Have to thank That Devil Music for this one, their great review is what tipped me off to the fact that this band even existed! Go check them out if you haven't had the chance yet, a great group of writers who actually know what they are talking about! Sometimes a rarity in today's world.
Arjen Anthony Lucassen is nothing if not a genius. His musical project, Ayreon, is one of my favorite progressive metal bands out there right now. On top of this epic project, he is also the frontman of a few others; Ambeon, Star One, Stream of Passion, and Guilt Machine - some of which may pop up again on another 'Weekly Dose of Prog.' While most of these projects were short lived, this is still an accomplishment by any measurement. And because Guilt Machine is what That Devil Music introduced me to, that is where I'll begin.
Fans of Ayreon will hear familiar sounds and themes throughout On This Perfect Day, and this is to be expected, as they both have the same person at the helm. However, Guilt Machine seems more dedicated to the lighter side of metal, not having any of the crushing themes that popped up on Lucassen's previous works. Compensating for this, the album takes upon aspects of ambient and industrial music. Neither is too overpowering, and if you were to listen to a segment of a song at random odds are you wouldn't hit an ambient or industrial passage. This new 'look' brings the sound and feeling of the record to a new level, adding credence of this is a different project. I actually like it quite a bit.
The songs of On This Perfect Day are long, six tracks at just under a hour, and meander through sub-genres and musical movements. It seems each song has a certain path to follow, nothing ridged, but it seems to have a mind of it's own. Starting with a spoken-word segment (in some language I don't know), being covered up gradually by an ambient/industrial segment, then into the progressive metal that sounds familiar. Continue this way for a while, before vocals join the music (either male, female or both), bringing all the pieces together. This repeats for a while, moving in and out of song structure, until it all fades, leaving nothing but an acoustic guitar and silence for a time, before the progressive metal and the vocals come back in, to finish off the song.
The above paragraph is a description (without any real details) of the third song of the album, "Season of Denial." If I was to go into real detail of the ten-minute song, then this article would be three pages long by the time I was done. You can imagine all that Guilt Machine has to offer then, yes?
I'm not sure if there is a future for Guilt Machine, but I really like the debut album, On This Perfect Day, so I hope so. I like how it continues with the underlying themes of Arjen Anthony Lucassen's other works, but adds to the overall picture with new ideas and sounds. It adds a fresh look on an old sound (but not a bad sound), something I like to hear from time to time. Now that I have discovered Lucassen's other side projects, I have some homework ahead of me. I just hope that the other efforts are as good as this one was.