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Star One - "Space Metal"
InsideOut 2002

Arjen Anthony Lucassen or father "Ayreon", the inventor of Space Metal did on a very special non-cliché way nine themes from a science-fiction movies (Star Treck, Alien, Star Wars, Blade Runner, Dune,...) and converted them into great fusion of Progressive and Classic Heavy Metal, that meets some great Hard Rock touches. So music style differs from what he's doing with "Ayreon", but on the other hand the complete sound is very close to Ayreon again. Songs are structured with great diversity. In every song we have different melodies, rhythm changes and dynamic lead breaks. Some lead breaks are played by Jens Johansson (Stratovarius) on keyboards and Gary Werhkamp (Shadow Gallery) with his invisible fingers on electric guitar. We can find a great duel of those two guys in "Master Of Darkness" acting a sword's fight between father Darth Vader and his son Skywalker junior.

A piece with most progressive influences is undoubtedly "The Eye Of Ra", a theme from Star Track movie with a great finish.

Arjen is showing what a great songwriter he is, again. He (of course) composed all music and lyrics. Analog synthesizers were used again and that gives to drums a wide soundfull beat. Arjen played also whole the bass line. A great atmosphere is also achieved in melancholic parts of songs due to Hammond organ that was used throughout all record. And whenever Arjen decides to play a solo on the guitar, there's no lack of using tremolo or flenger. In a very Dave Gilmour's way. You won't find a school demonstration: "Who owns the fastest finger grip on solos?" All Arjen's solos are well balanced, speed never dominates the melody, Arjen also chooses right moments when to pull off a string. All his solos are very dramatic, easy to get into ear, expressed in melancholic emotional way. I can't ask for more. All instruments are completely balanced, and sound of the whole record is full.

Arjen paid very special attention in choosing a vocalists. He recruited Damian Wilson ("ex-Threshold"), Russell Allen ("Symphony X"), Floor Jansen ("After Forever") and Dan Swano ("Nightingale"). This is perhaps the main reason why this work is such a beauty. Crystal clear Damian's singing combined with more Dio, G. Hughes or T. Martin oriented Russell's style gives a great contrast of two vocals. This contrast of both vocals emerges especially magnificent in a song called "Intergalactic Space Crusaders". Both guys showed again how talented musicians they are and used all space that has been left for improvisation very well. Floor's vocal abilities were used mainly in covering chorus space (for example "Perfect Survivor" or "High Moon"). Dan raises the atmosphere in intros with his low singing and gives some dramatic touches in slower non-riffing parts of songs. A perfect combination of singers.

So what we have here is a complete perfection of great balanced production and fluidness of songs diversity achieving a high atmosphere through entire record. Music is totally unpredictable and will never let you to become bored. Another masterpiece from Lucassen's factory is here and a fourth dimension closer to us once again. I warmly recommend you this beauty.

Author:   Ale¹

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