The name sounds familiar, the music sounds familiar and yet "Barbed Wire Soul" is the debut album from Blackstar. The reason for familiarity is because the band rely on their music alone to make people sit up and listen. Blackstar follow this path whole heartedly, confident in the knowledge that what they are doing is different enough to warrant attention. The music definetely comes first and that is the only thing you'll notice on the release of this album.
Blackstar mix a traditional rock sound with more modern aggressive style, producing a full sound, without falling into the realms of complete retro abandonment. Revealing the bands line up, the reasons for this become clear. Jeff Walker, Ken Owen & Carlo Regadas forged a uniquely progressive career in the form of Carcass, whilst Mark Griffiths plied his trade in early Cathedral. Proud of past achievements but craving a new outlet, the pedigree foursome have developed an immediately identifiable sounds without pandering to current trends of the latest fashion. As Jeff Walker explains "The chassis might contain elements of our former bands but the engine has been finely tuned."
Blackstar write rock songs in the true sense of the word, utilising memorable choruses with strong lyrics and a toe tapping rhythm, ending with something that appeals to anybody with an appreciation for real songs. As you would expect from such a notable line up, the added extra comes in the form of barely suppressed aggression which lingers as a sneering undercurrent throughout. Recorded at Parr Streer studios on Liverpool and produced by Colin Richardson (Machine Head, The Exploited, Napalm Death), Blackstar have succeded in taking their influences of late 70's and early 80's music, and mutating them into something a new generation can appreciate as well. This is the embodiment of rock music - something with an edge, something unsettling in its refusal to conform and "Barbed Wire Soul" reveals no hesitation in pummeling the point home.
Anyone expecting a repeat performance of Carcass or Cathedral should know better. Blackstar stands out on its own as a "Bastardised hard-rock" according to Jeff. Drawing on influences without plagiarising them, resulting in a fresh and innovative sound which goes completely against the grain.
"Barbed Wire Soul" is released through Peaceville on September 29, 1997.
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