Starquake is the creation of composer and multi-instrumentalist Mikey Wenzel, who likes to call himself "The Voice," you know, like the television show. A member of several other bands, he returns to his solo project and a second album Times That Matter. While press material indicates that he does all vocals, instruments, and programming, he does have more than a few guest musicians supporting him.
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 Hammon 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 rock camp. Times That Matter is also a very long recording. At 73 minutes, it's a lot to work through, with the centerpiece being the mini rock opera, Rise And Fall, at 21 minutes. The album could have been easily trimmed by several songs and 20 minutes or more without compromise.
An addition to Rise And Fall, Wenzel's delivers more of his progressive rock in a longer fashion with Scenes From A Revolution, Close Encounter (with an alien invasion theme), and Fairytale. That last song is driven by some nice, lively, piano. Alternatively, Wenzel also drops some rather heavy pieces with Here I Go Again, The Needle Lies, and No More Hate, all of which have some boisterous and crushing riffs, made thicker by the organ. Against these, there are two lighter numbers, ballads of sorts, with Times That Matter and Whatever, both driven by some emotional bagage, acoustic guitar, and Wenzel's voice. As for 'the voice,' I'm not sure I was all that impressed with Wenzel's singing. It's not bad; he's generally melodic, yet still not all that appealing. Overall, appealing to the considerable volume of tunes here, Times That Matter is significant accomplishment for Mikey Wenzel. Consider the video below and see if you wish to hear more from this talented musician.
Overall, appealing to the considerable volume of tunes here, Times That Matter is significant accomplishment for Mikey Wenzel: a large helping of old school melodic progressive rock.
How does a Hollywood band end up on a Swedish record label with Swedish distribution and then have promotion from a German public relations joint? Beats me. But LA's Warner Drive may be the best band I've never heard of this year. Maybe for you too ... [ Read More ]