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Ayreon The Final Experiment (Special Edition) album cover
3.71 | 72 ratings | 7 reviews | 29% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
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Boxset/Compilation, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

CD 1 (71:19)
1. Prologue (3:17)
A) The Time Telepathy Experiment
B) Overture
C) Ayreon's Quest
2. The Awareness (6:36)
A) The Premonition
B) Dreamtime (Words Become A Song)
C) The Awakening
3. Eyes Of Time (5:06)
A) Eyes Of Time
B) Brainwaves
4. The Banishment (11:08)
A) A New Dawn
B) The Gathering
C) The Accusation
D) The Banishment
E) Oblivion
5. Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy (2:46)
6. Sail Away To Avalon (4:02)
7. Nature's Dance (2:28)
8. Computer-Reign (Game Over) (3:25)
9. Waracle (6:44)
10. Listen To The Waves (4:59)
11. Magic Ride (3:36)
12. Merlin's Will (3:20)
13. The Charm Of The Seer (4:12)
14. Swan Song (2:44)
15. Ayreon's Fate (6:56)
A) Ayreon's Fate
B) Merlin's Prophecy
C) Epilogue

CD 2 (32:26) "Semi-acoustic bonus CD"
1. Dreamtime (4:19)
2. Eyes of Time (3:25)
3. The Accusation (3:49)
4. Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy (2:50)
5. Sail Away to Avalon (3:26)
6. Nature's Dance (2:03)
7. Waracle (5:16)
8. Merlin's Will (3:29)
9. The Charm of the Seer (3:29)

Total Time: 104:45

Line-up / Musicians

- Arjen Lucassen / vocals, guitars, keyboards, bass
- Edward Reekers / vocals
- Lenny Wolf / vocals
- Robert Soeterboek / vocals
- Jan-Chris De Koeijer / vocals
- Ian Parry / vocals
- Barry Hay / vocals, alto flute
- Jan Van Feggelen / vocals
- Leon Goewie / vocals
- Ruud Houweling / vocals
- Lucie Hillen / vocals
- Mirjam Van Doorn / vocals
- Debbie Schreuder / vocals
- Cleem Determeijer / Hammond, harpsichord, piano, keyboards
- Ernst Van Ee / all drums
- Jolanda Verduijn / bass, backing vocals
- Peter Vink / bass
- Jan Bijlsma / bass
- Rene Merkelbach / backing vocals

Releases information

2CD InsideOut Records (2005)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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AYREON The Final Experiment (Special Edition) ratings distribution

(72 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(29%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(47%)
Good, but non-essential (21%)
Collectors/fans only (1%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

AYREON The Final Experiment (Special Edition) reviews

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

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Muzikman
4 stars I have listened to Arjen Lucassen's (AKA. AYREON) music from present day back to his first step into the realm of rock operas. "The Final Experiment", originally released in 1995 is another lost prog-rock classic. This was a huge step forward in Arjen's career. It was risqué at the time for him to release this album but as all of his followers know, it was the beginning of a long string of strong albums with a thematic concept and AYREON as the main character.

This special edition remastered 2 CD set does the legacy of this recording fairness and then some. Listening to the bonus disc was like hearing "Human Equation" revisited, obviously due to that fact that the people involved on that project contributed once again. The bonus disc is all-acoustic, unplugged if you will, recorded right from scratch because Luccassen believed it should be a two-disc set just as its predecessors were. As much as I enjoyed "The Final Experiment" I have to be honest, the bonus disc was so wonderful I could not get enough of it.

I feel my sojourn into the catalog of "AYREON" is complete, for now. I now understand how this fine artist has developed as a musician and storyteller. It all makes perfect sense now why he chose to continue his Ayreon epic with so many albums. First, it is a brilliant concept to take from start to finish, and an open-ended storyline that leaves room for more great albums, another stroke of musical genius I must say.

This how Arjen Lucassen began to build his "Electric Castle", it is indeed the foundation to the monument of his recorded works.

