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Ayreon The Final Experiment album cover
3.41 | 349 ratings | 25 reviews | 18% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1995

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Prologue (3:17)
- Act I - The Dawning :
2. The Awareness (6:36)
3. Eyes Of Time (5:06)
4. The Banishment (11:08)
- Act II - King Arthur's Court :
5. Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy (2:46)
6. Sail Away To Avalon (4:02)
7. Nature's Dance (2:28)
- Act III - Visual Echoes :
8. Computer-reign (game Over) (3:25)
9. Waracle (6:44)
10. Listen To The Waves (4:59)
11. Magic Ride (3:36)
- Act IV - Merlin's will and Ayreon's fate :
12. Merlin's Will (3:20)
13. The Charm Of The Seer (4:12)
14. Swan Song (2:44)
15. Ayreon's Fate (6:56)

Total Time: 71:19

Bonus disc from 2005 Inside Out CD reissue:
1. Dreamtime (4:19)
2. Eyes Of Time (3:25)
3. The Accusation (3:49)
4. Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy (2:50)
5. Sail Away To Avalon (3:26)
6. Nature's Dance (2:03)
7. Waracle (5:16)
8. Merlin's Will (3:29)
9. The Charm Of The Seer (3:29)
10. Total Time: (37:41)

Total time 69:47

Line-up / Musicians

- Arjen Lucassen / guitars, bass (2,9,10,12,13), keyboards, drums & percussion (bonus), lead (7,10,11,15) & backing vocals, co-producer & mixing

- Lori Linstruth / electric guitar solos (bonus)
- Cleem Determeijer / piano, Hammond, Minimoog, harpsichord, Mellotron, vocoder, Juno & Oberheim synths
- Rene Merkelbach / keyboards (4,6,11,12,bonus), backing vocals
- Robby Valentine / piano & vocals (bonus)
- Barry Hay / alto flute & vocals (6)
- Ewa Albering / flute (bonus)
- Jeroen Goossens / winds (bonus)
- Marieke van der Heyden / cello (bonus)
- Dewi Kerstens / cello (bonus)
- Jolanda Verduijn / bass (4,6,15), backing vocals (13)
- Peter Vink / bass (3,4,7,8), double bass (bonus)
- Jan Bijlsma / bass (11)
- Ernst van Ee / drums
- Davy Mickers / drums (bonus)

VOCALS (and characters):
- Arjen Lucassen as 'Vengeance'
- Edward Reekers as 'Merlin' & 'Ayreon' (1,2,15)
- Lenny Wolf (3)
- Robert Soeterbroek as 'Villagers' (4) and as 'Merlin' (15)
- Jan-Chris De Koeijer (4)
- Ian Parry as 'Nobleman' (5,8) and as 'Merlin' (15)
- Jay van Feggelen as 'Merlin' (9,15)
- Leon Goewie as 'Merlin' (12,15)
- Ruud Houweling as 'Cloudmachine' (13, bonus:2)
- Lucy Hillen / backing vocals (13)
- Mirjam van Doorn / backing vocals
- Debby Schreuder / backing vocals
- Astrid van der Veen (bonus: 1)
- Esther Ladiges (bonus: 4)
- Irene Jansen (bonus: 8)
- John Cuijpers (bonus: 5)
- Marcela Bovio (bonus: 7)
- Peter Daltrey (bonus: 6)
- Rodney Blaze (bonus: 3)
- Robby Valentine (bonus: 9)

Releases information

Artwork: Arjen Lucassen with Ruud Houweling

2xLP Music Theories Recordings ‎- MTR74931 (2016, Europe)

CD Transmission Records ‎- TM-001 (1995, Netherlands)
2xCD Inside Out Music ‎- IOMCD 202 (2005, Germany) Bonus CD with a selection of semi-acoustic versions recorded in 2005

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to Quinino for the last updates
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AYREON The Final Experiment ratings distribution

(349 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(18%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (35%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

AYREON The Final Experiment reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by FloydWright
3 stars This is one of those albums that I've kind of had to force myself to be hard on. It's AYREON's very first album, and unlike Actual Fantasy Revisited, there were no alterations possible to the original due to the loss of the tapes. Therefore, what I am reviewing is the original album as it was 10 years ago. Definitely from listening to this, it was a very promising start for AYREON, even though there were problems...large problems of a sort that are not really evident on any of ARJEN LUCASSEN's later AYREON works. I think one does need to own all of the other albums before getting this one, but if you are a dedicated AYREON fan, don't will find enough to keep you interested--especially if you'd like to hear a much darker side to LUCASSEN that very rarely ever appears: compare the ending music to Into the Electric Castle. While the ideas in those places were similar, the tones couldn't be further apart.

