Arjen Lucassen – One of rock and metal’s best kept secrets ?

Arjen_Lucassen-13592          Has anyone heard of Arjen Anthony Lucassen? Anyone? Anyone? What about Ayreon, Guilt Machine, or Star One?  No?  Well,that’s not really surprising – not to say that the popularity of Lucassen’s projects is non-existent, but that he certainly isn’t in the mainstream of the music industry and it’s rare to meet anyone who’s heard of him or his projects.And that’s a damnedshame because a vast majority of everything Arjen puts out is monumentally excellent and even the songs that don’t hold up to that bench mark are still very good.

Arjen Anthony Lucassen is one of rock and metal’s best kept secrets. He is so diversely atypical in style, Wikipedia describes him as a progressive metal/rock songwriter, singer,multi-instrumentalist musician and record producer from the Netherlands. Okay, we’ll start with that.

To fully review Arjen’s awsomeness would take a novel. I don’t
have that much time to write it and I’m guessing you don’t have
that much time to read it either.  So, I’ll keep it simple with
a review of the 2002 album Space Metal from Arjen Anthony
Lucassen’s Star One.

What really got me interested in this album (and pretty much
everything Arjen has done) was when I happened to hear the song,
“Intergalactic Space Crusaders,” on Pandora Radio.  Needless to
say, I was impressed and wanted to hear more. I came to learn
that Arjen’s Star One project is a concept project based on
science fiction movies and TV shows.  From a very young age, I
have been a huge science fiction fan (don’t judge), so I grew
even more intrigued.  The songs covered Star Trek, Star Wars,
Dune, and Blake’s 7 (the BBC TV show that the song “Intergalactic
Space Crusaders” is based on) to name a few. Listening to the
album in its entirety, I can say it had a very epic, modern,
classical sound greatly influenced by 80’s rock and metal. As you
would expect from an album called Space Metal, it also had a lot
of complex, yet subtle synthesizer parts to all of the songs –
kind of like “classical meets spacey.” What impressed me the most
was how well the guitar and synthesizers worked together and
complimented each other. For instance, when you hit a pinch
harmonic or do a run on the higher register notes, it’s obviously
going to sound thinner and less meatier than playing power
chords.  So what Arjen did was thicken up those guitar parts with
synthesizers and vice versa.  I point this out because of how
tastefully it was done. Instead of using those parts to show off,
he accented them perfectly and just enough to fill in the gap, so
to speak – very disciplined.

The guitars were written (or so I believe) to have an Yngwie
Malmsteem/Iron Maiden melodic and rhythmic feel, but when the
guitars gets really heavy, it has a sound you might equate to Zakk
Wylde and John Petrucci birthing a riff together. With all the
layering of the different instruments and the thick, deep, dark
(as far as the tone goes) sound this album has, it’s imperative to
point out how incredibly clean, clear and expertly mixed this
album is.

Another thing to point out is the transitions between the separate
phrases in each song.  They are not as abrupt as you would hear
from bands like Opeth or Dream Theater and not as leading as you
would hear from bands like Ihsahn or The Devin Townsend Project.
Rather, they are a mixture of all the above and smoothly done.
For example, the song “The Eye of Ra” starts out with a slow soft
synth melody, then moves into the verse which has a mysteriously
curious tone played only by a Hammond organ moving into a short
bridge with only deep ominous synth sweeps. After all that, a very
heavy guitar break follows with all the instruments joining in –
in simple terms, it starts with very little going on and then

The point I’m trying to make is that all the songs on this album
go from one end of the spectrum to the other at the drop of a hat,
but the transitions are extremely smooth. In conclusion, this
album is something that anyone who has a love for great music
would enjoy. But one thing I would suggest the first time you
listen to it – don’t be thinking a badass guitar player wrote this
album. Rather, listen to it with the understanding that a badass
composer who happens to be badass on guitar wrote this album.
Either way, I don’t think you will disappointed.

