STAR ONE
Progressive Metal • Netherlands

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Star One is a band conceived by Arjen Lucassen. The concept is near-identical to that of his main project Ayreon (concept albums with multiple vocalists and styles), yet Star One was a one-off project. An album, Space Metal was released, along with a live DVD/CD set called Live on Earth. Each song on the Space Metal album is based on a different science fiction franchise, including Alien, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Star Wars.

Those songs that are based on films or television shows are as follows:

On CD 1: Set Your Controls - An introduction written by Arjen High Moon - Outland Songs of the Ocean - Star Trek IV Masters of Darkness - Star Wars Trilogy The Eye of Ra - Stargate Sandrider - Dune Perfect Survivor - Alien Intergalactic Space Crusaders - Blake's 7 (television series) Starchild - 2001: A Space Odyssey, and 2010: The Year We
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STAR ONE Discography

STAR ONE albums / top albums

.. Album Cover 3.76 | 24 ratings
Space Metal
Progressive Metal 2002
.. Album Cover 4.12 | 38 ratings
Victims of the Modern Age
Progressive Metal 2010

STAR ONE EPs & splits

STAR ONE live albums

.. Album Cover 4.50 | 7 ratings
Live on Earth
Progressive Metal 2003

STAR ONE demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

STAR ONE re-issues & compilations

STAR ONE singles (0)

STAR ONE movies (DVD, Blu-Ray or VHS)

.. Album Cover
4.51 | 9 ratings
Live on Earth
Progressive Metal 2003

STAR ONE Reviews

STAR ONE Space Metal

Album · 2002 · Progressive Metal
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UMUR
"Space Metal" is debut full-length studio album by Ayreon mainman Arjen Anthony Lucassen´s sci-fi progressive metal project Star One. The album was released through InsideOut Music in May 2002.

The music on "Space Metal" is unmistakably in the sound and style of Arjen Anthony Lucassen. The man has a distinct sound and an original songwriting style which is recognisable regardless of project or band name. The music on "Space Metal" is inspired by seventies and eighties symphonic and epic heavy metal. The spacy synth sounds which remind me sligthly of Hawkwind are a bit different from the usual Ayreon sound and all lyrics are influenced by different science fiction movies, but it´s really only the choice of lyrical theme and the spacy synth sounds that set Star One apart from Ayreon. Most tracks on the album are in the heavy mid paced and epic symphonic style that we know so well from Ayreon, while the last song "Starchild" is more epic and slow building. The material are generally of a high standard.

What is always exciting about Lucassen´s projects is his choice of guest vocalists and "Space Metal" is no exception. There are four different vocalists on the album. Russell Allen (Symphony X), Damian Wilson (Ayreon, Threshold, Headspace), Dan Swanö (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale, Bloodbath, Maceration, Unicorn, Second Sky, Pan- thy-monium...among others) and the young female vocalist Floor Jansen (After Forever). They all sing different parts in the songs and in that way play different characters from the movies that the lyrics are about. This means that Russell Allen might sing the first vers of a song while Dan Swanö sings the chorus and Damian Wilson sings the second verse. This approach works brilliantly and and helps along the diversity of the album. The tracks are vers/chorus structured most of the time which gives them a somewhat formulaic sound. A few more experiments with that rather rigid formula could have worked wonders IMO.

Arjen Anthony Lucassen as usual plays all guitars, basses and keyboards except for a few guest appearences by people like Jens Johansson (Yngwie Malmsteen, Stratovarius) on keyboards and Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) on guitar. The drums are as always on Lucassen´s projects played by Ed Warby (Gorefest).

The sound production is massive, heavy and clear.

From an objective point of view, there is not doubt "Space Metal" is a quality release, but personally it has always left me a bit cold. I hear brilliant vocal performances, professional instrumental performances and a detailed and professional sounding production but it´s the formulaic song structures that drags my rating down. Throw in a few surprises and "Space Metal" would have been a much more interesting album. Still a 3.5 star (70%) rating is fully deserved.

Bonus CD:

The special Edition of "Space Metal" features an extra CD with six tracks. Two of those tracks are alternate versions of "Starchild" and "Spaced Out". The other four bonus tracks are two outtakes, which are "Spaced Out" and "Inseperable Enemies" (both tracks are of equal quality to the tracks on the original album), while the last two tracks are a Hawkwind medley which includes among others "Silver Machine" and guest vocals by Dave Brock and "Space Oddity" by David Bowie. The Hawkwind medley is the most interesting extra feature on the bonus CD IMO but overall it´s a nice limited edition bonus CD which won´t change my overall rating though.

