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Ayreon - Actual Fantasy Revisited CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.63 | 81 ratings

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4 stars Actual Fantasy was the second studio album released by Ayreon in 1996. It's different from other Ayreon releases in that it doesn't contain a continuous story, although with each song representing a separate fantasy, it still fits the bill as a concept album. Some of these songs are based on movies that inspired Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Ayreon's founder and creative force. Among them are Abbey of Synn (based on Name of the Rose), Farside of the World (based on The Navigator), Forevermore (based on The Neverending Story), and Dawn of Man (loosely based on 2001 and 2010). Most of the other songs are original ideas by Lucassen, chiefly in the areas of science fiction and medieval history.

The other major difference with Actual Fantasy was that it contained only three guest vocalists (Okkie Huysdens, Edward Reekers, and Robert Soeterboek). Cleem Determeijer (Finch) added synthesizer solos as a guest musician. There were others included, but chiefly the music was entirely by Lucassen. Another important difference was the use of programmed drums and a slight shift towards more prog metal. The original release of the album really paled in comparison to other Ayreon releases.

Turn the clock ahead to 2004. With Ayreon albums being reissued by InsideOut, Lucassen considered remixing Actual Fantasy and adding a real drummer. This he did by bringing in drummer Ed Warby (Gorefest, Star One, and on other Ayreon albums). He also re-recorded some guitar parts and brought in Peter Vink (Finch) to add some bass work. The end result was fantastic giving the original album a much needed facelift. The overall feel of the album is a mix of spacey symphonic prog (like Pink Floyd meets Clive Nolan) and prog metal.

This remixed version of Actual Fantasy also includes a bonus DVD which features the original 1996 album in its entirety, the entire 2004 version in a 5.1 Surround mix, a videoclip of The Stranger from Within and a featurette about the recording of drums, bass, and guitar for the new 2004 mix.

Not quite a masterpiece, but clearly a four-star winner. If you had the original 1996 release and liked it, this 2004 remix is a must-have. If you didn't like the 1996 album, please give this 2004 remix a chance. It's well worth it.

progaardvark | 4/5 |


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