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Ayreon - The Human Equation CD (album) cover

THE HUMAN EQUATION

Ayreon

 

Progressive Metal

4.19 | 892 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SentimentalMercenary
2 stars I am somewhat going to dissent with the majority here and assess The Human Equation as my least favourite Ayreon album to date (if we disregard Actual Fantasy). This is not to say that The Human Equation is a bad album - it is not - but here Lucassen was not inspired as much as he was when he did Into the Electric Castle or The Dream Sequencer for instance.

Departing from his traditional science-fiction concepts, Lucassen here develops a more human, psychological storyboard about someone who suffers from coma after a mysterious car accident and who is visited in his hospital room by various emotions. Story-wise, I thought Lucassen pretty much reached the top with his incredible story on the Dream Sequencer, but this divergence on The Human Equation works very well no matter what.

The Human Equation is a lot more heavy and metal than it is mellow. Unlike Into the Electric Castle, which was very versatile, and unlike the two parts of Universal Migrator which were focused respectively on atmospheric moods and bombastic metal, this one lies somewhere in between as it does have some mellow parts to help build the energy bursts, but mostly tends overall to heavy and metal ambiances.

So, over this double CD album, there are of course a number of good moments, such as the almost 9 minutes long Isolation to start off, the finale of Childhood, the keyboards-backed vocal pitch exchanges on Betrayal, the powerful closer Confrontation, or especially my favourite track, Love, at the end of the first CD. Actually, this one has grown into one of my favourite Ayreon songs. Great vocals and perfect musical buildups propping up an inspired melody.

And this is where a too large part of this album finds its weakness. No matter if the musicianship and production is as flawless as on any other Ayreon work, uninspired (and uninspiring) melodies plague The Human Equation too often and for too long segments. I must also say that I never had much esteem for extreme metal stuff such as grunting or growling, and whereas Lucassen did manage to arrange some growling segments on previous albums which I thought were fitting, here there are just too many for my taste and they're annoying, notably on the second CD's opener Trauma, a longer song that never ends quickly enough for me.

All in all, an album showcasing a great array of varied, good prog vocalists and musicians, performing as well as they were asked, but conducted by a composer who did not happen to be at his inspirational best. A nice-to-have perhaps, but there are better prog metal works out there. Happily, this lapse was only temporary as Ayreon's subsequent project, 01011001, happened to be a sublime, undervalued revival.

SentimentalMercenary | 2/5 |

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