Bringing a lot of fun back into the hard rock scene

The Last Verse: This week, By The Grace of Rock ‘n’ Roll, by Starmen

The cover of 'By The Grace of Rock 'n' Roll, by Starmen

Brendan Keane Wexford People

When a group of veteran Swedish musicians decided to form a fun rock 'n' roll band in 2018 they probably did bank on it gathering momentum and becoming very much a hard rock success story.

To-date, Starmen, have released two albums and their third, 'By The Grace of Rock 'n' Roll', will hit the shelves and download platforms at the end of this week.

The band is composed of: Kristian Hermanson (Red Starman) -vocals/rhythm guitar; Marcus Sjoblom (Silver Starman) - drums/vocals; Andreas Lindgren (Purple Starman) - lead guitar/vocals; and Jonatan Samuelsson (Gold Starman) - bass/vocals.

Part of the 'gimmick' around the band was that each member would have their own colour and they each wear a make-up star on their face.

It would all have been just fun and games if they weren't so musically talented.

Basically, this is a band that writes the type of tracks Kiss would be proud of.

While the first two albums made the music world sit up and take notice the new album will cement the band's reputation as the new pioneers of melodic hard rock.

'Shining Star' is a fantastic opener and bears all the hallmarks of the classic 80's era of hair metal bands.

The vocals are absolutely stunning and in Hermanson the band has a formidable singer who is blessed with an unbelievable range.

The backing vocals are exquisite and song has everything one could ask for of this type of music, fabulous musicianship, uplifting, big chorus and a brilliant vocal melody.

The album's title track continues the up-tempo trend of the opener.

There is no doubting the Kiss influence and the lyrics are as clichéd as possible, however, it's all the better for it.

If the songwiting world was just full of introverted, naval-gazing, cap-wearing bearded lyricists it would be a very dull place indeed.

Sometimes, it's good just to listen to a kick-ass rock 'n' roll band out for a good time.

Starmen are, in essence, and old school, melodic hard rock band with a sprinking of glam.

'Kairi' begins in upbeat fashion and bears slight similarities to Whitesnake but once Hermanson begins to let rip, vocally, the Kiss influence is evident once again.

The arrangement of the track is fantastic and there is a lot going on muscially; each listen presents something new in the composition.

Anyone who has even the slightest interest in melodic hard rock will absolutely love this band.

Think of classic Whitesnake, Def Leppard, Kiss, Ratt, Poison, Triumph, Bonfire, Sleeze Beez and you'll get the idea.

'Black Thunder, White Lightening' invokes images of Stargazer-era, Rainbow. It has a lovely rhythmic groove with a slight hint of disco on the chorus.

It also has a distinctly funky vibe and in that regard is slightly different to the preceding tracks.

The production on the album is fabulous and there is lovely warmth to the overall sound.

'Kisses Of An Enemy' is an interesting track in that it utilises more effects, sonically, than the preceding tracks.

It also ebbs and flows arrangement-wise and offers up a number of different moods.

On 'Pleasuredome' the band goes down the Led Zeppelin route with a riff that's similar to a speeded up 'Kashmir'.

However, it has to be said that while the influences are evident Starmen do have their own distinctive sound.

'Spaceplane', is, at times, very similar to '(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight', by Cutting Crew, albeit slightly more rocky while 'People's Parade' brings things back down the hard rock road.

Built around a fantastic guitar riff, it's a grinding mid-tempo rocker and has wonderful Van Halen-type backing vocals on the chorus.

'Bad Habit' takes the listener right back to the mid-80s heyday of pop-metal although with modern production.

'Hotter Than Fire' is another groove-laden, mid-tempo bruiser and Hermanson utilises the full range of his vocal abilities to enhance the mood of the song.

'Angels Crying' is one of the heavier songs on the album.

Set to a mid-tempo rhythm it's structured around a great guitar riff. The guitar sound on the album is fantastic; the solos have soaring clarity and while the general sound is hard and at times heavy, there is a crispness to the guitars too that enhances the commercial appeal of the songs.

Album closer, 'Shining Star Voice Outro', is an a capella track and it highlights the extraordinary vocal ability of the band members.

Sometimes, it's very important not to take things too seriously and in that context bands like Starmen are more important and invaluable than ever; at times it's important to let the good times roll.