Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Guilt Machine: On This Perfect Day

Guilt Machine: On This Perfect Day
Year 2009

Arjen Lucassen doesn't even know what "rest on your laurels" means. Always the innovator, Arjen has done it again with Guilt Machine.

Taking a break from his Ayreon project (hopefully not permanently) and having left Stream of Passion, Arjen embarked on a new pursuit this year. Setting aside the science fiction storyline of Ayreon, Guilt Machine is a project that allows Arjen to look within, exploring the themes of guilt, regret and their potentially destructive power.

Guilt Machine differs from Ayreon on other levels as well. Rather than assembling a large cast of vocalists and musicians, Arjen gathered just three other people: Jasper Steverlinck on vocals, Lori Linstruth on lead guitar, and Chris Maitland on drums. With such a change from the formula that has worked so well for many years, this begs the question: How are the results?


On This Perfect Day is wonderful. The music is, overall, much more relaxed. Many of the songs take 3-4 minutes or more until they really climax. Yet when they do it is an experience. Retaining his powerful, driving guitar sound, Arjen does a perfect job propelling the songs forward at just the perfect moments, as well as giving them space to explore.  Chris Maitland carries the music on his powerful rhythm work.  Lori's guitar work retains its unique, lyrical quality, making it a pleasure to listen to.  Finally, new-comer (to me) Jasper's voice has just the right mix of melancholy, plaintive pleading, brightness, and subtle power.  

While this album initially didn't jump out and grab me, after repeat listens I found myself drawn back to listen, again, and again, and again.  The lyrics are unapologetically bleak, but presented in such a way that you have to pay close attention to realize just how depressing this album it.  This adds a wonderful depth to the record.  This is one of those records I can say, without hesitation, I really love.

Verdict: 4.5/5
Yes, I am cheating with the half point.  I don't know if I could call it an absolute essential, but it is just such a joy to listen to that a 4 just doesn't cut it.  

1 comment:

  1. I really loved this album, but didn't even know it was Arjen until a second listen!