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Ayreon - The Human Equation CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.19 | 1101 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The voices in our heads

If there's one thing I'm always a sucker for it's really good prog metal. If there's another thing I always fall for (but am sometimes disappointed by) it's a good concept album with a solid story that somehow doesn't take away from the music itself. If there's one thing the world of prog metal is known for it's albums that go way over the top, and Arjen Anthony Lucassen is one of the guys who likes to do just that. His spaced out stories of adventure have brought us through Electric Castles, through the minds of people all throughout time, and even to the beginning of the known universe. His space operas have appealed to many, but it's always been a very specific audience. With The Human Equation Arjen takes a turn down an unfamiliar road and goes instead for people, emotions and the human psyche. A dramatic twist indeed. Somehow, this combined with the familiar Aryeon sonic attack makes for a drop-dead perfect progressive metal album.

One of the biggest draws to the album has to be the story. Although Arjen has done some crazy stuff before this one has to take the cake. There's no apocalypse and no castle halls, in fact, the story takes place entirely in one room (well, and in one guy's head, but that's beside the point). The characters each have their own voices again, much like The Electric Castle but this time they're playing a different breed of character. The three main characters include: the man in the coma (Me as voiced by James LaBrie of Dream Theater), his wife (Marcela Bovio of Stream Of Passion) and his best friend (voiced by Lucassen himself) - the other characters are the main character's different emotions and feature an array of superstar voices including Mikael Akerfeldt (Opeth), Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad) and many others. The story takes place over 20 days and each day is a separate song, making for a very interesting mixture. I won't get too much into the story itself, because that's what listening to the album is for.

All the songs work well in tandem with one another, some act as pieces to a whole while others are meant to stand out on their own. Ironically, some of the best songs on the album are the shorter ones (ironic because we're talking prog here). None of the songs are over 9-minutes, true, but it's some of the truly quick ones that really take the cake. Take for example the instrumental Playground - a beautiful tune led by flute that lasts for a mere 2:15, but feels like a lot longer (in a good way), or the quirky Loser with it's didgeridoo opening and interesting vocal lines (an Alice Cooper impression by Mike Baker).

Somehow, everything about this album just works. If you like progressive metal in any way, shape or form you'll find yourself loving this one. It may take a few listens to really let the music sink in, but what double album doesn't. Eventually you'll find yourself on the edge of your seat when me speaks for the first time (in the real world) and says to his best friend ''Listen well to what I have to say, I have to tell you... of my betrayal''.

Very much worth many, many repeated listens, this is undoubtedly the ultimate Ayreon project (to date, anyways). A wonderful album for (as I've said many times already) anyone who likes Prog metal in any way. 5 voices out of 5! it doesn't get any better than this.

Queen By-Tor | 5/5 |


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