Star One - Victims of the Modern Age
InsideOut Music
Gloomy & Melodic Prog Metal
Disc 1: 9 songs (53:09) Disc 2: 6 songs (54:03)
Release year: 2010
InsideOut Music
Reviewed by Aleksie
Album of the month
It has been 8 years since the blistering awesomeness of Star One’s debut album and I for one am real glad that the gap didn’t stretch any longer. The Netherlands’ progmetal wizard Arjen Anthony Lucassen brought back his clearest scifi-fanboy ambitions, mixed in an expectedly brilliant array of visiting masters and blasted off into the darkness of…the Earth.

Indeed, this time the conceptual target is not so much on the far beyond galaxies but our planet and its degradation. As on Space Metal, Lucassen has brought in themes from his favourite science fiction movies, which this time have a unifyingly dystopic slant to them. The dark and sometimes post-apocalyptic visions of our future remind the listener of flicks like (not to spoil too much specifics) A Clockwork Orange, The Matrix, Escape from New York, 12 Monkeys and Blade Runner. This naturally leads to the music being much gloomier and more sinister-sounding then on the anthemic Space Metal. In this sense, this record feels like a natural follow-up to Ayreon’s Binary Y (the 01011001-record, that is) and Arjen’s most recent Guilt Machine-project, just more straightforward and even a tad groovier than the former and heavier than the latter.

As for the ever-intriguing guest vocalists, they aren’t overwhelming in numbers but they indeed are in abilities and then some. Dan Swanö, Floor Janssen, Damian Wilson and Sir Russel Allen all have previous experience from Lucassen’s different projects and all were present specifically on Space Metal. C’mon, with groups like Symphony X, After Forever, Threshold and the myriad of Swanö’s different bands as proof there is no way these singers don’t make an awesome combo, and backed by Lucassen’s stellar compositions, it’s oh so delicious for the ears.

With a cool, spacey keyboard-drenched intro in Down the Rabbit Hole, the real proceedings start with Digital Rain, a crunchy pounder that showcases Ed Warby’s double bass work in just the right spots and slows it down for a majestic chorus where the vocal interplay shines as brilliantly as I expected. And it’s seriously infectious too! More! Of course, I get more of this yummy in just about every song. Earth That Was supplies some damn nice grooves while Human See Human Do brings tasty hard rock and organs in the riffage for some great Deep Purple-vibes.

24 Hours works the dynamics game to a splendid atmospherically proggy effect that makes me think of something Queensrÿche would’ve composed between Mindcrime and Empire. Allen steals the show with his wails. For the fans of epic, take the slightly doomy closing track It All Ends Here and feel the apocalypse approach. I think the only “just good” track here is Cassandra Complex, which still is enjoyable due to the excellence of the vocalists and their teamwork. But my favourite is still the near title track Victim of the Modern Age that features an eastern-tinged melodic flood from the foreboding, ominous keyboards melding so well with the off-kilter groove in the verses. The moment of the record comes near the end with Swanö repeating “violence makes violence makes violence” over and over with his charismatic drawl until switching into his vicious death growl for the last few words to a simply mind-blowing effect. I’m still laughing with delight and soiling myself with fear simultaneously when listening to that part, then rewinding to hear it again. Quite amazing how something so simple and miniscule sticks out that well.

The limited edition 2-disc release features 5 more tracks (most of them also themed after scifi-pieces) and a 35-minute making of-documentary, which is worth it for the fans. I will say that most of these songs are not quite as awesome as the ones on the main album, so their inclusion as bonuses is just right, but the George Orwell-mark in me can’t help but really enjoy the chugging Two Plus Two Equals Five, a clear nod to the author’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. The included cover of Emerson, Lake & Palmer's Knife Edge heavies up the old school prog-feel really well and it’s also cool in its own worth to hear Tony Martin on Closer to the Stars.

All in all, not much else to elaborate. As a Lucassen-release, stellar production job is a given. Great songs, massive performances, through and through a brilliant album – one of my favourites of the year.

Killing Songs :
Digital Rain, Earth That Was, Victim Of The Modern Age, Human See Human Do, 24 Hours, It All Ends Here, Two Plus Two Equals Five & Knife Edge
Aleksie quoted 90 / 100
Other albums by Star One that we have reviewed:
Star One - Space Metal reviewed by Mike and quoted 84 / 100
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