Review: Arjen Lucassen’s Star One – Revel In Time
Inside Out Music (February 18th, 2022)
Reviewer: Chris O’Connor
The term ‘Genius’ is widely overused in my opinion, however in the case of Arjen Anthony Lucassen, it is absolutely fitting. Whether it is under his own name, or under Ayreon, Guilt Machine, The Gentle Storm, Stream Of Passion, or Ambeon– everything he creates musically is quality assured, and will always be of the highest musical calibre. Even Bodine and Vengeance were imbued with his creative genius.
Long overdue, we finally have a brand-new album from Arjen’s brilliant Star One project, and as you would no doubt expect, it is nothing short of sublime. Rather than re-hashing ideas from the debut where only four singers were featured, this time around, Arjen has utilised a host of different singers, and the result works amazingly well. You are no doubt wondering who appears? The list is seriously impressive: Brittney Slayes, Sir Russell Allen, Michael Mills, Ross Jennings, Jeff Scott Soto, Brandon Yeagley, Joe Lynn Turner, Damian Wilson, Dan Swano, Floor Jansen, John Jaycee Cuijpers, Roy Khan, Marcelo Bovio, Will Shaw, Alessandro Del Vecchio, Wilmer Waarbroek, Mike Anderson, Tony Martin, and finally Arjen has chosen to sing one track himself.
As if the cast of stellar singers isn’t mouth-watering enough, the list of musicians involved – is enough to give most music fans wet dreams! From drummer Ed Warby to guitarists Steve Vai, Joel Hoekstra, Michael Romeo, Ron Bumblefoot Thal, and Adrian Vandenberg, this is a who’s who of musical goodness! Arjen (of course) plays guitars, bass, and keyboards, but even then, gives way to guests like keyboard wiz Jens Johansson, allowing them to shine individually. The result then is a pleasantly ego free zone!
As I understand it (and it does take some understanding!) this concept album is about time travel in the cinematic universe (hence the title obviously). Now had you told me that anyone could make a musical ode to Bill Murray’s excellent ‘Groundhog Day’ film work in any shape or form, I would previously have laughed, but on ‘Today Is Yesterday’, featuring Dan Swano, it works surprisingly well. I am almost equally surprised that Arjen didn’t do a song dedicated to Dr Who – maybe another time?
From songs about The Terminator, Back To The Future, Interstellar, Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and so on and so forth, Arjen offers up a plethora of musical gems, replete with extraordinary musicianship and some dazzling vocal performances – Floor Jansen and Roy Khan deserve special mentions here for ‘The Hand On The Clock’ and ‘Lost Children Of The Universe’ respectively.
The album twists and turns musically, veering from breezy Pop Rock, through to extreme Progressive Metal will dizzying ease. On paper this really shouldn’t work, but again, because of Arjen’s huge attention to detail and arrangement, work it really does, and makes for a genuinely refreshing listen. It is a lot to take on one listen, it’s an album that needs repeated spins before it fully soaks in and makes total sense. It has to be said, that anyone other than Arjen would not have been able to make such a complex project work – but then again – this IS Arjen Anthony Lucassen we are talking about, so such failures were never an option. Dazzling, dizzying, hugely entertaining, and musically sprawling, ‘Revel In Time’ is an absolute Tour De Force, and a worthy addition to the great man’s catalogue. Simply marvellous!