© Keith "MuzikMan" Hannaleck-

Rating - 9/10

May 27, 2005

Review by FloydWright
3 stars I give this version, with both discs combined, a 3.5, even though I can't quite raise it all the way to 4 stars.

Before you read this review, please check out my review of the original edition of The Final Experiment; it explains the concept and my thoughts on AYREON's debut album, which is unaltered in this re-release. Unfortunately, the demo tapes were lost, so ARJEN LUCASSEN had no chance to revisit the original as he did with Actual Fantasy.

What's been added to this one is a second disk with semi-acoustic versions of many songs from the album. These songs have been re-arranged extensively from the originals, and in many cases the vocalists approach their songs with entirely different techniques. Sometimes female vocalists sing in the place of males. Fans of MARCELA BOVIO from The Human Equation and LUCASSEN's upcoming project, STREAMS OF PASSION, will be pleased to note that she appears on "Waracle". IRENE JANSEN, also from The Human Equation, sings on "Merlin's Will", outdoing the original, in my opinion. Finally, some prog fans will recognize PETER DALTREY, the singer who did the spoken-word parts on Into the Electric Castle, singing on "Nature's Dance".

When I hear the original version of The Final Experiment, it can be a difficult, emotionally-draining listen, with its oppressively brooding atmosphere of tragedy helped along by the synths. The acoustic songs on this version have a somewhat warmer, brighter atmosphere, and it's easier to ignore the lyrics if you so choose and just concentrate on the melodies. For that, I especially appreciate the alternate takes on these songs. And if you keep listening after the last song, you'll eventually hear a "redone" section of a certain part of "The Banishment" that drove me up the wall on the original...

If you're a real fan of AYREON, this is the version to buy in order to complete your collection. Or, if you think you could do with a slightly ligher version of The Final Experiment, this may be worth picking up.

Review by evenless
4 stars The Final Experiment

Arjen Anthony Lucassen is a Dutch multi-instrumentalist who in 1995 released an album called Ayreon, the first of a very successful series of rock operas featuring many international guest-musicians. Ayreon is Arjen's main project, but he also works on various side-projects like STAR ONE and AMBEON.

'The Final Experiment' is Arjen Lucassen's first rock opera. The full title is 'Ayreon: The Final Experiment' with no band-name given. Later on the label suggested the name Ayreon would be used for any similar projects by Arjen.

"The story begins with a prologue in 2084: earth isn't a nice place to be anymore and the majority of humanity is dead. Scientists have developed a computer program, 'Time telepathy', which enables them to send images of wars, disasters, etc. back in time, hoping that people would learn from them and choose for a different future. It's the last possible way to survive and therefore it's called 'The final experiment'. Ayreon, a blind minstrel, in 'Act I', is receiving the images. Of course he doesn't understand at first, but slowly he starts to realize that he's seeing images from the future. In his village however no one believes him and he even gets banned from the village. In 'Act II' he arrives at Camelot, King Arthur's court, where is appointed as a minstrel. After a while he sings there about the images - 'Act III'. Merlin, the court's magician, doesn't believe Ayreon and thinks he just wants to attract people's attention. In 'Act IV' he is turning the court against Ayreon and casts a spell on him. Whether Ayreon dies or not is in fact not revealed. Later on Merlin has a vision from which he concludes that Ayreon was right after all and he foretells that Ayreon's story will be told in the 20th century. And that is in the form of this CD."

It had always been a dream for Arjen to make a Rock Opera and with "The Final Experiment" he was given a chance to make one. In 2005, 10 years after the first release of "The Final Experiment" Arjen decided to re-issue the album. Together with the album CD now comes an acoustic bonus CD containing 9 tracks. Great addition to the fist release! I would say that "The Final Experiment" is good, but not really great, but you can hear on this album already where his third studio album "Into The Electric Castle" would take him. To a higher surface!

