Arjen Anthony Lucassen - Lost in the New Real (InsideOut Music)

A concept album? Surely not!

Prog rock renaissance man (aren’t they all?) Arjen (Anthony) Lucassen doesn’t hold back. If he’s got an album to release, he’s gonna give you every last drop of music swilling around his brain come recording time; Hence, MaF is confronted with 21 – count ‘em – tracks crossing just about all the connotations you might have of what constitutes rock music in 2012. That said, he’s not a happy bunny about said music scene, bemoaning the lack of originality emanating from his peers and contemporaries on the wry Pink Beatles in a Purple Zeppelin before, almost in the same breath reeling off a nifty cover of Zeppelin’s very own Battle of Evermore. It’s not the only cover present – Pink Floyd, Blue Oyster Cult, Frank Zappa and the Alan Parsons Project all get the Lucassen nu-prog treatment, in a sort of self-fulfilling answer to the man’s own ‘it’s all been done before’ lament in Pink Beatles…

It’s not all misery however. The spritely E-Police evokes memories of a radio-friendly Genesis in the days before Phil Collins became a full-blown wanker, whilst the excellent Dr Slumber’s Eternity Home blends jaunty Britpop with tasty Euro metal axework in a way this reviewer certainly never thought possible. Maybe Queen would have sounded like this had Freddie Mercury lived to hear Blur

Elsewhere the feel of Lucassen’s old Ayreon imprint is reprised on the likes of the sombre Some Other Time (that’s the Alan Parsons track I mentioned earlier, so perhaps there’s a bit of prequelizing prophecy at work here), but perhaps the most remarkable thing about this whole concept album (did I mention Lost… was a concept album? Sorry, I justassumed you knew) is that the mighty Rutger Hauer has been roped in to do the narration. The work he does throughout doesn’t add to the occasion overmuch, it’s just the fact that he’s here at all that adds a bit of excitement to proceedings.

Of course, as with all of Lucassen’s concept works it isn’t necessary to follow the story to enjoy the baroque pop of the likes of the pop-culture avalanche of Where Pigs Fly because the man is such a strong songwriter, and if you have any sort of affection for what’s gone before in the Arjen canon then you’ll eat this album up and come back sniffing around for seconds, like the salivating, hungry prog rock dogs you all are. 

Lost in the New Real is out now.