By D Jones

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Classical to Modern Day Guitars

There is a fine probability in this globalized economy that a person beside you does not understand your language but both of you understand the language of music. Countries have fought war but came together to listen to the same old music. Musicians and artists are never differentiated because they all speak the same language which is the language of music. Imagine a person playing a guitar inside an underground railway station and you drop few cents to support him. You never knew him yet the guitar he/she is playing is enough for you to get connected with him.

Like all things in the world music never remained constant it changed from one generation to other. Your father might have listened to a different kind of music than you and your child might have heard a different kind of music than what you are hearing now. Music is evolving day by day and some millions of tunes have been created and still new tunes are being created by amateurs and professionals by day.

Whilst this wonderful piece of transition of music from one generation to other generation is occurring the basic composition of the musical instruments hasn’t changed. Musical instruments have evolved from their crude state into electronic form. There hasn’t been much significant change to the basics of Guitar and its composition. Guitar has remained as it used to remain in its basic structure with new add on features which met the tastes and features of the user. Many of the features added to the traditional guitar improved the quality and decreased the users work load. These days we talk about Electrical guitars (Electronics guitars) which have improved the quality of the music and also increased the reach ability of the music to wider audience across the globe.

Classical guitar

Classical guitar

Nylon and Steel strings are used in today`s modern day guitar whereas in olden days they used to make guitars out of different kinds of wood and strung it with animal gut. Interestingly some of the great musicians of olden days played with guitars made of wood and animal gut. The music which they played still lives on till date. They have introduced different kinds and genre of music which still lives on and new forms of music evolved and improved from these kinds of genre`s.
Some of the very top brands which manufacture guitars are PRS, Fender, Jackson, Dean, Gretsch, etc. These top brands of guitars can be easily distinguished by the quality of material they use. When you play a traditional guitar and a modern day guitar simultaneously you will be able to notice the difference of sound which is due to amplification properties and modern day electromagnetic pickups. Many prefer to use modern day guitars and they are also famous with Generation X.

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Is Andy McKee The Most Proficient Guitarist In The World?

If you talk about the finest, new finger style guitarists of this era, Andy McKee is definitely one of them. He is an internationally acclaimed musician well known for his dynamic and inventive approach to the acoustic bass. His reputation stretches from his home base of New York, across the United States and Europe to the far jazz corners of the world. Andy’s talents as a composer and accomplished instrumentalist have earned him critical acclaim and a prominent place on the world jazz stage.

Andy McKee

Andy McKee

He was born in 1979 in Topeka, Kansas, and started playing guitar at the age of thirteen when his father bought him a classical guitar. It was not long after that Andy got his first electric guitar and began emulating some of his favorite music of the time; Metallica, Eric Johnson, Joe Satriani, and Dream Theater.

Composing was something Andy caught on to a little bit later and started writing when he was 20 year old. Andy released his first CD titled Nocturne in 2001 and competed in the prestigious National Finger style Guitar Competition in Winfield, KS. He placed 3rd, making him the youngest competitor to ever place in the top 3.

In 2003, Andy began playing internationally beginning with a tour in Taiwan with renowned guitarists Jacques Stotzem, Isato Nakagawa, and Masaaki Kishibe. He also placed 1st in the Miscellaneous Acoustic Instrument contest in his home state of Kansas with the harp guitar. In 2004, Andy Released his 2nd CD titled Dreamcatcher. Andy also won 1st place in the Kansas Finger style Guitar Competition and 2nd in the Canadian Finger style Guitar Competition.

Andy has performed in various parts of the world including Japan, China, Belgium, England and Canada. He is also known for his work in music education. He is a faculty member at The New School’s Jazz and Contemporary Music Dept. in New York City, he teaches privately, and he is a presenter of master-classes at conservatories around the world. Whether you are talking about Andy McKee’s bass playing or his way of moving through life, three words say it, strength, passion and artistry.

Andy says, “Most of all, I hope my music communicates something to the listener. I don’t want to just play music with a lot of skill. I hope listening to my music is an emotional experience!

In late 2006, a live performance of his flagship song Drifting became a Featured Video on YouTube and MySpace, achieving over 20,000,000 views on the former to date and remaining one of its highest rated music clips.

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Pantera – The Rise & Fall



No band affected the metal world in 1990’s than the heavy metal band, Pantera. Beginning with its 1990 album, Cowboys from Hell, the post-thrash band put to rest any and all bits and pieces of the ’80s metal scene.

Pantera’s beginnings date back to the early ’80s when the Texas-based band began releasing albums on the Metal Magic label. Originally, the band featured then-teenaged brothers, Darrell Abbott and Vinnie Paul Abbott as well as Rex Brown and Terrence Lee. They debuted in 1983 with Metal Magic, followed by Projects in the Jungle in 1984 and I Am the Night in 1985. Singer Phil Anselmo then replaced Glaze, and the group went on to record Power Metal, an album released in 1988 that eventually scored the group a deal with East West.

By the time Pantera unleashed Far Beyond Driven in 1994, they were the most popular metal band in the land, as the frenzy surrounding that Billboard chart-topping album testified.

At the height of their popularity and influence, Pantera began to self-destruct. Less than two months after the release of The Great Southern Trendkill (1996), Anselmo became a drug addict and overdosed on heroin after a homecoming concert in Texas, and as tensions rose between him and his fellow bandmembers, he began engaging with a growing list of side projects that kept him away from Pantera.

The Pantera officialiy ended on December 8, 2004, when guitarist Dimebag Darrell was murdered on-stage by a deranged fan. The tragedy was big news in the States, grabbing headlines everywhere the day afterward. For a sad moment that day, the spotlight shone once again on Pantera, who inspired a legion of extreme fans and one of the greatest and most influential metal bands ever.

Pantera’s career is based on nine studio albums, one live album, and one compilation album. They also released two extended plays (EPs), six singles, five video albums, eleven music videos, and two box sets.

The band’s major-label debut, Cowboys from Hell, peaked at number 27 on the U.S. Billboard’s chart, and was certified platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

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What is Rock ‘n’ Roll?

Hank Ballard said, “If you’re looking for youth, you’re looking for longevity, just take a dose of rock ‘n’ roll. It keeps you going. Just like the caffeine in your coffee. Rock ‘n’ roll is good for the soul, for the well being, for the psyche, for your everything”.

Rock ‘N Roll is a musical genre whose ‘golden age’ is usually recognized as the decades of the 1950’s and 1960’s. Many musical styles from around the world contributed to this new sound. Along with the African American influence, rock ‘n roll also drew on the lyrical melodies of recent European immigrants and the country and western music of Texans.

First, the music became popular in small clubs and on the radio. Later, with the introduction of programs such as American Bandstand, teenagers could watch their favorite bands on television. Not everyone was excited about this music. Many parents didn’t like the suggestive dancing, naughty lyrics, and loud, fast beat.

This musical form had its beginnings in the blues tunes, gospel music, and jazz-influenced vocal music that became popular among African-American audiences after World War II. A new kind of blues, it featured electrically amplified guitars, harmonicas, and drummers that emphasized afterbeats.

These forms of popular music were given the label rhythm and blues (R and B) and were played on big-city radio stations. Radio spread this music’s appeal from black communities to towns throughout all of the United States. By the mid-1950, performers, such as Little Richard, Joe Turner, and Chuck Berry were becoming popular with white audiences. Radio disc jockeys began calling their music rock ‘n roll.

Elvis Presley, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan are among the most influential Rock ‘n’ Roll artists.

The best Rock ‘n Roll songs of all times include:

  1. I Can’t Get No – (The Rolling Stones)
  2. Sympathy for the Devil – (The Rolling Stones)
  3. Good Vibrations – (The beach boys)
  4. Stairway to Heaven – (Led Zeppelin)
  5. Like A Rolling Stone – (Bob Dylan)

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What Is the Secret behind Slipknot’s Masks?

