I have been following STAR.GATE from Thessaloniki, Greece, since their very first steps and I consider Kostas Domenikiotis -the band’s spiritual father- a gifted and important composer. He has a specific artistic vision which he follows faithfully, he has a specific aesthetic that guides the entire STAR.GATE artistic development, and finally he has an enviable talent for writing songs that really shine. If I have to choose only one feature as the most important for this band it would be none other than songwriting.
While listening to “Escaping the Illusion”, the band’s sixth full length album, I am confirming all the above thoughts and on the very same time I realize that the band is offering the most mature and multidimensional album of their so far career.
I think that this album opens a new chapter in STAR.GATE’s musical book and that from now on we should talk about periods before and after the specific release when we refer to the band’s discography.
“And what are the reasons for the above heavy statement” I hear you asking.
Well first of all “Escaping the Illusion” is STAR.GATE’s most diverse album yet. Domenikiotis uses the neoclassical form as raw material, as a starting point, putting a huge range of additional influences at the forefront. From the lyrical 70s elements and Pomp Rock references we loved on the previous album, to the straight melodic Metal themes that are often approaching an almost Power Metal logic. I even discovered some Prog touches here and there on the songs.
Secondly, STAR.GATE now have in their ranks the best singer that has ever participated on the band: Manos Fatsis. Maybe I should write “the most suitable one” to be even clearer. The quality and the color of his voice, the interpretive variety and the performing passion are trademark features for the new album. I would also like to make a very important -at least to me- reference about his balanced and careful approaching to every single part of every song, without exaggerations, without attempts to impress or to add anything pointless. Fatsis interprets wisely, literally weighing his dynamics in each phrase, reaching the point of dominating the songs and taking them to the very next level.
The rest of the band contribute their utmost to the creation of this excellent album with Anthimos Manti giving us some of his most brilliant solos, Sakis Bandis (HORIZON’S END) telling a great musical tale with his keyboards and Stergios Kourou making me argue with the neighbors once again because I put the album on full volume so I can properly hear the amazing drum parts that he delivered.
The production of Kostas Scandalis (HORIZON’S END) is phenomenal, making even the excellent acoustic versions of “Christmas Night” (from the previous album) and “Escaping the Illusion” or the bonus bassist improvisations of Domenikiotis sound exemplary.
Favorite songs? Well I simply can not choose, as I always listen to the entire album without being able to skip a single tune. However I would anytime pick “Lonely Queen” due its neoclassical excellence, “Wounded Soul” because it has an amazing proggy development on the verses, “Escaping the Illusion” because it carries one of the best STAR.GATE choruses ever written and last but not least “Hiding all the Tears” because Fatsis nails it in this one.
So to cut a long story sort here we have a masterpiece. A great album that will give you endless hours of listening pleasure as you would come back to it again and again.
We want more bands with the spectacle and passion of STAR.GATE and more records like “Escaping the Illusion”.
The album will be out on Steel Gallery Records, March 8th. You can pre-order it here.
Read the discussion in our forum pages.
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