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Ayreon - The Human Equation CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.19 | 1101 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Don't waste your time reading my review! Go to the closest CD shop and get this CD! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! Enjoy the CD and then, if you have time, read this review. It's a long review. Well, it's actually too short for this double CD and wonderfully crafted concept album. In fact, mine is with extra DVD bonus because I purchased the limited edition couple weeks ago. Again, I'm late compared to most of you as I live in "rest of the world" country.

Based on AYREON official website, the concept centers around a story of a man who is hospitalized (in coma) due to a car accident. Cut off from the outside world, the man finds himself trapped in a strange realm where his emotions- most of which he's ignored for a long time- have come to life to confront him with all the choices he has made in his life. As he is taken from one memory to the next, he slowly becomes aware of all the events leading up to his accident, and realizes that if he ever wants to wake up from his coma, he must find a way out of his prison.

This album is the best ARJEN LUCASSEN has ever produced. It has a blend of rock, metal, space and some traditional music flavors (Scott's music?) and string arrangements. On musical nuances, there are bits of ROYAL HUNT (sorry for those who are not familiar with this band, it's a melodic metal band.), KANSAS, DREAM THEATER (the prog met stuff), PORCUPINE TREE, FOCUS, ARS NOVA and of course AYREON itself. I think, Arjen has put a concerted effort to make this album that comprises collaboration of many talented musicians a reality. Enjoying this album is like experiencing a journey of human life . the music flows naturally with high and low points and the vocal parts are composed in dialogue style. This makes the music much more meaningful when the blend of male and female voice are well presented. This might be typical Ayreon music as it happened also in the "In To the Electric Castle" album. When I received this CD and spin CD 2, I almost wrote a complaint to InsideOut as there are 11 "untitled tracks" prior to "Day Twelve" track. When I checked my friend, Didik Rahmadi, he got the same too. Finally . I realized how INNOVATIVE Arjen is. He made it that way as to ensure that "Day Twelve" track is really at the twelfth track and the whole album ends with 20th track, in-line with last track "Day Twenty". Brilliant!!

DAY ONE: VIGIL is a short track that opens the album; it starts with Arjen's voice followed by female voice "Why are you so concerned? Do you really care or do you feel responsible?" performed by Marcela Bovio (Elfonia) as 'Wife' . The melody part of female singing is really touchy, memorable and set the overall tone of the album. I expected that this short opening track would be followed by upbeat music, typical to prog-met album, but I was wrong. It flows to second track DAY TWO: ISOLATION in a soft music with acoustic guitar and male voice. The spacey keyboard sound accentuates the intro of this track beautifully. The upbeat ,metal influenced, music with simple guitar riffs and organ sound follows the intro. This track is one of my favorites because it's melodious, rich with sounds of multi instruments: violin (reminds me to KANSAS), flute, guitar and keyboard. It has a dynamic melodies as well. Oh .. I love this track very much!

DAY THREE: PAIN is opened with nice guitar rhythm and male voice. The music is simpler than previous track. Great keyboard and metal vocals. The inclusion of flute in the middle has enriched this track musically. It flows nicely to next track DAY FOUR: MYSTERY where the intro is a dialogue singing between male and female, acoustic guitar rhythm at background. The interlude has stunning keyboard / organ solo (reminds me to 70s prog rock); very nice. DAY FIVE: VOICES is opened nicely with violin and flute (reminds me to THIJS VAN LEER of FOCUS) accompanied by acoustic guitar rhythm. I notice that this album uses many acoustic guitar, especially during intro of each track.

DAY SIX: CHILDHOOD is opened with nice solo keyboard, violin / cello at background and great male vocal. The pan pipe used at the end of vocal part (intro) reminds me to acollaboration album between PATRICK MORAZ and SYRINX (hey, Moraz albums should be reviewed in this page. It's definitely prog to the corner!). DAY SEVEN: HOPE is an organ-based music with 70's musical nuances in a modern sound. It flows seamlessly to DAY EIGHT: SCHOOL with metal riffs. Orchestration in the middle of this track is wonderful. I like it very much. DAY NINE: PLAYGROUND serves like a break to me because it starts silently and then followed by nice violin, keyboard & electric guitar sounds. It's an enjoyable instrumental track! It then stops immediately to remark the entrance of next track DAY TEN: MEMORIES with acoustic guitar rhythm and keyboard, male and female vocal dialogue. Disc 1 concludes with DAY ELEVEN: LOVE.

Disc 2 starts with track 12: DAY TWELVE: TRAUMA, a metal influenced track with great keyboard / organ style. It's a combination between metal and 70's prog rock (especially on how keyboard is played). This track is rich in terms of composition in its capability in creating strong musical nuances. It's really enjoyable. DAY THIRTEEN: SIGN starts with a touchy flute / pan pipe with soft and nice female voice, backed with an acoustic guitar fills. The electric guitar solo used in this track reminds me to MIKE OLDFIELD's album. It's a nice mellow track.

DAY FOURTEEN: PRIDE is straight a DREAM THEATER music (LaBrie as vocalist) track with exception of dazzling FOCUS-like flute sound and stunning electric guitar. I don't think DT has ever used flute in their music. This track is excellent. DAY FIFTEEN: BETRAYAL is probably the darkest song compared to others, but it's a wonderful track in terms of melody and composition.

Now comes DAY SIXTEEN: LOSER where it is the best song that I love from this album. It has a strong association with traditional Scotland music (it reminds me to BRAVEHEART movie where there was a wedding party and people were wdancing). Oh my God, this track is absolutely wonderful!!! I like the male singing style and the way acoustic guitar is played altogether with the violin. The solo organ is also very fascinating. DAY SEVENTEEN: ACCIDENT? Is mellow track with some high points in sort of metal music. It then flows nicely to DAY EIGHTEEN: REALIZATION where the silent intro is followed by upbeat tempo with flute and electric guitar take the lead melody. It really reminds me to FOCUS 3 album. It's very nice. The only difference with FOCUS is in metal part. I also like the organ and flute solo afterwards, followed by violin. The relatively long instrumental is then followed by high tone vocals. Amazing!

DAY NINETEEN: DISCLOSURE is a ballad song with a stunning organ and electric guitar in the middle of the track. Disc 2 is concluded with DAY TWENTY: CONFRONTATION where the keyboard intro part reminds me to the nuances of NO QUARTER of Led Zeppelin. But the music is different; it's composed to conclude the whole album as it is indicated to the lyrics "Welcome to reality ..". Concept-wise this track plays the same role as CHILDHOOD's END (of MARILLION's Misplaced Childhood) or FINALLY FREE (of DREAM THEATER's Scene from a Memory). This track is heavily influenced by power metal music as indicated by the speed and drumming style in the middle of the track.

There are two things that bound to any music: 1.) the story that the musicians want to tell the listeners, and 2.) the structural integrity of the music composition itself. This album fulfills the two requirements excellently. I'm not a great fan of AYREON. I only have "Into The Electric Castle" (because there was FISH involvement in the project) but I consider The Human Equation is much better. It's like having a double enjoyment of MARILLION's concept album "Misplaced Childhood". This album has exceeded my expectation. Therefore, I don't think I am too na´ve to give a five star rating overall. (Note: Disc 2 is better than Disc 1). Don't miss this album whether you are a prog lover or not. This album is probably the best album of the year. What do you think? Gatot Widayanto - Indonesia.

Gatot | 5/5 |


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