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3 stars Ah, Starcastle. Is there a more bastardized band around? I think not. When I read that their new album was available for purchase I jumped on it. Now, I'm not this crazy Starcastle ultimate fan, but something inside me told me to buy it post haste. I don't know why and I didn't know what to expect. The only thing I knew was that original bassist Gary Strater had passed away during the making of this album and I remembered how Chris Squire-like his bass playing was. Right off the bat the first thing you hear is Starter's wonderful thump thumping bass. But, unfortunately it only pops up here and there throughout the album. His playing is my favorite parts of the album. Sure, the singing harmonies are back but again they are here and there. What I hear most is a mix between their "Citadel" album and some more modern prog ala prog metal. Don't get me wrong, it's not a shredfest, not even close. But Al Lewis's vocals don't compare to Terry Luttrell's Jon Anderson sounding vocals. Lewis's voice is more rocking, not angelic. There are songs such as "All For The Thunder" where the old vocal harmonies pop up, sounding almost Crosby, Stills and Nash-like, but alas it's one of the few. "Babylon" has the proggiest moment about half way through and boy I wish there were more moments like it. Keyboards and guitars are done by committee, I mean look at the list of people playing instruments! Jeez! The title track is a sweet ballad about Gary Strater but again it's nothing to write home about. All in all, it's a decent comeback, but it won't conjer up memories of their best days back in the mid to late 70's. To me it sounds like an older band trying really hard to sound more modern prog-wise but falling flat. There are some moments that remind me of the good ole days but not many. Some may say that the original band plagarized the sounds of YES. Okay, I'll give you that. But boy oh boy, they did it better than anyone. I'll take old Starcastle anyday over latter day YES. I'll take latter day YES over latter day Starcastle. I do hope they take another stab at it. Keep the multi-harmonies but stay away from the lite- metal. 2.5 stars!
Report this review (#110978)
Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars I have had this CD for a little while and probably played it about ten times, so I have given myself ample time to digest it, the one thing that comes to mind is it is a little bland. Apart from the second song Babylon that has a fantastic middle section I couldn`t find much to sink my progressive teeth into. I love the first two albums this band made and I was hoping for more of the same but Starcastle seem to have gotten heavier and less warm in their sound. I was a little disappointed in the keyboard playing I expected to be amazed but I thought that the keys come of sounding a little lack luster. The vocals to sounded pretty good, though I would have prefered Terry Luttrell . Probably my biggest disappointment was the drumming the counterpoint and amazing display of control once astonished me when I listened to Stephen Tassler play, so I was expecting the same level of dexterity unfortunately it wasn`t to be , sure its good drumming but not cutting edge like it was once. I would recommend this CD for old Starcastle fans it provides some glimpse into what the band are doing these days and there are a few enjoyable moments (though not enough) If you are new to this Band start with their first two CD`s Lets hope Starcastle realise its OK to be a Yes clone so long as you are as good as Yes otherwise you come off looking less than awake.
Report this review (#110979)
Posted Wednesday, February 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars When I saw the new Starcastle was available I jump on it (30 years before they produce new music).But it is not a masterpiece that's for sure (it would be great if it was a new band with their debut album).I'm a bit desapointed,the music is good but it could be a lot better.First of all I prefer Terry Luttrel on vocals,Babylon is a 9:24 song (the best on the album,Song of Times is a good ballad,All for the Thunder have good guitar,Faces of Change ,good harmonies,the rest is not bad but nothing to be excited about.I know that Gary Strater (bassman) past away and maybe he was the brain behind the band.But they had 30 years to put Starcastle on the map again (well maybe the next cd will be brilliant).3 stars for the new Starcastle and I'm a fan and I'm going to see them at Rosfest in april (hope they,ll play old songs).If you want to try Starcastle start with the first (STARCASTLE) and second one (FOUNTAINS OF LIGHT) and after that you are ready for SONG OF TIMES. POTS
Report this review (#112216)
Posted Thursday, February 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A prerequisite for being able to enjoy this release, is to be fond of music from the 70's.

Because this album sounds like it was recorded in the late 70's, production as well as utilization of instruments and song structures just have that immense feel of yesteryear.

Musically, this is light prog with heavy spicing of AOR, light guitars, a bass guitar that on some tracks thumps along, simple and effective drumming and synth that is used sparingly and subtle when not used for soloing.

Some vocal harmonies are used, making the group sound somewhat alike to Yes in those tracks, and the vocalist do sound like Jon Anderson - but with balls and hair on his chest.

Personally I found this one intriguing and interesting, although it did take time and concentrated listening getting into this release.

Report this review (#113082)
Posted Thursday, February 22, 2007 | Review Permalink
erik neuteboom
3 stars Yes, they are back: Starcastle, (in)famous as the ultimate Yes clone in this Progrock Galaxy! So what about those Jon Anderson-like vocals, the Rickenbacker bass guitar sound mighty close to Chris Squire, the flashy Minimoog runs in the vein of Rick Wakeman and those vocal harmonies with strong echoes from ... Yes?

Well, from the very first second these elements are still present in the sound of the reborn Starcastle. But new Starcastle also sounds more polished featuring pleasant work on keyboards and guitar, especially the howling guitar runs delighted me. Although the focus is on the guitar work, the keyboards sound tasteful like in Red Season and Babylon (fluent synthesizer flights), the titletrack (wonderful dreamy climate with soaring keyboards) and Children Believe (lush organ sound).

This new Starcastle sounds very professional but I wonder how many progheads are pleased with the very polished 'progressive pop' on this album. I have to choose between 3 stars (good) and 2 stars (fans only), I go for 2,5 stars, where should I click on is my almost rethorical question?

