2016 is off to an amazing start for releases in metal. From THIRD SOVEREIGN to LAST IN LINE to PRODUCT OF HATE to AXEL RUDI PELL it’s been one great record after another and this is only late February! Well, go ahead and add one more to your shopping list, boys and girls. Because the debut album Fragments of Creation from SUNBURST has finally arrived, and it’s a scorcher. With a line-up boasting Vasilis Georgiou (BLACK FATE, INNOSENSE) on vocals, the guitar pyrotechnics of Gus Drax (BIOMECHANICAL, PARADOX, BLACK FATE, SUICIDAL ANGELS) outstanding drumming from Kostas Milonas (NEW DAY SLAVE, PARADOX) and the deep, grooving bass of newest member Nick Grey (END OF INNOCENSE, JAILCAT), this band has come to play, and play HARD.
As soon as I hit PLAY I was immediately transported to a world where technical proficiency meets heart and feel, something that’s hard to do these days without going off into musical wankery. SUNBURST never once falls into that trap as is evidenced by the first two tracks “Out of the World’ and “Dementia”. I will say this, though. Gus Drax is my favorite guitar player on the fucking planet right now. The seeds were planted when A&GS staff writer Frank Zaber turned me onto BLACK FATE in 2014, but on this album his playing is on another level, especially on third song and MAESTRO’S favorite “Symbol of Life”. This one is so incredible that as soon as the intro finished I took my headphones off and paced the room for a good five minutes. I couldn’t believe what I heard and had to compose myself! I also believe that Georgiou’s most passionate vocals are on display here.
“Reincarnation” showcases the tightness of the unit, with Milonas and Grey steering the ship while Drax unleashes his seven-string madness. On the other side of the coin, “Lullaby” is now my second favorite song with that title (first place will always be CONCRETE BLONDE’S). Guest musician Bob Katsionis (FIREWIND, SERIOUS BLACK) plays keyboards on this, as well as the other ones, but his melodies really shine through here, especially on the verses. And don’t look now, there’s a Drax solo that just tears your heart out with its emotion and fluidity. “End of the Game” sounds like an invading army bent on destruction, and then we get something glorious: an instrumental called “Beyond the Darkest Sun” where the gloves come off and the entire band simply shreds. I challenge anyone to NOT be hitting REPEAT when this one ends.
There’s more of a straightforward rock feel to “Forevermore” and at times it even dips its toes into Melodic Rock/AOR waters on the verses, before the buildup to the hook, something I love. “Break the Core” is darker than the other compositions and has razor-sharp teeth for riffs, drums, bass , and vocals. It’s like a musical Great White shark! Here you’ll also find Drax’s incredible soloing on display once again. As if all of this wasn’t enough for the closer we get “Remedy of My Heart.” a 12-minute epic that feels like a movie that you just can’t look away from and rivets you to the spot. It’s very easy for songs of this type to get fat, bloated, and boring, but with smart pacing, killer melodies, and a certain “What’s gonna happen next?” level of anticipation, the boys totally avoid that pitfall. This is how you write an epic.
At this point it’s painfully obvious that I’m in love with SUNBURST and now the whole world will know of my mancrush on Gus Drax. But I don’t care. My job is to tell you guys what I like/love or don’t. And I can tell you all right now that SUNBURST is the real deal and a band that will be every bit as big as SYMPHONY X and DREAM THEATER in the near future. This is also a serious contender for my Album of the Year. Go out and pick up Fragments of Creation on February 26 through Inner Wound Recordings. You can thank me later.
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM