Arjen Anthony Lucassen, the brain behind some of the most ambitious prog metal albums in the past few years (including his latest epic masterpiece "The human equation" which guest starred a whole dream team of vocalists) decided to get reattached with his roots and form a band, one that will write, play and act like a normal band; the result is "Stream of passion", compiled by six musicians from all around the world.
The first to join in, and actually one of the founders along wiht Arjen, is Marcela Bovio, which was brought out the anonymous and into the spotlight by Arjen in his last Ayreon
album "The human equation", with her came the keyboardist Alejandro Milan.
Guitarist Lori Linstruth, bass player John Van Stratum, drummer Davy Mickers were assembled via the internet from different Arjen message boards and so.
The band never met face to face until the album was fully written and recorded, first time meeting in person was the photo shoot of "Passion" (the first single released from the album), the recording process was made through E-mail; Arjen wrote the drafts and music and sent it out for Marcella to write vocal parts and lyrics for the tracks, and then they were sent to the rest of the band members, letting them do their thing. That's the way a band works in the twenty first century.
It wouldn't be the first time that I would confess the female-vocalist-metal usually doesn't cut it out for me, as it has a tendency of sounding all alike, and kind of repetitive, leaning on the vocalists operatic vocal (and lets face it, her looks), usually backed up by distortion filled power chords, and over orchestrate Hollywood-like symphonic pieces.
On the other hand, Arjen’s music is usually very much influenced by latest prog metal music, and a flirt with the more classic prog bands, but his lyrics are sometimes too tacky. In "The human equation", the music is very much original and interesting, but the lyrics are sometimes embarrassing, even though they are sang by the best vocalist of today's prog metal scene, and can make you forget that you are listening to a prog metal epic and not an audio book tape.
This is exactly where a new balance strikes for the best, Arjen provides interesting music and great melodies, which he does best, and this time Marcella is incharge of the vocal melodies and lyrics, and comes off as a very original and talented writer, both of this factors save this album from blending in with the rest of the goth female vocalist metal, and gives it its uniqueness.
The album opens up with the song "Spellbound", with enchanting tribal like drums, light touches of guitars and keys, filled with mist, and Marcella’s vocals making it cutting edge. From the first second you know that this is different from the rest, and you can expect it to get interesting, which it does.
The first single released from the album is "Passion", its chorus is very much catchy and melodic, with tasteful guitar playing, and upfront sound, its verses are much more interesting, with a piano giving it a special feeling and Marcella uses her vocals as an instrument in addition to her singing, and does a great job at it.
The attractive thing about this album, is that It has a nice blend between the good side of gothic metal and atmosphere , Arjens interesting sound and composing, and first to see Marcella talented vocal melodies and writing.
Each of the band members contributes perfectly for the whole picture to be completed, the drums are varied, soundwise and rolewise, making it noticeable and relevant without becoming dominating, the keyboards are creative, and some of the piano pieces are the ones who set the tone and mood, even when not the lead instrument. Lori’s guitar sounds great, tight and with good riffing, the solos aren't too "show off" but are tastefully done, mixing technique, good melodies and feel. The bass lines go in and out of patterns, keeping you on guard, to wrap it up Arjen does what he does best, by composing the music, and producing it, and making the dream come true.
This album if one of the more unique in its musical style, Arjen trades his grandiose epic works for a live band feeling and definitely is refreshing, he doesn't reinvent the wheel, but sure makes it look very much appealing.