LABEL: High Roller
REVIEWED BY: Alan Holloway
It's funny how you can know a famous name but know nothing about them. I've been hearing the name Jack Starr for many years now, but this is genuinely the first time I've had one of his albums to sit through. From the gruesome fantasy war cover I was expecting Manowar type macho bullshit, but it turns out Jack Starr has much more than that to offer.
'Stand Your Ground' is an unashamedly classic style metal album, with speed and melody walking hand in hand throughout, much like Striker. To be fair, if you like Striker then Jack Starr is a must buy, as the two share an affinity and ability for powerful riffs married to merry melodies, resulting in a continuous cacophony of fast, exciting and above all catchy tunes. It's the sort of album you'd expect to be filled with three and a half minute wonders, but only three tracks in the title track rolls in at over 10 minutes, with the average elsewhere being about five minutes. This results in an album that's a whopping seventy minutes long, and blow me if it doesn't seem like it at any point. The title track itself is a wonderful piece of music, reminding me of both Rainbow and Iron Maiden at their best. Vocalist Todd Michael Hall (Riot) has a superb vocal style for this sort of thing, all high screams and low power but always melodic. Starr himself provides excellent guitar, though if yer name is on the cover that's to be expected. He doesn't take over the songs at all, though, which is a massive plus in my book.
If this had been chucked out in the early to mid eighties it would be hailed as a classic today. The songwriting is so strong, the playing so perfect, the melodies so sweet that two old ladies who wandered in whilst I was writing this review both said it sounded very good! Jack Starr nails that sweet spot of making an album that couldn't be called anything but metal that will still appeal to people who don't like metal. Yes, the style is retro, but don't let that put you off, as 'Stand Your Ground' feels fresh and feisty throughout. This may well be the best melodic metal album this year, so do yourself a favour and check it out.