STAR ONE Space Metal

Album · 2002 · Progressive Metal
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AtomicCrimsonRush
Science Fiction themes and incredible metal make a formidable combination! Star One’s “Space Metal” is Ayreon’s pet project that never disappoints with incredible compositions based on sci fi themes from novels, TV and movies. There are some genuinely masterful metal riffs, some played at blinding speeds, others breathing melancholy ambience. I love the way the songs are based on well known sci fi themes, and one listen to the lyrics makes it obvious to the average sci fi freak, such as myself. It is a pleasant surprise when one discovers what the songs are about, which are usually excellent sci fi films. Part of the fun is finding within the lyrics the references to specific sci fi icons. The players are icons of prog metal including on vocals Russell Allen from Symphony X, Damian Wilson, Floor Jansen from after Forever, Irene Jansen of Karma, and Robert Soeterboek, as well as guest Dave Brock of Hawkwind. Arjen Anthony Lucassen is the main lead guitarist, joined by After Forever’s keyboardist Joost van den Broek, Peter Vink on bass, and Ed Warby on drums from Gorefest.

‘Lift-Off’ is a nice intro with spacey elements leading to ‘Set Your Controls’, a fast chugging riffer with awesome Ayreon style vocals. Manic keyboard wizardry, and cranking metal riffs drive this. The lead break is amazing, and this is one of the best album openers for Ayreon. Thematically it could be based on just about any saga where a spacecraft lifts off for an alien planet. Actually it is based on “Doctor Who” though you will have to listen carefully to pick up the references as I missed it and had to look it up.

‘High Moon’ has Deep Purple style grinding organ and the crawling metal riffs are awesome. The sound is huge with deep crunching riffs and slow vocals. It is all based on the movie “Outland” and certainly works as a tribute to the Sean Connery movie of the 70s. It follows the plot closely, the drugs, the deaths and the final shoot out in space. I love it.

‘Songs Of The Ocean’ has the trademark female and male voices working together that permeates the Ayreon albums. This one is based on “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home” where the whales are transmitting important messages that cannot be interpreted or answered when whales are extinct in the future. So the Enterprise has to go back in time to the 80s when whales existed. It is in interesting idea and Star One capitalises on this “we survived the human race, but don’t know the words to the songs of the ocean.” It is a memorable melody and has some nice submarine effects. It segues seamlessly into ‘Master Of Darkness’.

The next song is quite heavy with emotional deep vocals trading off with higher register vocals very effectively. Who is the master of darkness? Definitely based on the evil villain of just about any sci fi story. However this one is based on “Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back” though is not as blatant lyrically which is perhaps a good thing as it may have sounded corny if it had mentioned Luke or Darth Vader. ‘The Eye Of Ra’ is a longer song at 7:34, based on a traveller from another galaxy, finding a comet, gaining powers and finding a gateway to the stars; “Stargate” anyone? I am not a fan of the series but it definitely rings of the Egyptian themes in that saga. The song is great in any case, atmospheric and powerful, with great majestic vocals that are mixed to the front at the end but are a bit too bombastic really.

‘Sandrider’ must be based on “Dune” I speculated before I heard it, and I was right, Frank Herbert’s classic novel is given the Star One treatment with admirable guitar ferocity and some fantastic keyboards. The low vocals are effective; “I had seen places man has never seen, am I the one to fulfil the prophecy on the desert planet in our galaxy.” The Arabian style melodies enhance the atmosphere, as well as that brilliant lead guitar.

‘Perfect Survivor’ had me stumped for a while as to what is was based on until I heard the lyrics; “my secret mission brings me back to reality, I had to bring it back alive,” thus it is from the point of view of robot Ash in “Alien”. Other lyrics that indicate this include, “you should know that you all are expendable, I have been programmed to put you out of action.” The riffs in this track are killer and very dark and it is a definite highlight of the album. The odd time sigs are augmented by powerful lead breaks and the harmonies are great too.

‘Intergalactic Space Crusaders’ begins with shimmering organ and a steady chugging metal riff. The lyrics are about a prison in space, and a man who has had his memory blanked, innocent dying, and 7 people fighting against the Federation’s system, okay it is definitely “Blakes 7”. The lyrics “dominator, Liberator” make it even more blatant. Now that I have ascertained what it is about I can enjoy the lyrics even more. I love how Star One are using sci fi themes from my favourite movies and TV shows. This has a strong melodic chorus and delightful keyboard solos. A fantastic song, and incidentally the title of the ‘Star One’ name is lifted directly from an episode title in the “Blakes 7” series.

