By Jason Wellwood
Star One began life as a project initially intended to feature the legendary Air Raid Siren vocals of Mr. Bruce Dickinson. In one way, it’s disappointing to have never heard his vocals on an Arjen Lucassen project, but at the same time it’s hard to imagine improving the songs on this album vocally. Treating Star One as more of a ‘band’ than a ‘project’, Lucassen brings back the majority of the players from the debut record to keep a little continuity. Hands down the most recognizable and stunning of the vocalists is Russell Allen (Symphony X). Allen appears on many of Lucassen’s projects but it seems that Star One is custom made for him, allowing him to really let loose with his power. ‘Digital Rain’ is such a power house track that I’m sure many people will be double checking the album cover to ensure they are listening to the right album. Dan Swano (Edge of Sanity) makes some great appearances, including an amazing guttural blast in the title track. Admittedly I’m unfamiliar with Damian Wilson (Threshold) but if his duet performance with Allen on ‘Digital Rain’ is anything like his other material, I’ll be needing to pick it all up very soon! The biggest vocal surprise for me was Floor Jansen (ReVamp) who stays away from the operatic, keeping things powerful and emotional and giving the best performance I’ve personally ever heard from her. ‘Human See, Human Do’ is a great teaming of her and Swano, an excellent effect.
Victims of the Modern Age is a direct response to the long, proggy, mellow songs found on Lucassen’s last project: Guilt Machine. Although keyboards do take a fairly large role in the songs, they still play well with the guitar and bass, and overall the instrumentation is much heavier and to the point. Having based the album’s lyrics on apocalyptic sci-fi movies, you’d think the album would be very dark and depressing, but that’s not the case. Lucassen is too good a writer to allow his songs to be too dark and leave you with no hope. The album feels dark, but overall it leaves you with a positive feeling, positive that Lucassen is a fantastic musician/writer/lyricist and he knows exactly how to put together an amazing album and get incredible results from his guests.