Dark Star

Dark Star

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While there's no disputing the fact that EMI's twin set of New Wave of British Heavy Metal compilations, the Metal for Muthas, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 sets, helped draw lots of attention to a thriving underground scene in 1980, the irony that only one of its featured artists -- Iron Maiden -- went on to gain fame and fortune should not be lost on anyone. It certainly wasn't lost on the members of Dark Star, whose personal contribution to the series -- a high-energy, harmony-laden hard rocker redolent of Thin Lizzy named "Lady of Mars" -- was divinely granted some form of cult immortality by association, but brought precious little else to the struggling band's career. In fact, by the time the Birmingham outfit's eponymous debut album emerged in 1981, they'd already fallen afoul of one shady business associate (who spirited away all of the cash intended to finance an official single for the aforementioned track) and they were about to witness their present label, Avatar, go bankrupt, orphaning said album in the process. All of which is a damned shame, because Dark Star's first long-player turned out quite impressive by NWOBHM standards, boasting surprisingly good production and quality material rich in both inspiration and versatility -- a trait few acts within the movement could lay claim to. So along with the aforementioned Lizzy guitar harmonies (also showcased nicely on "Lady Love") and the odd UFO tribute ("Louisa"), Dark Star showed that they could also craft muscular metallic singles like "Kaptain Amerika" and "Rockbringer" (think Def Leppard circa On Through the Night); develop epic-sized fare ranging from the hard-driving, black-hearted "Backstreet Killer" to the sensitive, globally conscious balladry of "Green Peace"; and even unplug for a confident folk strum through "The Musician." Sure, the one monster hit single that may have made all the difference didn't ultimately materialize among these tracks, but far worse bands achieved much more success with less talent, simply because their financial backers managed to stay in business. So raise a glass of bitter to Dark Star! They may be long gone, but this record, at least, pays lasting tribute to another solid NWOBHM group's sadly squandered promise.

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