|Review: Star One - Space Metal|
Year released: 2002
Genre: Progressive Power Metal
Review online: March 7, 2009
Reviewed by: Hermer Arroyo
Star One is a project formed by Ayreon mainstay Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Now, when an artist has a side project one should expect something completely different from its main band, and that's exactly what happens here, as the songs on this album are much simpler and direct. Space Metal is a Power Metal album with some progressive elements but not as much as to distract you from the music.
The album is based on different science-fiction movies and TV series (Star Wars, Star Trek, Stargate, Dune, etc.) Having the record based on these themes gives Lucassen the necessary room to write a more accessible record. However, being accessible doesn't mean dumbed down, as you encounter riffs and complicated arrangements that sound like they're from another planet. The man is just an unbelievable player and songwriter and never sacrifices the song for a flashy solo. From the spacey intro "Lift Off" to the closer "Starchild," Space Metal contains a steady diet of hooks and catchy choruses, especially on "Set your Controls" and "Sandrider".
As any work of this type, Space Metal includes a list of guest musicians, and what a list this is! It features the talents of Russell Allen, Damian Wilson, Dan Swanö, Floor Jansen, Jens Johansson among others, and this is pretty much a guarantee of great quality. All of those singers rules almighty on this record: Floor Jansen with her enchanting vocals highlights every song she's a part of. The duo of Russell Allen and Damian Wilson on "Intergalactic Space Crusaders" is something to admire. Jens Johansson keyboards take a very prominent role especially in "Master of Darkness" and "Starchild"; they also deliver a nice atmosphere. The bass by Lucassen himself is thick and loud, a pleasant surprise since often when a band leader is the guitarist, the bass usually get drowned and you don't hear it at all, and thankfully that doesn't happen here.
While the songwriting is very good, the epic "Starchild" has a less than stellar ending, a little bit disappointing. But this is me nitpicking - in the end Space Metal is a strong metal offering recommended for people who don't take the genre too seriously.
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