Released: 2012, Inside Out
Arjen Lucassen returns in 2012 with an ambitious work called LOST IN THE NEW REAL. The Dutch guitarist is nothing if not prolific, and keeping up with his seemingly endless projects is beyond most people. Those unfamiliar with the man may have come across his most well known work in Ayreon but also Stream of Passion, Star One and many others. The new album, which is his second solo album, is a concept album with an interesting storyline. A cryopreserved man from the 21st century is revived in the distant future, after a cure is found for his terminal disease. He is coached on adapting to this new world by his psychological advisor, played by fellow countryman Rutger Hauer. Yes, this is weighty stuff thematically. Musically, not so much
As good as this album is, it only marginally courts metal. This is essentially a 21st century version of THE WALL, fine progressive rock, but nothing heavy. Having said that, Lucassen’s connections to metal does have him touch on heavier passages, many similar to Dream Theater, but only rarely and even these are mid-paced. Disc two also contains five cover tunes, each appropriate within the storyline and well-executed, but cover songs all the same. Stylistically, Lucassen references mostly 70s rock bands like Pink Floyd, Zappa, and Zeppelin but there are plenty of Beatle-esque melodies as well. Even folk is represented on the track “When I’m A Hundred Sixty-Four” and in places on “Where Pigs Fly” . With all these styles, it would be reasonable to assume the project to come across as disjointed. Truth is, the greatest strength of this album is that everything fits. That is not to say that there are not some very unconventional sounds and weird ideas, but within the context of this concept, they fit.
With an album that is so long and ambitious, you can count on this occupying quite a bit of your time if you want to fully digest it. It is quite listenable but perhaps a bit too esoteric and weird to court any new fans. This is best experienced by those fans already on board with Lucassen and that consider his work genius. The foundation and inspiration for this album is rooted in music that is too far removed for most fans to appreciate as modern. My own personal feeling is that there is some beautiful music and amazing arrangements on here but the lack of heaviness left me feeling drugged and mellow. Surely this is part of the intent, but at some point even Pink Floyd realized they had to write a few songs that rock out. But if mellow is your cup of tea with an occasional dash of crunch, then this album should sustain you for the rest of the year.