The Gentle Storm – The Diary – 8.0/10
(Review originally posted in Nocturnal Hall Magazine. Link to the original can be found here: http://nocturnalhall.com/reviews/T/thegentlestorm_diary_e.html)
THE GENTLE STORM is a new collaboration between Anneke van Giersbergen and Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Anneke is famous for being the former lead singer of The Gathering as well as having her own solo career, and Arjen is well known for his musical projects such as Star One and Areyon. They have previously collaborated on Ayreon albums, but this is the first time they collaborated as a duo. Anneke focused on vocals and lyrics, and Arjen focused on music and composition. The result is a double album, where each album contains the same songs and track listings. The first album is folk versions of the songs, and the second disc is metal versions of the songs. This is done because the album is a concept album that tells a story of a sailor out at sea and his wife back home. They communicate for years through letters, informing each other of their experiences and hardships. The folk album is filled with acoustic and classical instruments while the heavy album is filled with progressive and symphonic elements. In theory, the album sounds like an amazing idea, and to a certain extent it is. However, the album does have its drawbacks. Having the whole first album be folk, the whole second album be metal, and the same songs done twice creates a lot of familiarity, and not in a good way. It feels like the album is just going through the motions and is not taking enough chances. If the folk songs and heavy songs were mixed together, this album would have benefited way more. Also, it is a shame to have such a great musician like Arjen on the album, and not have him ever sing. He has a beautiful singing voice that could have really brought out the duality of the story. Aside from those problems, the album is full of beautiful melodies, harmonies, and musicianship, and is definitely worth a listen.