Starblind Never Seen Again
Review by Tim Duran
First, they filled your ears with fear with Darkest Horrors, stole you away into dark fantasy with Dying Son, and now leave you stranded on a frozen tundra with no hope and only the icy wind to keep you warm with their new release, Never Seen Again.
Starblind’s music taps into the essence of the Iron Maiden sound with their own original feel. Bassist Daniel “Thor” Tillberg has a heavy hand that lets the tone cut through the thunderous sounds that drummer Zakarias Wikner creates. The terrible twosome, dual axe slinging mad men of Stockholm, Björn Rosenblad and J.J. shred with tasty leads, catchy rhythms, and beautiful harmonies. New vocalist, Marcus Sannefjord Olkerud, is outstanding. He has great depth and highs, like James LaBrie of Dream Theater.
The record opens with an airy keyboard intro, and you feel the tension build before the musical intro begins. “The Everlasting Dream of Flight”, I would say, is the anthem of the record. The changes in line up, the walls scaled, and endless hours of production did not keep the band down. Instead, it made the music more aggressive, groovier, and more of a hard core rock sound than heavy metal.
“The Shadow out of Time”, a punchy little ditty, is a vision, a narration, and a journey in minstrel form. A song that makes you envision what the storyteller is saying. The music fuses thought and imagination of the lyric.
Did someone say more cowbell? Well here you go! “Pride and Glory” not only gives you cowbell, but words of wisdom. Listen close to this one. Make up your own mind what this song says to you. What I feel is that pride and glory fade, so reach for what is eternal.
Speaking of eternal things, “Eternally Bound” has the storytelling of a Trans-Siberian Orchestra song. The mid tempo vibe translates the pain of memory of lost loved ones into every note played, every beat, and every word sung. I relate this one to the memories I have of a good friend, a drummer in fact, and a high school bud whose life was cut too short. This one I’m sure you all can relate to in some way, shape or form. We all have someone we love that is no longer with us to share in our joys and sufferings, but wait for the day when we will be eternally together. Danny Sherman, I dedicate this one to you, man.
This homage to war Veterans, tells of their bravery and strength. “Tears of a Soldier” goes hand in hand with “Eternally Bound”. The powerful lyrics, the strong rhythms, and the way the words flow as they revolve around the music fill the void with honor to the fallen and the ones who live with their memory. This one you should play for the Veteran in your life.
In the year 1845, explorers traveled to the Arctic. My research on Gizmodo.com says this: “To say that the 129 sailors aboard the HMS Terror and Erebus died slow and miserable deaths would be a gross understatement. As they attempted to traverse the last un-navigated section of the Northwest Passage, the ships became hopelessly trapped in ice above the Arctic Circle off Canada’s King William Island. For the next two years, the crew members struggled to stay alive, eventually succumbing to a variety of ailments.”
As such is the story behind the lyric of the title track, Never Seen Again. I advise you wear a very warm coat.
Time to shed the coat for t-shirt and shorts as Starblind takes you on a trip through Purgatory.
In Dante’s Inferno, there’s a place in hell for the greedy. Here, is a taste of warning. “Avarice (The Fourth Circle)” explains what awaits you if you choose such a path. It’s best to be content with what you have, rather than receive a gift and use it foolishly.
“Demon Rider” is a fantastic tale of a rogue biker bent on mayhem, like Ghost Rider on steroids. It’s every boy’s dream!
Throughout history, the genius has always been used to make weapons of mass destruction and keep tabs (or taps) on the little guy. I think “Insanity and Genius” is what this song is about. I think of Albert Einstein and his reasons for wanting to build the atomic bomb. It saved millions of lives while taking just as many. The insanity is how his ideas became avaricious for the powers that be.
The last song on this crazy historical mind trip begins with some deep thumping bass. “The Last Stand” has the rhythm section pounding the chthonic tribal beat as the vocals and guitars wail, flail, and sail its way till the very end.
Start to finish, the new Starblind record is amazing. It’s more of a roller coaster ride through life, death, and pain. As my wife asked, “Is this a concept record?” Musically it all ties together and the concept of life and death run throughout, but each song’s story is different. Anyone can relate to the songs all while banging your head, air guitaring, and air drumming to your heart’s desire. The tones are much deeper than Horrors and Son, it’s as if they used alternate tunings or just turned up the mid range on the amps.
Darkest Horrors was outright METAL, Dying Son filled us with fantasy, and Never Seen Again is a history lesson given to us by five powerful professors, but alas I must give the downside. I noticed one flaw in one of the songs where they “punched in” on a take, a few of the songs have that droning “whoa-ooh” chant, but it does work for the arrangement. I wish the mic on the cymbals was a bit louder, and they could have added at least nine more songs. Ten is not enough. But then this review would be much longer. Upside, it’s everything I hoped it would be and more. This longed for release was well worth the wait. It has the metal, the rock, strength, stamina, stigma, and style. I love the use of history that most are not aware of; as in the title track, the homage in “Tears”, and the memoir in “Eternally Bound”.
When the music fades and all is stripped away, there’s only one word that comes to mind, ten.
Check out Starblind:
Read about Albert Einstein here: https://www.nobelprize.org/educational/peace/nuclear_weapons/readmore.html
And the voyage of the HMS Terror and Erebus here: https://gizmodo.com/new-clues-emerge-about-doomed-expedition-through-the-no-1797855047