Hard Radio.com

Jack STARR'S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME: "Under A Savage Sky"
Cult Metal Classics 2003

Virgin Steele axeman Jack Starr returns with an all-new album of power metal that expertly embraces the dirty old school without sounding embarrassing or out of touch. Part of the reason this works so well is that the songs are covered in a shower of sparks, the production of this thing exploding in carnage as if attacked by whirring circular saws. Writing-wise, Jack locates then exploits the magic of old Virgin Steele (no surprise, he was there), which is namely this: the idea of Americans writing in a New Wave Of British Heavy Metal style. Vocalist Shmoulik Avigal is a scream, literally, again, the NWOBHM coming triumphantly to mind, the man bellowing as if witches were bearing down on his family from the north, advancing from an ancient mound standing sentinel on some Scottish rise. Adding to the electricity is drummer Joe Hasselvander, a man with an old school pedigree that is legendary, Hasselvander practically leading the charge, if not for the overbearing riffs and ornate twin leads from the band's central cast member. So yeah, even if much of this (purposefully) courts convention, it is the performances that take it over the top, Under A Savage Sky being attacked from all sides with the spitting vipers of live wire heavy metal electricity. Faves: I Stand Alone and Personal Demons Dethroned, both of which practically take the band into the rarified air of Savage's Loose 'n Lethal. For some reason, the production quality decreases sharply for the last two tracks, but small fault on an album of pure metal played convincingly in a vintage style.
Review By: Martin Popoff
Rating: 8/10
URL - Cult Metal Classics.

Dragonight Agency.com

JACK STARR'S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME: "Under A Savage Sky"
Cult Metal Classics.

Day 1) Hell yes, I have waited for this small round silver piece for a loooong time! As I was in touch with Jack Starr for a long time, I knew about this forthcoming Heavy Metal thunder. But what I got, simply blowed me away! Except mighty ex VIRGIN STEELE / ex BURNING STARR axeman Jack Starr, band feature ex members of PENTAGRAM, RAVEN, PICTURE, THE RODS and JOE LYNN TURNER BAND! Holy fuck! Can you imagine better line up!? No!? And did I mention, that also Paul Chapman of UFO and Mark Gallagher of RAVEN took a part in the recording session!? Shit, this is too much for me. I can't listen to it! I will better put it down now, it may kill me.
Day 2) Well, the time has come. Let's go! Yeaaaaah, that's what I call Metal! I'm not even able to describe in words that fantastic feeling, I had while listened to this album! Can you imagine, that after first listening I sung some choruses while taking a shower!? Yes, those melodies will not leave your mind for a long time! This is the power and magic of pure Metal.
Day 2123312) Yes, I still love "Under A Savage Sky"! One simple order, to all the real Metal maniaxe out there: buy or die! Simply must have! More!!!
Review By: Bart Gabriel
Rating: 10/10
URL - Cult Metal Classics.

Silent Scream.com

Jack STARR'S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME: "Under A Savage Sky"
Cult Metal Classics 2003

