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Ayreon - The Human Equation CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.20 | 1209 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars Dutch multi-instrumentalist and songwriter extraordinaire Arjen Anthony Lucassen is the mastermind behind Ayreon, a project he started in 1994. His albums are all concept epics containing a plethora of guest musicians and vocalists.

The Human Equation contains a bit of everything here, subgenres in both rock and metal with folk influences, very progressive, very diversified album as a whole.

The Human Equation is divided into two discs and tells the story of a man who falls into a coma after a tragic accident. While in his hospital bed, we are led into his comatose state of mind where he is struggling with his feelings...and lets just say, emotions are flying very high!

DAY ONE: "Vigil" - (atmospheric, soft, slow moving moment...)

The album opens with hospital equipment beeps. His best friend and wife are at his bed side. One word to describe the moment: worrying! A vehicle engine is started and speeds up just as the beeps are getting faster and faster, the tires scream...

DAY TWO: "Isolation" - (guitar and organ solo included...)

The comatose guy doesn't understand what's going on. "Emotions" start speaking to him. His "emotions" are struggling, pulling him one way or another. The music is varied, at times heavy and at times very soft and dreamy. Organ, flutes, heavy guitars and a multitude of vocalists are all present.

DAY THREE: "Pain" - (nice guitar lick...soft and dreamy in the beginning)

Of course the theme here is all about "pain." Both physical and emotional pain. Flute, acoustic guitar, violin, orchestrations, more voices (and vocal styles) can be found here. Devin Townsend collaborated on this track, both on lyrics and vocals. (Townsend also collaborated on a few more tracks as well.)

DAY FOUR: "Mystery"

The track opens with a siren far in the distance. Everybody is in the hospital struggling to understand what happened? What did he see or what could have caused him to crash into a tree in broad daylight with no other cars in sight? Acoustic guitars in the beginning moving into more rock territory with organ, orchestrations, electric guitars and other keyboards are added to the mix. (From here on...the music on the rest of the album follows the same formula as we have already experienced on the first 4 tracks.)

DAY FIVE: "Voices"

The comatose man hears voices around him. He can't understand or make out what the voices are saying exactly. This is only adding to his confusion, more questions now than ever before and simply no answers in sight. He's trying hard to understand but he simply can't.

DAY SIX: "Childhood"

"Emotions" take him back to his childhood days. We learn about his physical abuse at the hands of his father and what must have been a most difficult childhood.

DAY SEVEN: "Hope" - (I really like the keyboard lick on this one...)

Back in the hospital, his best friend is trying to talk him out of his coma: "Come back to me!"

DAY EIGHT: "School"

"Emotions" take him back to his young school days. We learn that he had a hard time in school, that his fathers influence made him very competitive and that his classmates didn't like him because of it.

DAY NINE: "Playground" - (Instrumental)

You can hear kids playing in the background...the music is most uplifting!

DAY TEN: "Memories"

Back in the hospital, we can hear the machine beeping again. Nothing has changed in 10 days. His wife and best friend are trying to talk him out of his coma again by reminding him of all the good and funny things that have happened to him over the years.


The comatose man remembers the day he met his wife...a good feeling!

DAY TWELVE: "Trauma"

The comatose man remembers the death of his mother. He remembers that he wasn't there to save her. This was a very traumatic time in his life. Track starts slow and soft but moves into very heavy territory.

DAY THIRTEEN: "Sign" - (Very sweet electric guitar and violin lick!)

Back in the hospital, his wife and best friend actually see a tear rolling down his cheek. They think that he is struggling and battling his emotions trying to come out of his coma. Best friend is worried about "what is he thinking?" But wife is thinking that it doesn't matter what he is thinking about. In her view, the fact that he is thinking is a sign that he is still alive!


"Emotions" take him back to a time when he wanted to be an artist but his father wouldn't let him. His father wanted him to be in business. He is struggling again, being pulled one way and another. Deep inside he knew that he didn't have what it takes to be a businessman, that he was not a ruthless person.

DAY FIFTEEN: "Betrayal"

The comatose man remembers the day he betrayed his best friend. He got him fired so he could get the promotion himself! (Talk about not being ruthless enough?)


Father visits son in the hospital. Father calls son "loser." In fact, he tells him "you've always been a loser...just like your Mother!" We learn more about Father, that all of his sons are in jail and that his wives have all divorced him...a bonafide loser himself.


The comatose man is finally starting to remember the accident. He's starting to remember what happened and that he saw his wife and his best friend together, in each others arms! He drove away and everything - all the pain - just came crashing down on him: his abusive father, his own betrayal of his best friend and his wife whom he neglected over the years. So he crashes into a tree...

DAY EIGHTEEN: "Realization"

Now he remembers everything and is wondering what is going to happen now? His "emotions" are struggling again, should he give up, should he fight to survive, is he going to die? What to do?

DAY NINETEEN: "Disclosure"

Back in the hospital, his best friend feels guilty and reveals that after losing his job he was distraught and lonely and found comfort in the arms of his friends' wife. He tells his comatose friend that they haven't done anything wrong, that he (comatose man) was never there for his wife and she needed to be held as much as he himself needed to be held, so they held each other.

DAY TWENTY: "Confrontation"

After hearing all of this, comatose man wants to come clean as well. He imagines revealing everything to his best friend. Once he gets it all out in the open, his best friend tells him that he knew it all along. Finally, his "emotions" want him to wake up now.

The ending is very strange. A computer programming voice reveals a few things. (I'm not going to tell you every little detail now...) But, I like the fact that it all ends with the final words..."I remember!" ;)

The Human Equation is quite the treat, sure to please most prog fans!

Vanwarp | 5/5 |


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