Star One

Space Metal

Star One - Space Metal ©2002 InsideOut Music
CD one:
1. Lift-off
2. Set Your Controls
3. High Moon
4. Songs Of The Ocean
5. Master Of Darkness
6. The Eye Of Ra
7. Sandrider
8. Perfect Survivor
9. Intergalactic Space Crusaders
10. Starchild
CD two:
11. Hawkwind Medley
12. Spaced Out
13. Inseperable Enemies
14. Space Oddity
15. Starchild (mix)
16. Spaced Out (alternative Version)
17. Bonus Track

As if Ayreon's Arjen Lucassen didn't already have enough going on...

Let's just face it. Lucassen oozes music. Since 2000, he's released three Ayreon albums (although one was a collection of unreleased tracks), Ambeon and now Star One. Maybe there's more. I don't think I can possibly keep track of all the man's activities. And in the meantime, the guy has to track down and harness the talents of multiple singers for each release. His phone bill must be outrageous. Or maybe there's a European version of 10-10-220, which is terrifying in concept because then they'd have to have their version of Terry Bradshaw, Mike Piazza, ALF and Hulk Hogan doing commercials. But that is neither here nor there.

Star One could actually have been released under the Ayreon moniker. Ayreon has always had a sci-fi edge and Star One simply focuses on music about space. Hence the title Space Metal. Arjen explains in the liner notes that he wanted Star One to key in on the heavier side of his music, so that's why he didn't release it as an Ayreon record. Essentially, Space Metal may remind many of The Flight of the Migrator, 2000's second disc in the Universal Migrator series. It's a fully overblown metal album that lives and breathes in the most cliched aspects of the genre. The vocals are big, the music is big, the concept is big...and unfortunately, quite stagnant. Although the talents Lucassen utilizes to realize his vision are impressive, the music itself is just...there. The album zips by without bothering to tap the listener on the shoulder and proclaim its presence. It's just too obvious of an album. Sure, it's heavy and the production is utterly perfect for this sort of release, but it lacks the overall vision to go above and beyond preconceived notions of what classic heavy metal should sound like. The most telling detail of this flaw is that the Hawkwind medley on the bonus disc (which does feature Hawkwind's Dave Brock providing vocals, a nifty inclusion) is the most exciting track to be found. In fact, the bonus disc is of more interest than the main CD. Even the bonus track, a shanty about the problems of bodily functions in space exploration, is more amusing and interesting...and it's a joke track.

Ayreon's best aspects are Lucassen's ability to come up with a variety of music that at least takes the listener somewhere. Space Metal is just too much of a good thing. It's probably worth having if you get the limited edition with the bonus disc, but I wouldn't shoot it to the top of your "must-have" list.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2003

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Live On Earth

Star One - Live On Earth ©2003 InsideOut Music
CD one:
1. Lift Off
2. Set Your Controls
3. High Moon
4. Dreamtime
5. Eyes Of Time
6. Songs Of The Ocean
7. Dawn Of A Million Souls
8. The Dream Sequencer
9. Into The Black Hole
10. Actual Fantasy
11. Valley Of The Queens
CD two:
12. Isis And Osiris
13. Amazing Flight In Space
14. Intergalactic Space Crusaders
15. Castle Hall
16. The Eyes Of Ra
17. Starchild
18. The Two Gates

One should raise eyebrows at any fairly new project that immediately releases a live album, or worse, double live album. In the case of Star One, one can somewhat understand since Star One's founder, Arjen Lucassen, is also the man behind the high concept sci-fi band Ayreon. Having released six albums as Aryeon, one as Ambeon and one as Star One, Lucassen obviously has more than enough material to pull from for a live release. However, as with many live releases, there's not necessarily enough sparkle and magic to make it a mandatory purchase for most fans.

Live on Earth offers the talents of five vocalists (I'm sure Lucassen would have liked to have brought along a few more, but there's only so many seats on the tour bus, you know) as well as the standard backing band. This outfit does a fine job of recreating the music originally found on Ayreon and Star One albums. In fact, except for the bits of audience sounds between tracks, there's not much to make this feel like an actual live recording. I will grant that Ayreon/Star One is one of the few acts today that doesn't revolt me with their power metal stylings, but on a whole, this live set strikes me as unnecessary and extraneous. There's nothing specific to fault: clean production and frankly, the collected talent onstage is impressive. There's just nothing here that stands above the studio counterparts.

Finally, although seven tracks were taken from Star One's Space Metal, I'm not sure why this wasn't released under the Ayreon moniker. But I'm sure most Lucassen fans know to keep track of his multiple projects. While I'm hardpressed to recommend many live albums, this one will find appeal in those who are totally in love with the space opera concepts Lucassen has been writing about for years. Just keep in mind it's not exactly a mandatory purchase.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 11/2003

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