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




Progressive Metal

3.61 | 454 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One small step for Ayreon...

While the Universal Migrator pair of albums are often seen as a low point in Ayreon's long and strange career full of operas, for those who have the acquired taste they require they are a really big treat. As many people know, when it came to making these albums Arjen Lucassen (Mr. Ayreon himself) decided that when the double album was released they would be released as two separate albums released on the same day, each embodying one element of the project (at the hesitation of calling Ayreon a band per se) - One album pure metal and one album pure prog. Well, its clear from the very Floydian opening instrumental that The Dream Sequencer is the prog effort of the two. While each still has a bit of both these two albums are basically like taking any Ayreon album, putting all the fast and heavy stuff on one disc and the slow and subtle stuff on the other. It's a very big division which really shows discipline from Arjen, but how does it fare for the listener?

Well. Difficult to be honest. Many of Arjen's fans are not simply fans of one or the other (the prog fans listen to it for the metal and the metal heads listen for the prog elements), so making a divide like this was a very risky thing to do. Had Arjen decided to mix the songs on each together and release them as a cohesive package like The Electric Castle These albums may have been received better (not that they were received overly poorly anyways), in theory anyways. That would have been a hard thing to do though considering the storyline. While on the second album we're on a crazy flight through the universe, here we're reliving the life of the last man on Mars and the lives of others before him as he travels through time with The Dream Sequencer.

This, of course, makes for some very emotional music, and this is where this album is amazing. While this album is likely the hardest sell in the entire Ayreon catalog thanks to it's lo-pace and lack of heavy passages as we're used to from the band, once you ''get'' were this album is going it's very easy to appreciate it. The album is based on melancholic vocals most of the entire way through as well as very well thought out guitar riffs. The instrumentation itself falls somewhere between heavy-prog-metal synths and Floydian guitars while the lyrics and vocals usually deal with subject matter that could bring a tear to the eye of the sensitive prog listener.

When it comes to lyrics and emotion portrayed through voice Ayreon has rarely done it better than this album. This is immediately noticeable from the start of the haunting My House On Mars which, combined with the sad riff from Arjen, makes for one very sad song. One Small Step is another touching song that paints a picture very well as the character in the song watches his television in the early hours of pre-dawn to watch the moon landing. One of the biggest standout on the album comes in the form of the single from the album (well chosen), Temple Of The Cat. With the very pretty female vocals (the vocalist for this one is actually the leaser of a disco-punk group by the way) this one is simply touching.

Of course where would be be without Arjen's riffs? There's a few songs on this album where his guitar work makes all the difference. Take for example the riffs from the excellent The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B. Cocq. If the name of the tune didn't have you interested enough it pulls you in right away with it's riff. The vocals on this one are good as well, but not quite the point of focus as Arjen's guitar. The First Man On Earth is another song in this fashion, although not entirely since it's voiced by one Mr. Neal Morse, really it comes off an excellent version of a classic Spock's Beard song... but in space.

Another excellent journey through time and space with Arjen Lucassen and company. Very different from most anything that Ayreon has done before or after this one certainly makes for a great listen. Appreciators of Pink Floyd who want their music to be heavier will love this one to bits while Metal heads should still get a kick out the heaviness under the majority of the music, although it might take a few more listens to get into. Overall this one has to get 3.5 houses on Mars out of 5. Simply put - excellent, but not for everyone.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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