Exhale by Stardog Champion (Self-released EP)
Longtime fans of the Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania music scene will think they have hit the mother lode of heavy rock when encountering the stunning compositions of Stardog Champion. Combine two ex-members of Breaking Benjamin with the charismatic ex-vocalist of Lifer and The Drama Club – add a kick ass drummer into the mix – and you’ve suddenly stumbled upon one of the very best rock and roll bands to come out of the States in a very long time. Exhale is their debut recording, a colossal five song EP that will leave the listener absolutely breathless. If you like inspiring rock and roll performed with passion and conviction, then Stardog Champion is sure become a massive winner in your music collection.
Round one of Exhale kicks off with the dark and smoky rock inflections of Aphrodite, a sonic explosion instantly showing all members at the very height of their creative prowess. Once the gigantic chorus comes into play, you know Stardog Champion is in it to win it. Nothing To Lose then continues the powerhouse rock and roll assault, a left hook to the senses that will leave the listener reeling.
“What have we done with all the answers?” vocalist Nick Coyle muses with a staggering sense of fury on When We Fall, a track that has a ton of hit single potential. “When will this nightmare be over? And when will our dream come true?” the hard-hitting House Of Cards begins, before combusting into a grand triumph of a chorus. Definitely another track that will garner Stardog Champion a good deal of attention – especially when they unleash this gem live.
“I am the things that go bump in the night,” Coyle sings ominously on the final track The Switch, a gorgeous power ballad of anthem-like proportions. Five remarkably solid tracks on a perfect EP that ends way too soon, Exhale by Stardog Champion is destined to be emitting from the confines of your stereo speakers for ages to come.
The members of Stardog Champion definitely come out swinging like a band hungry and destined for success. Vocalist Nick Coyle is in top form, his impassioned singing expressing a sense of urgency reminiscent of his early days in Lifer. Coyle remains one of the vastly underrated rock front men of our time. Aaron Fink and Mark James (ex-Breaking Benjamin members and early Lifer co-conspirators) positively shine on guitar and bass respectively, their years of performing in bands demonstrating a professionalism and vision that is to be highly commended. Josh Karis completes the lineup on drums and percussion, driving the beats home with an all-out vengeance. With early rounds as fully realized as Exhale, Stardog Champion is a strong contender ready to take it all into the stratosphere.
(Review by Kenneth Morton)
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