Veteran Dutch musician Arjen Lucassen is best known for his Ayreon projects, epic sci-fi stories told through Progressive Metal and a plethora of quality singers. He also likes to branch out from that central platform and has successfully launched many solo projects such as Star One, Guilt Machine and even Stream Of Passion, which turned out to be the birth of a separate band.
Arjen Lucassen – Supersonic Revolution – The Golden Age Of Music
Music Theories Recording / Mascot Label Group
Release Date: 19 May 2023
Words: Ian Sutherland
His latest non-Ayreon release came about when Lucassen was asked to provide a cover song for a compilation album to be released by a German music magazine. “They asked if I had any cover versions lying around,” he recalls. “I said, ‘No, but I’ll happily record one for you.’ So, they gave me a list of bands, and I saw a ZZ Top song I Heard It On The X that I really liked. I said I could record it for them, but then they told me it had to be ready in one week…”
After putting the song together in seven days, the idea of a new band was born. “I was like, let’s form a band and let’s write songs in the style of the ’70s, and have the lyrics be a celebration of all the memorable things from that time because those were my formative years.” Sometime later, this enthusiastic nostalgic celebration is the result.
With Arjen on bass, long-standing keyboard player Joost van den Broek, guitarist Timo Somers, drummer Koen Herfst and singer Jaycee Cuijpers, Supersonic Revolution is not massively musically diverse from previous Arjen projects. The mixing of Hammond organ and riffing guitars, the epic feel, the use of harmony vocals, are all trademarks which can signal to those in the know who the source is.
The twist of pushing that style into a joyful celebration of what inspired all this music in the first place makes all the difference, though. There’s a vibrancy, an openness to it all, that seeps out of every note.
Despite the fact that all the other musicians are much younger than Lucassen himself, they are able to capture a ’70s feel effortlessly and back up lyrics that reference all those glories, from The Glamattack with lots of clever references to ’70s glam rockers to Burn It Down, a totally genius idea of a tune telling the story of Smoke On The Water from the perspective of the stupid with the flare gun!
The Golden Age Of Music has a line about Radio Caroline, and The Rise Of The Starman is a smorgasbord of Bowie references. I’ll have to wait to see a lyric sheet before deciding if Came To Mock Stayed To Rock is taking the idea too far, though!
There are some bonus covers tacked onto the end of the album. Heard It On The X is a world away from ZZ Top’s original but in a very fun way. T. Rex’s Children Of The Revolution and the early Dio classic Love Is All are taken on in a more straightforward fashion. The choice of Earth Wind And Fire’s Fantasy is left field but adds yet more fun.
The Golden Age Of Music is the kind of album you’ll put on and vibe off. If you like your rock classic, it will bring a big smile to your face. For rockers of a certain age, the lyrics are full of nods and winks to our past, but the music is both a respectful bow to past glories and a modernised celebration of the joys of rock music. It works and is a convincing argument that the ’70s really were rock’s golden age.
With Ayreon gigs taking place in the Netherlands in September, I hope Mr Lucassen will be getting the psychedelic flares out and letting Supersonic Revolution burn it down at some point in the show.