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Starscape – Colony (digital promo review)

Through the ones and zeros of the Internet has arrived a still-hot-from-the-oven promo of this Swedish duo. Described as “traditional heavy metal with plenty of melody, prominent bass lines, and the occasional organ part. The band’s music has been likened to acts such as HÄLLAS, JUDAS PRIEST, as well as URIAH HEEP“, this description has caught my eye – not because I would describe myself as a fan of traditional heavy metal, I certainly don’t listen to Uriah Heep, and even Judas Priest kinda eludes me as a whole, but on the contrary – I don’t usually listen to this genre (1970s, early 1980s), definitely not enough, so, why not, right?

But cosmic themes are always welcome, so therefore, I couldn’t say no. Look at that cover, that’s one reason for going for it, right here! So, brushing the dust off that Asimov’s bust on the table, let’s delve into the Starscape’s offering.

Quoting from the promo materials, “Colony” is “a concept album about humanity’s journey to a new home among the stars”. And judging from the song titles, guys don’t lie.

The intro to the opener Pilgrims of the Stars got me wondering, if I listen to a car on the street reversing, haha…but soon enough we’re bursting into the nicely sounding heavy metal. Bassline is quite prominent, and I like that, melody is present since the first note, another plus. The song itself is 7:55 and such a duration can break the neck of many bands. Fortunately, it’s not the case here, on the contrary, the song went quickly.

At first I’ve had a mixed feeling about the vocals, they certainly didn’t sit well with me, don’t know why, but gradually I’ve come to like them, especially in the chorus…also, supporting organ in some passages is cool (you know, Hammond organ sound). The vocals actually sound like the singer proclaims some declaration, but it fits the mood.

The biggest thing – in the solo, the absence of the second, rhytm guitar, is quite felt, but on the contrary, at least the live performance (if there will be any), will sound (very probably) the same as on the album. I hate nothing more than bands not being capable to convey their studio sound on the live stage, so I hope this won’t be the case.

All in all, good start of the album, so let’s have a lookie at the second track here.

Interstellar adds some speed into the playing, the opening bassline makes me to buy a bass guitar and try to learn to play it (not gonna happen though). Obviously, once melodic, always melodic and if you have any experience listening to Scandinavian bands, then you know they know how to write catchy tunes. Still, single vocal line sounds strange to me, choruses are great. But that’s not a negative, by any means. It’s an interesting song, I’d say. I can’t say I like it, but I can’t say I dislike it. Maybe for some it won’t be something to go with, but so far I don’t feel like I’m suffering by listening to this album. That should be OK sign..? it is an OK sign.

Starscape

Heaviness reigns on Colony as well, as I’m immersing myself into the third song of this album. Yes, this is heavy metal as it should be. 6 minutes and 21 seconds of the song full of classic tunes. The chorus is little cheesy, more of a drinking song (no, really!), and again, I don’t write it as a negative aspect, I’m having a blast here! The few bits of melody sounds familiar, but I can’t recall what does it remind me of, therefore, it’s just that…familiar melody. Well placed organ during the solo, and this nicely solves the absence of rhythm guitar I’ve mentioned earlier. I stand by my statement – this is a classic heavy metal song. End of.

Would you expect a ballad? You should have. A New World opens with a nice instrumental guitar supported with (you’ve guessed it, equally nice bassline), bursting in about 1:50 of songplay into the song’s fullness with organ and drums… Per-Olof Göransson might struggle a little with his vocals in some notes, however I don’t care, it’s at least makes his vocals more distinctive. Musically, you can’t find any fault here, I like the song as a whole. Still, strange it is.

Not Built by Human Hands brings us back into the heavy metal fold and I’d say Per-Olof shows he’s more comfortable in this position. I’d welcome more double guitars here, as – in my humble and non-musician opinion – would enhance the music even more, but that’s going back full circle to what I’ve stated above about playing live. Also, it goes hand-in-hand with the song structure on the whole album, so I’m stating it entirely as my feeling here. Don’t kick me. Musically it’s soothing my soul…that guitar part after 3:00 mark is melting my heart straight away. Another tune with the classic heavy metal vibe.

With Structures we’re getting the shortest song of the album, but it’s still goes almost full 4 minutes (3:55). Not only that, it’s an instrumental and there’s not much to say, to be honest – if you liked the previous songs, you’ll like this instrumental here as well. If not, you’ve probably stopped listening way before this one. But just so you know, again, this is a dose of classic heavy metal and yes, there’s Judas Priest vibe all around, so I get where that reference might come from. Nice little track.

What does any good star odyssey need? Why, an epic finale! And Starscape provides the finale with the epic of their own, in the form of Towards the Unknown. Whole 10 minutes and 14 seconds long, the mere intro (lasting about 1:40) sets the stage, letting itself go to a mood building melody, till the vocals kick in again, but I hate to say…this song shows Per-Olof still needs to work on them, as mentioned previously, in the higher tones he’s evidently lacking.

The song can be quite simply described as a Part 2 of the opening Pilgrims of the Stars and I think the comparison would stand. I am pretty surprised how I dig those organ tunes (I admit, not really into that prog organ stuff, but I’m no hater of it neither). Anton Eriksson (the astronaut responsible for the instrument section) deserves the praise for great song-writing, that’s for sure.

All in all…great debut album, despite my little criticism. And I think I’ll have the copy for my collection. You should check them and get one as well.

Facebook: https://facebook.com/starscapemetal

Instagram: https://instagram.com/starscape.metal

Bandcamp: https://starscapemetal.bandcamp.com

Stormspell Records: https://www.facebook.com/Stormspell.Records

Rudolf Schütz

A father to two little perpetuum mobiles called kids, Rudolf is a main force behind The Rubber Axe webzine, a bookworm, musick lover and a movie fan - not to mention his virgin forays into the comics and board/card games.

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