On This Perfect Day is the debut album of Guilt Machine, a project of Dutch musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen. The premise behind this particular album is that Arjen wanted to focused on side projects instead of Ayreon for the foreseeable future. Originally Guilt Machine was supposed to be a non-metal project, though it gradually changed into one, for whch Lucassen apparently blames 'metal queen' Lori Linstruth, Guilt Machine's lead guitarist. For this album Arjen wanted to work with just one singer and the task goes to Jasper Steverlink from the alternative rock band Arid. Worried metal fans? You needn't be, the guy does the job extremely well. As Arjen himself says in the interview on the bonus DVD that comes in some editions of On This Perfect Day, he needed a guy who could do vocals for soft and heavy material and this guy does just that. Can't say I'm keen on Arid as a band but Arjen made an really good choice for this album.
Lyrically it differs from Ayreon (as much as I hate to compare the two it's always going to happen when someone is most known for one particular project). There is no science fiction concept like Ayreon or Star One (another Lucassen project) and in fact the albums does what the band name as good as says, it's about guilt. It's a way for Arjen to deal with his depression, a way to conquer it and I must say, if the guy can turn something like depression into such awesome music, there's not much he can't do. Saying that he wrote no lyrics of the album, leaving them all to Lori Linstruth after he was impressed with lyrics she wrote so he could do some guide vocals for the album.
Music wise the album varies from soft to heavy sections. As mentioned previously it wasn't supposed to be metal at all, but like a lot of his Ayreon work and indeed other prog bands, rock or metal, the sections go together well. Personally I think the sound is epic, esspecially some of the chorus sections, like in Green and Cream and Perfection?
Said two songs are easily my favourites, with Twisted Coil coming in 3rd. Weakest moment (though by no means bad!) is probably Over, which is the most commercial sounding on the album. Commercial isn't a bad word to be using with metal music in my opinion, but I'm very much aware that saying that may put some off. All I can say is that it would be their loss.
My main problem with the main album is that there are only six tracks though its definitely quality over quantity and there is almost an hour's worth of music on offer, so that's a very minor quibble, and in all honestly it is my only real quibble about On This Perfect Day, though this is not a perfect album if you'll pardon the unintended pun, but it does come pretty close and it is something new among Arjen's progressive metal projects, which is a major plus.
Bonus DVD time. I have to be honest, I'm rather put out about this DVD. I'm still to this day trying to understand what is the point of putting audio bonus tracks on a DVD? This happened on Opeth's Watershed album as well, and its a disgrace! That annoyance aside they are good, though three of them are just radio edits of songs from the main album, so there's not a huge point in listening to them more than the once. Perfection? with guide vocals was okay, but you might as well listen to the proper track. Two covers songs were the best feature of this section.
Video content was so-so. You can view the trailer online for free anyway and the making of is really a one time watch sort of thing. The main feature here is the interview I referenced earlier, but unless like me you're a die-hard Arjen Lucassen fan, it might not really be of much interest to you. So anyone who just wants the album might as well buy a regular edition. You at least might get clear artwork, since the digitpack got really messed up and pixelated. I was not amused about that given that I like my album artwork. Only reason I don't just use download sites and get my albums delivered straight to my hard drive.
In summary its an exceptional album, very worthy of Arjen's name. It's not his best album ever, I'd still give that title to Ayreon's Into the Electric Castle, but it's definitely up there with his best offerings and well worth any fan of his picking up, or fans of progressive metal or rock music in general. I'd also recommend it to people who find Arjen's science fiction themed albums a bit much to take.
(Review originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)