While TNT's output has been sporadic, if not questionable, in recent years (although 2004's My Religion found the band returning to prime melodic-hard-rock form), vocalist Tony Harnell has refused to stand still. There were the vastly underrated Westworld and Morning Wood projects, and now there's Starbreaker. Featuring guitarist and keyboardist Magnus Karlsson (Last Tribe), bassist Fabrizzio Grossi (Steve Vai) and drummer John Macaluso (Ark, Malmsteen and even Realized Fantasies-era TNT), the self-titled debut from Starbreaker doesn't emulate Judas Priest as much as the band's name might suggest. Rather, the album is an extension of TNT and Westworld, with some truly aggressive and muscular moments that hint at what still may be to come.
The album opens with the devastating one-two-three punch of "Die For You," "Lies" and "Break My Bones" before segueing into the mid-tempo kinda-sorta ballad "Crushed" - if you consider a song with chugging riffs, distorted vocals and a clanging rhythm section akin to a ballad. But it's easily the lightweight of this album's first four tracks. The other two-thirds of the record boasts a more-traditional ballad ("Days of Confusion") keyboard-happy tunes ("Transparent," "Light at the End of the World"), Eighties-era metal mayhem ("Cradle to the Grave," "Turn It Off") and a shred-a-licious instrumental ("Dragonfly").
Darker than most of TNT's work, and probably even more shadowy than much of Westworld's material, Starbreaker makes heavy, majestic and sometimes even epic music that should appeal to fans of melodic hard rock that borders on metal. In other words, if you like Harnell, you'll probably dig this.
1) Die For You
3) Break My Bones
5) Days of Confusion
7) Light at the End of the World
8) Cradle to the Grave
9) Underneath a Falling Sky
10) Turn It Off
12) Save Yourself