STARQUAKE — Times that Matter (review)

STARQUAKE — Times that Matter album cover Album · 2015 · Hard Rock Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
Time Signature
Here I go again...

Genre: Hard rock / traditional metal / progressive rock

Starquake is a hard rock project revolving around singer Mikey Wenzel, who has released one album under the moniker of Mikey and two albums under the moniker Spiritus Mundi. "Times that Matter" is the first release under the Starquake moniker, but it features many of the same musicians as the other releases do.

When I first heard the intro of the first tune 'Scenes from a Revolution', I must admit that I groaned. It sounded so cheesy with 80s synthesizer effects. After this, my hopes were not particularly high, but when the rest of the instrumentation kicked in, I was taken completely by surprise. The song turned out to be an epic hard rock track with references to Iron Maiden and 70s progressive rock. Another epic track with 70s prog rock elements is the closer 'Fairytale'. Going straight from a song about failed revolutions to a hard rocking song about UFO sightings, the album has the quirkiness of 70s hard rock. 'I'm Going Mad' seems more inspired by Queen and Gentle Giant with its multi-layered vocals. 'Here I Go Again' is a metallic hard rocker with an awesome sing-along chorus, and a verse line that sounds a lot like the verse line of Iron Maiden's 'Wildest Dreams'. Well, let's give Starquake the benefit of the doubt and classify this as inspiration and not plagiarism, shall we? In any case, it's a nice straightforward track to have following the 21 opus 'Rise and Fall' (which incidentally is my least favorite track). Another Maiden-inspired track is 'No More Hate' which pays homage to 'Wasted Years' and tracks like 'The Clairvoyant'.

The production is not polished, but a tad fuzzy which gives the album a nice organic character. The combination of heavy metal guitars, hammond organs, and spacey 70s prog rock synths works very well, and "Times that Matter" is a fine tribute to 80s metal and 70s prog and hard rock. Some tracks have a slight Deep Purple feel to them while others are ore inspired by Iron Maiden. Mikey Wenzel deploys a singing stye similar to Bruce Dickinson after Dickinson returned to Maiden, but his voice has a slightly rawer quality to it to the point of being a it volatile at times (in particular in the opening track). But it is this rawness which gives the album an extra injection of energy, I think.

The album, while not all tracks appeal to my taste, is an enjoyable listen, and I actually look forward to more output my Mikey & co. Fans of Iron Maiden, Deep Purple, and 70s prog rock should definitely check this album out.
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