Arjen Anthony Lucassen

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Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Arjen Anthony Lucassen.jpg
Arjen Anthony Lucassen signing an autograph in 2006
Background information
Also known as Arjen Lucassen
Arjen A. Lucassen
Iron Anthony
Born (1960-04-03) 3 April 1960 (age 58)
Origin The Hague, Netherlands
Genres Rock opera, heavy metal, progressive metal, progressive rock, symphonic metal, electronic music, space rock, psychedelic rock, folk metal
Instruments vocals, guitars, bass, hammond, keyboards
Years active 1980–present
Associated acts Ayreon, Star One, Ambeon, Guilt Machine, The Gentle Storm, Stream of Passion, Bodine, Vengeance
Website Arjen A. Lucassen Website

Arjen Anthony Lucassen (born 3 April 1960, Hilversum) is a Dutch progressive metal/rock songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist musician and record producer, best known for his long-running progressive opera project titled Ayreon.[1]

Lucassen started his career in 1980 as the guitarist and backing vocalist of Dutch band Bodine as Iron Anthony, before joining Vengeance in 1984. After eight years he left the band, wanting to go into a more progressive direction, and released two years later an unsuccessful solo album entitled Pools of Sorrow, Waves of Joy under the nickname Anthony.

In 1995, Lucassen released an album uncredited to any artist called Ayreon: The Final Experiment, in which he sang, wrote every song and played most of the instruments. The album conducted to the creation of successful progressive rock/metal project Ayreon, which established Lucassen as a notable composer of rock operas.[1] Following Ayreon's success, Lucassen has been involved in many other projects: he is the creator, composer and current guitarist/keyboardist of Star One, Guilt Machine, The Gentle Storm, the currently inactive band Ambeon, and the creator and former guitarist of Stream of Passion. He composes and writes most of his songs, but leaves the lyrics to his musical partners in some of his projects.

Lucassen plays a wide variety of instruments: his main instruments are guitar and keyboards, however he also plays bass, banjo and many others. Overall, in his career and including all his bands and projects (as principal instrumentalist/creative force or as a member), Lucassen has released twenty-three studio albums, two live albums, four EPs and seventeen singles. He has also made many minor participations alongside various artists including Shadow Gallery, After Forever and Within Temptation, and the number of studio albums that includes Lucassen is more than 50.

Since the creation of Ayreon, Lucassen progressively gained notoriety to rock and metal reviewers, with many critics calling him a "genius",[2][3][4][5] and praising his composition abilities and originality. In his review of 01011001 Allmusic reviewer stated "Music this over the top almost defies criticism. Reviewing it is like reviewing the world's tallest building. It doesn't care; it just goes on and on."[6]


Lucassen's love of music was sparked in the 60s, when he became a big fan of The Beatles. He decided to learn guitar when he heard Ritchie Blackmore playing in Made in Japan. One of his first bands was called Mother.[7]

Bodine (1980–1984)

In 1980, Dutch band Bodine was looking for a new singer, and Lucassen brought his guitar to the audition in hopes of becoming their new singer. After being rejected for his singing abilities, he was hired as a guitarist.

Lucassen stayed with Bodine until 1984, recording two albums with them, Bold and Brass and Three Time Running, under the nickname Iron Anthony.

Vengeance (1984–1992)

In 1984 Lucassen quit Bodine after being offered a slot in a new band, Vengeance. He started writing and composing songs, but wanting to go into a more progressive direction, Lucassen left the band in 1992.

First solo album (1992–1994)

After his departure, Lucassen first tried to create a new band, Planet Nine. However, according to his words in The Final Experiment book, "nobody even wanted to touch it".

He released his first solo album, Pools of Sorrow, Waves of Joy, under the name "Anthony" in 1994.[8] It was a commercial flop.[9]

Ayreon's debut and fame (1995–2000)

After his first unsuccessful solo album, Lucassen began recording The Final Experiment (originally titled Ayreon: The Final Experiment with no artist noted), which was released in 1995 on a small Dutch label, Transmission Records. The album featured a wide array of musical styles, ranging from folk to progressive metal, and established Lucassen as a notable composer of rock operas.[1] It was soon followed by Ayreon's first single, "Sail Away to Avalon".

