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Ayreon - The Human Equation CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.19 | 1106 ratings

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Tristan Mulders
Prog Reviewer
4 stars Ayreon - The Human Equation

After hearing a couple of tracks from this record on Dutch radio station Arrow Rock Radio and already having 2000's "The Dream Sequencer" album, I decided to buy this new Ayreon album. A choice that has been without hesitation one of the best choice I have made recently.

That said, I can (finally) begin reviewing the music on this wonderful album:

-- Disc 1 --

The opening track Vigil is actually one of the weakest tracks on the record, but it is an essential song if looking at the concept of the album. This song ends quite nice with the impression of hearing the main character of this concept album's story crashing his car into a tree (I assume it is a tree, because that is what is shown in a video clip of the song "Love" which is included on the DVD that came with the special edition box).

Isolation is a song that could easily come from any DREAM THEATER album, I came to like it in a while, but at first I thought I was about too much metal, but now I can say that I really love the straightforwardness of this song and especially the ending sequence after the weird keyboard(solo) is great.

Pain is Devin Townsend' song. If you are in a way familiar to Townsend's (solo) music than you might know what to expect here, since he only wanted to perform on this album if he could write his own parts! Yes, we have it all: screaming and singing in one song, typical Devinesque composition in the chorus and a nice built-up in the beginning.

The song Childhood is one of my favourite tracks on this album. It features the warm and tender voice of my favourite vocalist on this album: OPETH's Mikael Åkerfeldt. He portraits the character 'Fear' and somehow I am under the impression that his nice warm vocals do not fit the name of his character, but maybe that is just what makes his character so attractive to listen to, it is seductive towards the main character.

Another song that has the trademark Devin Townsend-sound is the song School. If you not already knew it, you will find out now: you can clearly hear how talented this guy is, he has a unique kind of vocal style, which is not annoying at all! Check out his solo albums recorded with the Devin Townsend Band if you like his performances on this album.

Well, what is there to tell about this album's first single Love.? I can think of only one thing: it is quite a nice song, but definitely NOT one of the best on this record, especially the way James LaBrie (DREAM THEATER) sings on this song is really annoying. The female vocals (ALL of them!) are really nice. What is too bad about this song is that in between the heavy rock parts there are these 'funny' parts, which are not 'rocking' at all. They tend to meander for a bit too long.

-- Disc 2--

Disc 2 starts with the HIGHTLIGHT of the album: Trauma, the most dark and experimental song on this Ayreon album. It features Åkerfeldt's most familiar trademark: combining his warm and tender voice with his brutal death metal grunting. Now for starters, I do NOT dislike his style of grunting and secondly it really fits into his role (Fear) in this story. The growling of his voice blends in with the dark atmosphere of this 10 minutes lasting track. Yes it is actually 10 minutes long, not 8.59 min! This was something quite surprising, but also. simply ingenious: there are eleven five seconds long "songs" as work as a introduction to this song at the very beginning of disc 2, so that the track actually starts of as TRACK 12, alike DAY 12 on the album's cover!

Loser is another experiment which crosses progressive metal with music alike folk rockers FLOGGING MOLLY. There are lots of folk influences included in this song, but the most remarkable aspect of this song is the ending. ¾ of the song is folk rock with a nice rocky vibe to it, but calm compared to for instance the Trauma song. The ending though is completely the opposite: all of a sudden Devin Townsend kicks in at the end with very quick screaming vocals, similar to the chorus of the song Earth Day on his solo album TERRIA. Even if you dislike this way of singing, I think it sounds really great on this album especially if you read along with the lyrics; it really gives the impression that you are listening to an emotional outcry (literally) of the main character towards his father.

The last hightlight of this album is the closing track Confrontation. This song tends to some up most aspects of the album. It has a few atmospheric 'interlude's one might call them, these are mixed between rock sequences as we already encountered in songs like Day 2: Isolation and Day 12: Trauma. The last 2 to 3 minutes are the best part of the song though: this part includes the singing of all the story's characters/vocalists/emotions. They take part in a sort of showdown during which the music is gradually growing quicker in pace and ends with quite a disturbing death metal percussive section accompanied by Åkerfeldt showing the dark side of his voice once more, before the main character, James LaBrie, sings the last notes on this album. But just when you think the album is coming to a beautiful end, LaBrie's voice is abruptly being cut off by the Dream Sequencer (!). Just when we thought we saw the last of Arjen Lucassen's science fiction theories. here he includes a link to his previous The Universal Migrator double album. This took me all by surprise the first time I listened to it.

If it is possible for you to obtain the special edition (either the long DVD box size book version or the small CD size box version) I can recommend you to buy it because it contains a DVD, which features a few nice extra's from the recording sessions of this album, including the video clip for the first single Love (do not expect the best video in the world, but it includes some links with the concept of the album) and a long making-of documentary about The Human Equation which features all instrumentalists and vocalists.

Tristan Mulders | 4/5 |


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