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Metal/Prog Metal CD Reviews

Jack Starr's Burning Starr

Metal Generation 1985-2017

Review by Gary Hill

This is an impressive box set that serves as a great way to start a collection of this important artist. It has over nine-hours of music across seven CDs. Several of those CDs contain two full albums on the disc. Jack Starr came to fame as the guitarist for Virgin Steele. Jack Starr's Burning Starr is the band he formed after parting ways with them.

The music here varies from more hard rock based metal to symphonic, epic, power metal and more. It covers quite a bit of territory. For my money, the best disc here is the fifth, which features the album Stand Your Ground. Everything here is well worth having, though. Starr is an amazing guitarist, and this set really shows that off while also delivering some great metal. Each CD is encased in its own custom cardboard sleeve, and this includes an informative booklet, and it all comes in cardboard clamshell box.

This review is available in book (paperback and hardcover) form in Music Street Journal: 2024  Volume 1 More information and purchase links can be found at:

Track by Track Review
Rock The American Way (1985)
Rock N Roll Is The American Way

Starting with just vocals, this works out to driving 80s metal sounds from there. This is an arena rock styled tune with a lot of emphasis on the hook. The guitar solo section feels a little forced, but it also works pretty well.

In Your Arms Again
More of a balladic cut, this does have some rocking sections and some drama. It's a little meatier than the opener in some ways.
Now, this still has some of that accessible 80s metal thing at play, but it also has more meat on its bones than either of its predecessors did. I can even make out some hints of Iron Maiden on some of the guitar parts here.
Heat Of The Night
With both catchy hooks and fairly meaty riffs, this is one of my favorite tunes on this first album on the disc. It has both an accessibility and a real metal edge. The guitar interplay on the instrumental section is on fire, too.
Born To Rock
A little meaner and edgier, this is a solid tune. It definitely displays a little more metal than some of the other tunes do.
She’s On Fire
More straight-ahead rock and roll is added to the mix here. The vocal arrangement even leans toward vintage glam at times. This definitely has a lot of hair metal in the mix.
Live Fast, Rock Hard
There is a greater intensity here. I'm almost reminded of Motörhead in terms of the speed and power. Yet, this is tempered with more of that 80s hair metal thing. There is a cool instrumental break later that seems to alternate between something like Judas Priest and almost Queen kind of thing. This is definitely a highlight of the first album here.
Fight The Thunder
Another that's meatier and more purely metallic, this one is downright mean. It's another of the standouts on the first album. The instrumental section is on fire, too.
No Turning Back (1986)
No Turning Back
The song that opened the next album comes in dramatic with a melodic metal sound. It shifts to fiercer metal from there. This is much more about real steel than hair metal. It's perhaps not as easily accessible, but it does really rock. It does have some chorus hooks, too.
Light In The Dark
There is almost a Judas Priest meets Iron Maiden kind of vibe at play here. Yet, I can also make out hints of things like Helloween. This is mean and incendiary. The guitar solo on this is fierce. Yet, it also turns neo-classical in its shredding.
Fire And Rain
Here is an unusual cover. This is a James Taylor song. On the one hand, they keep it somewhat true to form. On the other, they bring some real metal crunch to it. Odd as this is, it works really well. I really love the intricate clean guitar on this, but the distorted stuff is a great touch, too.
Call Of The Wild
This is another metal powerhouse. It's fast-paced and fierce. It's a killer screaming metal stomper. There is some neo-classical shredding mid-track that's so strong.
Road Warrior
Another fierce metal screamer, this is a powerhouse. As strong as the last one was, this might actually up the ante.
Prelude In C Minor
A piano-based classical piece, this is a nice interlude.
Evil Never Sleeps
Here we are back into mean metal zones. This is a powerhouse tune that really makes me think a lot of things like Judas Priest. This is a killer. It has some smoking hot guitar work, too.
Path Of Destruction
Driving, mean and so strong, this is another winner on a disc full of great music.
Frantic and meaty guitar pyrotechnics are on the menu here. This is a little less than a minute long and purely a guitar solo.
Avenging Angel
This really makes me think of Iron Maiden as it gets underway. It turns really frantic and driving beyond the introduction.
Run For Your Life
Another fierce and mean metal screamer, these guys are not missing a move at all here. This is another that works so well.
Some killer piano gets this going. Electric guitar comes over the top of that, and the two paint some dramatic music together. This instrumental has both jazz and classical music in the mix along with some metal crunch.
Bonus Tracks
Burning Starr (1997 Remix)

Drums bring this in. They fire out from there to a frantic screamer that's a bit like Judas Priest.

