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Ayreon - The Final Experiment CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.41 | 352 ratings

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3 stars Unlike many Ayreon fans, I was first introduced to Ayreon through the very first album, The Final Experiment. As you can already understand, it was good enough to take me further into the Ayreon world, even though this is not, by a mile, the best Ayreon work there is out there.

Ayreon albums are quite complex and feature a range of elements that only a wide array of talented singers and musicians, lead by an exceptional creator, can allow. Thus, one could not expect the first album of this concept ("The First Experiment"!) to be as nicely done as, for instance, The Electric Castle. The concept would be refined as time goes by, just as the singers and musicians hired would also get better.

One other thing playing against this album (or against any other Ayreon album for that sake) is the fact that its range is so large that it is almost certain to touch into at least one genre that the listener dislikes, or feels more indifferent to it (grunt, for me, is particularly taxing).

This being said, the lyrical concept underlying this first Ayreon album was compelling, telling the story of a Middle-Ages mistrel who was given a message from the future, tried to warn his fellows, and then convicted of heresy (side note : strangely, this album coincidentaly came out the same year as the movie 12 Monkeys). It was good enough a setup for the stories to come in subsequent Ayreon albums.

And so The Final Experiment is off to a strong start once Prologue ends. The Awareness and especially The Eyes of Time, with a great guitar finale, show all the signs of an excellent progressive album with neo-prog influences as the melodies and build-up spark off enthousiasm.

Most of the other tracks until Act IV are unfortunately of lesser interest save for a few good moments here and there such as the orchestral Sail Away to Avalon (which is not so progressive in my opinion, but fits well on this album). The softer songs, like Courtyard Mistrel Boy, fail to raise any eyebrows, while the more energetic songs lack clear purpose. I even have major difficulties with a few songs, such as Computer Reign or Magic Ride.

The Final Experiment, in my view, offers its best moments as the album ends with four songs of strong emotional and musical content. Merlin's Will and The Charm of the Seer both impress with their orchestral voices, buildups and melodies, followed by the sad Swan Song which is a fitting prelude to the dramatic final song Ayreon's Fate.

Overall, a rock opera made good by its strong start and finish, plus a few other good moments here and there. Although has a number of weak songs in the middle sections that prevent this album from reaching the level of most subsequent Ayreon albums. Obviously a promising concept still in its infancy.

SentimentalMercenary | 3/5 |


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