‘Starchild’ is a 9 minute progressive track based on “2001: A Space Odyssey” of course. I knew that before it even started and then hearing the atmospheric opening with spacey vocal chorus and weird lyrics; “touch me now and feel my force”, indicate the Monolith is speaking. Then we hear a different style of vocal singing, “something strange I feel confused I don’t know why, I’ve been designed to tell the truth, I cannot lie,” and it is obvious that HAL is speaking. It is interesting to hear from the computers POV here. It is one of my all time favourite movies so to hear it in song form is a compelling experience. Star One really captures the awe and mystery of Kubrick’s classic, and the lead break soars beautifully. The lyrics even touch on the trip through the stargate, the all-seeing eye and the transformation of Bowman to the Starchild.

Disc 2 is a great bonus on the Limited Edition running for only 41 minutes but well worth it for a couple of masterpieces. One of these is ‘Hawkwind Medley’ an awesome Hawkwind feast of memorable melodies clocking 9:40. It is made all the better as legendary Dave Brock is on vocals and this is a must for all Hawkwind fanatics. A simply brilliant tribute to the band and very heavy. We have a terrific medley of such classics as ‘Master of the Universe’, ‘Silver Machine’, ’Brainstorm’, ‘Assault and Battery’, ‘The War I Survived’, ‘Spirit of the Age’ among others. They blend together well and are an absolute delight to the ears.

‘Spaced Out’ is the next track of note, with a heavy riff and fast pace. The lyrics indicate that this is based on John Carpenter’s iconic debut movie “Dark Star”; “emergency override, information overload, we are all about to explode.” The keyboards on this are incredible and this rocks harder than a lot of stuff on CD 1.

‘Inseparable Enemies’ has a cool squealing riff driving it. The song is about the end of a war and coming to the realisation “that we are not alone”. The “fortress in space” with men dying in a blood red sky could be based on many sci fi films or TV shows I have seen, such as “Babylon 5” or “Fortress” for that matter. “The birth of a brand new race, the turning of a new page” gave it away, as this is actually based on “Enemy Mine”, though I had no idea till I looked that up. The music is a steady tempo and some accomplished vocals trading off enhance it.

‘Space Oddity’ is a darker amazing cover of Bowie’s well known classic. The vocals have a Bowie-esque flavour but this is way different musically, with low droning synths and keyboard pads. The bridge is atmospheric with echo vocals, and the crescendo is a blast of really heavy distorted crunching riffs, then a clean guitar takes over beautifully. The result is a stunning cover version enhancing the rather sparse original on every level.

There is also a cover version of Donovan’s ‘Intergalactic Laxative’, which works as a curio with some hilarious lyrics about the interminable problems of pooping in space. Moving on. ‘Starchild’ Mixed In Dolby Pro-Logic) is the same as the Disc 1 version apart from remastered mixing making it crisp and sharp. ‘Spaced Out’ (Alternative Version) is rather the same musically but the vocals are slightly different. Overall the bonus disc is worth getting for at least the cover versions.

Overall, the album is not the masterpiece of the follow up “Victims of the Modern Age” but this is still quality prog metal and has some fantastic songs and awesome sci fi themes to revel in.

STAR ONE Victims of the Modern Age

Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
Time Signature
Human hear, human like...

Genre: progressive power metal

The album has been praised by critics, and, when it came out, there was quite a lot of hype surrounding it.

I can understand the praise this album has received, but I was never as hyped about it as so many other people were, and there were loads of other releases in 2010 that made a much bigger impact on me. I think there are three reasons why "Victims of a Modern Age" became so popular.

Firstly, Lucassen is involved, and that in itself may lead to some pretty high expectations from fans - expectations which were clearly met.

Secondly, the album some quite high profile artists on vocals - namely, Russell Allen, Damian Wilson, Floor Jansen, and Dan Swanö. That in itself is enough to attract some attention, and the combination of different vocal styles does work brilliantly.

Thirdly, there is the music itself, which may be heavier and less complex than what one might be used to from Lucassen's other projects. The music on "Victims of a Modern Age" is probably best described as progressive power metal with an emphasis on heavy and groovy guitar riffs and catchy melodies. The album also features organs and spacey 80s style keyboards, which - although they get a little too cheesy now and then - fit nicely in with the album's sci-fi oriented theme.