Slipknot, a heavy metal band, was formed by Paul and Shawn along with Anders Colsefni (ex-singer) in Des Moines, Iowa in 1995. The band has been through many changes since then to reach the current 9 member status it has now. Slipknot considers them as a family unit and each of the nine members are assigned a number between 0-8.

The group present the rock scene in their individual masks, each representing a personality, and there draping jumpsuits. Slipknot feel they are showing their true personalities and inner selves with the masks which also add to the flavor and intensity of the music due to the sheer awkwardness of the masks. The band consists of three percussionists, two guitarists, one bassist, one DJ, one sampler and one lead singer. Slipknot has been climbing and climbing, gaining new fans and support with the release of the self-titled album which soon stormed to platinum status.



Its members include 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8 which are called in human terms as DJ Sid Wilson, drummer Joey Jordison, bassist Paul Gray, percussionist Chris Fehn, guitarist James Root, sampler Craig Jones, percussionist Shawn Crahan, guitarist Mick Thomson, and vocalist Corey Taylor, respectively.

Each comes equipped with not only a frightening visual persona and number assignment, but a talent on his particular instrument that combines and collides to form the nine-headed modern heavy music dubbed Slipknot.

Formed during the latter half of 1995, the band went through necessary line-up changes to arrive at what they now describe as a family unit.

The band is known for its attention-grabbing image: the members wear matching jumpsuit uniforms, and each one has a unique mask. In the past, their jumpsuits have featured large UPC barcodes printed on the back and sleeves, which are identical and render the same barcode number to the barcode on their first demo, Mate. Feed. Kill. Repeat (Debut Album).

With each new album, Slipknot has used new masks and coveralls. The masks haven’t changed dramatically with the release of their second and third albums, as the masks are more of an extension of what they previously were. Jordison addressed the issue in an interview in 2004, stating that the change of masks is representation of growth and difference within age. During the music video and live performances of their single ‘Vermilion’ the band change their respective masks to death masks made from casts of their own faces.

The masks have been subject of much criticism, generally thought of as a gimmick to try sell their product. The band strongly objects to these claims, proclaiming that the masks are used to draw the attention away from them and put it on the music. Several members have said how the masks are a visual representation of how the music makes them feel and how they put the members in animal-like mentality.

Slipknot has been nominated for seven Grammy Awards and has won once. They were also nominated at the 2008 VMA’s, in the category of Best Rock Video, for their second single from their fourth studio album, “Psychosocial”, they lost it to Linkin Park’s ‘Shadow of the Day’.

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The Most Expensive Guitar!

These days a good, servicable guitar can be bought for under $1000 US whether you’re talking acoustic or electric, but let’s look at the high end.

Most Expensive Guitar is a signed Fender Standard Series Stratocaster. It is worth $2.8 million. It was sold at an auction in Doha, Qatar, to aid victims of the 2004 tsunami disaster. It was bought one year ago by Qatar’s royal family for a million dollars and donated back to the Asia Program, bringing in $2.7 million USD at the more recent auction, whose attendees included Former President Bill Clinton. Technically, the guitar has generated a total of $3.7 million USD.

According to the Fender website, “The idea started when Fender Europe’s Jamie Crompton contacted Bryan Adams to see how people from the music industry could reach out to help the victims of such a devastating natural disaster. Bryan got his phone book out and rang nineteen of rock’s most treasured artists to sign a Standard Series Fender Stratocaster guitar, donated by Jamie and Fender Europe.”

Signees of this expensive electric guitar included Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Eric Clapton, Brian May, Jimmy Page, David Gilmour, Jeff Beck, Pete Townsend, Mark Knopfler, Ray Davis, Liam Gallagher, Ronnie Wood, Tony Iommi, Angus & Malcolm Young, Paul McCartney, Sting, Ritchie Blackmore, Def Leppard, and Bryan Adams, the coordinator of the project.

If we talk about regular guitars, there are some factors that Influences its cost.

Production Company: If a famous company like Gibson or Martin made the guitar, it will be worth more.

Famous Owner: If a guitar is played by someone famous, particularly if it appears in a famous photo of the player in question, will become more desirable and therefore more expensive. Even if it’s a terrible guitar.

