Big Hairy Monster!
(All Album Reviews by Big Hairy Monster!)
Yes clones, Genesis clones, ImClone, Attack Of The Clones.
Not a review goes by without Starcastle being mentioned in the same breath as Yes. In fact Terry Luttrel's vocals are so similar to Jon Anderson's style, that someone new to the Yes catalog could possibly mistake this as a Yes recording. Gary Strater also goes a long way to recapture Chris Squire's bass technique. There is however a lot more to this band than just mimicry.
To just lump this band as just a clone band would do a disservice to the group. Some say that Marillion is the best of the Genesis clones. If that is the case, then Starcastle is the Marillion of Yes clones. This is a band that plays very good progressive rock...and while at first blush this may sound like Yes, upon closer inspection we find that this band uses shadings that Yes wouldn't use.
Subtle yet noticeable are differences in tonal and compositional approach which make this band sound unique from Yes. Herb Schildt's keyboard work is more restrained than Wakeman's, creating a more open soundscape. The guitar work is also not as frenetic as Steve Howe's...to my ears, it is closer to Kansas than Yes. The fact that this band also uses two guitarists (Stephen Hagler and Matthew Stewart) also differentiates the bands, as can be heard in the funkiness of track 2 "Elliptical Seasons". There is a fondness here for use of the Wah-pedal, which is much more prevalent than in Howe's work.
"Stargate" sounds like a strange mix of ELP and Kansas, of course until the segue into "Sunfield" when vocals again kick in. The vocal harmonies found on this disc are every bit as good as any found on any Yes disc, possibly even better. If it wasn't for Luttrell and the band's "doop doop" vocal phrasings which recall Close To The Edge, this group might have been known as a "prog band with a vocalist similar to Jon Anderson" instead of a "Yes Clone".
I do enjoy listening to this disk a lot. Starcastle is a quality band with more to it than initially meets the eye. I especially recommend this if you are a fan of Yes...you may either find them a cheap rip off, or (as I have) another interesting voice in the world of progressive music.
Send In The Clones.