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Ayreon - The Human Equation CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.19 | 1187 ratings

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5 stars Some people have a gift and know how to use it. Arjen Lucassen is one of them. It was already obvious on his first album "The Final Experiment" that we could expect a lot more from this phenomenon. "Actual Fantasy" was a nice CD, but nothing more. The first highlight was without any doubt "Into The Electric Castle", the album with the most variation until now. This landmark should be known to everyone that claims to know a lot about this music style. From then on, every album by Arjen Lucassen was compared to "Into The Electric Castle" and until now no match could be found. There was always the feeling that you heard it before or that it was only a variation on the same theme. I don't want to be detrimental to the later albums, but they missed the little extra that a music lover is searching for. But Arjen wouldn't be AYREON if he wouldn't surpass himself once more.

Of course there are some typical AYREON features in "The Human Equation", and so there should be, because an artist must be recognizable. But there's more, a lot more...

After the beautiful opener "Day one - Vigil" you already get such a typical AYREON song "Day two - Isolation". It could come straight from "Into The Electric Castle". And yet you feel a certain potential and this has certainly something to do with the ideal combination of vocalists. Eric Clayton (Reason), James LaBrie (Me) and Mikael Äkerfeldt (Fear) certainly attract attention. A floydian piece is followed by an unequalled synth solo by Joost van de Broek (AFTER FOREVER).

"Day three - Pain" is the first track that lifts this album to a higher level than "The Castle". Again the choice of voices is great. Devon Graves (AGONY), or should I say 'Buddy Lackey', the singer of DEAD SOUL TRIBE and PSYCHOTIC WALTZ, together with Devin Townsend (RAGE) give this song the little extra with the brilliant musical finds. (#1)

The track "Day four - Mystery" contains the typical AYREON organ sounds and is just a common but very pleasant track.

"Day five - Voices" also kicks off in a very known manner, but once Eric Clayton (Reason) performs his part, the track goes to another dimension. This could be considered as a leading thread running through the whole album. The most intriguing singer is Eric Clayton (Reason). Without him, the album would have been completely different. Also the piece with Mikael Äkerfeldt in this track is a beauty.

The singer with the most differentiation is Agony (Devon Graves). The combination with Mikael Äkerfeldt in "Day six - Childhood" make it another extra special track. (#2)

'Best Friend' (Arjen) does an excellent job singing the track "Day seven - Hope", a song with a very beautiful melody that reminds me a bit of BLACMORE'S NIGHT.

The combination of the voices does a great job on "Day eight - School", but the highest prize goes to the classical sounding bridge together with the interaction between "Pride" (Magnus Ekwall) and 'Reason' (Eric Clayton).

The only instrumental on this album "Day nine - Playground" is a brilliant, nostalgic song. If it was meant to make everybody reminisce their schooldays, then it succeeds completely. Clever piece of music.

Although it's not really a typical AYREON track, "Day ten - Memories" only gets to me from the quiet piece with 'Passion' (Irene Jansen) and 'Reason' (Eric Cayton) on.

The single "Day eleven - love", a most enjoyable track, very well sung by every one but an extra feather on the hats of 'Love' (Heather Findlay) and 'Passion' (Irene Jansen).

The best track on 'The Human Equation' is, without any doubt, "Day twelve - Trauma". Only the beautifully built tension would do, but the real kick comes after 3 minutes and 15 seconds: the vocals of 'Reason' (Eric Clayton) with a mini guitar solo, and after that 'Fear' (Mikael Äkerfeldt) who joins in at the right moment and brings the track to a climax on the right moment with a supergrunt. And that's why grunts were invented. Not to roar for a whole bloody album (really pathetic) but to give that little extra at the right moment. High class!!! (#3)

'Love' (Heather Findlay) opens "Day thirteen - Sign" in a way that no one else is capable of. Goosebump time!!. That's what Arjen's art is all about. Knowing who has to sing when and use the vocalist in a style that is best for him. This is a Heather moment like no other. "Top Notch" MOSTLY AUTUMN. But also the great guitarsolo in combination with the violin deserves to be mentioned. After that the level of the song goes down a bit.

'Me' (James LaBrie) gets a typical DREAM THEATER part in "Day fourteen - Pride", a heavy rock song. But this track is an exception, because on the rest of the album, James sings very laidback and quiet, really the way I like him the most. Superb judgement by Arjen.

The three strongest voices (Fear, Agony & Reason) open "Day fifteen - Betrayed", a quiet track, with a strong chorus sung by Eric Clayton (Fear). It contains a very beautiful middle piece with amongst others the synth solo by Martin Orford. The song ends with an acoustic guitar and a very modest James LaBrie (Me).

The didgeridoo opens the most folky track "Day sixteen - Loser". This exceptional strong track creates a fantastic atmosphere thanks to the combination of folk and metal. It reminds me of the Scottish Highlands, FISH, TEMPEST and SKYCLAD. And once more, the strong figures of "Rage" (Devin Townsend) and "Father" (Mike Baker) get a lot of credits. But the abolute highlight of this track is the organ solo by Ken Hensley. His typical URIAH HEEP organ sound sounds better than ever. Oh, guys, where have all those good times gone? But Arjen knows how to bring back these feelings. This is almost scary. And of course it's one of the songs with the little extra. (#4)

"Day seventeen - Accident" opens again in a Floydian way with a very Bowie-sounding Eric Clayton (Reason). The voice of Marcela Bovio has been mixed to the background which gives a very special effect. A piece of drum'n bass is used, just before the guitar solo and the synth solo by Oliver Wakeman, to emphasize the musical variation. Also a snatch of ZEPPELIN ("No Quarter") passes in review. This track is another tip. (#5).

Quite a lot of instruments are hidden in "Day eighteen - Realization", even some classical ones. This track opens as a Focus song to change into a rock song in real DREAM THEATER style.

Arjen (Best Friend) and Marcela Bovio (Wife) give an explanation in "Day nineteen - Disclosure" but I keep the details for the listener to discover. The same for "Day twenty - Confrontation" that also has a more narrative purpose than a musical character. These are good songs, but no super tracks, but they are essential to understand the concept.

I almost forgot to mention drummer Ed Warby. I can be very brief about him. You were right Arjen. The AYREON drummer is Ed Warby and no one else!

The expectations for the new AYREON album were very high. After the super album "Into The Electric Castle" we had to wait and see if Arjen would succeed in matching or even exceeding this masterpiece. With "The Human Equation", Arjen proves that he can do a lot more than he already revealed in the past. At least five tracks contain that little more. (see the #'s) He certainly has set the limits a little higher for himself. The technique and recording quality are an example for the whole musical world. With his skill to approach the right people and use them for the perfect musical atmosphere, he is capable of making exceptional great albums. He doesn't make it easy for himself in the future. I'm curious to see what his next step will be. But one thing is certain. If your budget allows you only one album this year, then you shouldn't have any doubts: AYREON: 'The Human Equation'!

>>> Review by Jany (9,5/10) Translated by Danny<<<

Clayreon | 5/5 |


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