Released: 2011, Limb Records
It is no secret that some of the key factors in the longevity of certain Metal bands are the passion and drive of the artists and fans. There are certain bands that avoid trends, ignore the fads, and continue on year after year, with or without commercial success. They continue to write, record and tour because, like us they love Metal. I would hazard a guess that at this point 30 years into a career, it’s not about the fame and fortune. I happened to notice that recently seven classic bands have reached (or are about to reach) their 30th anniversary and all of them have put our new, full-length studio albums in the past few months. 30 years is a long time in any career, especially one as fickle as the Rock ’n’ Roll business. This month, I decided to pay tribute to these fine bands in a feature where I review all their most recent releases. As of 2012, most of these bands have little or no representation on this site, and I’m here to fix that. It’s hard to imagine that almost 30 years ago, as a teenager, I was buying the debut albums of all of these bands, on cassette! The bands in this feature are Burning Starr (US), Exxplorer (US) Halloween (US), Mad Max (Ger), Oz (Fin), Sinner (Ger), Vengeance (Hol). They are the unsung, heads-down, in the trenches, Metal veterans that emerged in the very early 80’s, and are still going strong. They deserve your respect and attention.
Jack Starr has had a bit of resurgence in the last few years. With a strong comeback album called DEFIANCE in 2009, then a solo album, he’s back again with a new, full-length from his main project, Burning Starr. LAND OF THE DEAD is his 6th album. The band has switched from Magic Circle Music to Limb Records, which seems like a bit of an odd fit as the Italian label usually signs new acts not 30+ year veterans. On a side note: Limb has not been as productive recently with only four albums being released in 2011, but I’m glad to see they released LAND OF THE DEAD as one of those. Quality over quantity I suppose.
This veteran of the NY Metal scene is still hanging with his old buddies as evidence by not two but three members (past and present) of Manowar making guests appearances on the album! It’s no wonder there is a heavy Virgin Steele and Manowar influence on this album, even the cover art was done by Ken Kelly! Rhino handles the drums again and the lineup stays stable with Todd Michael Hall on vocals. His old buddy from Guardians Of The Flame (among others) Ned Meloni is on bass again. Jack and Ned have worked together for 20 years or more and work well together. The lyrics are quite metaphysical songs about the sands of time and the wings of the night and so giving the album a bit of an epic feel.
My favourite cut comes late in the album the uber-epic, ‘When Blood And Steel Collide, it is one of the better songs I heard in 2011. It reminds me a little bit of the Thor song, “When Gods Collide’. All of the songs have a dramatic pounding sound that delivers a marching album full of anthems, it never really gets too fast. Another tune that cruises along at the perfect tempo for this kind of mid-paced metal is ‘On The Wings Of The Night’. A full, warm production helps solidify the hour of true metal contained within. Of all the bands in this feature this is one of the stronger releases. If you have never checked out Burning Starr, this would be a good place to start.