Review Summary: Arjen Lucassen's Guilt Machine differs quite drastically from his work with Ayreon. A dark, melancholic sound suggests this is more for fans of Porcupine Tree and Opeth than Blind Guardian or Nightwish.
Arjen Lucassen's Guilt Machine differs quite drastically from his other projects, featuring a dark, melancholic vibe in favour of the more bombastic elements found in his work with Ayreon. Also distinct from his other work is Arjen's decision to have one vocalist (and a relatively unknown one too) in the form of Jasper Steverlinck from alternative rock band Arid. Despite these differences, Guilt Machine is undeniably the work of Arjen, with a sound closer to Ayreon than any of his other projects.
Chris Maitland of Porcupine Tree and Lori Linstruth fill the remaining band positions: Maitland replaces Ayreon's Ed Warby in light of the album's mellower elements whilst Lori Linstruth returns to record all the guitar solos.
Also in Lori Linstruth's hands is the task of writing lyrics. With a focus on themes such as guilt, regret and despair, On This Perfect Day's lyrics are a far cry from the more 'operatic' styles found on Ayreon and Star One albums. No disrespect towards Arjen's lyrics but, in my opinion, this helps identify Guilt Machine as one of his better projects.
The overall sound of the album is audibly influenced by bands such as Pink Floyd and Porcupine Tree, with Arjen playing most of the atmospheric and rhythm guitar work, as well as the bass. This is in stark contrast to Linstruth's approach to the solos scattered across the album. Trademarked by her extensive use of vibrato and wah, it brings beautiful sound and dynamic contrast to the album.
Although drums stand out less than the other instruments on this album, this is no poor judgement of Maitland's contribution. In fact, this is complimentary to the album's mellower vibe.
Lastly, are the vocals of Jasper Steverlinck. Having never heard of Arid or Steverlinck before Guilt Machine, it is quite surprising how well he copes with the variety found in this album. His pronunctiation is excellent and delivery is outstanding yet unique - a good choice by Arjen here.
It comes a bit of a shame then that the album has only six main tracks. Even with such long track lengths, it leaves you begging for more. In the meantime, this is certainly an album that any fan of Porcupine Tree, Opeth, or Lucassen's other work needs to check out.