Album Reviews

Star One – Victims of the Modern Age

Arjen Lucassen writes the coolest and most creative of concepts. Personally, I think he’s a musical genius. Reuniting the Avengers-like assembly of amazing vocalists (Floor Jansen, Russell Allen, Dan Swanö and Damian Wilson), Arjen follows up 2003’s Space Metal with another masterpiece of songs linked by a similar movie theme, this time around post-apocalyptic/dystopian story lines. Just as with Star One’s previous release, Arjen’s interpretation of these movies is absolutely flawless. Listening to Digital Rain takes you right back to the Matrix; when I hear Floor and Russell in Cassandra Complex, I can’t help but picture Madeleine Stowe and Bruce Willis in 12 Monkeys. Arjen perfectly recreates the moods of the movies, either taking the listener right back to the first time they saw them, or inspiring one to go back and watch them again, or for the first time. I’d never seen Planet of the Apes, Escape fromNew York, Children of Men, The Road or Gattaca, and this album compelled me to go watch them. The three track run of Human See, Human Do/24 Hours/Cassandra Complex is as good as any three songs ever in prog metal… up there with Take the Time/Surrounded/Metropolis, or Tom Sawyer/Red Barchetta/YYZ.

Heavier than Arjen’s other projects, Star One is his outlet to get his metal on (or out), composing simpler and more straight-forward music off of coarse, deep and wicked guitar riffs. The opening atmospheric setting puts you in the mood for the futuristic music you’re about to become immersed in, leading in to the ferocity of Digital Rain that has a fantastic blend of keyboard and guitar. Fast and Furious is not a movie that Arjen pulled from, but it certainly describes what you’re going to find out of the gate, and throughout the rest of the album… interspersed with a few slower paced songs (24 Hours, It All Ends Here, Lastday). Throughout the album you’ll also find slow and grinding riffs, keyboard melodies and harmonies to keep that sci-fi feel, a rhythm section that sounds like organized chaos at times, catchy chorus’s and psychedelic keyboard and guitar solos… there just isn’t a bad track here at all.

Floor takes more of a lead role on this album than on Space Metal, and the overall output is enhanced by it. Swanö makes people who aren’t a huge fan of growls/screams appreciate – even enjoy – them. Wilsonas always is magical, and the notes he holds in 24 Hours are absolutely angelic. Sir Russell Allen delivers his usual powerful and aggressive vocal performance. Though they are the lead vocalists in their respective acts, these four know that the combined whole of their performances is greater than the sum of each individual, none hogging the spotlight whatsoever. Through this recognition, Arjen gets the absolute best out of them (and his musicians for that matter), and makes you want to learn more about their music (if you didn’t already know them).

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