If you’re into progressive metal and has never heard of the name Arjen Anthony Lucassen, then it’s time to check into that yesterday. Because he is not only the mastermind of projects like Ayreon, Guilt Machine, Star One among shit loads of them, he is also a solo artist that writes brilliant songs with great hooks and melodies to die for. So, OK, he was once a member of Dutch melodic rock band Vengeance, but don’t hold that against him.
This album is his first solo project since 1994 and his album Pools Of Sorrow, Waves of Joy and what an album it is. But first a question. Why did he do this as a solo project when he could have made it an Ayreon album? I mean, this reeks of Ayreon and the two latest Ayreon CD’s are both masterpieces and I’m sure that by making this an Ayreon album, this would have been too?
On the other hand, this is not far from a masterpiece, but the fact is, Arjen is a limited singer and the rock opera theme of Ayreon would have made
this a little more diverse. But enough about that. That’s the only ”negative” thing I can think of, everything else is just plain brilliant. On CD1, he has hired Rutger Hauer as the narrative voice in between songs and the narration is written by Hauer, which is a real cool thing. Opening track ”The New Real” is great and could have been off the 01011001 album by Ayreon, ”Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin” is a mix of all the bands mentioned in the title and the lyrics tells the story about the fact that everything has already been done in music and where do we go from here. Brilliant. ”Parental Protection Permit” is a heavy piece, ”When I’m 164” is a fun take on The Beatles ”When I’m 64”. Based on acoustic guitar, this one could have been off Ayreon’s The Human Equation, which means that it’s a great song. ”Dr Slumbers Eternity Home” has a lot from Beatles and is a great, happy uptempo song.
On CD2, he mixes originals with covers and every cover are done in Arjen-style which almost makes them sound as if has written them himself. “Welcome To the Machine” (Pink Floyd), ”Veteran Of The Psychic Wars” (Blue Öyster Cult), ”The Battle Of Evermore” (Led Zeppelin) and ”I’m The Slime” (Frank Zappa) are all brilliant covers.
The originals are brilliant as well. ”Our Imperfect Race” and ”The Space Motel” are total Ayreon and one can’t help but wonder if those are left-overs from earlier Ayreon sessions. All in all, this is another well produced album by Arjen Lucassen. Still, I think it should have been an Ayreon album though. It’s not as brilliant as Ayreon, but way better than his Ambeon or Guilt Machine CDs, which are not bad by any means. If you’re into his other projects, then this an album you can easily buy unheard.
Jon Wilmenius (9/10)
01. The New Real
02. Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin
03. Parental Procreation Permit
04. When I’m A Hundred Sixty-Four
06. Don’t Switch Me Off
07. Dr Slumber’s Eternity Home
08. Yellowstone Memorial Day
09. Where Pigs Fly
10. Lost In The New Real
01. Our Imperfect Race
02. Welcome To The Machine (Pink Floyd Cover)
03. So Is There No God?
04. Veteran Of The Psychic Wars (Blue Oyster Cult Cover)
05. The Social Recluse
06. Battle Of Evermore (Led Zeppelin Cover)
07. The Space Hotel
08. Some Other Time (Alan Parsons Project Cover)
09. You Have Entered The Reality Zone
10. I’m The Slime (Frank Zappa Cover)