Reviewed: March 2023
Released: 2023, Mighty Music
Reviewer: Simon Wiedeman
Stargazer are a Norwegian hard rock/heavy metal band for fans of Van Halen, Dio, and Deep Purple. They are on the Mighty Music label and released their latest full length album ‘Life Will Never be the Same’ on 3rd March, 2023. After their immediately prior 2019 release ‘The Sky is the Limit’, they entered the radar of many people of the hard rock world and they received a number of great reviews. The band continue their legacy with awesome melodies and riffs, cool solos and excellent songwriting. The band is considered to have one of the best rock voices that’s around and the guitarist is said to be one of the greatest at playing in the blues-hard rock style.
Intro track ‘Can You Conceive It’ has a Joe Satriani style dreaminess to some of the chord progressions and melodies, kind of think his ‘Flying in a Blue Dream’ but with vocals and a more uplifting vibe rather than a little more serious. The soloing style too has things in common with Joe’s playing, it featuring lots of fast legato phrases and tapping. The track’s lead part reminded me more of the ‘Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ theme tune, though. I’m not sure if that was intentional, if I had to guess, I’d say no. ‘Live My Dream’ has some bluesier playing at times as the intro paragraph promised. I wouldn’t compare the guitarist to Rory Gallagher, but I guess Gary Moore shredded in places, but not quite as much as this guy. The feel good sound is continued. ‘Rock The Sky’ has a slightly slower tempo, which for me doesn’t work quite so much. It sounds a little ploddy, even though the harmonies and melodies are actually fairly good.
‘Live Today’ drops the electric guitars and replaces them with acoustics. That is until the more traditionally bluesy solo. Well I say that, the break is still faster than usual in some sections. Track title ‘Don’t Kill’ should be a no brainer and I was wondering what led to its naming. Then I heard the lyrics, and ‘don’t kill’ seems to be metaphorical, which I think is for the best. The alternative is a bit dumb. Anyway, another fun rocker that has instrumentation that kind of brings to mind Ozzy Osbourne’s ‘No Rest for the Wicked’ album, making it a bit heavier than the previous tracks. Creating a nice sense of continuity, the vocal style has stayed more or less the same. ‘Will I Come To Heaven’ isn’t quite so feel good as the early songs but again, it’s far from somber and has just a bit of a surreal feel to it at times. I’m slightly reminded of Iron Maiden’s ‘Stranger in a Strange Land’ in the verse sections.
‘Heartbroken’ on the other hand has a complete shift in mood. It starts off pretty angry, then after a few seconds it switches to a dark blues feel. Nothing feel good about this one. Oh scratch that, the chorus does cheer up a little bit, but the sound doesn’t last too long. The verses have a similar feel as ‘Since I’ve Been Loving You’ by Led Zeppelin but more modern. That should intrigue many, I’m sure. ‘Turn Off The Light’ has another semi-serious sound with an 80s metal feel. Some of the guitar fills bring to mind Ozzy’s ‘Bark at the Moon’, but the Stargazer song is a million miles away from a ripoff. ‘Beyond The Moon’ is another dark-ish and sad number with bits of hope thrown in. It’s the only instrumental on the album but it’s more than an interlude, if the band wanted to they could release a whole album of the stuff. But of course they wouldn’t make much money as few people like such music for over 30 minutes or so. Just be openminded, I say. ‘Take Me Home’ is tinged with sadness yet it has a positivity too, further proof there is a fair amount of depth to the album. Final track ‘Push Me’ has a hair metal vibe and a super catchy main riff, I’m reminded of Motley Crue and their ‘Dr Feelgood’, but with a more sensible sounding vocal delivery here, with less of an attitude.
In conclusion, is the guitarist one of the best? No. But, he is damn good. He does play some mistakes here and there when he solos fast, but only small ones and fans of Jimmy page will likely think such errors give the playing character. Despite the range of influences and sounds the album it has, it certainly doesn’t seem inconsistent, rather it comes across as varied and like an unpredictable journey. Even the darkest ideas have life to them and there is never a truly dull moment to be heard. My main criticism is the way it sounds very much like 80s rock and metal, and doesn’t do enough to innovate, but if the band like the style, fair enough. Also, whilst the vocals are well delivered, maybe the singer could have had more catchy melodies. The album may feel like a fun 80s album, but does it have choruses like Whitesnake’s ‘Fool For Your Loving’ or Europe’s ‘The Final Countdown’? Not quite. But on the whole very good and strongly recommended!