Jack Starr’s Burning Starr - Stand Your Ground

Jack Starr’s Burning Starr Stand Your Ground cover
Jack Starr’s Burning Starr
Stand Your Ground
High Roller Records
It’s kind of ironic how things turn out sometimes. Jack Starr was driven out of Virgin Steele, a band he helped put on the map in the early 80s, while David De Feis took almost complete control, but that didn’t stop the former from churning out quality metal (sometimes more hard rock and blues flavored too) through Burning Starr, solo endeavors or collaborations with others. Fast forward to today and De Feis and Virgin Steele are struggling to deliver the goods both in the studio or on the stage, while Starr aided by Rhino (ex-Manowar) on drums and Riot V’s Todd Michael Hall, that he was one of the first people to sport in his band, before he became a late blooming heavy metal “hero”… has been on the rise with a series of TMH led albums that have all quite hit the mark, remarkably and without fail.
Starr and co once more deliver some finely crafted metal with enough melody that might not be groundbreaking by any means other than sounding like it could cause an earthquake; it’s done so well, that if someone said, this was released 30 years ago, I’d have no reason to question them.
From the opener “Secrets We Hide”, a hard rocking staple of staccato metal, things feel nicely familiar, but there’s hardly ever a dull moment.
“The Enemy” has some neat riffing and a driving alluring rhythm, along with a pretty epic vocal line that crosses over from the verse to the chorus. Fan-fucking-tastic. Think Virgin Steele crossed with Riot of the early to mid-period and add a bit of Stryper and early Malmsteen… Presto.
“Stand Your Ground” has a riff that feels a bit derivative from something; I can’t quite place my finger on and is a little long winded at ten minutes, but doesn’t allow interest to drop below a very respectable level for a composition that lasts this long.
“Hero” has another one of those nasty, sinister and 101% metal riffs, just like “The Enemy”… “Will you be the hero…?”, wonders Todd, aloud and proud in a chorus that breaks suddenly, but is not any less awesome because of that.
“Destiny” starts also in a similar way, but it continues in a completely different way, with a far more joyous way, sounding like a bizarre mix between Helloween and Dio, having a party… ehm, not bad, but quite unexpected and not in the same “character” as the rest of the songs on the album. It might have worked great as a bonus or at the end of an album.
“Sky is Falling” quickly get things darker and edgier, maybe even sounding a little more noble and reserved than it should; I mean I can almost hear it in my head – a notch faster and more pounding, but it’s a good song notwithstanding.
“Worlds Apart” is a nice bluesy ballad for luck of a better word, with a very apt solo right there in the middle, showing off Jack’s chops and melodic sensibilities, while “Escape from the Night” returns with a gallop that equally recalls Maiden as it does Riot… classic metal at its best, with a spiteful riff, that keeps on repeating…
“We are One” has some lyrics that are almost Manowar-meets-Hammerfall in terms of cheesy-chest pounding bravado, but it benefits from much better melodies and Halls majestic and elegy like delivery that makes it not outlast its welcome, because of lasting a bit too long.
“Stronger than Steel” sounds like something that could have been on the latest Riot albums, albeit a little bit more epic and not as straightforward power metal, although the difference between the two is slight.
“False Gods” has a biting riff and isn’t a bad song, but I’d rather wish it had replaced, say “Destiny” on the album and that it was either a bonus or omitted altogether, because clocking at seventy five minutes and with songs steadily lasting more than five minutes, a bit of fatigue is evident by this point.
“To the Ends” closes the album as best, as it comes, a melodic epic song about completing a journey, with a somewhat “tired” beat leading it; it’s a beautiful conclusion to an album maybe 1-2 songs too long.
All in all, it might have taken Burning Starr some six years to release this album, during which TMH has been anything than dormant, releasing a fantastic album with Riot V that brought them back from the “dead”. That time allowed Jack Starr to perfect a number of tracks of traditional metal that are contained in here and are bequeathed to the few, who still appreciate that old school ethos and are happy to have the privilege of power. Long may they live and sing.