Dysphoria (out now, Frontiers Music) is my first encounter with a STARBREAKER album and the reason for that is simple. When the band got together Amps and Green Screens wasn’t even an itch in Maestro’s pants, and I didn’t know that labels like Frontiers existed. Plus, I hadn’t given Tony Harnell or TNT much thought beyond the Intuition album from 1989, even though I loved his voice. So when I started up A&GS it was really cool to learn that a lot of the bands and singers I loved in my teens and early 20’s were still out there rockin’ and rollin’. And quite frankly I’m glad that through this outlet I am able to discover bands like STARBREAKER.
This is a very melodic metal record whose guitarist Magnus Karlsson (also of PRIMAL FEAR) always plays with a combo of passion and aggression, and it shows. On the vocal front Harnell is singing his fucking ass off, and I was well and truly shocked at the high notes he’s hitting this many years later. The man’s obviously been taking care of himself and his instrument. The bass and drum tandem of Jonni Lightfoot and Anders Köllerfors sticks to your ribs like a sumptuous meal, and they complement each other nicely. And again, as soon as “Pure Evil” starts the disc, if you haven’t heard Harnell in years, prepare to be floored.
Other tunes that hit me in my sweet spot were “Last December” with a killer riff and infectious chorus along with title track “Dysphoria,” a song that gives “Pure Evil” a run for its money as the heaviest on the whole thing. When the band softens things the results can be very pretty, like on “Beautiful One”, and at other times they jump into the Melodic Rock/AOR pool like in the case of “My Heart Belongs to You” and “How Many More Goodbyes”, both of which hit their marks. “Fire Away” has arguably the album’s best hook, and was an instant favorite for this guy. Closing the record is a cover of JUDAS PRIEST’S “Starbreaker” that is quite heavy and the band nails it.
I had a lot of fun with this here Dysphoria album. It’s a well-balanced mix in terms of ebb and flow, and for the most part I found myself bopping along, always the sign of a good one. As I said before I had never heard a note from STARBREAKER before, but I’m glad this fell into my lap. I’d love to hear these tracks live sometime, so hopefully the right US promoters hear what I hear and book these guys over here. In the meantime you can pick up a copy of Dysphoria wherever it is you get your music. I feel pretty good recommending this one to you guys.
STANDOUT TRACKS: “Pure Evil”, “Dysphoria”, “Fire Away”, “Last December”