|Musical Style: Hard Rock/Metal||Produced By: Fabio Rocha|
|Record Label: Avantage||Country Of Origin: Brazil|
|Year Released: 2005||Artist Website: Shining Star|
|Tracks: 10||Rating: 85%|
|Running Time: 38:46|
Shining Star deserves to rank among the many talented Christian metal bands to come out of Brazil in recent years. The brainchild of guitarist virtuoso Fabio Rocha, the band plays a commercial influenced style of hard rock and metal on its full length debut Fatal Mistake, generating a sound certain to appeal to fans of Angelica, Narnia, Impellitteri, Rob Rock, Rivera Bomma, Eterna and Destra. Rocha is quite the talented musician who capably handles all rhythm and lead guitar duties. And while he might not be an all out shredder along the lines of Carl Johan Grimmark (Narnia) or Slav Simanic, he proves no less able. The best way to describe his playing, for example, might be a compelling combination of James Byrd (Fifth Angel) or Rex Carroll (Whitecross). And that is a very good thing! In order to help round out the project, Rocha brought in a very fine vocalist in Nando Fernandes who contributes a gritty and at times raspy mid-octave ranged vocal style.
Please note that Fatal Mistake was initially released in 2000 on Megahard Records with green tinted album artwork. In 2005, however, the project was remixed and re-issued by Avantage Records while featuring blue tinted album artwork. Two songs from the Megahard version – “Ivan’s Drum Solo” and “1000 Years Ago” – were left off the Avantage version – which includes a cover of the Cheap Trick classic “Dream Police” as a bonus track. It is also worth pointing out that the rhythm section of bassist Andria Busic and drummer Ivan Busic performed on the Megahard release, while Rocha handles bass and Juliano Collombo drums on the new one from Avantage. Got all that?
The production values to the Megahard version give prominence to a slight hint of muddiness. With the instrumental “1000 Years Ago” being the lone exception, the rhythm guitar could have sounded crisper and edgier. While the lead guitar cleanly stands out in the mix, the rhythm section can sound flat and muffled.
On the Avantage version, on the other hand, things have been cleaned up with the end result being the more polished and crisper sounding effort. The rhythm guitar, for example, comes across with added edge and the drums now pack more punch and power. The keyboards even sound brighter.
The brief (1:23) instrumental album opener “Opening The Skies” begins to a commanding voice stating “I Am The Way” before closing to a pounding riff highlighted by keyboards.
The albums title track stands out with a huge commercial flavored melody line. The near perfect mix of rhythm guitar and keyboards opening “Fatal Mistake” conveys it an upbeat tempo until it reaches an infectious chorus backed by vocal harmonies. Rocha nails a very well done bluesy guitar solo, while he ends the song with more of the same.
A slowly moving combination of rhythm and lead guitar sets the melodic rocker “Storm” in motion. Picking up in pace to a catchy riff at the start of its first verse, the song attains a sweeping chorus accentuated in an atmospheric manner by keyboards. Rocha’s lead guitar work is in line with the feel of a song coming across with a slower and more blues heavy ambience.
"Master Of The Skies" also showcases an infectious melody. Carried from the start by an exquisite blend of rhythm guitar and keyboards, the immaculate atmosphere is maintained as the song reaches a chorus with a catchy, radio friendly hook. Rocha adds a guitar solo to a song that begins slowly only to end in a fast paced manner. "Master Of The Skies" talks about exactly that:
Like the sound of thunder
I listen to Your call
Through the darkest clouds
Your light shines on me
Your blow has brought
Life to us all
In Your holy hands lies my destiny
Master of the skies...
The instrumental “Last Train”, imitating the sound of a train leaving the station, provides the perfect segue to “Last Train To Heaven”.
