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Star One - Victims Of The Modern Age CD (album) cover


Star One


Progressive Metal

3.70 | 175 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
5 stars A Journey into the cosmic Progaverse is the best Arjen Project for years

Star One's new album is atmospheric, spacey and a fascinating, compelling listen. The synthesizer melodies immediately transfix on the opening track. Those crystal clear synth lines simply blast and there is a shimmering Hammond that segues into 'Digital Rain', one of the genuine Arjen classics. The heavy drums and thrashing riffs crunch over the sustained organ. You have to love this if you are into metal as it delivers full blown crashing guitars and a great invective vocal harmony. The vocals sound like Dio resurrected "Let go your anger, empty your mind, return to your senses?. Cut through these lies, lives are in danger, open up your eyes. Reach for the answer... take the chances and taste the pain? don't trust your senses, you have been blind, digital rain, awaken the sleeper?" Great synth solos and lead guitar trade offs simply kill with power. I love the melody which is majestic, pretentious but totally accessible for metal heads and prog enthusiasts. The vocals are loud and sung with conviction similar to Symphony X. Floor Jansen is always welcome on these Arjen albums, she is brilliant as usual.

The next track, 'Earth That Was' has a very deep grunge metal power riff that annihilates on this. It is relentless and powerful. The vocals are superb again, between accomplished singers, and such tremendous harmonies. The space themes are strong and not subtle... "a fire in the darkness? quest for freedom? a desperate need to find our place in the emptiness of space", there are images of a cataclysmic war and a futuristic Armageddon.

The synth solo is again wonderful, over the choppy metal riffing. The production value is A1 on this. Reminiscent sound of Ayreon's best albums, though much heavier; he doesn't hold back on these opening tracks, and its great to hear the musicians take off in full flight.

I love the droning sounds on 'Victims of the Modern Age'. The theme is "lashings of violence, the sound of symphony sends shivers up my spine, I am singing in the rain? a restless mind trapped in his cage, a victim of the modern age" yes it's an obvious homage to 'A Clockwork Orange' and a very good one. As a fan of the Kubrick film I was delighted to hear this tribute to the 70s film. The beat is steady with dark distortion and downbeat chord changes. There are lines from the film throughout such as "Violence makes violence.. I swear to you my brothers? I'm still singing in the rain"; a real delight to my ears.

The references to "Planet of the Apes" are obvious with the famous oft quoted line beginning 'Human see Human Do'. This is a full blown attack on the senses; a speedy riffing metal banger with Dragonforce style motifs and heavier growling vocals, though not too gravelly. The obligatory lead break is as good as you might expect from these virtuoso musicians. The real drawcard on this though is that incessant breakneck riff and the incredible keyboard lightning fast lines.

A quieter intro after the frenetic chaos of previous is welcome, and begins '24 Hours' nicely. The Queensryche type style jumps out on the verses for a while and then the heavy guitars crash in on a steady slower tempo on the chorus. Damien Wilson is terrific on vocals and Floor chimes in to bring up the octave. There are a number of time sig changes and detours, with a crunching bridge and melancholic synth solo. Wonderful music I can assure you. The lyrics are about a ruleless dystopia, "A crime ridden city, confined within these walls, a place without pity, a place of sin, no rules apply here, among this desperate crowd, once you come in you are never coming out" ;perhaps reference to 'Escape From New York', 'The Matrix' or others you can think of where the world has gone to hell in a handbasket.

'Cassandra Complex' has a dynamic metal riff over a rising synth line. The lyrics are easy to comprehend "you are caught inside a fantasy? I came back from the past, I've come to save our world, times up so we better move fast? Cassandra complex? We can change the future but we can't change the past"; perhaps , '12 Monkeys' springs to mind here. I like how the female and male vocals trade off and answer each other in theatrical style. Some innovative moments on this track too with a riff that follows the melodic vocals in particular mid way through. It is a complex track that grinds along with a bright synth to light up the darker guitars.

A buzzing techno synth line begins 'It's Alive, She's Alive, We're Alive', that really sounds like a metal Gary Numan song as far as the music goes. The melody is infectious and really sticks in your brain. I absolutely love this track and it cemented the masterpiece rating for me as I was already taken with the amazing sounds previous, teetering on the star rating; whether one track was going to drive the nails in, but this hammered that last star on the rating for me. This track features everything I love about prog; creative structure, terrific vocals and harmonies, metal riffs and awesome spacey synthesizers with a plethora of solo performances and trade offs with an infectious melody and innovative lyrics; what more do you want? I love Floor's beautiful vocals on this too.

'It All Ends Here' is a dark crawl metal piece for a while, the drums are steady and accommodate the vocals, and atmospherics. You can hear references to 'Blade Runner' "moments lost like tears in the rain", and a sound like Fate's Warning, Shadow Gallery or Symphony X is prominent. As the longest song, it stays with you and locks into your brain. After it is all over the only thing I want to do is begin the CD again. You can totally immerse yourself in the cosmic ethereal fantasy that is created here.

I will have to hunt down the limited 2 CD edition now so I can complete my listening experience. But for now, this album will haunt my CD player.

My opinion may not make a huge difference here among the 3 star ratings, but I am absolutely blown away by this album, I believe it is a masterpiece from Arjen and among the best he has done only beaten by the incredible Ayreon brilliance on 'The Human Equation' for conceptual creativity and quality. His latest album with Star One is sheer genius on every level. I thought it was a masterpiece on my first listen and then heard it again and again and my love for it grew even deeper. It just resonated with me on a personal level and I was hooked by its sonic magic. 5 brilliant stars!

AtomicCrimsonRush | 5/5 |


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