|Musical Style: Hard Rock||Produced By: Fabio Rocha|
|Record Label: Silent Music||Country Of Origin: Brazil|
|Year Released: 2008||Artist Website:|
|Tracks: 12||Rating: 60%|
|Running Time: 46:19|
Brazil’s Shining Star is the brainchild of guitar aficionado Fabio Rocha. The group hit the scene in 2000 with the melodic hard rock of its Megahard Records debut Fatal Mistake before following up five years later with the melodic power metal of Enter Eternity, a Nightmare Records release in which Lance King (Avian) handled lead vocal duties. The spring of 2008 finds Shining Star presenting with its third full length album entitled Reset. What we have in Reset is a group going through a near complete makeover in terms of its sound, abandoning many of the commercial and power tendencies of its past efforts for a wall of gritty and driving hard rock. Fans of Bride, F.O.G., Heartcry, Immortal Soul, Mission Of One, Spittin Jonah, Whitecross and Resurrection Band would do themselves a favor by checking the “new” Shining Star out. Those into other Brazilian bands such as Belica and Dracma should be able to get into this as well.
I like to take the stance that change is good and, as a result, applaud a group when it decides to explore new musical territory. Let’s face facts: Fabio Rocha and company could easily have chosen to “play it safe” by recording “Another” Fatal Mistake or Enter Eternity “Again”; rather they make an about face by giving us what is by far the heaviest work from Shining Star to date. Just check out the aggressive sounds of “Desperate And Suffocated”, “Radiation Flame”, “Enslaved By Fury” and “Reign Of Terror”, four top of the line tracks that are heavy but catchy at the same time. “I Hate You” provides for a nice changeover with its variances in tempo while rounding things out are two Enter Eternity covers in “Insanity” and “Nightmares” (both translate well in terms of the bands heavier musical direction).
Despite the quality of the previously referenced material (and the change in musical direction in question), Reset, unfortunately, proves an uneven effort in that a few too many of its tracks lack notable chorus hooks (I hit the skip button no less than four times). As the sold saying goes, “heavier is not necessarily better”. And such is the case here in that, while the band has stepped it up in terms of the all around guitar in its sound, the end result is not necessarily the more polished or well rounded work. “You’re Sick”, “Tell Me”, “Guilty Of Crime” and “Karma”, for instance, all border on the trite and – despite repeated listen – trend towards the repetitive side of things.
The main change to report in the group’s line up is that Ricardo Parronchi now handles lead vocal duties. Many of you might be familiar with Ricardo’s work in Destra, where he proves a gifted bassist, songwriting and producer. Reset, however, finds him showcasing a side to his abilities we have not always seen in the past. I might describe his vocal style as gruff, gritty, scratchy and full complementary to the bands new hard rocking sound. Performance wise, he gives a solid effort, though he does exhibit the occasional shaky and heavy handed moment.
Fabio Rocha, as one would imagine, gives us a literal clinic on rhythm and lead guitar. Fabio’s guitar riffs – resolute, driving and right up front in the mix – are perfectly joined with his scintillating lead work. One of the albums stronger points, his soloing can come across fiery (such as on “Reign Of Terror”) or even blues based (see “I Hate You”). Rounding out Shining Star is the talented rhythm section of drummer Juliano Collombo and bassist Rodrigo Collombo.
Production values are competent but could use a touch of polish. While Reset features a decent blend of rhythm and lead guitar, its low end comes across muddy and the vocals mixed a bit forward at times.
Packaging could also be improved upon. Lyrics, in a light purple font over a dark background, are difficult to read. The album artwork is simplistic, consisting of the bands logo over a blue and white background.
The albums title track, all eight seconds of it, consists of a female voice counting down from five.
