Not being a close follower of early VIRGIN STEELE or any of his other projects, JACK STARR (and BURNING STARR) was a mystery to me entirely before this album. In my opinion, this is really the best way to go into an album, with no preconceived notions. Objectively, I can say then, that this is not a very exciting album. This is very basic Heavy Metal, and while not bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it also lacks imagination.
This was pretty clear from the get-go when “Inquisitor” starts with the line “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue”. Most of the album is more than a little trite, dealing with relatively unimaginative themes, unremarkable lyrics and unimpressive instrumental work. There's a heavy leaning on strophic song structures, and very redundant choruses. This is Heavy Metal very near its most basic, and it definitely feels like you're back listening to 80's Hair Metal at some points.
...and that's what simultaneously saves the album. This metal is relatively slow-paced, with the occasional solo break. It's nostalgic, classic feeling Metal that others will certainly appreciate more than I. Todd Michael Hall is more than a decent vocalist, and excels everywhere in his range. His vocal lines are what make this album worth hearing (he’s particularly good in tracks like “The King Must Die” and “Indian Nation”). I mentioned that the musicianship is unimpressive, but neither does it disappoint. It has a bit of a rough feel, as does most more traditional Heavy Metal, and the timbre of the guitars is certainly reminiscent of the time when bands like RAINBOW and BLACK SABBATH roamed the western world and beyond.
Favorite tracks are definitely "The King Must Die" (a bit of speed!), "The Black Clouds Of Thanos" (Good, extended song that some might consider epic), and the enjoyable "Once And Future King".
Certainly recommended to fans of JACK STARR’S other work, and anyone who enjoys straight-up Heavy Metal. This was a little hard for me to get excited about, but it’s a solid piece of work. Reasonably good, if unexciting.
(Online September 22, 2010)