When Arjen makes a new CD, it is often a reaction to his work on a previous album. Prior to 'Star One', Arjen created a softer, more atmospheric album under the name of Ambeon. Now in response, he has gone to other extreme to create a completely unbridled heavy metal album.
Arjen Lucassen set a trend with his Ayreon albums. Many laughed when he recorded his first rock opera 'Ayreon - The Final Experiment' in 1995, and most record companies were hesitant to sign him. But especially after the highly successful release of his third Ayreon CD, the rock opera 'Into the Electric Castle', many musicians and producers have followed in his footsteps and new rock operas with multiple singers are beginning to surface all over the world. Arjen comments: "Yes, I've noticed! I regard it as a compliment. But I have also noticed that on some of these operas the singers sound the same, and so you need the CD booklet to tell them apart.
To ensure that doesn't happen on 'Space Metal', Arjen used very different sounding singers appearing in the same songs -- different singers for different moods". Dan Swanö (ex-Edge of Sanity, Nightingale) sings the low parts, Russell Allen (Symphony X) sings the powerful rough parts, Damian Wilson (ex-Threshold) sings the high clear parts, and to top it off, Floor Jansen (After Forever) sings the really high choruses. Robert Soeterboek (Ayreon) sang the backing vocals with his huge smoky voice.
Why not just call it Ayreon? Ayreon is known for having many different musical styles. Star One focuses mainly on the heavy side of Arjen’s music, and so the songs are more straightforward and guitar-oriented but still progressive. This album was never intended to be an Ayreon album, so calling it Ayreon just didn’t feel right. The name Star One is based on an episode of Arjen's favorite science fiction TV series called 'Blakes 7'.
Hawkwind’s Dave Brock
Arjen succeeded in getting Hawkwind's Dave Brock to make a guest vocal appearance, something no one has ever managed to do before. Arjen about Brock's guest appearance: "Hawkwind were the inventors of Space Rock, so I thought it would be a cool idea to record a Hawkwind medley for the album. I asked Dave to sing on it, and to my surprise, he did it! This is a dream come true as he has been a huge influence on me".
Limited Edition Disc
The Hawkwind medley is available on the special limited edition version of Space Metal, a beautiful book that includes an extra CD with various bonus tracks. A strange version of David Bowie's 'Space Oddity' sung by Arjen himself is also featured here as well as a special Dolby Surround mix of 'Starchild', two other Star One tracks that didn't fit the album and a surprise hidden track.
Space Metal isn't a continuous story or a rock opera like the Ayreon albums. Yet it is still very much a concept album. The individual songs are all based on space films. The album is a journey through Arjen's mind and memory, so the listeners can relive those great science fiction space films that made such an impact on him.
Arjen talks about the concept: "I based the songs on films that take place entirely in space. It's really hard to write a song based on a film and then not use names or make the references to the original too clear. I really wanted to write about my impressions of the films and not just tell the same story over again.
This is an instrumental introduction to the CD.
Set Your Controls
Get ready to go on the journey with Arjen and explore the galaxies in his mind.
Based on the movie ‘Outland’ the song tells the story of a new sheriff that has arrived at a mining colony on the third moon of Jupiter where strange things are happening. Miners suffer from hallucinations and some end up killing themselves. Their behavior appears to be linked to a drug they take to make life more bearable on the moon. In reality the company gives the miners the drug to increase the miner’s productivity. The sheriff hopes to uncover the scandal, but his wife, unable to handle the new life-style, leaves for earth with their child. The sheriff vows to join them, but first must stop the mining company from killing more people.
Songs of the Ocean
Based on the movie ‘Star Trek: IV’, the song tells the story of an unknown device hovering in space sending out strange signals to earth. It appears to be trying to communicate with whales that have been extinct for centuries. This device’s communication system disrupts all electronic devices on earth and spells the end of the planet. The Star Trek crew must travel back in time, to the 20th century, to find whales and bring them to the future, and communication can be established through whale-song so the device can stop transmitting its destructive signal.
Master of Darkness
Based on the first ‘Star Wars trilogy’ the song tells the story of a young Jedi knight preparing to face his father, the Master of Darkness. Though his teacher feels he is not ready for battle, the Jedi decides to go ahead with the confrontation.
The Eye of Ra
Based on the movie ‘Stargate’ the song tells the story of an interstellar transport device found in Egypt. A crew, sent out on a mission through the gate, encounters humans resembling ancient Egyptians who worship the god Ra. For the crew to be able to go back home, the gate needs to be activated but first the seventh sign needs to be found. Then, alerted by the presence of the crew, an alien ship arrives. An alien, inhabiting the body of a little boy, has subdued the people living on the planet by presenting himself as Ra; he is unwilling to give up his rule over the planet and seeks to destroy the gate.
Based on the movie ‘Dune’ the song tells the story of the son of the Duke who narrowly escapes death in a plotted uprising against his father. He fulfills the prophecy when he leads Nomads of the desert planet into the battle against the one who killed his father and avenges his death.
Based on the movie ‘Alien’ the song tells the story of a crew of a mining transport vessel, carrying cargo from a distant planet back to earth. They are woken from cryo-sleep by their ship's computer to what seems like a distress beacon. The crew land on a deserted planet to investigate, and bring back an extremely aggressive creature that only cares about its own survival. The retrieval of the alien was planned, one of the crewmembers appears to be an android programmed for a single mission- to bring the alien to earth alive- no matter what the cost. The alien picks off the crewmembers one by one, until only the captain and the alien are left.
Intergalactic Space Crusaders
Based on the television series ‘Blakes 7’ the song tells the story of a rebel leader, Blake and his battle against the Federation, the government led by a dictator. The Federation has captured Blake and to ensure he is useless to the rebels they erase his memory. But when Blake’s memory slowly returns he is sent to a prison colony. During his trip to prison Blake meets other prisoners, among them a grumpy computer genius, Avon, who was caught during a ‘bank credit’ heist. When the prisoner ship encounters an alien ship, the Liberator, Blake, Avon, and some other prisoners escape and then use the hi-tech vessel to overthrow the Federation. After a major battle to destroy the artificial planet Star One, Blake disappears, and when the crew finds him again, they are led to believe Blake is a traitor. As Federation soldiers enter the building to arrest the crew, Avon, unable to understand the reasons for this betrayal, kills Blake.
Based on the movies ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and ‘2010: The Year We Make Contact’, the song tells the story of an obviously artificial artifact in the shape of a monolith discovered on the moon- it’s dimensions are 1x4x9. An infallible computer runs a spaceship sent out to trace the object’s signal into space, but nearing the source of the signal, the computer becomes unreliable and needs to be shut down, leaving the ship drifting in space. A joint American-Soviet space expedition is sent to Jupiter to learn what happened to the ship as the Cold war is coming to a head on earth. The astronaut in charge of the first mission is reborn as the Starchild, helping humanity to enter a new phase.
On the Limited Edition
Based on the movie ‘Dark Star’ the song tells the story of four astronauts, on board the spaceship Dark Star, in search of unstable planets to destroy in order to clear solar systems for colonization. The crew lives in apathy and frustration: destroying planets has become routine. The ship’s commander has died, but his body is frozen and his brain is sustained to enable him to advise the crew. The ship goes through an asteroid storm, which causes damage to the ship's communication system. The computer malfunctions and one of the smart bombs, used to annihilate planets, now is eager to explode. It spells the end for the ship and crew.
Based on the movie ‘Enemy Mine’ the song tells the story of a soldier from Earth and his alien enemy who crash-land on an alien world after sustaining battle damage. Both fighters must learn to work together to survive on this hostile world...