Nima : The Northern-Ireland Maverick (not to be confused with the same-named Spanish heavy metallers) have made quite a name and reputation (as well as a well-deserved fanbase) for itself in the last four years. The deeply in the 80s-rooted hardrock/AOR with a touch of glamrock and heavy metal from the band around the Balfour brothers may not be anything original, but dammit these guys have the gif to write solid, catchy tunes and also guarantee top-quality on both instrumental and vocal levels. Early next month the band will release its third LP, ‘Cold Star Dancer’; an album that will not only establish the their name and reputation further, but will also expand it. Thankfully the musical has remained unchanged and what we have here is again a grand hardrock/AOR feast in the 80s tradition. I could be relatively short about this record, because if have a dedication to this genre, then ‘Cold Star Dancer’ should definitely not be missing in your collection.
The music immediately takes you in its grasp and the wide smile it brings to your face is not to be disappeared for the coming 45 minutes. Already from the opening title track the influences from heroes such as Tyketto, Talisman, Firehouse, Whitesnake and similar acts are again immediately audible. But just as it was the case with the previous records, the gentlemen come with a contemporary approach and don’t sound obsolete for even a second, and at the same time they don’t lose that 80s’ vibe for a second either. In my review for the second album, ’Big Red’ I mentioned that I didn’t go as ballistic as I did with the magnificent debut ’Quid Pro Quo’. ‘Cold Star Dancer’ however is a different story; this album is one and all highlights. The gentlemen have managed well to give each track its own character, by which the album sounds quite versatile, but despite that as a unit at the same time (still following?). The musicianship is stronger than ever and especially the guitar works is more daring, more exciting and in general also more technical than before.
However, even more than before the main role on this album is for singer/frontman David Balfour. And my god what a performance we get here. The man simply has an outstandingly good and beautiful voice but also a rather powerful one that fits perfectly with this style. Well, he has always been an amazing singer, but he has also clearly developed himself further and sings with even more feel and emotion, variation and conviction. There are moments on this album that he comes very close to AOR-hero Steve Perry (ex-Journey), but also the great Johnny Gioeli (Axel Rudi Pell, Hardline). I just can’t express enough how much I love this guy’s voice and he constantly delivers me the Goosebumps with his powerful performance. And nothing in disadvantage of his band mates who put on an equally amazing performance, but David in particular is a rising star and one of the best rock/metal vocalists of our time! Absolutely magnificent. Without him ‘Cold Star Dancer’ would probably not have been the potential classic that it is.
Along with the ten original compositions (the intro ‘Dusk’ not included) we also get a cool cover version of Rick Springfield’s ‘Jessie’s Girl’ as a bonus, and it has become a real rocker which in my opinion is a lot better than the original. The striking point here is how much David sound like Phil Lynott! Just as its predecessor ‘Cold Star Dancer’ was recorded in the Manor Park Studio with producer Neal Calderwood, and that means that sonically the album is also in a good shape. So again: ‘Cold Star Dancer’ is a potential classic and a must for every one with a love for quality 80s hardrock/AOR and heavy metal.