Friday, August 27, 2010

Starseed - Cosmic Conspiracy

Surprise from left field!

This band came as a total surprise to me. A friend of mine told me about them, and thusly I checked them out, because he normally has a really good taste in metal. Long story short, he's steered me wrong before, but when he's right... holy FUCK is he right.

What sets Starseed apart from other death metal bands from around the world? For me, it is the sci-fi element. Is it a gimmick? No, or at least it never comes off as one. It never gets overblown or cheesy. The keys are always tasteful and well used, and they actually pull off some really cool melodies, a rarity for death metal. The drumming is tight and the riffs are competent. Vocally, they aren't anything special, but it isn't annoying, so that's definitely a plus.

But unfortunately, when one breaks down the only release from these German death metallers, it is, at it's core, very basic. The blast beats are typical, the riffs don't stand out, the vocals may not be annoying, but they are kind of pedestrian. One of the only aspects that I find to be astounding are the melodies. If there is one thing they do very well, it is memorable melodies. The keys and lead guitar work together seamlessly and create some hauntingly beautiful passages in otherwise crushing death metal riff monsters (The Forlorn and Survival of Zeta Reticuli are good examples of what I mean). I might be sending mixed messages, so let me clarify a bit: there are a multitude of riffs, but very few stand out as amazing, most are good or above average, but rarely are they exhilarating.

This album confuses me a bit, because I'm not sure if it's supposed to be considered a full length. It is only six songs, and is just shy of twenty minutes long, yet it somehow managed to be considered a full length on the site. Go figure. Anyways, I think the fact that this is such a short record actually worked to its advantage. I obviously like it, but it is a very basic album once you work past the sense of melody. The length prevents it from growing stale or wearing out its welcome, which is good, because I'd hate to ever have to call this band mediocre.

Well, this is a short album, so this is obviously going to be a short review. All of the songs are great, but would amount to a very average death metal release once you strip away the sci-fi keys and melodies. Yet somehow, they manage to maintain my interest and keep me entertained. You know, now that I think about it, they kind of have that mystical quality I mention so frequently in my Running Wild reviews. They may not be technically impressive, they manage to captivate you and make you want more. It really is a shame this band never did anything other than Cosmic Conspiracy, because despite my complaints of not being terribly innovative despite the excellent leads, melodies, and use of keys, this is actually top notch death metal. The vocals leave a bit to be desired and the drumming is pretty standard, but everything else manages to work together and make a truly interesting release. An A- to Starseed's only release, and one of the better surprises I've been shown thus far in 2008. Recommended.

RATING - 90%

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