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Star One

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1 stars Arjen Anthony Lucassen is a Workaholic refering to music, it's almost countless how much he is releasing. In doing so his style always stays distinguishable. But that's the major problem, it's not always profitable to use an approved stlye over and over again, throughout different projects.

By now it maybe got around that Arjen is a fan of science fiction, you can find this issue everywhere Luccasen has worked on. So this project is called "STAR ONE" and how could it be any different the album is titled "Space Metal". Maybe you can guess what to expect from it. And if you take a look on the list of musicians it gets clearer and clearer. Many of these guys have worked with Arjen on AYREON as well. And that's the problem. No doubt, the musicians know what they're doing but it's dangerous to work with the same guys over and over again in different projects. STAR ONE doesn't sound very different from AYREON, the songs are more guitar orientated and sound more "metal" but the songwriting is kind of insipid and recurring. The keyboards sound exactly the same and the whole sound is interchangeable with AYREON.

Conclusion, Star one is a iniquitous extraction of AYREON and you get the impression that Mr. Luccasen used some old material or at least used some AYREON remains wich may were sorted out of former AYREON material because they where too poorly. Maybe this one is something for Luccasen fanatics but for those who hoped that this project would make a step foreward it is definitely insufficient. I would die of laughter were it not so sad: STAR ONE gets one star.

Report this review (#11131)
Posted Monday, June 7, 2004 | Review Permalink
Easy Livin
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Songs about Intergalactic space crusaders

The title of this offering from the Ayreon/Arjen A Lucassen stable tells you all you need to know. The music is loud and powerful, whilst also being extremely melodic. At times, such as on "Songs of the ocean" and "Intergalactic space crusaders", it verges on becoming pop, the Sweet in their heyday could well have taken the latter to the top of the charts! The songs are generally less complex than those of Ayreon, but there's still much to enjoy, with tracks like "The eye of Ra" and "Starchild" being developed into longer slightly more progressive pieces.

The production and performance are excellent as you would expect, with the usual array of guest vocalists and musicians. The album was inspired by "films that take place entirely in space", with the vocalists performing dialogue "roles" on each track. Some may feel the space theme is wearing a bit thin these days, but it appears to be where Arjen finds inspiration to create some of his best works.

For those who enjoy a harder edge to their music, while still wishing to hear strong melodies and solid performances, this album fits the bill very nicely.

The album was also released in a special edition format with an extra CD.

Report this review (#11132)
Posted Monday, August 16, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars The name really does say it all. This one you will either love or hate. It really depends upon whether or not you like Sci-Fi. Being a huge Sci-Fi fan myself i think its fantastic and give it 4 stars! but taking into consideration that others among you might not be such huge fans im forced to warn you to think twice. Musically, it is FAR more accesible than Lucassen's other masterpeices, however the price to pay is that it sacrifices a lot of the technicallity, complexity and depth that his other works are celebrated for. The lyrics are a bit less cheesy (the exception being "intergalactic space crusaders"!), the solos are less bizare, the instruments are more conventional (no more flute solos!) and the result is something far less intrusive, deep & meaningfull than Lucassens fantastic "The Human Equation" but far more power-metal/space-rock. The songs are each based upon major sci-fi movies & im currenly having a great time working out and guessing which movies they are. The obvious ones are "masters of darkness" (star wars), "The eye of Ra" (stargate), "sandrider" (dune), "Perfect survivor" (Aliens) and im guessing that "Starchild" is 'space odyssey 2001' & "songs of the ocean" might be one of the star trek ones. Email me if you can work out the others! Given its space based theme it will naturally get compared to Lucassens other space epic "The Flight of the Migrator". Which is better? Honestly, i have to say after a few listens the more progressive, complex & intricate "Migrator" clearly wins, but only because i am writing this in a prog site, and therefore im assuming that if you are reading this, you all like prog. The vocals, as usual are fantastic, not only is Lucassen himself great but in addition hiring some of the best vocalists the industry has to offer! Sir Russel Allen (Symphony X), Damian Wilson, Dan Sawno & the fantastic Floor Jansen all deserve mention, especially Dans role in "Starchild", it may be the computerisation and editing or whatever, but it sounds Fantastic! If you like highly complex, progressive, concept albums check out Ayreon's "The Human Equation" or "The Flight of the Migrator" first, but if you're a huge fan of sci-fi & would like to listen to something a bit easier to digest with no bizzare surprises, check out this fun CD!
Report this review (#11133)
Posted Sunday, December 26, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars Let me say this right from the start, this is one of the premier progressive rock albums that you will hear this year, and it's probably one of the top ten albums of the past five years. STAR ONE is Arjen Lucassen's latest mega multi-artist project. There are two CDs full of high energy rockin' music dedicated to all of Lucassen's favorite celluloid that had to do with space, the final frontier. This is definitely Metal, and nothing like his previous releases under the name AYREON. It somehow didn't feel right to him to record all of this music under that name so he thought of an appropriate title and it stuck. Amongst the many guests that have made an appearance here are Dave Brock (HAWKWIND), Gary Wehrkamp (SHADOW GALLERY), Russell Allen (SYMPHONY X), Damian Wilson (x-THRESHOLD), Floor Jansen (AFTER FOREVER), and Jens Johansson (YNGWIE MALMSTEEN, DIO, STRATOVARIUS). A star studded cast indeed, and it no doubt helped to make this album a special experience for Lucassen and for all of his listeners.

