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Guilt Machine: On This Perfect Day

Guilt Machine is the latest project from Ayreon mastermind Arjen Anthony Lucassen, and their debut CD is called On This Perfect Day on Mascot Records. Lucassen has assembled an actual band here, rather than a large cast of musicians, and it includes alternative rock singer Jasper Steverlinck, former Porcupine Tree drummer Chris Maitland, and Arjen's partner and business manager Lori Linstruth on lead guitar. Those expecting the bombastic and theatrical music of Ayreon or StarOne might be a little surprised at the more atmospheric sounds here-don't despair though, there's still plenty of proggy moments and heavy thunder, but this is easily Lucasson's darkest and most tranquil release to date, which for some might be a good change of pace.

"Twisted Coil" opens things up here, a near 12-minute track that fluctuates between serene, atmospheric passages permeated by Lucassen's many keyboards and guitar patterns, and moments of hard rock and prog intensity. The vocals of Steverlinck are quite good-you'd be hard pressed to tell that this guy has never sang on a prog record before. His soaring, passionate, yet husky delivery fits right in here. On the dreamy, almost Pink Floyd-ish "Leland Street", he puts on a powerful display, with more than a slight nod to Freddie Mercury, and is sure to catch even the strictest prog fan's attention. On "Green and Cream", the focus is again on the battle between mellow, atmospheric prog and mighty progressive metal, Maitland really pushing the band with his nimble fills and Linstruth laying down some impressive solos over Lucassen's mix of electric & acoustic guitar chords and lush harmony lines. "Season of Denial" is tranquil, symphonic prog, mostly keyboard & vocal dominated until some heavier riffs come into play towards the middle of the track. After the short but heavy tune "Over" (which comes across like a mix of Queen and Uriah Heep) comes the majestic "Perfection?", a near 11-minute symphonic prog gem featuring some nifty guitar riffs and plenty of orchestral keyboards & strings.

On This Perfect Day is a solid, enjoyable release, though I'm sure there are going to be plenty of Ayreon fans who might balk at the overabundance of atmospheric and mellow moments here and miss the more upbeat and bombastic elements of Lucassen's other releases. Either way, this is an album that will take a few listens to really appreciate, and once the musical direction starts to sink in, you can open up the well illustrated booklet (courtesy of Christophe Dessaigne), follow along with the lyrics, and really grasp what Guilt Machine is all about.


Track Listing
1. Twisted Coil (11:43)
2. Leland Street (8:03)
3. Green and Cream (10:32)
4. Season of Denial (10:22)
5. Over (6:11)
6. Perfection? (10:46)

Added: December 31st 2009
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Score:
Related Link: Band's MySpace Page
Hits: 5414
Language: english

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Guilt Machine: On This Perfect Day
Posted by Keith Hannaleck, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-01-01 16:59:14
My Score:

Arjen Lucassen's latest release for his new band Guilt Machine is On This Perfect Day. This release is a departure from the complex Ayreon projects that included a multitude of musicians and vocalists. Instead he favors one small consistent lineup made up of his partner, manager and lyricist Lori Linstruth (lead guitar) who was also with him in Stream of Passion, Jasper Steverlinck (lead vocalist) from Belgian alternative rock band Arid and ex-Porcupine Tree member Chris Matiland (drums) while Ben Mathot (violin) and David Faber (cello) contribute their fair share of well placed and appropriate parts and of course Arjen showing the way playing guitars, mandolin, bass, keyboards and providing some vocals. The album was recorded at Arjen's Electric Castle in the Netherlands.

This release is more interesting and unique because of the contributions of several people from all over the world speaking in their own language on life, regret, death, guilt, and human nature. Although you will not be able to understand what they are saying (well most of us won't) it lends a different atmosphere and kind of "get the chills" feel to the tracks. Lucassen has always had an ability to give each of his projects their own stamp of uniqueness and this one is no exception. I had no idea what to expect because I have always had some sort of insight prior to each release because of the ongoing story with Ayreon and the well known configuration of supergroups he would assemble for every project. I knew I would not be disappointed with On This Perfect Day, in fact it was a nice surprise and it turned out to be an excellent album.

There are six tracks on this CD; there is also a two disc special edition available with bonus tracks and videos. Not one of the tracks is less than six minutes with the longest being the lead off track "Twisted Coil" clocking in at 11:43. The lead singer Jasper Steverlinck sounds like he would have been a great for Arjen's previous projects but he does make his own distinct mark here. Also Lori is no slouch on lead guitar. I already respected her for the previous work I have heard but this output is exceptional. Arjen contributes immeasurable amounts of across the board talent as usual on guitars both acoustic and electric amongst other things. Chris is excellent with all the drum parts, driving the Guilt Machine along a steady course that seems to falter. If Jaspar sounds familiar it's because he was a guest vocalist on the third CD of Timeline on an unreleased song, called "Epilogue: The Memory Remains".

This is a fine collection of progressive rock tracks complete with the usual thought provoking album art and the bonus of the lyrics included with the CD booklet, which guarantees a reflective listen by anyone's estimation.

I think prog rock fans and avid Arjen fans will find complete satisfaction with this recording. I found no weaknesses to mention. At times you are reminded of the old Ayreon with some of the musical displays however that is quickly dispelled with the Guilt Machine stamp that sounds fresh and full of energy.

Arjen mentioned in an interview in Classic Rock magazine that he feels like there is a black hole in his life if there is no project to be working on, which explains his continuous flow of music every year. Listeners benefit from the workhorse methods of this great artist. I cannot help but wonder what could be next! This is a great way to usher in the new decade of prog rock.



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