Album: A Conspiracy of Stars
It’s hard to find a band that have rocked for as long as UFO. While most listeners are familiar with the band’s early work, which was instrumental in helping transition hard rock to the New Wave of British Heavy Metal, UFO have released multiple albums in each decade since their 1970 self-titled debut. Their newest album, A Conspiracy of Stars, is the first in three years, as well as the first to feature longtime touring bassist Rob De Luca. Full disclosure: Until this newest album I hadn’t listened to anything since the dawn of UFO’s Vinnie Moore era. A lot has changed.
My first impression was: “Man, this is a lot of treble”, but my second and third impressions were “these guys can still rock” and “Phil Mogg’s voice sounds awesomely like rusted steel and worn leather”. The fact is that this album treads on heavy like a slow moving steamroller. It’s a solid hard rocker from front to end; predictable, but with attitude. There’s a nice balance between catchiness and grit, which is something UFO have always been known for, and something they still excel at today.
Lyrically, A Conspiracy of Stars is what you would expect. Mogg and UFO are best when they balance road wisdom with heavy metal cynicism and heartache. Songs like “Ballad of the Left Hand Gun” and “Devil’s in the Details” are all the more memorable for it. Others, like “Messiah of Love”, feel far less authentic.
My other only other complaint about the album is that I did find things lacking in the production department. For one, Rob De Luca’s bass work is not very audible. I found myself having to toy around with my EQ settings before I could really make A Conspiracy of Stars sound complete.
There’s little to be said, other than that A Conspiracy of Stars is a good album for anyone that likes straightforward hard rock and classic metal. Just as UFO’s pre-metal output has a timeless metal sound, so does their music even after NWOBHM is over. A Conspiracy of Stars may not rival the band’s best work, it can’t possibly be disappointing to fans of the genre. No special effects or surprise here; just good solid rock.
Joe’s grade: B