This is the limited edition package with a bonus disc containing 10 tracks. The oddity is that there are actually six tracks listed and the other four are not. A real keeper is Bowie's "Space Oddity;" I never heard that song done electrically and it sounds magnificent. Grab this edition before they disappear. There were actually a very limited number of promos available for review so I feel fortunate that I was chosen to receive one.

Every song has something new to offer. A different guitar player or singer shows up for just about every song. Diversity and excellence are the operative words here, and there are ample amounts of both. There are layers of heavy metal guitars, stand up vocals, and whirling and chirping synthesizers to fill that yearning you have for the vast expanse that is space. Whatever places your head may be in or wander off to; this is music that fills the void. And its space rock performed the right way. You won't find many more prog-rock albums this good on the shelf this year, well, at least until the FLOWER KINGS release their new masterpiece in the fall. Lucassen has reached a creative apex on this recording and deserves to be recognized for his incredible creative efforts. He will be looked upon as one of those that blazed the path for prog- rock for many years to come. From beginning to end this is an exceptional recording.

Report this review (#11134)
Posted Wednesday, January 26, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is just such a fantastic album.

It's just so over-the-top, balls out brilliance. Not in a musical wankery way, but in a way that perfectly captures the best sci-fi movies. Almost every song is based on a famous sci-fi film or TV series, from Star Wars to 2001: A Space Odyssey. There's no pretension here, just a group of fantastic musicians having a good time.

And what a group of musicians. Starting with the vocalists: we have Russell Allan, Damian Wilson and Dan Swano taking the main roles, all on top form. Floor Jansen takes control of the female vocals, which are used to great effect. Then of course the instrumentalists: Arjen himself is incredible as always, as well as Ed Warby and Erik Norlander, amongst others.

If you like progressive-metal then this really is an absolute must. Every song is brilliant in its own right, from the hyperbole of Intergalactic Space Crusaders to the slow building, dramatic Starchild. Buy this now!

Report this review (#71024)
Posted Friday, March 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
2 stars Star One, one of Arjen's side projects. Band, which do live gigs. This was very intresting, I thought when I first listened the album. I had heard Ayreon's Human Equation and both of the Universal Migrators. At start, I must say that Arjens music generally is not progressive. The longer tracks, which in this album are The Eye of Ra and Starchild are bit prog (well, at least they have to be), but for me, this is a metal album, a fine metal album.

