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Ayreon - The Source CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.93 | 283 ratings

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5 stars Review Nş 508

"The Source" is the tenth studio album of Ayreon, the musical project by the Dutch songwriter, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Anthony Lucassen and was released in 2017. As happened with all Ayreon's albums, this is also a conceptual album with each character is being portrayed by only one singer. However, being released four years after their previous album "The Theory Of Everything", "The Source" marks a return to science fiction and the Ayreon's storyline. It acts, in particular, as a prequel to "01011001", making of it the first album in the storyline's chronology.

The concept of the story in "The Source" is about a race named Alphans, which were the ancestors of the humanity. They were trying to prevent the extinction of their race due to problems such as the greenhouse effect. They were increasingly dependent on machines. To solve the problem, they decided to resort the complex of machines that kept the planet running, ('Frame), to can solve those problems that affected the planet Alpha. But 'Frame determined that the problem lied with humanity itself and they took the control and decided to shut down vital systems to let everyone dies. Inhabitants decided to send a select of few Alphans into space so they could attempt to start anew in a distant world.

And as is usual in almost all Ayreon's albums, Lucassen composed all the music and wrote all the lyrics on the entire album with the exception of one part, the Mike Mills' lyrics and melodies which were wrote by both, Mills and Lucassen.

The line up on "The Source" is divided into vocalists and instrumentalists, as is usual. The vocalists are: James LaBrie as "The Historian", Tommy Karevik as "The Opposition Leader", Tommy Rogers as "The Chemist", Simone Simons as "The Counselor", Nils K. Rue as "The Prophet", Tobias Sammet as "The Captain", Hansi Kürsch as "The Astronomer", Mike Mills as "TH-1", Russel Allen as "The President", Michael Eriksen as "The Diplomat", Floor Jansen as "The Biologist", Zaher Zorgatti as "The Preacher" and Will Shaw, Wilmer Waarbroek, Jan Willem Ketelaars and Lisette Van Den Berg as "The Ship Crew". The instrumentalists are: Arjen Anthony Lucassen (electric and acoustic guitars and all other instruments), Joost Van Den Broek (grand piano and electric piano), Mark Kelly (synthesizer), Paul Gilbert (guitar), Guthrie Govan (guitar), Marcel Coenen (guitar), Maaike Peterse (cello), Ben Mathot (violin), Jeroen Goossens (flute and wind instruments) and as is usual, the great Dutch friend of Lucassen, Ed Warby (drums).

"The Source" has four lengthy parts, four chronicles, "The 'Frame", "The Aligning Of The Ten", "The Transmigration" and "The Rebirth". Each part is divided into various segments. Each part has about twenty minutes for a total of almost one hour and a half of music. With the exception of the opening track, "The Day That The World Breaks Down", which goes beyond twelve minutes, the rest of the compositions varies between three and seven minutes, a characteristic that makes the album more dynamic, facilitating the assimilation of the all work. But at no time it aims to be unreachable for uninitiated listeners. The mixing and mastering of the work are also worth mentioning, delivering a current sound, of course, but with timbres that do not hide inspiration in the best moments in the history of prog, a genre that has always excelled for technical excellence in the most varied aspects. Even though all songs are great, the particularly strong opener "The Day That The World Breaks Down" must be pointed as the highlight on the album. The track is more than twelve minutes long which is almost twice as long as the second longest song. The song includes atmospheric sound samples that set the tone right from the start. Eleven of the thirteen guest singers appear in the song and shine in their different parts. Especially James LaBrie's soothing vocals that open the album work very well. After the opening track, the album follow their path with many amazing parts, such as, powerful riffs, upbeat drum passages and distinctive bass guitar lines. The keyboard melodies give to the album an epic science-fiction atmosphere. Numerous short instrumental passages give the listener a welcome break from the vocals. Some middle parts include some majestic choirs. Many passages on the album end in a powerful manner and yet manage to develop a great transition to the next songs that some are much calmer and clearly more focused on inspirations from acoustic, classical and folk music.

Conclusion: As happen with all Ayreon's releases, it will take multiple listens to digest "The Source". But, it worth all the time invested. Overall, "The Source" is a safe variation of the established Ayreon formula, but it's also comforting to see how well said formula is still able to be pulled off. It's epic, it's heavy, it's symphonic, and it's bombastic, all things that I love about Ayreon. The vocals are really outstanding, as usual. Vocalists shine, every last one of them, everyone bringing their style to make this album even more unique. From the instrumental work, the performances, the lyrics, the story line, the production, the design of the cover artwork and the booklet, this album is fully convincing. Overall, this is a strong musical outing, without any weak points. I can only recommend this album to everyone who loves great music.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |


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