MAVERICK – Changes
Hard rocking Northern Irishmen Maverick return with their third full-length album, Cold Star Dancer, and basically, carry on from where they left off with 2016’s Big Red.
There have been a couple of line-up changes with guitarist Terry McHugh leaving the band and drummer Jonathan Millar replacing Mike Ross but the rock on which this band is built still remains in the shape of the Balfour brothers, David on vocals and Ryan on guitar. They are more than ably supported by bassist Richie Diver.
Out once again via Metalapolis Records on April 6, 2018, Cold Star Dancer shows that as a band Maverick are trying to progress, in that songs are occasionally more complex and intricate and the sound is generally a bigger, more rounded one. There is less of an edge than on Big Red and more songs are crowd-pleasing singalong affairs. All good things in my book.
MAVERICK – Cold Star Dancer
Tha album opens with the obligatory atmospheric scene setter, “Dusk”, a minute and a half of wind noise with gentle guitar and drumming played over it. It would have had more impact if it was amalgamated as an opening to the title track, which follows. “Cold Star Dancer” is where the action really starts and the comforting sound of David Balfour’s powerful vocals is a welcoming sound. Great riffing and drumming are the signature of this track and it’s a solid start.
“Myrmidon” follows which has great pace which gets the head nodding and foot tapping. The solo is sustained and fitting – with help from Stormzone’s Steve Moore – and the drumming is once again outstanding. Jonathan Millar doesn’t just a keep a beat, he takes the tracks up a level with his skill and enthusiasm. Myrmidons, for those asking (I know I was), were a legendary people of Greek mythology commanded by Achilles during the Trojan War. So now you know. Check out the track below.
There’s a touch of the formulaic with “Kiss of Fire” but that is soon forgotten with the opening riffs to “Goodbye”, the first power ballad (I’m sure they wouldn’t like it described as that) of Cold Star Dancer. Ryan Balfour is in top form here. Both his riff and solo work are high quality.
“Ex Machina” comes next which has a big and powerful sound with David putting everything into it, a well-paced romp indeed.
“Magellan Rise” sees an attempt to flirt with ‘epic’ status but just misses the mark. There’s a lot of serious intent, changing moods and tempos but for me, they don’t quite pull it off.
The band are more suited to songs like “Seize the Day”, which has a consistent pace and powerful, emotional feel. This track is also reminiscent of the work of compatriots No Hot Ashes, who purvey a less edgy brand of rock. Quality band, too.
Millar is at it again on “Viper” with a drumbeat straight out of the Dragonforce playbook. He really is a great listen. The song is not super-fast but the drums somehow manage to supersede it to the real benefit of the track. Steve Moore makes another appearance and along with the drums helps the song transcend from average to belting.
“Kings” is up next which starts off a touch steady but builds up nicely with David Balfour’s voice in top form and the nifty solo adding to the enjoyment.
Steve Moore makes his final appearance, this time on “Devil’s Night”. This is also David’s finest hour (well, 4 minutes 52) with him showcasing his full range. It’s a nice slice of AOR with a big sound and great rhythm.
To finish, we have a cover of Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” which intrigued me somewhat. I was hoping they would really rock it up but in reality, it’s more of a copy than a cover. It’s not a disappointment, however, and they do manage to put their stamp on it, especially with D. Balfour’s vocals really adding to the track.
Conclusions on MAVERICK’s Cold Star Dancer
As I alluded to previously, Maverick have tried to move their sound on and have mostly succeeded. There are very few swings and misses and if Cold Star Dancer and Big Red were horses in a race I’d have their latest offering winning by a nose. Well done guys. Check out my Big Red album review below.