Who doesn't know Virgin Steele? I hope no one! This great band in fact have created an indestructible fame during this years, bringing out great releases like "Noble savage", the two "The marriage of heaven and hell" and many others and today, led by the leader David DeFeis we are waiting for the successor of the pretentious "The House of Atreus".
In the meantime we have the possibility to listen to the new Jack Starr project; Jack has been the founder of Virgin Steele 20 years ago and he appears on the first two albums of the band: "Virgin Steele" and "Guardian of the flame", an authentic milestone of American metal. The guitarist comes back after a long absence from the scenes (especially from Europe) and the line up is composed by some good old metalheads: Ned Meloni on bass (Burning starr, Joe Lynn Turner Band), Joe Hasselvander (Raven, Pentagram) on drums and the dutch Shmoulik Avigal as vocalist (an icon in Netherlands: he was the singer of Picture, the first Dutch metal band).
The first Guardians of the flame's album is the ideal for those who grew up in the eighties and moves among power solutions, epic songs, some celtic influences (reminding to The lord weird slough feg) and an hard rock flavour. Starr with his six strings guitar is obviously the hinge of the band and demonstrates how ttechnique can be functional to the songs and even if the entire full length is full of solos (listen to the instrumental "Anthem for the nations") they aren't the typical ultra speed and neoclassical ones that today everyone plays. The album consists of fast and epic songs like the opener "The flame that never dies" (the title alone can please many defenders) and rocky and well structured mid tempos ("Conspiratos sanctos", "Sharon of the woods") where we can appreciate the experience of the band; especially Hasselvander on drums demonstrates to kick asses with his fanciful and passionate sound, even if he doesn't invent anything new. The title track has a lead guitar that oaints celtic arabesques (reminding the great Skyclad) and in the end is another classic fast similar track to the first Virgin Steele stuff. "I stand alone" stands proud defending the metallic faith against any type of contamination and remember us what was the eighties in the United States: the power of metal and the melodies of hard rock mixed together for the best track of the cd. "Personal demons dethroned" is a mid tempo à la Metal Church while, after the ultra epic "Masters of faith" (here Manowar rule) we'll find the instrumental "Return form the ashes": those who play Metal with passion will always find to return from the ashes like the legendary phoenix.
The production is made in function of Starr's guitar and sounds very "vintage". The struggle between Starr and DeFeis is now played on the musical field and if David continues with his epic educated metal and with an exasperate lyricism, Jack looks backward and takes the better things metal have offered in 25 years. The results will surely reward DeFeis but, for now, I take part with good old Jack.
Review By: Luca Filisetti
Rating: 7.5/10
URL - Cult Metal Classics.

Rock United.com

Jack STARR'S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME: "Under A Savage Sky"
Cult Metal Classics 2003
Review by Urban "Wally" Wallstrom 30 May 2003

Fans of old school and classic Heavy Metal better pay some extra attention now. Forget about all those lame wannabees and nu-metal bands out there as we're talking about the real deal here. This is the return of ex-Virgin Steele guitarist Jack Starr, who also recorded a bunch of solo and project albums in the 80's. This is however his return to the metal scene after many years in silence.
We can also find one of my all-time favorite metal vocalists here, namely Shmoulik Avigal (ex-Picture, The Rods, Horizon). He is truly one of the greatest metal shouters in biz and sadly also very underrated. There has simply been too few recordings during the days, for him to be recognized by a larger audience. You could say that Tony Martin (Black Sabbath) took his place in the spotlight and R.J. Dio is obviously a big inspiration.
The line-up of "Guardians Of The Flame" is completed with bassist Ned Meloni (ex- Joe Lynn Turner, Burning Starr) and drummer Joe Hasselvander (ex- Pentagram, Raven, The Boys). The overall sound does bare some similarities to early Virgin Steele (of course). However, "Under A Savage Sky" has perhaps more in common with Black Sabbath during the Dio and Tony Martin era, than anything else. The guitarwork of Starr is even better than I remember it to be and both his technique and tone, is very impressive indeed. Just check out the instrumental track "Anthem For The Nations" and you'll catch my drift here. The album begins with a couple of seconds of Orffs' Carmina Burana, before the whole thing kicks off with ""The Flame That Never Dies". It doesn't take long to recognize this to be powerful metal at its best. "Conspiratos Sanctos" is very much like those tunes Tony Iommi (Black Sabbath) used to write in the early 80's. Complete with power riffing and fantastic performance by Avigal. Proves once and for all that he really should have been the voice of Sab. The title track is like a mish-mash of early 80's metal. It's Virgin Steele, Picture, Riot, The Rods, Sab, into one lovely mixture. The more than eight minute long "I Stand Alone" is like a statement of true metal. I do however miss a couple of real sing-a-long metal anthems here. I only hope this means the next(?) album by Starr & Avigal, will be even better. Surely there must be more to come by these legends in the future? Recommended if you enjoy the old school with everything that goes with it.
Rating: 8/10
URL - Cult Metal Classics.