Report this review (#116588)
Posted Wednesday, March 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars As a Starcastle fan, news of a new album after so many years gave me great expectations. Now, after having listened to the new album Song Of Times for a couple of weeks I must say that I'm a little bit disappointed. Sure, the band was never the most original (often accused to be Yes-clones), but on their fist two albums the music was interesting, progressive and full of life. The new album is quite frankly a little bland , prog "light" if you like. Mind you, it has its moments like the fantastic mid section on "Babylon".
Report this review (#133648)
Posted Saturday, August 18, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Strange destiny for this band. They were performing "Yes" music in 1976, almost disbanded in 1979, reformed in 2001 thanks to their bass player Gary Strater. Their "clone" image was also glued to them thanks to their music of course but above all due the similarities on the lead vocals (although only to be noticed on the the low tone notes) of Terry Luttrell.

Gary (RIP) died in September 2004 but had finished all his parts for this album, so I guess that it can be considered as a tribute to his memory. Each original member is featured on this album, but bizarrely, Terry Luttrell ("the voice" on their seventies albums) is only holding the lead vocals on one track ("All For The Thunder"). I really wonder why. Or maybe that "Starcastle" was willing to sound a bit less "Yes" ? Because, Al Lewis is far to get this special tone of voice.

Anyway, the outstanding sound of the bass is still here; and that's the best we'll get from this album. Because in terms of compositions, I'm afraid that we aren't going to break any record. Unfortunately. "Love Is The Only Place" is the best example. A sub-par Crosby, Stills & Nash song. Poor to say the least. And a song like "Master Machine" is as difficult to digest.

Most of the songs are quite boring. The opener, trying to sound as "Parallels" is particularly annoying. "Babylon" has only a short great keys break, but for most of it it is pretty unbearable. At times it turns out melodic ("Song Of Times", "Faces Of Change").

We'll get the &Y&I-like one with "Islands" and a bombastic but average "All For The Thunder". Still, my fave here : good rhythm and nice guitar breaks. Vocals as we know them thanks to Terry. Again, great bass playing, but even Chris Squire will mention how much he liked it : so there is no wonder if even the master say so. The closing number hesitates with nice vocal harmonies (the best part) and heavy sounds (best to be avoided).

I really wouldn't recommend this work. Stick to "Fountains" or to their "Chronos I" compilation. Two stars for this one.

Report this review (#134054)
Posted Tuesday, August 21, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Just a YES clone ?

This US band was back in the seventies a good YES inspired band and one of the leaders of the US prog rock scene. They released some good albums back then. I have a live album with Starcastle which is very good. So I had some hopes for this album.

The opening track killed that hope. The second track Babylon is good, but the rest of the album is not satisfactory at all. This album is at it's best pomp rock. At worst; run-to-the-mill AOR. Unfortunate; the latter is the dominating factor on this almost one hour long album. Some good music here, but most of the album is very bland and an effective cure against insomnia. I am not happy at all with this album. Get the other Starcastle albums instead of Song Of Times.

2 stars.

Report this review (#188151)
Posted Thursday, November 6, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The first experience with Starcastle happened when they released their debut in 1977. Once I realised their clone of Yes, I never played the CD anymore and never paid attention to the later development of the band until couple of days ago when I accidentally spun this 'Song of Times' album and struck by its opening track 'Red Season' (5:28) which is not bad at all. In fact, I was impressed especially having known that the new Yes album 'Fly From Here' sounds to mellow for me. And then I started to compare: How come this track is much better than any of songs in 'Fly From Here' album? How come the clone is better than the original? I was so curius and started to enjoy this album in its entirety.

I have to admit that 'Song of Times' by Starcastle is better than Yes 'Fly From Here' and Yes 'Open Your Eyes'. musically. Yes, Starcastle music is totally emulating the style of Yes. But it's now OK for me to enjoy this album as I find that the new Yes album is not that so excellent - may be just good in itself. But when it's compared with other prog albums, I do not put 'Fly From Here' in the top list at all. In this 'Song of Times' album you can hear the 'almost' exact voice of Jon Anderson as first predictor of Starcastle music's similarity with Yes. The second thing you would find is the bassplaying of Rickenbaker that sounds very similar with Chris Squire. The rest is actually not quite the same. Well, you might say keyboard work is similar even though still far from what Rick Wakeman can do.

Overall, this is a good album. You can listen to tracks like 'Babylon' (9:24), 'Song of Times' (6:04) that are no bad at all. In fact in 'Master Machine' (4:24) you can find the opening choirs that explore Anderson-like voices. If you never knew a band called YES before listening to this album by Starcastle, I am sure you would rate this album as a good one. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#528163)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Faces of change

Almost three decades after their previous album, Starcastle returned in 2007 with Song Of Times. It is now a rather rare album and not too easy to find. I have had it in digital format on my computer for years, but missing one track that I have manged to locate only recently. Hearing it again now in conjunction with the band's other albums, I must say that it is their best since the self-titled debut. The sound is rather different from the older albums however, even if certain commonalities can be detected.

The album has nine tracks (plus an edited version of the track Babylon). The better tracks come in the first half of the album. Only the title track sounds like Yes.

The album was created by a large number people; members past and present. A bit like Yes' Union. Sadly, founding member Gary Strater had passed away before the album could be released and nothing has since been heard from Starcastle. We will probably never hear from the band again, which is a shame as there was promise here.

A good final album.

Report this review (#1707538)
Posted Monday, April 3, 2017 | Review Permalink

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