The intro 'Lift off' is nice, when first listening, excitement grows and then launches 'Set Your Controls', which is a bit lame. Basic drumming, guitarring and structuring. Nothing special about the track. The next song, 'High Moon' is good, though very simple. Catchy chorus, and good riff. But that's that. Moving to 'Songs of the Ocean', which include simple riffing and catchy chorusing. Good track still. Next song is my favourite track of the album after 'Intergalactic Space Crusaders'. 'Masters of Darkness' has good keyboard playing and nice riffing in the beginning, good dueling in the middle too. Good track. 'The Eye of Ra' is fine track, calm beginning evolves into mellow metal. The next two songs 'Sandrider' and 'Perfect Survivor' are hard rock tracks, but brings nothing spcecial up. When lsitening the album through, these tracks just flow into the listeners head and comes out leaving few feelings about the track. Not awful, but could be better. 'Intergalactic Space Crusaders' is my favourite track, though it is so simple. Sometimes in music you need that. The society has poisoned our minds with simple music (perhaps not all people suffer from this poison, but I do) and though I listen that kind of music seldom, the body still needs it sometimes. Simple music can sound good. This song does that in my head. The album finishes with 'Starchild', which is fine track, but bit too lenghty. Boring at times.

Overall, this album is simple metal and hard rock, not progressive. I still like it as a whole. Vocal performances are sung well and Ed does good job drumming. Good album, but non- essential. I would say. But this site is for prog albums, so rating 'Collectors/fans only' is more suitable. Fans of Ayreon or Arjen's work should buy this, but if you're looking for something new, introduce yourself to 'Human Equation'.

Report this review (#83409)
Posted Tuesday, July 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I was quite curios to know about what so called as "Space Metal" as my friend told me about this project by Arjen Anthony Lucassen of Ayreon. Looking at list of players - it was quite interesting to know better about this album. I saw Sir Russell Allen of Symphony X, Damian Wilson of Rick Wakeman's Rock Ensemble, plus those additional musicians like Erik Norlander and Jens Johansson. Wow! A pool of musicians from heavy part of prog music, I believe.

What about the music?

Not bad at all, I assure you. The term "space metal" can be heard at the beginning of the album where it starts with an ambient keyboard work in "Lift off "(1:13) which serves something like an overture for the whole album. The real music really starts with second track "Set Your Controls" (6:01) which basically power metal track with a keyboard-drenched style and powerful vocal harmonies. It's a neatly composed song in fast tempo and good melody. It then cools down with "High Moon" (5:36) which delivers a combination of heavy guitar riffs and spacey keyboard work. It's quite an enjoyable track in medium tempo.

Next is a track which its title is a kind of paradoxical with space metal: "Songs of the Ocean" (5:23). The music is something like industrial type with some looping and deep bass lines. "Masters of Darkness" (5:14) showcases power metal style through the heavy riffs and thick bass lines. Musically it reminds me to the music of Deep Purple in spacey mood. The short keyboard solo is really good. The music is calming down with a Kitaro-like intro of "The Eye of Ra" (7:34) with really spacey keyboard work and low register vocal notes. The keyboard sounds like a Hammond sound. This is a good song which serves as a cooler from previously heavy tracks.

"Sandrider" (5:31) kicks off with inventive keyboard work at the intro followed with power metal music in medium tempo but faster than previous track. It continuous with the same style, characterized by heavy guitar riffs, with "Perfect Survivor" (4:46). The spacey nuance is demonstrated through the sound of keyboard. "Intergalactic Space Crusaders" (5:22) begins with similar heavy riffs as previous tracks. It sounds a bit boring until this track because the rhythm section sounds similar from one track to the other. The album concludes with an epic "Starchild" (9:04). This song is relatively mellow and the space components sound heavier here. Keyboard still plays important role which determines the overall textures.

