Star One – Victims of the Modern Age (InsideOut Music)

Tuesday, 19th March 2013
Rating: 8/10

When Star One first hit in 2002, it was a near-revelation, mainly because us journalistic-types got all excited about “space metal,” which frankly, sounds really dumb now, but hey, we’re still the ones parading around polka and symphonic/operatic/classical metal like no one’s business. Anyway, mainman Arjen Lucassen (he of Ayreon fame) has revived this project, in turn, producing an album in the form of Victims of the Modern Age that could very well outpace the band’s debut which was called…Space Metal. See, that’s what everyone was excited for! Outer space!

Lucassen has assembled a world-beating cast, particularly Symphony X throat Russell Allen, who sounds utterly angelic at times. Joining him is Threshold singer Damien Wilson and ex-After Forever/current ReVamp siren Floor Jansen, all of whom appear to have equal contribution, even joining in on a nice little three-way at the end of opener “Digital Rain.” Allen though, steals the show on numerous occasions, specifically “Human See, Human Do” (which is about Planet of the Apes) and “Cassandra Complex.” Dude can belt like no other.

Unlike Ayreon, Star One stays mostly on the metal side of the fence, with spurts of dominant 70’s-flavored keyboard work (see: “Cassandra Complex” and “It’s Alive, She’s Alive,” We’re Alive!”). Moments of progressive power metal head up “Earth That Was,” and the marauding, “Free For All” (Ted Nugent)-like title track are instant grabbers, with Lucassen wisely using his components in the right spots.

Gotta hand it to Lucassen: where most projects with such an ambitious scope comes across as pretentious, Star One manages to operate without the guise of pretense, even with the whole “outer space” thing hovering over its head. As cliché as this sounds, Victims of the Modern Age is nothing like you’ll hear all year, the wry combination of the right tones and voices, with a batch of songs that are quite refreshing in today’s climate. Beam me up!

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