Spear of Destiny

Morning Star

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Kirk Brandon has been around the block so many times -- sometimes firing on all cylinders and other times seeming so disillusioned that you wonder why he bothers -- that any "new" Spear of Destiny album has to be viewed with caution. Thankfully, Morning Star catches him in fine form, kicking things off with the primal punch of "Lucky Man," driving into the brutal "Mayday," and then nailing all the promise into place with "Half Life." This is Brandon with the gloves off, with the first half standing as the heaviest album of their career so far. And, if the bombast does occasionally come down a little too hard, still the Brandon vocal will send you skywards, before skipping past the occasional musical misstep "Better Man" and lowering you gently into the more introspective pastures of the CD's second half. The lovely "Mermaid," the stark "White Rose," and the so evocative "Warleigh Road" are all Spear classics and, though one rarely expects to find such jewels on an album cut almost 20 years past a band's first sell-by date, Morning Star is an exception to the rule.

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