STARQUAKE – Times That Matter (2015)
“Times That Matter” is the just released new album from STARQUAKE, the brainchild of German songwriter, singer and multi-instrumentalist Mikey Wenzel. While Wenzel is member of several other bands, Starquake is his own project where he does all vocals and most instruments, with the help of some guest musicians supporting him.
If you take a look at the album cover you may think of a Praying Mantis early ’80s reissue… well, it easily could be. Yes, the illustration was done by Rodney Matthews (Magnum, Nazareth, Praying Mantis), but also the music packed inside takes you back to those years and the sound of the mentioned bands.
Musically, Wenzel seems forty years removed from history. Or, better, a guy jumping back and forth in time between 1975 and 1985. His music is the particular mixture of classic early Eighties metal, even NWOBHM, and mid Seventies melodic and progressive hard rock, complete with Hammond organ. Actually, that latter element is one of the first things you might notice.
There’s lots of additional keyboards and loads of great guitar solos, all wrapped up in expansive arrangements that drop Starquake into the progressive hard rock camp. “Times That Matter is also a very long recording”. At 73 minutes, it’s a lot to work through, with the centerpiece “Rise And Fall”, at 21 minutes.
Despite its length, “Rise And Fall” is really interesting throughout, telling the story of a musician that sold his soul for glory, all wrapped by some fine musical elements and a few tremendous choruses.
An addition to “Rise And Fall”, Wenzel’s delivers more of his progressive hard rock in a longer fashion with “Scenes From A Revolution”, “Close Encounter” (with an alien invasion theme) and “Fairytale”, driven by some nice, lively, piano.
Alternatively, Wenzel also drops some rather heavy pieces with the hard rocking “Here I Go Again”, “The Needle Lies” and “No More Hate” (very Iron Maiden), all of which have some boisterous and crushing riffs, made thicker by the organ.
Against these, there are two lighter numbers with “Times That Matter” (some early Scorpions) and “Whatever”, both driven by some emotional baggage, acoustic guitar and Wenzel’s melodic vocals.
Overall, appealing to the considerable volume of music here, “Times That Matter” is significant accomplishment for Mikey Wenzel. Very few make records like this nowadays, this kind of progressive hard rock blending ’70s / ’80s sounds & style with melody.
Very nice stuff.
01 – Scenes from a Revolution
02 – Close Encounter
03 – I’m Goin’ Mad
04 – Rise and Fall
05 – Here I Go Again
06 – The Needle Lies
07 – Times That Matter
08 – Goodbye My Friend
09 – No More Hate
10 – Whatever
11 – Fairytale
Mikey Wenzel – all Vocals / all Instruments
Jan Donkey van Meerendonk – Drums
Andi Pernpeintner – Hammond Organ
Alex Kugler – Guitars
Joe Wagner – Guitars
Michael Wopshall – Guitars
Corinna Reif – Violin
Sandra Wenzel – Additional Vocals
BUY IT !