In 4 Observations,
“One man writes a symphony”
“It is essential for one man to make a film”
The Late Great Film Maker, Stanley Kubrick
The words of the late great American film director, screenwriter, producer, cinematographer and editor Stanley Kubrick who is rightfully regarded as one of the greatest filmmakers of all time can certainly apply to Ayreon, Star One, Guilt Machine and Ambeon mastermind, Arjen Anthony Luccassen.
Arjen Anthony Luccassen is the Stanley Kubrick, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson of progressive rock and progressive metal. With the very recent announcement of a new Ayreon project set for release later in 2013, I wanted to take this time and write a special presentation of one of the most respected, decorated and proven progressive rock/metal artists of our generation. Ever since departing from his legendary Dutch metal bands Bodine and then Vengeance in the late 1980’s to early 1990’s Arjen set out to fulfill his own musical vision and therefore one of Progressive Rock and Metal’s greatest and lasting legacies would be born with the Ayreon project. The Ayreon project would take what The Who’s Tommy, Queen’s Night at The Opera, and Pink Floyd’s The Wall all had to a whole other level that many that would follow after the first Ayreon album The Final Experiment (1994) would use as a blueprint for making Rock/Metal Opera conceptual pieces in the modern era.
Like the legendary filmmakers such did with film, Arjen Luccassen would do for prog-rock and metal. Heavily influenced by The Beatles, Arjen has a divinely gifted talent to use other forms of music such as folk, psychedelic, classical and Celtic musical elements to incorporate into his masterpieces. On the metal end of the spectrum Arjen’s ability to use progressive, power, gothic and death metal elements have prevented him from being pigeonholed into one genre, thus his music has had a appeal to all audiences who are hardcore or stubborn about their particular musical preferences and tastes.
Arjen’s Ayreon projects have painted full motion pictures in the minds of his listeners. Arjen has a beautiful ability to flow from one track to another in his Ayreon projects which leaves the listener hooked and gripped for the duration of each Rock/Metal Opera project that has come from his soul. Most of the Ayreon projects are heavily inspired through science fiction themes with some horror and apocalyptic elements included with The Final Experiment (1994), Into The Electric Castle (1998), Universal Migrator Series (2000) and the most recent 01011001 (1998). The only time Arjen would deal with an actual real life situation is with The Human Equation in 2004 where the main character Me would spend 20 days in a coma, each day represented by an album track.
Through his Ayreon projects Arjen has really helped the economy of progressive rock and metal. Arjen from day one has looked and spanned all 4 corners of the Earth to find the very best vocalists and musicians who are the best in the world in what they do. The list of vocalists and musicians he has worked with has truly been endless and too many to list here. Thus if you are a fan of Ayreon and see all the amazing talent he puts on all his projects it influences you to look into their respective primary bands as well. Arjen always thanks the bands for their members he features inside the liner notes of all his works.
In the same mind Arjen Luccassen has also went out and found unknown and aspiring vocalists and musicians. Arjen’s humble spirit and insight of the industry has created such a wonderful and humble heart and soul where he has time and time again put unknown musicians and vocalists on his projects that other musicians and record labels in the industry with their over inflated ego would not even make a consideration otherwise. Arjen is always ready to give someone a chance to those who would never get a chance with other people. As a matter of fact, through all his projects, Arjen would help launch careers of the vocalists who have appeared on his works and their bands would be discovered. Perfect examples of this are the beautiful young lady Astrid van der Veen on Ambeon-Cold Metal in 2001, Sharon Den Adel and Robert Westerholt (Within Temptation) and Annke Van Giersbergen (ex The Gathering) would appear on Into The Electric Castle-1998, A young 17 year old unknown by the name of Floor Jansen (ex After Forever, currently with ReVamp and Nightwish) would come on the world stage through The Universal Migrator Part 1- The Dream Sequencer (2000). Also, a wonderful unknown from Mexico in Marcela Bovio (ex Elfonia, currently with Stream Of Passion) would be introduced to us. In fact, Arjen was so captivated by Marcela’s voice, personality, and professionalism he did not want to let her get away after The Human Equation offering, starting Stream Of Passion with her. She took that ball and certainly has ran with it and been successful with it. Plus one of the most beautiful voices I have ever heard in my 36 years in metal and rock Heather Findlay(ex Mostly Autumn) and Swedish vocalist Magnus Ekwall (The Quill) just to name a few, would all be presented to the world stage through The Human Equation(2004) along with Marcela Bovio.
Many other musicians would follow and thus their bands would benefit from their member or members appearing on Ayreon or any other project Arjen Luccassen would offer to us. As a journalist I 100% respect Arjen for that alone and it has made me want to support him where I can because he has opened his arms to so many great musicians whether established or unknown. If you are a musician and/or vocalist, Arjen is always looking for new talent for consideration on future projects. Do not hesitate to send him anything you have, he will give it a true listen. I know I have discovered a few bands for myself whom I knew nothing about by listening and being a fan of Ayreon. Through these wonderful introductions I personally have went out and bought entire libraries of the guest bands that have been featured on Arjen Luccassen’s projects. A few I would love to hear on Ayreon … * cough* Glenn Hughes, *cough* Joe Lynn Turner *cough* Ted Leonard (Enchant and Spock’s Beard) … hint.. hint… oh my goodness excuse me for the coughs there
Arjen Anthony Luccassen has certainly cemented a Legacy and opened the gates for other musicians to create their own Rock/Metal Opera’s. Examples of this are Trent Gardner(Magellan) with 2001’s Leonardo The Absolute Man, Gary Hughes(Ten) with his Once And Future King Parts 1 and 2, Daniel Liveranni(Empty Tremor) with the Genius Rock/Metal Opera Trilogy and Tobias Samment(Edguy) with Avantasia to name a few. Therefore with all this said about this great musical mastermind and genius, Arjen in 2013 is celebrating 3 Anniversary Milestones leading up to the new Ayreon currently in the works. My reviews will be in the album reviews section of Lady Obscure here. Every album will be individually reviewed respectfully. Thank you everyone who takes a little time out of their day to read this article and reviews. The reviews that will be celebrated and revisited in retrospect are as follows: