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THE UNIVERSAL MIGRATOR PART ONE: THE DREAM SEQUENCER

Ayreon

Progressive Metal


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Ayreon The Universal Migrator part one: The Dream Sequencer album cover
3.59 | 367 ratings | 47 reviews | 27% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection


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Studio Album, released in 2000

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Dream Sequencer (5:08)
2. My House On Mars (7:49)
3. 2084 (7:42)
4. One Small Step (8:46)
5.The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B Cocq (7:57)
6. Dragon On The Sea (7:09)
7. Temple Of The Cat (4:11)
8. Carried By The Wind (3:59)
9. And The Druids Turn To Stone (6:36)
10. The First Man On Earth (7:19)
11. The Dream Sequencer Reprise (3:36)

Total Time: 70:14

Lyrics

Search AYREON The Universal Migrator part one: The Dream Sequencer lyrics

Music tabs (tablatures)

Search AYREON The Universal Migrator part one: The Dream Sequencer tabs

Line-up / Musicians

- Arjen Lucassen / electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, analogue synthesizers, Hammond, Mellotron and additional keyboards
- Erik Norlander (Ritual Symphony, Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane) / analogue synthesizers, piano, vocoder, Hammond and additional keyboards
- Rob Snijders (Celestion Season) / drums
Synth solos:
- Erik Norlander / (Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane) on 1, 4, 6
- Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon) on 3
Singers:
- Johan Edlund (Tiamat) on 2
- Floor Jansen (After Forever) on 2
- Lana Lane - on 3, 6 and voice on 1
- Edward Reekers (Kayak) on 4
- Mouse (Tuesday Child) on 5
- Jacqueline Govaert (Krezip) on 7
- Arjen Lucassen on 8
- Damian Wilson (Threshold, Landmarq and now playing the role of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar)
- Neal Morse (Spock's Beard, Transatlantic) on 10
Backing vocals:
- Mark McCrite (Rocket Scientists) on 10
- Lana Lane on 4, 5

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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AYREON The Universal Migrator part one: The Dream Sequencer ratings distribution


3.59
(367 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
27%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(42%)
42%
Good, but non-essential (23%)
23%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)
1%

AYREON The Universal Migrator part one: The Dream Sequencer reviews


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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by maani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Founding Moderator
2 stars I can tell this is an acquired taste: some of it is actually painful to listen to. Even when it is listenable, this is prog-rock at its most pretentious. The only reason I gave it two stars (it deserves maybe one-and-a-half) is because there are actually a couple of songs that are "pleasant" (an admittedly backhanded compliment). The opening title track is an object lesson in how NOT to imitate Pink Floyd: I've heard it done better by amateurs. "My House on Mars" is an interesting "idea," but is only fairly executed. "2084" is the first track that is listenable, with some good dynamic changes and a nice vocal by Lana Lane. "One Small Step" is another weak track. "Shooting Company" is another interesting "idea," with obvious Floyd and Beatles (MMT) influences. (N.B. If you like Beatles/Floyd-influenced sci-fi prog, I highly recommend Klaatu's album, "Hope," which is a masterpiece of that genre.) "Dragon on the Sea," a listenable track, has a chorus that sounds like ABBA gone prog, in a minor key. "Temple of the Cat" is a pleasant, heavily ELO-influenced song (which even sounds like it was produced by Jeff Lynne). "Carried By the Wind" is a quasi-Irish-flavored number that ultimately fails. "And the Druids..." is forgettable, despite a strong vocal by Damian Wilson (which outshines the song itself). "The First Man on Earth," is another pleasant piece, similar to "Shooting Company" in its approach, with a good vocal by Neal Morse of Spock's Beard. The reprise of the title track is as forgettable as the original. / Although a few songs are "pleasantly listenable," if I had paid for this album, I would have asked for my money back. Still, it's worth a listen just to see how BAD some derivative, bombastic, pretentious prog can be.

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Posted Friday, March 12, 2004

Review by loserboy
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After being thoroughly impressed with "The Electric Castle", I had to pick up master LUCASSEN's next progressive rock work... "The Universal Migrator" program has been selected. The genius of AYREON's music rests in that of its creator Arjen Anthony LUCASSEN who once again adds a cast of musicians to help him fulfill his space odyssey. LUCASSEN himself wrote the music and played guitars, bass, synths, mellotron and hammond. Recognizable talent includes Erik NORLANDER (ROCKET SCIENTISTS) (keyboards and voice), Clive NOLAN (keyboards) with Lana LANE, Neal MORSE, Damian WILSON and others adding their vocals throughout. Songs are highly melodic and full of grand epic-like character with some tasty musicianship. "The Dream Sequencer" offers some pretty big sound dynamics and will likely challenge those old speakers you are driving. As you would expect this album is a wonderful mix of melodic and space music with some great sound bites throughout. A great album with some highly memorable melodies and captivating music.

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Send comments to loserboy (BETA) | Report this review (#1195) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, March 19, 2004

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars This will not be the album that reconciles progressive rock with electronica, although at times that's what it seems too be trying for. Nearly every song has a sequnced synth intro followed by pompous PINK FLOYD-influenced rock-musical anthems. "The Dream Sequencer" is very like "Shine On You Crazy Diamond", from the shimmering synth fade- in to the bluesy guitar noodling, but without the originators' sense of restraint; "First Man on Earth" starts with some Mello sounds but quickly devolves into a soundtrack to a cheesy 80s sci-fi action flick (think "Flash Gordon" or TOTO's "Dune" OSTs...except that I'd definitely prefer QUEEN's work over this). "Dream Sequencer Reprise" indeed reprises the FLOYD sound, this time more similar to the slow guitar-solo passages from "Meddle" and "Atom Heart Mother". "My House on Mars" follows the blueprint but adds vocal harmonies on the chorus as if to conjure up the gospel refrains of "Dark Side" or "The Final Cut". "2084" is like Andrew Lloyd Webber writing for DEF LEPPARD featuring ANNE MURRAY on vocals- I'll give this album another star because the final whispered vocal line made me giggle. "One Small Step" does a "Welcome to the Machine" turn- too bad they couldn't even manage to get the lyrics to fit half the time. "The Shooting Company" could almost be listenable without the vocals, which sound somewhere between psychedelic Lennon and the PET SHOP BOYS. The album goes on way too long, rather like this review. Usually even when I don't care for a prog band they can inspire my respect for their musical talents; this is pretentious enough in tone to require a little something special musically to back it up, which it never truly delivers. If there was even the subtlest sense of tongue-in-cheek (as GENESIS did so well) I could forgive the ponderousness of these tracks, but to me it's like listening seriously to SPINAL TAP's "Stonehenge". If you are a big fan of overblown rock musicals and/or think that FLOYD sounded just as good after Waters left, you may indeed like this album.

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Posted Saturday, June 05, 2004

Review by Tristan Mulders
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Ayreon - The universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer

The first couple of tracks on this AYREON album could easily come from any release by PINK FLOYD, at least if. PINK FLOYD would consider working with someone like the vocalist of the doom metal band TIAMAT, Johan Edlund ;-).

Do not be scared off by the fact that Johan Edlund of TIAMAT sings on one of the songs, it is not alike the way he sings when he is performing with his own band, he now shows us that he can sing instead of growling, although he does it in quite a depressing manner.

About the album itself: it is the first half of a concept album created by Dutch multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen. (Flight of the Migrator, released at the same time, is its counterpart) Most of the compositions on this album are very atmospheric; it is mainly keyboard orientated music, accompanied by guitar fills and drums.

To me personally there are only a few standout tracks:

1. The instrumental opener of the album: The Dream Sequencer. This song starts with a computer voice introducing the Dream Sequencer machine. What follows is a multi-layer ambience of keyboard sounds and guitar soloing. This is the song on the album that I find to be the most reminiscent to PINK FLOYD.

2. My House on Mars. This is the song on which Tiamat's vocalist Johan Edlund is featured. It is a very dark and atmospheric song with a lot of looping in the instrumentation parts.

3. 2084 introduces miss Lana Lane. Just as the two tracks preceding this one, it is a very mellow, dark and atmospheric song.

4. Carried by the Wind is the first song I heard of this album, or by Ayreon in general actually. What attracted my attention was the sound of the synthesizers on this song. They are quite strange, but good. One of the album's most remarkable songs.

Looking at the lyrics of the CD and its concept, I can only say it is all a bit far fetched and if you do not like science fiction, please do not read the lyrics, or at least do not focus your attention to them.

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Posted Friday, September 03, 2004

Review by FloydWright
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Of the two Migrator albums, The Dream Sequencer--the mellower, more atmospheric of the two, is in my opinion the stronger one, and worth hearing just for the first four songs alone. The premise, related, apparently, to prior albums, is of a Martian colonist at the beginning of the 22nd century who is now the last human being alive. Lonely, desperate, and in danger of running out of supplies, he seeks refuge in a machine called the Dream Sequencer which takes him back, in a hypnotized state, to his prior lives.

The first four songs, to my mind, offer the most powerful emotional punch. After the soothing, Pink Floyd-like introduction of "The Dream Sequencer", we are taken back to the narrator's desolate childhood--to the moment when the young boy first realizes he will never see Earth...nor even lead any semblance of a normal life on his dying colony world. The vocals by Johan Edlund, while admittedly strange to say the least, could not be better fitted for the emotionally-draned narrator's state of mind.

After this, we travel back to "2084"...the year when the human race unleashed a devastating superweapon and wiped the planet barren of all life. The introduction is chilling beyond words...as air raid sirens sound and machine guns are fired, it's all too easy to imagine this being our fate 80 years from now. Could such a superweapon be in the works somewhere, in some terrorist's basement or in some government's secret lab? Who knows? After all this, it is a truly haunting transition into "One Small Step", where a young boy in the 20th century (again one of the narrator's past lives) hears the news that man has landed on the moon...but in his sleep he is then haunted by warning dreams. As a listener, for a second I was even fooled into thinking, It's a shame it all turned out that way, as JFK's voice announced the inauguration of the space program. To hear that voice, this quote, once such symbols of youth, vitality, and optimism, in this context is emotionally crushing, and perhaps the most masterful touch on the entire album. It still chokes me up to hear it, to this day.

The next songs are, while quite enjoyable for the most part, a bit less emotionally- involving than the first four...but then again, those four are almost impossible to match. "Dragon on the Sea" is probably my favorite of thees, telling the tale of Queen Elizabeth's stand against Spain's Invincible Armada, cleverly set to the rhythm of ships' cannons...apparently our humble narrator has lived in high places! "Carried by the Wind" will be a treat to fans of Arjen Lucassen's voice; he sings the song by himself in its entirety, unusual among Ayreon songs. This is the only other song besides the first three that relies entirely on a fictional character--a blind 6th century minstrel named Ayreon, who tried to warn humanity of the horrible fate he (correctly) perceived in the distant future.

The Dream Sequencer is, overall, incredible, and would have easily received a 5.0 if not for one song: "The Temple of the Cat". The vocalist, unfortunately, is annoying. I try very hard to cut foreign singers a lot of slack, but occasionally someone makes so many errors, and in crucial places, that it ceases to be alluring and becomes impossible to ignore. That's what happened when the singer finally mispronounced "cat" (among other things) so many times in, shall we say, a very prolonged manner. I would have advised that either this song be dropped (at the length of this album it wouldn't take away much) or that another vocalist perform it. I really don't understand why it was chosen as the album's representative single--"Dragon on the Sea" or "Carried by the Wind" might have done the album much more justice.

As with The Human Equation, the lyrics are passable, but not the main skill of the band. However--the concept is excellent, and the music should provide more than enough to satisfy. Those of you who do not care for metal may want to use this as an introduction to Ayreon, in fact. In spite of one song with an oversight, I think that any and all fans of prog rock should have The Dream Sequencer in their collection--ideally with its companion album, the prog-metal adventure The Flight of the Migrator. Ayreon, overall, may be one of the most innovative musical projects currently in existence.

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Posted Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Having been satisfied with Ayreon's previous album "Into The Electric Castle" I then purchased this album - the soft side of The Universal Migrator. As Arjen has put it in the CD sleeve, his intention to have two parts with different style was because he wanted to satisfy the fans of both styles: the progressive rock fans with "The Dream Sequencer" and the metal fans with "Flight of The Migrator". Or, put it in a business buzzword, he wanted to do the "market segmentation" right and targeting each segment with different product. It seemed like he applied the principles of marketing proposed by Dr. Philip Kotler, I think. What happened then? The fans loved those two styles regardless their original musical taste, according to Arjen. That's why he released a double album Special Edition under Inside Out label - the version that I purchased.

It's slow moving! That's the first impression when I listened to the CD at first time. I almost lost my patience with the very very slow music I was listening to. The Dream Sequencer (5:08) begins with a soundscape and effects with some narrative greetings for Colonist by female voice and robotic talks, followed with keyboard work in a very slow tempo. The Floydian guitar work enters wonderfully augmented by spacey, long sustain keyboard work. [****]

My House On Mars (7:49) starts with a music loop / sequence with spacey keyboard work at the back that reminds me to a song in JEAN MICHELLE JARE (hmmm, if Tangerine Dream is featured in this site, Jare must be included here as well, I think) "Concerts in China" album. The vocal enters the music in very low register notes and slow tempo music. There are nice Floydian guitar work and nice keyboard solo - all are performed in spacey style. [****]

2084 (7:42). The title reminds me to Rick Wakeman's 1984 album that told the story about George Orwell. As for this album, I actually expected something heavy and energetic as the two previous tracks were truly mellow. But what I got is another mellow track with female voice and simple guitar fills and spacey keyboard. So sorry about the drummer - he cannot demonstrate his potential to the fullest as his role is purely as bar keeper for a very slow track like this, no challenging work for him really. It's a good track, anyhow. [*** ½ ]

One Small Step (8:46) is another nice outfit with simple acoustic guitar fills featuring lead singer that performs melodic lyrical part and good story. The way orchestration arranged reminds me to Royal Hunt's repertoire - even though it's not exactly similar. What I really enjoy with this track is the guitar solo - it's stunning. The keyboard solo that follows also excellent. All are performed in slow tempo. [****].

The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B Cocq (7:57) is a keyboard-based tune with distant vocal singing style and excellent guitar work, good melody. With this kind of music, melodic and slow tempo, it would favor neo prog lovers. [****]

Well, I don't need to elaborate all songs as there are very little variations among them. All are performed in very slow tempo with similar style: spacey keyboards, Floydian guitar and very rare tempo changes. As colleague collaborator FloydWright has put it, the concept is excellent. For my personal taste, each song is excellent. However, I have trouble listening to the whole disc in its entirety as I tend to get bored right after track 6 because every single song is alike (tempo-wise), no hard driving track as variation. For those of you who love Pink Floyd or space progressive music or neo prog, you may like this album. I am not saying that this album is Pink Floyd-like but at least there are bits of it in some tracks. Recommended. Keep on proggin' ..!!

Progressively yours,

GW

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Posted Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Upon the first listen of this first part, I must say that I was really impressed. Initially, I thought to myself, "Where's the metal?" When I opened up the lyric book, the forward note mentions that Lucassen split the album into one really progressive one, and one metal one. I also like how he tried to stray away from Into the Electric Castle, pt. 2, and went for a more straightforward approach with this one. I forgot to mention the vocalists, and there is an eclectic bunch of them. From Neal Morse (Spock's Beard, Transatlantic) to Mouse of Tuesday Child, there is an impressive amount of different voices that should suffice anybody's needs.

The album begins and ends with The Dream Sequencer. It sets up the rest of the story, telling you how the main character is going through all the stages of time (I recommend looking in the lyric book as you listen to grasp a better idea). Other songs on Pt. 1 worth mentioning are 2084, a grim and impressive acoustic piece, with harrowing vocals and some spectacular playing on Lucassen's part. Lucassen's work on this album is really top-notch. He plays with great ease, and his solos are fluid and crisp. Carried By the Wind brings back memories of The Final Experiment, where the main character is reincarnated into the body of the blind minstrel Ayreon. But with all the good things in this albums, there has to be a few faults. First off, it is a little too synthy for my tastes (but I really do enjoy the fantastic Hammond work), and some of the songs do drag on a bit. But the phenomenal playing really does make up for it.

Overall, this album is not an album to get into Ayreon with. I'd recommend you start with The Human Equation or Into the Electric Castle, then you can diverge into this work. The first part is very solid, but the second part is where the fun really begins. I give it a 3/5.

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Posted Saturday, May 21, 2005

Review by evenless
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars The Universal Migrator part I: The Dream Sequencer

After I was puzzled with the beauty and variety by "Into The Electric Castle" I went on to get all the other albums at once! A bit of a risk, but it turned out to work out fine!

To me "Universal Migrator", the re-issue of "The Dream Sequencer" and "Flight Of The Migrator" as a double album, together with "Into The Electric Castle" are some of Arjen Lucassen's best works. 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 AYREON yet.

If you liked "Into The Electric Castle" you will surely also like "The Universal Migrator". The Universal Migrator part I, "The Dream Sequencer" mainly features laid-back atmospheric material with songs focussing on melody, while The Universal Migrator Part II, "Flight Of The Migrator" contains metal songs. Initially the album was meant to only feature female singers, but not enough singers were available so Arjen changed his plans.

Whereas 'Into the Electric Castle' has an opera-like set up, in which main characters sing dialogues in one song, on 'The Dream Sequencer' Arjen chose to have only one vocalist sing each song. As a result each new incarnation of the last Colonist on Mars, the main character of the story, has its own distinct personality.

On 'Universal Migrator part I: The Dream Sequencer' Arjen picks up the story of the 22nd century. Over a hundred years have passed since the last world war destroyed all life on earth, which the main character Ayreon already predicted in the 6th century (see the first Ayreon CD 'The Final Experiment').

During the battles a number of colonists resided on Mars, witnessing the destruction on earth from afar. For years they managed to keep themselves alive with the supplies they brought with them from earth. These supplies ran out and almost all colonists have died. The main character in the story is the last surviving human being, a child of the first colonists. He has never been on earth.

To make the boredom on Mars somewhat bearable, clever technicians designed the Dream Sequencer, a machine that allows Colonists to travel back to their own youth by means of hypnoses, but also to their lives before; their pre-incarnations so to speak.

It is in this machine that the Colonist relives his youth on Mars, his death as a woman on earth during the war of 2084, the first moon landing of 1969, and his life as the standard bearer in the famous 17th century painting of Rembrandt: The Nightwatch. He stood on the shores of England as Queen Elisabeth I, watching the English fleet sail out to stop the Spanish Armada, and as a Mayan girl he witnessed sacred ceremonies in Tikal. We find out that the Colonist once was the minstrel Ayreon and that, in another even earlier incarnation, he was present during the construction of Stonehenge. His soul's first incarnation was the first human being on earth.

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 highlights they would probably be "One Small Step" with the beautiful voice of Edward Reekers, "Carried by The Wind" (vocals by Arjen himself) and "And The Druids Turn To Stone" with my favourite AYREON singer Damian Wilson. (Ex Threshold).

The Universal Migrator part I: The Dream Sequencer: 4.5 stars

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Posted Saturday, August 27, 2005

Review by AtLossForWords
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Ayreon's Univeral Migrator I: The Dream Sequencer is an excellent release. The imeadiate follow-up to Into the Electric Castle, this album has no holes.

The line-up of vocalists in the opera is the focal point of this album. How often do you get to hear Neal Morse, Damion Wilson, Edward Reekers, Arjen Lucassen, Lana Lane, and Floor Jansen all on the same album? Morse, Wilson, and Reekers definately give the best vocal performances on this album.

The musical part is fantastic as well. Lucassen is a fine composer specializing in melodic voices. Lucassen's style resembles more of a ranged brass player than a typical shread guitarist. Highlights of the album are The Shooting Company of Capt. Frans B. Cocq, Carried by the Wind, and First Man on Earth.

The prodcution is phoenomenal, Lucassen's use of acoustic orchestral insturments rather than a synth is crucial to the sound of this album. The drums sound absolutely phoenomenal. The guitars both clean and distorted are clear and articulated. The keyboards use a vast array of sounds making each song an interesting listen.

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Posted Saturday, November 12, 2005

Review by sleeper
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars First off don't be fooled by the fact that Ayreon are classed as a Prog- Metal band, The Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer isn't a Prog-metal album nor was it ever intended to be. This album (and its metal counterpart The Flight of the Migrator) are telling the story of how the last man on Mars is trying to spend his last days alive before the oxygen runs out and he passes away (cheery thoughts to start the album there!). As with all of Arjen Lucassen's projects the album is largely composed and performed by himself, though he surrounds himself with multiple other musicians, either to do all the drumming or as guests performing solos and helping to fill out the keyboard and guitar work on the songs.

What I find on this album is music that encapsulates the feeling and emotion on each song very well for the most part. Though the theme always turns gloomy and reflects the doubt that is part of the main characters story at some point in each song, the music tends to reflect far more than that. Musically it moves from dark and gloomy beginnings and lasts for the first few songs but starts to move towards a much more upbeat and positive feel from the fourth song onwards, though the lyrics keep you based in the reality of the characters overall situation.

As always, Lucassen is the man behind the compositions and, surprisingly here, handles most of the musicianship as well. Instead of his normal host of guest musicians that add numerous guitar and keyboard solos and some melodies he only invites a couple of keyboard players (Erik Norlander and Clive Nolan) to add a few solos on certain songs, plus Rob Snijders on drums. The work from the three guests is very good in general. As you would expect you get a series of very well performed solos from Norlander and Nolan that fit seamlessly into the music and in particular the keyboard work of Lucassen. Snijders' drumming holds down the rhythm section and fit's the music played very well, though without sounding like a stunning drummer at any time. Lucassen's own performances are rather more patchy than the guests. At times his work is very good, like the haunting melodies of 2084 and the soaring guitars and keyboards of The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B Cocq, but he has some very poor compositions with the needlessly repetitive Dragon On The Sea and the all round dull Temple Of The Cat. Its also noticeable that his bass work in this style is not the most adventuress and comes out as little more than adequate.

Instead of employing various guest musicians he makes use of a number of singers. Unlike on Ayreons previous album, Into the Electric Castle, the lead singers each have a specific song for them to shine on, rather than taking the role of a character that would appear on multiple songs. In most cases the singers give very good performances, with Lana Lane (2084, Dragon On The Sea), Damien Wilson (And the Druids Turn to Stone) and Neal Morse (The First Man on Earth) providing the stand out performances here. Sadly Johan Edlund gives a less than stunning performance, though his deep voice does suite the song (My House on Mars) and Jacqueline Govaert's voice is little more than annoying on Temple Of The Cat. Lyrically this isn't a bad album, unlike Part 2, with the lyrics focused on the people of the time that each song is set in and the concept doesn't come across as being cheesy Sci-Fi, which it could quite easily have done.

Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer is a good album but there are serious flaws that limit its impression. The Temple Of The Cat and Dragon On The Sea are poor songs with little beyond Lana Lanes voice to redeem them and Lucassen doesn't excel here as a bass player for most of the album, though he does have the occasional god showing. Overall I will give this album 3.5 stars, its not great so I'll round it down to 3 stars.

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Posted Sunday, December 03, 2006

Review by 1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars After the huge breakthough of Into the Electric Castle, Arjen Lucassen was the toast of metal magazines and a prog metal luminary. The time came to release a follow-up, and Arjen aimed high. This time, the concept revoloves around the last surviving colonist on Mars. He is out of food and water and con expect none from Earth becasue all life there was wiped out by wars by 2084. To ease his suffering, the colonist uses the Dream Sequencer, a device that can transport your mind through time. It isn't a time machine, but rather a sort of historical hologram that places the user in various points of history. The colonist decides to travel back to man's beginning, stopping at key historical moments along the way. First, he vists his childhood, then the anihilation of Earth, the Apollo 11 mission to the moon, the age of exploration, all the way back to the first ape to stand and become man.

This is only half the story, on the next disc, the colonist travels to the beginning of time itself. As with other Ayreon albums, Arjen links them with little threads. In Carried By the Wind, we see the first incarnation of the mistrel Ayreon who appears on Final Experiment. I'll save the other threads for the other half of the story.

This album, as well as its conclusion, is enjoyable, but several things derail it from the success of ItEC. First, rather than use his splendid vocalists in a grandiouse union, he gives each vocalist one song, while some have backing vocals on others. I admire Arjen for not wanting to repeat himself, but the joint effort of vocalists is what makes Ayreon great. The concept stretches at times. Also, I feel that the only reason he wrote The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B Cocq is because he's Dutch. Then he writes a song about Francis Bacon and Queen Elizabeth. He wasted an opportunity there. Why devote two songs to the same period of history. He could have done a song for the Romans or the Greeks, two glaring ommisions from a journey through key historical moments. Another point of contention is his decision to split up his prog aspects and his metal aspects. Human Equation and ItEC are classics because they synthesize prog and metal in a unique way. By separating them, you take away the originality of Ayreon.

Arjen really shouldn't have released part 1 and 2 separately, since the message of the album is almost entirely on part 2. He later amended this mistake by packing the two into one purchase. I recommend getting that as opposed to one of these, otherwise you'll miss the story. Things would improve slightly with part 2, but at the expense of his progginess.

Grade: C

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Posted Friday, December 29, 2006

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars An atmospheric feast for the ears, different than most of Ayreon's other albums featuring spacey compositions with occasional bombast throughout.

However, I feel that Arjen's shifting emphasis to a more psychedelic sound has affected his songwriting-- the tracks on "Dream Sequencer" are as a whole not as strong as they are on "Electric Castle", many of them set at a very similar tempo and sounding a little repetitive near the end of the album. The dynamic and complex structure we saw on the previous album is absent here, but I do congratulate him for doing something different-- especially since it largely succeeds.

"Dream Sequencer" is fun divergence into the psychedelic, but just doesn't pack the punch to make it excellent.

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

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Posted Friday, April 20, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars The least I can say is that this album opens very poorly. Like if you would embark on a Disney attraction where you are being told what to do. Fortunately, it only lasts for two minutes. "The Dream Sequencer" turning into a full Floydian mood ("SOYCD").

One of Arjen's greatest skills is of course to be surrounded by a myriad of talented musicians and vocalists.

The global atmosphere is rather pompous, bombastic. Like "My House on Mars". Great instrumental parts but totally out of purpose "vocals". You know, somewhat "end of the world" ones. Jeff Wayne's influence, maybe ? But these heavy keys and superb guitar play will make these imperfections bearable.

I have never been attracted with the sci-fi concepts of the "Ayreon" offerings. This is no exception. The travel back in time by our hero using the "Dream Sequencer" machine is again very thin. Like Forrest Gump, the main character will be at the good place at the appropriate time. This is another fiction through space and time. Like during "The Final Experiment" (which is the start of the story developed here) and "Into the Electric Castle".

"One Small Step" has some obvious "Floyd" inspiration. At times, Arjen seems to have recreate the atmosphere of "TDSOTM" especially during the chorus. One of my fave song from the album even if derivative of this great "Floyd" album.

Music and vocals for "Dragon on the Sea" are flamboyant. The vocal part is been taken care of by Lara Lane. This US singer is really doing a great job. Fantastic and powerful voice for this admirer of Purple vocalists in general (she is mentioning three of them in her top five favourite ones). She married Eric Norlander in the late eighties.

Beautiful vocals again with "Temple of the Cat". But apart of this feature, this song is not really good. A mix of classical music with an elegant voice when featured.

There are little outstanding tracks on this album. It flows nicely one song after the other. It is definitely not a metal album. It is widely marked with the extensive use of keyboards and synthesizers. Still, it lacks in the truly melodic style (although trying hard).

A song like "And the Druids Turn to Stone" is highlighting this characteristic. One of the most melodic track in which the guitar work is particularly interesting and delicate. A good prog ballad after all and one of my fave. "Floyd" is back in business again during "The Dream Sequencer Reprise". The loop has been looped.

I can't think of no other rating as three star. A good album.

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Posted Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Review by progaardvark
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I have some mixed feelings about Ayreon's Universal Migrator set. The concept itself is interesting and the music is up to the usual Ayreon standards. The major problem I have is why would you not release this as a 2-CD set and why must the two separate discs contain two distinct styles of music? In fact I even heard that Arjen Anthony Lucassen was even considering have only female singers on the first disc and male on the second. He decided not to do that because he couldn't find enough female singers. Why on earth would you do such a thing? Has Lucassen lost his mind? He apparently wanted to appeal to each of Ayreon's fan bases, the prog fans and the metal fans. Hogwash is all I can say to that.

Regardless of the organizational nonsense that came from this set of albums, I still coughed up the money to buy both albums of the Universal Migrator, knowing full well that these would have been cheaper had they been issued in a single package. Do the words sell out come to mind? Oddly enough, the two albums that make up the Universal Migrator were finally combined in 2004. Go figure.

The Dream Sequencer is the first album in the Universal Migrator set. The concept takes place in the distant future some time after the final war on Earth that was predicted by the blind minstrel Ayreon in the sixth century. Ayreon's first album, The Final Experiment, details the story of Ayreon, so the concept is spread out over several albums. The last surviving human being, a Martian colonist, hooks himself up to a machine called the Dream Sequencer. This machine allows a person to travel back in time by way of hypnosis, for entertainment purposes. It also allows a person to travel further back than their own existence, thus giving the person the ability to experience past lives. Each song in progression is from a different era steadily going backwards in time. It first starts with the colonist's house on Mars, the war in 2084, the first man landing on the moon, and eventually leading back to the Druids and then the first man on Earth. The story then continues further backwards in time on the second CD of this set, Flight of the Migrator.

The music on The Dream Sequencer is primarily atmospheric and mellow with many Floydian vibes, as opposed to the prog metal on Flight of the Migrator. The Dream Sequencer is clearly the stronger of the two. Again, like on previous Ayreon releases, Lucassen assembled an all-star cast of guest vocalists. However, each singer performed a song in a given time period, instead of individual characters like on Into the Electric Castle. Guests included Johan Edlund (Tiamat), Floor Jansen (After Forever), Lana Lane, Edward Reekers (Kayak), Mouse (Tuesday Child), Jacqueline Govaert (Krezip), Damian Wilson (Threshold, Landmarq), Neal Morse (Spock's Beard), Erik Norlander and Mark McCrite (Rocket Scientists).

By itself, The Dream Sequencer is a very well done album, but of course it's left hanging and you have to get Flight of the Migrator to find out how it ends. The whole project would have been much better if it had been organized in the same manner as Into the Electric Castle, i.e. one package for the whole story. Still, I'm going to give this one four stars. I find I listen to it much more than its sequel and that's primarily because I only delve into prog metal from time to time. I prefer the atmospheric and mellower version of Ayreon, though with a good kick in a few places to keep me on my toes. If you're going to get this look for the combined version that came out in 2004.

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Posted Thursday, February 07, 2008

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is surely the most ´pure´progressive work ever done by Arjen Anthony Lucassen so far. And it is one of my favorites too. The combination fo an interesting and very well written SF story and progressive rock was never so well explored as far as I know (well, maybe Hawkwind have done something in that level, but since I´m not so musch of a fan of that band I´m not sure). Anyway, this is a truly inspired and brilliant work by this genius dutchman. And with the help of such talented people as Erik Norlander (Rocket Scientists) and Clive Nolan (Arena), not to mention singers of the caliber of Johan Edlund (Tiamat), Floor Jensen (After Forever), Edward Reekes (Kayak), Lane Lane, Neal Morse (Spock´s Beard), Damion Wilson (Threshold, Landmark), amog others, how could he go wrong?

Everything works on this album. 70´s minutes of 24 carat symphonic prog, with lots of Hammonds, mellotrons, moogs and other analog synthesizers. amazing vocals, some folk influences here and ther too, but really no metal at all (you won´t miss it, like it or not). If you follow the lyrics and heh storyline you´ll be even more rewarded, for it is very good. The second part of this epic Flight Of The Migrator was released at the same time, but it is much more metal tinged and not as successful as this one. for progheads this is the one everyone must have it.

The Dream Sequencer was to me the best prog album of the year 2000 and a triunph of Lucassen´s talent and imagination. If you want to start to know the work of this outstanding songwriterr, this is an excellent starting point. A classic, highly recommended.

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Posted Thursday, May 29, 2008

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars One small step for Ayreon...

While the Universal Migrator pair of albums are often seen as a low point in Ayreon's long and strange career full of operas, for those who have the acquired taste they require they are a really big treat. As many people know, when it came to making these albums Arjen Lucassen (Mr. Ayreon himself) decided that when the double album was released they would be released as two separate albums released on the same day, each embodying one element of the project (at the hesitation of calling Ayreon a band per se) - One album pure metal and one album pure prog. Well, its clear from the very Floydian opening instrumental that The Dream Sequencer is the prog effort of the two. While each still has a bit of both these two albums are basically like taking any Ayreon album, putting all the fast and heavy stuff on one disc and the slow and subtle stuff on the other. It's a very big division which really shows discipline from Arjen, but how does it fare for the listener?

Well. Difficult to be honest. Many of Arjen's fans are not simply fans of one or the other (the prog fans listen to it for the metal and the metal heads listen for the prog elements), so making a divide like this was a very risky thing to do. Had Arjen decided to mix the songs on each together and release them as a cohesive package like The Electric Castle These albums may have been received better (not that they were received overly poorly anyways), in theory anyways. That would have been a hard thing to do though considering the storyline. While on the second album we're on a crazy flight through the universe, here we're reliving the life of the last man on Mars and the lives of others before him as he travels through time with The Dream Sequencer.

This, of course, makes for some very emotional music, and this is where this album is amazing. While this album is likely the hardest sell in the entire Ayreon catalog thanks to it's lo-pace and lack of heavy passages as we're used to from the band, once you ''get'' were this album is going it's very easy to appreciate it. The album is based on melancholic vocals most of the entire way through as well as very well thought out guitar riffs. The instrumentation itself falls somewhere between heavy-prog-metal synths and Floydian guitars while the lyrics and vocals usually deal with subject matter that could bring a tear to the eye of the sensitive prog listener.

When it comes to lyrics and emotion portrayed through voice Ayreon has rarely done it better than this album. This is immediately noticeable from the start of the haunting My House On Mars which, combined with the sad riff from Arjen, makes for one very sad song. One Small Step is another touching song that paints a picture very well as the character in the song watches his television in the early hours of pre-dawn to watch the moon landing. One of the biggest standout on the album comes in the form of the single from the album (well chosen), Temple Of The Cat. With the very pretty female vocals (the vocalist for this one is actually the leaser of a disco-punk group by the way) this one is simply touching.

Of course where would be be without Arjen's riffs? There's a few songs on this album where his guitar work makes all the difference. Take for example the riffs from the excellent The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B. Cocq. If the name of the tune didn't have you interested enough it pulls you in right away with it's riff. The vocals on this one are good as well, but not quite the point of focus as Arjen's guitar. The First Man On Earth is another song in this fashion, although not entirely since it's voiced by one Mr. Neal Morse, really it comes off an excellent version of a classic Spock's Beard song... but in space.

Another excellent journey through time and space with Arjen Lucassen and company. Very different from most anything that Ayreon has done before or after this one certainly makes for a great listen. Appreciators of Pink Floyd who want their music to be heavier will love this one to bits while Metal heads should still get a kick out the heaviness under the majority of the music, although it might take a few more listens to get into. Overall this one has to get 3.5 houses on Mars out of 5. Simply put - excellent, but not for everyone.

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Posted Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars A space oddity, there IS life on Mars (but no longer in Boston or Europe)

Ever wished that Boston's "Third stage" had ventured even closer to prog than it did, or that Europe's "The final countdown" had been developed into a full blown concept album? If the answer you gave is yes, then this is the album you're looking for. Released in 2000 as the first of two albums entitled "The Universal migrator", this set bears the sub-title "The dream sequencer". The two sets come from rather different moulds, and are thus aimed at differing markets. While part 2 ("Flight of the migrator") has a distinctly metal edge to it, this album focuses on lighter, more melodic aspects.

These albums continue a developing science fiction story started on Ayreon's first album (but bypassed on the second). By now, Earth has been destroyed by a war, the survivors forming a colony on Mars. These innovative people build a "Dream Sequencer", allowing them to experience once again, their past lives.

The opening "The dream sequencer" is a smooth, Gilmour-esque scene setter, with atmospheric spoken word introducing a lead guitar instrumental. As we merge into "My house on Mars", the mood remains constrained, with processed lead vocals alternating with a female chorus. The track builds subtly, with horn like synths (as featured on the aforementioned "The final countdown") conveying the main theme. If you enjoy those opening numbers, you are pretty much guaranteed to be drawn in by the rest of the album. "One small step" for example is a magnificent piece, but could well be "My house on mars, part 2".

"The shooting company of Captain Frans B. Cocq" is one of the most diverse numbers on the album, dipping into David Bowie territory at one stage, complete with his Cockney style accent. As is Lucassen's custom, he calls on the services of a diverse range of vocalists and instrumentalists throughout the album. Of these, highlights include the appearance of Lana Lane on a number of tracks, and Clive Nolan adding keyboards to "2084". The closing "The first man on Earth" features the distinctive voice of Neal Morse, resulting in a song which is a strange crossbreed of Ayreon and Spock's Beard. Where this album succeeds where others by Ayreon falter (in my opinion) is that the vocalists are not given roles to play as such, but simply deliver songs which suit their styles.

One of the most pleasing aspects of the album is the way Lucassen develops the songs. Time it seems is not an issue here with many of the numbers, while relatively simple in structure, being elaborated into 7 and 8 minute pieces. That is not to imply that they outstay their welcome, the listener's attention is retained throughout by inventive instrumentation and variations on the themes.

It is very easy with albums such as this to get to embroiled in attempting to spot influences and perceived similarities, and end up forgetting to enjoy the music. I am sure that, if one was so inclined, one could spend a couple of months disaggregating this album, and believing we had come up with its constituent parts. At the end of the day though, and recognising that there is in fact nothing new under the sun, such a pursuit would surely be folly. A far more constructive and worthwhile approach is to simply sit back and enjoy and hour or so of highly melodic music performed by masters in their field.

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Posted Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Rock Progressivo Italiano Team
2 stars I'm a fan of much of Arjen Lucassen's work, particularly the more recent Ayreon projects. This is the fourth but turns out to be one of my least favourite in the series. It's certainly not a bad album, there are moments where I quite enjoy it but there's too many keyboard sequencers used for my tastes for starters. Prog Metal?.....well you wont find much metal here which in itself is not a problem but I found myself wishing this album would take off occasionally, overall being a fairly laid back plodding affair.

Pink Floyd influences abound, none more so than on The Dream Sequencer which comes across like a Shine on You Crazy Diamond for the new millennium; much of Lucassen's guitar solos here are going for that Dave Gilmour vibe.

Two of the best tracks feature Lana Lane on vocals. 2084 and Dragon On The Sea both have decent melodies and Lane's powerful voice help breath life into tracks which in lesser hands may have blended in with much of the rest.

Another criticism is some of the tracks drag on a bit too long. Don't get me wrong, I love long tracks but to keep interest they need more changes and plenty of dynamics which are lacking in the main here, the songs being structurally simple. It's difficult to stay interested as the album heads towards the end but And The Druids Turn To Stone turns out to be a late highlight featuring Damien Wilson (of Threshold and Landmarq fame) on vocals and some Hammond Organ, much better than those bleeping sequencers which no doubt give the desired futuristic spacey vibe but unless used as minor support soon get on my nerves.

Overall then this album is a little dull with a few good moments. Incidently, if you have not already noticed, this is the companion album to part 2 of The Universal Migrator, Flight of the Migrator, both albums being available now as a double disc set. No doubt it was Lucassen's intention to keep this one more on the mellow side as a contrast to the heavier part 2 which I find more enjoyable but I may have enjoyed this one more if it could have been mixed up with some of the heavier aspects of it's follow up, obviously without destroying the flow of the concept. Just a few rocking moments would have given a lift to an album that's a bit too long and one dimensional to retain my interest. Okay but far from essential so just about worth 2 1/2 stars.

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Posted Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'The Dream Sequencer' - Ayreon (7.5/10)

Of all the Ayreon releases, this is the one that I find stands out. Not necessarily because it's musically better than the others (it doesn't top any of the double albums) but simply because the style is taken in a very unique direction. Most Ayreon music features alot of different, highly-progressive changes throughout a song, and a strong metal influence. However, 'The Dream Sequencer' concentrates primarily on Ayreon's softer, more emotive side. The result is an introspective album that stands out as Ayreon's best single-disc album.

As a contrast to the metal-oriented 'Flight of the Migrator' (relatable to Opeth's Damnation/Deliverance releases) 'The Dream Sequencer' takes the listener to the planet Mars, where the last surviving human is spending his last few days alive on a Mars colony. In order to spend his remaining hours in relative comfort, steps into a Virtual Reality capsule called the dream sequencer. This mechanism takes him back to his soul's past lives, and each most of the songs on the album (excluding the Intro and Outro) reflect their own past life. In this fashion, there is a wide span of content, ranging from apocalyptic warfare, to the Apollo 11 lunar landing, to a Mayan festival and even a reference to 'The Final Experiment.'

Alot of the music draws upon alot of electronic instruments and synthesizers. It fits in very well with the science fiction theme of the album. The performances of the singers range from mediocre to well done; Damian Wilson's performance in 'And The Druids Turned To Stone' stood out to me particularly. Instrumentally, there isn't anything thats incredibly technical, but you can get a real feeling of the musicianship and skill through the amount of emotion conveyed.

While it may be outshined by the three double albums (Into The Electric Castle, The Human Equation, 01011001) 'The Dream Sequencer' stands out as an amazing and emotional concept album, and one of Arjen's greatest musical hours.

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Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars Universal Migrator is an intriguing concept epic album from the masterful Ayreon project. As usual this Cd features incredible vocal performances from all involved and has some low lights and some highlights but it all blends seamlessly into one great package. It begins like many Ayreon albums with a robotic instructional voice and a lengthy instrumental. The first CD is actually part 1 which sold separately on initial release. It has quite a melancholy soundscape, soaked with synthesizers and some haunting guitar passages. There is no real metal surprisingly enough but it creates an ambience that flows from track to track. Neal Morse is a special guest and one of the highlights.

I purchased this with the special 2 CD package with part one and 2 together and when heard together this is the weaker of the 2. Firstly, the tracks are not as consistently good as part 2 and secondly, there's little to no metal and as a prog metal band they don't commit themselves here or satisfy the average metal fan - some may be disappointed at the lack of heaviness as I was. It is still compelling music but I so used to the heavier Ayreon. Part 2 of this sage is very heavy in comparison to this and as a result more satisfying.

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Posted Sunday, July 26, 2009

Review by tszirmay
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars While this recording does not represent the core nature of Ayreon's music, which is more akin to heavy prog rock, this remains my favorite because of its more atmospheric and melodic content. Exceedingly electronic and even Floydian at times, the menu is way less über-symphonic than on other Ayreon albums , preferring a gloomier and moodier appeal where Arjen Lucassen and Erik Norlander (of Rocket Scientists fame) can weave some scintillating keyboard swirls with Arjen's patented guitar solos as an added feature. The title instrumental track launches this one firmly into outer space sci-fi travelling mode with firstly some usual cold female commands and vocoded protocols evolving gradually into wall of synthesized sound very close to a Floyd/ Tangerine Dream marriage, dense, dreamy and mysterious. Arjen pulls out a solo from his axe that would make Gilmour shudder, swooping analog synthesizers sweeping the corridors on the edge of time, a neat entrance. "Mouse on Mars" is punchier with sequencers aglow, rezoning some distant quadrant of space and featuring both male (Marilyn Manson lookalike Johan Edlund) and female (the pierced Floor Janssen) vocals, combining on a monolithic chorus that espouses the grand fanfare theme, a middle section loaded to the Romulan gills with grandiose workouts on guitar and synths. Drummer Rob Snijders pounds a mean drum in the process. Very good track, this! The nihilistic "2084" strictly stamps the event with a futuristic date where war and destruction seem to thrive in utter connivance; a soft acoustic guitar and forlorn synth solo paint the misery of some nuclear catastrophe giving vocalist Lana Lane the platform to lament some fierce regret. The tortuous axe solo slips around like some gooey eel successfully expressing the oblivion of destiny and the apocalyptic end of civilization. Absolutely creepy! From now on the clock goes backward into past history. In a clever twist, "One Small Step" reverts to a distant childhood memory of Man landing on the Moon in July 1969, ironically the birth of progressive rock in a way, where astronomy beckoned the innocent to look up and beyond the stars and comprehend the humanistic need to travel to space. Singer extraordinaire Edward Reekers provides a masterful performance, oozing bravado and passionate awe while Norlander whips up a shimmering synth solo and Arjen does another incredible job on lead guitar. The Eagle has landed, indeed. The next one is a bizarre electro-medieval concoction inspired by Rembrandt van Rijn and my preferred track here "The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B. Cocq", a gorgeously capricious piece that has an alternative feel with a superb melody, some idiosyncratic singing and some creative sound textures culminating in a shivering choir backdrop. Vocalist "Mouse" does well to hint at anyone from John Foxx, Davis Bowie and Trevor Horn without falling into a cornfield. "Dragon on the Sea" is gurgling synthesized bubble bath, pinging wildly in and out of 16th century focus as Lana Lane takes the microphone and soars accordingly, urging Drake's sailors against the invading armada. This cut doesn't really hit me but its okay, I guess. "Temple of the Cat" beams sonic light on the Mayan pyramid in Tikal and is refreshing little ditty. "Carried by the Wind" is a 6th century inspired affair with Arjen on vocals and a Celtic powered guitar phrasing that is stirring to say the least, another thoroughly enjoyable brief track that hits the melodic mark. "And the Druids Turn to Stone" is the other big winner here , a near 7 minutes of majestic prog with some insistent Hammond organ, purified guitar insertions, dive-bombing synths and a gigantic vocal courtesy of Threshold's genial lead lung Damian Wilson. Yummy! Grandiloquent, perhaps even bombastic at times, this is pure prog bliss. "The First Man on Earth" revives the prehistoric innocence of the dawn of time, a Garden of Eden of sound and substance, almost Beatles-like (pretty cool orchestrations actually) in delivery, a surreal fantasy of a nascent world that will find ways to ruin it all in so many directions. The disc ends its 70 minute + run on a title track reprise that fades backwards into oblivion. Perfect concept, execution and mood. Bravo! 4.5 trance cycles

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Posted Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Ayreon at their peak of the popularity with this two Universal migrator parts released in 2000. First part - Universal migrator - The dream sequencer is the mellow one , the more atmospheric and moody release from the two - the other one is the rougher and a litlle more faster than the first part.. I have to mention the impressive list of musicians on both parts, a line up hard to beat. The music here is gloomy, melancholic, with each musician puted his own identity in the piece, so a diverse album in a way, but some parts are a little boring, specialy the middle of the album. The first 3 tracxks are the best, showing that Lucassen know bussines in composing prog music, but aswell the musicians invited have an important role in giving a certain groove to the album as a whole. John Edlund from Tiamat did a great job on My house on mars, very dark, melancholic , his voice fits ok in this kind of aproach, Lana Lane did also some fantastic parts on 2084, I realy like her voice a lot, here or on her solo albums, almost everywhere she sung is brilliant, she has such an unique vocal range, good piece. Some strong list of musician like Clive Nolan, Erik Norlander, Damian Wilson who is brilliant on And The Druids Turn To Stone, his voice is so strong and well developed and one of the best singers in prog metal for sure, and the list can go on with some very talented named from this zone. Some weaker parts in the middle of the album, pieces like The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B Cocq, Dragon On The Sea,Temple Of The Cat, Carried By The Wind are little boring with out many variety and sometimes to mellow. I found myself somewhat uncomfortable to listen to these pieces, because the atmosphere as a whole is relativly flat and strange, nothing realy intresting in contrast with the rest. So the music here goes from parts ala Alan Parson Project, specially on the beggiining of the album, some PInk Floyd elements aswell, but the Ayreon sound is present on every piece. The album is good but lacks the cohesiveness of the second part, who is the best, and sometimes the entire album is too mellow, it would be much better if were infused some more balls in the pieces. Still a pleasent album in my view who desearve 3 stars for sure.

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Posted Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars The first half of The Universal Migrator start off with a somewhat lovely B-movie type of sound-effects that reminiscent of a futuristic sci-fi movie as we are introduced to the albums futuristic concept. The first sounds of music remind me of the space grooves that have been done to death by all Pink Floyd inspired artists. I'm not really blaming Lucassen for a lack of creativity because this album does have some enjoyable songwriting moments that fans of progressive metal will enjoy. I personally liked the middle section of the album starting with Dragon On The Sea because these tracks have personality and just are well written songs.

Unfortunately I can't see The Universal Migrator bringing anything groundbreaking or, quite frankly, original to the genre. I can't recommend this to anyone but the fans although there are some straight forward compositions that might be enjoyed by a wider range of metal fans, still it's not worth the price of admission.

**** star songs: The Dream Sequencer (5:08) One Small Step (8:46) Dragon On The Sea (7:09) Temple Of The Cat (4:11) Carried By The Wind (3:59) The First Man On Earth (7:19) The Dream Sequencer Reprise (3:36)

*** star songs: My House On Mars (7:49) 2084 (7:42) The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B Cocq (7:57) And The Druids Turn To Stone (6:36)

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Posted Friday, January 08, 2010

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars The Dream Sequencer doesn't rate amongst the fan's favourites. So for someone that only gets an occasional kick from this project it might be a surprising discovery. Unlike the usual Ayreon output, this album and its companion Flight of The Migrator mostly features only one vocalist per track.

The album takes a slow start, The Dream Sequencer is meant to bring us into a Floydian dream mood but the music is hardly compelling enough to achieve that. Prog muzak. My House On Mars is something else entirely, with the morose vocals of Tiamat's Johan Edlund at the helm, it's probably an acquired taste for Ayreon fans but for lovers of Tiamat this is sweet as honey. There's plenty of orchestral bombast in the middle but due to the deadly vocals it works quite well. An interesting mix.

2084 is an album highlight, the solemn mood is maintained but Arjen's bright and colourful arrangements make it pleasantly lush and light. The vocalist Lana Lane is excellent. Also One Small Step and Shooting Company are a lovely journey into Ayreon's more atmospheric and moody side. Dragon of The Sea is another fine track featuring Lana Lane. After two folksy samples, Damien Wilson is allowed to sparkle on And The Druids Turned to Stone. An uninteresting Beatles singalong, The First Man and a reprise of the dull intro round up the album.

Even in a less operatic manifestation such as this album, Ayreon remains an overblown and bombastic endeavour that quickly becomes a weary listen. If it all had been just a bit 'less' I would have opted for 4 stars. The song material is certainly deserving it. 3.5 stars

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Posted Saturday, January 23, 2010

Review by CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Tying the knots and thickening the plot, part 1: living the past acoustically

After conceiving the story of aliens watching over humankind as it is some kind of experiment in the brilliant album Into the Electric Castle, the progressive metal mastermind Arjen Lucassen decides to tackle the job of creating or developing a more complex story behind the facts (or behind the story) he presented us in his 1998 album and the album The Universal Migrator is the first part of such development. The album tells the story of the last human being alive after the war that obliterated all life on Earth. The character was possibly born on Mars, because he has never have seen Earth, and lives his last days in a decaying vessel and dome with machines that make his survival possible, along with supplies brought by the Mars colonists, who were escaping the ravaging war back on Earth.

One of the machines that he has is the Dream Sequencer, a machine that makes it possible for him to relive past times in Earth's and humankind's history at will and the first part of The Universal Migrator album, entitled The Dream Sequencer, narrates many different experiences lived by him wile using such machine. He travels through many periods of time, but there are some periods that the main character gives special attention, which are the 21st century, the Renaissance (in the Netherlands and England), early Middle Ages (in the pre-colonial Americas and British Isles) and Antiquity/ Prehistory. Both the first and last tracks are very similar, possibly symbolizing the character's entering and exiting the fake dreams the Dream Sequencer creates.

