GUILT MACHINE – On This Perfect Day

GUILT MACHINE - On This Perfect Day
  • 8.5/10
    GUILT MACHINE - On This Perfect Day - 8.5/10


Mascot Records
Release date: September 29, 2009

User Review
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Arjen Lucassen is back with his latest project: Guilt Machine. The creative force behind Ayreon has referred to this as his “best side project so far.” Whether that’s actually the case is arguable. What’s doubtless is that this is his most introspective piece so far. The themes may be subtle for some, but those that give this album repeated spins and take some time to immerse themselves in the lyrics will be rewarded. This is the type of album that slowly captures a listener because of its atmosphere, seriousness, and depth.

The subject matter is decidedly morose, as the inspiration behind the band is Lucassen’s struggle with depression and his subsequent recovery from it. Despite the delicate nature of the lyrics, Lucassen didn’t write any of them. Lori Linstruth, who is his manager and love interest, was responsible for their craft. In the context of the relationship between the two, it’s fascinating that Linstruth was able to interpret someone else’s feelings so eloquently. On top of that, she also takes care of all the lead guitars on the album.

Anyone familiar with Ayreon knows that it’s made up of an ensemble of various vocalists. That isn’t the case here, as Jasper Steverlinck is at the helm where vox go. His tone is similar to that of Alt-Rock singers like Jimmy Gnecco (Ours). This shouldn’t be at all off-putting, because Steverlinck manages to sound soothing while still striking a wide range of emotions.

Oftentimes, Guilt Machine sounds influenced by British pop. The chorus of “Twisted Coil” seems particularly Beatles-esque. With her playing, Lori Linstruth also manages to convey an essence of Prog in the vein of Pink Floyd. Of course, being of UK birth and a former member of Porcupine Tree, Chris Maitland also contributes to such a tone.

In addition to all the atmosphere that’s created musically, there are several samples thrown into the mix. These recordings, in several different languages, have to do with the respective speaker’s thoughts on blame, guilt, shame and the like. Again, weighty subject matter, but interesting nonetheless. In this respect, there truly is a little something for everyone on this release.

None of the performances here fall short. One of the only things that keep this album from being accessible may be the length of each song. Four of the six tracks clock in at over ten minutes. In many ways, this prevents any of them from truly standing out. Some will say that this is precisely what you’d expect from Lucassen; others might find themselves looking for something a tad more concise. Each track feels like a journey that wends itself through various peaks and valleys. It’s like the band repeatedly builds itself up to rousing crescendos and then works its way down into something alternately soothing or mystifying. There’s a lot of depth on this one and you don’t have to be well versed in Ayreon to appreciate what’s on offer.

For Prog enthusiasts, this is a keeper. For anyone that appreciates deep, reflective music this is also an album worth checking out.

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