Overall, the music of Star One is nothing different with Ayreon. It can be concluded that this kind of music is what typical Arjen Anthony Lucassen project would sound like. It's not bad at all, overall, but it tends to be boring at the ending part because there are not so much variations from one song to another. Keep on proggin' ..!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Report this review (#120953)
Posted Monday, May 7, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
2 stars Arjen's appropriately titled side-project is a tongue-in-cheek (I hope) album of straight-head progish metal music bearing many similarities to the excellent Ayreon; however, it lacks the sophistication, variability, and musicality of Arjen's much more polished project.

Star One is goofy-- there, I said it. It is so over the top with sci-fi clichés (lyrically and sonically) that it relegates itself to being little more than camp. The songs are mid-length and made dense with layered synth/effects which, when paired with the wailing timbre of Arjen's guitar, have the odd effect of making the listener want to listen to Ayreon, despite the fact that Star One IS Ayreon (from its sound, to its lineup). The songwriting here just isn't up to par, and while there are certainly a few outstanding moments of instrumental shredding, the vocals, melodies, and lyrics are simply boring.

Ultimately, Space Metal is one for those who really, really, like Ayreon-- and just can't get enough of Arjen's numerous double-CD offerings with that more interesting project.

Songwriting: 2 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 2 Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Report this review (#164399)
Posted Thursday, March 20, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Space Metal" is debut full-length studio album by Ayreon mainman Arjen Anthony Lucassen´s sci-fi progressive metal project Star One. The album was released through InsideOut Music in May 2002.

The music on "Space Metal" is unmistakably in the sound and style of Arjen Anthony Lucassen. The man has a distinct sound and an original songwriting style which is recognisable regardless of project or band name. The music on "Space Metal" is inspired by seventies and eighties symphonic and epic heavy metal. The spacy synth sounds which remind me sligthly of Hawkwind are a bit different from the usual Ayreon sound and all lyrics are influenced by different science fiction movies, but it´s really only the choice of lyrical theme and the spacy synth sounds that set Star One apart from Ayreon. Most tracks on the album are in the heavy mid paced and epic symphonic style that we know so well from Ayreon, while the last song "Starchild" is more epic and slow building. The material are generally of a high standard.

What is always exciting about Lucassen´s projects is his choice of guest vocalists and "Space Metal" is no exception. There are four different vocalists on the album. Russell Allen (Symphony X), Damian Wilson (Ayreon, Threshold, Headspace), Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale, Bloodbath, Maceration, Unicorn, Second Sky, Pan- thy-monium...among others) and the young female vocalist Floor Jansen (After Forever). They all sing different parts in the songs and in that way play different characters from the movies that the lyrics are about. This means that Russell Allen might sing the first vers of a song while Dan Swanö sings the chorus and Damian Wilson sings the second verse. This approach works brilliantly and and helps along the diversity of the album. The tracks are vers/chorus structured most of the time which gives them a somewhat formulaic sound. A few more experiments with that rather rigid formula could have worked wonders IMO.

Arjen Anthony Lucassen as usual plays all guitars, basses and keyboards except for a few guest appearences by people like Jens Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen, Stratovarius) on keyboards and Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) on guitar. The drums are as always on Lucassen´s projects played by Ed Warby (Gorefest).

The sound production is massive, heavy and clear.

From an objective point of view, there is not doubt "Space Metal" is a quality release, but personally it has always left me a bit cold. I hear brilliant vocal performances, professional instrumental performances and a detailed and professional sounding production but it´s the formulaic song structures that drags my rating down. Throw in a few surprises and "Space Metal" would have been a much more interesting album. Still a 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved.

Bonus CD:

The special Edition of "Space Metal" features an extra CD with six tracks. Two of those tracks are alternate versions of "Starchild" and "Spaced Out". The other four bonus tracks are two outtakes, which are "Spaced Out" and "Inseperable Enemies" (both tracks are of equal quality to the tracks on the original album), while the last two tracks are a Hawkwind medley which includes among others "Silver Machine" and guest vocals by Dave Brock and "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. The Hawkwind medley is the most interesting extra feature on the bonus CD IMO but overall it´s a nice limited edition bonus CD which won´t change my overall rating though.

