Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Star One – Revel in Time
Anyone familiar with the name Arjen Lucassen should also be aware of Star One. They will also know of his penchant for gathering the best vocalists and musicians to appear on his albums. This is normally associated with his Ayreon project, which finally made it to live shows in recent years. He has now employed this method for the third Star One studio album. Previously it has been a fixed line-up for albums and for the most part, concerts as well.
In fact, he has gone one step further this time. There are two versions of all 11 songs, with different singers on each pair, hence this is a double CD. By my reckoning there are about 20 singers involved (I ran out of fingers) and 8 guitarists (including Arjen). Most of these are familiar names, although I did have to google a few. The core band is still made up of some usual suspects. Arjen himself handles guitars, bass, keyboards and vocals, while old faithful, Ed Warby is on drums. They are joined by Erik van Ittersum on Solina Strings, plus Marcela Bovio and Irene Jansen doing backing vocals.
Whereas Ayreon albums are concept based often with a storyline, Star One albums have more of a common theme. For the previous 2010 album ‘Victims of the Modern Age’ it was dystopian movies such as ‘A Clockwork Orange’. On the first album back in 2002 ‘Space Metal’ the inspiration was films like ‘Alien’. Now in 2022 for ‘Revel in Time’ the tracks are inspired by movies that deal with the manipulation of time. The title of the album is in fact a mash-up of “Travel in Time “without the first “T”, and “revel in your time”. The latter is a quote from Arjen’s favourite movie ‘Blade Runner’.
Things kick off with an Iron Maiden style rocker (once it gets past the intro part that is). Delivering the opening vocal salvos is the powerhouse singer Brittney Slayes (Unleash the Archers). On the second CD the vocal duties are supplied by Marcela Bovio. The guitar solo on both versions is performed by the mighty Michael Romeo (Symphony X).
Star One – Fate of Man (Brittney Slayes, Michael Romeo) (click here if the video does not play)
Keeping up the power and pomp, we now introduce a gentleman who needs no introduction as they say. The one and only Sir Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob, TSO) is the next one to step up to the mike. He is joined on ’28 Days (Till the End of Time)’ by Timo Somers (Delain, Vengeance, Hardt). The young Dutchman fires out blistering solos in this Ayreon-esque number. John Jaycee Cuijpers (Praying Mantis) supplied the vocals for the track that features on CD2.
Two well-known and well-loved fellows share the vocal duties on ‘Prescient’. It is a track that suits both of them because it could be off either a Toehider or Haken album. Yes, you guessed it, the pair are Michael Mills and Ross Jennings. The second CD version was sung by Will Shaw (Rust Belt, Gothic, Deadrisen). Will also appears elsewhere on CD1 and in the video for the title track, which is coming up later folks.
Star One – Prescient (ft Micheal Mills, Ross Jennings) (click here if the video does not play)
The reason for the two CDs is not that Arjen over-egged the pudding. It was because the vocal tracks on CD2 were originally intended as guide vocals. They turned out so good that he thought it would be a shame if they were never heard. Thus, the second ‘“Same Songs, Different Singers” CD came into being. The tracks are literally the same, just with different vocalists on.
Another pair join the ranks for ‘Back From the Past’. Sons of Apollo vocalist Jeff Scott Soto and guitarist Ron Bumblefoot Thal add their contributions to the track on CD1 and on CD2 vocals are again by John Jaycee Cuijpers. The Praying Mantis man also is lead vocalist on the CD2 version of title song ‘Revel in Time’. The first CD version features Brandon Yeagley (Crobot) on vocals and guitarist Adrian Vandenberg (MoonKings, ex Whitesnake and Vandenberg). As mentioned earlier, vocalist Will Shaw makes a cameo appearance as ‘‘Socrates’’ in the video of this punchy number.
Star One – Revel In Time (ft Brandon Yeagley, Adrian Vandenberg) (click here if the video does not play)
The familiar looking artwork for the album cover was created by Arjen’s trusted favourite artist Jef Bertels. This perhaps makes it look more like an Ayreon album, but who cares? It looks great.
Will Shaw pops up again in the lively ‘The Year of ‘41’ providing ‘vocalization’. However, the lead vocals are sung by Joe Lynn Turner (ex-Rainbow, Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force) on this one. There are solos from Joel Hoekstra (Whitesnake, TSO) on guitar and Jens Johansson (Stratovarius, Rainbow) on synthesizer. On CD2 the vocalist is Italian multi-instrumentalist and producer Alessandro Del Vecchio.