Taking off in upbeat fashion to a forward mix of rhythm guitar, “Last Train To Heaven” slows as the rhythm guitar drops from the mix at the start of its first verse. The rhythm guitar, nevertheless, returns just before the song reaches a laid back chorus giving rise to an almost bluesy feel. Several seconds of gritty lead guitar work perfectly complements the pace and feel of a song talking about the believer’s destiny:
Last train to heaven
Flying in the space
To the promised land
Last train to heaven
From life to eternity
It's our destiny
The ballad "I Wish" is the only song on Fatal Mistake with a melody not quite strong enough to keep my full attention. After beginning to a blend of acoustic guitar and keyboards, “I Wish” slowly advances to a touch of acoustic guitar until it reaches a chorus reinforced by just the right amount of vocal harmonies.
"You're Not Alone" is by far the albums heaviest track. Introduced to a commanding voice stating its title, “You’re Not Alone” is driven forward at a mid-tempo pace by a thick sounding rhythm guitar. Once the commanding voice returns, the song transitions to a catchy chorus shored up by an organ. "You're Not Alone" focuses on the work of Christ on the cross:
I feel, I can see
In the cross He's dying for me
He paid the higher price
I trust in His sacrifice
The anthem-like combination of rhythm guitar and keyboards at the start of “Alive And Well” gives way to a piano upon reaching its first verse. As the song picks up in pace, the rhythm guitar returns hard and heavy and drives a strong, energy-laden chorus. A fast paced guitar solo helps place “Alive And Well” among the albums stronger compositions. "Alive And Well" details the fact Christ is literally alive and well:
The body was never found inside that humble borrowed grave
The circle has been finally closed
So many years have gone
Emperors, kings and wise men
Never reached the power of his tender love
The light He showed will never fade away
All though the centuries have gone
His words still remain the same
As its title suggests, "Ivan's Drum Solo" is a drum solo that, unfortunately, is 1:25 too long. Sorry Ivan!
With its crisp rhythm guitar sound, the instrumental “1000 Years Ago” showcases the albums best sounding production job. The song moves forward to a combination of rhythm and acoustic guitar until Rocha steals with show with nearly two minutes of bluesy lead guitar work. Following a keyboard solo, Rocha returns to close out the song with more fast paced riffing underlined by double bass.
Lance King, who went on to perform on Shining Star’s sophomore effort Enter Eternity, also handles lead vocals on the “Dream Police” cover. While the song comes across slightly muffled in terms of its production (it almost sound like a demo take), it is always good to hear it performed again. Lance really does the track a great deal of justice.
Fatal Mistake proves a very promising debut from Shining Star, an album in which Rocha’s superlative guitar playing brings out the best in its consistent and well crafted songwriting. “Fatal Mistake” and “Master Of The Skies” both stand out with their catchy melodies; however, guitar driven hard rockers such as "You're Not Alone" and "Alive And Well" prove equally able. If Rocha recorded an instrumental hard rock album along the lines of “1000 Years Ago” I would buy it.
In the end, my advice would be to purchase BOTH the Megahard and Avantage versions of Fatal Mistake. Yes, the Megahard release suffers in the area of production, but it does feature the first-rate instrumental “1000 Years Ago”. While the Avantage version fails to include “1000 Years Ago” (something I find quite disappointing), it does showcase stronger production values.
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: "Opening The Skies" (1:23), "Fatal Mistake" (3:42), "Storm" (4:37), "Master Of The Skies" (4:15), "Last Train" (:53), "Last Train To Heaven" (4:13), "I Wish" (4:46), "You’re Not Alone" (3:46), "Alive And Well" (4:58), "Ivan’s Drum Solo" (1:27), "1000 Year’s Ago" (4:39), Dream Police (4:12)
Fabio Rocha – Guitars, Acoustic Guitars, Bass & Keyboards
Nando Fernandes – Lead Vocals
Andria Busic – Bass
Ivan Busic & Juliano Collombo – Drums
Li Paes – Violin
Dinho Zampier – Keyboards
Ricardo Magrao - Bass
Roberto Sileci – Drums