REVIEW: Suicide Star – Isolation (2021)

SUICIDE STAR – Isolation (2021)

If you are looking for something classic but modern, with lyrics that matter, then cease your quest.  Suicide Star’s debut called Isolation should be the salve that your soul is craving.  From the ashes of former band Step Echo, with new lead singer Rob Barton, this band is ready to kick 2021’s ass.

CD buyers get a bonus that streamers and downloaders do not — an intro before the lead track “I Survive”.  This intro, complete with air raid siren, explains the “suicide star” concept (with a shout-out to Neil DeGrasse Tyson).  It’s an explosive astronomy lesson!  Isolation is available now, just give the band a shout on social media and it’ll be in your hot little hands before you know it.

Opener “I Survive” is a positive start, with lyrics like “We’ve only just begun, this is the place where I wanna feel alive.”  Rob Barton’s got the pipes and the band has the heft.  Uptempo and heavy, this is the kind of rock we need right now.  The riff by seven-stringer Les Serran kicks, and bassist Aki Maris has the groove locked with drummer Brian Hamilton (also of Storm Force).  If you wanted something energetic and defiant this summer, here ya go.

The first video is for “Mercy”, another upbeat and catchy number.  Each one of these songs has hooks, both vocal and guitar, and “Mercy” just doesn’t let up.  “Have mercy on my anger,” sings Barton with intent.  Lots going on here lyrically, but framed in such a way that you can relate to the words in whatever way suits you.

After two sledgehammer tunes, the track “Suicide Star” delivers melodies that are more on the pop side, but with the heavy backing intact.  “Hold on, before you go too far, don’t you know who you are?  You’re a suicide star.”  Cannot get that chorus out of the skull!

The “power ballad” (if you will) is “Eye of the Storm”, but the emphasis is still on the “power” rather than the “ballad”.  It has a majestic guitar riff, and lyrics with some serious heart.  Barton sings ’em with passion, which is necessary when the band rocks this heavy behind.

Back to a tune with a classic metal vibe, “21 Guns” has kick and melody.  “Just say you will,” goes the unforgettable chorus, with some killer chords in behind.  Then comes the heavy “Follow” with a staggering riff, and Priest-like vibes.  The lyrics are fascinating and open to multiple interpretations.  It certainly could be about the last year!   “When the lie becomes the truth…”

“Love Me Like You Mean It” has a Darkness kind of riff; tremendous hooks.  This continues into “No Looking Back”, another lyric that could be about current times.  “I just roll with the changes,” sings Barton.  We can all relate to that.  The hooks don’t let up on “Fractured”, a more plaintive yet still heavy rocker.  The final track is appropriately titled “The Unknown” and concludes the album-length series of catchy vocals and guitar parts.

By the time you’re done the album, you’re still fresh to go in for a second listen.  There is enough going on in terms of guitars and lyrics that you’ll want multiple listens to drink it all in.

4.5/5 stars

Check out this interview by Deke and I with Rob and Brian from Suicide Star. Get an appreciation for the album and what it took to make it.

#916: Oh My, I’ve Been Shot! (Again)

A sequel to #894:  Entertainment Needed at the Vaccine Clinic


At an age that seems like a another lifetime ago, I refused to get vaccinations.  I wasn’t anti-vax by any means.  I was actually quite pro-vax, but simultaneously, a chickenshit.  As soon as I was old enough to make decisions for myself, I stopped with the needles.  Then about 15 years ago I decided to get the flu shot.  My reaction was so bad that I swore off needles once more.

A global pandemic has a way of forcing you to get over your fears, and so I’ve just had my second shot.  My arm is just starting to get sore as I write.

When we last caught up at the vaccine clinic, they were administering Pfizer.  This time it’s Moderna.  Canada has approved the mixing of these two brands, as they are so similar.  As for the side effects, I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

As before, things were fast and efficient.  We were in and out in 45 minutes, including the 30 minute wait afterwards.  There appeared to be about four times as many people, but the massive facility didn’t feel any more full than last time.  Good to see us getting on top of this.  I like being in the percentage of people who are double vaxxed in Canada.

As before, the volunteers were excellent — the perfect mixture of professional and friendly.

You know what?  None of us here are scientists.  (If you are, raise your hand!)  We’re just music fans trying to make the best of a worldwide crisis.  This the first global pandemic for any of us, unless you’re 103 years old.  We are living through history and we are even making history.

16 months ago, near the start of this pandemic, I predicated and hoped that we’d see creativity blossom in new ways.  I think we have seen that.  Our friends in the band Suicide Star are a great example.  They recorded their new album Isolation during lockdown, learning to work in new ways, and finding a bloom of creative sparks.  Elsewhere, Styx were also working on new music.  Lawrence Gowan was able to use some vintage and not-very-portable keyboards on this album that he never thought he’d play on a Styx record.  How cool is that?  On the other side of the coin, the new Dennis DeYoung album 26 East Vol. 2 has several lyrics directly addressing the pandemic, such as “St. Quarantine” and “Little Did We Know”.

We have suffered, we have lost, and we have sacrificed.  With this second shot in my arm, I hope that I am doing my part to get this behind us.   If that makes me a guinea pig, so be it.  You can thank me later.  I have a birthday coming soon, and my whole family will be double-vaxxed by then.  Does that mean I can actually have a birthday party this year?

I miss walking into record stores and toy stores.  I miss my grandma.  We all hope this is slowly but surely coming to an end.  After so many false hopes, it seems somehow unlikely, but hope I shall.  Wish me luck with the side effects and I’ll be sure to let you know how I’m doing.

Let’s end this — no mercy!

All About Suicide Star: Brian Hamilton and Rob Barton rock the LeBrain Train!

Suicide Star is the hot new band featuring singer Rob Barton, drummer Brian Hamilton, bassist Aki Maris, and guitarist Les Serran.  Metal with a modern twist — classic music, new songs, vital lyrics.  An album written and recorded during and of this time, but with an eye on the future.   A hard rocking, uplifting, heartfelt album aptly titled Isolation.

Deke and I had the pleasure of speaking to Brian and Rob about many topics.  Among them:

  • The genesis of the band
  • The making of the album (remotely)
  • The music video for “Mercy”
  • The next video
  • The meaning of the lyrics
  • The future of recording and playing live
  • Brian’s history with New Wave
  • To solo or not to solo?
  • New Storm Force

Check out the band on your favourite streaming services such as Spotify, Amazon, or buy the CD from the band.  As revealed in this interview, the CD version has additional content not available to stream.  Physical product!  Check them out on Facebook.

Big thanks to Rob and Brian for coming on the show with us music nerds, and congratulations on a wicked CD.

Another big thank-you to last Friday’s guest Robert Lawson, who sent me a signed copy of his book Razama-Snaz! The Listener’s Guide to Nazareth.  I opened the package near the start of the video.

We hope you enjoyed this show.  Deke is off for summer holidays!  Thank you Deke for an awesome 2021 season.  Check out his new show with T-Bone, “Scotch On the Rocks”, coming this fall.