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Guilt Machine - On This Perfect Day CD (album) cover

ON THIS PERFECT DAY

Guilt Machine

 

Progressive Metal

3.90 | 178 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Review Nš 92

As with Ambeon project, Guilt Machine is a Dutch progressive metal act, a project of the multi-instrumentalist and composer Arjen Anthony Lucassen, the mastermind of Ayreon. Their debut and only album, until now, "On This Perfect Day" was released in 2009. For this new project, Arjen (rhythm and acoustic guitars, bass, keyboards, mandolin and backing vocals), gathered new musicians around him like the singer Jasper Steverlinck, from a Belgian band called Arid (lead vocals), his current partner and manager Lori Linstruth, ex-Stream Of Passion (lead guitar), Chris Maitland, ex-Porcupine Tree and ex-Kino (drums) and still Ben Mathot (violin) and David Faber (cello).

Arjen wanted that Guilt Machine was a more manageable and small scale project with only one vocalist and few musicians. He wanted that Guilt Machine was built around one vocalist and two other musicians besides himself. So, beyond him and Lori, he had to find a singer that could cover the entire spectrum of emotions and who was also versatile enough to keep the listener's interest until the last track. He chose Jasper because he had a perfect pronunciation, had got an incredible broad range and his delivery was full of emotions. For drumming, he needed a drummer, with a different style of Ed Warby, who could hit hard when needed, but who would also be able to shine in the subtle passages. He chose Chris because he had proved in Porcupine Tree to be the versatile drummer he needed.

"On This Perfect Day" has six tracks. All music was written by Lucassen and all lyrics were written by Lori. The first track "Twisted Coil" opens the album. It starts out slowly and soft, and fluctuates between serene and atmospheric passages permeated by Lucassen's many keyboards and guitar patterns. It has moments of hard progressive rock with great intensity. The vocals of Steverlinck are very good, especially for someone that has never sung on a progressive album before. His soaring, passionate and yet husky delivery fits perfectly right here. The second track "Leland Street" is almost a Pink Floydian dreamy track where he puts on a powerful display, with more than a slight nod to Freddie Mercury, and is sure to catch even the strictest attention of the progressive rock fans. The verses are very atmospheric and almost a bit psychedelic and again Steverlinck is delivering both, power and emotion. As the previous track, it features also some backing vocals by Arjen. The third track "Green And Cream" rides the line between progressive rock and progressive metal with boldly. A highlight of the album, the song boasts several huge high points and is the closest to sounding like an Ayreon's song, with the folk-influenced melodies, acoustic guitar, and epic instrumental build up. So, once more, the main focus is again on the battle between the mellow atmospheric progressive and the mighty progressive metal. The fourth track "Season Of Denial" is a tranquil symphonic progressive track, mostly keyboard and vocal dominated, until some heavier riffs come into play towards the middle of the track. It was added to it rich instrumental textures including strings, choral effects and violin. The blaze of weighty guitar chords during the chorus is in stark contrast to the folky acoustic interludes. The fifth track "Over" is a song with equally large synthesizer parts, guitar solos, and varied vocals. It has a Floydian overture, vocals more in the vein of pop music and the choruses are in remembrance of bands such as Queen and Uriah Heep. It also reveals the Steverlinck's impressive vocal range. Easily in the camp of Freddie Mercury and Jeff Buckley, Steverlinck boasts a clarity and definition very impressive. In a certain way, it sounds to me like a mix of Queen and Uriah Heep. The sixth track "Perfection?" is a song of three parts with an acoustic led theme, succumbing to bombastic guitar and keyboards at the midway point and an anthemic conclusion with superbly choreographed vocal exchanges between Lucassen and Steverlinck. It's near 11 minute symphonic progressive gem featuring some nifty guitar riffs and plenty of orchestral keyboards and strings. It ends nicely the album with the most drastic instrumental sections of the album.

Conclusion: "On This Perfect Day" is a very solid and enjoyable release. I'm sure there are going to be plenty of Ayreon's fans who might balk at the overabundance of atmospheric and mellow moments here and miss the more upbeat and bombastic elements of Lucassen's other releases. This is an album that will take a few listens to really appreciate it. I couldn't discover any weak track on the album. All songs are of high quality level. Tuneful electric and acoustic guitar riffs, wonderful synthesizer waves, emotional shouting, inventive drumming and wonderful melodies. You get it all in this musical adventure. A special thing about the lyrics: They're very personal and emotional, written straight from the heart. Arjen combines guilt and regret, the two emotional themes into one, by using short lyrics in different languages. This is the ultimate fusion of progressive, heavy, pop, rock, electronic and space rock music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 4/5 |

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