Lost in the New Real is the first official solo album from Arjen Anthony Lucassen in something like 18 years, though it is hard not to consider him being the owner of Ayreon, Star One, or Guilt Machine. Here we have a very long double album with a majority of original songs, several covers, and a lot of influence worship. Lucassen does employ guests on this album, such as musicians playing violin, flute, dulcimer, and spoken word (specifically from Rutger Hauer of Bladerunner and The Hitcher fame). The first half is a concept album (I won’t get into the details) and the second half is made up of the cover songs and songs heavily displaying influence of those cover songs’ artists.
I readily admit I enjoy Lucassen’s work in Star One more than Ayreon or Guilt Machine. Perhaps it is due to the presence of Russell Allen (one of my favorite singers) on the Star One albums, but it is undoubtedly also because of the heavier music. Here, he is definitely going down the more progressive road than the “metal” path. There are 20 songs on Lost in the New Real, so I am not going to do a song by song review, but there are some definite highlights.
Frankly speaking, this really isn’t much of a metal album. The leadoff song is definitely in the progressive vein, reminding me quite a bit of the work on Ayreon and there are other progressive bits and pieces here and there. Definite highlights are Parental Procreation Permit and Yellowstone Memorial Day, the heavier songs on the album. Beyond that, influences such as the Beatles and Pink Floyd are most prevalent and are a running thread throughout the work. I also hear some influence by ELO and Jethro Tull in places. Some of the song titles are clear references to classic rock songs like Where Pigs Fly (Pink Floyd), E-Police (Cheap Trick), and When I’m a Hundred Sixty-four (Beatles). Lucassen also shows his love for other classic bands like Led Zeppelin, Blue Oyster Cult and Frank Zappa with covers by them. As far as flat out metal – there really isn’t much.
In a couple of places, there are other styles in the music such as industrial and Irish. On the Pink Floyd cover Welcome to the Machine (actually one of the best songs here), Lucassen shows some of his industrial side (actually I didn’t know he had one!). He has definitely put his own spin on this track. It is a nicely updated rendition with some progressive and industrial twists thrown in. Lyrical content throughout is full of references to population control, environmental issues, intellectual property issues, and various things about technology and the internet. I wouldn’t say that any of it is especially controversial, but is Lucassen’s way of using the concept to address current concerns in the modern, civilized world.
I would call this an interesting album, but not a metal one. Lucassen is wearing his influences on his sleeve, showing throughout Lost in the New Real his reverence for classic rock, mainly. This is a work that takes a lot of time to get through and is probably going to turn off the metal purists out there. I don’t find it to be significantly compelling and would much rather listen to Lucassen’s offerings in Star One, Guilt Machine, or Ayreon.
Here is Yellowstone Memorial Day:
I hear the sound in a METAL way.