Of course, no Arjen Lucassen album would be complete without our old friend Damian Wilson (bands too many to mention). His distinctive voice along with backing vocals from Marcela and Irene bring out the familiar Star One sound. There are heavy and gentle sections in ‘Bridge of Life’ which suit Damian perfectly. His counterpart on the alternate version is Wilmer Waarbroek. This Dutch musician also appeared as a backing vocalist on Arjen’s 2021 solo album ‘Lost in the New Real’
The guest singers and musicians keep on coming and there’s still a few to get through. On CD2 the track ‘Today is Yesterday’ is sung by Arjen himself and on CD1 by an original Star One member. His name will be known to you, it’s Dan Swanö (Nightingale). Also guesting are Lisa Bella Donna (Sound Alchemist) on Moog synthesizers and providing the guitar solo is Marcel Singor. If that name doesn’t ring any bells, Marcel plays with Dutch band Kayak.
Someone else who had to be included is a lady who has risen to the very top. She now performs in stadiums with the band Nightwish. I am of course talking about the amazing Floor Jansen. She’s given and of course, nails ‘A Hand on the Clock’ and is ably assisted by Joost van den Broek on Moog synthesizer. The alternate version is sung by Marcela Bovio and Floor’s sister Irene. The number is powerful as you would expect and makes you hungry for more.
There is more to come, around 15 minutes across two songs. These are long albums, so if you plan to listen to them back-to-back you need to allow over two hours. If this is the case, you would now be approaching the halfway point. Track 10 of 11 is ‘Beyond the Edge of it All’ and Arjen takes on the guitar solo on this one. Vocals on CD1 are performed by John Jaycee Cuijpers and on CD2 by Mike Andersson (Cloudscape).
The finale and simultaneously the halfway point, is an epic track that’s just under 10 minutes in length. It features a couple of legendary metal people, well three if you count CD2 vocalist Tony Martin (ex-Black Sabbath). The two luminaries on CD1 are, Roy Khan (Conception, ex- Kamelot) and wait for it, doing a three-minute guitar solo, Steve Vai. This track stands out, not just because of the guitar solo, but also because of its grandeur and the Hellscore Choir in the last part before Roy eases us to the end. Steve Vai apparently sent Arjen a quote when he was invited to play on the album. It read “Arjen sent me this intoxicatingly delicious track and I felt I needed to impregnate it. I’m very happy with what it birthed”. The You Tube video is a combination of the two versions featuring everyone involved.
Star One – Lost Children of the Universe (Roy Khan, Tony Martin, Marcela and Irene, Steve Vai) (click her if the video does not play)
And now for something slightly different…………..
Well, what can I say? You sort of know what you are going to get from Arjen, but he always manages to surprise. The multitude of guests certainly adds interesting diversity as do the alternative tracks. Fans won’t be disappointed, it’s a great pair of albums. It would be intriguing to see this as a live show (with a Blu-ray for those who can’t make those shows). Grab yourself a copy, albums by Star One don’t come around too often. There’s no telling when the next one will appear.
Tracklist & Guests:
1) Fate of Man: lead and backing vocals: Brittney Slayes, guitar solo: Michael Romeo
2) 28 Days (Till the End of Time): lead vocal: Sir Russell Allen, guitar solos: Timo Somers
3) Prescient: lead and backing vocals: Micheal Mills and Ross Jennings
4) Back from the Past: lead vocal: Jeff Scott Soto, guitar solo: Ron Bumblefoot Thal
5) Revel in Time: lead vocal: Brandon Yeagley, guitar solos: Adrian Vandenberg
6) The Year of ’41: lead vocal: Joe Lynn Turner, vocalization: Will Shaw, guitar solo: Joel Hoekstra, synthesizer solo: Jens Johansson
7) Bridge of Life: lead vocal: Damian Wilson
8) Today is Yesterday: lead vocal: Dan Swanö, Moog synthesizers: Lisa Bella Donna, guitar solo: Marcel Singor
9) A Hand on the Clock: lead and backing vocals: Floor Jansen, Hammond solo: Joost van den Broek
10) Beyond the Edge of it All: lead vocal: John Jaycee Cuijpers, guitar solo: Arjen Lucassen
11) Lost Children of the Universe: lead vocals: Roy Khan, choir: Hellscore Choir, guitar solo: Steve Vai
CD II – Same songs, different singers:
1) Fate of Man: lead and backing vocals: Marcela Bovio
2) 28 Days (Till the End of Time): lead vocal: John Jaycee Cuijpers
3) Prescient: lead and backing vocals: Will Shaw
4) Back from the Past: lead vocal: John Jaycee Cuijpers
5) Revel in Time: lead vocal: John Jaycee Cuijpers
6) The Year of ’41: lead vocal and synth solo: Alessandro Del Vecchio
7) Bridge of Life: lead vocals: Wilmer Waarbroek
8) Today is Yesterday: lead vocals: Arjen Lucassen
9) A Hand on the Clock: lead and backing vocals: Marcela Bovio and Irene Jansen (verses)
10) Beyond the Edge of it All: lead vocals: Mike Andersson
11) Lost Children of the Universe: lead vocals: Tony Martin