As far as gimmicks go the “mystery band” image is not a new phenomenon. Of course, we had KISS in the early 70s but I daresay there were many more before them. Which brings me to Swedish melodic rock act Starmen. Their take on the look is to have each member’s face painted with a star of a particular color, individual to them.
Purple plays lead guitar, Silver is on drums, Red on rhythm guitar and Gold on bass. They all lay claim to vocals.
While the band remains mainly unknown, it appears the main man is Kristian Hermanson, once of Cleopatra and an early vocalist of The Poodles. Other contributors are drummer Peter Strandberg (Heartbreak Radio), Andreas Eklund (House of Shakira) and The Poodles drummer Christian Lundqvist. There are other unlisted musicians involved which makes me wonder if this is more of a co-operative than a proper band, hence the need for the mystery image.
As is obvious through the look, with the hefty nod to KISS, Starmen relishes playing music inspired by classic rock of the past. The sounds of bands such as Whitesnake, Deep Purple, the aforementioned KISS and Def Leppard are all to be found throughout the new album, Welcome to My World. This is, incidentally, their second album, following up 2018’s Kiss the Sky.
As you’d expect from a Swedish melodic rock act Welcome to My World starts off quite pop-orientated and well polished. After the first couple of songs, however, it morphs into a collection of AOR tracks.
With the faux live introduction of a new band from ‘outer space’ “Dreaming” opens proceedings that are heavy on the keyboards. The vocals are also quite Gillan-like on this well-paced pop-rock romp.
More keyboards on “Face the Truth” but not so prominent this time. This track is edgier and more of a hint of the majority of music to follow.
“Ready to Give Me Your Love” is straight out of the Whitesnake playbook with its heavy blues style. Check out the vid below.
Get your lighters out, it is power ballad time, and “Stay the Night”. If you’re familiar with UK’s Cats in Space then you’ll get the idea. Quiet, loud, quiet, loud, you get the picture.
It’s back to mid-paced rock on “Warrior” and it has a good pace to it, harking back to the 1980s.
“Freewheelin’” is sadly formulaic and lacks balls and intent, it feels like the song was built around the word they liked the sound of.
Whilst I know the feeling of “Evil” is meant to portray just that, the track just comes over as slow and trudgy.
“Welcome to My World” sees the Starmen vocalist pull off a mighty Paul Stanley (when he could sing) performance. Indeed, the track could easily have been lifted from Live to Win. It’s uncanny and I’ll leave it you to decide if that’s a compliment or not.
“Mayday” is a call to arms to avoid world environmental disaster. It’s still “Paul Stanley” on vocals, but more latter-day.
Paul has gone for a lie-down and it’s a trip down Sunset Strip for Starmen and the ever so slightly sleazy “R.I.P.” which proves to be a fun track.
“Mission Man” trots on at a fair lick with more 80’s vibe and a tidy solo. It’s probably the track which has the most intent and honesty about it in the way it is played and sung.
The big finish comes in the form of “Electrified” and while it may not be that big it is an enjoyable track, a good way to end.
Generally Welcome To My World is a decent romp through the ages of AOR, especially the 1980s. However, I like my homages to have at least a little originality and this feels like mainly ripping off the greats.
Welcome to My World is out February 21, 2020, on Melodic Passion Records.
Also, find more of my CGCM reviews here: Sparky