There are albums which enchant with their first sounds. Others require decent mood, timing and ambience to reveal their beauty. Then there are ones which find their way to the middle of a heart only after multiple listening. A sudden lightning, revelation and then it is only an unconditioned love to the end.
A perfect example of such a phenomenon is the latest masterpiece by Arjen Lucassen recorded under a new brand called Guilt Machine. Sounds coming from the album “On This Perfect Day” are, typically to prog rock, stunning, melancholic, monumental and touching, but also thrilling and dim. The atmosphere of the album may be surely counted among the darkest of the previous Lucassen’s records. Ayreon fans can easily recognize his characteristic style, although this album remains exceptionally different to what his listeners are used to. The songs are saturated with his distinguished crystal space, but this time they are accompanied by a constant feel of anxiety rising in the air.
The album is also exceptional in regard to its line-up. Guilt Machine consists only of four musicians: Arjen Lucassen on guitar and backing vocals, Lori Linstruth on guitar, Jasper Steverlinck – a Belgium vocalist associated with the band Arid, and Chris Maitland, known from Porcupine Tree, on drums. Arjen Lucassen found working on that album was a springboard which helped him to take a break after hard work and high speed involved in recording his previous Ayreon album “01011001”. In distinction to Ayreon, Guilt Machine turned out to be almost an intimate project, giving a breather from a complex structure of rock opera. Unlike the previous record, Guilt Machine does not base itself on the usual science fiction storyline, it is a concept album focused on human deepest emotions.
One of the strongest features of the album is soft yet powerful voice of Jasper Steverlinck. He amazes with his vocal abilities touching both high and low notes, shouting and chanting pliably with his soothing tones. His incredible skills can be heard especially in “Season of Denial” which leaves a listener open-mouthed. “Green and Cream” surprises with oriental touches in the middle which slightly breaks the monumental atmosphere. The last song, “Perfection?” grows slowly and lazily only to develop with breath taking riff. However, the features that remain unchanged on all Arjen Lucassen’s projects are genius synth lines, thrilling guitar solos, here played by Lori Linstruth, and unique riffs.
The album “On This Perfect Day” represents a brilliant blend of factors releasing floods of diverse emotions. Each song is an exciting adventure for Arjen Lucassen is leading the listeners throughout beautiful, complicated and spacious structures of the music letting them at the same time explore it at their own pace. Expanded forms of the songs raise up making each of them an unforgettable experience. Gloomy lyrics written by Lori Linstruth whose virtuosity of pen matches her extraordinary guitar skills, are a complement to the album.
Somewhere between the space of the crystal clear sound and the heart of the darkness lies a place where Guilt Machine can be heard. The place where sounds become three-dimensional and the feelings acquire their own colours. It is there where “On This Perfect Day” is not only an ordinary album any more, but The Black Crystal which seduces with its cleanliness and grips with darkness.