Considering the proliferation of prog-metal groups during the past decade, it must be difficult to come up with something new and exciting without resorting to Dream Theater or Symphony X clichés. I find bands such as Nightwish, Evergrey and Edenbridge particularly excellent because they manage to find their own sounds amid the seemingly endless flow of European power/progressive metal.
Unfortunately, those bands also make groups like Star Queen appear all the weaker because they have all set such lofty standards. Let's start with the good stuff first. As musicians, they are all talented. They come up with some nice arrangements mostly by key composer and vocalist Stella "Star Queen" Tormanoff. From the opening title track Faithbringer to closer "Welcome", there is no lack of speedy double bass drums, "shredding" style guitar playing and occasional keyboard runs. There are some excellent dynamics on "Kill Your Idol". Stella Tormanoff has the ability to wail like a banshee or growl like a predatory wolf. She can even sound a lot like Tarja from Nightwish in her frequent operatic cries. But mostly, Tormanoff reminds me of a female King Diamond because one can never tell whether the next verse will find her screaming at the top of her lungs or whispering terrifying threats of doom and destruction. Ironically, this is also where things start to go wrong. For all her talent, Tormanoff needs to find her range. It's not that she can't handle what she's singing, but too many times she overdoes the King Diamond act. A couple of times, I found her singing to be completely out of sync with what goes on in the music. I think that given some time, things will come together because from the photographs in the booklet, the band all appear to be in their early twenties.
The other problem is that despite the wealth of generally well arranged material, there are no memorable songs. Once the CD is over, I can't even remember what I've heard. They need to work a bit more on the melodies which hopefully won't be such a problem for them on the next CD because they can certainly pull off complex musical passages.
Despite these weaknesses, Star Queen have plenty of potential. It very often takes younger groups a while to find their footing and I'm sure once Star Queen do this, they will come up with a killer CD.