STAR ONE - SPACE METAL - INSIDE OUT
Star One is actually short for Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One. That's right, he of Ayreon, the other multi-instrumentalist progressive metal project. This time going through Inside Out Music, Lucassen has gathered a number of progressive musicians such as singers Dan Swano (ex-Edge Of Sanity, Nightingale, etc.), Russell Allen (Symphony X), keyboardist Jens Johansson (ex-Dio, Yngwie Malmsteen, etc.) and former Gorefest drummer Ed Warby around his own instrumental prowess and launched a new project which has been knighted Star One. Obviously pursuing a science fiction bent, Space Metal begins with a fascinating fantasy cover art work which might be worth the album price alone. The illustration is courtesy of the official NASA artist Vincent DiFate. One has to wonder why they would need one though! Musically, the songs don't quite achieve lift off. Much more Space than metal, Space Metal's songs are half-way between instrumental showcases and full-fledged songs. Clearly crossing Deep Purple, Dream Theater, Royal Hunt and Pink Floyd, the crew rarely fails to under perform. One keeps wondering why these travellers don't let loose a bit more. One let down is the monotonous drumming and drum sound. This is odd again for a genre known for its percussive achievement. The overall sound is dull and one feels that were it louder and clearer it would have gone a long way towards lifting this out of the doldrums. Given that, Star One is not so much bad as disappointing and given the loose concept of space travel songs (the individual songs represent different movies such as Dune, Star Wars, Star Gate, etc.) and a delightful booklet layout complete with various illustrations and conceptual sci-fi settings might still constitute a good choice for some.
STAR ONE - LIVE ON EARTH - INSIDEOUT
Who does Arjen Anthony Lucassen think he is? This, his second album, is a double-disc package with grandiose artwork, music from Ayreon and Star One as well as a strong sound. Snide comments aside, Star One has turned out to be the ambitious project of the decade. The self-appointed space metalling team justify the title with out-of-this-world progressive musicianship that has turned out heavier than the band's debut album, Space Metal. The songs are heavier, clear and the multiple instruments shine in an articulate fashion. Vocals approximating a David Coverdale or Rod Evans are accompanied by female vocalists. The band plays a collage of technical, thorough and penetrating material criss crossing metal, heavy rock, progressive and art rock. All this in a beautiful package whose cover idea could not be any more befitting of the concept. It would not be unseemly to admit that part of the appeal of Star One is the fantastic science fiction imagery. Yet again, InsideOut has come through with an elegant package to adorn an unorthodox band. Arjen Anthony Lucassen is the leader of Space One. - Ali "The Metallian"