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

VICTIMS OF THE MODERN AGE

Star One

 

Progressive Metal

3.68 | 158 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Mario61
5 stars Monday September 6 2010 17: 52: 02 mail from arjenlucassen.com: STAR ONE CONTEST 1-GUESS THE MYSTERY SINGER. So a little bit later the YouTube clip blares through our living room. An unmistakable voice. Arjen has once again succeeded in hiring another master singer. Even my wife knows it immediately "Tony Martin". Tony is the former singer of Black Sabbath, from albums like "the Eternal Idol" and "Headless Cross". So a few minutes later, 18:00 to be precise, my answer is on the arjenlucassen message board. This makes me win this fantastic album.

After the 01011001 album of Ayreon in 2008 and the Guilt Machine Album of last year, this year Arjen comes with his second Star One album. He himself says about the album "This time I decided to do like a Metal Album, you know, and not hold back ?" and indeed that is exactly what he did. A very powerful, very heavy album. His other statement is also true: "I think it is the best I ever did".

Arjen has managed to get back the line-up of the first Star One crew. On drums again Ed Warby, who seems to fit perfectly with what Arjen wants with Star One. Ed also plays on the same drums as for the album "Electric Castle". The bass is this time not done by Arjen himself, but by Peter Vink, who also was on the live album. Peter has a very aggressive sound, which is also clearly audible (and felt) on the album. Definitely a gain. The keyboard solos are not played by Jens Johansson this time but by Joost "Lul" van den Broek (like Peter, Joost can also be heard on the live-DVD). Why he is a "real Lul" I don't know, but he can play great solos and of course fits perfectly with the voice of Floor Jansen (both ex-After Forever). Gary Wehrkamp plays, like on the first album, a number of guitar solos. Among them on, Digital Rain, where the solos of Gary and Joost strengthen each other perfectly. Oh Yes ... and of course Arjen plays all other instruments, guitars and keyboards and he is very good with the "muis". He also sings a song "Last day" on the second CD.

Let's discuss the vocal part of the album, where Arjen is always able to get the best singers together. They are again Floor Jansen (Really High Voice), Sir Russell Allen (Power Voice), Damian Wilson (Clear Voice) and Dan Swanö (Hugh Low Voice). Together they are responsible for the vocals on all the numbers of the first CD, as well as on the ELP cover "Knife Edge" on the Bonus CD. With the use of these voices range, the music is much better than on the Guilt Machine album, with only 1 singer. On the bonus CD there are furthermore 3 guest singers, with the already mentioned Tony Martin on the song "Closer to the Stars". For me, one of the better extra tracks, completely in the style of Black Sabbath. Tony is the only one who is not recorded in Arjen´s Studio, but in his own Studio. Mike Andersson (the lead singer of the Swedish progmetal band Cloudscape) provides the vocals for "As the Crow Dies" and Rodney Blaze sings "Two plus Two equals Five". Rodney Blaze, born in Rotterdam, also sang the song "the Accusation" on the re- issued album "The Final Experiment-Special Edition". He was also present this year on Paaspop in Schijndel with his band "Monster of Pop" and apparently he is a good friend of Arjen.

The album is again based on movies. On the first album the subject was Science Fiction or Space movies, now Dystopian movies. According to Wikipedia, this means: "Massive dehumanization, totalitarian government, rampant disease, post-apocalyptic terrains, cyber- genetic technologies, societal chaos and widespread urban violence are some of the common themes in dystopian movies which bravely examine the ominous shadow cast by future." Arjen has selected 12 movies from the Dystopian Movies top 50 of all time. The number one of that list is "Metropolis", which seems to have been forgotten by Arjen (or let's say that this movie was before his time).

The CD starts with an intro song "Down the Rabbit Hole" (based on Alice in Wonderland), where we fall together with Arjen into the depth of the apocalyptic world. This intro has very much resemblance with the intro "Lift off" on the first album. The intro leads directly into the bombastic and pompous "Digital Rain". This number is clearly based on The Matrix, with Dan Swanö as neo and Damian as Morpheus, Russell and Floor probably as Tank andTrinity. This first number immediately sets the sound of the album, the harmony of vocals, the fight between guitar and keyboard solos, this number has so much power that it gets stuck in your head and won't leave. Then the song "Earth that Was" based on the TV series Firefly. This is yet another heavy number with all the above mentioned ingredients.

The title track "Victims Of The Modern Age" is clearly inspired by the movie "A Clockwork Orange", and in particular the text "Singing in the rain" refers to the raping scene in this movie. In my opinion this number comes closest to the Ayreon work we know, particularly "Into the Electric Castle" comes in mind. Why Arjen choose Dan Swanö's voice becomes clear at approximately 4:30, a better deeper, but also pure, grunt voice there is probably none. The immersive tune causes you to sing out loud "and I'm singing in the Rain".

"Human See, Human Do" starts with a sample from the movie "Planet of the Apes" and then the track bursts into a modern version of Rainbow's "Kill the King". The bass playing of Peter Vink is clearly present at this number and once again great solos from successively Joost and Gary, grunt vocals of Dan and the high sweet voice of Floor makes this song complete.

"24 Hours", based on the John Carpenter movie "Escape from New York", starts with the quiet beautiful pure voice of Damian Wilson. Boy, what can this man sing! Then Russell takes over, making the number a bit more forceful. This repeats itself one more time, after which the number explodes into a typical Ayreon rhythm, when Russell and Floor take over. No additional guitar or keyboard solos on this song, only Arjen playing the guitars and synths. This number has marvelous pace and mood swings. A great song!

That Russell also is able to sing purely, he proves on "Cassandra Complex". The resemblance with Joe Lynn Turner of the aforementioned Rainbow is very close. The atmosphere of the Rainbow album "Straight between the Eyes" from 1982 continues in the entire song. The texts are based on the movie "Twelve Monkeys" with Bruce Willis. The song ends abruptly and moves directly into "it's alive?". This song is about the birth of the apocalyptic child in "Children of Men". A very catchy song where the recurring refrain "it's alive, she's alive, we're alive" keeps lingering for a very long time. Furthermore a typical Arjen/Joost van den Broek ending of the song.

And then we have already arrived at the last track of the first CD "It All Ends Here". The song is based on the most favorite movie of Arjen "Ridley Scott's Blade Runner". It is also the longest and, to my opinion, the best song of the album. This number has everything that you would expect from an Arjen Lucassen number, with a guitar solo by the master himself.

The way the album is recorded strikes me as very clever. The second CD contains the video "The making of", in which Arjen reveals how the album is made. Arjen has the entire album already instrumentally created, before the other musicians and singers come in, one by one. When you hear the perfectly alignment of the voices on all songs, you can hardly imagine that they are not in the studio at the same time.

The album ends very applicable with the detonation of a nuclear bomb, leaving us in a post- apocalyptic world. Nothing is the same anymore after this album.

Mario61 | 5/5 |

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