Metal Generation (1997 Remix)
Fierce and meaty metal is on the menu here. This really rocks like crazy. It earns a parental advisory for the lyrics.
Blaze Of Glory (1987)
Stand Up And Fight
They waste no time, firing out with metal fury right out of the gate on this third album, second CD.
Driving, screaming hot and fast-moving, this does feel like it's in overdrive. I really love the drum sound on this song, and the guitar is on fire.
Blaze Of Glory
While perhaps not quite as intense as the opener, this is still packed full of fiery metal. The track has some hints of classical music in some of the guitar work. It also manages a great chorus hook.
F.F.Z. (Free Fire Zone)
This is a guitar solo that showcases a real guitar hero kind of sound. It' is a screamer.
Go Down Fighting
Another mean metal stomper, this is driving and yet also catchy.
Burning Starr
Here we get another version of a song we heard as a bonus on the first CD. The sound on this is a little muddier than it was on that other version. This still works just as well, though. It's on fire.
Mad At The World
Screaming hot, this one is dramatic and powerful. It's some really meaty metal. This is among the best of this third album here, and that says a lot.
Mercy Killer
Furious and fierce, this is another metal screamer. It's not unexpected, but it's another powerhouse entry. This has some particularly classy guitar work.
Metal Generation
I think I might like this mix of the song better. While it's a bit rawer in terms of production, that seems to fit this piece. It's such a ferocious number that it just feels more like a jackhammer like this. Again, this gets a parental advisory because it is the same song.
Intricate acoustic guitar gets metal electric guitar over the top in this powerful instrumental. While this has both power and charm, I don't think it's as effective as "Coda" on the previous album was.
Burning Starr (1989)
Send Me An Angel
This one seems to have more of a hook-laden presence. While it's more in that direction, this is still meatier and more metal than some of the stuff on the first album. There is a mellower section on this that has some cool clean guitar. It's definitely not ballad level, though. This still rocks like crazy.
Bad Time
Here they cover Grand Funk Railroad. I'm a big GFR fan. They do this closer to the original than they did with "Fire and Rain." It's definitely more metallic and powered up, but it's still in the same vicinity as the original.
Fool For Love
More on the arena rock side of the equation, this still has some metal in the mix. It's energized, but also hook-laden.
Hold Back The Night
There is a healthy helping of keyboards on this track. In fact, that instrument takes the lead early on this. Later sections get more rocking. It's more of an arena rocker, but it does turn more toward the metal side of things later.
Love Can’t Wait
A balladic number, the keyboards are pretty far up in the mix as this gets going. It is definitely a power ballad, though because it gets harder rocking at times.
Out Of The Blue
A keyboard introduction gives way to some of the fiercest metal we've heard for a few songs. This has some hooks and hair metal trappings, but it's closer to the real steel end of things. I can even make out some hints of something like Dio on this rocker.
New York Woman
Drums get us going. Then the rest of the band jump in, and we're off into a smoking hot hard rocking jam. This has a real old-school blues rock (think Zeppelin) sound with more of a metal edge. This is quite a powerhouse.
Tear Down The Walls
Hard rock and metal merge with style here. This is less arena rocking and closer to a pure metal end of the spectrum. Yet, it's still riff-driven and hook-laden.
Break The Ice
This has plenty of driving metal built into it. Yet, it also has some of the more mainstream rock angle to it.
Remember Tomorrow
More of an arena rocker, keyboards are prominent on this. It's a solid tune, but not of the more metallic variety. This feels more like a melodic power pop tune in some ways. it does have some killer guitar soloing, though.
Good Girls Gone Bad
This is a bit like the kind of music Poison was known for, but there is more of a real metal edge to it. It's definitely not among the strongest music here, but it's reasonably effective. The lyrics definitely cross into creeper territory.
Under A Savage Sky (2003)
The Flame That Never Dies
A full dramatic symphonic section, complete with operatic vocals gets us underway here. After that introduction runs through, they fire out into some serious metal from there. This thing is appropriately on fire. This gets into some neo-classical metal modes as it marches forward. This is a symphonic metal powerhouse and a great way to start this disc.
Conspiratos Sanctos
They up the metal ante on this thing. It reminds me of a more metal take on Long Live Rock and Roll era Rainbow. This is another monster. The instrumental section really brings that kind of dramatic sound to bear with full force. I love this song so much.
Cry For Freedom
More ferocious and driving, this is another smoking hot metal screamer. This particular album is going from strength to strength by this point. The instrumental section on this almost has a Deep Purple on steroids vibe to it.
Anthem For The Nations
This is more melodic, and it does feel quite anthemic. It does get pretty intense and frantic at times. This instrumental really rocks.
Sharon Of The Woods
There are some neo-classical angles built into this cut. It has a real Ritchie Blackmore vibe, too. The opening instrumental section is extensive, but it shifts outward after a time into a pretty straightforward, but fierce, heavy metal sound. That serves as the backdrop for the vocals. A later instrumental section lets them stretch out some more. They get back to the powerful metal for the return of the vocals. There is some neo-classical guitar work in an instrumental section later.
