Reviewed By: Nick
Artist: Star One
Album: Victims of the Modern Age
Genre: Progressive Metal
Year of Release: 2010
On Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Victims-Modern-Age-Star-One/dp/B0042RSMFM/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1287093674&sr=8-1
Much has happened since the crew of Star One touched down on Earth for a series of concerts in support of the first album, Space Metal. Star One mastermind Arjen Lucassen has since put out two Ayreon albums, created two new projects, and made multiple treks through Europe with Stream of Passion. All this would find Arjen exploring many new musical grounds, and would also allow him to work with over twenty new vocalists. I suppose after awhile it’s normal to want to return to familiarity, and to a small extent that’s what Arjen has done with the new Star One album, Victims of the Modern Age.
The album sees the return of the debut’s star cast of vocalists which includes Russell Allen, Damien Wilson, Dan Swano, and Floor Jansen, and in addition we see a return of the general heaviness found on Space Metal. However there are certainly things that do not return, such as the raw, poppy moments like in the chorus of the songs “Songs of the Ocean” or “Intergalactic Space Crusaders”. It’s not to say the album isn’t catchy; however it’s done in a much heavier and darker fashion than on the first album. Victims also boasts some brand new sounds from Arjen, most notably the opening guitar riff to “Human See, Human Do” which sounds like nothing Arjen has done to date.
The synth leads on tracks like “Digital Rain” and “Cassandra Complex” compliments an aggressive guitar style that smacks of the best moments of Deep Purple’s career. And while Arjen stepped up to the plate and delivered some of the best keyboard and guitar parts of his career the all-star roster of vocalists lived up to their reputations and gave 110% to the album. Each singer has their own moments to shine, as well as times when they play off one another in harmonious bliss like in the later parts of “It’s Alive, She’s Alive, We’re Alive”. In addition guitarist Gary Wehrkamp and keyboard wiz Joost van den Broek provided thrilling solos which are sprinkled throughout the album, and I can honestly say that for all he’s done with Arjen I think drummer Ed Warby opened up a new dimension in his playing to compliment the new musical ideas that were thrown into the mix.
While Victims of the Modern Age has a signature sound to it and some familiar voices I think most will be somewhat surprised with how very fresh this album sounds. One of my only complaints about the Guilt Machine album was that much of it sounded like 01 part two, and thankfully that is not the case this time around. I can easily see tracks like “Earth That Was”, “Victims of the Modern Age”, “Human See, Human Do”, “24 Hours”, and “It’s Alive, She’s Alive, We’re Alive” all going down as some of the best songs Arjen has ever written. And yes, I realize I just named half the album, it’s that good. The bar was set quite high by the first Star One album, but it was topped by fresh songwriting, amazing lead work on both guitars and keyboards, and excellent contributions from every musician involved.
Nick’s Rating: 10/10