On the whole, this is definitely a fine work of progressive power metal, which will certainly appeal to Lucassen's fans in general as well as to fans of Ian Parry's Consortium Project.

STAR ONE Victims of the Modern Age

Album · 2010 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
bonnek
It had to happen. It was written in Lucassen's stars. His tendency to plaster every square inch of his music with overstressed production values had to blow up in his face one day. I just wouldn't have though it to happen in his Star One project, certainly not after teasing us with the news that the album would be heavier. Well, it's heavy yes, but not wild or exciting. For that it is too glossy and indulges in sound bombast that pushes me to the edge of a sonic indigestion.

After the mandatory synth bombast intro, Digital Rain kicks off the album with a cliched but fine heavy rock song. The best reference that comes to mind would be Rainbow from the albums after Dio left the band, meaning lots of pomp-rock and little excitement. And that's all for the song by song part of this review as none of the remaining items add anything to what Digital Rain presented. Some tracks are a bit catchier others not.

The whole idea of this project is to revisit the late 70's heavy rock, but with such a clinical and pompous production it never comes off the ground. Little variation, few surprises, nothing new, nothing too exciting but nothing too offensive neither.

The album has been received very positively so it has to be a satisfying release for fans of the AOR/hard/glam-rock side of Lucassen, but no match for his better work like Into the Electric Castle.

STAR ONE Space Metal

Album · 2002 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
bonnek
Overkill. That could summarize this album in one word for me. There are some really good tunes here, great musicians, extraordinary vocalists and a pleasant mix of Electric Castle era Ayreon with vintage hard rock/space metal but it’s just too much. I would say it is even more overstated then its very fitting album art, and yet I find myself banging away at its catchy grooves and pathos laden vocals.

In fact, the album is saved by two factors. First of all, within the musical boundaries chosen for this album (70’s Rainbow and 80’s Hawkwind come to mind), most songs are really good hard-rock tunes. Secondly, the quality of Damien Wilson, Floor Jansen and Dan Swanö’s voices save the project from being just empty epic pathos. The music is professional but as with all Ayreon music it is rather studied and clinical. It lacks organic feel and emotive power. The great singers here compensate for this defect.

Almost 4 stars.

STAR ONE Movies Reviews

STAR ONE Live on Earth

Movie · 2003 · Progressive Metal
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
adg211288
Star One mastermind Arjen Lucassen is of course more known for his Ayreon project, but because of the sheer amount of vocalists he features on each Ayreon album, often with many in the same song, it has been impossible for fans to hear the amazing music taken out on tour. Well with his Star One project that was no longer the case, and this DVD and double CD package will give fans a great selection of some of the best moments from both the Star One album Space Metal and some of Ayreon’s greatest songs too, as well as a couple of other treats such as some impressive solo sections for the keyboard and bass guitar.

The set list here is obviously mainly dominated with songs from the Space Metal album, since that’s what Lucassen was promoting at the time and these are the songs that feature the singers that he has brought with him (with the exception of Robert Soeterboek, who fills in for Dan Swano, the only singer who couldn’t make the tour). The rest of the set is made up of the songs that best suit the voices that Lucassen had at his disposal, including his own. We mainly get songs from his most popular Ayreon album, Into the Electric Castle, with either one of two tracks from his other Ayreon albums that were released at the time.

Robert Soeterboek does a good job at filling in for Dan Swano. They have similar vocal styles so the Star One material is performed to perfection. Symphony X’s Russell Allen and Damian Wilson (Threshold, Rick Wakeman) are both on top form, as are the two female singers, Floor Jansen of After Forever and her not so well known sister, Irene. Throughout most of the show the sisters handle backing vocals, with Floor in particular taking the occasional lead role as the actual member of Star One. Lucassen himself only sings to reprise his role as Into the Electric Castle’s Hippie for the song Amazing Flight and for one of the bonus DVD tracks.

