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Starquake - 2015 Times That Matter

ARTIST: Starquake
ALBUM: Times That Matter
LABEL: Pure Rock
YEAR: 2015


LINEUP: Mikey Wenzel - vocals, instruments, programming * Alex Kugler, Joe Wagner, Michael 'Wopsi' Wopshall - guitars * Jan Donkey van Meerendonk - drums * Andi Pernpeintner - hammond * Corinna Reif - violin * Sandra Wenzel - additional vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Scenes From A Revolution * 02 Close Encounter * 03 I'm Goin' Mad (You Comin) * 04 Rise And Fall * 05 Here I Go Again * 06 The Needle Lies * 07 Times That Matter * 08 Goodbye My Friend * 09 No More Hate * 10 Whatever * 11 Fairytale


German progressive rockers Starquake feature a cool name and a Rodney Matthews styled cover jacket. You might be thinking (looking at the jacket): what camp do these boys sit in? I'd say it's very much 70's and 80's styled prog rock, with no deviation into neo-prog. For newbies on the scene, they don't muck about. To me, this is a very ambitious album for a début. 73 minutes, with one track clocking in at 21 minutes. What are these guys thinking? Have they clocked up frequent flyer miles to warrant such a project? They could sink before take-off! However, I praise them for their bravery, because listening to this was like travelling back through a time machine, when mellotrons and moogs were the prevailing keyboard of choice, no matter how much the trouble the actual hardware created in the studio! The organ work throughout takes you back to the classic days of prog. Lucifers Friend, Uriah Heep, Deep Purple.. that sort of sound. The German legacy of prog rock is pretty strong too, and let's not forget that influence either.

The Songs
'Scenes From A Revolution' kicks it off, some booming drum-work, while the lead vocalist Mikey Wenzel is certainly no Steve Perry. This one has a regimented arrangement, so you can imagine a war scene anywhere in the world, and the music would fit. 'Close Encounter' recalls Kansas era 'Paradox', with stabbing organ runs on display. Great stuff. Twirly keyboards introduce 'I'm Going Mad', before a lilting piano and an alto-soprano lead vocal take over. It's very quirky, I'm thinking Mother Goose madness. We are saved by the bell, as this weird tune is a touch on three minutes long. 'Rise And Fall' is the epic track here, as mentioned - 21 minutes long. It has some great moments within. It feels a bit theatrical actually. Like Meatloaf doing German beerfest Oompa music! You gotta hear it to appreciate and understand what Starquake are on about.

From this point of the album onward, Starquake revert to shorter styled songs with heavier guitar parts amid the organ work. This is more in keeping with many bands featured here at GDM. 'Here I Go Again' is a classic case in point, sounding like British pomp kings Saracen. On the other hand, 'The Needle Lies' could be something that Demon may have attempted at some stage of their career. The title track 'Times That Matter' is a solemn and soaring ballad, floating on air mostly, think of some of the work by Arjen Lucassen, and you'll get the drift. 'Whatever' is the other ballad, though moves in a country/folk direction. 'Goodbye My Friend' is a guitar-led instrumental that segues into the powerful hard rock of 'No More Hate'. This track drives quite hard, it's more metal than prog, so Starquake can change it up when they want to. The band sign-off with another 8 minute mini-epic 'Fairytale', and I'm sure Wenzel sat down and listened to all of Arthur Offen's back-catalogue such is the similarity to Flag and Airraid. OMG!

In Summary
I'm very certain that Starquake will interest many of the prog and pomp audience here at GDM. Their music is bombastic, and with references to all of the bands listed above, it should make for compulsory listening. It's strong points are the organ work, guitars which are played as the mood suits, and that terrific epic 'Rise And Fall'. Not so good are the lead vocals, but I'm not so worried about that. If Wenzel gave up the vocal mike to someone like Threshold's Damian Wilson, then I'll be very interested! Starquake have released a solid album, probably not reinventing the wheel as such, but you can tell they were never going to do that anyway. Have fun with this one! I did..

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#1 | gdazegod on July 21 2015 12:59:45
Starquake - 2015 Times That Matter (promo sampler)

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