Review: Arjen Lucassen’s Supersonic Revolution – ‘Golden Age of Music’

While the latest offering from Dutch master of everything prog-related Arjen Lucassen is not a concept album per se, there is still a thread running throughout the tracks featured within, and that thread would be tall hippy tipping his hat to the 70s, aka the “Golden Age of Music”. And while Arjen states diplomatically “For me, the 70s were the Golden Age of music. But that’s purely personal! If I had been born 10 years later, I guess it could have been the 80s” there is no getting around the fact that the 70s are the “Golden Age of Music”.

In 2023 alone, the following albums turn 50: Pink Floyd’s ‘Dark Side of the Moon’, David Bowie’s ‘Aladdin Sane’, Queen’s self-titled debut, Elton John’s ‘Goodbye Yellow Brick Road’, and Genesis’s ‘Selling England by the Pound’. The two greatest albums known to man were also birthed in the 70s: Alice Cooper’s ‘Killer’, and of course ‘Rainbow Rising’. Christ, ‘Queen II’ was released in 1974. Nothing compares to the 70s, not even the glory days of GNR’s ‘Appetite’, the rise of Metallica, Grunge, Britpop, Madchester…nothing. And the debut vehicle from Arjen Lucassen’s Supersonic Revolution – ‘Golden Age of Music’, is an unashamed love letter to the greatest decade in music and pop culture…regardless of what Stranger Things might try and tell you.

Opening with a delightful instrumental prelude led by the unmistakeable organ sound from Joost van den Broek, ‘Golden Age of Music’ quickly launches into a Rainbow ‘Kill The King’-like intro on the full-throttle opener ‘The Glamattack’, and if you were to down a shot at every reference to a classic band from the 70s then you would be pissed by the first bridge. Fans of anything from the Deep Purple family tree will love this one (as they will love the entire album) – Cozy Powell-esque drums from the always-reliable Koen Herfst (Vandenberg, Armin van Buuren, Epica), van den Broek’s homage to Jon Lord, and Praying Mantis vocalist Jaycee Cuijpers releases his inner Ronnie James Dio at every turn throughout the entire album. Fantastic. The only difference is that Mr. Blackmore never sounded this heavy. And what is intriguing about ‘Golden Age of Music’ is that during the 70s one of the key players, guitarist Timo Somers, was still a few decades off from being born, and it’s his freshness, vigour, and variety that gives the album an edge over albums that declare themselves to be a “throwback to the 70s”. After the implosion of Delain and the subsequent fallout, it is fantastic to hear Timo play with such passion again on what is his finest hour, and it sounds like Arjen has brought the very best out of his young guitar player.

As for Arjen himself…he plays it lowkey by handling the bass duties and be prepared to drool over his fat grooves on the glorious title track which sounds way better the louder it gets, and again, sink a shot at every 70s reference and it’s lights out (1977 release, by the way, just in case you still needed convincing). Arjen is a master at letting the players he assembles shine. The Nick Fury of Prog? ‘The Rise of The Starman’ deals with Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust character and it is uncanny exactly how close to Dio Jaycee gets. A gorgeous solo from Timo and lashings of classic van den Broek on a track that slows the pace down from the speedy opening pair. Timo Somers sounds like he had a blast on ‘Burn It Down’, the sequel-of-sorts to ‘Smoke On The Water’, and his solo around the three-minute mark simply soars. His partnership with Joost on this one harks back to the famous back-and-forth between Jon Lord and Ritchie Blackmore during the days of the classic MKII line-up of Deep Purple. And although the name of the album sleeve features Arjen Lucassen, there is a strong band mentality running through the album.

The epic ‘Odyssey’ is a spacy, standout moment that serves as the traditional middle of the album, that moment where you turn the vinyl over and launch side two. Heavy riffs, thick strokes of the Hammond organ, rolling bass lines, pulsating drums, and vocals full of life; magical. As is ‘They Took Us By Storm’ which sees Arjen paying homage to the creator of some of the most iconic album sleeves of all time: the Hipgnosis studio and Storm Thorgerson. The quality of the album remains high during the closing stages which brings the trippy ‘Golden Boy’ together with the mellow, soulful strains of ‘Holy Holy Ground’, the latter provides a bit of a surprise when just as you are thinking that any second now the guitar solo will come in, it’s a Hammond solo that lands. When the guitar solo does arrive it is rather special. Great tempo and pacing to this album, and once the mellow strains of ‘Holy Holy Ground’ fade out, the guitar-heavy ‘Flight of the Century’ provides the closest moment to Arjen’s Ayreon project on the album. The album ends on a fast note with ‘Came to Mock, Stayed to Rock’ which – thanks to the jam on the intro – sounds like it was cooked up right on the spot. Organic-sounding, foot-tapping, hand-clapping rollicking fun…much like the entire album which has heart by the bucketload.

Throw in some bonus tracks in the guise of four classic covers (‘Children of The Revolution’ totally slays) that include an uplifting version of Roger Glover’s ‘Love Is All’ – which can be found on his 1974 ‘The Butterfly Ball and the Grasshopper’s Feast’ concept album, and featured Ronnie James Dio on vocals – and the end result is another success from the man with the Midas touch – Arjen Lucassen.

Available now via Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group, order here.

Review – Dave

Photo credit: Lori Linstruth

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