This is an odd album to me as it combines artists of my favourite two
bands of the 90’s. Lana after several successful albums decided to try some
new musicians on this album. The Main interest to me is the addition of Ayreon’s
master Arjen Lucassen on guitar.
Astrology Prelude – This is a good opener. Lane is on "Ah" type vocals
and it is a good tune.
Secrets Of Astrology – This is a typical Lana song keyboardwise but it strikes
me a being heavier overall since Arjen is on Heavy Rhythm guitars in most of
it. The song is OK but I am not sure I am as keen on the heaviness. I like the
use of keyboards, as is usually the case with me.
Alexandria – This is by far my favourite track on the album. While I normally
like this softer sort of song on Previous albums it is normally heavier tracks
such as Destination Roswell and Frankenstein Unbound that are my favourites.
Again Arjen is providing Heavy Rhythm guitars and there is a definite Beatle
feel to the backing. Now that I am looking at the track credits it is easy to
recognise Arjen as being the 2nd Guitar solo. I.e. it is typical of the sort
of think he would do on Ayreon. The first guitar solo is by the other guitarist
of the album David Victor from Velocity.
Raining – This is another of my favourite. Again there is lots of heavy backing
from Arjen. Ayreon’s Robert Soeterboek is apparently on Backing Vocals but I
can’t say I noticed. The Guitar solo is David’s.
The Bell – This has a very Orchestrated Classical started. Oh sorry it is a
real String Section. Eric Norlander only providing Percussion on this and there
is no Arjen. I am rather fond of this one. I think this is probably more normal
Lana in style. It also has touches of Louis Clark ELO string arrangements to
Speed Of Sound – This is apparently the controversial track among the fans.
It has that horrid double speed drumming on it. But despite this I actually
think it is OK. Oh Robert is on Harmony Vocals again. He is on quite a few tracks
actually but I wouldn’t buy the album for his contribution. Again it’s a David
Solo. I like the interplay between Erik’s Keyboards and the Guitar solo and
then the main theme. Arjen of course is on Rhythm but I can’t actually spot
what he is doing if I am honest. I guess I would need to watch it performed
or listen in headphones.
Under The Sun – After that heavy onslaught we are on an Arjen less Mellow tune.
Again this is more what I seem to enjoy on this album. I am going to have to
listen the other albums to see if most tracks are like this or the heavy tracks
on this album are just a tad too heavy for me. The song has nice input from
the string section again.
Tarrot – This song is an Arjen Lana co-write. Back with the heavy Rhythm! I
am really not sure I like this aspect on the album. This track is excellent
though. Arjen apparently helps out on Moog too. I think this track would be
more likely to fit on Flight Of The Migrator than Dream Sequencer but possibly
it fits somewhere between the two. I like the patterns of Arjen’s Single note
guitar playing most I think. I suspect that is one of the main things I like
about Arjen’s writing.
Asherah – Arjen gets another guitar solo on this. It has Heavy Rhythm guitars
but slower ones. I am a little indifferent to this track. Mmm it’s interesting
once I know it is Arjen’s solo I can tell it. Never before. Mind you I have
the same trouble playing scales on my Sax. When they are wrong I am not sure
if they are right. When they are right I do know it! I clearly have a strange
Guardian Angel – Oh this one grates on me. I don’t like the "the white
cliffs of Dover" line. It is very annoying as I like the instrumental breaks
(which include Arjen and of course Erik). Ah this was the one Guitar solo I
spotted as Arjen without the booklet. This track is actually very Ayreon. I
guess that is why I find is so frustrating I hate the Chorus.
Long Winter Dreams – Oh here comes the Rhythm again. I think this track is
pretty much just there for me.
Astrology Postlude – A kind of summary of the album. I prefer the Prelude this
is pretty much just there for me again. There are some nice sections though
Romeo And Juliet – Is the Japanese only bonus track. Again it is OK.
I set very high standard for Lana’s music and this album pretty much meets
them. I certainly think it is better than the first two. I can’t help thinking
it isn’t as good as Garden of the Moon and Queen Of The Ocean though. I really
can’t put my finger on what it is that is missing or not quite there for me
on this album. I suspect I am indifferent to about the same number of tracks
on the other albums so I guess I just don’t get the peaks of excitement. I am
also a little uncomfortable with the amount of heavy Rhythm so perhaps I find
that slightly distracting. I certainly wouldn’t claim it was wrong and I sure
others will enjoy it. I would be interested to hear what others think about
the album though.