Arjen Lucassen

Ayreon – Transitus Review

Ayreon – Transitus Review

“There’s nobody quite like Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Sure, Tobias Sammet of Avantasia is the other big metal opera guy, but he can’t match Arjen for variety or quality. Besides the prog/power sound of Ayreon‘s core albums, his other successes include the gorgeous classical instrumentation of The Gentle Storm, the mopey Porcupine Tree prog of Guilt Machine, and more.” Show tunes on show.

Ayreon – The Source Review

Ayreon – The Source Review

“Look, I know I’m late with this. I can hardly swing reviews these days and Arjen didn’t pull any punches with The Source. In fact, our Poofy-Haired Dutchman™ didn’t even do me a solid by making The Source a sequel to The Theory of Everything, an album I adored. Rather, he made it a prequel to 2004’s 01011001 (that’s “Y” for those of you who aren’t computers), an album that I’d spent precious little time with. What’s weird about that, is that 01011001 is probably his least popular album aside from Into the Electric Castle. When I went back to listen to it, I have to admit that I agree. So I was perplexed by the choice to write a prequel to it. But Arjen’s mind works in mysterious ways, which is why I have come to love his music so much. So, despite a history of prequels being horrible pieces of shit that not even a mother can love, Arjen gets better with age and I needed to give it a chance.” Chances are, Arjen wears a silly grin.

Angry Metal Guy’s Top 10(ish) of 2015

Angry Metal Guy’s Top 10(ish) of 2015

Twenty-fifteen has been a hell of a ride. It’s been one of my favorite years for music in quite a long time, and I’ve been struggling to prune this list down to 10(ish) records that I really love. But in some ways, the top 5 has never been easier for me to choose. What I find most fascinating about this list is how completely out of step I feel with what I see as being touted as the coolest parts of the underground. I seem to be pretty far afield while everyone else seems to be fawning over the latest ’70s retro doom phenomenon, hope drones, or the latest example of black metal kids missing that intensity not 15 minute songs was the cool part of black metal. This is what it feels like to have been left behind by a scene; to have lived long enough to be that old guy shaking his fist at new trends in metal.

The Gentle Storm – The Diary [Vinyl Review]

The Gentle Storm – The Diary [Vinyl Review]

“It’s not news that I’m a big fan of Arjen Lucassen’s output from the last 5 or 6 years. Starting with 2009’s unparalleled Guilt Machine, Arjen has released a string of records that I love. In full defiance of Angry Metal Guy’s Law of Diminishing Recordings™, the “poofy-haired Dutchman” has seemingly upped his game on every release: a great solo release, a seriously enjoyable Star One disc, and a stellar Ayreon album which landed #2 on my Top 10(ish) of 2013. So it was with unabashed enthusiasm that I began my countdown when I heard he was working with Anneke van Giersbergen, formerly of The Gathering, on a project entitled The Gentle Storm.” And it’s not like anticipation has ever led to disappointment or anything…

Soen – Tellurian Review

Soen – Tellurian Review

Soen‘s Cognitive, which was released in 2012, was the band’s debut and it bore a striking resemblance to the work of Tool and, to be fair, A Perfect Circle. Despite this undeniable likeness, the record was chock full of fat grooves, great writing, beautiful vocal performances from vocalist Eklöf and amazing performances from all the musicians—but especially metal’s best bassist (Steve Digiorgio if there’s any doubt) and one of metal’s best drummers (Martin Lopez). I’ve often felt a bit guilty for labeling Cognitive as too derivative, because despite the sound it has been a regular on my playlist since then—and I would hate to be responsible for pigeonholing a band before they had time to develop; great debuts are few and far between.” But the operative question is: can Soen step through Tool‘s shadow and come out the other side?

Ayreon – The Theory of Everything Review

Ayreon – The Theory of Everything Review

“Of all of Arjen Lucassen’s projects, Ayreon is his best known and my least favorite. Having previously given both The Human Equation and 01011001 a shot, Ayreon really was a nut I couldn’t crack. Partially this is because I think the rock opera genre of power/prog metal bands à la Avantasia or Timo Tolkki’s Horrible, Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Avalon tend to lack vision; but the writers also lack the kind of talent necessary that make undertakings like Jesus Christ Superstar or Little Shop of Horrors fun and interesting.” One does not simply write a 600 word review for a 90 minute concept record from Arjen Lucassen. Click to see the epic of The Theory of Everything.

Arjen Lucassen – Lost in the New Real Review

Arjen Lucassen – Lost in the New Real Review

A few years back when Guilt Machine released, Arjen Lucassen (of—deep breath—Ayreon, Star One, Arjen Lucassen, Guilt Machine, Galexia, Stream of Passion, Vengeance, Ambeon and a myriad of other projects I probably don’t even know exist) is reported to have said that if he’d had to do it over again, Ayreon would have sounded like Guilt Machine. Whether that was just talk in the build up for a new record or not, it appears that to a certain extent he meant it, as his new Lost in the New Real sounds like the combination of the two projects. On the one hand, Lost in the New Real is a concept record and (faux) double album, featuring the dulcet tones of Rutger Hauer as narrator and “psychologist,” like one would expect from an Ayreon record. However, like Guilt Machine, the record features primarily only one vocalist (Arjen himself), and the music is largely a post-Pink Floyd progressive rock heavy with atmospherics and sweet, but melancholic, melodies. As a fan of Guilt Machine and not of Ayreon, I can say that I was curious to see how this sort of combination would work and I was pleasantly surprised.