Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One
Space Metal

fire.gif (20006 bytes)Showcase Album for July 2002fire.gif (20006 bytes)

Track Listing
Disc One
1. "Lift-Off" - 1:13
2. "Set Your Controls" - 6:01
3. "High Moon" - 5:36
4. "Songs of the Ocean" - 5:23
5. "Master of Darkness" - 5:14
6. "The Eye of Ra" - 7:34
7. "Sandrider" - 5:31
8. "Perfect Survivor" - 4:46
9. "Intergalactic Space Crusaders" - 5:22
10. "Starchild" - 9:04

Disc Two (special edition only)
1. "Hawkwind Medley" - 9:46
2. "Spaced Out" - 4:53
3. "Inseparable Enemies" - 4:15
4. "Space Oddity" - 4:59
5. "Starchild" (mixed in Dolby pro-logic) - 4:55
6. "Spaced Out" (alternate version) - 2:32

Inside Out 2002

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Recent Releases by Ayreon:
Dream Sequencer (2000)

Flight of the Navigator (2000)
Related Albums (members):
Symphony X - V (2000) [Allen]

Threshold - Wounded Land (1993) [Wilson]
Lana Lane - Project Shang Ri La (2002) [Norlander]


Arjen Lucassen is at it again. With his new project Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One, Lucassen doesn't really do anything new but, as he always does, Lucassen gives us a solid CD, this time one of epic space rock and progressive metal. The sound of Space Metal is very much Ayreon (which makes me wonder why this disc wasn't released as a Ayreon CD) so if you're already familiar with Lucassen's Ayreon material, you know what this album sounds like. Space Metal is like the heavier end of Ayreon-Flight of the Migrator comes to mind-but if you're not familiar with Mr. Lucassen's work, Space Metal's sound falls somewhere among Rainbow, Pink Floyd and ELP. Many of the prominent riffs on Space Metal bring Rainbow to mind, even when it's the keyboard, not the guitar, leading the way. The space rock style present throughout the album reminds me of both Hawkwind and Pink Floyd, and the bombast is pure ELP. Arjen plays guitar and bass throughout the disc but gets some help from Erik Norlander (Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane, Ayreon), Jens Johansson (Malmsteen, Dio, Stratovarius) and Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery, Ayreon) on keys. Ed Warby (Elegy, Ayreon) provides drums. And the all-star line-up of singers on the album is one of the best ever assembled: Russell Allen (Symphony X, Ayreon), Damian Wilson (Threshold, Ayreon), Floor Janson (After Forever) and Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity, Nightingale) provide the vocals. It's a great variety of vocalists, too. Swano has a deep, booming voice while Allen's is pure power; Wilson's excellent vocals are in the higher range and Floor Janson provides beautiful female vocals. The four very different singers makes this disc all the more enjoyable. Except for the introductory songs ("Lift Off" and "Set Your Controls"), the songs on Space Metal are all based on science fiction movies which includes Alien, Star Trek IV, Outland, Star Wars, Stargate, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Dune and one song based on the British sci-! fi TV series Blake's Seven. The four singers are included on every song and portray many of the characters in the movies the songs are based on.


1. "Lift-Off"
The song is really part of "Set Your Controls". I'm a bit annoyed that they are separated into two different tracks-c'mon, it's the same song!. "Lift-Off" is the intro to track two. It sets the mood with a mystical, space rock instrumental that begins quietly enough but...

2. "Set Your Controls"
...explodes into guitar and keyboard fury. Russell Allen comes in, his powerful Dio-like vocals leading the way followed by Damian Wilson's Robert Plant-esque vocals as both vocalists trade off on leads. This song sets the stage for everything that follows with it's furious guitar, bombastic keys, heavy rhythms and powerful vocal melodies. This song could've easily been included on Flight of the Migrator and would've fit in perfectly. We're off to a good start.

3. "High Moon"
"High Moon" is based on the Sean Connery movie Outland. Outland is a story about a law enforcement officer on a space station who stands alone against outlaws sent to kill him. If the plot sounds familiar it's because the movie is based on the 1950s classic western High Noon. Outland is essentially High Noon in space so the title of this song is a wonderfully fitting turn of phrase. The song is good, one of my favorites on the disc. Like most of the songs on the disc, this tune could have easily fit on Flight of the Migrator as it has some similarities to "To the Quasar" and "Out of the Whitehole".

4. "Songs of the Ocean"
Based on Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, the fourth track on Space Metal boasts engaging vocal melodies and a good retelling of the 1987 sci-fi movie--even going so far as sum up the events of Star Trek II and III! Dan Swano is especially good hear as he sings the part of the "science officer". This is my favorite song on Space Metal. "Songs of the Ocean" has many similarities to the Ayreon songs "Across the Rainbow Bridge" "Isis and Osiris", and "The Garden of Emotions"(all three songs are from Into the Electric Castle).

5. "Master of Darkness"
Based on 1977's Star Wars, "Master of Darkness" isn't quite as melodically engaging as most of the songs on Space Metal. But what it lacks in great vocal melodies it more than makes up for with some really cool guitar and bass rhythms. The song also boasts some instrumental wildness as keyboardist Jens Johansson and guitarist Gary Wehrkamp duel each other on their respective instruments during the second half of the song. Not one of my favorites on the CD but still good enough.

