Many people (hell, this is metal...FEW people) know of Arjen Lucassen as the mastermind behind Ayreon, the band that singlehandedly brought back the metal opera style of music, even if his stories were a bit cheesy. One may even know him from his other projects Star One and Ambeon.
However, Arjenís latest project is nothing short of...well, interesting. Stream Of Passion was started in 2005, and have since released one album, Embrace The Storm. The album was recorded entirely over the internet, with all of the band members thousands of miles away from each other, tapping into the talents of musicians from different ethnical backgrounds. The group is currently touring throughout Europe.
Stream Of Passion - Embrace The Storm
October 25. 2005, on Inside Out Records
Marcela Bovio: Vocals/Violin
Arjen Lucassen: Guitars
Lori Linstruth: Lead Guitars
Alejandro Millan: Piano
Johan van Stratum: Bass
Davy Mickers: Drums
As said before, Stream Of Passion is a band with members from completely different backgrounds. This lends itself to a rather interesting quality. Imagine the musicwriting of a somewhat ethnic-influence group, a bit heavier in parts than usual, coupled with Spanish influenced pianos and guitars, and unique drumming patterns, and youíd have the band.
The groupís surefire catalyst is the vocals of Marcela Bovio, of Spanish band Elfonia. Youíd be tempted to say that she is somewhat of a generic singer, your traditional female ďpopish" soprano. And that really isnít that far off. However, saying that would be a huge mistake, as Marcela has one of the most distinct voices. Yes, it may sound a lot like others, but the emotion. Good God, the emotion is undescribeable. Itís just absolutely beautiful, haunting, and will blow you away. She is seriously one of the greatest female vocalists ever, simply because she will captivate you forever.
Another unique part of the band are the lead guitars. They may seem pretty standard fare, yet they are all done by a woman. You almost never see that. An American guitarist, Lori can play with the best of them, and play she does. Neoclassical runs, a few scorching lead parts, and your views of female instrumentalists will change forever.
Rounding out the group are Spanish pianist Alejandro and Dutch drummer Davy. Alejandroís piano lines are beautiful and never in your face (which some may dislike), a perfect complement to Marcelaís vocals, and Davyís drums are nothing short of captivating. He makes due with a minimal drumset, and brings a lot of percussive and ethnic elements into his drumming, which bodes for a unique experience.
And, of course, since Arjen is the musicís composer, youíre bound to get something good. He truly is a great composer, and versatile as well. The music found throughout here still retains the qualities that are found in Ayreon, yet distance themselves quite a bit (mainly because there arenít 30 synth parts going at once).
Some recommended tracks:
Interesting drum beats and riffs lend themselves to this track. Itís a bit more far out than some of the others on here, and very ethnic-influenced, which lends for an interesting listen.
By far, the best track on the album. Opens with a somewhat simplistic (guitarwise) intro, held together by a chorus of violins and some interesting pianowork. Marcela comes in, singing in the style she usually does; however, once the chorus hits, you will be absolutely floored. The chorus is one of the most emotional musical parts you will ever hear. Marcela is at her most emotional here, and you will never hear anything like this ever again. This is the track you must download, no matter your musical preference.
A pretty song; good vocals, good guitar solo, everything youíd expect from this band.
Features a few Spanish vocal parts (Marcelaís main band, Elfonia, has vocals entirely in Spanish). Some good acoustic guitar work, yet if the chorus didnít have other things going on in it, it would be boring. The chorus calls to mind a metalcore type asset: single chord, repeated in a start-stop pattern. However, Bovio, piano, and violin make it excellent.
Embrace The Storm:
Another emotional song, and probably some of the best musical work on here. Everything has its separate part that they do quite well. This is one where you see the Dutch influence come in, throughout the violin passages.
Another terrific production from Arjen and Co. The uniqueness of this release canít be understated, and Bovio is absolutely stunning, as usual. Those looking to pick up something that defies expectations, this is the release for you.
Final Rating: 9/10
Note: Even though this is classified under metal, I was really unsure where to put it. Sure, it has metal elements, but there's also atmospheric, ethnic, and dozens of other elements to the music. It's quite unique.