ARJEN LUCASSEN – Reality And The Replicant

By Carl Begai

Whether or not change is good there’s no escaping the fact it’s inevitable, and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen is no exception to the rule.

As the master(mind) of the Ayreon empire, Star One and Guilt Machine, the towering Dutchman is known for assembling ensemble casts featuring some of the metal world’s finest voices and players – as well as discovering the occasional unknown talent – to create his now trademark epic metal operas. Lucassen composes all the music for all his projects, plays the vast majority of it (with a little help from his friends), arranges the often monstrous vocal parts and does some singing himself, yet in the end he has always been – no matter how important to the proceedings – a cog in the wheel. His latest sci-fi based conceptual outing, on the other hand, puts Lucassen front and center and behind the microphone on his own. A strange place for him to be unaccompanied but as he tells it, a hell of a lot of fun.

“I think everyone is a surprised by that,” Lucassen says of taking on all the vocal duties. “It was a big challenge for me. I’ve always liked singing. The problem was I’ve worked with some of the most amazing singers in the world. When you’ve worked with people like Bruce Dickinson and Jorn Lande, that humbles you. I could never do what those guys do. They’re amazing, having such power and technique, and I don’t have that at all. When I’m in the studio with these guys singing a melody to them you hear my little squeaky voice, and then Russell Allen sings it back like a monster (laughs). I do like the sound of my voice, but technically speaking I’m not a fantastic singer. By this point I know my limitations, though, and these songs were written for my voice so I enjoy singing them.”

As for doing away with the trademark legion of voices in favour of putting himself in the spotlight, Lucassen makes it clear that his ego had nothing to do with the decision.

“I wanted to get back the feeling I had when I started Ayreon. I wanted to make something without anyone’s expectations hanging over me. Continue reading ARJEN LUCASSEN – Reality And The Replicant

LORI LINSTRUTH – Tuning Up The Guilt Machine

Guilt_Machine_lori_01By Carl Begai

Ayreon founder Arjen Lucassen’s new project, Guilt Machine, is as Pink Floydian dark as one can get. It amounts to a soundtrack for the inevitable soul search, deep and introspective to the point that calling the debut On This Perfect Day almost seems like tongue-in-cheek irony. Musically it’s something of a return to form for Lucassen following the plodding Ayreon record 01011001 from 2008, but it enters unfamiliar and unexpectedly dark lyrical territory at the hands of former Stream Of Passion guitarist Lori Linstruth. What makes this particularly noteworthy is that Linstruth doesn’t suffer from a This Sucks outlook on life. On the contrary, she tackles subjects like having the best hair in metal – “I don’t do anything special; it’s all genetic” – her career thus far, and being roped into writing for a high profile release all with a good natured “Pretty cool, huh?” approach.
Continue reading LORI LINSTRUTH – Tuning Up The Guilt Machine

AYREON – Everything In Time

arjen-5By Carl Begai

I caught up with Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen a while back to discuss a variety of subjects including the last Ayreon record, 01011001, the Timeline compilation released at the end of 2008, and his new project, Guilt Machine. It was an informal fact-finding mission done outside the confines of the usual press junket routine. Many thanks to Arjen for taking the time; much appreciated.

Discussion begins with the success of 01011001, which had the daunting task of following up The Human Equation, considered by many fans to be the cornerstone of the Ayreon catalogue. By all accounts 01011001 did extremely well, but it was agreed almost across the board that it was harder to get into than its predecessor due to its considerably darker atmosphere. Once inside, however, most fans were hooked.
Continue reading AYREON – Everything In Time