Report this review (#176919)
Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2008 | Review Permalink
2 stars This is another example of me feeling like I have to rate an album I love poorly.

The music on here is all sorts of fun and exciting, don't mistake what I'm saying. It's fun, but it's not terribly progressive, even though I know that that is not really the aim here. Instead of highly complicated song structures, Star One is made to add a metal element to the classic idea of space rock, especially in the case of Hawkwind--hence the title, Space Metal. Arjen's usual sense of harmony and melody are here. Arjen's usual quality of songwriting is evident. Arjen's usual keenness for picking out high caliber vocalists and musicians is still quite remarkable. Arjen's usual energy runs throughout this release. Arjen's usual fixation with some of the cheesiest lyrical structures has never been more plain.

In short? This album is Arjen's usual.

Arjen's usual is pretty much a guaranteed fun album. We've got songs about Star Trek and Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey and Alien and Stargate and plenty of other popular science fiction films. On board this time are Damien Wilson of numerous projects, Sir Russel Allen of Symphony X, Dan Swano of numerous (death metal) projects, and Floor Jansen. All except Swano are veterans of Ayreon, but I must admit, I can hardly think of a better ensemble for any album. The problem, however, is that the music gets pretty repetitive. Not only are the songs on the record just like Ayreon songs, the songs on the album are mostly like each other. Master of Darkness is a nice track about Luke and Darth Vader, giving Russel Allen some room for vocal chops and a long instrumental bit built for wild soloing trade-offs. The Eye of Ra ends with a massive 7 or so part a Capella harmony. Starchild is a moody and dark synthesized song with some really creepy vocals from Swano and some explosive lines from the rest of the vocalists. The rest of the tracks do very little to stand out.

If you like Ayreon, you'll like this. Check with Ayreon first for some better music, and if that works out pop back to Star One and give it a shot.

Report this review (#184494)
Posted Thursday, October 2, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Not really prog in my opinion.

This is a side project from the man behind Ayreon, Arjen Lucassen. The sound is similar to the works he made with Ayreon before this side project (The Dream Sequencer), even though this one isn't as complex. This is more kind of space (power)metal with some progressive influenses. There is more place for heavy riffs (High Moon, The Eye Of Ra) and catchy tunes (Set Your Controls, Sandrider etc.) than in Ayreon.

This isn't an album that i would recommend any proghead before Ayreon. It's more an album to listen to on a car trip or when working out.

Highlights: The Eye Of Ra, Intergalactic Space Crusader (Russell Allen's song gives me the shivers) and Starchild.

Rate: 3

Report this review (#187270)
Posted Tuesday, October 28, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars Star One is a project of well known musician Arjen Lucassen. This album was release in 2002 named Space metal. Indeed this is a journey through spacey music combined with prog metal. As always Lucassen worked with a bunch of renowed musicians from prog metal like the voice from Symphony X, guitar from Shadow Gallery, Keys from Stratovarius, Erik Norlander also on keys, voice from Edgy of Sanity and other one's. To me this album is not far from he does in his mother band Ayreon, maybe a little more bombastic aproach of prog metal but as a whole is kinda the same with his band. Of course this is not a bad thing , the pieces are catchy and well done, the musicianship is top notch, the only thing that misses from here is the originality. I've heared this kind of prog metal at another fifty bands in last couple of years. With all that this is not a bad album, is only good to listen from time to time. Ayway I don't considered this project to be valid in prog metal scene, even is great musicians here, that's why he release only one album, to copy yourself is not a thing that must be done if you want something to last. Space Metal is like another Ajreon album in my view. So 3 stars for this one, a good but non essential album. Ayway worth a couple of spins if you know his main band, Ajreon, if you don't, don't star with this one.
Report this review (#200204)
Posted Thursday, January 22, 2009 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Overkill. That could summarize this album in one word for me. There are some really good tunes here, great musicians, extraordinary vocalists and a pleasant mix of Electric Castle era Ayreon with vintage hard rock/space metal but it's just too much.