The Rock Hard Place.com

Jack STARR'S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME: "Under A Savage Sky"
Cult Metal Classics 2003

I can't express my elation when I got this CD in from Cult Metal Classics. I knew of Jack Starr's work with Virgin Steele years ago, and had recently heard their first two albums as they were re-issued by Noise Records. As I listened I found myself enjoying more of Starr's work than of David Defeis's. Needless to say, I was wondering what Starr might be up to, now I know! I'm also a huge Raven fan so when I realized former Raven drummer Joe Hasselvander was on the album, I was thrilled. I must also add that I was very curious about singer Shmoulik Avigal, who was in The Rods and Picture. Bassist Ned Meloni also has a great history of working with legend Joe Lynn Turner and Steve Whiteman of Kix.
Unfortunately there's no way this album could live up to my excitement, but on the other hand, I was far from dissappointed. The album is loaded with traditional Heavy Metal tracks that are performed very well by these guys who obviously love true Metal.
Starr's guitar work is the focal-point as far as I'm concerned, he does some superb execution and writing on the album. There's some epic tracks like "I Stand Alone" and "Master Of Fate" that are Classic Metal masterpieces and clock in over 8 minutes each.
The production on the album is probably the main downfall of the album. This style of Metal really needs a lot of studio time to perfect, and I'm sure budget's were fairly limited in this day and age. Having said that, it's not a major distraction. I also found that the louder you crank it up the better it sounds!
It's great to hear that these guys havn't lost their chops, and this is as heavy as material as they've ever done, proving that Metal isn't just for the younger guys! "Personal Demons Dethroned" is a song for the ages that anyone can relate to. "Sharon Of The Woods" is about as traditional Metal as you get, it's magical and sparks your imagination. The entire album has that feeling you got from the NWOBHM back in the late 70's, which makes it so special. If you're a fan of that era, you simply have to have this album for your collection. Hats off to Cult Metal Classics out of Greece for providing us all with True Metal, this certainly was an unexpected and pleasant surprise.
URL - Cult Metal Classics.

Metal Reviews.com

Jack STARR'S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME: "Under A Savage Sky"
Cult Metal Classics 2003

The Virgin Steele and Jack Starr fans out there certainly recognize the name of this new band. Guardians of The Flame is the new band of original Virgin Steele guitarist, Jack Starr. Jack has surrounded himself with some very talented musicians. Drummer Joe Hasselvander has seen time in both Raven and Pentagram. Vocalist Shmoulik Avigal is a former member of The Rods. And finally, bassist Ned Meloni has performed with Joe Lynn Turner and with Burning Starr. After a string of solo albums and releases under the Burning Starr moniker, Jack Starr remained silent for the last few years. Fans of classic heavy metal will be happy to know that Jack is back in action with this all new band on the Cult Metal Classics label.
If you've been a fan of Jack Starr's work throughout the years, you know exactly what you will hear when you pop this CD into your stereo. Under a Savage Sky features 10 tracks of classic heavy metal much in the vein of early Virgin Steele (minus the keyboards) and Burning Starr. Naturally, the songs are built around strong, catchy riffs and plenty of shredding from Mr. Starr. Furthermore, there are some nice epic moments scattered throughout the album. Jack certainly hasn't missed a beat over the years. Recently, the first two Virgin Steele albums were reissued, and they spent quite a lot of time in my stereo. The one comparison I would derive between those two albums and this album is that Jack plays with less of a "guitar hero" mindset now that he used to. His style is still without a doubt classic 80's metal, but his solos and shreds do not in any way try to dominate the songs. Anthem For The Nations is an instrumental track in which Jack indulges himself just a little. Honestly, I am normally not a fan of most instrumental tracks. In many instances, I feel that they are placed on the albums simply to increase the running time of the album. However, this track is very deserving of a place on this album as Jack's guitar sings for itself. All the songs on this album sound very inspired, just as I expected after such a long absence. Vocalist Shmoulik Avigal's powerful and melodic voice bears a striking resemblance to Ronnie James Dio. He's not quite up to the level of Dio, but his voice fits this style of music perfectly, which is certainly why Jack brought this fellow into his band. Each of the songs on this album is easily recognizable thanks to the mature songwriting. There are no dull moments to be found, but there are also no instances where I feel blown away either. As the guys continue to work together and become more comfortable with each other, I'm sure they will be able to deliver the "knock out punch" that I am looking for. Still, Under a Savage Sky maintains a very satisfying level of quality from start to finish. Unfortunately, the production sounds very low budget, most notably with the "tinny" drum sound. This isn't problematic enough to ruin the album, although I had higher expectations.
Under a Savage Sky is sure to please Jack Starr fans and fans of classic metal in general. This isn't Jack's best work, but this is still a very good release that is sure to please his fans as well as fans of the genre in general. After twenty plus years in the business, Jack still waves the flag of metal high and proud with a label that is dedicated to keeping this classic sound alive. If you like this type of release, you should check out some of the other releases from Cult Metal Classics. They are reissuing some long out of print and previously vinyl only 80's cult releases that you might be interested in.
Killing Songs : The Flame That Never Dies, Cry For Dawn, Personal Demons Dethroned.
Review By: Mike
Rating: 77/100
URL - Cult Metal Classics.