“Desperate & Suffocated” begins to a hammering rhythm guitar before driving ahead resolutely. Tapering off upon acquiring its first verse, the song regains its initiative for a catchy chorus backed steadfastly by pounding drums. A blazing guitar solo tops things off. All around, “Desperate & Suffocated” has the entire package: heavy, great hook and full of initiative. An individual struggling with addiction is the subject matter discussed:
Dived in a dark sea of illusions
Between trips, needles imaginary reality
Hear me God, break my pain, save me
The aptly entitled “Radiation Flame” immediately takes off in energetic fashion, an abundance of rhythm guitar carrying things ahead until a driving chorus sustained by Parronchi’s gritty vocal delivery is obtained. What stands out about this one is the all encompassing guitar riff – determined, focused and catchy as all get out – that sustains its distance. Another standout track that represents the “new” Shining Star at its best. “Radiating Flame” deals with nuclear war:
When the fire’s in the sky
You’ll be running for your lives
When the missiles start to fly
Prepare yourselves to die
“Insanity”, the first of the two Enter Eternity covers, has been given a tasteful reproduction. From Rocha’s bluesy leads to the notable hook in its chorus, Shining Star has provided for all the necessary ingredients. Parronchi, of course, presents a courser vocal delivery as opposed to the high end flavorings of Lance King.
“Enslaved By Fury” starts to a few seconds of open air rhythm guitar before moving ahead at a weighty mid-tempo clip. Picking up the pace, the song launches into a hook driven chorus exudeding a plethora of non-stop momentum. Killer bass line from Rodgrigo Collombo shores up this one its extent.
An edgy guitar riff bordering on the militant gets “Reign Of Terror” (another strapping mid-tempo track) underway. The song proceeds to pulsate through its first verse with a harsh – almost extreme – voice decorating the backdrop, not smoothing out until obtaining a melodic based chorus touching upon the issue of spiritual warfare:
In the city of angels
Some pray for their souls to keep
Under fire in the night
Demon soldiers are ready to kill
Rocha showcases his abilities with a stretch of blazing Impellitteri-like leads.
“I Hate You” opens to a pronounced bass line before a fast paced rhythm guitar takes over. Driven through its verse portions relentlessly, the song makes an abrupt transition as it tapers off for a chorus of a surprisingly smooth sounding variety. Nice contrast is established in the process. The bass line returns at the start of an instrumental section carried by a run of gritty lead guitar. I Hate You” seem to be directed at the evil one:
You tried to pull me down
You made me feel fear
Crying out everyday I was very sick
You hate me
I hate you
Back to hell…
Things begin to go downhill with “You’re Sick”. This is one of several songs on Reset I might describe as run-of-the-mill, held back by its lack of a strong chorus hook and overall repititious feel. Musically, it proves a mid-tempo rocker that also presents a contrast, alternating between passages on the even side of things and a harshly delivered chorus.
“Tell Me” is not much better. The song actually commences in a strong manner, driven ahead by a guitar riff that almost brings to mind Whitecross’ “Love On The Line” (off 1987). Slowing quietly for its first verse, the song picks up in pace as the rhythm guitar returns to lead the way to a chorus that comes across near heavy handed in capacity. And that is the problem in that, similar to “You’re Sick”, a notable hook fails to be delivered.
“Nightmares” is the final Enter Eternity cover. I enjoy how Shining Star duplicates the same “eerie” feeling of the original, particularly during its haunting chorus (shored up by cascading drums). Rocha, of course, cuts loose with the same run of riveting lead guitar. All in all, this proves an inspired track perfectly suited for the heavier musical direction taken by the band.
“Guilty Of Crime” gets off to a good start, moving ahead aggressively by a hard hitting – almost frenzied – rhythm guitar. Upon reaching its chorus, however, the song hits a wall as, again, another environment bordering on the repetitive is put into place. Despite repeated listen, I have failed to grow into this one.
The same can be said for the Brazilian bonus track “Karma”. Mid-tempo in proportion but redundant in delivery, “Karma” represents the fourth “skip button” out of twelve tracks (to borrow a term from basketball, the guys are not shooting a very high percentage). If there is a relevant chorus here it simply escapes me. Good lyrical direction, though:
Everything you do comes back to you
That you can’t deny
Good or bad it all comes back to you
That’s the law of life
Review by: Andrew Rockwell
Track Listing: “Reset” (:08), “Desperate & Suffocated” (4:03), “Radiation Flame” (4:21), “Insanity” (4:08), “Enslaved By Fury” (4:26), “Reign Of Terror” (4:28), “I Hate You” (3:48), “You’re Sick” (4:06), “Nightmares” (3:55), “Guilty Of Crime” (4:15), “Karma” (3:22)
Ricardo Parronchi – Lead Vocals
Fabio Rocha – Guitars
Rodrigo Collombo – Bass
Juliano Collombo – Drums