Star One - Revel in Time

Star One – Revel in Time

Arjen Lucassen is an interesting figure, a semi-recluse who has been ploughing his own individual furrow for many years now, dealing primarily in science fiction and fantasy musical works, and often creating albums almost on his own. Except of course for the vocals. He’s perfectly adept at singing, but seems somewhat reluctant to do so, preferring to pick vocalists from his voluminous little black book of friends and contacts he has somehow built up over the years. His main creative outlet is Ayreon, where he has concocted numerous Prog metal operas, often with complex storylines and casts of characters, and when they work, they do make fun listening.

I must say though that this approach can be a bit limiting, and I tend to prefer his Star One albums. Rather than operas or concept albums telling a story, they are albums of individual songs bonded by a common thread, and inspired by sci-fi films. The first was Space Metal (2002) where each track was inspired by a film set in space. The next was Victims of the Modern Age (2010) which dealt with films featuring dystopian futures. So it’s quite logical that this third album, Revel in Time, should be a collection of songs inspired by films dealing with time manipulation. The album title is a reference to one of Lucassen’s favourite films, being a quote from Blade Runner.

Musically, the approach differs from Ayreon in that the songs are pretty much riff-based, so it’s mostly prog metal all the way, although the mood and atmosphere of each track does change, making for quite a varied album within the overall sonic palette. There is more room for flights of instrumental fancy without the concentration on storytelling vocals, so the balance seems better, and above all, Arjen is simply very good at what he does. His attention to detail is amazing, and repeated listens always unearth some previously overlooked facet. The cast list is impressive, with, for the most part, a different singer on each track. In addition there are numerous guest soloists, usually either on guitar or keyboards, and some of the performances are stunning.

It’s tempting to analyse each track, but I’m going to resist that because much of the fun is spotting who plays or sings what, and which film inspired each song. I freely admit I haven’t figured out every film, and suspect some are pretty obscure, although one or two are obvious. I’ll pick out a few highlights for a flavour of the album. Opener Fate of Man is a fast and furious belter featuring the voice and lungs of Brittney Slayes. I’d never heard of her either, but apparently she sings with Canadian power metal band Unleash The Archers. Further investigation into that band didn’t particularly impress me to be honest, but goodness me, Lucassen can spot a decent singer when he hears one, and her performance takes no prisoners.

28 Days (‘Til the End of Time) is much moodier and quite magnificent, with Russell Allen (Symphony X) on vocal duties. It’s dramatic and heavy, not unlike Heaven and Hell-era Sabbath in style. Most of the instruments are played by Lucassen, and he handles the guitar, bass and keys with total authority, but he is aided throughout by Ed Warby on drums, and his thunderous presence is huge. Following track Prescient breaks with the ‘one singer per track’ rule, featuring both Michael Mills (ToeHider) and Ross Jennings (Haken) who complement each other well on this noticeably proggier piece. It’s one of the more complicated songs musically, which seems fitting as the story of the film strikes me as rather opaque! Backing singers throughout are Marcela Bovio and Irene Jansen who help with the consistency across the album with their contributions.

Elsewhere, we have excellent vocal performances from Damian Wilson, Roy Khan and Tony Martin, the latter two on the epic closing track Lost Children of the Universe. This final piece is without doubt my favourite, and in no small part it’s due to the appearance of Steve Vai, who absolutely nails it with his unmistakable solo. Epic in the true sense of the word. These are just my personal highlights, but in truth, there isn’t a duff song or performance on the album. The 2CD version features the same songs performed by different singers, and is almost as good, such is the quality of the vocalists Lucassen has assembled for the project.

In conclusion, if you like prog metal and sci-fi, you can’t go wrong here. This is Arjen Lucassen doing what he does best, and smacking the ball right out of the park. He is absolutely single-minded in his determination to present a polished and perfectly crafted vision for his numerous followers, and they will be delighted with this release.

01. Fate of Man (5:29)
02. 28 Days (‘Till the End of Time) (7:20)
03. Prescient (6:34)
04. Back From the Past (4:50)
05. Revel in Time (4:37)
06. The Year of ’41 (6:20)
07. Bridge of Life (5:13)
08. Today is Yesterday (5:46)
09. A Hand on the Clock (5:51)
10. Beyond the Edge of it All (4:52)
11. Lost Children of the Universe (9:46)

Time – 66:38

Limited Edition Bonus Disc (same songs, different singers):
12. Fate of Man (5:29)
13. 28 Days (‘Till the End of Time) (7:20)
14. Prescient (6:34)
15. Back From the Past (4:50)
16. Revel in Time (4:37)
17. The Year of ‘41 (6:20)
18. Bridge of Life (5:13)
19. Today is Yesterday (5:46)
20. A Hand on the Clock (5:51)
21. Beyond the Edge of it All (4:52)
22. Lost Children of the Universe (9:46)

Time – 66:38

Total Time – 133:16

Arjen Lucassen – Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Ed Warby – Drums
Erik van Ittersum – Solina Strings
Marcela Bovio – Backing Vocals
Irene Jansen – Backing Vocals
~ Guests:
Brittney Slayes – Lead & Backing Vocals (track 1)
Michael Romeo – Guitar Solo (track 1)
Sir Russell Allen – Lead Vocals (track 2)
Timo Summers – Guitar Solos (track 2)
Michael Mills – Lead & Backing Vocals (track 3)
Ross Jennings – Lead & Backing Vocals (track 3)
Jeff Scott Soto – Lead track Vocals (track 4)
Ron ‘Bumblefoot’ Thal – Guitar Solo (track 4)
Brandon Yeagley – Lead Vocals (track 5)
Adrian Vandenberg – Guitar Solos (track 5)
Joe Lynn Turner – Lead Vocals (track 6)
Will Shaw – Vocalisations (track 6), Lead & Backing Vocals (track 14)
Joel Hoekstra – Guitar Solo (track 6)
Jens Johansson – Synth Solo (track 6)
Damian Wilson – Lead Vocals (track 7)
Dan Swano – Lead Vocals (track 8)
Lisa Bella Donna – Moog Synthesisers (track 8)
Marcel Singor – Guitar Solo (track 8)
Floor Jansen – Lead & Backing Vocals (track 9)
Joost van den Broek – Hammond Solo (track 9)
John Jaycee Cuijpers – Lead Vocals (tracks 10,13,15 & 16)
Arjen Lucassen – Guitar Solo (track 10), Lead Vocals (track 19)
Roy Khan – Lead Vocals (track 11)
Hellscore Choir – Choir (track 11)
Steve Vai – Guitar Solo (track 11)
Marcela Bovio – Lead & Backing Vocals (tracks 12 & 20)
Alessandro Del Vecchio – Lead Vocals & Synth Solo (track 17)
Wilmer Waarbroek – Lead Vocals (track 18)
Irene Jansen – Lead & Backing Vocals (track 20)
Mike Andersson – Lead Vocals (track 21)
Tony Martin – Lead Vocals (track 22)

Record Label: InsideOut Music
Country of Origin: The Netherlands
Date of Release: 18th February 2022

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