eSpudd.com

Jack STARR'S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME: "Under A Savage Sky"
Cult Metal Classics 2003

The swashbuckling six-stringer Jack Starr is back! For those not familiar with Jack, he made his mark in metal when he founded genre busting and early power metal pioneers Virgin Steele. Unfortunately Jack would only be with Virgin Steele for their first two albums. Coming back from a hiatus after an extensive solo career, Jack has stepped back into the scene of metal with his Guardians Of The Flame (a name that is a throwback and nod to his humble beginnings).
The Guardian's first album, Under A Savage Sky, is just what you would expect; a power guitar shredder's wet dream. Filled with Jack's signature massive fret attack guitar solos and raw churning riffs, Jack shows that he (and his band mates) is not stuck in the past or clinging onto memories of "the golden years". In fact, what Jack and Co. have done with Under A Savage Sky is very impressive.
The production is not super clean, there is nothing programmed, there are no keyboards or synths, there are no highflying vocals, it's just true heavy metal caught in the nude. You won't find anything like this even among the most ambitious or simplistic power metal acts of today that Jack has helped shape over the past twenty years. This is just a group of men who love to play and create music, and the great thing is, is that all the blood, sweat, and tears poured into this album can not only be heard, but actually felt as well.
But will you like it? I don't know. I do know that the more I listen to this the more I enjoy it, and the more I love to hear Jack make that axe of his sing. Solos like this have been missing for far too long! If you have any interest in the roots of power metal, Jack Starr's Guardians Of The Flame present the past in a way that has been lost to many; from the heart.
A piece of the past that is set in the present destined to be played regularly in the future. Jack is back, and he brought metal with him.
Rating: 4/5
Review By: Spudd
URL - Cult Metal Classics.

Metal Coven.com

Jack STARR'S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME: "Under A Savage Sky"
Cult Metal Classics 2003
With his former band Virgin Steele, Jack Starr released two quite succesful albums in the early 80’s.After that period he started his own band Burning Starr. During the years many tours and albums followed, and his solo albums (and the 2 first Virgin Steele albums) were re-issued by several record labels. After all these re-issues Jack really wanted to do a new album.One lucky day Jack was contacted by Chris and Manos from the Greek Cult Metal Classics label which offered Jack a deal. Jack soon contacted his former bandmates Joe Hasselvander (drums) and Ned Meloni (bass). Also former Picture/The Rods vocalist Shmoulik Avigal was approached again by Jack. Together with these guys the “Under A Savage Sky” album was recorded in Florida at the end of 2002. And they surely returned with a great album! The songs on “Under A Savage Sky” are great mid and up-tempo epic/heavy rock/metal compositions! Comparable with great 80’s heavy rock/metal bands like Dio, Rainbow and Virgin Steele. The songs are topped off with the great vocals of Shmoulik (who sounds like a mix of Ronnie James Dio and Tony Martin) and Jack’s phenomenal guitar riffs/solo’s. With “Anthem For The Nations” and “Return From The Ashes” there are also two great compositions on the album, which both remind me of another gifted guitaris: James Byrd. ”Under A Savage Sky” is a big return of Jack Starr and his band in heavy metal Valhalla!!!
Review By: Ronnie Elst
Rating: 92/100
URL - Cult Metal Classics.