Before I really launch into this one, know that three stars means I see more good than bad on here. Even as a huge AYREON fan, there's no way I can hold back from discussing the issues on this album. Its problems are opposite from those that I discuss in my review of Symphony X, another good debut--where Symphony X lacked in sound quality but already had ironclad composition and playing, The Final Experiment had good audio quality but some problems in the execution.

The concept itself was a very clever, rich idea, and, as it turned out, inspiring enough when coupled with Actual Fantasy to end up spawning the entire universe we get to know through later albums. And I don't know about others, but when I listened to it, I definitely felt for the character of Ayreon, the blind minstrel in the age of Camelot who received the messages from the future. Probably ARJEN LUCASSEN himself, when singing for Ayreon, gave him the most life and compelled the listener to care for the character--especially on "Nature's Dance" and "Magic Ride". There were some nice lyrics that stuck out as I was set written by LUCASSEN for "Magic Ride" ("I long to see, I need to touch, I wish to be..." maybe you have to hear it to catch how well it flows?), but the other written by someone else was for "Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy". In other places, he does a very good job to capture the bloody-minded arrogance of Merlin and others towards Ayreon, such as in the written lyrics to "The Banishment", "Merlin's Will" ("Don't you KNOW who I am??" You want to smack him for such condescenscion!), and "Ayreon's Fate". And one definitely suspects that Ayreon is no courtyard minstrel boy, but rather a full-grown man. Details like that work quite well.

However, while the concept was extremely clear, especially written, I felt that some very unnecessary confusion and distraction was created by two factors: first, there was no constant choice of vocalists for each role...or at least, people who had sung for Ayreon were not kept from singing later for Merlin, and I thought that was extremely problematic. Thankfully LUCASSEN seems to have realized this by the time he got to Into the Electric Castle, and such a confusing situation would never be created again. The other trouble was that at times there were some rather obvious English mistakes. (That in and of itself has not been one of my reasons for deducting points, though!)

There were many noteworthy musical moments: perhaps the most haunting is the leitmotif for the minstrel Ayreon himself. Heard in the "Overture" and "The Awareness", as well as throughout the album, this is a riff that captures all of the beauty and tragedy of this character...and honestly pulled at my heartstrings. "Eyes of Time" was probably the most infectious track, and while the vocalist playing Ayreon here has got an unusual voice to say the least (shades of GEDDY LEE?), I really find myself liking it. The bassist also shows off his skills well here, and later on "The Banishment". For some carefree fun, "Sail Away to Avalon" should make the listener's day, and is indicative of AYREON's future (the project, not the minstrel, unfortunately!). I also enjoyed "Nature's Dance", sung by ARJEN LUCASSEN himself, and the melancholy tone, while very unusual in light of later works, is executed well. "Computer Reign (Game Over)" is a much darker number, and here LUCASSEN hits his stride...not to mention that the minstrel himself is trying to do the most important creative work of his life! "Waracle" is also good (though marred by a certain instrument I'll discuss later), and the second part especially, as the vocalist begins ad-libbing for Ayreon, crying out, "Set me free!" is a success. On "The Charm of the Seer", as Ayreon nears his impending doom, you can hear some influence from "Gethsemane" on Jesus Christ Superstar (cited by LUCASSEN as an influence) as here Ayreon prepares to go to what he knows will be his death. This one prefigures some work from Into the Electric Castle. As for "Swan Song"...this is perhaps the most beautifully melancholy piece you'll ever hear on an AYREON album. You know what this is before you even look...and the hidden whispers are a nice touch, considering that a blind person in Ayreon's situation would probably be focusing in on every little sound around him.

Unfortunately, there definitely were some problems musically as well. Perhaps the most glaring, to my mind, is a mismatch that occurs at times between the mood of the lyrics and the music. Therefore, I must beg to differ with the other reviewer and say that "The Banishment" is by far the weakest track on the album. For some reason the music is intolerably happy during the part where Ayreon is about to be run out of town...this is a lynch-mob, and the music should reflect the darkness of their hatred. And then there are two vocalists that I cannot stand on this album: the first one also plays the "Barbarian" on Into the Electric Castle, and I didn't like him there, either. The second...what was up with the growling on here? Was somebody growling one line and yelling on another track? What was going on? It actually made me hit the skip button at that point; it was so annoying. Too bad a talent like MIKAEL AKERFELDT couldn't have been brought in to replace that part! The other problem came from an instrument heard prominently at the opening of "Waracle" and in other places...I couldn't tell whether it was a synth or a fretless bass played badly, but the sound really grated on my nerves.

