From the San Francisco Bay Area, WildeStarr formed in 2003 around Laaz Rockit and original Vicious Rumours bassist Dave Starr and vocalist/keyboard player London Wilde. Their 2009 debut 'Arrival' was named one of the best Metal albums of that year and with 'A Tell Tale Heart' picking up where that left off, the critical acclaim looks likely to continue.
'A Tell Tale Heart' is a concept album inspired by the work of Edgar Allan Poe. For those who don't know, Poe's best known works of fiction are Gothic with recurring themes dealing with questions of death, the effects of decomposition, concerns of premature burial, the reanimation of the dead, and mourning. Many of his works are generally considered a literary reaction to transcendentalism which Poe strongly disliked.
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Beyond horror, Poe also wrote satires, humorous tales and hoaxes. For comic effect he favored irony in an attempt to liberate the reader from cultural conformity. He wrote much of his work using themes aimed specifically at mass-market tastes, his fiction often including elements of the then popular but now extremely questionable pseudo sciences of the likes of phrenology and physiognomy.
So, does the album stand up to such illustrious references? The jury is still out on that one.
'A Tell Tale Heart' has power and it certainly cannot be damned for not trying yet there is a sameness, especially with the masculine vocal of London Wilde, that starts to irritate after a while. She has certainly got a hell of a set of pipes on her but the girl seems rarely able to tone down the stridency and just cannot resist the urge to scale those octaves.
The band are obviously masters of their individual crafts and collectively possess a dark, heavy and powerful sound that has also been compared to bands like Queensrÿche, Savatage, and Crimson Glory. Yet it is the shadow of Priest, circa 'Nostradamus', that towers over them all.
'A Tell Tale Heart' is complex and cluttered, frantic and in parts majestic and is very proficient at what it does but the writing seems to have been loath to let the songs find their natural levels and just sit in a groove. The resulting relentlessly complex nature flirts with becoming annoying and samey, only just managing to avoid the bear trap of the whole thing going to rat shit and losing the groove altogether.
This album has its merits. It has intellectual depth and is skilfully constructed with strong melodies and a top drawer production job. Yet, it does not engage the listener like it should and ultimately may prove just not satisfying enough to placate the veterans of this sort of progressive Heavy Metal.