Inside Out (2012)
Arjen Lucassen has gone down the solo route for his new album (although long time drummer Ed Warby plays on the album), based on Mr L, a 21st-Century man who was cryopreserved at the moment of clinical death from a terminal disease. Mr L is then revived at a point in the distant future, when technology has advanced enough to cure his disease and has a psychological advisor (played by legendary actor Rutger Hauer) whose job it is to help him emotionally adapt to this strange new world.
Musically this album is best summed up as a collection of all the musical avenues Arjen Lucassen has explored with his bands Ayreon, Guilt Machine and Star One. There is the quirky ‘Pink Beatles In A Purple Zeppelin’, that not only name checks some of his musical heroes in the title but has an amusing lyric (basically in the future very note and melody has been used and by using your imagination you can create any musical mash up you like) and a 60’s psychedelic groove. A little folk pops-up on ‘When I am Hundred And Sixty Four’ and I defy anyone not to hum along to the catchy pop tune that is ‘Dr Slumber’s Eternity Home’.
There are darker moments in this future world though with comments on population control (‘Parental Procreation Permit’) and the thought/internet policing on ‘E-Police’. The latter has a distinctly ELO feel to the music. There is only one epic song on here, the title track where Wilmer Waarbroek helps out on backing vocals and this has lots on going on both musically and vocally.
Special mention on getting Rutger Hauer involved as he fits the narration perfectly, adding both menace and humour when required.
There is second disc of songs that didn’t quite fit the concept plus some covers of classics by Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Blue Oyster Cult. I didn’t have access to these for my review so I will enjoy these delights when I buy the album.
I am sure some hardened Ayreon fans will be possibly disappointed as they would be expecting an Ayreon sound but why do a solo album if all you do is mimic your bands? Instead this new album should please his existing fans and bring in some new ones, especially given the pop leanings of some songs like ‘Dr Slumber’s Eternity Home’. An album that fully deserves a place in your collection, be you an existing fan or new to the wonderful musical world of Arjen Lucassen.
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