One year later, Actual Fantasy was released. (With this album Lucassen made Ayreon the name of his recording project instead of just being the title of his first album.) The album became later the exception in Ayreon's discography, as the only Ayreon release that does not feature a single overarching story concept. The single "The Stranger from Within" from this album was also released. It was a relative commercial failure. Lucassen decided to make one more album, and to stop Ayreon if this one did not become a commercial success.

In 1996 Lucassen released Strange Hobby, an album without artist name and in which he was not credited for any participation. It is his second work where he sings on all the songs and plays all of the music himself, but also the only album of his career since Bodine where he did not participate as a composer (despite arranging all the songs himself).

In 1998 the commercially successful and critically acclaimed Into the Electric Castle was released. It's still considered by many as the best album in Lucassen's career. The extremely good reception to the album made Lucassen decide to continue the project Ayreon.

Universal Migrator, The Human Equation, Ambeon and Star One (2000–2005)

In 2000 Ayreon released two albums simultaneously, considered as two parts of the same story: Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer and Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator. The two sold well and were received positively, despite Part 1 being considered as superior to Part 2. The single "Temple of the Cat" from Part 1 was released the same-year, before being re-released one year later in an acoustic version.

In 2001 Lucassen created the side-project Ambeon to explore a softer style of music. It mainly consisted of him as the principal instrumentalist and the then 14-year-old Astrid van der Veen on vocals. They released their first (and only) album Fate of a Dreamer that same year, along with the single "Cold Metal". The album had a limited success.

In 2002 Lucassen created another side-project, entitled Star One; the only one with which he made more than one studio album to date. Much like Ayreon, Star One had many guest singers and musicians, but still focused on four of them: Dan Swanö, Russell Allen, Floor Jansen and Damian Wilson; in the band, Lucassen played guitar, keyboards and hammond organ. Their first album Space Metal was released in 2002. The album also had limited success, although it was more successful than Ambeon. Live on Earth, the first live album in Lucassen's career which also includes Ayreon songs, was released one year later.

Four years after Universal Migrator, Lucassen released Ayreon's sixth album, The Human Equation. It was a commercial success (the album went to No. 7 in the Dutch album charts[10]), and some critics considered the album as Lucassen's best since Into the Electric Castle.

Special editions of all of the Ayreon albums were released in 2004 when Lucassen switched label from Transmission to InsideOut Records.

Stream of Passion, depression and 01011001 (2005–2008)

Lucassen created Stream of Passion in 2005 to make a more conventional progressive metal band with symphonic and gothic inspirations. He also wanted to showcase the talents of his friend and Mexican female vocalist Marcela Bovio, who also sang on The Human Equation and who had won a contest on Lucassen's website.[11]

He recruited a bassist, drummer, and keyboardist and started the band. It was the first time he was not the only major composer of a project, with Bovio writing and composing a lot of the music with him. They released the album Embrace the Storm in 2005. Like Lucassen had done with Star One, Stream of Passion toured and released a live album, Live in the Real World, in 2006. Also like Star One, the tour featured many Ayreon songs, as well as songs from the album. He finally left the band in 2007, as he had planned beforehand. The band continued successfully without him: They released three albums since, The Flame Within, Darker Days and A War of Our Own.

In early 2007, Lucassen sank into a depression, due to his recent divorce and affliction with anosmia.[12] however, he got back to the studio to record 01011001, which achieved commercial success, reaching No. 2 in the Dutch album chart in February 2008.[10] The album is the conclusion of the Ayreon storyline, and after its release Lucassen decided to temporarily stop Ayreon, because he was not inspired to continue and also because many critics (despite the album being well reviewed) noted that there was nothing new being offered on 01011001.[13]

Ayreon's hiatus, focus on other projects (2008–2012)

In February 2009 Lucassen announced on his website his new side-project: Guilt Machine.[14] The project features a very limited line-up compared to other Lucassen side projects: himself on many instruments and backing vocals, Jasper Steverlinck (Arid) on lead vocals, Chris Maitland (ex-Porcupine Tree) on drums and Lori Linstruth (ex-Stream of Passion) on lead guitar.[14] Their first album On This Perfect Day, released the same year, received a very good critical reception but was Lucassen's least commercially successful album in many years.

In 2010, Lucassen reunited the six other members of Star One, inactive since 2003, and released the band's second studio album Victims of the Modern Age. The album received critical acclaim and was a big commercial success. In December 2011 the Ambeon album Fate of a Dreamer, like the older Ayreon albums, was re-released with bonus tracks.

