REVIEW: Starquake – Synthmaster

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We’ve been raving a lot about VANSIDIAN since they debuted Stormweaver, but the band has not released their debut album as of yet. So what has guitarist and band mastermind Matti Meri-Huhti been doing in the meantime? Apparently getting ready to release a synthwave album! “Starquake” by STARQUAKE SYNTHMASTER will be released independently on January 28th, 2022, and knowing the quality of artistry we’ve gotten from Matti in the past, this was surely worth checking out!

On first listen-through, the album is extremely varied, with a lot of different styles explored, yet none of the sounds feel too repetitive against one another. With a full 21-song tracklist (one of which is a demo), there’s plenty to explore, from traditional synthwave pieces to stylish tracks that could be straight out of video games.

The album opens with a soft, ambient, perhaps windy feel with gentle synth notes during “Apocalypse,” exploring a medium tempo for the first half, before pushing the style even further after the 2-minute mark. An instant highlight was “Disco King,” which has video game -like tidbits added in here and there, feeling like it’d make great background music for both a fun platformer or your relaxing afternoon. “Black Guard” was immediately stylistically reminiscent of some of the material from Ari Pulkkinen‘s soundtrack to the local video game, Nex Machina, but plays with a more mellow tempo and doesn’t require the “exciting” push that is needed in a video game soundtrack to sound right.

If you’ve ever played a Sega Genesis-era Sonic the Hedgehog game, a lot of this music might feel nostalgic in the best sort of way. Songs like “Ride Like the Wind,” “Sacrifice,” “Rad Racer,” and “Girls Girls Girls” show off that wonderful ambience that almost creates game-like visuals in the mind’s eye when listening. Meanwhile, there are darker parts too, such as songs like “Saviour,” “Nightmares,” “Justice Bringer,” or “Gore Club,” that explore lower tones and more ominous atmospheres, while songs like “Avenge” and “Night Cruising” are more laidback and relaxing chill-out tracks.

Some of the more unusual tracks then include “Cynorg,” which is more stripped-down at the beginning, sounding like a disturbing lullaby until the rhythms set in and create a short, mysterious adventure; “Daremoo,” which is slightly faster and has some of the most cheeky melodies that almost feel like they’re leading the listener on a “follow me!” chase; and “Fota Bett,” which is one of the most atmospheric tracks, with a variety of different layers of synth sound that all work like magic together.

The album then wraps up with “It’s Not the End, It’s Only the Beginning,” which is another heavier Nex Machina -style song that has a dark ambience and lurks around quite a lot. The final track, however, is the original demo of “Girls,” which is a simpler, more SID-sounding version of the earlier track.

Overall, STARQUAKE SYNTHMASTER is releasing an extremely strong collection of varied and fun synthwave tracks, sure to please the ears of not only synthwave lovers, but may also tickle the fancy of those who enjoy classic gaming soundtracks from the chiptunes era. If you need a little shake-up from your early-2022 metal music, “Starquake” could definitely make for a nice change of pace!

Tracklist

  1. Apocalypse
  2. Disco King
  3. Black Guard
  4. Ride Like the Wind
  5. Saviour
  6. Avenge
  7. Seduce
  8. Nightmares
  9. Sacrifice
  10. Justice Bringer
  11. Island of Poverty
  12. Attack!
  13. Cynorg
  14. Night Cruising
  15. Gore Club
  16. Daaremoo
  17. Girls Girls Girls
  18. Rad Racer
  19. Fota Bett
  20. It’s Not the End It’s Only the Beginning
  21. Girls (original demo 2011)

Lineup

Matti Meri-Huhti

Label

Independent

Links

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