The second coming of the redundantly named Jack Starr’s Burning Starr seems to be doing pretty well for itself. Though it’s been six years since the band’s previous outing, 2011’s Land of the Dead, the lineup has stayed the same since their 2008 comeback and has released quality material that lives up to the classic run that gave the former Virgin Steele guitarist further recognition back in the 80s. Stand Your Ground continues the trend and makes for some solid American power metal.
For those previously unacquainted with Jack Starr’s Burning Starr (myself included), any listener familiar with Riot, Jag Panzer, and Manowar should find their footing here. The production is more polished than previous Burning Starr outings, but tempos are still upbeat when they aren’t speedy, the guitar rhythms and harmonies are always melodic, and the vocals are a solid mid-range with occasional lapses into a steady tenor delivery. It’s a reliable style where the songs sometimes seem to write themselves, yet still don’t feel lazy or phoned in.
It helps that there are a bunch of catchy tunes on here. “Secrets We Hide” and “The Enemy” start the album off on a flurry of fast notes, and it really hits the sweet spot once the intricate guitar work and sweeping chorus on “Hero” take effect. From there, “Destiny” and “Sky is Falling” stick out for their AOR approach, and “We Are One” is a loveably corny metal unity anthem.
Stand Your Ground is also longer than any of the Burning Starr albums before it, which may ultimately be its most noteworthy flaw. Twelve songs totaling to seventy-five minutes is a draining listen for even the most straightforward power metal. That said, it’s difficult to determine what should’ve been cut as all the tracks on here are above average quality. If anything, “We Are One” would’ve been such an effective closer that placing anything after it just seems redundant.
Length aside, Stand Your Ground lives up to its name and displays a band with conviction and confidence in their music. It may not have much appeal outside of power metal fans but the material is energetic and well composed for the genre, making it a safe recommendation for anybody who may have been underwhelmed by the new Iced Earth or other veterans’ outings. Defiance may still be this lineup’s most definitive release, but this wouldn’t be a bad place to start for anybody wanting to get a taste for Jack Starr’s Burning Starr.
“Sky Is Falling”
“We Are One”