At the same time as that the Ambeon album was re-released, Lucassen was already busy composing and recording his next project. On 23 April 2012, Lucassen released Lost in the New Real, his first solo album since Pools of Sorrow, Waves of Joy 18 years ago.[15] On this album Lucassen sang all leading vocals, wrote all lyrics and played almost all instruments. Also, he asked the Dutch actor Rutger Hauer to provide narration between the tracks, similar to as he had done on Into The Electric Castle. Artwork for this album was done by Claudio Bergamin.

Ayreon's revival, The Gentle Storm (2012–present)

On 23 August 2012, Lucassen published on his YouTube channel that he started composing "a new project".[16] On 9 October 2012, he revealed it via YouTube again to be a new Ayreon album, planned for 2013.[17]

Responding to fan comments on his website, Lucassen stated on 12 October that it will probably take a year before the album was completed.[18] He also stated that the album would be the start of a new story apart from the previous Ayreon albums, and confirmed the presence of Ed Warby as usual.[19]

On late 2012, Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia) announced that Arjen would make some guest lead guitar works in his new Avantasia album, The Mystery of Time.[20] This marked the second time both musicians have worked together, the first having been in the Ayreon EP Elected, on the title-song, in which Tobias sang guest vocals.[20]

On 26 March 2013, Lucassen revealed the name of the next Ayreon's album, The Theory of Everything.[21] This album was released on 25 October and received positive reviews.

On 22 April 2014, Lucassen revealed that his new project would be a collaboration with Dutch singer Anneke van Giersbergen, who previously collaborated with him in Ayreon albums Into the Electric Castle and 01011001. He described it as "an epic double concept album, a combination of ‘classical meets metal’ and ‘acoustic folk’." [22] Lucassen's most reccurent collaborator Ed Warby will be featured once again on drums, and it will be his very first album featuring a double bass among the instruments.[23][24] He confirmed that Johan van Stratum from his former band Stream of Passion would play bass on the album. Also, due to "unforeseen problems", Warby had to re-record all his drums part in one day only.[25]

On 2 September 2014, Lucassen revealed that his collaboration with van Giersbergen was actually a new band, called The Gentle Storm. Their first album, The Diary, was released in 2015, with van Giersbergen writing all the lyrics and him composing the music. The band toured in 2015, without him; however he was featured on a few acoustic shows by the band in the Netherlands.[25]

Personal life

Family and relationships

Lucassen has an older brother, Gjalt, who speaks through a megaphone on the song "I'm The Slime" from his solo album Lost in the New Real. Every Lucassen album contains a "Gjalt joke" in its booklet, in which he refers to his brother.[7] This is, at times, done in both a joking and/or mocking fashion, as for years he and Gjalt have had a rocky relationship and haven't always gotten along. He was married to a woman called Jolanda, who appeared as a bassist on his Final Experiment album, however they divorced in 2006/2007, and she remained one of his closest friends since.[12]

Lucassen is in a relationship with guitarist Lori Linstruth, who lives with him and is also his manager since 2007.[26] She played guitar on various Ayreon albums and in Guilt Machine's On This Perfect Day; she wrote all the lyrics of the album. She was also Stream of Passion's other guitarist during Lucassen's time in the band.

Health problems

During the recordings of The Human Equation from 2003 to 2004, Lucassen suffered from "increasing lower back problems". The Doctors gave him an MRI examination revealing he was suffering of hernia; he had his examination filmed in order to use it for a video shoot, "as the 'Me' character [from The Human Equation] would also have needed a scan after his car accident".[27]

Lucassen has suffered from anosmia since 2007. The same year, he sank into a depression which required medical help.[12]

On 3 September 2012, he revealed on his Facebook page that he has been suffering from tinnitus for the past 2 months.[28] He stated "Damn, I developed a nasty case of Tinnitus :-( For jogging I bought loud in-ear headphones that completely close off your ear. Now in both ears I have a horrible beep that will never go away...And the test today also showed pretty bad hearing damage (4k range) from all the years of noise. So please "listen to the warning" [in reference to "Unnatural Selection" from 01011001]: be careful with in-ear earphones!"

In 2013 he suffered an elbow injury. According to him, it is "pretty serious" and will need to be operated on, with only 70/80% chance of success. However he chose to not be operated immediately because it would delay the release of The Theory of Everything, and continued to record despite the pain.[29]



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  9. [1] Archived 26 November 2010 at the Wayback Machine
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External links