Starsoup’s 2013 debut album Bazaar of Wonders was a wonderfully diverse and eclectic collection of progressive rock/metal that has become a firm favourite of mine. As such, I was excited to see that they now have a brand new album out for me to enjoy and get to know.
Essentially a product of the band’s driving mastermind, who’s also a member of the excellent Distant Sun, he uses guest musicians to flesh out his musical vision, (including guest vocalists).
The music on Castles of Sand is every bit as diverse and wide-ranging as Bazaar of Wonders, probably even more so. This traverses multiple rock/metal styles from multiple eras, and does all of them very well. Each song firmly has its own identity and personality.
Across the breadth of this album we get a plethora of styles and influences. Some examples include, (but are not limited to), thundering heavy metal, laid-back balladry, progressive rock extravaganzas, atmospheric cinema music, adult oriented rock, exotic folk, and power metal.
It’s hard to sound coherent when your talents are this far-ranging, but for the most part Castles of Sand still manages to come across as one band, despite how different some of the songs are from each other. Part of this coherence comes from the band’s singer, (I really like his voice, as I’ve mentioned in the past on his previous work, but on this latest album he sounds better than ever), but part of simply comes from the quality songwriting and performances.
As you might ascertain from the album cover in some ways, Castles of Sand is an even more accomplished, mature, and confident work than Bazaar of Wonders already was. Four years after their debut album, Starsoup have followed with an album that’s surely destined to become even more highly played by me than their debut is.
Essential for any progressive rock/metal fan.