Overall, The Final Experiment is an album just for the fans, but I had to give it the third star because I think it is one of the best debut albums I've ever heard.

Review by lor68
3 stars Well for me this is the only work by Arjen Lucassen which is well worth checking out from the beginning to the end, being quite far away from the music stereotype regarding such a tiring metal prog of a few European this particular occasion the interesting rock opera within the present album - projected by a "fertile" Dutch musician and divided into 4 acts- reminds us of a different stuff, in the vein of bands such as for instance Jethro Tull (talking about the unplugged parts), Rush, Il Trono dei Ricordi and so on.of course you can listen also to some harder harmonic solutions, reminding me of Magellan, but here helped in their construction by seven musicians, five choristers and thirteen singers, whose contribution is very important for the whole structure of the opera!! Ayreon is a blind jester from 6th century, who foretells the futuristic vision concerning the 20th century: such a worrying vision regards the environmental and technological decline of the world (do you remember the main theme of "De Profundis" , the splendid work by After Crying ?...) and after a short declaimed prologue the first act begins.I like the unplugged arpeggio accompanying the sweet vocalism by E. Reekers, then alternated by means of symphonic and more thrilling parts, which are brilliantly performed along with the female chorus. It's the best section within "Dreamtime", this latter un unforgettable tune for many listeners. Instead the other songs of the first act are quite homogeneous and in the vein of the medieval stuff, yet a simple bridge towards the second act, regarding the landing of Ayreon into the court of King Arthur, after being driven away from his Country: the flute and the vocal parts of Barry Hay are remarkable in the track "Sail away to Avalon" , which is one of the first songs Jethro Tull- oriented, being so close to the spirit of Jan Anderson!! Instead "Nature's dance" is a bucolic short track, ending the second act in a more pastoral manner . Then the third act begins to close the whole circle of the main theme, with its more typical "rock language" of the seventies, sometimes resembling the style of the musical "Jesus Christ Superstar", through the present narration by Ayreon: it tells us about the cyber destruction of the environment, by means of such direct language. Here the human being is subject to the machines and the story-plot is complete this way. Besides you can appreciate the song entitled "Waracle" , above all for its simplicity, being the meeting between the classic rock genre and the symphonic one, suitable for all the different tastes of the listener and according to his personal music background: as a matter of fact the meaning of the song is clear to all of us, anyway;while the following tunes are closer to the spirit of Rush and sometimes characterized by a mysterious mood too, before introducing the epic keyboards, a bit Magellan-like, always played by Lucassen.

Therefore, finally, you can listen to the fourth conclusive and dramatic act, introduced by "Merlin's will", in which the Celtic magician knows Ayreon .well at the end He will decide to kill him, because He cannot hear his telepathic message from the future and it will be a mistake.the final song is entitled "Ayreon's fate", telling the story of the tragic end concerning the life of the leading character: such theatrical last act is the perfect link with the music ideas of the concept. After all, despite of finding a bit foolish theme inside, the work is clever, even though Lucassen uses the Celtic cliché of King Arthur and naturally He's not the first musician involved with the medieval legends. However by means of this album He has expressed all his best arrangements and ideas as well, so you can forgive such venial sin, as moreover the following albums have been not so much inspiring and original.instead the present album- dated 1996- is absolutely worth checking out and you could add another half star at least!

Review by erik neuteboom
3 stars Nowadays Ayreon is a known progrock musician but back in the early Nineties he had to visit many record labels to get his music on a CD: again and again he was rejected (to be seen on one of his latest re-releases that shows in the booklet all those negative answers by records labels, great move by Arjen Lucassen and quite embarrasing for those record labels) but in the end the new Dutch label Transmission (also responsible for re-releases on CD from other Dutch progrock band Finch) gave Ayreon a chance, in 1995 he released his debut CD entitled The Final Experiment. Ayreon founded a band and recruited known musicians like Cleem Determeyer and Peter Vink from Finch, Barry Hay from Golden Earring and Lenny Wolf from Kingdome Come. It would become Arjen's habit to use many known guest musicians on his albums but his dream still is Jurgen Fritz from German ELP-inspired band Triumvirat!

The story of this concept albums starts in the year 2084 AD when scientists try to avoid total destruction of the Earth. With a new computer programm called Time Telepathy they succeeded in contacting a blind minstrel from the sixth century called Ayreon. He has to warn people for the impending downfall by singing his vision. He even meets Merlin but the famous magician vows that Ayreon's word will be spread in the twentieth century. And so the moralistic epilogue says "The outcome of the final experiment has now been placed in your hands". Fortunately the music has not become an ordinary clash between ego's or just another exhibition of self-indulgence. This CD shows a tight band, scouting the borders between hardrock and symphonic rock. Most of the 15 tracks are strong and varied. Especially the use of many different singers (an Ayreon trademark) adds an extra dimension to the music. Arjen Lucassen delivers many biting soli with hints from Satriani (and also with echoes from his hero Ritchie Blackmore) but there is no overkill. Cleem Determeijer has a remarkable part in the music: sumptuous sounding synthesizers (Juno/Oberheim/Moog), a beautiful flute and harpsichord duet (Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy), nice interplay between Mellotron and acoustic guitar (Listen To The Waves) and piano and Mellotron (Swan Song) and delicate harmony between different keyboards, flute and biting guitar, like a desperate cry of the future in The Charm Of The Seer. On this CD there is chemistry between the musicians and between the music and lyrics, this makes The Final Experiment to one of the best Dutch progrock debut albums!

A good start to discover the Dutch progrock master Ayreon but there was better to come! My rating: 3,5 stars.

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars Assuming you aren't snickering at the premise or introductory voice-overs, you will probably find yourself enjoying Ayreon's first album throughout. It has a big, pompous prog sound with strong melodies and occasionally strong performances. For what they are, the songs are nicely arranged and earnest in their delivery of the subject matter. However, the cheesy synthesized orchestra, at times mediocre vocals and overall lack of song writing flair make "Final Experiment" one for fans of the band only-- it's like a warm- up for later albums which are far and away more entertaining.
Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Unlike many other bands in the prog-metal genre, "Ayreon" has definite prog flavours. And this mix sounds rather pleasant to be honest.

What is not pleasant though is this recitation style during the intro and some other parts of the work (very much like Jeff Wayne's "War Of The World" oriented) as well as the growling during "The Banishment". "Magic Ride" is also a very weak track.

If you would exclude these, "The Final Experiment" is a good album. The start of an interesting experience I would say. This one man's band provides an enjoyable music. Some "ELP" touches here and there, but more than anything a great guitar work. Arjen Lucassen (that's the name of the heart & soul from "Ayreon") has had the genious to ask bunches of guests to participate to his works. How they accepted is rather mysterious (especially for his first attempt).

Actually, the music featured here has little to do with metal IMO. True symphonic moments are plenty. Strong compositions, melodic and well constructed. Lots of short songs (even if they are re-grouped into some sorts of "Acts") to illustrate the "concept".

This middle-age futuristic (?) history is not really thrilling. This "Ayreon" minstrel being able to communicate with people from the twenty-first century is too thin to captivate me during over an hour. There will be lots of bombastic moments, great guitar soli and very good tracks overall. "Waracle" is one of my fave although not very personal. But it is difficult to pinpoint one special track from this concept album although that the closing number is brilliant. Poignant vocals and a great guitar solo. A very catchy way to finalize this work.

This album has little to do with "prog" metal. Since I'm not really a fan of this genre, I quite like this album. Not a masterpiece but a pleasant work (almost) throughout its lenght. Even transitional tracks are good ("Swan Song").If you would like to hear how "ELP" would have sounded with a guitar player, do try this one.

As would the narrator say at the end of the album : "The outcome of the Final Experiment has now been placed in your hands".

Three stars.

Review by progaardvark
COLLABORATOR Crossover/Symphonic/RPI Teams
3 stars After a career as a guitarist for Dutch bands Bodine and Vengeance and then a failed attempt at a solo album, Arjen Anthony Lucassen started his Ayreon project, chiefly inspired by the rock operas of the late 1960s and 1970s. This project would eventually blossom into a series of rock opera styled concept albums, but it had its humble beginning with The Final Experiment, released in 1995.

The Final Experiment contains both science fiction and medieval themes. It basically tells the story of a blind minstrel named Ayreon who lives in 6th century Britain. After experiencing an apocalypse in the year 2084, scientists make use of something called Time Telepathy and transmit messages back in time to warn people in the past of an impending doom. Because Ayreon is blind, his other perceptions are more acute which allows him to receive these messages as visions.

The concept is interesting and one might conclude it to be overly complex for a musical storyline, but somehow Lucassen pulls it off and keeps it short enough to fit on one disc. By doing this, he keeps this rock opera from doing what so many others have done and that is overdoing it and resulting in much filler. Although I find the story to be interesting and charming, what disappoints me is the music. It seems mediocre for the most part and lacks the development of musical themes that are so prevalent on future Ayreon releases. I sense an equal blend of symphonic progressive rock and prog metal, with many folk elements.

Like most rock operas, this one has its share of guests. These include Barry Hay (Golden Earring), Edward Reekers (Kayak), Ian Parry (Elegy), Jan-Chris de Koeijer (Gorefest), Lenny Wolf (Kingdom Come), Cleem Determeijer and Peter Vink (both from Finch), and other lesser known artists. With a host of guests, both vocalists and musicians, an interesting science fiction concept, and a mix of symphonic prog and prog metal, Lucassen established the winning formula on The Final Experiment that he would repeatedly use in future Ayreon releases.

A nice debut, but musically not as good as future Ayreon releases. If you really like later Ayreon releases, you might find this one pales in comparison. Definitely a must-have for die-hard fans. Good, but not essential. Three stars.

Review by LiquidEternity
3 stars This album marks the debut of one of modern prog music's most unifying forces.

However, The Final Experiment is not like 01011001 or The Human Equation. We don't have massive forces of major contemporary prog vocalists and instrumentalists. In truth, aside from vocalists we'll get to know better through Ayreon alone, the only truly well-known contributor to this album is Barry Hay from famed classic rock outfit Golden Earring. The current image of Arjen sitting like a spider at the center of the progressive metal web will not truly take root until Into the Electric Castle. That is not to say that this release is poor because of a lack of famous vocalists. It is, however, much weaker in the vocal categories than later Ayreon albums. Overall, compared to later outputs, this album is much more straightforward rock oriented, with fewer detours into folksy flutes and violins. The music is less heavy on the whole, as well, though there are a few moments of growls and thick guitars. One detracting factor to this record is the presence of filler tracks, something that Arjen does not normally struggle with yet seems to want to include here. It makes the entire release a bit less cohesive and disrupts the flow from song to song, at least to my ears.

It opens with the multi-segmented prologue, including a spoken word section that literally throws the full force of Ayreon's irresistible cheese in your face. The Awareness and Eyes of Time are both drawn out rock songs with nice choruses and some interesting instrumentation. The progressive side of the album finally kicks off with the multipart semi-epic The Banishment. Here we have the first taste of what Ayreon will sound like in a few years' time. Extended instrumental sections create the energy level the act is known for. Unfortunately, the song ends with some poor growling, though Arjen usually knows how and when to insert the sound better. Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy is a quick little tune with a catchy chorus and an ending just like Devin Townsend's Wild Colonial Boy (and by just like, I mean they even are saying the almost same things with the same cadence and tune). Sail Away to Avalon is a generic pop rock song with so much energy it's hard to sit still while listening. Barry Hay takes the vocals (and flutes) for this track, and the horns, although cheesy, create a lasting and catchy track that ranks fairly highly up there among Ayreon songs. Nature's Dance is a quiet, acoustic bit with Arjen himself providing the vocals. Again, the melody is great.

The Computer Reign (Game Over) is a slightly weak track that ends up being pretty unmemorable, mostly because of the following song. Waracle features some intensely powerful vocals, emoting and prophesying and all that about the end of the world and stuff, but it's hard to care about the content when Jay van Feggelen throws his voice into the microphone. This segues hauntingly into Listen to the Waves, a catchy post-apocalyptic warning once more featuring Arjen on the vocals. Here, he provides his classic harmonies for the first time, making this also very much a keeper in the Ayreon discography. Magic Ride is a trippy but mostly average song. Merlin's Will features something of a deep-voiced choir and some Renaissance-era instrumentation over the heavy guitars and electronic noises. The Charm of the Seer and Swan Song do very little for the album aside from push it forward. The energy level droops here, but it is picked up somewhat for the final concluding track, Ayreon's Fate. This song isn't terribly fast paced, and its first half is much stronger than its second half. The vocals are very nice and catchy here, though.

The Final Experiment clearly shows the starting point for the now ubiquitous Ayreon, except the songs are less progressive, less well-developed, and less focused on instrumentation than they will be in the future releases. Fans of Ayreon will enjoy this, but I recommend starting elsewhere, like The Human Equation or Into the Electric Castle.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'The Final Experiment' - Ayreon (6/10)

All journies begin with a single step...And in the case of Ayreon's 'The Final Experiment,' it was a step that shook the progressive world. Until then, the concept of a 'rock opera' had been left dormant since the early 80s, for the most part. And then out of the Netherlands comes a modest man with a great musical vision to change things, and contribute something great to the world. 'The Final Experiment,' while not quite a masterpiece, it is a milestone in modern Prog.

The concept, while a bit corny, is well thought out, and the story sets the stage for future Ayreon tales to be told. In summary, a young medieval Ministrel (named Ayreon) is contacted by humans from the far future to warn the world of it's own downfall. However, things don't go to plan, and a series of misfortunes ensue. The lyrics are fairly decent, but nothing mind blowing. However, they do manage to tell the story quite well.

Musically, the album is very well done. Good songwriting, and amazing song recording (considering it's a debut record.) Songs like 'Eyes Of Time,' 'The Banishment,' 'Merlin's Will' and 'Ayreon's Fate' stood out to me as being great prog-rock tunes. Theres also quieter songs like the beautifully composed 'Swan Song' that bring out the more thoughtful side of Arjen Luccasen's musical ability.

The one thing that could have been changed and improved was if each character in the story only had one corresponding vocalist, instead of a big melange of it all. It made the story I bit needlessly hard to follow, despite the relatively accessible lyrics. Besides that, it was great. Highly recommended for fans of good Prog-Rock, and although this isn't 'hardcore metal' by any standards, fans of Metal should be able to appreciate the quality of this record.

Review by progrules
4 stars The storyline of this interesting debut by Ayreon has already been told in earlier reviews and that would mean I'd just be repeating. With my personal feelings about the music of this rock/metal opera I will be original for sure since everybody has an own unique taste about music so that's what I will be describing below.

The album starts with a Prologue, a track that's charactarised by a speaking voice in the first half and an orchestral sounding sort of overture in the second half, this half being my favourite and it has some impressive moments. 3,5*.

Second is a three piece song called the Dawning and is by far the highlight of the album to me. Especially The Awareness is a tremendous piece of musical art to me. The first key tones of the songs after a great acoustic guitar opening (The Premonition) are super melodic and give an "awakening" feel to the song. The rest of this track is also absolutely terrific and is to date probably my most favorite Ayreon track ever, or at least one of them. 4,75*.

Eyes of Time (2nd part of the Dawning) is more of a typical Ayreon track where sound, vocals and build up are concerned. Of course these are in most cases great tracks but in my opinion this piece lacks the outstanding class of previous. 3,5*.

3rd and last part of The Dawning is The Bannishment and is also one of the better parts of The Final Experiment. First mini-movement of this epical track is called A new Dawn and has the same sort of impact as The Awareness in the beginning, next bit is called The Gathering and is the part where Arjen's guitar breaks loose with a fine melody line. Next is The Accusation and is the vocal part of the track (Robert Soeterbroek). 4th subpart is The Bannishment and is my fav part of the epic. Wonderful instrumental contributions by Arjen himself as well as Cleem Determeijer. The last section is called Oblivion and has some growling vocals and is where beauty and greatness is concerned the counterpart of previous sub part. Still all together a masterful track. 4,5*.

Unfortunately we have had the very best by now although I must admit the rest of the album is essential for the Rock Opera, but musically and compositionally it falls a bit short. 5th track is called Ye cortyard Minstral Boy and as the title already gives away it's a medieval sounding song. Well done but not very impressive. 3*.

Sail away to Avalon is another one with an orchestral feel (eventhough it's all done on the keyboards). Very nice also this one, bombastic but not going overboard. 3,5*.

Nature's Dance is a quiet, ballad-like track with some odd sounding vocals done by Arjen with obviously a sound transformer. One of the lesser tracks of the album. 2,75*.

Also Computer Reign is a vocally dominated track with some interesting effects but melodywise this isn't the very best either. 3*.

Waracle starts with war sounds behind an impressive organ tone. After this, gloomy vocal and instrumental sounds reminding me of The Necromancer by Rush. Rest of the song doesn't, is more the usual Ayreon, bombastic with many vocal and instrumental passages. Original song this. 3,5 *.

Listen to the Waves is another rock/metal ballad with distorted vocals. Also this one fails to impress unfortunately. 2,75*.

Magic Ride has some background percussion in th beginning that remind me of Casino. Ok, it's just a minor aspect but it's one of those interesting details. And the rest of the song is not really to write home about to be honest. 2,75*.

Merlin's Will is a lot better with great vocals and good melody lines. This track brings the Opera in the right direction again to get ready for the grand finale. 3,75*.

The Charm of the Seer is one of the "minstrel" songs on this album. It sounds a bit medieval though not as obvious as 5th track. 3,25*.

Swan Song is the most ballad-like track of all ballads on this album with a nice keyboard contribution besides the already playing piano. Nice for the balance on the Rock Opera. 3,5*.

Ayreon's Fate is both the last song as well as the first part of this closer. The other sub parts are called Merlin's Prophecy and Epilogue. The middle part is by far the best in my opinion. Another great bombastic track. 4*.

It's another mind breaker for the final rating. I'm tempted to give four stars but then only if I think of the better tracks and that's not really fair I'm afraid. On the other hand the better tracks are also the longer ones so if I would measure in time it's a very close call for the four stars. And there are more reasons to give the higher rating. It's an impressive album for a debut, it's one of the very few Rock Opera's in history and it's a balanced album when we are talking about rougher/softer parts and about vocals and instruments. Where build up and compositional elements are concerned, it's also a great effort. And last but not least: I wouldn't want to call this a non-essential album (which would be the case if I gave it three stars). So because of this all I will decide for the four stars after all despite the fact it's actually 3,5.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's his debut and you can clearly hear it. It's also my debut into his work (you know, I've tried to be little bit systematical, when trying to grasp all these prog records, intentionally). I know this album for about 16 months now and since, I've listened to it for many times (about 120x) . And after hyped time when I was listening almost nothing else, I moved further and started to listen more of his work, while not so many of his first one (you know, taking few months of rest, balancing it all) and now, I can easily listen to this album and take it as masterpiece. Yes, your eyes aren't fooling you, I'm thinking about this as a perfect album.

While not so crafted like 010101 and Equation, it's good from another reason. It's album everyone can listen to (I remember it's instant catcher, THE gave me quite a rough deal of pain while trying to get into it). I first intended this to be my first review here on PA and in this case, this would result in about 2000 words about how and why this music is so great, pointing out all these positives. Well, just imagine them here (ehm). For example great melodicity. Having all these strong melodies and still maintaining these strong prog metal elements, it's not easy task to do. Another one is story for example, those who know me also knows that I'm always attracted by strong story element, so I especially like concept album (they are mostly worth of admiration). And also theme of this record, combination of sci-fi/ fantasy. Usual in his work, but brand new here in 1995.

5(+), with every part of every song on its right place (except intro track, which is quite dull and boring and last minute of The Banishment - you know why) making together unique experience. This is progress, try to get it like that.

Especially when almost every of these tunes here are easily to remember. This is nothing you'll soon forget.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Arjen Lucassen is quite a phenomenon in recent prog history. His unique blend of musical-fantasy-rock-opera-all-stars-cast-Celtic-folk-pomposity isn't everybody's preferred type of progressive rock, but he's a great composer and arranger and I've find myself enjoying his works quite a lot. He often cites influences from all classic prog rock artists. Marillion, Rush, Pink Floyd, Yes, Tangerine Dream and ELP being the most prominent ones (or did I now list all classic bands).

There's very little metal on this debut, symphonic neo-prog would be a more fitting tag then progressive metal. It isn't very consistent and has too much sticky AOR tendencies. But there is plenty to relish as well. The Awareness is a bombastic blues with a soulful male lead and operatic female vocals. Also Eyes of Time is enjoyable. Yes I confess I like the lead singer Lenny Wolf from Zeppelin-clone band Kingdom Come. It's one of my indulgences really. Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy has a charming Celtic main theme but the vocals are quite grating, especially if you know the version that Arjen later recorded for his Ambeon project. Computer Reign and Waracle are the most powerful songs on the album. The Charm of The Seer is a folksy tune that also would get a makeover on the Ambeon album. Other songs like The Banishment and Sail Away are hurtful for my ears. Professional but empty and pompous. Lots of Yes and ELP influences though.

Except for the following album, Ayreon wouldn't change his formula very much. Only the execution got a lot better over time. With only 25 quality minutes, 2.5 stars will have to do.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars 3 reasons to give this 3 stars - 1. The concept, overblown of course, but this was the beginning of the great Ayreon projects to come. 2. The music - wonderful guitar solos and keyboard ambience throughout are a sheer delight. 3. the vocalists - We have some of the best in the business woith the likes of Edward Reekers (Kayak), Lenny Wolf (Kingdom Come), Robert Soeterbroek, Jan-Chris De Koeijer, Ian Parry (Vengeance), Barry Hay (Golden Earring), Arjen Lucassen (Vengeance), Jan van Feggelen, Leon Goewie, Ruud Houweling, Lucie Hillen, Mirjam van Doorn and Debby Schreuder.

In conclusion, this is a strong debut showing the promise of things to come. It is not a great starting point, turn to the last three albums for that, but Arjen is an accomplished musician with a strong flair for the theatrical, and it is always great to hear those vocalists in full flight.

Review by Warthur
4 stars Ayreon's debut album is a decent blueprint for the sort of "turned up to 11" rock opera that the project would churn out over the coming years. Whilst I have to give Arjen Lucassen credit for taking such a cheesy concept and amping up the cheese for all its worth (there's a track called Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy, for crying out loud), the actual execution took a while for me to warm to. Despite the Ayreon project eventually becoming something of a progressive metal powerhouse, don't expect technical intricacy of a Dream Theater-and-beyond level here - we're more in the world of bombastic rock opera than prog-oriented complexity here. Still, if you can appreciate it on that level - like Savatage and Planet P Project getting together and jamming - it's very fun.

Latest members reviews

3 stars I consider the debut album by Ayreon to be something of a breakthrough in the progressive metal category: The level of majesty, classical music inspiration married with tons of modern synths, great cast of vocals and last but not least, ambitious sci-fi concept topics. All this called - metal op ... (read more)

Report this review (#2852005) | Posted by sgtpepper | Monday, November 14, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If you hate bombastic neo-prog, 80s-esque metal, and cheesy Wakeman-like concept albums, then you should stay far away from Ayreon. But I happen to like all those things. It's almost a guilty pleasure, but this is a very fun album. Unusual for an Ayreon album, this album features multiple singers "p ... (read more)

Report this review (#2849231) | Posted by Faul_McCartney | Tuesday, November 1, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Ayreon is a very unique and unusual band in the metal universe that seems sometimes too abstract to be easy to digest or to approach. It took some time and patience to get deeper into this project that takes its main influences from the progressive music of the seventies that can include electronic ... (read more)

Report this review (#499364) | Posted by kluseba | Sunday, August 7, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album isn't bad. But compared to The Human Equation and Into The Electric Castle I just don't feel that it's very worth listening to. There are a lot of good melodies and ideas, but it's all too raw. Here you could see that Ayreon was a diamond in the rough, but the music just isn't devel ... (read more)

Report this review (#252620) | Posted by Dorsalia | Wednesday, November 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Unlike many Ayreon fans, I was first introduced to Ayreon through the very first album, The Final Experiment. As you can already understand, it was good enough to take me further into the Ayreon world, even though this is not, by a mile, the best Ayreon work there is out there. Ayreon album ... (read more)

Report this review (#231258) | Posted by SentimentalMercenary | Wednesday, August 12, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I vow that ye shall die. Ayreon's first outing. This album is good, but there are a lot of moments I feel really drag the overall project down. First off, the singing is great, and the symphonic parts are superb, but some of the music goes off in a blind direction, or for no reason does some ... (read more)

Report this review (#208765) | Posted by Alitare | Wednesday, March 25, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is the first of my ayreon and related reviews as i start from the first album and so on,the final experiment is a good album so read on,the first song prologue starts very nice and a bit in its gets atmospheric and sounds a good start a brilliant way to start the first ayreon album,next son ... (read more)

Report this review (#205976) | Posted by davidsporle | Tuesday, March 10, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Like almost all of Ayreon's albums in my opinion, this album deserves 5 stars, because it IS essential, and a masterpiece of the progressive rock genre. This is Arjen's first album recorded as Ayreon, and is a concept rock opera much like the rest of his albums (other than Actual Fantasy, but the ... (read more)

Report this review (#199794) | Posted by HammerOfPink | Monday, January 19, 2009 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Actually it is 3.5 stars because It is a good album but a flawed one. The guitar playing in it it is marvellous, Lucassen is a master conducting this rock opera and the musicians in It they are top noctch. Have you listened the bass playing in "The Awareness" ? awesome!! The concept is cool, the ... (read more)

Report this review (#85951) | Posted by steelyhead | Sunday, August 6, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I recently bought this album, for I have been interested in Ayreon since I saw how many renown musicians he had worked with on THE HUMAN EQUATION. Unfortunately, I couldn't find that album, so I got this. THE FINAL EXPERIMENT is hardly a disappointment, but being a debut album it doesn't really s ... (read more)

Report this review (#65881) | Posted by | Saturday, January 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I am not going to pick apart The Final Experiment, so ths may not be viewed as a "proper review". This is more about how this album affected -me-. I've always been a huge music lover; one who enjoys almost every genre known. I've loved new age (Synergy, Vangelis, Tangerine Dream) and most fo ... (read more)

Report this review (#47018) | Posted by | Sunday, September 18, 2005 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Ayreon's first album, although not released under the band name at the time I understand, marks out the territory for future releases with a well crafted concept album full of good, if not memorable tunes (better was to come). Sail Away To Avalon and Computer-reign are very catchy tracks that ... (read more)

Report this review (#1154) | Posted by Wasp | Thursday, June 3, 2004 | Review Permanlink

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