Maybe it's not fair to rate this album having started with AYREON's "Into The Electric Castle", because I didn't know AYREON yet back in 1995, but comparing this album with "Into The Electric Castle" it's hard to give "The Final Experiment" a 5 star rating. I think the 5 star rating must go out to "Into The Electric Castle".

The Final Experiment (Special Edition): 4 stars

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Arjen Lucassen's debut metal opera was the starting point for a fruitful series of concept albums that utilized a character and an idea. The character in question was Ayreon, the blind minstrel who received messages and visions from the year 2084. Throughout a series of 3 different albums, the story of Ayreon's journey begins here. From his debut, the seeds of Lucassen's entire output of Ayreon can be heard. He utilizes essentially every cliche in the book of progressive rock, diverse synthesizers, watery organs, and overly grandiose and bombastic compositions. Even though it is terrible cliched, that sort of style actually works for Lucassen, no matter how derivative it really is. This album, The Final Experiment, may be my least favorite individual album from Lucassen, it certainly did lead to many more exciting and engaging albums like Into the Electric Castle and The Universal Migrator, so I must be thankful that this album was created, but on the whole, I'm not as impressed with this album as I am with other Ayreon works.

The whole story opens up with Prologue, which essentially gives the listener an overview of Ayreon's case and the happenings in the year 2084. Musically, the track is a mixture of atmospheric sound effects and a vocal narration of the story so far, but soon becomes a bombastic guitar/orchestration that displays a main theme to the album. The Awareness is where the album truly begins. Rich synthesizers and twangy acoustic guitar arpeggios display the main motif for most of the song, then a soaring synthesizer swirls with a crunchy distorted guitar. Eyes of Time has a majestic and lush synthesizer pattern underneath some heavy riffing and consistent drumming. The choruses involve operatic female vocalists in a call/respond pattern with the vocalsit who plays Ayreon. Not a bad track, but I'm not terribly impressed at the same time. The Banishment is the epic of the album, and it's one of the best on the album as well. It's probably the most pivotal track story-wise and it features some outstanding musicianship. There's this mini-jam towards the end where the guitars, keyboards, and bass trade off solos, and the bass solo is just out of this world. Probably my favorite track on the album.

Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy is a bit of a throwaway piece that offers a gentle edge to the heaviness of the previous track. It's not a terribly strong piece, and seems more like filler than anything else. Sail Away to Avalon continues the epic and bombastic feel of the album. It's not a bad track at all, a very fun track with a cool chorus. Nature's Dance has acoustic guitar arpeggios and buzzing synthesizers and some emotional and melodic vocals. Computer Reign (Game Over) is a darker piece, with more droning bass synthesizers and an underlying criss cross synthesizer pattern. Some interesting mellotron and dynamic unison female vocals break into a strong chord based riff. Waracle is a more menacing piece musically, with some interesting bass lines and forboding synthesizers. The vocals on this track are dynamic, but I feel they are too cluttered during the louder sections, but the narrations are quite nice. Listen to the Waves, Magic Ride, and Merlin's Will are three of the more throwaway tracks on the album. Listen to the Waves is interesting musically, but not much else is there. Same goes with Magic Ride and Merlin's Will (which has a vocalist that sounds a lot like Axl Rose), I just can't seem to get into those tracks.

The Charm of the Seer has an over the top feeling (this feeling is prevalent in a lot of Ayreon songs), especially toward the middle with the harmonized guitar lines and the somewhat dated keyboards. Swan Song is a short prelude to the album closer Ayreon's Fate. Acoustic guitar arpeggios and melodic intertwining piano lines are augmented by an airy synth line and add to an overall somber atmosphere. It's a good track, but nothing truly spectacular. Ayreon's Fate ends the album on an epic note. It also sets up perfectly for a series of sequels (which eventually would happen). I'm quite fond of the guitar on this track, which ranges from somber arpeggios to heavy chord based metal sections.