Regarding the songs, musicianship and related features

Most songs that are in this album, both in part one and two, have a dark tone. However, unlike what many may think looking at the band's genre, all songs in the part one of The Universal Migrator are not progressive metal songs, but actually acoustic-driven progressive rock. Here, Arjen Lucassen really shows us how important Pink Floyd and Van der Graff Generator are important influences in his music: most songs have that dark mood and helplessness that are one of the most noticeable characteristic of both bands, besides the many obvious musical references, being the songs Dream Sequencer and Dream Sequencer Reprise the biggest examples of that, at least concerning Pink Floyd.

The part one of the Universal Migrator album, according to Arjen, was intended to be an acoustic album, but obviously that is impossible to be done with both the matter at hand (scientific fiction) and Ayreon's own style, so, despite the many electric instruments used throughout the album, such as electric guitars, basses and keyboards, there is an honest attempt to make the music sound as if it was an acoustic album: the timbre used on those instruments were not aggressive and there were extensive sampling of acoustic instruments by the keyboards, like string instruments (mostly of the violin family) and brass instruments. The organs were also used in an easygoing way with smooth timbres, as well as the synthesizers.

The album's quality is quite homogeneous, balanced and even: all songs are quite good and are able to make the album flow very smoothly. The highlights go to The Dream Sequencer, One Small Step, Temple Of The Cat, The First Man On Earth and The Dream Sequencer Reprise.

Grade and Final Thoughts

As he has done before and after this album, Arjen Anthony Lucassen is able to deliver us a great musical voyage through his cataclysmic future world. The Dream Sequencer is a great moody album that recreates masterfully the desolate atmosphere lived by the last human survivor inside his decaying technological home and coffin. The only downside of this album is that the part two of The Universal Migrator is unable to keep up with part one for not being as balanced.

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Posted Monday, February 08, 2010

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars I never thought i'd find an AYREON album i'd give 4 stars to but here it is. Yeah this one's different musically from all his others.Very PINK FLOYD-like, spacey and atmospheric. The first time I heard it I thought "Where's the bombast ? Where's the different singers singing their parts to each other like on a musical ?" I'm thankful this album doesn't have those things. I like the concept too, especially when he goes back in time to see himself as a child etc. I have to also mention upfront the vocal display of Damian Wilson. Man i've never heard him sound so good, it was moving. Neal Morse also impresses on vocals but then he usually does for me. While i'm a big Prog-Metal fan i've never liked the way Arjen does it, so this non Prog-Metal album is just the thing for me.

"The Dream Sequencer" is sort of an introduction to the story then the synths and soaring guitar come in. "My House On Mars" opens with a beat as the wind blows (I hear it's windy on Mars). Spoken words before a minute then Floor Jansen comes in vocally. Man I like her singing. Themes are repeated here. "2084" features Lana Lane on vocals starting before 2 minutes.The music picks up a minute later. Gilmour-like guitar before 3 1/2 minutes. Nice. Vocals are back.It's heavier later on before ending with a calm. "One Small Step" opens with percussion and voices. Vocals 2 minutes in then it builds. Organ before 3 minutes and female backing vocals. It settles back as contrasts continue. Excellent guitar before 6 minutes. "The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B. Cocq" settles into a spacey, electronic-like beat. Processed vocals join in.The guitar cries out until the drums arrive before 4 minutes. Male choir sounds (mellotron?) follow. It kicks in around 7 minutes then settles again quickly.

"Dragon On The Sea" sounds amazing to start with the dark atmosphere and water sounds (here comes the dragon). Lana joins in on vocals after a minute. "Temple Of The Cat" has this uptempo rhythm to it before it settles when the female vocals arrive. Contrasts continue. Strings come and go. "Carried By The Wind" opens with spacey synths as an electonic beat arrives. It kicks in before a minute and Arjen comes in vocally. I like this one a lot. Spacey synths end it. "And The Druids Turn To Stone" opens with strummed guitar as electric guitar joins in and a beat. Damian on vocals before a minute. Man he does not disappoint here. He's one of the highlights for sure. I like the organ work as well on this one. What an uplifting and emotional track. It's not often i'm moved by someone's singing like this. "The First Man On Earth" is where Neal Morse gets to shine. I like the intro with crickets and mellotron. Neal comes in and it all sounds so incredible. Check out the guitar 6 minutes in. It's haunting to end it. "The Dream Sequencer Reprise" is a great way to end it. Spacey with strummed guitar and organ. Soaring guitar joins in. Nice.

Yup 4 stars, I must be dreaming.

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Posted Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Review by Andy Webb
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Site and Forum Admin
1 stars A pointless and boring length of useless music.

This album is one of the very few albums that I legitimately hate. I cannot stand this album. 70 minutes of ambient music that is supposed to be passed as metal really annoys me. Sure, the concept is alright, and there is one track that I can stand (Neal Morse and his genius), but the weight of other useless music outweighs any good points to the album. There are very few albums I would give 1 star. This is most certainly one of them.

The Dream Sequence is for the most part an intro track with a somewhat nice guitar solo at the end. The beginning is a short narrative, adding nothing to album, and backed by awkward futuristic sounds. The ambient at the end is somewhat nice, but not really cutting it. This is one of the few high points of the album, and it isn't even very high.

My House on Mars is the beginning of my intense hate for this album. This track is just so... boring. It does *not* need to be 7 minutes long. The vocals are spacey and uninterested. The rhythm is boring and overly repetitive. The music is atrocious; it consists of futuristic synth sounds repeated. That is all. I really have nothing else to say about this track, other than that it is just painful to listen to the entire way through.

2084 is no different than the previous track. Spacey ambient synth music, uninterested vocal melodies (what am I talking about... there's no melody!), and just an overall boring 7 minute song. This would be acceptable if it was 75% shorter and was at a faster tempo, and then it would be just barely acceptable. Not a good start, my Lucassen, not a good start.

One Small Step in the right direction, in my opinion, but *very* small. This is basically the same as the previous two tracks, except the synth piece is different and.... it's a minute longer! Oh joy! So far, this music is just unacceptable. The music does speed up somewhat in this song, with some more guitar work and somewhat more interested vocal work. Melody and tangible drumming can actually be heard, but it is still steadily boring. But, this is the best song on the album so far, which is quite sad.

The Shooting Company of Francis B. Cocq is even more boring than My House on Mars. I neatly fall asleep while listening to this song. As expected, this track is a 7 minute long spacey ambient song with some guitar work and uninterested vocal work. Yet another musical fail.

Dragon on the Sea is slightly better than all the other tracks so far. Finally, more instruments than just synth! Vocal melodies are actually listenable and enjoyable. Yet another step in the right direction, thank god. So far, this has been the best track on the album, but is still weak and can be boring and repetitive at times.

Temple of the Cat is listenable, but still overly repetitive and boring. The melodies on the album do begin to pick up slightly at this track, with some compassionate melodic work by Ms Govaert. But, why is it the Temple of the Cat? Couldn't a better Temple name have been chosen? Even just saying it is awkward.

Carried by the Wind is a more enjoyable song, but the prevalent synths are getting extremely old. The instrumental chorus is preformed by guitar mainly, but the verses are synth. Continuity in albums is great, but when every track begins to sound the same, it gets very old and boring. The song is better, but not by much.

And The Druids Turn to Stone is a good and a bad track. Even though little synth is used, the song has a very prevalent pop sound. The track can be listened to without wincing, which is good, but I feel like I should hear a shorter version of this on the Top 40; essentially, the song lacks any of the pretentious attempt at prog the previous songs did have a glimmer of. So, it breaks some of the monotonous continuity, but is much too poppy for my taste.

The First Man on Earth is one of the only legitimately good songs on the entire album. Neal Morse, god bless that man. Everything he touches turns to gold. This is legitimately prog rock! It's not spacey ambient monotony nor is it poppy ambient ridiculousness! This is truly the only good spot on the entire album. If there ever was a reason to listen to this album, this would be it.

The Dream Sequencer Reprise can be overlooked as a continuation of the overlookable first track. Simple ambient work with a spacey guitar solo that is the same feel as the first track. Ends the album on a slower and boring note.

ALBUM OVERALL: What a disaster. Sure, about 3 tracks are listenable. Other than that, the remaining 8 tracks are pointless and boring. Spacey ambient synths are the motif of this album, and trust me, you do not want that as the recurring theme in your music. If you have insomnia, I recommend this album as an alternative to sleeping pills. 1+ stars.

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Posted Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars With the Universal Migrator albums, Arjen Lucassen made a classic mistake - having produced enough songs to fill a double album, he decided to actually make a double album as opposed to trimming the fat out to produce a really top-notch single album. In this case, I can kind of see why he did it - Ayreon has already catered to both a prog audience and a metal audience, so it must have made some sort of sense to make one album (this one) err towards prog and the other tend towards metal, but on the whole I think he'd have been better off putting out one carefully pared-down album to cater to both audiences.

In this album's case, the space rock-tinged, almost Floydian side of the band is paramount, and whilst there's good songs - the doomy My House On Mars is particularly good - there's also a little too much filler for the album's good.

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Send comments to Warthur (BETA) | Report this review (#640297) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 24, 2012

Review by SouthSideoftheSky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
3 stars Lift off!

Ayreon is the Alan Parsons Project of progressive Metal with multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen playing the role of Parsons in bringing together a large number of guests to create conceptual albums. Overall, the first Universal Migrator album is a more toned down project from Ayreon which in my opinion makes it all the better. For once Arjen shows prudent restraint and does not indulge in his usual desire for excesses and over-the-top theatrics. His otherwise constant tendency to cram as many musical elements as physically possible into one and the same album is kept nicely in check on this particular rare occasion.

He also wisely avoids letting the storytelling take over the music as he did so blatantly on the previous Into The Electric Castle and elsewhere. The almost complete absence of narration here helps to lower the cheese-factor significantly and bring focus back to the spacey and atmospheric music itself. The lyrics are still full of clichés as usual, but it is much more discrete here and thus easier to ignore it this time. This album has actually more in common with the two strong Star One albums than to other Ayreon albums, not only because of the space theme but also in several of the abovementioned respects.

As usual with Arjen Lucassen's musical projects, there is an all-star cast of Rock celebrities providing vocal and instrumental services. But while I think that some other Ayreon albums included just too many people for their own good, and I often got the impression (perhaps unfairly) that the main purpose was more commercial than artistic, the present album is more moderate and more balanced with the outside contributions. Clive Nolan and Damian Wilson make welcome reappearances and Neal Morse provides a vocal.

I can perhaps understand why some Metal fans would be disappointed with this album as there is hardly anything heavy or hard edged to be found here at all. But Prog fans, on the other hand, should find this more enjoyable than other Ayreon projects. There are spacey as well as folky elements which creates a very nice mix of electronic and acoustic instruments. Overall, this album is much more coherent and less erratic compared to the bloated Into The Electric Castle.

Possibly Ayreon's best. Recommeded!

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Send comments to SouthSideoftheSky (BETA) | Report this review (#750107) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, May 07, 2012

Latest members reviews

4 stars I was intrigued by the way Arjen decided to release these 2 albums, with both of them having their own unique sound, therefore almost being like a 2 different sides of Ayreon, and everyone has their favourtie (to be honest I always liked the culmination of the 2). These albums where different ... (read more)

Report this review (#306013) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Thursday, October 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This CD has a very Floydy feel to me - It certainly isn't prog metal - because keyboards dominate this composition, with loads of spacy synth beats and swirls and not much in the way of metal riffing. This is not a bad thing as this 70 minute journey has some sumptuous keyboards and memorable ... (read more)

Report this review (#268514) | Posted by M27Barney | Friday, February 26, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album is quite remarkable, but it takes some time to get into. The storyline in part 1 is a journey through time, as opposed to its sequel, which is a journey through space. The story is less exciting than that of the Final Experiment and the Electric castle, and more just a few episodes ... (read more)

Report this review (#257317) | Posted by HammerOfPink | Tuesday, December 22, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars A masterstroke. As an introductory warning, I should point out that while Ayreon is categorized as prog metal, The Dream Sequencer is not a prog metal album. This is rather a major breakthrough in the genre of ambient / zen progressive rock music. First, if you give yourself the incredible cha ... (read more)

Report this review (#236290) | Posted by SentimentalMercenary | Tuesday, September 01, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Ayreon and the giant Pink (Floyd). Ayreon is a project that has been very enduring. Arjen has accomplished a lot for progressive music, lately, and his very wide scope of musical ideas have been a gift to us lovers of all that is progressive. He and his staggeringly large array of guest musicia ... (read more)

Report this review (#221267) | Posted by Alitare | Monday, June 15, 2009 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Ayreon is truly a unique band. I found it years ago. Ayreon is always performed by different guest singers and instrumentalists. There's only one man stands behind Ayreon, the genius A. A. Lucassen. He does all the things it needs in producing the albums, writes the lyrics, music and plays varied ... (read more)

Report this review (#171084) | Posted by maXmuri | Thursday, May 15, 2008 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album surprised me for a couple of reasons. First of all, the music on The Dream Sequencer is considerably more mellow than what I was used to hearing from Ayreon in The Human Equation and Into the Electric Castle. Secondly, the music which initially seemed a bit dull grew on me the more ... (read more)

Report this review (#157990) | Posted by Lofcaudio | Monday, January 07, 2008 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I must start by saying that even though I liked the album I'm not that impressed by the work that's been put to this album. Songs like One Small Step and Carried by the Wind really made it worth it for me to hear it. I can't argue cause this the softer part of Universal Migrator. The album in ... (read more)

Report this review (#111384) | Posted by | Friday, February 09, 2007 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Another fine offering from Ayreon, with a liberal sprinkling of special guests, including Damien Wilson, Neal Morse & Lana Lane. A science fiction/ fantasy theme gives this album its story line. The music is a roller coaster of sound, at times dark and moody then fast and in your face. Metal a ... (read more)

Report this review (#100335) | Posted by laghtnans | Saturday, November 25, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Of the Universal Migrator session Ayreon's part 1 Dream Sequencer is a decent album and probably the less desirable of hte two parts. It does have some really good songs, don't get me wrong. Ayreon doesn't let down on this album even though it's one of his softer works and doesn't have as many ... (read more)

Report this review (#92700) | Posted by Xeroth | Saturday, September 30, 2006 | Review Permanlink

5 stars The return of Arjen Anthony LUCASSEN could not be but glorious, with a sequel that enters within the rank of the previous work of science fiction, this time the work speaks of which it is very probable and not like the previous work that is completely fictitious by the concept of the handling ... (read more)

Report this review (#88673) | Posted by Shelket | Friday, September 01, 2006 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I am torn between 4 and 3.5 stars for this one. It has some really good and interesting songs like the Johan Edlund-led "My House on Mars", which is definitely one of the best Ayreon songs, then "The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B. Cocq", "Carried by the Wind" and the lovely "The Druids T ... (read more)

Report this review (#84068) | Posted by Aranarth | Tuesday, July 18, 2006 | Review Permanlink

3 stars How to make an european quilt starring Arjen Lucassen. This is a one big patchwork with no sense of direction. Bad keybords and sequencers on top of ridiculous vocals from just about everybody and his neighbour. I like Ayreon but this is ridicolous. It is a flawed work since its conception. Of ... (read more)

Report this review (#60447) | Posted by steelyhead | Thursday, December 15, 2005 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Reading the collaborators reviews, you would think this is a terrible album. It seems most of the people who just rated it and didn't review it think differently, as it averages out to 4 stars (3.89). I will grant one thing though: the concept is extremely cheesy (if we prog heads are honest ... (read more)

Report this review (#59903) | Posted by | Friday, December 09, 2005 | Review Permanlink

1 stars 1. The Dream Sequencer (3.5/10) 2. My House on Mars (3/10) 3. 2084 (3.5/10) 4. One Small Step (3.5/10) 5. The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B. Cocq (2/10) 6. Dragon on the Sea (2.5/10) 7. Temple of the Cat (1.5/10) 8. Carried By The Wind (3/10) 9. And The Druids Turn To Stone (2 ... (read more)

Report this review (#42401) | Posted by | Wednesday, August 10, 2005 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album stands as a rock in the progressive hardrockscene; a melodic masterpiece! Arjen has a very good taste of collecting the right vocalists and musicians for the right occasions. Also technical brilliance is shown several places on the album, and the beauty in the female vocals are brea ... (read more)

Report this review (#1196) | Posted by | Friday, May 07, 2004 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Being relatively ignorant of Ayreon's other works; The Universal Migrator was a comparatively new experience in terms of being introduced to the heavy bombastic sound that the Dutch group had to offer. Based on first impressions the opening track "The Dream Sequencer" has a somewhat corny and cliché ... (read more)

Report this review (#1193) | Posted by Verisimilitude | Saturday, February 21, 2004 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Although I like the heavy side of Ayreon more than I do the more rock-oriented side displayed on part 1 of the Migrator duo, if measured purely by song-quality, this one wins out. There are practically no weak tracks on the album, beautiful atmospheres abound, and great lyrics too! Slight drawback ... (read more)

Report this review (#1191) | Posted by Ocelotl | Thursday, November 06, 2003 | Review Permanlink

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