviews is grossly unfair and just not true.

Thanks,
Andrew.

08/06/05: Adam - aewsalford@aol.com
Rating: 60
Hmm.I'm not going to trust the reviews on this site as much as I have done!!
After the disappointment of the Soul Sirkus CD, here's another disappointment!!
Modern sounding for the sake of it, the songs are there, but the treatment doesn't do it for me.

13/05/05: Matt Rees - Matthew_Rees@PMIGroup.com.au
Rating: 95
I picked this up a few days ago and finally had a real good chance to get my head around it last night.....i LOVE it!!! Tony harnell would have to be the best Hard Rock / Metal singer in the world today in my opinion....the passion and conviction that he delivers his vocals with on this album is nothing short of stunning.....they melodies are all there....its just amazing singing. I actually reckon the Instumental is fantastic...the bass playing and Drumming are phenominal!!! These guys are all obviosly brilliant musicians in their own right. The only criticism I have, is as others have stated...it does get a little "samey" however its not a bad thing really.....and I felt that in a few small parts the songs are kind of heavy for the sake of trying to be heavy...if ya know what i mean....but again, its not a major issue...its a bloody great album, very entertaining, and I hope these guys can match or better this with album number 2!!

19/04/05: Russ - travellingintime@aol.com
Rating: 87
There's no doubt this is a very good album and if you play any individual track it sounds fantastic. My only gripe is that if you play it as a collective it does start to sound a bit samey. I just needed a little bit more light and shade in terms of mood and pace for it to be quite the classic everyone else seems to think it is. I do like it and there's no doubt TH is in a rich vein of form. But I think its very good as opposed to absolutely great. Excellent artwork, I have to agree!

11/04/05: Darren D - starchild@austarnet.com.au
Rating: 95
Are we looking at ALBUM OF THE YEAR so soon. I think so. Harnell absolutely shines on this cd. This is the best I have heard him since early TNT. The feel, the passion and the drive are all here. The musicianship is top notch,and even though the production is a little "noisy", it suits the style and the delivery of the album. From the opening of the 1st song "Die For You", you know you are in for a guitar fest, and the rest of the album doesn't disappoint. For me "Lies" is the standout track, and will really push for song of the year. I expect Starbreaker to be in most top 5's at the end of the year. Hopefully this won't be the only cd released by this supergroup.
Blows TMG to pieces, and then some!!!

23/03/05: Almir Fuschini - almirfus@terra.com.br
Rating: 65
No, I didn't like it.
Like we say here in Brazil "It ain't my Beach" (Yes, BEAch).
Way too modern and too much noise for my taste.
It's impossible for my to listen that awfull instrumental track.
I'm big fan of Tony Harnell especially with his works on the latest TNT and Westworld CDs, but I'll pass on this one.

21/03/05: Figge - anderssonfigge@hotmail.com
Rating: 91
Brilliant album! I really like the style on this release. This is what I want to hear more of....slightly updated traditional hard rock (or melodic metal). Tony Harnell shines as usual with his extraordinary feel for melodies and harmonies and Magnus impress me more than on his previous work (I think I have to pick up the Last Tribe/Midnight Sun albums and listen again with open ears)...but I must say that John Macaluso is a super drummer. I was actually a little annoyed at first listen but the more I play the CD the more I enjoy the energy and power in his drumming (Reminds me of RIOT).

At first I thought the songs sounded very similar (just as previous reviewer Ken and Andrew mentioned) but I have no problem with that now, when the songs have revealed themselves and sunk into my mind a little better. The production isn't perfect in any way, but it suits the material pretty well in my opinion. This is most certain gonna be one of my personal favourites and on my top 5 list at the end of the year. Recommended!

20/03/05: Chris ( Hardline Webmaster ) - hardlinerocks@gmx.de
Rating: 99
Outstanding, brilliant, buy it - nothng more to say, I was never a big Fan of Tony Harnell`s voice, but he kills on that record, just the one song called LIES would be enough to spend your money on that Album !!! So why just 99% instead of 100% ? Blame it on that stupid Instrumental Track. Besides that everything here kills !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sound is great, artwork is awesome and the songs are great, always balancing between crunchy Hardrock and Melodic Metal. Unbelievable, thanx to the GODS for this Promo Copy !!!

19/03/05: Freddy De Keyzer - freddydekeyzer@hotmail.com
Rating: 85
Another great record, a mix between pure hardrock and more melodic metal ! Well done, but my only complaint here is that is it reminds me sometimes at Transistor, the worst TNT record ever !
If that would not have the case, the rating was even higher. Here and there, there are some modern influences, and that's a minor factor for me !

19/03/05: ken ahl - kahl1212@hotmail.com
Rating: 90
God Tony Harnell has been busy!Another great project here in starbreaker. Tony could sing the phonebook and make it sound good. This cd is much heavier than TNT. But still keeps the melody that Tony is famous for. Good guitar playing here,along
with the rest of the band. Lost a few points because the songs do
sound simular at times. Bring on the new TNT!


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