Released: 2005, Frontiers Records/Atenzia Records
Reviewer: Anders Sandvall
Starbreaker revolves around Tony Harnell (TNT, Westworld, Morning Wood). Besides Tony the band also includes Swedish guitar phenom Magnus Karlsson, known from his band Last Tribe, Fabrizio Grossi on bass who have played with everyone from Nina Hagen to Steve Vai and he’s now one of the most hired top producer within the melodic rock genre. His productions include Glenn Hughes and House of Lords. Last but not least we have John Macaluso that worked with Tony in TNT, he’s been in TNT since 92 and the album REALIZED FANTASIES but he has also worked with Riot, Yngwie Malmsteen and ARK. In other words can you call this band an all star band.
I think this album contains a bit harder melodic hardrock in combination with pure heavy metal, I’d go so far and say that I think that this is a unique mix of the both music styles. Of course there is a lot of space left for Tony’s voice along with Magnus much varied guitar play. Fabrizio and John add depth and strength to the production. This genre is fond of using keyboards and Starbreaker makes no exception to that rule. Magnus plays keyboards and Fabrizio is in charge of loops and samples but luckily they have not gone too far and they don’t let the keyboards take over. And of course can we find a few ballads on the album as well. The ballads are represented by “Days of Confusion” where Tony shows off his remarkable voice and Magnus his impressive guitar play. “Lies” is the next slow song, Magnus plays more melodic and this song has a chorus that sticks to brain the first time you hear it.
If you wonder what this bands music sounds like I’d draw musical parallels between Starbreaker and how Judas Priest sounded during the late 70’s. Another band that have a similar sound are Magnus own band Last Tribe and Masterplan but add to that a heavy dose of TNT you’ll get the picture. Starbreaker mixes both the old with a newer metal sound to get something really unique. Starbreaker’s music is timeless.
“You have never heard Harnell singing so heavy and aggressive, still the album is a melodic metal milestone” says the bio and I haven’t listened to TNT so much but I’m eager to agree with that description.
Magnus sound, as always, awesome on guitar and I still think that he have the potential to be the Yngwie Malmsteen of the 21st century. Fabrizio and John contribute with a majestic rhythm section and they handle the more melodic parts brilliant.
I don’t know when and where the album was recorded but Fabrizio have done the production. He has created a surprisingly heavy and fresh production and he have surely built a dynamic musical landscape this time, the production is epic, majestic, a bit aggressive but still melodic.
Starbreakers debut is packed with 12 stunning tracks that you can’t get enough of. I have the bonus copy where they include a video of the song “Lies”.
Already in the first song the guys set the path for how the album is gonna sound. “Die for You” is heavy melodic/heavy metal with a mean guitar sound by Magnus that shares the biggest part of the sound picture with Tony in this song. This song has a very catchy refrain that’s easy to remember and sing a long to. “Break my bones”, “Crushed”, “Transparent” and “Underneath a falling sky” are all harder melodic hardrock influenced by heavy metal. Keyboards are used to make the soundpicture sound more full and Magnus have the opportunities to show off on guitar in all the songs. “Dragonfly” is an instrumental track where Fabrizio plays some fretless bass and Magnus dazzles once again on guitar. If Last Tribe had this kind of production, this kind of material and also as strong singer as Tony I think that they could have sold more albums.
I’m speechless when it comes to this album because it’s absolutely unbelievably extremely great, it’s simply one of the best albums this year so far. This all star band has managed to do an album that’s incredible in every way and I can’t find anything to argue about here.
The album gets even better the more you listen to it and believe I have listened to it many times by now. It also looks like the label have put some money into the cover artwork because it suits the music and looks expensive. I can’t find any slightly negative thing about this album. Starbreakers album is gonna come on a really high position on my best of list this year. I’m sure that this album is going to give the listener that buys it plenty of enjoyment.