Under A Savage Sky
Another scorcher, I really love some of the guitar work on this so much, but the whole tune works very well.
I Stand Alone
Here we get more straight-ahead metal. This has some vocal hooks and is also meaty. The instrumental section gets pretty fierce and driving with some cool musical passages. The track also gets more intense and faster later. Another instrumental section features some particularly expressive guitar work.
Personal Demons Dethroned
This is another no-nonsense metal screamer at its core. This has some seriously incendiary guitar soloing. There is a slower, dropped back movement that leans toward balladic later. The song keeps growing and evolving with a slow metal movement with expressive guitar work further down the road. That section ends the track in style.
Masters Of Fate
Guitar pyrotechnics get this underway. It evolves into a dramatic and mean sounding riff section from there. That works through, and then they take into some rather thrashy sounding music. The vocals come over with a power metal kind of sound in play. This thing works through a number of twists and changes. It has some great variety, but largely remains on the melodic power metal side of the equation.
Return From The Ashes
This shortish instrumental features some great melodic metal music.
The Strider Project (1991)
Down On Love
This has a Zeppelin meets mainstream metal vibe to it. It's an effective number, but not up to the level of the stuff that we heard earlier on this CD. That said, the guitar soloing is great.
Cherry Red
Although there is nothing all that special about this, the track is a solid metal romp that works well.
It’s Not Over
I dig this one quite a bit, although it's another that's cut from pretty basic metal fabric.
Get Together
Here we get a cover of a 1960s hit. This version has a real pop rock meets hair metal feeling to it. While I like the song in general, I think this is among the weakest material on this particular CD of the set.
Livin’ In The Cities
Hard rock and metal merge on this powerhouse tune. While it's not up to the level of the first album that's included on this CD, it might be the best tune on the second one. It has a real blues rock angle to it.
Land Of The Dead (2011)
Land Of The Dead
Some sound effects give way to a spoken introduction that has a sort of theme park creepiness to it. They fire out from there into some fierce technical metal with plenty of power angles to it. This is a strong cut and a great way to start this next album.
Sands Of Time
There are definite neo-classical elements to the metal modes that start this. The track works out to a galloping jam that seems to combine things ranging from Iron Maiden, Helloween and Deep Purple. This is another epic powerhouse tune.
Twilight Of The Gods
This shorter track has plenty of symphonic elements at play. It is epic in sound, if not scale. While there are a lot of vocals (both chorale and metal style), they are of the non-lyrical variety.
Stranger In Paradise
A real metal powerhouse this has some great vocal hooks along with plenty of driving metal. There is a definite epic vibe and mode to this piece. It's another winner. It includes some scorching guitar soloing, too that gets into shred zones.
Here We Are
In some ways this is more hook-laden and mainstream metal based. On the other, it still has plenty of real meat on its bones. This rocks like crazy and works particularly well.
Warning Fire
The sound of something like an artillery shot gets this underway. The fury rages out with a lot of speed from there. This has a real power metal sound to it. I'm reminded of Manowar to some degree on this song. It's a screamer that has a lot of twists and turns on it.
Daughter Of Darkness
Coming in mellower and more melodic, this builds out with style and charm in a power ballad way. There are definitely symphonic and epic metal concepts that come into play on this. It gets pretty driving and powerful at times. There are some really soaring moments. It's epic in scope, and nearly so in scale.
When Blood And Steel Collide
Firing in with serious metal fury, this has more of that power metal sound. It's another smoking hot number and really gets soaring at times. The subject matter and, to some degree, the sound of this also call to mind Manowar.
On The Wings Of The Night
This powerhouse is another that makes me think of Manowar. It's dramatic and anthemic. It has more of that epic, power metal drama built into it.
Never Again
I love the bass that gets things underway here. This gets turned into more of a dramatic power metal tune from there. This is meaner than some of the rest on this CD. There is some scorching instrumental work later in the track. There are also some theatrical spoken vocals at times.
Until The End
Symphonic metal concepts gets us going here. It shifts to more of a straightforward power  metal sound. This is another that has some similarities to Manowar. It's also another effective piece of music.
Strider Project (1991) Continued
Dancing On The Edge
This has a definite pop metal kind of groove and sound to it. It's a solid tune but nothing all that special. It does have some strong guitar soloing, though.
Prove Your Love
Acoustic blues guitar starts this track. The number evolves from there to something a little more aligned with mainstream hard rock, but it remains bluesy and acoustic for the first vocal section. It turns more electrified as it continues, but it doesn't really deviate from that blues rock angle. This does have some hot metal guitar soloing later.
Mr. President
Blues-based hard rock and hair metal merge on this track. This has some talk box and rocks pretty well. It's nothing Earth-shattering, but it does entertain.
Under The Influence
This feels like pretty generic hard rock based metallic music. It's along the lines of a lot of 80s metal.