Metal Gospel.com

Jack STARR'S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME: "Under A Savage Sky"
Cult Metal Classics 2003
Review No 1
Jack Starr is back and he´s back with a vengeance. For those not in the know, Jack Starr is the original VIRGIN STEELE guitarist which also would explain why his new band is called after the 2nd VIRGIN STEELE album. He´s joined here by ex BURNING STARR bass man Ned Meloni, RAVEN / PENTAGRAM skinbasher Joe Hasselvander and last by ex PICTURE throat Shmoulik Avigal. The result is never far from VIRGIN STEELE and thanks to Shmoulik´s brilliant vocals sometimes close to DIO era RAINBOWs heavier tracks. Despite these obvious parallels GOTF never sound old or oldfashioned (well except for a Korn kid maybe...), the CD is surprisingly heavy. I just hope Jack can keep this lineup together for more than one CD. A festival appearance or two would probably not be a bad idea either, they´d fit perfectly for KEEP IT TRUE or the CLASSIC METAL FEST.
Review By: Hartmuth

This is a CD I have had my eye on for quite a while and it has been impossible to obtain it in the US. I picked this up at the H.O.A. festival at the Hellion booth and I am glad I persevered in my quest. Jack Starr was the original VIRGIN STEEL guitarist and has assembled a line up with heavy experience in traditional metal including Shmoulik Avigal (PICTURE) and Joe Hasselvander (PENTAGRAM & RAVEN). What you have here is a solid traditional metal album with influences from the 70’s and 80’s, packaged up in a format that can hold water in 2003. Jack Starr has been around the block, as have the other members of this band. These are people who have never been with the most popular metal bands of their time but have paid their dues and earned respect in the underground. When listening to this album you can hear the dedication and devotion to traditional metal, the metal of THEIR era, the metal that laid the foundation of metal in 2003 and beyond. I enjoy the way this group has taken certain characteristics of metal from the early days (rough vocals, skilled and wailing guitar styles, straight ahead drumming, and great support bass) and combined them into a very listenable release in 2003. For the younger metal heads of 2003 this should be required listening.
Review By: Heart Of Steel
Rating = 8/10
URL - Cult Metal Classics.



Hard N Heavy.net

Jack STARR'S GUARDIANS OF THE FLAME: "Under A Savage Sky"
Cult Metal Classics 2003
Thanks to Cult Metal Classics - a new greek label - I finaly got my copy of new Jack Starr stuff. And boy, what a killer!!!
The label itself describes the music as “Classic Heavy Metal with neoclassical, epic and celtic arrangements. Well, IMHO that doesn’t fit right. I’d rather say it’s classic Epic Power Metal with strong 80s influences! Although I can’t deny some super Celtic scales and chord-changes.
Well let’s get started: The opener is called “The flame that never dies” and is pure power! And man is this an anthem!!! It’s the best introduction for vocalist Shmoulik Avigal “Ex-The Rods”. This man sounds like Lemmys little brother. A rough and hard but also melodic voice! Sounds great!!!
“Conspiratos Sanctos” - which means “Holy Conspiracy” comes along as a slow and heavy monster. Now I know what they mean with “epic”! The song developes through the minutes and becomes faster and growing. Yes, Jack didn’t forget how to write good songs :-)
“Cry for dawn” is a fast banger with a strong DIO feeling to it. You really can tell that everybody has fun here and it’s a pleasure to listen to this still hungry band! Definitely a killer!!
“Anthem for the nations” is the first of two instrumentals. Not bad and also enjoyable for non-guitar-players, I think. A very strong song where Jack replaces vocal lines with his guitar without giving the “Guitar Hero”.
From here on the CD is fully packed with killer songs! The first half of the album wasn’t bad at all - in fact it was great Metal. But the upcoming songs are the highlights of this album - musicaly and lyricaly.
Songs like “Sharon of the Woods” “Under a savage sky”, “Personal Demons dethroned” or “Masters of fate” are classics! No doubt!
Jack Starr’s “Comeback” is a big success and a great surprise to me. I never thought that “the old man of metal” would ever come along with such a “monster”. Jack doesn’t care about trends, spits on so called “True Metal” bands and gives a shit about the mainstream! With an average of approx. more than 5 minutes / song you REALLY can tell that the band just playes out their hearts.
Everybody who likes 80s Metal / Power Metal - THIS IS IT!!! The blueprint of a “Real Metal” album, so to speak.
Good to have you back, Jack!
Rating: 9/10
URL - Cult Metal Classics.