Starchild – Magic Well (Metalapolis Records)

Wednesday, 6th December 2023
Rating: 9 / 10

While many acts took time to mentally (and physically) recover from the pandemic downtime, it appears that German power metal unit Starchild felt very inspired. Response to the third album Battle of Eternity released last November was very positive from consumers as well as critics – leading to a follow-up this year for Magic Well. The three primary musicians gained strong studio drum support on this record from Michael Ehré (Primal Fear/ The Unity) as current kit man Andreas Schütte has now filled that slot going forward. This is prime time Teutonic-oriented classic power metal, rich in layers of guitar harmonies, astute keyboard use, and hooks/melodies galore that come bursting forth in a mix of moderate to accelerated tempos that will have no trouble getting quickly into the heads (plus hearts) of most ardent followers.

Streamlined focus on the major components ensures twelve tracks that are very aligned to a ‘get in, get out’ execution that allows the band to approach everything from classic metal to power influences from the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s as far as the influence bank in use. No one has to worry about the workload Michael carries to the drums – he knows when to propel his energetic abilities beyond natural groove maneuvers – “War Isn’t Over Yet” thrusting the former aspect, while “Violent Violin” showcases a bit more of his reflective, dramatic nature of the circular, spacious guitar lines put forth by vocalist Sandro Giampietro. Somber piano and cleaner guitar passages within “Letters of Life” allow Sandro to really belt out the melodies in his best light – the man certainly has aspects of Bruce Dickinson and Geoff Tate within his wheelhouse, capable of rearing back for that key money note signature to mesmerize when need be. The additional sound effects, be it dragon sounds or synthwave spots never deter from the metal proceedings – they only add dynamic contrasts to color the songwriting in a fresh prism. Because of the band’s ability to shift from conventional heavy metal material to something with more wide-reaching power numbers that can be a bit more bombastic or cinematic in feel, the record never feels tiresome – especially when you hear the classic hard rock/wild west atmosphere injected into a mid-tempo metal template like “Westernworld”.

It’s difficult to pinpoint one or two specific influences for Starchild – as these gentlemen love Iron Maiden and Helloween just as much as they love Stratovarius, Edguy, or Avantasia. What we do know for Magic Well is they’ve pulled out a gem of a record in the latter part of 2023 – so hopefully this doesn’t get whitewashed away against the sea of earlier album releases.

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