Historical Impact: There are some iconic single guitars like Les Paul’s prototype solid body, the first Fender Broadcaster, an early Fender Precision bass, the original Rickenbacker Frying Pan model lap steel guitar.

Manufacturing Process: Some companies make extra special production model guitars in which an extraordinary amount of care and artistry goes into the handmade production. The resultant guitar is going to be a very good guitar that’s worth a lot of money. A current example is the PRS Dragon series. A combination of immaculate decorate, fine and expensive materials, exquisite hand working and limited production numbers gives rise to prices up around the $70,000 US mark.

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Judas Priest – What Made It Successful?

Ornamented with Leather outfits and chains, Birmingham Rockers Ian Hill, Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton and K. K. Downing formed a band in 1970 called Judas Priest. The band fused the gothic doom of Black Sabbath with the riffs and speed of Led Zeppelin, as well as adding a vicious two-lead guitar hit.

Judas Priest

Judas Priest

They set the pace for much popular heavy metal from 1975 until 1985, as well as laying the groundwork for the speed and death metal of the ’80s.They have been cited as an influence on many heavy metal musicians and bands. Their influence was so important that named Judas Priest the second most important band in heavy metal, just behind Black Sabbath.

Their popularity and status as one of the definitive heavy metal bands has earned them the nickname Metal Gods from their song of the same name.

In August 1974, the band released their debut single Rocka Rolla and followed this a month later with an album of the same name.

The ’80s were the decade Priest had the most success. They had a string of hit albums including Screaming for Vengeance, Defenders of the Faith and Turbo. They even had some radio and MTV success with songs like “Breaking the Law” and “Turbo Lover.”

1980 Judas Priest’s released British Steel. It is their finest album till date. Overall, the band has sold in excess of 35 million albums globally. It includes great hits like Breaking The Law and Living After Midnight. It saw the band leaving more experimental music behind and going for the arena rock anthems that Halford sings so well.

The 1982 album Screaming for Vengeance featured the song You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’, which earned strong US radio airplay. Songs such as Electric Eye and Riding on the Wind also appeared off this album, and proved to be popular live tracks. By 1985, they had fully implemented the speed-metal tempo they inspired.

Some of the Best songs of Judas priest till date includes Delivering The Goods, Burnin’ Up, Genocide, and Savage.

With success came some problems. In the summer of 1990, the band was involved in a civil action that suspected they were responsible for the self-inflicted gunshot wounds in 1985 of 20-year old James Vance and 18-year old Raymond Belknap in Reno, Nevada, USA. On December 23, 1985 Vance and Belknap, after hours of drinking beer, smoking marijuana and listening to Judas Priest music, went to a playground at a church in Reno with a 12 gauge shotgun. Belknap decapitated himself; then Vance followed, but the weapon was very slippery by then and he survived with a grotesquely disfigured face.The men’s parents and their legal team alleged that a subliminal message of ‘do it’ had been included in the Judas Priest song “Better By You, Better Than Me” from the Stained Class album. They alleged the command in the song triggered the suicide attempt. The trial lasted from July 16 to August 24, 1990, when the suit was dismissed.

Judas Priest is very popular among teenagers. In 2006 their d song You’ve Got Another Thing Comin was included in the video games Prey, Guitar Hero and RoadKill.

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What Is Punk Rock?

“Punk is musical freedom. It’s saying, doing and playing what you want. In Webster’s terms, ‘nirvana’ means freedom from pain, suffering and the external world, and that’s pretty close to my definition of Punk Rock.” Kurt Cobain

Punk rock is a rock music genre that developed between 1974 and 1976 in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia. The beginning of punk rock is often furiously debated. This is partially because everyone has different definition of punk rock, and partially because its foundation stones are found in several places.

The first concrete punk rock (often shortened to punk) scene appeared in the mid ’70s in New York. Bands like The Ramones, Wayne County, Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, Blondie and the Talking Heads are pioneers of punk rock. The bands were unified by their location, solidarity, and shared musical influences. They created fast, hard-edged music, typically with short songs, stripped-down instrumentation, and often political, anti-establishment lyrics.