Stand Your Ground (2017)
The Secrets We Hide

A fierce metal stomper, this reminds me a lot of Judas Priest. In fact, the vocals at times even call to mind Rob Halford.

The Enemy
Driving, meaty metal is on the menu here. This more of a furious grind than the opener was. There is a real classic metal angle to this, along with both epic and power metal angles. It's another winner.
Stand Your Ground
At almost ten-and-a-half minutes of music, this is an epic piece. It comes in furious with a real epic metal vibe to it. That Manowar thing seems to be in place on some of the chorus hooks. There is a killer neo-classical instrumental section around the three-minute mark that even gets some chorale styled vocals in the mix. This track works through a number of cool twists and turns. It is pure metal all the way, but it's of the elevated variety. This is one of my favorites of the whole set. That says a lot. There is a movement near the end that has more of a mainstream rock turned metal sound to it. It feels triumphant, fitting the lyrics in that section. It also has some killer melodic guitar soloing at play.
Another furious metal screamer, this makes me think of both Judas Priest and Manowar. That said, it still has its own unique sound, too. The guitar soloing on this gets decidedly shredding, and there are some real thrashy moments at play at times.
More of an anthemic track, this has healthy helpings of mainstream rock in the mix. It's still metal, too, but perhaps of the arena-rock-oriented variety.
The Sky Is Falling
This has some deeply memorable musical passages. It also has some vocal hooks that really resonate with the listener. The guitar soloing is expressive and epic in nature. The whole tune is really elevated power metal that works so well. This is another highlight of the whole set for me. It's so powerful
Worlds Apart
Another that combines an arena rock sound with metal sensibilities and crunch. It gets very powerful before it's over.
Escape From The Night
More in the Manowar vein, this has a lot of great crunch and energy. It has some solid hooks, too. It really gets soaring and dramatic as it builds outward. This is another that stands particularly tall.
We Are One
Intricate guitar and cool bass work get things underway here. This builds in a rather epic way. This works out into a melodic power metal sound after a while. It's a tune that would have been a highlight on some of the other discs here, but on this one doesn't stand quite as tall as some of the others. That's because the overall level of this disc is so much higher.
Stronger Than Steel (Feat Rhett Forrester)
Furious and frantic, this is another powerhouse tune. It has some killer vocal interplay. It's also a fairly complex number that really evolves. Of course, we get some smoking hot, yet melodic, guitar soloing. There is a bit of a studio work through with just bass and vocals at the end of this.
False Gods
Another that comes in fierce, it takes no prisoners from there. It's another powerful metal stomper. The instrumental section on this is extended and very potent. It features lots of great guitar soloing.
To The Ends
This has some intriguing twists and turns. It's another melodic metal number with real power and epic angles at play. It drops to an acoustic guitar treatment for a time mid-track, and then fires back out with more intensity from there. This is perhaps not as strong as some of the rest on this CD, but that's again more about the competition than any weakness in this song.
Live In Germany (2013)
Go Down Fighting
This feels decidedly meaty and mean. It's a driving metal tune with a lot of style.
The Flame That Never Dies
With more of an epic sound at play, this continues to powerhouse metal barrage.
Blaze Of Glory/Jack Starr Guitar Solo
The first part of this two-fer is a solid anthemic metal stomper. The second portion, as you can probably surmise, is a smoking hot guitar solo segment.
Land Of The Dead
The screaming hot metal on this works so well. It's another high-energy screamer. This does get a little raw around the halfway point, but they manage to recover from there.
Day Of The Reaper
This has a pounding, driving riff that works really well in this live performance. It's not really a standout by any means, but it works pretty well.
No Turning Back
A little more of a mainstream metal screamer, this is another solid number. It has some moments that stand taller. The guitar soloing is on fire.
Sands Of Time
The galloping approach on this translates so well to live performance. This is another killer track.
Conspiratos Sanctos
There is a dark, mysterious metal quality to this track. They continue rocking like crazy on this one. The song includes some cool twists and turns and gets really cinematic at times.
Burning Starr
Frantic metal is the order of business on this powerhouse. Some of the guitar work on this is decidedly fiery.
Evil Never Sleeps
This is another fierce and driving song. It's so fast-paced and furious.
Spirit Of ’86 (Bonus Studio Track)
A vocal-only introduction gives way to pounding metal. The Manowar thing is a worthy reference point here.
From The Ashes We Rise (Bonus Studio Track)
This epic styled piece works so well.
Children Of The Storm (Bonus Studio Track)
Galloping and screaming hot, this is another powerhouse metal tune. The vocal performance is powerful, and the guitar work is both expressive and shredding.
Under The Influence (Bonus Studio Track) (1989)
On the one hand, this is closer to a raunch and roll, hair metal sound. It has a lot more real steal to it than that would suggest. It's a killer tune.
Forever (Bonus Studio Track (1989)
Starting on piano, this lands in the neighborhood of power-ballad. It isn't all that metal, but it is a strong and soaring tune. There is some hair metal type stuff in the mix as it continues later. Intricate acoustic guitar ends the song.
From The Vault
Concrete Warrior
Starting with some guitar and a little bit of tentative approach, this works out to some seriously fierce metal from there. This thing is on fire, yet it still manages some catchy hooks.
Chains Of Love
If anything this is even more ferocious than the opener was. It has some hints of things like WASP in the mix. This works so well.
Eyes Of Fire
This is a bit more of a hard rocker with metal angles. I'd consider it closer to the hair metal end of the spectrum.
Winds Of War
This alternate take is on fire. It's another fierce metal screamer. It's absolutely on fire.
1985 Rehearsal Tape:
In The Heat Of The Night

