Reviewed: June 2020
Released: 2020, Pure Steel Records
Reviewer: Kieron Hayes
Constellation is the third album from Finnish metallers Stargazery. And it’s a damn good time.
The Finns bring us a form of melodic heavy metal sitting comfortably within the power metal spectrum. To some, that might conjure thoughts of over-the-top extremes of speed, sugary accessibility or fantasy cheese, but where Stargazery stand strong is, surprisingly, in their restraint.
There certainly -is- plenty of cheesy goodness on show here (often added to nicely by the catchy keyboard work), but it never feels like a crutch in place of good song-writing. Similarly, the band has no problem with ramping things up to a faster pace, as in the title track or “Raise the Flag” in the second half, or letting some properly anthemic choruses take to the fore (“Self-Proclaimed King”), but they’re used in moderation, where appropriate, rather than being a constant barrage.
No, the focus on Constellation is squarely on crafting good, memorable tunes dominated by strong vocals, good riffs and infectious melodies that manage never to outstay their welcome. Almost every song features trading off guitar and keyboard solos, and most stick to a solid mid-tempo pace, with a willingness to shift into higher gear where appropriate. Classic Mob Rules, Dark Moor or Angra would sit comfortably alongside this album, and listening to it definitely took me back to hearing some of those others for the first time.
This is just simply a good time. It’s melodic power metal, but without descending into extremes. Stargazery’s music has teeth and they know how to write epic tales of glory and adventure without letting it become ridiculous. Not that some ridiculousness isn’t good every now and then, but it can also be refreshing to hear quality work that doesn’t need it.