Who is the band? What is their history? What motivates them?
“Star One is a straightforward and hard-edge metal side-project which Arjen Lucassen created in 2002 as a reaction to the soft and atmospheric Ambeon release a year earlier” (Source, 2010).
“Compared to 2002's "Space Metal," the overall sound of "Victims of the Modern Age" is darker, heavier, more guitar-oriented, and slightly less "spacey." Arjen has also raised the bar significantly when it comes to the album's sound: "I think it's my best sounding album to date; it's a huge difference compared to the first Star One. For the guitars I spent weeks experimenting with different amps and settings in every combination imaginable -- and it was worth it. The drums sound fantastic, and the vocalists all outdid themselves, putting in even stronger performances than they did the first time around." (Star One Media Bio, 2010).
1. Down the Rabbit Hole (1:20) – Those cool spacey synths welcome us back to this new voyage into space and time. Great intro….ready for take off!
2. Digital Rain (6:23) – Then, like a locomotive running straight at you at full speed the guitars, bass, synths organs, and drums rumble right into your soundscape. Power as fast as it can be delivered in a bolt of electricity and sound. This one will really lift you out of your chair as the heavy vocals roar all around you. Would be cool to see this played live. The guitar solos and keyboard work is amazing. The best song on the album. The vocalists really do take it to another level on this song. No doubt of the origins of this one’s theme. The Matrix legacy and franchise reborn in song. Every note is dynamic and full of power. After the many power songs I have heard from Arjen and his many incarnations this may be the most powerful. It just drips with power. “Something’s not right here.” Let the stories begin. Off to an excellent start.
3. Earth That Was (6:08) – Power chords and full on drums rock this one to attention along with cool organ sounds. “Mother earth couldn’t take no more. We set out for a distant shore far across our galaxy.” Power vocals and those massive drums and heavy bass and lead electric chords just rip up the air. The instrumental sections really set this song apart from the others. The multi – layered keys, organs, synths and effects set such a cool soundscape to envelope the whole imagery and effects of the music. You can really feel like you’re there, when you close your eyes. Those blasting drums and chords will rattle your windows and doors…if you dare!
4. Victim of the Modern Age (6:27) – The title track. That strumming sound of guitars and drums setting rhythm. It is just incredible. It reminds me of that didgeridoo – like rhythm made famous on some of Arjen’s earlier Ayreon albums. But the power on this version dominates this song. It sets a great pace that the vocalists really play off of well. It is very hard to describe all the power of the sound in words on this album. Let’s just say heavy metal fans will probably make this their favorite album of the year. Arjen really leaves no stone unturned in delivering power on this one.
5. Human See, Human Do (5:14) – This opens with a movie clip of Charlton Heston saying “Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape”, from the original Planet of the Apes. Then it takes off with launching guitars and power drums before that fast paced rhythm begins to open up all throttles. The drums are some of the best on the album and the vocals really drive the mission. The ladies make their first entrance singing vocals and it adds great dynamics to the sound. The spacey synths are excellent along with the organ sounds. The guitar solos and riffs will rock you. Another great song to play live. The effects would be great to see on stage.
6. 24 Hours (7:20) – The second best song on the album. I could not forget that refrain for days after hearing it the first time. “You’ve got 24 hours to change the course of history.” The organ and slow synths that open this one are magical. The vocals are perfect, setting the eerie stage for the music that follows. The movie Logan’s Run set to music. This song inspired me to go back and watch the film again for the first time in over 20 years. Arjen and the musicians here have captured all of the original spirit of the movie in a song. Truly magnificent.
7. Cassandra Complex (5:24) – Cool Rollerball/Led Zeppelin In the Light - like synths open this one. Then the epic smashing drums and power lead and bass chords rip through the air, followed by that cool buzzing synth. Just incredible. Again the guitar riffs and synth work is enormous and punches your speakers with sound. Easily the loudest album I have heard this year.
8. It's Alive, She's Alive, We're Alive (5:07) – Cool wired synth sounds and effects. Then whistle – like effects before the boards are rocked and the thunder comes full steam. The drums and bass really taking the sound deep. Then the avalanche of power begins with the instrumental synths, organs and lead guitar work. The album closer and those synths and guitars will leave their imprint on your consciousness. All holds bared as any instruments left off the other songs are utilized in all of their glory. Every note a power chord.
And I thought Arjen said he was gonna make a quiet album next… But that’s ok. This was worth the wait for all of us Star One fans. Great movies have been chosen and their spirit and essence have been captured within this album. One word describes this...power. Powerful music and themes from these movies. The synthesizer hasn’t been utilized this well all year. The heavy metal guitars are blazing. The vocalists come at you and deliver the story point blank. I liked the first Star One, so it’s hard to choose a favorite between the two. Nice things is you don’t have to, they each have their moments. I like both equally for what they deliver. The sound and storyline of the movie set to awesome and emotional music. Sit back, turn up the volume, close your eyes and dream of the future…if you dare.
Rating: 9/10 – Only wish there was more. Perfect in every other way.
Reviewed by Prof on September 23rd, 2010