With 30 years in the music business under his belt, and 15 of those years spent building his Ayreon empire, Dutch songwriter / guitarist / singer Arjen Lucassen has tasted more success than failure. Ironically, one of his biggest victories was a step outside the Ayreon universe in 2002 with the science fiction movie-inspired project, Star One. The debut album, Space Metal, showcased Lucassen's '70s-flavoured heavier side rather than his trademark prog-epic approach, having trimmed his arsenal down to only four vocalists instead of using a double-digit rogues gallery of singers. A bold move, and a nice change after five Ayreon records. During an interview in September 2009 for yet another side-project the melancholic yet epic Guilt Machine Lucassen let it slip that he was working on new material with tentative plans to record a follow-up to Space Metal, which came as a pleasant surprise to many fans. He'd never said never, but Lucassen had also been open in the press about his reservations in revisiting the project. With the completion of Guilt Machine those doubts vanished and Victims Of The Modern Age was born; an album more than heavy and metal enough to suggest it's a reaction to the Pink Floydian atmosphere of its predecessor.
Yeah, it is a reaction, but it's always like that, says Lucassen. Guilt Machine was quite a different album, with the long intros and then getting heavy, then getting softer, with these difficult and deep lyrics. To be honest I got a bit sick of all the comments about how people needed to get used to the album, how they had to play it numerous times before they liked it. It was like, Dammit! Hate it or like it, but don't say that you have to get used to it!' I was wondering if that was a polite way of saying they think Guilt Machine sucked (laughs). Definitely, this Star One album is a reaction to that. It's in your face, there are no long build-ups, the songs are shorter and catchier.
When I did the first album a lot of people asked if there would be a second one, he continues. I kept saying that there's always a Part 2 and it's never as good as the original, so I wasn't sure I wanted to do it again. But I was mostly thinking about the touring aspect of it because when we did that tour it was very special. I brought a group of people together that didn't know each other, so it was a very spontaneous thing. I knew that I wanted to do a metal album after Guilt Machine, and that automatically brought me to Star One because that's my metal project. So I was thinking that maybe I should do it, but with different singers than the first album. The more I thought about it, though, I realized there was no way I could replace Damien (Wilson / Threshold), Russell (Allen / Symphony X), Dan (Swan / Edge Of Sanity) or Floor (Jansen / ReVamp, ex-After Forever) with other people and call it a Star One album because they're all so unique.
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Thanks to Carl Begai for the report.