As you might expect from a rehearsal tape of that era, the sound quality here leaves something to be desired. The mix isn't the best, either. They put in a great performance despite those things, though.

Live Fast, Rock Hard
They deliver speed and energy on this, but it similarly suffers with sound quality.
Solo/Born To Rock
As you might guess, this starts with some guitar soloing. They work out to a pretty straightforward metal rocker from there. Again, the sound isn't great.
Wild In The Streets
This also suffers in terms of recording. The song rocks out well, though.
Der Klang Der Liebe (The Sound Of Love) (Instrumental)
The guitar soloing on this thing is purely on fire.
Return From The Ashes/ Personal Demons (Instrumental)
While this is slower and less intense than the previous cut, it has some inspired guitar solo. It is, if anything, a little more expressive.
Day Of The Reaper (Live At 80’s In The Park)
This rocks very well. The recording quality isn't great, but the performance is.
Live At Space Coast Harley Davidson 1989:
False Messiah
Another metal powerhouse, the recording here is also not great. Still, it works well enough to appreciate the song. The instrumental section on this is so strong.
Fight The Thunder
I love the guitar riffing on this, but beyond that the sound quality makes it a little too rough around the edges. Still, it does have a mean texture to it that's cool. This does include a bass solo, and that is awesome, too.
Fire And Rain
This live version of their James Taylor cover is pretty solid. The sound quality issues are still present, but they don't seem as obtrusive as they were on a couple of the other songs.
The Sinner
While the sound quality is still an issue, this metal stomper that sounds quite a bit like something Dio-era Black Sabbath might have done is solid.
Conspiratos Sanctos (Live At 80s In The Park)
There is a guitar solo section at the beginning of this that's on fire. Beyond that, this dramatic metal tune suffers quite a bit from sound quality, but still works on the strength of the song.
2006 Rehearsal Tape:
The mellow opening on this definitely reminds me of "Stairway to Heaven." The track works out after the first vocal section into more of a fierce metal mode. This again suffers a little in terms of recording quality.
Here We Are
The sound on this is not as good as the sound as the last track. This song really works so well, though. It's a killer metal rocker that manages to transcend the limits of the recording.
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