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Ayreon - Into The Electric Castle CD (album) cover

INTO THE ELECTRIC CASTLE

Ayreon

 

Progressive Metal

4.11 | 532 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

SouthSideoftheSky
Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
2 stars Even the finest of ingredients can make a poor pie

Take some excellent vocals from Marillion's Fish, some almost equally strong vocals from Threshold's wonderful Damian Wilson, some keyboard solos from the great Clive Nolan of Arena and Pendragon fame and some by Kayak's Tom Scherpenzeel (who used to be a member of Camel in the 80's), a few flute solos by Focus' Thijs van Leer, and a whole lot more. Mix it all coarsely and shape it into the form of an average Fantasy story. Then you cover it all with a thick layer of cheese and the result is a half-baked, overblown Rock Opera called Into The Electric Castle.

There are indeed some fantastic moments to be found here, but Arjen Lucassen clearly bit off more than he could possibly chew trying to do everything at once. The overall result is an incoherent mess with some touches of brilliance popping up now and then. As such, it is a very frustrating listen as it occasionally shows great promise but only ends up reminding of how good it could have been but isn't.

The narration on the first track sets the scene and introduces us to the over-the-top fantasy story that in my view detracts much more from the music than what it adds. Not a good start, but the second track Isis And Osiris is actually quite fantastic. Arjen encouraged Fish to sing in his strongest Scottish accent to great effect here. I would even say that Fish's best ever vocal performances are on this album! Had the whole album sounded like this, it could perhaps have been a real success. Unfortunately, the piece of Psychedelic Pop that follows on Amazing Flight, though not bad in itself, mixes like oil and water with what came before.

Had the recurrent narration been removed thus lifting focus away from the cheesy storyline, and the large number of lead vocalists and diverse musical styles been reduced somewhat, this could have been a great album. But as it stands it is a total mess. Mixing diverse musical elements is, of course, not wrong in itself. Indeed, it is part of the very essence of progressive music. But it can easily go very wrong if it is not done properly.

The main selling point of this album, like most other Ayreon albums is the presence of all of these more or less famous people from classic and modern Prog and Metal bands. Fans of one or several of these people will at least find this album an interesting listen, but personally I must say that I would much rather listen to these bands and artists in their natural habitats.

SouthSideoftheSky | 2/5 |

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