Review Summary: The sound of a confident but aging band on autopilot.
Can man really beat time? So often we see our longtime idols fall from grace and shrink as they grow older and refuse to see the truth right in the eye. In addition, we as fans need to level our expectations and accept that benchmarking a veteran band’s latest release against the material they released in their heyday is unrealistic. Having said that, UFO’s 21st (!) release will most likely be regarded as an enjoyable effort by the numerous fans of the band but quickly forgotten by the majority of others.
The above doesn’t mean that A Conspiracy of Stars
is a poor album full of mediocre tracks and weak moments. However, it has certain deficiencies that prevent it from being as good as it could have been considering the band members’ pedigree.
To begin with Phil Mogg, vocalist, co-creator and only member that has appeared on each and every album is UFO personified and a legend for this band; UFO is simply not the same without him and his value is beyond that of just a singer. Nevertheless, stating that he doesn’t sound like a 66 year old rocker would be a lie. He hasn’t declined as much as Ian Gillan for example but his vocal performance is one of the reasons that A Conspiracy of Stars
is what it is. What listeners will experience throughout this album is fairly basic blues rock with emphasis on catchy riffs and guitar melodies while the rhythm section’s role is purely complementary and thus adequate. The songwriting is not bad but nothing to write home about; there are no really high points and no utterly and blatantly horrible tracks. It almost seems as if UFO is on autopilot. Granted, there are moments were these veterans sound confident and professional but overall they tend to convey a feeling of tiredness.
On the other hand, the high point on here is definitely guitar virtuoso Vinnie Moore’s playing. UFO since the ‘70s have been a guarantee for great riffs and solid guitar playing; such is not exactly the case for A Conspiracy of Stars
as there are a few good riffs here and there but what bumps the album a bit is the leads and solos. Whenever Vinnie Moore is given the space – and thank god it’s pretty often – he manages to elevate the music. His solos are technical but wank-free while his leads help the tracks breathe. If there’s one reason anyone should listen to this album it's most certainly Vinnie Moore.
Overall, A Conspiracy of Stars
can be proven a satisfying effort provided that the listener isn’t turned off by Mogg’s vocals. Longtime UFO fans and those who are accustomed to the legendary singer’s voice will not have trouble getting into the album. However, the rest of us are likely to find UFO’s latest effort tame and count the minutes towards Moore’s next solo.