July 22, 2023

Stardust is a most impressive hard edged melodic rock band from Hungary and created quite a stir with the exceptional debut album Highway Top Heartbreak which came out in 2020 and immediately marked it as a band to keep a close watch on.

The musicians came together in 2015 and have obviously spent their time well in becoming a consummate, professional and exciting melodic/AOR band with that touch of added power which raises them up above many of the other bands in the already overcrowded AOR scene. They seem to have mastered the dark art of having one foot in the ’80s classic melodic rock scene whilst also being fresh, modern and very contemporary. They rock but also have a radio friendliness about their delivery as they produce immediately hitting music that you immediately engage with making the sounds effectively timeless and perfect for just about every occasion with a hybrid that is a derivative of bands like Foreigner, FM, Kingdom Come, Europe, House Of Lords, commercial era Rainbow and just about any other class AOR band you can think of.

However, do not be fooled into thinking that Stardust is a band that has a sound merely based on copying the giants of yesteryear as it is more a case of learning from the masters and building upon the very solid frame that they laid down for every band that has followed since. The band has had a slight change in personnel with the impressive Adam Stewart on vocals and rhythm guitar, Ben Martin on bass, Dave Legrand on keyboards and Facey on lead guitar with Peter Horn replacing Tim Keeley on drums and it is noticeable that they all have anglicised names which may be an indicator that the market that they are desperate to break is across the water and, in truth, they are another outfit with that appealing transatlantic sound and you most probably would never be able to tell that they are actually from Hungary.

The debut was a well put together and very mature recording and this theme very much remains for Kingdom Of Illusion as the album has a feel of a band on album number 10 rather than number 2 and it is frightening to think what they are capable of given the strength and level of skill they are showing here with their slick and very tight sound. The guitar is phenomenal with Facey showing he has immense talent but it is the vocals of Stewart that immediately grab your attention and he has a big future ahead of him and here’s hoping that it is with Stardust. The Hungarian composer, musician and engineer Zoltán Dandó (Machine Mouse) has done a great job on production duties which he has shared with Stewart as well as having a hand in writing the material alongside Stewart plus a certain Mr Del Vecchio amongst others and what a collection of songs they have compiled. Dandó has also guested on guitars and keyboards too which shows that the musicians in Stardust are always keen to learn from the masters as they also did on the debut with Mark Spiro and Tommy Denander getting involved with the project.

If you are a fan of clever and incisive AOR and bands like House Of Lords in particular then this is a must have album and anyone who listens to it will be immediately hooked on a band with a most definite upwards profile as they make the inevitable rise to the top of the melodic rock genre.

Kingdom Of Illusion

  1. War (4:43)
  2. The Fire (3:36)
  3. Losing Me (5:01)
  4. Sacrifice (3:37)
  5. Love Sells (3:42)
  6. Heroes (4:28)
  7. One First Kiss (4:04)
  8. Make Me Feel Your Love (4:20)
  9. Ain’t No Woman (3:46)
  10. Sarah (4:40)
  11. Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone) (5:22)