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Ayreon - The Universal Migrator part two: Flight Of The Migrator CD (album) cover

THE UNIVERSAL MIGRATOR PART TWO: FLIGHT OF THE MIGRATOR

Ayreon

 

Progressive Metal

3.60 | 327 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Dream Sequencer System: O~N~L~I~N~E

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A note before we blast off into space. More of a question, really. Are intrigued by an interstellar story played by one of progressive Metal's highest regarded virtuosos, while many of metal's best singers join along for the ride? Do you want to know what it would sound like traveling through space in a rocket built out of European Power Metal and fueled by pure prog?

If not, then disregard this review and pretend you never saw it. But if you are then drink the fluid from the vessel at the left terminal and let's go.

Obviously, Ayreon's style of space operas is only going to appeal to those who really love everything about it. This album especially is a very acquired taste. The Universal Migrator part two: Flight of the Migrator is the second of two albums released on the same day by the band, the concept being this: Two albums each epitomizing one side of Ayreon's music to truly satisfy both sides of the coin that is their audience. Part one was aimed at the Prog-heads. Very Floydian in feel with it's pressing synths and intricate guitars that means that part two must be aimed at the metalers.

And after a short introduction from the Migrator system it becomes very clear that this is the metal disc. Chaos opens the album with a blinding guitar solo to showcase Arjen Lucassen's talent at playing speed guitar. Of course it's not long (and unfortunately so) that the intro comes to an end. And then, what's this? Dawn Of A Million Souls opens up with power... and I mean POWER as some very appealing synths come in and press the song along with a well done choir of voices at the chorus to push the point across further.

Of course, what really helps this particular album is the fact that it has one of Ayreon's best all-star casts. Since this is the album where Arjen really focused on the metal side of things he really pulled no stops in getting all the best of the best to play on this one. Unlike previous albums were each singer voiced a character in the story on the two albums of Migration each have a singer per song. Ralf Scheepers (ex-Gamma Ray) gives voice to the melodic Journey On The Waves Of Time given life once more by excellent synths and heavy guitars and a demanding drum beat. Ralf's voice has always been a bit quirky and here the song seems very tailored to suit that quirk by turning it less quirky and more outer worldly. Andi Deris (ex-Pink Cream 69, Helloween) gives life to the extraordinary To The Quasar which starts with a lot of vocal parts but eventually fades him out in favor of Arjen's guitar wizardry. Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius) also gets to make an appearance, lending his voice to Out Of The White Hole a track which ties the album's story to previous albums like Into The Electric Castle and future albums such as 01011001.

Then we get to the master. Into The Black Hole is probably the biggest standout on the album thanks to it's tone about as dark as a black hole. It opens with those wonderful synths before slowing down to let in the voice. And who else to voice a track like this than the master of modern art metal - Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden, solo) joins the fray and adds his incredibly emotional vocals to this stellar track. Familiar more to his solo efforts such as The Chemical Wedding than Iron Maiden, this song makes incredible use of his vocals. Excellent.

The rest of the songs are just as good. Strong, heavy and melodic with a beat that evokes headbanging while keeping a melody that's hum-able and pleasant. I won't spoil the end of the story for anyone interested, but the album certainly builds up to it, and in a very good way.

Hestiant to give this one a perfect 5, this is certainly a wonderful album which deserves a spin or several. The reason I have to dock a mark is simply this - As stated before, this really is an acquired taste. You'll either love it or hate it, but that was to be expected on a pair of albums each holding an element of a musician who is very diverse. Prog metal fans should add a star to my rating while prog-metal avoiders should take off another star. Excellent album for those who like to travel through space. 4 stars!

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |

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