Starsoup – Bazaar Of Wonders
Reviewed By Christopher Foley
The debut from Russia’s Starsoup is no doubt an odd affair, and one which was expected on my part – something I’m relatively sure will be the same for others – given their name, album title, and artwork. Speaking of which, I really dig the art. It looks like a salesman you’d come across in a The Legend Of Zelda game, and hey, doesn’t that mask look like the eponymous, transforming face apparel from that Jim Carrey movie?
What you can expect from Starsoup is a blend of progressive rock, AOR, and power metal, which at times works to the band’s benefit; although at others serves to their detriment. One thing is for sure: these guys are talented in their craft – particularly in the piano department – although everything from vocals to drums is well done. As for their songs, well, that’s a different story completely, and one which will likely divide opinion considering the Russians.
I feel caught in the middle: as an appreciator of all things prog I can really dig some of the songs here, although my ironclad heavy metal heart wishes they’d cut loose a fair bit more than they do. A lot of the tunes have a very friendly, melodic timbre which, sans the unorthodox songwriting choices, could earn them some radio play. Bazaar Of Wonders very much alternates between more progressive numbers and the softer, friendlier songs throughout. This gives the album a skewed effect, and is without a doubt an element which will affect enjoyment.
They start strong with the majestic opening cut “Angels”, which is introduced via luscious pianos and spreads its wings into a slow burning progressive metal cut which isn’t too far away from something Vanden Plas or Balance Of Power would put out. From this point on, they continue to switch direction between tepid AOR-sensible tracks, heavy numbers, and soggy ballads. Sometimes they hit the nail on the head, as seen in highlights such as “Cradle Of War”, the middle-eastern tinged “Bazaar”, and the sobering instrumental closing track “Rain In The Desert”. At other points, they meander through dull-country, essentially comprised of all the tracks I haven’t mentioned here. “Road To Sunset” is exceptionally bad, though.
This makes it hard for me to want to give Starsoup much of a recommendation. It’s an album I’m not overly keen on sitting through in its entirety, and as such one I wouldn’t revisit in the future. It feels like the band wanted to do everything at once, and while it’s a feat I won’t contest them for, I’d say that on the whole, Bazaar Of Wonders comes across as more uneven than creative. The appeal with these guys is definitely one for those into prog, as this is without a doubt too soft and too niche for any who enjoy a strict diet of studs and leather. The good songs are worth checking out I guess, although I’d seriously approach with caution.
2.5 // 5