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Star One – Victims of the Modern Age: Review

October 26, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Star One is the famous Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s space metal crusade, featuring reputable artists from a handful of metal groups, including Russell Allen, Damian Wilson, Floor Jansen, and many others. The newest album, Victims of the Modern Age, was released on October 25 this year (over eight years since the last record, Space Metal). I initially did not think this one would be able to live up to its predecessor and, in my opinion, it did not. That being said, I am extremely impressed with the quality of this album.

The Music (rating: A)

  1. Down the Rabbit Hole
  2. Digital Rain
  3. Earth That Was
  4. Victim of the Modern Age
  5. Human See, Human Do
  6. 24 Hours
  7. Cassandra Complex
  8. It’s Alive, She’s Alive, We’re Alive
  9. It All Ends Here

Like Star One’s first album, this one has a very spacious feel to it, largely due to the encompassing, bombastic atmospheric presence of the keyboards in addition to their numerous futuristic tones. But despite this, the record’s overall feel is different. In general, the songs are definitively heavier, employing a darker tone with more upfront instrumentation. Vocal harmonization and conversing are still abundant, though seemingly less emphasized than on the previous album. The amount of change in this album is ideal; we are dealing with peaches and nectarines. Victims of the Modern Age is certainly a Star One production, but not a Space Metal clone (thankfully).

It is an overall downgrade from what many (myself included) would consider a masterwork of music,  but the instrumentals are more or less on par with the album in comparison. All vocalists, although having a vast range in tone, strengths, and style, displayed exquisite chemistry with one another (particularly in “Digital Rain”). Lucassen gives some stellar riffs which are beautifully mixed in with the keyboards leads and rhythmic melodies. As many with many bands, the bass and guitar are mainly for support. However, they were both performed with excellence, giving some nice rhythms and grooves along with highly appropriate accentuation. On all the participants behalf, Victims of the Modern Age is an instrumental success.

So, for what reasons is this worse than the first Star One album? Firstly, being a follow-up, it is less of an imaginative spectacle. It takes what is already there from Space Metal and brings it towards a new direction. The element of surprise or shattered expectations is nonexistent. But then again, there are no complaints when high expectations are achieved. Also, there is less depth and diversity with this album. There is much more heavy riffs, which is absolutely acceptable, but the previous album had them as well, but in a more even proportion with slower-paced songs and ballad sections. And having a more riff-focused approach, the song structures tend to more similarities as well. In general, they seem more contrived. The spark is still there, but is lesser in comparison to the preceding record. Although there were a few weaker points in Victims of the Modern Age, the fact that there are a handful of aspects that are of similar quality to Space Metal is attributed the commendable craftsmanship of this new album.

Victims of the Modern Age is a truly lovable album. It does have minor flaws, unlike its “parent-record,” but they are insignificant and scarce (also, to some extent, preferential). It is a respectable piece of art and is able to find a healthy compromise between change and consistency with the Star One style. For fans of their debut album, Space Metal, this is not only a guaranteed likable listen, but also, due to its differences, a justifiable one. And for those who have not heard any Star One to this point, it looks like you have two albums to catch up on…

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  1. clarwater
    November 11, 2010 at 1:54 am

    Arjen always suprises us. He does not limits himself to any box at all. This is an extra fun to see what mood he is in in his next work. This one is a metallic mood. Let us just follow him and not limit him. Let us accept him as he is. This makes him extraordinary.

    Cheers

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