The material from the Ayreon albums however was bound to turn out different live due to the different singers used on the original recordings to the Star One line-up. Russell Allen does a decent version of Dreamtime from The Final Experiment CD, and since he sang the original version of Dawn of a Million Souls the band play that one as well. What gets me is that with both of these songs is that they are cut short from their original versions. Dreamtime on the album is part of a much larger song called The Awareness. I wouldn’t a problem if they only played the Dreamtime section but they don’t. It’s an edit version. Dawn of a Million Souls on the other hand has the guitar solo cut but I can understand the reason here. Lucassen may have wrote it, but on the version from the Flight of the Migrator album it was played by Russell Allen’s bandmate Michael Romeo. Lucassen is known to have said that he can’t actually play it the way Romeo did, which is probably why they had to cut it, rather than sneakily use a backing tape. Well respect to them for that, but I still miss it.

Eyes of Time is where the first mistake comes along. The original was sang by Lenny Wolf of Kingdom Come. Damian handles vocals here but despite his amazing voice it’s just one of those cases of a voice not suiting a song. He doesn’t murder it, he just doesn’t do it justice. This is also another case of one of the Ayreon songs being cut short. The original had an excellent instrumental after the main song had finished but the band completely cut it out, which is a shame. But in Damian’s favour when the time comes to sing Into the Black Hole he pulls it off to perfection. There’s not many people who could do a song that Bruce Dickinson originally sang and do it so well. The original remains the better one, but only just.

On the songs from Into the Electric Castle Robert takes on the role of the Barbarian character and does really well. His vocals in Amazing Flight and The Castle Hall are just as good as those done by Jay van Feggelen, and the man’s stage moves fit in well.

Around the middle of the set, the band takes a break from the heavy music and performs some of Lucassen’s more mellow songs. The first is Actual Fantasy which is followed by Valley of the Queens, which Floor Jansen comes down to sing. Straight from this the band begins fan favourite Isis and Osiris, which is another song which has been partly cut. The play the main two sections though so they can get away with it this time.

Amazing Flight in Space is a highlight of the performance but apart from the first section the song is very different from the original. After the main vocal section Arjen and keyboardist Joost van den Broek have a guitar/keyboard solo battle. When I say a battle I mean a battle. They do not just try to outdo each other with some amazing playing, but each tries to keep centre stage and at one time the pair of them are even trying to force each other back with their heads, while still playing! It’s quite entertaining to watch.

Another highlight of the set is Intergalactic Space Crusaders, one of the Star One songs. On the Space Metal album is really sounds as if Russell and Damian and having a vocal dialogue together but performed live the pair actually act parts of the song out, invisible lightsabers included. The overall sound of this song is actually better than the album version, which I find rare for any band.

The solo sections of Joost van den Broek and bass player Peter Vink are also pretty good. Vink’s in particular is very interesting as he uses a loop effect to keep repeating every note he plays over and over while adding more and more to it until finally you hear what is essentially many bass guitars playing at once. Then when this stops he pulls out a more traditional bass solo. He’s a very gifted player and I’m surprised that he isn’t more well known. Based on this it’s a shame that Star One don’t play Ayreon’s The Banishment in this show because it would really showcase Vink’s talent even more than this solo does.

To finish up the set we hear two of Star One’s best songs, The Eye of Ra and Starchild, followed by Ayreon’s The Two Gates. At the end of The Eye of Ra the whole vocal cast is singing and if you didn’t know better you’d think it was the finale. But then we get Starchild, the most progressive and epic song from Space Metal. It’s highlights like this that make Live on Earth an amazing addition to anyone’s Arjen Lucassen collection. It’s a little bit annoying that they drag The Two Gates out for 14 minutes though while Russell Allen introduces everyone in the band, until it comes to Robert Soeterboek’s turn and he starts singing that ‘shakin’ that ass’ song. That gives some laughs.

Even after the main show is over there is still more material to be had. Not only do you get the whole show on two CD’s as well, but also some DVD extras. First we have a photo gallery which is backed by the rare Star One version of David Bowie’s Space Oddity. Then we have a behind the scenes short film which features rehearsal footage among other things. And finally we have three extra live performances. There’s a second version of the Dreamtime edit, this time sung by original vocalist Edward Reekers. There is also a cover of Space Truckin’ by Deep Purple, which sees the whole band seeming to go mad on stage. Final we get the Lucassen voiced Intergalactic Laxative, which is just funny to listen to.

Despite its minor faults this package is excellent and very entertaining. Although I think Star One’s Sandrider should have been included and I think that Ayreon’s The Banishment would have been nice, the set is fantastic. This is what fans of Arjen’s music were waiting for and as usual the man delivered the goods. Essential for fans of either project, and possibly a great introduction to this very talented man.

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven, scoring 9.7/10)

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