Two years ago Ayreon (aka Arjen Lucassen) released his amazing album The Theory Of Everything (see review) and now a new project called The Gentle Storm hits the charts with an album called The Diary. The Gentle Storm consists of Arjen Lucassen (guitars, acoustic bass guitar, banjo, mandolin, percussion and hammered dulcimer) and Anneke van Giersbergen (vocals), who already worked with Ayreon on The Electric Castle album way back in 1998.
This debut album is a concept album taking place in the Dutch Golden Age, which was of course in the seventeenth century. The concept of the album is a tale of love and loss told through the story of two fictional 17th century lovers; the story kind of reminds me of Romeo and Juliet... These two lovers write letters and these letters form the basis for the songs on the album.
The Diary is a double album and both CDs contain the same eleven songs, however the first disc is called the Gentle album and the second disc is called the Storm album, meaning that album one is more quiet and folky-like, while album two is more rock and symphonic metal-like. Giersbergen's crystal clear vocals shine on both albums, but I really prefer the second album as the first album is too dreamy, folky and even a bit too musical-like for me.
On the Storm album I finally hear the familiar Ayreon sound; lots of great power chords, melodic guitar riffs, hooks and melodies and bombastic symphonic passages. The use of the Epic Rock Choir gives an extra dimension to the tracks as well as the use of a real double bass and a real French horn. Musical highlights on the Storm album are Heart Of Amsterdam with a great duel between Timo Somers on guitar and Ben Mathot on violin and The Storm and New Horizons, which are all examples of magical orchestral rock tracks with metal influences.
I really like this album, but I prefer Ayreon albums with different singers and to be honest the gentle CD is a bit too fairytale-like for me...
***+ Martien Koolen (edited by Astrid de Ronde)
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