Prolific composer and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen and vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen are no strangers to each other. They worked together several times over the last fifteen years or so. Now, for The Gentle Storm, the Dutch musicians work almost exclusively together for The Diary.
As you might expect from a Lucassen project, the album, it's concept and music, is grand and immense. Van Giersbergen supplies the lyrics and voice for the theme. Set during the Dutch Golden Age in the 17th century, it's the tale of the two Dutch lovers separated when the man goes off to sea. They communicate only by letters, which form the breadth of the songs. Anneke expression comes in her typical range from pop rock vocalist to operatic diva.
Lucassen provides the music with intent of creating melodies that lift her voice and carry the story. From his Ayreon compositions, you can expect some significant depth to the music. The songs are largely symphonic with a strong measure of rock and folk music, then wrapped some progressive rock intrigue. Surprisingly, none of Lucassen's ubiquitious keyboards are found in the arrangements. But there is a choir, hammered dulcimer, and French horn, to name some of the many instruments involved. Largely, I found The Diary to remind me of early The Gathering blended with general Ayreon elements.
The basic album package consists of two CDs of the same material, the Gentle version and the Storm version. As you might suspect, the latter is the more bombastic full-blown symphonic and rock version of the songs. The former dials those back for lighter symphonic notes and greater acoustic and folk tones. Frankly, I like both approaches, perhaps leaning to the Storm version. But the Gentle version has the ability to lift both the melodies and van Geirsbergen's voice. Essentially, if you like either artist in the aforementioned music context, you will like this work and should buy the album. You won't be disappointed.
If you like most anything composer Arjen Lucassen and vocalist Anneke van Giersbergen have done in the past, you will like the grand album of symphonic and melodic progressive rock.
Mat Sinner is both an icon and legend in the German, and the larger European, hard rock and heavy metal scene. Cranking out music since 1982, Sinner is an industrious and prolific musician and producer whether through his namesake band, the heavy metal heroes Primal ... [ Read More ]