I am no stranger to prog. I am the only person I know who has been following since the 80’s such bands as; Yes, Pink Floyd before Roger Waters launched copyright suits, when the majority of the band had to tour as ‘Anderson, Bruford, Wakeman and Howe’ etc.,; and all imposing on the non metal prog credentials here at Ave Noctum Towers. As such, Demon-in-Chief and whip bearer editor sent me the new release of Poland’s Starsoup, a band I’ve never before heard of, and, well, frankly……………..
Ave Noctum prides itself on being all inclusive, so long as the sound is “atmospheric”; if ever the mission statement changes to “generic”, then Starsoup will be website favourites. “F”, anyone? It may be my 40+ years on this planet and having heard a positive phalanx of bands over the years, but this two man ego project from Poland did nothing to excite or intrigue me. A two man combo of Alexye Markov and Andrew Gryaznov, supported by a host of respected session musicians just made me yawn, and worse still, wince!
Six and a half minute opener ‘Angels’ sounded like the latest incarnation of a prog super group warming up, a late 80’s Genesis cast off sound firing in with ‘Ain’t No Superman’; I honestly could imagine Mike Rutherford playing away before Disturbed’s Dave Draiman took over the vocals, not a combination that would have me rushing to force the CD into my player. Even the highlight of the track, the screaming guitar solo, sounds more of a tribute to the engineer then the artist.
I tried over repeated listenings to enjoy this album, but the best I could ever say is, “that’s so well played and so well produced.” I hate to berate musicians who are far more talented then I could hope to be without a couple of decades of practice, but this CD had me flinching over and over, not least in the cheesy saxophone of ‘Cradle of War’, an overblown and oh so eighties Kenny Gee sax track that had my spine shivering. With the addition of multi-track and echoed vocals, it was all I could do not to punch my computer and play an immediate antidote of Motorhead!
Come later tracks, an engineer’s combination of acoustic instruments and fist clenching vocals, the wave of tedium has washed over all. Don’t get me wrong, Markov’s vocals are strong and clean, just oh so bland, and the accompanying electronic wail of ‘Paste Bites’ does nothing to change my view.
That this act is technically skilled is not beyond doubt, but would I want to see them live? Hmm, I’ve got some toe nails that need trimming that night. A real one for shoe gazers who think that the latest Marillion is the most extreme musical offering of the all extreme. Even the occasionally Hetfield-esque vocal growls did not tempt me back to this CD. Okay, if you are a trench coated youngster who fears a new riff, this act is for you. If not………..well, don’t take my opinion for everything, just don’t blame me for your insomnia cure!