The debut album from this Italian science fiction synthpop concept act, Stars Crusaders attempts to catapult the listener 500 years into the future. Envisioning a harsh frozen Earth where the poor struggle to live while luxury space stations hold the human elite, the Stars Crusaders are a special unit tasked with the mission of delivering the people to a new home world and save humanity.
The dramatic “Prologue” makes Stars Crusaders’ story and inspiration abundantly clear, but disappointment comes quickly with the simply arranged “Aeterna.” Relying too heavily on the vocal performance of DaveD@x, the track lacks the substance to be memorable. Other tracks like “The Runner,” “Convex Vision,” and “Trick” suffer similar issues where, though the lyrical content is suggestive of the desired science fiction themes, the musical content comes across as far too straightforward and cookie cutter to really captivate. Thankfully, there are tracks that have much more success at conjuring the science fiction imagery. The strategic use of vocal distortion and more creative sound engineering helps elevate tracks like “Mothership,” “Time Travelers,” and “Supermarket Signs” to meet their celestial goals.
As steeped in science fiction as the Stars Crusaders concepts are, there seems to be a bit of a disconnect at times between concept and sound. While some tracks do ooze the futuristic visions suggested, the majority of the work feels remarkably standard and doesn’t reach for the stars except for in its lyrical content. However, even the songs that fail still convey some interesting ideas, but it’s a shame the music for these tracks didn’t show the same amount of imagination. That said, New Horizons is still a fun, solid album that shows Stars Crusaders to be a strong new standard bearer for synthpop with some great ideas, and hopefully, more consistent execution of those ideas will come with future releases.