6. "The Eye of Ra"
This track starts off slow and calm and then builds, and eventually explodes. "The Eye of Ra" is sort of a cross between Ayreon's "When the Druids Turn Stone" (from The Dream Sequencer) and "Into the Black Hole" (Flight of the Migrator). Based on the movie Stargate, this song is one of the best on the disc and easily ranks among the best songs Lucassen has ever written. The ending vocal harmonies are awesome.

7. "Sandrider"
"Sandrider", based on the movie Dune, is Dan Swano's song all the way as the deep-voiced singer sings most of the leads here. More bombast and power is prevalent. Good tune.

8. "Perfect Survivor"
This song is a bit slower than most of the songs on Space Metal. Dan Swano and Damian Wilson sing most of the leads. "Perfect Survivor" is based on the movie Alien and does a good job of telling the story. Good song that reminds me of some of the stuff on Ayreon's The Dream Sequencer.

9. "Intergalactic Space Crusaders"
Unlike most of the other songs on Space Metal, this song isn't based on a movie, instead this song is based on the British sci-fi TV series Blake's Seven. Damian Wilson and Russell Allen go back and forth as the two characters they're portraying argue. This back and forth makes comparisons to Ayreon's "The Decision Tree (We're Alive)" (from Into the Electric Castle) easy as it is reminiscent of the back and forth the Barbarian and Highlander characters had on that song. This song is nearly as good as that Ayreon classic, one of the best on Space Metal.

10. "Starchild"
"My House on Mars" from Ayreon's The Dream Sequencer immediately comes to mind when the song first begins. Ayreon's 1996 disc is also brought to mind as the melodies remind me of the melodies present on the excellent Actual Fantasy. Images of The Actual Fantasy songs "Farside of the World" and "Forevermore" are conjured here. "Isis and Osiris" (from Into the Electric Castle) also comes to mind as well. Good, epic song even though it's much more easygoing than most of the songs on Space Metal ("Starchild" does pick up in the last two minutes, though).


Space Metal comes in two forms: The regular release that includes ten songs. And the double CD version that contains a bonus disc that includes a medley of Hawkwind songs, two more movie influenced Star One songs--based on the movies Enemy Mine ("Inseperable Enemies") and Dark Star ("Spaced Out")--, a cover of David Bowie's "Space Oddity" and two alternate versions of other Star One songs ("Starchild" and "Spaced Out"). I have the two disc version and it was worth getting, especially for the two movie based songs and the medley of Hawkwind songs and, as a special treat, Hawkwind singer Dave Brock provides the vocals for the medley!

The overall sound and style of Space Metal is a lot like Ayreon's 2000 disc Flight of the Migrator. The bombastic keyboards, the heavy guitars, the space rock elements are all like those from Flight of the Migrator. Space Metal also is heavily reminiscent of Ayreon's 1998 release, Into the Electric Castle. Like the vast majority of the songs on ITEC, every track on Space Metal features more than one lead singer. Because Arjen Lucassen again employs the talents of ex-Threshold lead singer Damian Wilson, this alone makes comparisons to ITEC easy (Wilson sang the part of the Knight on ITEC) but the combination of singers Russell Allen, Dan Swano and Floor Janson makes Space Metal sound a lot like ITEC. Allen ends up sounding like the Roman from ITEC, Swano sounds a lot like the Barbarian and Janson ends up sounding like both the Egyptian and the Indian. Similarities to the aforementioned Ayreon releases abound on Space Metal as do similarities to Ayreon's under-rated 1996 disc, Actual Fantasy. This is a very good album and it is an impressive addition to Arjen Lucassen's already rich legacy.

Additional Notes:  "Space Metal" started its life as a project written by Arjen for Bruce Dickinson to sing on.  When hearing the songs, this makes sense for their rippling power and otherworldly themes are similiar to the song Bruce contributed his talents to on "Flight of the Navigator" in 2000.  Due to scheduling conflicts and other little nitpicky problems, Dickinson was unable to perform on the album, thus leaving Lucassen with a delima.  Go forward with the material or scrap it?  of course the logical decision to carry on was put into action but the problems didn't just end there.  Should it be put under the Ayreon banner or something entirely different?   The fanbase was split and undecided, but a friend of Arjen's put it into perspective...was it written for Ayreon or for something else?   And the answer to the question caused Star One to be born.  As for the disc itself, it has its high points and some disappointing areas, but anyone with a home theater system and a stereo capable of Dolby Digital output would do well for themselves to pick up the Ltd Edition with the second disc and the Dolby mix of "Starchild".  Why didn't they remix everything in Dolby for the second disc though?  *ALL* music should be recorded with atleast 5.1 surround sound in mind....its a real treat for those who can take advantage of it.   - Alanna Evans

Ratings and Wrap Up:

(great album but a couple of the songs are missing something)

The Best: "Songs of the Ocean" and "The Eye of Ra" rock!
The Worst: I can't think of anything.
The Weird: Why wasn't this album released as an Ayreon album? The music, the concept, the guest-stars all scream Ayreon.
The Rest: Alien, Star Wars and 2001 are obvious choices for songs. But Outland?!?

Review by Joseph White

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