Friday, December 4, 2020
Starforger - Meteorfall
Third time's the charm, because now we've finally hit a band that is both unquestionably based on Final Fantasy lore and doesn't suck! This is the nerd-paradise I was hoping I'd come across when I started this project, with five of the six tracks being unquestionably based on FF without being covers (you'd be amazed how few FF "inspired" bands I was able to find that weren't just endless covers of battle themes straight from the games). This EP starts off with the one-two punch of "Hellfire" and "Diamond Dust", obviously based on staple summons Ifrit and Shiva, and then leads into "Five Hundred Years Later" based on the ambiguous epilogue to VII, followed by "Rose of May" telling the story of IX's Beatrix (the only acceptable waifu, fight me you weeb-pedo freaks), and climaxing with "The Sword Collector", based on The Absolute Boy Gilgamesh, his V incarnation specifically. The sixth track seems to be unrelated, but was tacked on to the 2020 rerelease so hypernerds like me can safely avoid talking about it.
But enough expository banter! Starforger's actual sound is closer to Wintersun than anybody else, replete with loads of twinkly keyboards and speedy guitar acrobatics. I've said many times before that Wintersun's main downfall is simply that the brains behind the band can't rein himself in and just make great, focused songs with any regularity, so despite my vocal distaste for the band I do frequently seek out bands that sound like them, and Starforger does that very well. Hell "The Sword Collector" cribs so heavily from Wintersun's "Battle Against Time" that it borders on plagiarism, but the overall package is a fuckload more consistent than anything the Finns have ever managed to put out.
That actually winds up being the achilles heel of Meteorfall. It's extremely consistent but this comes at the expense of every song sounding basically the same. All six of them are fairly lengthy blasts of aggression that rarely slow down, full of catchy melodies, prominent synths, blast beats, and deep growls. It's a great example of this particular power-metal-heavy subniche of melodeath but once you've heard the first song you've heard them all, as they all follow more or less the exact same template with the only real difference between them being their length. The keys seem to be the real star of the show, with what I can only assume is a nod to "J-E-N-O-V-A" opening "Hellfire" and an absolutely sublime chorus melody in "Five Hundred Years Later", and just generally being the most interesting part of any given song. The rest of the instrumentals are no slouch, don't get me wrong, but they clearly play second fiddle to the high-flying twinkliness that overpowers the album. Despite how samey Meteorfall is on the whole, I can't deny that I had a lot of fun with it. Starforger is without a doubt the best FF themed metal band that actually plays originals that I've come across on this journey, but I'd be lying to you if I said it was fantastic. It's just a damn solid Wintersun knockoff but I can jive with that.