Review of “Starmaps & Constellations” by Surreal

Ryan Murray | Co-Owner | Chief Editor | Contributor

Surreal, a progressive pop/rock band from Atlanta released “Starmaps & Constellations” in 2020, a follow up to their 2017 album “The Rush”. Corey’s song writing is infectious, and this album is evident of that. Infused with pop, rock, electronic and progressive elements, this album is a must hear, offering a fresh and different perspective within the music industry.

While “Starmaps & Constellations” clocks in at just under 42 minutes, not one single minute is wasted! This entire album is filled with uplifting melodies, great arrangements and solid vocals with a great range. Corey’s vocals remind me very much of David Hodges. (ex-Evanescence, ex-Trading Yesterday) The instrumentals are incredibly well done, really pulling the different elements and influences together symbiotically, creating an unforgettable journey.

Opening the album is a track called “Orion”, which starts with a synth atmosphere, leading into some standard, but well placed rock riffs, which quickly fade back into a synth atmosphere with Corey’s vocals. The choruses see a melodic hook that makes this a very radio friendly tune that deserves a lot of play time.

Other tracks such as “The Best Days” and “Chasing Wind”, also very easily radio friendly, have extremely catchy melodies and instrumentals that blend really well with the vocals. “The Best Days” even features Corey’s wife Anna on guest vocals. Both of these tracks seem to be about letting go of the things that are toxic and are only harming us and holding on to the things that really matter in life. A very uplifting thought that the best days truly are ahead. Upon first listen, tracks like these may seem to be standard, straight forward formulated rock/pop songs, but upon further listen, there are some incredible nuances that can be heard, truly making this something more than ordinary.

Tracks like the completely instrumental “Journey to Atlantis”, as well as “Embers” and “Resurgence” really have a strong prog-rock presence, with influences that feel like they come from Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic and Dream Theatre! These tracks really have great melodies throughout, with amazingly tight, in-the-pocket drums with some great fills as well. “Journey to Atlantis”, simply put, is prog rock GOLD! This song is so incredibly well done. This song takes an adventure on what the journey to discovering Atlantis would actually be like, filled with instrumental hooks that continuously get stuck in your head. “Embers” rocks a lot harder than most of the album, with driving guitar riffs, and great melodies throughout, but definitely doesn’t leave out the prog vibes. Inspired by a friend who was making a life change and literally took four years worth of notes, paperwork and assignments and burned them in a fire pit while hanging out in the woods, this song was inspired by real-life imagery of leaving the past behind.

Firefly Cloud Pt. II” is another track that really needs more attention given to it. While this song starts off lighter and more airy, as it progresses, more prog-like nuances can be heard, which really elevate the song even more. The string arrangements are incredible and really pull the ending of the song together incredibly well, with Corey’s vocal range heard loud and clear.

Closing out the album is “Northern Cross”, and this couldn’t be a more perfect end to this amazing journey! This track starts with ominous sounding synth patches, with Corey’s vocals coming in, softly yet emotionally, referring to ever-changing times and losing who you are. What seems to start out in utter desperation and darkness, this song is clearly an uplifting message of tremendous hope and inspiration. Vocally, Corey is in his upper range throughout this song, but it’s completely effortless and sounds amazing. I absolutely love the guitar on this track as well!

One thing is clear – Surreal isn’t just a band making your standard rock/pop music, it’s so much deeper than that. The nuances that can be heard throughout, as well as the multiple influences effortlessly streamlined symbiotically into this awe-inspiring work really elevate the album to a completely different level.

Verdict: 4.5/5

Definitely be sure to give “Starmaps & Constellations” a listen! Available now!

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