Thursday, December 5, 2013

Starsoup - Bazaar of Wonders

Starsoup's promotional blurb boasts "the influences are varied, inclusive of Metallica and Dream Theater" - if you think that's varied, then you might think this is "heavy" metal. It's sort of like Dream Theater without the instrumental prowess, that slightly heavy atmospheric rock that has a thick guitar tone but no riffs, lots of keys/piano, a soft vocalist, overlong songs, and drum beats that aren't just a standard backbeat, but aren't necessarily more interesting. There's even a piano ballad with saxophone emulating the style of DT's "Another Day" - their interest in heavy metal doesn't seem to extend beyond Dream Theater and bands that Dream Theater have covered.

This is a good example of how a "prog" band can be completely one-dimensional: they understand some of the basic components - chugging a bit with a thick guitar tone mixed with cleans and leads, lots of piano parts, not-quite-standard drumming - but they pretty much make over-diversified melodic rock songs rather than actually building something with them. At times it seems like they're trying to make lame radio rock without hooks - "Ain't No Superman" recalls Three Doors Down, "Past Bites" sounds like a mallcore tune with soft. whisper-singing and snarling alternated with sorta-southern groove riffs. This doesn't sound good when the vocalist sounds like James Labrie without any power and not much tone - sorta like a male Celene Dion who tries to sound tough occasionally. I'm not sure of the light parts of the heavy parts are worse, but the band can't seem to either, never sticking with a heavy part for long, without much sensibility in where the song goes.

If you like second-rate Dream Theater wannabes that can go in one ear and out the other, then you might like this. If you think Starsoup is a better name for a "metal" band than Sadistik Exekution, then you might like this. If you're a prog fan who primarily listens to prog bands who had a radio hit or two, you might like this. I don't expect you to like this, I'm saying that Starsoup is lame and boring. I'll take a Starsandwich.

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