To summarize it in a phrase, I would say it is even more overstated then its very fitting album art and yet I find myself banging away at its catchy grooves and pathos laden vocals.

For me the album is saved by two factors. First of all, within the musical boundaries chosen for this album (70's Rainbow and 80's Hawkwind come to mind), most songs are really good hard-rock tunes. Secondly, the quality of Damien Wilson, Floor Jansen and Dan Swanö's voices save the project from being just empty epic pathos. The music is professional but as with all Ayreon music it is rather studied and clinical. It lacks organic feel and emotive power. The great singers here compensate for this defect.

Almost 4 stars.

Report this review (#252042)
Posted Saturday, November 21, 2009 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars Set your controls!

Being a fan of Shadow Gallery, Symphony X, Threshold (especially the Damian Wilson-led albums), and Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force, I guess I was bound to eventually check this out given the people involved here (even if I honestly cannot stand much of what I've heard from Arjen Lucassen's other project, Ayreon). Unlike Ayreon's often messy and incoherent albums, Star One's Space Metal sticks pretty much to a single musical style throughout; a highly melodic and spacy, progressive (Power) Metal. Even with more than one lead vocalist involved, the present album is also in that respect more consistent than most Ayreon albums which usually involved even more vocalists (and instrumentalists) often to the detriment of coherence. The music of Star One is more direct and to the point, which I think is preferable over the overblown Rock Opera format.

Much of the lead vocals are done by Damian Wilson and Sir Russell Allen (often both of them together) with lots of female background vocals. I very much like these two distinctive vocalists and I must say that they do a great job here even if I prefer them in their natural habitats of Threshold and Symphony X respectively. The lyrics they are given to sing are, however, often cheesy and full of clichés. Jens Johansson of Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force fame hands in some great keyboard solos in his own very characteristic style.

The material is quite strong and the melodies are memorable and I find this enjoyable and pleasant overall. But nothing here is really impressive as such. It is rather as one would have expected it to be given the title, the theme, and the people involved.

Report this review (#747116)
Posted Tuesday, May 1, 2012 | Review Permalink
kev rowland
Honorary Reviewer
4 stars Star One is the brainchild of Arjen Anthony Lucassen who provided not only the vision, all of the songs, but also bass, guitars, Hammond, mellotron and synths. He was joined by Ed Warby on drums and used four main vocalists in Damian Wilson (Threshold, Landmarq, La Salle etc), Russell Allen (Symphony X), Dan Swano (Edge Of Sanity, Nightingale) and Floor Jansen (After Forever). He brought in some guest keyboard players such as Erik Norlander (Rocket Scientists) and even convinced Dave Brock to make an appearance on guest vocals!

It has been released as a limited edition double digipak and that is definitely the version to get hold of. Arjen is best known for his albums as Ayreon, but his last CD was more of an atmospheric album under the name Ambeon. This is an attempt to bring out a hard rock space metal album for the 21st century, and it succeeds brilliantly. There is always the fear that a project of this kind will always have a disjointed feel, especially when one musician plays so many instruments but that is not the case. Another factor that works very well is that the four vocalists are all very different so that it is always possible to pick out exactly who is singing what. On "Set Your Controls" all of the singers play a part but they all still sound distinctive.

The album was inspired by some of Arjen's favourite sci-fi films and the project itself is named after an episode of "Blake's Seven". While I don't want to take anything away from the main album, which is simply superb, I must just mention also the Hawkwind Medley that is a bonus. "Silver Machine", "Brainstorm", "Spirit Of The Age" and some others played as if they are new fresh songs yet always maintaining that Hawkwind element, given the distinctive and definite seal of approval by Dave Brock providing the vocals. Ten minutes is just not long enough.

Already established as a personal favourite for waking up the office at 06.30, this is class from start to end.

Originally appeared in Feedback #67, Apr 02

Report this review (#975543)
Posted Tuesday, June 11, 2013 | Review Permalink

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