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Starcastle - Starcastle CD (album) cover




Symphonic Prog

3.17 | 178 ratings

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3 stars STARCASTLE is a well known USA based band, but sadly they are better known for cloning YES, what is a real shame, because they are talented musicians.Two major elements give rise to this praise or accusation (depending on the critic): Gary Strater's bass tone is unmistakably similar to that of Chris Squire, and Terry Luttrell sounds uncannily like Jon Anderson at many points. But I hear many other influences here, namely ELP, Camel, and Gentle Giant. In addition, there's some highly original compositions present really worth hearing.

Opening the album is the 10-mins+ Lady Of The Lake. Right away, you'll check to see if you haven't misplaced a Yes disc inside a Starcastle sleeve. Lady of the Lake seems to be the song they are best known for and is the most creative and engaging song on the album. The guitar playing is more than sufficient. Herb Schildt's organ solo sounds much more like what Kieth Emerson did on Tarkus or Pictures at an Exhibition than anything Rick Wakeman or Tony Kaye ever did. The light atmospheric section is very similar to parts of Close to the Edge. "Elliptical Seasons" That twelve-string acoustic introduction may easily be compared to "And You and I," but the rest of the song moves toward a funk-driven direction.. The synthesizer lead, reminds me of Peter Bardens of Camel. "Forces," is another Yes-like extravaganza of multiple sections, tempos, and solos, with fanciful synths, twiddling guitars, and Gary Strater once again performing thrilling acrobatics on his bass guitar. "Stargate" A synth-dominated instrumental which serves as an intro to Sunfield. "Sunfield" The vocals here are a tad embarrassing. They sound out of place, poorly mixed, and spouting goofy lyrics. Otherwise, the music is stellar, with more fantastic keyboard and bass carrying on. Schildt is the clear star here, giving his synthesizer a workout. The guitars both take a more submissive role, similar in vein of Gentle Giant. "To The Fire Wind," the final vocal composition, is another appropriate vehicle for Strater to display his Rickenbacker mastery, his fingers not stopping for one second as the tune blazes along in a Prog-Rock frenzy of spectacular keys, guitars, and harmonies. Once again, any Yes fan who adores the Fragile era of the group but is also unfamiliar with Starcastle should seek out this album as soon as humanly possible. The album ends with "Nova," another short instrumental piece that clearly displays the chops of each musician in the band's line-up. Sadly, the strong bass is lacking on this track. In fact, the only two tracks here that approach mediocrity are "Stargate" and "Nova", and both of those selections are comparatively brief instrumentals that are best approached as intros/outros for the surrounding tracks.

On a closing note, as I mentioned earlier, there are moments where Starcastle can sound like a bit of a Yes clone. Though this is not an over-frequent occurrence, it is understandable to make that comparison during some moments. Still, it does not hinder the album to such a point to where Starcastle is a complete "copycat". This album is a stand-out listen and should be recommended, especially to fans of the older 1960's-70's Prog. rock era. Starcastle should be commended as the effort put into this album clearly shows. Kick back and listen to an album that truly deserves recognition. Good, but non-essential.

thesimilitudeofprog | 3/5 |


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