Typical punk rock instrumentation includes one or two electric guitars, an electric bass, and a drum kit, along with vocals. Punk rock songs tend to be shorter than those of other popular genres—on the Ramones’ debut album, for instance, half of the fourteen tracks are under two minutes long.

Punk rock lyrics are typically frank and provoking; compared to the lyrics of other popular music genres, they frequently comment on social and political issues. Punk’s legacy lies in its introduction of self employment and activism. Trend-setting songs such as The Clash’s ‘Career Opportunities’ and Chelsea’s ‘Right to Work’ deal with unemployment and the grim realities of urban life.

By the late ’70s, punk had finished its beginning and had emerged as a solid musical force. With its rise in popularity, punk began to split into numerous sub-genres. A number of overlapping punk rock subgenres have developed since the emergence of punk rock in the mid 1970s. Even though punk genres at times are difficult to segregate, they usually show differing characteristics in overall structures, instrumental and vocal styles, and tempo. However, sometimes a particular trait is common in several genres, and thus punk genres are normally grouped by a combination of traits and twee.

Punk Rock also introduced punk fashion which is very popular till date. It includes tattoos, piercings, metal-studded and -spiked accessories, bright colored funky hair styles. Punk fashion is extremely popular among both musicians and fans.

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Was Syd Barrett a Victim Of Fame?

Roger Keith Barrett was born on January 6, 1946, in Cambridge, England. He was one of the original members of legendary rock group Pink Floyd. The guitarist was the band’s first creative force and an influential songwriter. He was a musician, singer and songwriter. He used a play numerous instruments including Guitar, Vocals, Bass, Slide guitar, Ukulele, Mandolin, Banjo, and Piano.

Syd Barret

He was also an innovative guitarist, using extended techniques and exploring the musical and sonic possibilities of dissonance, twist, feedback, the echo machine, tapes and other effects; his experimentation was partly inspired by free improvisation guitarist Keith Rowe. One of Barrett’s trademarks was playing his guitar through an old echo box while sliding a Zippo lighter up and down the fret-board to create the mysterious, otherworldly sounds that became associated with the group.

He joined Pink Floyd in 1965 but left three years later after one album. Around mid-1967, Barrett began to show increasingly alarming signs of mental instability. He would go catatonic onstage, playing music that had little to do with the material, or not playing at all. An American tour had to be cut short when he was barely able to function at all, let alone play the pop star game. Dependent upon Barrett for most of their vision and material, the rest of the group were nevertheless finding him impossible to work with, live or in the studio.

He left the band in 1968 and went on to live as a recluse, with his mental deterioration blamed on drugs. Just as Pink Floyd were about to achieve global success, Barrett retreated from public life and returned to Cambridge. He had a brief solo career with the albums The Madcap Laughs and Barrett, formed a short-lived band called Stars and then retreated from the public domain.

Little was known about his condition for 20 years until he was tracked down living with his mother. But his influence remained, with younger fans and artists discovering his music. Many artists have acknowledged Barrett’s influence on their work. Paul McCartney, Pete Townshend, Marc Bolan, and David Bowie were early fans; Jimmy Page, Brian Eno, and The Damned all expressed interest in working with him at some point during the 1970s. He died at the age of 60 from complications arising from diabetes.

Syd Barret in his Last Years

Syd Barret in his Last Years

It is said that he was suffering from schizophrenia, in his last years. The alarm bells began to sound only when Syd kept his girlfriend under lock and key for three days, occasionally shoving a ration of biscuits under the door. Doctors said that he was incurable. But these all are assumptions because he lived alone for many years and carried a low profile life. No one actually knows what was going on in his life. Neither band members of Pink Floyd know enough about mental health of Syd or his family. He was mentally ill or on LSD or couldn’t cope with the pressures of fame. What these problems were or whether they were indeed Barrett’s problems, remain unanswered in the public domain to this day.

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