Starbreaker - 'Dysphoria'

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Starbreaker - 'Dysphoria'

A magnificent album.

It's been just over a decade since the second Starbreaker album 'Love's Dying Wish' was released and those who are patient enough have been rewarded with a stunning third record. This is the sort of release one gets when four world-class musicians collaborate on a project. There are so many layers of depth to attune your ears to that it's definitely not an album you can listen to on the fly.

Vocalist Tony Harnell needs virtually no introduction as the man who took TNT's signature sound to stratospheric heights back in the eighties. Alongside Harnell is writing partner/chief collaborator Magnus Karlsson (Primal Fear) and returning to the fold is bassist Jonni Lightfoot, who has been the bassist, bandleader and recording engineer to Air Supply since 2001. On drums, replacing the brilliant John Macaluso, is Swedish native Anders Köllerfors – a Malmö-schooled Latin and Fusion exponent.

From the opening bars of the Metalised 'Pure Evil', Karlsson's Primal Fear influence is written all over the place. From the fast beats of the rhythm section to Karlsson's shredding guitar and Harnell's ripping vocals, it takes no prisoners. Similarly, if Metal's your staple then grab a listen to their cover of Judas Priest's 'Starbreaker' where Karlsson's solid chord progressions allied to Harnell's soaring vocals qualify it as a worthy cover.

There are a couple of beautiful ballads such as 'How Many More Goodbyes' and 'Beautiful One' which allow Karlsson's keyboard skills to set the atmosphere and illuminate Harnell's awesome singing, proving that after all these years he's lost none of his power or range – it's all quite stunning! Köllerfors produces some great drum patterns on the moody and atmospheric 'Bright Star Blind Me' where Lightfoot also gets to showcase his marvellous playing ability whilst Karlsson gets to shred!

His fantastic riffing is also displayed on 'Last December' and the title track, whereas 'Wild Strawberries' features superb singing and wonderful guitar. The melodic, uplifting 'My Heart Belongs To You' is full of sumptuous melody with a captivating chorus, but perhaps my favourite has to be the gorgeous 'Fire Away' due to its incisive melody line and wonderfully, passionate chorus mixed in with interesting percussion.

I knew from the very first listen this was a magnificent album and every subsequent play just reinforces my belief that this is some of the finest work that Harnell and Karlsson have ever produced.

Carl Buxton

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