Stargazer – Life Will Never Be the Same (Mighty Music)Friday, 3rd March 2023
The Nordic scene isn’t just known for its extreme or power/progressive metal landscape – there’s always been an active interest in more melodic, classic formats of hard rock/metal. In fact this five-piece under the microscope Stargazer at one point included former TNT bassist Morty ‘Black’ Skaget who played on their first two albums, 2009’s self-titled debut and The Sky Is the Limit follow up a decade later. For this third record Life Will Never Be the Same, only singer/rhythm guitarist Tore Andre Helgemo and guitarist William Ernstsen remain from those efforts – adding a keyboardist plus new rhythm section to the mix. And all of those who love a synthesis of 70’s/80’s melodic hard rock/metal from all sorts of American/European influences will delight in the diverse, energetic approach across these eleven tracks.
The immediacy of stellar guitar mechanics plus multi-octave vocal prowess appears in the first twenty seconds of opener “Can You Conceive It” – the driving mid-tempo riff, in the pocket rhythm section work, plus Tore’s delivery on the microphone sure to charm people into classic Dokken, Skid Row, Axel Rudi Pell, or Van Halen. William delivers thoughtful lead breaks throughout that service the needs of the song while being very emotive, adding the right arpeggio runs, tapping, or exciting ‘wow’ moments that fans of George Lynch, Yngwie Malmsteen, John Sykes, or the late, great Gary Moore treasure. Check out his varied slower to shred action on “Live My Dream” as well as thoughtful note bending on the ballad “Heartbroken” for two highlight reel pieces. Versatility is key to maintaining top to bottom interest even in this more commercial, melodic style – which Stargazer achieve with the acoustic throwback “Live Today” as well as the bluesy instrumental “Beyond the Moon”, almost a sister companion piece to “Parisienne Walkways” by Gary Moore from the late 70’s. Older Rainbow/Dio vibes take over for “Rock the Sky”, restraint during the verses elevating during the mountain-top, singalong chorus with William taking full advantage of a longer solo segment to flex his dexterity at the axe. Smartly ending the record on the groovier track “Push Me”, the tones and production values also sit in that big arena rock territory from the late 80’s, vibrant and ready to move from studio to the stage in a heartbeat.
Stargazer has those premiere qualities that they would have been a million-selling act instantly album after album during the 1980’s – the right skilled singer/guitar combination plus proper keyboard, bass, drum alignments to keep toes tapping, hands clapping, and cheers erupting from all audiences. Life Will Never Be the Same is a classic hard rock or melodic metal record for followers to enjoy now and forever.