Some albums require a certain point of view to enjoy. It’s just a fact. Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s various projects are usually like this for me, and the new Star One album is no exception. Revel in Time released today, February 18th, on Inside Out Music.
Arjen has been in music for decades through projects like Ayreon, The Gentle Storm, Guilt Machine, and Stream of Passion. He’s a legend in his own right, and he always brings other artists along for the ride. On this particular album, the list of guests is too long to relay here, but some highlights for me personally are Roy fucking Khan, Ross Jennings, Brittney Slayes, Sir Russell Allen, Damian Wilson, and Floor Jansen. There are several other singers, guitarists, keyboardists, and more on this album.
Here’s the thing about Star One, or any of Arjen’s projects: you have to understand what type of music this is. Yes, I didn’t make it all the way through Transitus from Ayreon in 2020. I just couldn’t. But Revel in Time has actually grabbed me for three reasons. Let’s discuss.
First, the guitars on this massive space metal album are extraordinary. Arjen handles most of them, and the riffs are dark and brutal, but also poetic in some way. Much of it also has a classic rock bent to the tone, and I would say that about the vocals, too. Still, I seriously can’t say enough about the guitar work here.
Second, the guest list is amazing. It isn’t every day that Sir Russell or Roy offer their services nowadays, and they, and everyone else, sound superb. The only drawback is that each one is basically only on a single track, so one song is all you get from them. That sort of stinks, honestly, but I’ll deal with it.
Third, I realized something about Arjen. He makes albums that are the musical equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Maybe called it the Prog Audio Universe? I don’t know. Think about it, though. He brings powerhouse names from various genres, and he puts them all in a story for us to enjoy. Is it cheesy? Absolutely it is. Is it ridiculous, over-the-top, and full of cringe moments? You bet ya. But I love the MCU in all its plastic glory, and Revel in Time just feels like a new entry in that style.
Let’s explore that a little more. Maybe Damian Wilson is Captain America and Sir Russell Allen is Iron Man. They seem to be the mainstays on many of his albums. The rest are the supporting cast of musical avengers, and they always have some world-ending threat to combat. Revel in Time even borrows various pop culture concepts for this, sounding quite a bit like Back to the Future and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure at certain points. The album is simply a bunch of celebrities strapping on melodic spandex and revisiting much-loved story points that are already ingrained within our global culture.
So, with that perspective, I do enjoy this album. I love the guitars, as I mentioned, but I wanted to mention it again because of *how awesome they are*. Just like on other Arjen records, the lyrics are pretty cheesy, and there is plenty of over-explaining of what is happening and what the problems are. There are lots of “we’re doing this” or “we’re doing that” lyrics, and, in context, I learned to be okay with it.
I have some favorite tracks. “Prescient” with Ross Jennings is one of them. I love the central melody on that one, and also how spacey it feels. “Bridge of Life” with Damian Wilson is a joy with its cinematic edge and searing guitars. “Today is Yesterday” with Dan Swanö has a nice groovy thing happening. “Beyond the Edge of It All” is pretty epic with John Jaycee Cuijpers on vocals. Lastly, “Lost Children of the Universe” is my favorite with Roy belting it out so well, and also with the Hellscore Choir making the whole song feel absolutely incredible. I love the keys on this song, too, as they are super spacey, like some sci-fi show from the 90s.
So, if you can appreciate a bloated and overblown record, this is for you. It took me a few listens, but I started picking out the elements I really liked. I am happy that Arjen is still making epic music. There aren’t many out there who can make rock operas like this, and even though it will never be my favorite style, I’m glad it’s out there and still being made.
Find Star One online: