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INTO THE ELECTRIC CASTLE

Ayreon

Progressive Metal


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Ayreon Into The Electric Castle album cover
4.11 | 537 ratings | 61 reviews | 45% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Studio Album, released in 1998

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1: 47:25
1. Welcome to the New Dimension (3:05)
2. Isis and Osiris (11:11)
A) Let the Journey Begin
B) The Hall of Isis and Osiris
C) Strange Constellations
D) Reprise
3. Amazing Flight (10:15)
A) Amazing Flight in Space
B) Stardance
C) Flying Colours
4. Time Beyond Time (6:05)
5. The Decision Tree (We're Alive) (6:24)
6. Tunnel of Light (4:05)
7. Across the Rainbow Bridge (6:20)

CD 2: 57:10
1. The Garden of Emotions (9:40)
A) In the Garden of Emotions
B) Voices in the Sky
C) The Aggression Factor
2. Valley of the Queens (2:25)
3. The Castle Hall (5:49)
4. Tower of Hope (4:54)
5. Cosmic Fusion (7:27)
A) I Soar on the Breeze
B) Death's Grunt
C) The Passing of an Eagle
6. The Mirror Maze (6:34)
A) Inside the Mirror Maze
B) Through the Mirror
7. Evil Devolution (6:31)
8. The Two Gates (6:28)
9. "Forever" of the Stars (2:02)
10. Another Time, Another Space (5:20)

Total Time: 104:35

Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- Arjen Lucassen / guitars, mandolin, bass, Minimoog, Mellotron, keyboards, vocals
- Roland Bakker / Hammonds
- Jack Pisters / sitar
- Robby Valentine / pianos, synth solos (2a, 3a, disc 1 and 4, disc 2), Mellotron (6a, disc 2)
- Ernõ Oláh / violins
- Clive Nolan / synth solos (3c, disc 1)
- Rene Merkelbach / synth solos (5, disc 1 and 7, disc 2), harpsichord (2, disc 2)
- Tom Scherpenzeel / synth solos (5c, disc 2)
- Ed Warby / drums
- Taco Kooistra / celli
- Thijs van Leer / flute (3c, 4, disc 1 and 2, 3, disc 2)
- Fish / vocals
- Damien Wilson / vocals
- Sharon Den Adel / vocals
- Anneke van Giersbergen / vocals
- Edwin Balogh / vocals
- Jay van Feggelen / vocals
- Edward Reeker / vocals
- Robert Westerholt / growling vocals
- George Ocsthoek / growling vocals

Releases information

2CD Transmission Records TM-014 (1998)
3LP Inside Out Music 0504221 (2011)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to The Bearded Bard for the last updates
Edit this entry

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AYREON Into The Electric Castle ratings distribution


4.11
(537 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(45%)
45%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(35%)
35%
Good, but non-essential (14%)
14%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

AYREON Into The Electric Castle reviews


Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by semismart
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Should any of my readers not know who Ayreon is, let me edify you. Ayreon is not a band, not really. Neither is Ambeon. Let me explain. Ayreon and Ambeon are projects, you might say alter egos of brilliant Dutch composer and musician, Arjen Anthony Luccassen.

You see, Arjen has borrowed one from the book of the ever successful recording broker, Alan Parsons. He composes a Rock Opera and then like the mice followed the Pied Piper into the river, several well known, at least to me, guest singers and musicians follow our piperish leader, Arjen, into the studio to record, this wonderful music.

Now Arjen hasn't used this successful formula once or twice. No he's made eight exciting albums this way, two of which are double albums. Mind you now, I understand there's a waiting list to be in Arjen's next production. I can see why, it must be fun, mingling with other very talented people and making this remarkably interesting and different music. It's probably like, if I may regress to seventies terms, a "happening". And how different it is!

Into the Electric Castle, as do all of Arjen's projects, tells a story and in this case it is a science fiction story centered around eight strangers brought together into a dimension of no space and no time. It seems, if Luccassen ever decides to hang up his guitar he could make a living writing sci-fi.

Here is a summary of the story from Ayreon's Website:

"'Into the Electric Castle' tells the story of 8 stereotypical characters from different periods of time who suddenly find themselves in another dimension. A Highlander, Knight, Egyptian, Indian, Barbarian, Roman, Hippie and Futureman each try to understand where they are and what they are supposed to do. It is then that a voice rings out from the sky to tell them that the dimension they have arrived in is built on dreams and fears. In order to find their way back to their own dimension and time, they must go in search of The Electric Castle. During the search every character is forced to confront his or her innermost fears, and not everyone survives the treacherous journey to the Castle."

"At the end of the journey those that successfully dealt with their personal demons find out that the voice belongs to an alien named 'Forever of the Stars', a member of an alien race living in a distant galaxy. These aliens created planet Earth and its people as an experiment so they could study, and hopefully one day experience emotions, as they themselves lost feelings eons ago."

"'Into the Electric Castle' is a double CD. On disc 1 we experience the journey to The Electric Castle and on disc 2 we find out what happens when they arrive there."

Haven't I read something by Stephen King like that. Yeah, I know, the plot is pretty ch-e-e-ze ball but honestly the music is fabulous, here are some highlights:

"Isis and Osiris" is an eleven minute multi-part song.

"Let the Journey Begin" is the first part with Highlander and Indian singing in what is an ethereal, almost Moody Blues part. "The halls of Isis and Osiris" is sung by Roman and Egyptian as the pace picks up nicely with a choppy orchestral beat plus a sitar and guitar solo. "Strange Constellations / Reprise" the third and forth parts narrated by Highlander (Fish) with an atmospheric background and some remarkable guitar and keyboard work. This is an amazing piece of work that I could use a thousand words describing.

"The Decision Tree (we're alive)" sung by Barbarian and Highland, with all joining in on the chorus's. It is a medium slow very catchy song with lots of organs and synths.

"Across the Rainbow Bridge" sung by Knight, Roman and Hippie. Opens with acoustic then switches back and forth to electric while keyboards in background to a varied pace. At three+ minutes it changes with a chugging beat at a medium fast pace. really great song.

"the Garden of Emotions" is a ten minute multi-part song that opens Disc 2. "In the Garden of Emotions" sung by Hippie (actually spoken through a distorter of some sort) and Egyptian slowly and atmospheric. "Voices in the Sky" picks up with a heavy crunchy beat and some very nifty organ / synth work. sung by Barbarian, Roman and Indian. "The Agression Factor" is sung by Futureman , Knight and Indian and is a mix of the first two parts

"The Castle Hall" sung by Knight and Barbarian, starts out with some very deep heavy guitar work and ominous singing before mellowing out at a medium tempo. Great melody and hooks.

"The Two Gates" sung by Barbarian and Knight, played in a medium heavy beat and pace with some more great hooks and all singers join in and pace changes again. Excellent!(Trying to describe these songs is impossible, every couple minutes everything changes) CONCLUSION

I have a soft spot in my heart for Ayreon. They, are the catalyst that has propelled me in the musical direction I have chosen. I accidentaly came across them while downloading and was so overwhelmed and intrigued that I wondered what else I could be missing. It turns out, it was quite a bit, so for the last two years I have been relentless in that nothing worthy gets by me.

The whole time I was writing this review I had this eerie feeling that our characters, Highlander, Indian , knight etc. were members of that inane TV show, Survivor. Of course in our story the characters die instead of getting voted off. Oh, I didn't tell you? Sorry.

Ok, the conclusion. Ayreon is remarkable, and Into the Electric Castle is his most remarkable project. This is Progressive music like no others make. It is bombastic, highly varied (even within each song)and even at 100 minutes it captivates you. I just finished a review on another rock opera, a rather good rock opera I might add but it pales in comparison to this, this is chicken salad while it is chicken sh-i-t.

So, if you don't buy this album I'm going to report you to the consumer office of bad judgement for obviously following a path of mundane, mediocrity.

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Send comments to semismart (BETA) | Report this review (#1170) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2004

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Arjen Anthony Lucassen is the man behind the mask writing performing and producing a sensational "Space Opera" of lasting quality and musical beauty. This aggressive musical project spans 2 long CD's and covers a lot of ground as Lucassen's space concept album is unfolded to the listener in a chapter by chapter approach. We are navagated throughout the story by the narration of P Daltry (Kaleidoscope) who into's many of the songs with his stylistically thematic prose. The most remarkable aspect of this epic album for me is clearly the cast of a thousand he has secured on this album... FISH (MARILLION), Damian Wilson (THRESHOLD), Edward Reekers (KAYAK), Rene Merkelback (GOREFEST), Ton Scherpenzeel (TAURUS, KAYAK, CAMEL), Thijs v Leer (FOCUS) Clive Nolan (PENDRAGON, ARENA) and Edwin Balogh (OMEGA). Musical influences range from neo-prog to hard rock but overall delivers a solid and highly well crafted music offering some great moments. The voices have been well cast as the album contains a nice variety of vocal tones and harmony. Lucassen himself is responsible for all the grand guitar work found on this album as well as other instrumentation (Mellotron, mandolin, bass, minimoog and organ). Considering the length of the album I find this a nice varied listen from start to finish and never get bored as so much is always going on. Album also contains some nice art work with a nice booklet to help the listener follow along and get all out of this album. A most enjoyable and adventurous listen.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#1169) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, March 21, 2004

Review by Hibou
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is the third of ARJEN LUCASSEN's trilogy. As was the case with the previous two, this album is very "Knights of the Round Table" like, with its evocative images of sorcerers, spooky castles and gothic visions, plus a little time travel. As is the case with all of LUCASSEN's projects, the production here is impeccable and the two-CD set contains some ambitious pieces with interesting vocals by various artists who, like actors in a play, each have a specific role. I won't go into any further details, as fellow reviewer Daumco and others have already done a wonderful job of it. However, I'd like to add that I've never heard a more bombastic, scary, 'sh...t-in-your-pants' intro as the one you'll hear when you slip the first CD into your player. I'm talking about the first track, "Welcome to the New Dimension". It gives you the same thrill as standing a few feet away from a dragster taking off. The shere power of the sound is frightening and the final four chords, especially, are enough to permanently damage the woofers of your speakers (or headphones). Now, you can't say I haven't warned you... :-)

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Send comments to Hibou (BETA) | Report this review (#1167) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 25, 2004

Review by Sean Trane
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Folk
2 stars I'm probably going to have hate mail or death threats after seeing how much people like this . I had only previously heard the debut just once prior to listening to this at a Dutch friend last night. Holland is like Poland, a néo-prog stronghold just by looking at the sheer number of néo formation. I know this for I work in Holland and as soon as the conversation switches to music : Ayreon , Absent Friends , Plackband , Flamborough Head , Everon (maybe German) , Kayak etc... In the 70's, Holland was a stronghold for jazzy-prog such as Focus , Solution , Finch , Supersister, Cargo and I loved every minute of those bands (well almost). How things change ! Quite a vital prog scene in this country but really , there is space for néo only. This is why a different band like Poetica In Silentio ( yes , they are Dutch) is having such problems finding a public at home.

Enough of my whining and complaining. let's get to the reviewing part. This was the second time I had heard this , actually , albeit both only partially, the first time in a record shop as this was a brand new product . Why am I reviewing something that I have not heard in full , you ask? Well because I have enough experience to know where some musical product is headed after a few minutes of listening and fast forwarding inside the tracks and in between them and getting a good look at the booklet.

On the plus side , I can tell you that this is a very ambitious project with a sparkling line- up of guests and real neat production and very refined sounds. This conceptual album comes with an extremely well done booklet depicting the story and having all the clichés of a gigantic neo-prog project. Sounds like quite a lot of work , sweat, ardour and passion got sunk or invested into this album. Very impressive!

On the down side , as I was listening to this ( I wish I could underline Listening) last night at my dutch friend's house , I tried very firmly to interest myself to the music , but my mind kept wandering away for short breaks as my brains and my friend kept on pointing out the better moments, pulling me back into the musical sphere being developped. So I spents over an hour trying to get into this , also wondering how Osiris of Egyptian mythology could mix in Castle Halls and I was getting into Cosmic Con-Fusion. Needless to say that it was all lost on me.

So if you are a neo fan , this is bound to please you , but if you are slightly older and more 70's-driven or into RIO or Canterbury music , you probably knew that that you should stay away. I , for the sake of my friend and my own honesty , had decide to give it another try, but only lasted for some 75 mins. Oh, well!! At least , I tried.

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Send comments to Sean Trane (BETA) | Report this review (#1171) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, June 04, 2004

Review by TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This double album represents perhaps the first majestic spacey metal opera ever made! Lucasson proved the world to be a genius - he mixed the epic grandiosity of an opera with the power of the virtuous metal. The formula has succeeded quite well and so he had expanded the horizons of progressive music. Well, don't expect exactly a combination between The Phantom of the Opera with Dream Theater, but it does not got too far from it, in my opinion! There are many grandiose and catchy instrumental arrangements all over! But only if Lucassen could have made one memorable melody present a little bit along all record, this metal opera would be in the edge of the perfect!

Lyrically, a product of Lucassen mind. This is a fantasy history about several human personages entering a new dimension ruled by their fears. In their journey to survive, they have to enter into the Electric Castle where they can escape or live the worst nightmare forever. They are guided by a voice all over.

The album starts quite well with a scary and powerful introduction prelude. The two next songs are quite memorable metal suites joining the epic acoustic guitars with the middle-aged invocative feminine chorus, oriental-invocative sitar, emotional guitar solos, powerful and/or pleasant guitar riffs, peaceful fluty passages, spacey keyboards, beauty melodies. So, imagine the horde of feelings you've been put in to. Time Beyond Time presents a memorable peaceful and epic fluty solo, repeated in the end by an emotional crying guitar (very beautiful indeed). The Decision Tree starts with a synth atmosphere a la Pink Floyd, very enjoyable, leading again to a memorable epic organ playing and epic chorus, ending with an explosive drumming. Tunnel of Light is a joyful song as they start to enter the castle.

CD2 is not as memorable as the first, it does not have the virtuous suites of the first but Across the Rainbow Bridge and The Garden of Emotions are somewhat close, but with more calmer parts. Another middle-aged invocative is Valley of Queens with fluty passages, acoustic guitars and feminine chorus. The Castle Wall shows another catchy guitar riff (similar to that on the superb Amazing Flight) and more of the splendorous ingredients of the previous tracks combined in this highlight track. Cosmic Fusion brings the album some growling. The Mirror Mase, with its catchy melody, and Evil Devolution, with is classical motifs and nice melody, are other highlights of this cd. The Two Gates is another nice song, getting close of the lyrical climax of the opera. The last track perhaps could be more majestic, it's nice but it should have a more powerful ending.

The equilibrated majesty, the great variety of sounds, great playing, the originality of the concept, for all this reasons I think it is an essential to all prog lovers!

My rate: 8/10

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Send comments to TRoTZ (BETA) | Report this review (#1179) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, December 27, 2004

Review by Muzikman
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Arjen Lucassen, a.k.a. AYREON, is well known for his epic progressive rock space operas. In 1998, he released an absolute masterpiece, and one, I am ashamed to say, I missed somehow. Well time is the healer and now six years later, Inside Out Music signed a deal with Lucassen to reissue his music and "Into The Electric Castle", a double album of progressive rock stories and sci-fi fantasy, is one of those releases. This special edition features a Quicktime movie of Arjen in the studio discussing the album. In the liner notes, he refers to this recording as a classic, and no doubt, it most certainly is.

Typical of AYREON, he engaged many of the brightest stars available to help tell his story and play the music to set the stage for his characters. Artists such as Fish and Damian Wilson perform vocal parts (look at the credits for the extensive list) and Clive Nolan and Robby Valentine provide keyboards, and Arjen is on everything - guitars, vocals, mandolin, bass, moog and mellotron.

This is an incredibly eclectic mix of rock music. You can hear all the influences of Lucassen come bubbling to the surface, those wonderful classic rock bands like DEEP PURPLE, LED ZEPPELIN, ALAN PARSONS, and of course, the immortal BEATLES. Were would prog-rock be without Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?

You cannot help it; you become sucked into the story by the mesmerizing music and the incredible vocals of all the contributors. Essentially the story revolves around a group of stolen souls that come from different times to enter a strange portal that takes them on a dangerous journey. All of their trials and tribulations are explored in each song, until they reach the "Electric Castle" were they must choose between door number 1 or 2, nuclear portals that take you back to your own time or into an eternal abyss of oblivion.

This is truly a fascinating work of music and story. Arjen really should sit down and write a science fiction novel, he certainly has the imagination and talent to do so. This music is so powerful and melodic that it becomes easy to envision everything that is happening during the story. I think they should make this into a movie it would be fantastic! I cannot say enough about how excellent all of the instrumentation and vocals are throughout this album. For this much music, you would expect some filler, it never happens, every track is superb. Do you call yourself a prog-rock fanatic? You do not qualify as such until this album is part of your collection.

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Send comments to Muzikman (BETA) | Report this review (#1180) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 24, 2005

Review by FloydWright
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars From beginning to end, this album is truly fantastic, ranking only behind last year's The Human Equation, and just above the excellent Universal Migrator set. For those who have only heard the two most recent AYREON albums, the semi-upbeat tone of the music throughout may come as a surprise. Musically, the sound of The Electric Castle looks much more to the past than the other two, with the greatest influence appearing to come from the Beatles (but with much better vocals and sound quality). It's probably AYREON's most accessible work to non-metal fans, even though there are a few spots of metal every now and then. This is also a wonderful album who cares about amazing-sounding synths and a dizzyingly good "you-are-there" kind of production quality.

The concept is simple and completely "over the top", as AYREON mastermind ARJEN LUCASSEN puts it in the liner notes of the 2004 reissue: a group of eight people from various time periods are put to the test by a mysterious entity for purposes unknown to them. The concept appears to be critical, though, in understanding later albums--at least if the liner notes to the Universal Migrator reissue can be trusted. A few clues are indeed evident in the music--the voice of the experimenter (PETER DALTREY) should be familiar to all who have heard The Human Equation. The line "Remember Forever!" should also be significant to all who have heard Universal Migrator. Finally, Futureman's vision seems to figure into the concept of The Final Experiment...

Probably the most distinctive vocalist on the album is PETER DALTREY, who ironically enough, never sings. Yet the way he captures the role of the emotionless Forever of the Stars is amazing. He very clearly conveys the notion from the very beginning of a being trying to fake what he lacks. This sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant inappropriateness of tone shows best in "The Decision Tree (We're Alive!)" as Forever "cheerfully" announces that it's time for someone to die, and that the eight need to do the choosing--and then he laughs as lightly as if he'd just heard an amusing joke. And then on "Across the Rainbow Bridge", things just get downright weird, with Forever going from showing a strange weakness to chattering excitedly like a carnival barker as he eggs on the (now) seven across the bridge...which, of course, he's already reminded them, may or may not hold their weight. The other most notable vocalists are ANNEKE VAN GIERSBERGEN as the Egyptian, EDWARD REEKERS as the Futureman, SHARON DEN ADEL as the Indian, and ARJEN LUCASSEN himself as the Hippie. And then there are the two Death-vocalists, ROBERT WESTERHOLT and GEORGE OOSTHOEK. All of these in addition to the rest of the crew (though at times I don't care for the Barbarian as much) make even the most ridiculous-looking lyrics come fantastically alive.

Probably the first truly remarkable song on Into the Electric Castle is "Isis and Osiris", which sets the tone for the entire album. The Eastern vocals on this and the next song, "Amazing Flight", are absolutely mindblowing. "Amazing Flight" is mostly a tribute to the past, most especially the Beatles, but the second half is superb. "Time Beyond Time" is more of lyrical interest than anything, introducing the Futureman's arrogance; this will come into play later. "The Decision Tree" is mainly interesting for its dark synth opening, and also for the Highlander's apt, but thankfully apolitical, words about the horrors of war. "Tunnel of Light" is a shorter song--another Beatles-for-people-who-hate-the-Beatles track. But at last, on "Across the Rainbow Bridge", we get a truly fantastic metal moment. Suffice it to say that this is probably the best song on this side second to "Isis and Osiris", as the guitars take on the pace of a headlong dash into the great unknown.

Things really pick up pace on the second disc, and most of my absolute favorite tracks of all are there. "The Garden of Emotions" takes a similar approach to "Dawn of a Million Souls", but that doesn't detract from it at all. This song is excellent, in parts reminding me of the reverb-soaked OPETH album Orchid--thhe same technique accompanies the premonitions of death, but needless to say, with a much better sound quality. Still, the overall effect is the same chilling foreboding as OPETH's "Under the Weeping Moon", right down to the ferocious guitar explosion at the 4-minute mark and the rhythm in the "Aggression Factor" section. As for "Valley of the Queens"...well, it's pretty and I like the instrumentation, but it almost might have done better as a short bridge to "The Castle Hall" rather than a full song of its own. "The Castle Hall" has a dark tone...a bit silly in a haunted-house kind of way, but nonetheless interesting.

The next song, though, is frighteningly addictive: "The Tower of Hope". It's every bit as intoxicating as the lyrics would suggest, and I most appreciate the driving metal-style guitar complementing this display of giddy optimism...a must-listen for all who mistakenly think metal is always grim and "soulless". The only "problem" with this song is that I wish it could go on forever! "Cosmic Fusion", though, is an unbelievable spiraling of emotions, culminating in fantastic, swan-like death throes from the Indian, and an invasion of death-metal (literally!) that somehow merge into one gorgeous torrent of music. "The Mirror Maze" is another Beatles tribute...here, the Hippie and Futureman begin to realize what their "fronts" (escapism for the Hippie, arrogance for the Futureman) have been hiding from them.

"Evil Devolution" delivers the final blow to Futureman's arrogance...and is easily the best, most unsettlingly thoughtful set of lyrics I've ever heard out of ARJEN LUCASSEN. The questions truly force us--modern humanity--to figure out exactly what we truly seek out and value. The world portrayed is Ray Kurzweil's computer-world vision gone awry (yes, it's THAT Kurzweil, too, progheads!)...it becomes a dangerous potential reality. Positivism, naturalism, empiricism, determinism, and a series of other destructive "isms" of the modern age all come under withering fire...yet from such unassuming, accessible lyrics! The odd string arrangement of the chorus--something like an evil chamber orchestra--serve well, but don't overshadow the lyrics. The vocoder-altered final chorus suggests a dangerous parallel between the fate of the human race and the numb suffering of Forever of the Stars. "The Two Gates" is musically fun...although I don't like the Barbarian's low mumbling. "Forever of the Stars", on the other hand, is all about the vocals. Forever, fatigued, reverts dramatically back to his true nature. This song may be inspired by PINK FLOYD's "Sheep", but with a much less offensive variety of lyrics, of course! "Another Time, Another Space" closes the album well, with perhaps some hope for the souls of the dead.

Overall, this album comes highly recommended; even the slight flaws that hold it back from equalling The Human Equation aren't enough to detract from a hard-earned five stars for Forever of the Stars!

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Send comments to FloydWright (BETA) | Report this review (#1182) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 14, 2005

Review by Menswear
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars It's useless to hide the fact that Human Equation is probably 'the' cd of 2004. So knowing that, I thought if sooo many people are stating Electric Castle as a classic metal opus, I had to have a peek...or two...or even three.

Woah man, look at the size of that thing. Human Equation is not bigger than this one. Au contraire, while Human Equation was aggresive (if not violent) and more nu-metal- FM oriented, Electric Castle is thick and rich in sonic textures. We get not only the usual metallic/folk blend, but also some bluesy Clapton/AC DC moments. This one's harder to get into due to the complexity of most of the numbers. This is one meaty stew that only Chef Lucassen could brew.

Disc One and Two will challenge your ears because of the real progressive aspects. This is done in the old fashioned way, and it's a sound that I could qualifiy less 'du jour'. While Human Equation is super stylish, Migrator 2 being heavy form A-Z, acoustic guitar, flute and chamber music ambience is a nice break for your nerves. Ayreon is more focused on atmospheres as he makes severals keyboard efforts to transport the listener far away in outer space.

A big fat round of applause for the talent coaching, because so much talent in studio could've lead to musical chaos. Starting with, I guess, those who steal the show: Damian Wilson and Edwin Balogh (Knight and Roman). 'Get out! You won't name Fish?' Well, he's pretty much dead as the doornail on this record. We barely hear him and his character dies pretty early in the plot (which is by the way, SO cheesy, it could make Miami Vice pass for 24).

Also hurray for the very noticable presence of my favorite flutist extraordinaire: Thijs Van Leer. The ghost of Focus is prowling around and boy oh boy, we're in for a (too short) treat. I don't know what's his technique but you could almost feel the spit coming out the flute. Powerful, melodic and irresistible. Hurray!!

Noticing the help of Camel's keyboardist Scherpenzeel and Arena's maestro Clive Nolan, the brutally efficient Ed Warby on drums, this all-star band is the BEST he ever created.

What to expect? Well, you go from the Beatles to Joni Mitchell to Ac/Dc to Eric Clapton to Focus to Rush to Ayreon's famous metal mashing formula.

Forgiving Ayreon for the goofy Survivor story and his corny boring video on the Special Edition, this is a prime choice. Your money is indeed well invested considering the new low price (why? I dunno) and the new cd-rom enhancement. Basically on the video, Ayreon's showing us how much he's a fan. A fan of pretty much everything. Music, movies, even painting. Basically, the video's showing a skinny guy with a terrible haircut, sporting ordinary clothes and hairy armpits. Woohoo. Honest approach I guess. He does not look anything like the pictures. Anything I tell ya. Figure yourself a skinny redneck grimacing (stomach pain?) when he hears music, sitting in a chair. Oh yeah, I paid for THAT. *Sigh*

I guess a lot of money is spend on digital PhotoShop to fix his image because...damn!

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Send comments to Menswear (BETA) | Report this review (#1183) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've been listening to this album since it was released and just recently purchased the "Special Edition" released in 2004 by InsideOut label. My primary motives of listening the album were two things: first, the label "Space Opera" under The "Into The Electric Castle" album title because I love rock opera. My first love on rock opera was when in 1977 I listened to Indonesian musician Harry Roesli released a rock opera about historic hero called "Ken Arok" as an album after a series of rock opera stages he and his gang did in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. It changed my perception towards combining drama and rock music and it was an excellent album. Second, one of my favorite vocalists and excellent lyricist Fish was featured in this album as actor as well as lyricist. So this combination that has made me buy the album. Frankly, I was not aware who Arjen Lucassen was at the time. But this album blew me away at first listen, couple years ago.

The last two weeks I put this special edition package regularly on my CD player. Until this morning when I played it while I was reading Kouzes and Posner's book "The Leadership Challenge" (this one has nothing to do with music), I found the ultimate enjoyment combining these two activities that I really love: reading book and listening to music. Oh man . what a great event. Well, music is good media for contemplation, I think. It helps me absorb the contents of the book I'm reading. That suffices to say that I need to write a review of this album!

As Arjen puts it in the album sleeve, this third album was planned to be a killer - it's a reality, I think. Despite, I have never heard his previous two albums before this one. Pity me. Sorry Arjen, I have to prioritize my spending on CD purchase. Reading the album sleeve is a kind of "mandatory" for me before I start with the musical journey of the album. And I enjoy Arjen's candidness in writing his personal sleeve notes. On one part I agree with his statement "Recently I listened to ITEC after not having heard it for quite sometime. A feeling of joy came over me ..". Yeah!

Disc One

The album kicks off with a narration that serves as opener for the entire journey with "Welcome to the New Dimension". The space environment is created through the use of floating keyboard and effects sounds. At first listen I thought that this intro was bit too long as it has so many talks and settings. But it grew with couple of spins especially with the use of howling guitar sounds that help enrich the spacey nuance. Some riffs are also provided especially at the end of narration passage.

It moves seamlessly and unnoticeably to second track "Isis and Osiris" where the acoustic guitar work and mandolin bring in Fish unique voice combined with female backing voice "let the journey begin .". It commands the start of the journey into eternity. The song itself is actually a dialogue involving many other singers. Having been introduced through acoustic guitar rhythm with some spacey keyboard, the song has a series of excellent riffs in relatively medium tempo music. It has a great melody combining guitars, keyboards and vocals. The ending part with Fish voice and acoustic guitar / mandolin combined with keyboard reminds me to Marillion's early albums and Fish solo career.

"Amazing Flight" starts with a narration continued with great guitar rhythm and organ that bring the music into a combination of blues and space rock. The electric guitar solo brings nicely the vocal line to enter the music. Floating keyboard sounds also characterize the music. It's a combination of ambient, blues, psychedelic and space rock. I enjoy the organ solo combined with electric guitar. It's really stunning! This song also contains excellent spacey interlude exploring keyboards and organ, continued with another uplifting music. It's so great hearing the flute work of Thijs Van Leer of FOCUS at the ending part of this song. But that's not the peak! As the song moves into piano solo combined with acoustic guitar work - oh man .. What a great segment! The flute returns back to music and provides FOCUS nuance here. If you love FOCUS, you would love this part!

The music is then disconnected and restarted again with a soft acoustic guitar work and ambient vice line to open "Time Beyond Time". It's a slow spacey opening with excellent melody. It moves into an upbeat mode but with maintaining the slow tempo. As with other tracks, this one has a stunning guitar solo as well. The one at the ending part is truly memorable, especially because it moves seamlessly to the next track "The Decision Tree" with ambient keyboard followed with acoustic guitar in different setup. With different setup and melody, this track is a logical continuation to previous track. The keyboard solo just before the upbeat, fast tempo track during ending part reminds me to Rick Wakeman's work.

"Tunnel of Light" begins with a short narration followed with continuous acoustic guitar work that brings in Fish voice to sing the melody. Howling guitar sound at the back helps enrich the texture of the song. Unfortunately I do not favor the use of female backing vocals here - sounds bit poppy to my ears, really. And, it's a bit boring too. Composition-wise, this song has a straight forward structure from start to end. "Across The Rainbow Bridge" starts with a stalagmite sounds in the cave overlaid by narration that brings the ambient music and excellent vocal line. The guitar fills serve as rhythm section except at the end of singing passage where it provides with some riffs. The song moves into progressive metal vein with heavy riffs. This song closes disc one excellently.

Disc Two

Disc Two starts with another narration followed beautifully with a symphonic music in slow tempo with "The Garden of Emotions". When the symphonic nuance has gone, suddenly it turns into a psychedelic style with guitar fills and voice line reminiscent of PORCUPINE TREE. As with other tracks, this one is heavy with intensive dialogues between singers played in space rock and progressive metal styles. Again, this track has great keyboard solo as well as guitar.

"Valley of The Queens" is a short song that serves as a transition piece to the next one. It's an ambient music with female vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboards. It moves seamlessly to "The Castle Hall" with a more energetic music and uplifting mood - combining the combination of great keyboard and electric guitar. Some melody of the keyboard reminds me to a traditional music. Acoustic guitar work is used as transition between passages. Composition-wise, this track is a beautiful one: it has powerful songwriting, excellent melody and tight structure.

"Tower of Hope" begins with a long sustain, single note, keyboard sound and effects followed with repetitive guitar riffs that bring the music into medium/fast tempo style and uplifting mood. This song is unique especially in the middle of the track where the interlude turns the music into jazz with some Rick Wakeman keyboard style. It then continues with an atmospheric windy nuance combined with spacey keyboard that feature female voice under "Cosmic Fusion". It's a melodic singing part with guitar fills that serve as rhythm. The song moves into progressive metal with some growling vocals backed with symphonic music. Very nice. It reminds me to HAGGARD or OPETH. It flows continuously with medium tempo music and it ends up nicely with spacey keyboard sound in quieter passage featuring guitar melody. I can see the work of ARENA's CLIVE NOLAN clearly here as he contributes to this album. The ending part of this song is really great, combining all instruments like violin, cello, guitar and keyboard contribution in solo until the song ends. Great ending!

"The Mirror Maze" continuous seamlessly from previous track with a short narration continued with classical piano work featuring male vocal. It's so melodic. The first half of this song is completely mellow but the later half has brought the music into more progressive metal vein. The guitar solo work at the end is stunning. "Evil Devolution" begins with a boiling water sounds and spacey narration. The first half is really a quiet passage featuring vocals and symphonic keyboard/ But in the middle of the track, the music moves upward with more energetic venture maintaining the symphonic nuance. The song even move into fast speed power metal vein with heavy riffs and wonderful guitar solo work. Oh man .. what an excellent tune! I love the keyboard solo, again! The song ends up like a holocaust.

"The Two Gates" starts off with introductory narration followed beautifully with a combination of melodic keyboard solo and guitar fills. It moves into faster tempo in an uplifting mood demonstrated by the sounds of guitar and keyboards. It's an excellent track especially with the 70s organ sound that reminds me to classic rock tunes. The song continues with an ambient opening of "Forever of The Stars" followed with narration. This tracks serves as a transition piece featuring the exploration of keyboard and robotic talks.

"Another Time, Another Space" concludes the album in medium tempo song that starts with a combination of acoustic guitar and keyboard. This song serves as an encore to close the chapter and it provides another promise with another space rock album. It's a nice track.

SUMMARY

Having listened to in great details, I conclude this album is an excellent addition to any prog collection with 4.5 out of 5 stars of overall rating. Even though until todate I still can NOT play the enhanced video - and I don't know why - I still HIGHLY RECOMMEND you to purchase this Special Edition double CD. This album is better than the next follow-up albums:The Universal Migrator. Keep on proggin' .!!!

Progressively yours,

GW

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#1188) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 15, 2005

Review by erik neuteboom
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Just after Arjen Lucassen had released his first album under the name Ayreon, I had (as a fellow Dutchman) the opportunity to make an interview at his farm with studio, deep into the forest and far away from the busy streets and pushy people. He impressed me as a very professional, intelligent and nice person and I was delighted to see that his LP collection looked very like mine including records from Hawkwind, Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and lots of progrock bands like Triumvirat. While talking and listening to his new material (from the CD "Actual Fantasy") I was sure that this experienced (he played in known Dutch rock bands Bodine and Vengeance) and versatile musician (acoustic - and electric guitars, keyboards and knowledge from computers and recording-technique) would conquer the (prog)rock world. So he did, how great to notice all those four - and five star ratings for his albums from my fellow reviewers on Prog Archives! My favorite Ayreon album is the 2- CD "Into The Electric Castle-A Space Opera" (what a mindlbowing surrealistic cover painting). In my opinion the balance between symphonic (Hammond, Moog and Mellotron), rock (heavy guitar) and folk (acoustic instruments like flute, sitar and guitar) is at its peak, the compositions are all very strong and alternating and the contributions from guest musicians Fish, Sharon Den Adel, Damian Wilson, Clive Nolan, Ton Scherpenzeel en Thijs Van Leer are excellent. Arjen did a perfect job to let these 'celebrities' sound inspired on this 2-CD, A CLASSIC DUTCH PROGROCK ALBUM!!!

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Send comments to erik neuteboom (BETA) | Report this review (#36316) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 12, 2005

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Arjen Lucassen is a master of the Sci-Fi concept journey of the mind, and this album is the perfect example of his greatness. The music is superb, the lyrics are suberb, the concept, while a bit disjointed, is interesting and keeps the listener enthralled. It's all a perfect combination that created a stellar and breakthrough work.

Fish does a stellar job in the role as the Highlander, and the lyrics that he provided only prove more that he is a master of the art of lyric writing. Clive Nolan is superb as the keyboardist, his synth solos are breathtaking and flow smoothly with the music. Arjen Lucassen is also at the top of his game, with smooth and rich guitar solos, and incredible acoustic phrases. The sitar is used tastefully and well, as it creates many tones and moods in the songs that it is featured in. The flute is also superb, mixing with the powerful guitar much like in the Human Equation. The vocalists are also all incredible, the most notable ones being the two female vocalists, Sharon Den Adel and Anneke van Giersbergen.

The concept is what Lucassen calls an, "over-the-top-tongue-in-cheek science fiction story with exaggerated cliche characters." And he accomplishes this with precision and perfection. The story combines all different types of characters from different eras in time, and pits them towards challenges in an 'Electric Castle', where if they complete the tasks, they return to their times. Certain characters leave the story during certain songs, leaving the rest of the characters to fend for themselves.

Overall, this is a must-have album with few flaws. I recommend this to any fan of Progressive Metal. 4/5.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#36997) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 19, 2005

Review by evenless
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Into The Electric Castle

The third Ayreon release is a 100+ minute double CD and like 'The Final Experiment' it tells a story. Eight stereotypical characters from different eras in time suddenly find themselves in another dimension as subjects of an experiment conducted by an alien race.

The characters on 'Into the Electric Castle' are blown out of proportion. Arjen rented a few old B-movies for inspiration to see how Romans, Barbarians and Egyptians were stereotyped in those years. "I like this tongue in cheek-thing, although I take the music itself very seriously."

"Into The Electric Castle' is the most pleasant sounding album I've made so far', says Arjen. "And that is mainly due to the analogue equipment I used. Like vintage synthesizers from the 70's, which still have that warm, instantly recognizable sound. I had enough of triggered drums, samples and prefab digital sounds. I'm a sucker for contradictions. 'Into The Electric Castle' is one to start with. But I also like the idea of telling a sci-fi story and using equipment that - in some cases - people might find out- dated."

To me "Into The Electric Castle" probably is Arjen Lucassen's best work. His latest album "The Human Equation" is quite a bit harder and therefore more difficult to "get in to" for people who don't know Arjen's work yet. Therefore I would recommend "newcomers" to start with "Into The Electric Castle" with great singers like Fish (yes! the former lead singer from Marillion), Damian Wilson (ex Threshold), Sharon Den Adel (Within Temptation), Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering), Edwin Balogh, Arjen Lucassen, Jay van Feggelen, and Edward Reekers.

I really enjoy the concept of this album of all the characters going on a journey and they are all trying to complete it, but not all characters will manage. For example: The Highlander "Fish' character" dies at the end of disc one, so unfortunately no more singing of him on disc two.

Personally I like the entire album because of the concept and I don't think it would do the album any good to review song by song. This album you have to put in your CD- player and play it from beginning to end without skipping, changing the volume or playing it "random". (I still wonder why manufacturers invented this horrible function, just like programming). But if I would have to mention my personal highlight it would probably be the delicate "Valley Of The Queens".

This album definitely deserves a 5 star rating!

Into The Electric Castle: 5 stars

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Send comments to evenless (BETA) | Report this review (#44438) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, August 27, 2005

Review by Fitzcarraldo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I bought this a year ago on the recommendation of a fellow Prog Archives Collaborator. Although Progressive Metal is not my cup of tea, I listened to 'Tower Of Hope' and thought it interesting (and unusual) enough to give the album a try. I have the special edition 2-CD with bonus CD-ROM tracks, which comes with a 'quality' booklet containing notes, lyrics, photos and details of the artists and instruments.

Billed as a 'space opera', to me this is rather like a neo-Progressive version of a RICK WAKEMAN concept album with added metal (I'm thinking of a 21st Century "Journey To The Centre Of Earth" on steroids). Actually, the result does not sound at all bad to someone such as myself who prefers the Progressive Rock of the 1970s. The tunes and arrangements are often pleasing, and some 'bright' synthesizer and the crisp production do give it that neo-Progressive feel in places. But a retro feel is very much in evidence too - more on that below.

I find the 'Voice' (narration by Peter Daltry) rather corny, to be honest, both in concept and execution. To be fair, Lucassen says in the sleeve notes that the album concept is intended to be an over-the-top tongue-in-cheek science fiction story with exaggerated cliché characters. But, to me, the concept is just a little too over-the-top and corny for comfort, whether or not Lucassen's tongue was in his cheek.

The heavy guitars, from which there are very long respites on the two discs, are actually not difficult for me to digest on this album (the opposite, in fact), and neither is the 'neo-sounding' synthesizer too buzzing or tinny, a problem I find on some neo-Progressive releases. The wide range of guest musicians and instruments add interest to the sound. On the keyboard side alone there is piano, synthesizer, Mellotron, harpsichord, Hammond and Minimoog. The use of mandolin, sitar, violin and cello also contribute some very pleasant sounds in places.

The variety of singers (male and female) and instrumentalists do make this work sound like a rock opera; although, to me, it gives the whole thing a rather fragmented feel (but I suspect that's just me). The contributions are instantly recognisable to me from three of the guests: Fish, Clive Nolan and Thijs Van Leer. Parts of 'Amazing Flight', for example, could have come straight off a FOCUS album. I find Lucassen's mandolin and Pisters' brief sitar particularly pleasant. I also find the singing of the two female guests Sharon Den Adel and Anneke Van Giersbergen pleasant.

The styles are varied: bluesy, funky, classic rock, neo-Progressive, heavy metal, and pop (almost). Several tracks have a retro feel (in a good way): parts remind me of DAVID BOWIE, others of THE BEATLES, others of QUEEN, just to name a few. Actually the styles chop and change a bit much for my liking, and I would have preferred something a bit more cohesive. But again that's probably just me.

Overall then, a decent album to the ears of a dyed-in-the wool fan of the music of 1960s and 1970s, with parts I find notably enjoyable (including some of the chopping axes, which are pretty restrained really and not that frequent). I can't say I find the album stellar, but it is well produced, the range of instruments pleasing, and the musicianship evident, and I think I'm very safe recommending it to those who enjoy music at the Progressive Metal and neo-Progressive ends of the spectrum. It was obviously a labour of love for Lucassen and I can recognise a class act even if it is not completely to my taste. I take my hat off to the guy, actually.

I'm going with 3 stars (Good, but not essential) on this, but I can see that to the vast majority of the younger audience and to fans of Progressive Metal this would be at least a 4-star album. If I could cherry-pick from it I think perhaps even I, with my tastes, could find a 4-star single CD in there. In my opinion it's definitely worth checking out if you like Progressive Metal and neo-Progressive.

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Send comments to Fitzcarraldo (BETA) | Report this review (#80557) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Review by Australian
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars "Into the Electric Castle" is a lot more accomplished than 'The Human Equation', and the overall instrumental and vocal quality is better on this album. Although the concept behind "Into the Electric Castle" once again is quite a cheesy and science-fiction I find it is better than The 'Human Equation concept.' The concept reminds me of something from Star Trek, which I am very familiar with. Just so you know the idea is that a person is taken from each period of history and placed within the world of the "Electric Castle", where they must find the key to inner salvation. There is an Egyptian, Roman, Barbarian, Highlander, Indian, Hippie, Knight and a man from the future. Coincidently Fish plays the role of the Highlander, and he does a fantastic job.

The music to "Into the Electric Castle" is heavily laden with synthesizers and guitars, and each song has a theme to it, for example "Amazing flight" is a very rock-sounding song and The Hippie and Barbarian are the main characters for the song. "Time-beyond time" is about the future man and so on. This is a good feature about "Into the Electric Castle" as it makes for an interesting listen. Another impressive feature of all Ayreon albums is that Arjen uses original synthesizers which give everything a very vintage sound. There is some of every style in this album, blues, rock, folk, prog you name it!

The female vocalists on "Into the Electric Castle" are very good, particularly Anneke van Giersbergen whose voice is crystal clear in all the songs she sings. Fish also does very well hear and it is very good to see him sing in a hardy Scottish accent. The first half of "Into the Electric Castle" is very good; on the four star level but the quality of music drops a tiny bit on the second disc and the music gets heavier.

"Into the Electric Castle" is a very good, science -fiction album and it overall an interesting and enjoyable album. It is the best of Ayreon's albums I own. I would recommend "Into the Electric Castle" to prog metal fans.

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Posted Sunday, August 06, 2006

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.5 stars. Although the singing and the musicianship is excellent this record just doesn't capture my imagination. This is such an ambitious project, and the concept is pretty cool but when you boil it down to the songs, they for the most part don't do it for me.

The introduction "Welcome To The New Dimension" is both detailed and dramatic. "Isis And Ostris" is great ! To hear Fish and Sharon Den Adel singing on the same song is like listening to Arjen's version of beauty and the beast, haha. Sorry Fish. I really like Damian Wilson's vocals on "Time Beyond Time" and "Across The Rainbow Bridge".

The first two songs on disc 2 are fantastic ! Anneke's vocals on both songs are so beautiful. The other song I really like is "Cosmic Fusion" a cool sounding psychedelic tune with tempo and mood shifts a plenty. "The Mirror Maze" and "Another Time, Another Space" are both BEATLES sounding tunes with a psychedelic feel to them.

It was fun checking out who sings when, and I was introduced to some musicians I previously did not know. If you don't have this release you should get it, the majority on this site believe "Into The Electric Castle" is an excellent addition to your collection.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#103367) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, December 17, 2006

Review by 1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Into the Electric Castle is the breakthrough album for Arjen Lucassen's Ayreon. The album continues Arjen's string of concept albums that are delicately intertwined into one giant concept. ItEC grasps what Final Experiment and Actual Fantasy merely reached for. Arjen assembles a terrific cast, including Fish, to tell the stroy of 8 people from different points of history who are abducted by a mysterious alien and forced to travel to the Electric Castle. While there, they must confront their innermost demons. The reason for their abduction becomes clear in Pete Daltrey's eerie narration. The 8 humans are the Highlander, Knight, Roman, Indian, Egyptian, Barbarian, Hippie, and the Futureman.

Arjen finds a near perfect blend of crushing metal riffs to gentle balladry to advance the story. As the humans struggle to survive, the varying religious and idealogical beliefs result in the standard bickering. The Barbarian seems to annoy everyone, particularly the Highlander. Fish's Gaelic accent borders on hilarity but the lyrics he sings are so serious and moving they command your attention. Disc 1 follows the humans as they travel this strange new dimension and Disc 2 details the trials inside the Electric Castle. Over time bonds develop in the figures that had the most in common (Futureman and Hippie, Knight and Roman).

Arjen ties this album in to his previous efforts in subtle way. Humans are simply an experiment for the aliens because they can no longer feel emotions. Does that make humans the final experiment? Though you really have to listen to the whole album, standouts are Evil Devolution (Arjen's best individual song to date), Two Gates, Garden of Emotions, and Isis and Osiris. The alien Forever and the Futureman will pop up on Arjen next work, the vastly inferior Universal Migrator.

The Human Equation is Ayreon's crowning achievement, but Into the Electric Castle is probably the best place to start. Sharon den Adel's (Indian) vox are beautiful, Damian Wilson's (Knight) voice sounds remarkably like Robert Plant in his prime, giving the Knight a bluesy voice. Pete Daltry's narration may be the highlight of the album. As Forever, he can feel no emotion, but the closer the humans are to death, the more excited he becomes. He sounds eager on Across the Rainbow Bridge.

Fans of prog metal do not have a complete, or even a decent, collection without this album. It isn't the masterpiece that THE is, but it's a very strong album. Highly recommended.

Grade: B+

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#104871) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, December 29, 2006

Review by FruMp
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars What a great album, my friend introduced me to this when I was in the early days of my prog exploration and I owe him. The story behind ayreon is well documented, it is fronted by Arjen Lucassen who plays guitar and a lot of the other instruments on the album and he enlists famous prog musicians to play and sing for him.

The first side of the disc has some great songs, the two 10 minute epics are both major highlights with some great mandolin work in isis and osiris and some fantastic female vocal work (a highlight over the whole album I must say), Amazing flight is my favourite song on the album very fun spacey song which gives a nod to oldschool prog. Rainbow bridge is another highlight on the first side.

The second side starts off well with the garden of emotions and again the female vocals shine here, highlights on the second side for me were cosmic fusion and evil devolution. There are some great solos there and even a bit of synth vs guitar dueling, there is a brief foray into guttural vocals.

Overall I feel I can only award this album 4 stars, there are some really great songs but there are also several fairly weak ones and some blatant filler (eg valley of the queens), also there is a lot of cheesiness too which can spoil the fun a bit I find. A good album recommended for fans of prog metal and modern prog.

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Send comments to FruMp (BETA) | Report this review (#116887) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 30, 2007

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Boasting great playing, complex and operatic song writing, stellar production, and passionate vocal performances, and the only story line that could be goofier than "Ayreon", "Electric Castle" is as success at everything it attempts, and will take the listener on a spacey/heavy/dynamic/mystical rock journey for more than an hour-and-a- half.

The silliness of the story and narrator aside, there is a lot to enjoy throughout "Electric Castle", with the songs and movements bringing a tremendous amount of variety and proficiency to the table. Arjen and his "players" show their chops at every turn, providing some memorable instrumental moments and melodies.

As far as the famous vocals go, I have to admit that I enjoy them more for their camp than anything; they aren't as good as on later albums, but I admit that this is probably just a matter of taste. I am not familiar with the majority of them which makes it hard to gain real perspective of their talent-- luckily they're usually singing about barbaric conquest or Egyptian gods (which is AOK with me), which is pulled off with surprising taste.

As a whole, "Electric Castle" is absolutely worth picking up for fans of most genres of artistic rock, and makes for fun listening (and how often do you get to hear songs sung by Roman legionnaires side-by-side with cosmic hippies?)

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 3 Lyrics/Vocals: 3 Style/Emotion/Replay: 4

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#119097) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 20, 2007

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars It's an interesting question to ask yourself: what's a real masterpiece. What comes into my mind is: Into the electric Castle. But that's a little easy of course. A masterpiece to me is an album with a certain kind of grandeur over it, a work of art which is given an enormous amount of attention to. And both these aspects apply to this album. This is a real project. But of course that on itself is not enough to be a masterpiece. The music has to be outstanding as well. Don't worry, also that is the case here.

This is by far the best product of Arjen Lucassen, despite the fact he has done more very nice jobs. In fact this suits me so well that it's almost as if it's written for me. Please Arjen, write me a superalbum, one that makes me go into raptures. Ok, I'll make Into the Electric Castle, will that do ? Something like that.

I can go into details about this great doubler but it's not the kind of album to do that. It's just a masterpiece, what can I say more ? Ok, if you do want me to mention some highlights: Isis and Osiris and Amazing Flight, how about those two ? I can't think of much better compositions than these songs. And what about the production ? Also a big A for that.

I don't think I have to say anything more: 5 stars (at least).

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#146971) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 26, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars I have a mixed feeling about "Ayreon". A good debut album and a somewhat deceptive follow-up one. I was rather interested in discovering this "Into The Electric Castle" project thanks to some great prog musicians / vocalists who agreed to participate.

And IMO, this is the major attraction of this double CD set. Fish, Thijs van Leer and Clive Nolan are persons that I particularly appreciate. They definitely put their marks on this work (especially Thijs and Fish).

I could not really enter the storyboard of this "conceptual" work. Eight characters from different time eras interacting with each others might appeal some listeners but I am not truly convinced.

Even if "Ayreon" is referenced in the prog-metal genre, this effort is more in the neo vein ("The Decision Tree"). There are even some symph instants thanks to the short "Valley of the Queens" which almost sounds as a "Renaissance" track. Of course, there is a metal flavour here and there ("The Garden Of Emotions") .

I do not particularly like the vocal introductions of several songs. Cloning Jeff Wayne's project "The War of the Worlds". But this was the model and "Into The Electric Castle" is far from being able to compete.

Of course, the imprint of "Fish" in his "Highlander" role is very good. He appears on several tracks ("Isis & Osiris", "The Decision Tree", and "Tunnel Of Light".

My preferred moment (can't even talk about a whole track) is when Thijs holds the flute during the last section of "Amazing Flight". Fully Tull-esque and very powerful.

The whole of the first disc is not unpleasant, but I am looking desperately to identify a masterpiece such as described in several reviews. Musicianship is excellent of course, that's not the problem. I guess that it is only a matter of song writing. To be able to capture your audience for almost two hours needs a very strong story to which the fan can identify themselves (like Rael or Tommy). It is absolutely not my case here. It is too much spread about time and space to have an even close sense of unity.

In these circumstances, over hundred minutes of music is quite long to absorb. My quest for a highlight will be vain, I'm afraid. Some pastoral fluting during "Valley of the Queens" aren't sufficient. Especially that it is followed by one of the weakest number of this album. The soulless "The Castle Hall" only saved by a good and folky part at the end of it.

I particularly dislike "Cosmic Fusion". Not due to the good synth work from Scherpenzeel ("Kayak", "Camel") but to these vocals, pretending to be scary and actually being quite ridiculous. The end of this album is also generally weak which only reinforces my opinion that it could have been easily cut down to a one CD version only.

"The Two Gates" easily confirms this. AOR-ish and tasteless. And what to say about "Forever Of The Stars" and its computerized vocals. Unbearable. Fortunately, the closing number "Another Time, Another Space" is partially recovering this. But not completely.

I won't say that this is a weak album. Average would better fit my opinion. Five out of ten probably. Because of the good performance of some guests, I will upgrade it to three stars. But that's the max.

I guess that such a project might have been a good live experience. But Arjen never plays "Ayreon" albums on stage. Too bad.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#152516) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, November 24, 2007

Review by progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Into the Electric Castle was what started my being a fan of Ayreon. I recall reading a number of reviews back in 1998, some raving about it, others dismissing it. I also recall reading that it was dubbed a space opera, involving multiple vocalists performing in different character roles. This usually brings an exclamation mark into my head along with a question mark. An ambitious and complex project with an advanced storyline. The question I always have about these types of recordings is: Is it an overdone, pretentious album that will contain vast quantities of filler and put me to sleep?

I took a chance and bought it. I've been glad about that decision ever since because not only did I acquire a masterpiece, but it opened me up to a whole new geographical region that I had not acquired any progressive rock from, that being the Netherlands. Not only did I explore the rest of the Ayreon catalogue, but I started exploring other Dutch bands which had members that guested on Ayreon's albums.

Into the Electric Castle is a complicated story involving eight individuals who are pulled from out of their timeline and brought together by an entity called Forever of the Stars. They are given the task of finding the Electric Castle and entering it to find out what's inside. The storyline is actually a lot more complex and covers several levels of concepts, too much to go into in this review. The Wikipedia page for this album contains a much better synopsis and I would suggest checking that out if you're interested.

The historical characters include the Roman played by Edwin Balogh (Omega), the Indian played by Sharon den Adel (Within Temptation), the Barbarian played by Jay van Feggelin (Bodine), the Highlander played by Fish (Marillion), the Egyptian played by Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gathering), the Hippie played by Anthony Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon's creator), the Futureman played by Edward Reekers (Kayak), and the Knight played by Damian Wilson (Threshold, Landmarq). In addition, Peter Daltrey (Kaleidoscope) is the voice of Forever of the Stars. In addition to all these vocalists, a number of guest instrumentalists appear on this album, including Clive Nolan (Arena), Ton Scherpenzeel (Kayak), Thijs van Leer (Focus), Ed Warby (Gorefest), and others. Lucassen really gathered together a wonderful group of performers.

The musicianship on this is superb incorporating elements of symphonic prog rock, prog metal, psychedelic, electronica, and occasionally some blues and jazz. The production is amazing, the mix is perfect. Lucassen is clearly a skilled studio technician in addition to his musicianship. The lyrics may leave something to be desired for some listeners, but Lucassen intentionally wrote the lyrics in this fashion because the concept and characters are based on old sci-fi TV shows and B-movies. In a way, I find it charming. The lyrics may be a bit cheesy, but they still reflect on so many levels of human perception, such as how each character perceives what the Electric Castle might be. The Highlander perceives it as Hell, the Knight as the Island of Avalon where the Holy Grail is, the Roman perceives it as the Underworld, the Egyptian perceives it as the Afterlife, the Hippie thinks he's in a drug-induced stupor, and the Futureman perceives it as a virtual reality. The conflicts between these different personalities from different eras of civilization adds a whole additional layer. Lucassen may have been inspired by B-movies, but he has the making of a compelling storyline for a full-blown science fiction novel.

Into the Electric Castle is probably one of the best releases of the 1990s and is a regular guest in my CD player. This is how a rock opera should be and is, in my mind, one of the few rare successful attempts at one. Easily a masterpiece and well worth five stars.

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Send comments to progaardvark (BETA) | Report this review (#160894) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Review by sleeper
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Into the Electric Castle is the third album from Arjen Lucassen's main project, Ayreon, and was his first big success (relatively speaking) in the prog world. What you have here is a traditional style prog metal album that takes the most grandiose aspects of prog and delivers them in a two disc concept album. Musically this album is filled with lush keyboards, clinical (on purpose) electronics and powerful guitars and drums. Arjen's demonstrates an ability to create interesting and multi- sectioned songs that don't sound like repeats of a single theme and intertwines that with a complex story about a group of people snatched from various times from Earths history (and future) as they travel to the Electric Castle. In fact its the use of a story and multiple singers, each playing a different role, that makes this into a rock opera and provides the main strength for the album. Particular stand out vocal performances are form Fish, who gives a performance filled with more character than some of his solo work, Damien Wilson and Anneke van Giersbergen. Though this album can make for a highly enjoyable listen, it does have a good few drawbacks to it. First off, the musicianship is hardly stunning, especially the bass playing which is particularly unadventurous, and the music can be described as prog by numbers, not exactly a bad thing, but it can get old after a few/several listens and as such hurts the longevity of this album. Worst of all, though, the concept and Arjen's lyrics (Fish, and if I remember correctly, Anneke both wrote their own) are rather cheesy to say the least and this will not go down to well with many people, so don't take it too seriously. Good for a bit of easy listening, in prog terms at least, but its not challenging and can grow stale quickly, but enjoyable for the times you do listen to it.

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Send comments to sleeper (BETA) | Report this review (#164916) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars An amazing flight through space.

Call it what you will - utter cheese, over the top or pretentious, Arjen Lucassen's Ayreon project never ceases to amaze, and on this, his third album, the project will finally find its heading. After experimenting with the rock opera idea on the project's debut, The Final Experiment, the band decided to follow up with a concept album dealing with virtual reality when they released the mediocre Actual Fantasy, and in the realization that the project were better off with the deepest reaches of space, Arjen decided to head back there with this album. The story itself is fairly fun for those who spent too much of their time watching Star Trek or playing Dungeons and Dragons when they were kids, but the music is simply pure bliss to the ears of anyone who enjoys some good progressive metal with some space rock atmospheres and a cascade of multi-instrumental sections.

All the guest singers and instrumentalists really make the album sound as big as space itself, and the spoken word narration in some of the vocals really gives you chills. It sounds like you're listening to an epic film-soundtrack as the keyboards and space sounds pulse in the background while the narrator's computerized voice plays the part of ''Forever of the Stars,'' the overseer of the story. Multiple singers play the part of the individuals involved in the Opera to keep things from getting boring, and the roster even includes ex-Marillion frontman Fish of all people. While Arjen's individual riffs and themes will definitely keep things more on the catchy side the whole album is a simply overwhelming experience, and that's what's great about it.

Even with the concept and the grandeur there are songs that stand out individually, and when they do - they are absolute killers. Things get off to a strong start when the stellar riff that opens the second section of the lengthy Isis and Osiris kicks into gear and just about blows your head off while it does. Sitar solos later in relieve the pressure that the guitars build up and make them all the more rewarding when they're reprieved later. Another standout from the first disc is the incredibly heavy Across the Rainbow Bridge with yet another guitar part that will stick with you long after the album is over. The Castle Hall is a dark and enchanting song which makes the best of its multiple parts to make the chorus incredibly harmonic and still somehow demonically dark while the brief Valley Of The Queens makes use of delicate voicing to make the song very 'touching' as another one of the characters falls fate to the Electric Castle.

While not all of the songs are particularly easy to remember, even after multiple listens, it doesn't mean that the album is hard to get into. Any one of the highly impressive songs will definitely pique the interest of someone who goes in for a listen and the remainder of the songs simply remind you why you put the album on in the first place. Somehow, even though the album is nearly two-hours long, it's a breeze to listen through. It may not be a good idea to try and get right into the story when you first put this album on - that might make you think too much and miss the excellent music that is actually the main reason for buying the album (believe it or not). But it is dense, and like all Ayreon projects, takes many listens to get into.

Overall this one is going to get a solid 4 stars out of 5 for an excellent album which would be the start of a whole line of stories in the saga that have finally come to an end with last year's 01011001. Definitely a good place to start with the astral traveling band and a must for fans of progressive metal - that is - if you don't mind a little bit of 'cheese' as some people may call it. Recommended!

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#199990) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 'Into The Electric Castle' - Ayreon (8.5/10)

Along with Ayreon's more famous rock opera, 'The Human Equation,' this fine masterpiece is another highlight of the symphonic metal band/project,

Put simply, the album melds a whimsical Ziltoid-esque concept with excellent progressive music. To make a long story short, 8 different cultural stereotypes (IE: Roman, Barbarian, Hippie etc) are plucked out of time to go on a quest through an extra dimensional realm. While it's certainly not an immensely engaging plot, it works well, and gives alot of potential to incorperate different styles, and despite the obvious fact that the story isn't supposed to emotionally envelop a listener, there are moments where the characters really show added dimensions to their personalities beyond the simple stereotypes they set out to be.

This album (unlike the Human Equation, which I fell in love with at first listen) took me a little while to appreciate it. I've always enjoyed it, but like a few other albums in my collection (Coheed & Cambria's 'The Second Stage Turbine, and Opeth's 'Still Life,' for example) when the album suddenly hit me, it was instantaneous and overwhelming.

It takes a huge amount of genius to make a double album this engaging. Beautifully produced, performed and composed. Gets better with each listen. An excellent addition to any prog collection.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#202433) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars Into The Electric Castle is Ayreon's first popular moment, featuring some of his best compositions and more emphasis on rocking then on the operatic aspects. The arrangements are less bombastic then the following albums, and of course, with Fish, Damien Wilson, Clive Nolan, Anneke van Giersbergen and Sharon den Adel, this album has an amazing cast of vocalists.

Still, clever as it may be composed and arranged, much of this album leans heavily towards AOR-sympho and doesn't move or enthuse me much. It's music that is very busy and overwrought, leaving little room for imagination and hardly inspiring me to good review writing.

As usual with Ayreon albums, the overabundance of material drags it down. While this album could have made up a good single CD, the double CD format brings in too much second-rate material. Isis and Osiris and Across the Rainbow Bridge are the finest moments on cd1. The second CD also goes through ups and downs but is generally more consistent.

If you are a fan of big symphonic neo-prog opera, you probably have rated this with 5 stars already. And indeed it is an excellent album in that niche market that I just invented on the spot. However, this music lacks substance and courage, it's a kind of easy-listening prog that will deliver to promise but that isn't challenging or inventive enough to rate among the best of prog. 3.5 stars

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Send comments to Bonnek (BETA) | Report this review (#262048) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
4 stars Ayreon's first classic album has garnered a veritable cult following among prog addicts and Ayreonauts alike. There are many highlights on this prog rock opera, including the lengthy fan favourite Isis and Osiris, and my personal favourite Amazing Flight. The garden of emotions has some innovative moments along with the dark aggressive The castle hall. Cosmic fusion is a spacey track in 3 parts and the finale that includes The two gates is truly majestic and full powered.

This is a metal release with tons of ambient keyboards and terrific vocals from all involved. The running time of the 2 CD opus is a whopping 102:35, making this a quality and quantity purchase. The concept is heavy handed with castles and medieval futurism, but works well with other Ayreon albums.

Arjen Lucassen plays all guitars, some mandolin, bass, and Minimoog, Mellotron and keyboards, with Hammonds on this album. A special mention to the incredible talented Thijs van Leer on flute, and the vocal prowess of Fish, Damien Wilson, Sharon Den Adel, and Anneke van Giersbergen on vocals. This is an excellent introduction to Ayreon and one of the best prog albums of 1998.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#285433) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 07, 2010

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars (OK, another lost review, here is what I recall from what I just wrote - not so good memory)

Another Ayreon's exploration of Progressive Space Metal. And another successful album (is he making something else than great albums ? doesn't seems from what I heard so far). Again - as variable as one would suspect Arjen to be. Funny thing is that when King Crimson varied only a little bit on their second album, they were mocked a lot, but Ayreon seems to get away with is and he even profits from it (extremely prolific, among new legends like Roine Stolt, or Steven Wilson, yet still great).

Every time I listen to "Into the Electric Castle", I find something new I overlooked (variation of overheard) before.

My favourite songs are Across The Rainbow Bridge - especially the middle part & Tower of Hope's chorus. And others as well, 'f course.

4(+), solid four plus I would say.

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Send comments to Marty McFly (BETA) | Report this review (#290412) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, July 15, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Ayreon's third album pulls out all the stop - gathering a small army of guest vocalists, Arjen Lucassen goes for broke, offering up a two-CD rock opera with a plot straight out of cheesy fantasy B-movies: a party of mismatched adventurers from across time and space have been assembled to go on a quest into the Electric Castle because... well, don't lean too hard on the plot otherwise it'll fall over.

Unfortunately, Lucassen just doesn't pull the project off. Firstly, there just isn't 100 minutes of top-notch music here: there's too much filler and too many musical ideas are bent out of shape in order to accommodate the storyline. His ambitions also seem to have run away with him when it comes to the wide range of vocalists invited to take part in the project - sure, there's some talented people here, but there's too many of them for the purposes of the narrative, with the result that some of the vocalists don't get many more than a few lines and the characters in the adventuring party are little more than cannon fodder to be killed off or written out of the story bit by bit. (You have a talent like Fish onboard and you kill him off partway through? What are you thinking?)

To be honest, I really don't get why this album got the attention it did. It gets points for excess, I suppose, but a narrative concept album built on excess but without strong music or a good story to back it out is just empty bluster.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#634527) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Review by 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.

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#749960) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 07, 2012

Latest members reviews

3 stars 6/10 What begins with notes promising ends on an album somewhat tiring. I am somewhat disappointed with Into The Electric Castle because even remotely resembles the greatness that was The Human Equation. Yes this is an ambitious space-opera of two disks with many special guests and high le ... (read more)

Report this review (#572891) | Posted by voliveira | Tuesday, November 22, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars "What heathen place is this that I've arrived in?" I can fully relate to 'Highlander''s opening lines to "Into The Electric Castle - A Space Opera" - the "cranial vistas of psychogenesis", as the entity "Forever" announces it, doesn't sound all too comforting. A typical sci-fi setting wherein e ... (read more)

Report this review (#401334) | Posted by Antennas | Tuesday, February 15, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars The album 'Into the electric castle' by 'Ayreon' is very ambitious indeed. Now I'm not allowed to call this pretentious, so I will: This is one of the most PRETENTIOUS and ILL-SIGHTED and OVER-THE-TOP albums I ever head, if not taking the cake for those accolades. Where are all those people w ... (read more)

Report this review (#279758) | Posted by Brendan | Wednesday, April 28, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is my first Ayreon review, I had several of their CD's bought but unlistened to, this was one of them. Well I missed out for the two years that I had the CD's in my possesion. I am going to give this CD a FIVE - I've got to because it is essential for any fan of symphonic progressive meta ... (read more)

Report this review (#267193) | Posted by M27Barney | Saturday, February 20, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Into the electric castle is a sci-fi story about multiple people from different times in human history and have been brought to another dimension. They each have their own personalities that are extremely stereotyped. I don't want to describe to much of the story, so i don't give the fun of it awa ... (read more)

Report this review (#258594) | Posted by gorgi321 | Thursday, December 31, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Electrifying ! Into the Electric Castle marks the point where the Ayreon project (orchestrated by the multi- talented dutch guitarist Arjen A. Luccassen) became a worldclass act. After the promising but uneven debut The Final Experiment and the disparate Actual Fantasy, Ayreon finally gather ... (read more)

Report this review (#235533) | Posted by SentimentalMercenary | Friday, August 28, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In The Garden of Emotion... Ayreon's first double album, and it is assuredly epic in scale. This album boasts a wide range of styles and emotions, with multiple vocalists contributing splendidly. The opening track sets the stage for the story, followed by the first real song "Isis and Osiris ... (read more)

Report this review (#211640) | Posted by Alitare | Saturday, April 18, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Into the Electric Castle is a classic! It certainly is a great progressive album. It is different from a lot of other progressive stuff out there, so people might not access it as much, but it's amazing, really. The thing about this album is the melting pot of elements in here. Metal, Classic Roc ... (read more)

Report this review (#198581) | Posted by HammerOfPink | Monday, January 12, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Into the Electric Castle is not just one of the best progressive albums that I've ever heard, it's one of the best albums of any musical genre I've ever heard. No matter what style of music Arjen Lucassen uses in this masterpiece, or indeed which of the many guest singers he has singing on it, t ... (read more)

Report this review (#173592) | Posted by TheSapphireRose | Wednesday, June 11, 2008 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This is a weird one for me to rate..... As some reviewers have stated....Parts of this are cheesy, pretentious...ambitious.....take your pick...... The music jumps all over the place from Heavy Heavy Metal....to Tull like....to Neo Prog like....and back again.... There are lot's of interesting ... (read more)

Report this review (#165731) | Posted by digdug | Friday, April 04, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Best Ayreon album... This is, along with The Dream Sequencer Part 1, the less metal Ayreon albums. Most of the album is prog rock (space & symphonic mainly). What we got here is the continuation of the story started in The Final Experiment, and consist in a journey through space and time... mmm ... (read more)

Report this review (#160962) | Posted by AlexUC | Tuesday, February 05, 2008 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Is Into The Elictric Castle the best prog metal of all time?Does it rank up there with Dream Theater Awake or Symphony X Divine Wings?I think so.We have it all.Charicters from legend,Mythology,history old and new set in a sci-fi purgatory The Electric Castle.Not only the great lyrics buy multib ... (read more)

Report this review (#155995) | Posted by James D Hill | Thursday, December 20, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Every once in a while, you buy an album for reasons that do not stand up to close examination. I've read a lot about how good this album is and had heard a couple of samples from it. However, I decided to take the plunge and buy it because Fish is one of the vocalists on it (I've been a fan of his ... (read more)

Report this review (#127530) | Posted by scarista | Wednesday, July 04, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album is mastodontic: medieval atmospheres, mixed with electronic music, mandolins, synths, sitars and much more. Arjen Lucassen is really a genius. A long list of guest musicians is the powerful element of this album: Clive Nolan with his carzy synths, Fish with his Highlander interpreta ... (read more)

Report this review (#123060) | Posted by firth of fifth | Tuesday, May 22, 2007 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Into the Electric Castle or ITEC is truly one of the most satisfying prog rock albums or albums at all of the last 10-15 years. The prodigally talented Arjen A. Lucassen creates a masterful work which, unlike most others of his albums, has no flaws. Only "Tower of Hope" is not a masterpiece, b ... (read more)

Report this review (#106387) | Posted by Aranarth | Sunday, January 07, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A top UK rock mag recently ran a special edition on prog. One of their letters about the issue claimed prog was all about pixies and fairies etc. all cliches. The usual blinkered attitude of people who don't bother to actually try listening before critisising. With Electric Castle it is full o ... (read more)

Report this review (#100334) | Posted by laghtnans | Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The concept created by the Dutch multi-instrumentalista Arjen Anthony LUCASSEN, based on the kidnapping of different people from different starts off, of which apparently they are foreign, but not only that is people of different times and ideologies agreed from their time and place of origin, ... (read more)

Report this review (#88672) | Posted by Shelket | Friday, September 01, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Elecric Castle is an album unlike anyother. I didn't know what to expect from this album at first, but once I listened to it I immediately fell in love. Ayreon is one of my favorite bands among Dream Theater, Rush, Kamelot and many others. Human Equation was the first album I heard from Ayreon ... (read more)

Report this review (#87824) | Posted by Xeroth | Monday, August 21, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Excellent CD this double output by the master Arjen Lucassen and friends. Nice melodies, and finally an intelligent use of the keyboards. After the bad first record it is inspiring, to say the least, to hear a well constructed story line and the music, man, the music it is awesome. Preferred tra ... (read more)

Report this review (#87170) | Posted by steelyhead | Sunday, August 13, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This was the first Ayreon album I bought, and it still remains my favourite. One of the most appealing aspects of Ayreon is the impressive cast assembled for each release, and Into the Electric Castle has a fantastic collection of singers, including Fish, Damian Wilson and Sharon den Adel. Eac ... (read more)

Report this review (#68597) | Posted by Degolas | Monday, February 06, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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