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Ayreon - Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.61 | 450 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars First off don't be fooled by the fact that Ayreon are classed as a Prog- Metal band, The Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer isn't a Prog-metal album nor was it ever intended to be. This album (and its metal counterpart The Flight of the Migrator) are telling the story of how the last man on Mars is trying to spend his last days alive before the oxygen runs out and he passes away (cheery thoughts to start the album there!). As with all of Arjen Lucassen's projects the album is largely composed and performed by himself, though he surrounds himself with multiple other musicians, either to do all the drumming or as guests performing solos and helping to fill out the keyboard and guitar work on the songs.

What I find on this album is music that encapsulates the feeling and emotion on each song very well for the most part. Though the theme always turns gloomy and reflects the doubt that is part of the main characters story at some point in each song, the music tends to reflect far more than that. Musically it moves from dark and gloomy beginnings and lasts for the first few songs but starts to move towards a much more upbeat and positive feel from the fourth song onwards, though the lyrics keep you based in the reality of the characters overall situation.

As always, Lucassen is the man behind the compositions and, surprisingly here, handles most of the musicianship as well. Instead of his normal host of guest musicians that add numerous guitar and keyboard solos and some melodies he only invites a couple of keyboard players (Erik Norlander and Clive Nolan) to add a few solos on certain songs, plus Rob Snijders on drums. The work from the three guests is very good in general. As you would expect you get a series of very well performed solos from Norlander and Nolan that fit seamlessly into the music and in particular the keyboard work of Lucassen. Snijders' drumming holds down the rhythm section and fit's the music played very well, though without sounding like a stunning drummer at any time. Lucassen's own performances are rather more patchy than the guests. At times his work is very good, like the haunting melodies of 2084 and the soaring guitars and keyboards of The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B Cocq, but he has some very poor compositions with the needlessly repetitive Dragon On The Sea and the all round dull Temple Of The Cat. Its also noticeable that his bass work in this style is not the most adventuress and comes out as little more than adequate.

Instead of employing various guest musicians he makes use of a number of singers. Unlike on Ayreons previous album, Into the Electric Castle, the lead singers each have a specific song for them to shine on, rather than taking the role of a character that would appear on multiple songs. In most cases the singers give very good performances, with Lana Lane (2084, Dragon On The Sea), Damien Wilson (And the Druids Turn to Stone) and Neal Morse (The First Man on Earth) providing the stand out performances here. Sadly Johan Edlund gives a less than stunning performance, though his deep voice does suite the song (My House on Mars) and Jacqueline Govaert's voice is little more than annoying on Temple Of The Cat. Lyrically this isn't a bad album, unlike Part 2, with the lyrics focused on the people of the time that each song is set in and the concept doesn't come across as being cheesy Sci-Fi, which it could quite easily have done.

Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer is a good album but there are serious flaws that limit its impression. The Temple Of The Cat and Dragon On The Sea are poor songs with little beyond Lana Lanes voice to redeem them and Lucassen doesn't excel here as a bass player for most of the album, though he does have the occasional god showing. Overall I will give this album 3.5 stars, its not great so I'll round it down to 3 stars.

sleeper | 3/5 |


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