UFO – A Conspiracy Of Stars [Limited Edition Digipak] (2015)
Legendary British hard rockers UFO are ready to release their 22nd (!) studio effort entitled “A Conspiracy Of Stars” which precedes the band’s extensive European tour.
There’s an air of excitement over this album (that certainly overrides any surprise) and rightly so because, while the band have had their ups and downs, the last few albums have been excellent, well received and returned the band to the charts, despite the loss of bassist Pete Way.
Several thing keeps me interested in UFO; one is Phil Mogg, the famed singer since the band formed decades ago. Phil’s vocals are still solid, if slightly lacking in power since the heyday of UFO mania, mainly the awesome live album ‘Strangers In The Night’, though he more than makes up for it by his imitable stage presence.
A lot of members have passed through the UFO ranks, with Michael Schenker being the most famous, however this latest version of UFO has been around for nearly 10 years now, and the albums they are releasing just get better and better, ‘The Visitor’ (2009) was good, ‘Seven Deadly’ (2012) was great, so “A Conspiracy Of Stars” has a lot to live up to.
And here comes another reason for this to happen: awesome guitarist Vinnie Moore. Vinnie not only has provided his terrific chops to the band, but also, writes most the songs.
He has revitalized UFO to a kickin’ hard rockin’ act plenty of meaty riffs, distinctive hooks and melodic choruses. On “A Conspiracy Of Stars” Vinnie Moore wrote all the music, with lyrics by Mogg. The disc also features a song by talented keyboardist Paul Raymond, and a collaboration between Raymond and bass player Rob De Luca.
From the opening bars of ‘The Killing Kind’ it’s a very heavy but polished sound what we have here. A simple riff-driven song with an easy relaxed singing style from Mogg and a bright, clear and melodic great solo from Vinnie Moore. A solid start to the new album.
‘Run Boy Run’ typifies the band’s current edginess; under the solos there’s a dark heavy crunchy riff; the band have developed this new angle on the classic UFO sound that’s prevented any sameness or predictability.
‘Ballad Of The Left Hand Gun’ has a bluesy acoustic intro, a gentle drum beat from returning drummer Andy Parker, and then Phil’s voice really lifts this track, the guy just oozes class even after all the years.
‘Sugar Cane’ is the first track to feature keyboards, and a soft opening with them, allows another bluesy track to flourish, a great chorus leads into another melodic Vinnie Moore solo.
‘Devils In The Detail’ has a great rhythm guitar run ending the track, with Vinnie overlaying a fast and fluid solo. There’s a searing edge to the guitar here, and while the solo shred nicely is not too overbearing. Vinnie is a virtuoso who knows when to temper.
What is evident so far on this opus is the high standard of songwriting, they know what works, and they should do, after nearly 45 years in the business.
The remaining tracks are all just as good, there are no lows on this album, and that makes it very hard to pick a favourite.
‘Precious Cargo’ is pretty much up there, sounding like a cross between ZZ Top and Great White sung by Mogg with a real passion, as is ‘Rolling Rolling’. Another favorite of mine is ‘One And Only’, a melodious and meaty hard rocker with a bright and breezy nod back to the ’80s.
This Limited Edition Digipak (and also the vinyl) comes with the bonus track ‘King of the Hill’, which is as far from a throw away add-on, left over-found on the cutting room floor track as you can get. It is in fact a great number, sounding like UFO at their peak featuring a great guitar work underpinned by Paul Raymond’s delicious keyboard flourishes.
One of the long lasting bands from the British scene, UFO have made it to their 22nd studio recording, and they sound as good as ever.
Chris Tsangarides, who has produced heavyweights like Thin Lizzy, Judas Priest or Yngwie in the past, has cleverly utilised this band’s natural instincts to the maximum, and you can hear it on “A Conspiracy Of Stars”.
Call it traditional Hard Rock, call it Classic Rock, call it like you want, but it’s still heartening to know that great Rock music is still being created by great Rock bands.
01. The Killing Kind
02. Run Boy Run
03. Ballad Of The Left Hand Gun
04. Sugar Cane
05. Devils In The Detail
06. Precious Cargo
07. The Real Deal
08. One And Only
09. Messiah Of Love
10. Rolling Rolling
11. King of the Hill (Bonus Track)
Phil Mogg (vocals)
Vinnie Moore (guitars)
Paul Raymond (keyboards, guitar)
Rob De Luca (bass)
Andy Parker (drums)