Album review: STARCHASER – Starchaser

Frontiers Music [Release date: 06.05.22]

If you have an insatiable appetite for the genre, this meat and 2 veg power metal album from new band, Starchaser might provide reasonable, short term sustenance.

It began life as a Kenneth (Tad Morose) Johnson solo project. Then expanded to band size as the guitarist gradually recruited a team of musicians, most notably vocalist, Ulrich (M.ILL.ION) Carlsson, enabling him to flesh out his embryo songs into the shape and size of full blown power metal.

Interesting to learn that although guitar is his principle instrument, he composes his material on the piano. This clearly explains the instrumental pieces that open, (Intro) and close, (Nightingale Paradox) the album.

They are one continuous piece of music, divided in two, and have what you might call a movie composer’s aesthetic. In that both are emotive, widescreen creations of atmosphere and mood, very reminiscent of Howard Shore’s music for “Lord Of The Rings”.

They sit in stark contrast to the powerful, pumped up metal that they bookend.

The title track, ‘Starchaser’ and ‘Tokyo’ run on an amped up, streamlined energy, but there is so much similar stuff all around right now. And when you add ‘Dying Field’ (that admittedly comes later) it’s pretty clear that although talented and skilled musicians have constructed three intense, pacy and forceful set pieces, with a welcome emphasis on melody, they have difficulty creating their own unique identity.

Two lightning bolts of brilliance, ‘Dead Man Walking’ and ‘Angel Of Fear’ go some way to correcting that, matching melody to muscle. The hard kick of the bass and drums knocks out a relentless hi-speed beat underneath the pulsing, stomping riffs. Heads bang, hearts pump, adrenaline flows. We’re on a roll.

But the heavyset ‘Killer of Lies’ and ‘Battleship’ coming after, dial down the BPMs, and are darker, heavier affairs, a bit of a let down, adding to the creeping sense of uneveness that besets the album.

In fairness, the album never truly finds its direction home, and although you feel it’s in there, and can hear the evidence, it never truly ascends to the greatness it just might be capable of . ***

Review by Brian McGowan

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