learnt the methods of teasing his fans, then the award goes to Dutch pride Arjen Anthony Lucassen. After a
bombastic comeback in 2013 with Ayreon’s
‘The Theory of Everything’, the man
is taking the next step along with Anneke
Van Giersbergen for an epic double CD concept album to be called ‘The Diary’ under the name of The Gentle Storm. Anneke has worked
with Arjen on two Ayreon albums, ‘Into
The Electric Castle’ (1998) and ‘01011001’
(2008). Arjen has earned a name for himself after releasing series of nothing
but concept albums, touching on all the areas of music and emotions. After
covering everything, it is time to go beyond imagination, and that’s where ‘The Diary’ makes a glass-shattering entry.
album of ‘classic meets metal’ and ‘acoustic folk’.” Turning a regular concept
into an “epic double concept” album is something that only people like Arjen
can think of and execute. ‘The Diary’
follows a love story of two protagonists – Susanne and Joseph, a couple living
in 17th century Netherlands, which was then known for its trade all
over the world. Joseph has gone on his voyage of endurance, sailing across the
sea for 2 years. The only way for Joseph and Susanne to communicate is via
letters, which form the base of the songs. The second concept of the album is
quite vivid; kind of like Ayreon’s ‘The
Dream Sequencer’ and ‘Flight
Migrator’, but with similar yet more epic songs. Both the CDs have the same
songs played with different arrangements. The first CD, ‘Gentle’ includes 11
songs played on folk and acoustic instruments, while the second CD, ‘Storm’
includes same songs but with a heavy sound combined with the progressive edge that
Arjen is known for. The music and lyrics are exact and intact on both the CDs;
it’s the difference between the instruments they’re being played with.
worked with n-number of musicians throughout, and he has somehow managed to get
the best ones out of them for one band now known as The Gentle Storm. It’s safe
to say that Ed Warby is now full-time
partner of Ayreon and Arjen’s other projects. When Anneke asked Arjen if he had
a band to take The Gentle Storm on roads, he brought a team he has worked with
and is still working with. With Ed Warby taking drum duties, Anneke on vocals
and lyrics with Marcela Bovio (Lead
vocalist, Stream of Passion) for backing vocals, along with Johan Van Stratum (bass), Rob Snijders (percussion), Hinse Mutter (double bass), Maaike Peterse (cello), Ben Mathot (violin) and the Epic Rock Choir (which will be taking
Ayreon’s ‘The Human Equation’ on
stage this September), this album could not be more perfect.
to the never-ending simplicity and beauty of this album. After distributing the
work on this album, it was time for Arjen to enter and show his magic, which he
always does; taking up more than 10 instruments and just playing them whole
heartedly. From his usual instruments like guitar, mandolin, acoustic bass,
keyboards and few percussions, he goes beyond his own limits, bringing other
instruments like the Hammer Dulcimer, Tabla, banjo and what not. The ‘Gentle’ CD is quite exotic, after all.
Different styles of music are also infused within the album, therefore not
limiting it to just rock or metal. The Jazz vocals on “Heart of Amsterdam” and the mixing Indian classical with Middle
Eastern influences on “Shores of India”
are probably things that only Arjen can think of, followed by the soul-smiling outro
of “The Moment”. In the lowest of
times, this album comes out of the blue and brings out small pieces of music that
just ought to make you smile.
and epic with orchestral elements and the Epic Rock Choir. Beginning with an epic
Dutch chorus is again, “Endless Sea”, just this time, on a heavier note. If the
‘Gentle’ CD swayed you away with its simplistic
yet extremely blissful music, the ‘Storm’
CD would just makes you fly to the sky, smiling beyond limit and for no reason.
The guitar solos on “Endless Sea”, “Heart of Amsterdam” and “The Moment” by
Arjen and Timo Somers are the cherry on the cake. With more groovy music, the ‘Storm’ CD just takes the album to yet
another level where you can just stand up and dance your heart away
(literally). This album is not just for progressive music fans; it covers
almost all the genres of music and somehow amalgamates them into these 22
songs. Essentially, ‘Gentle’ and ‘Storm’ are just covers of each other.
All in all, this double album is the epitome
of happiness. Arjen has gone beyond expectations with each release, but this
control freak and social recluse has gone beyond his own imaginations this time.
He has made an album with Anneke and team that is so anachronous and beyond
perfection that artists two to three decades from now will attempt to achieve the
musical heights ‘The Diary’ has
achieved. The only doubt for me after this album is that either this is just a
start of new Arjen, or there will never be an album as epic as ‘The Diary’.