In the end, The Final Experiment is not a bad album, it's just not as good as Lucassen would get in the future. It lays the foundations for his future projects, so this is something to check out if you're a fan of this whole saga. Even symphonic metal fans will find something to enjoy with this album. Unfortunately, it seems to suffer from every cliche in progressive rock and can feel way to over the top at times. I liked it, though, not really a bad album. 3/5.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars As Arjen relates in the liner notes the early nineties were not a good time for him. Whether it was being part of a band or his solo album everything seemed to fail commercially for him. So he decided to do what he had wanted to do for sometime,and that was to make a Rock Opera. At that point he really didn't care if it was going to be successful or not, he just wanted to do it for himself. He was able to get quite a few musicians to help him out many who did it for free, and his dream was realized. This album really is a template for his concept albums that would follow, the difference here is that the guests are pretty much unknown and we don't get that musical style here either where different singers play a certain characters and sing back and forth like a movie musical which I hate. That's a big reason i'm not really into his AYREON project. I do like this one though. Cool concept and everything is well done.

It was a waste though to get this double cd special edition because it's the same original disc with a bonus disc of the same songs done mostly acoustically only with more famous guests. I'm not into the unplugged, semi-acoustic things so yeah I wasted some money here.The reason he didn't re-mix this album was because the original tapes are lost or destroyed. Interesting to read all the replies from the record labels who rejected putting this album out. They were respectful but they sure didn't think a Rock Opera would sell in the mid nineties, but then neither did Arjen. It was finally picked up and after a slow start it really caught on much to everyone's surprise. Not wanting to repeat himself the follow-up "Actual Fantasy" was in a different mold, but Arjen soon realized his fans wanted Rock Operas, so he's been doing it ever since.

So we get 15 songs and around 71 minutes of music. I like the opening monologue: "This is the voice of learning, listen well for it concerns you.This chronicle commences in the year 2084 AD. Mankind has virtually destroyed itself, it's survival depends on the final experiment". And in comes the synths then more monogue to tell us about the story.There are more vocalists helping out than anything else, one drummer, a few bass players, a keyboard guy and Arjen on vocals, all guitars and keys. Oh, one of the vocalists plays flute too. So as with most concept albums the lyrics (vocals) take precidence while we get lots of keybords (especially synths) leading the way. Some heaviness here too which I like.

A good album and a successful start to Arjen's new musical direction.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars You can see my review for original album in proper section (Ayreon artist page, studio albums section, first entry), so my positive words about CD1 can be found here. I'll concentrate on CD2 then.

Maybe this entry shouldn't be here at all, maybe it should just be added as bonus tracks (CD) to original album, but it's here, many people reviewed it and so I take it that way. Because I rated Original Album with 5 stars, shouldn't this be 5 stars as well, when it's OA + something more ? If you think that way, take this review as 5 stars, but I'm personally not sure how to think about it. Not what to think, because I already know what I think about this music, but this word how is the problem.

Semi-Acoustic ? If you wonder what it means, just think "acoustic" most of the times, it will make it clearer. Of course, this stuff isn't as good as OA, they're not as strong. It still bear Ayreon's watermark, you can recognize him in this, but it's more "for fans" addition.

However, if planning to buy "The Final Experiment", it's better to buy this version. Because if you'll like first CD, you'll probably like 2nd CD as well. But if you won't like even "the strong point", 1st CD, you won't care about this one as well. But you'll get the same result with OA, so it really doesn't matter.

Either ways, this version is better.

4(+), it puts this down a little bit, making it more "for fans", but not so much. Original CD is still here.

Latest members reviews

4 stars Although The Final Experiment falls short in most ways compared to Ayreon's astounding 1998 release Into The Electric Castle, it is still a very nice piece of progressive metal. It features a fine mixture of soft and heavy sections, often with a symphonic, almost pompous feel, and the elements th ... (read more)

Report this review (#93493) | Posted by Ayreonaut | Thursday, October 5, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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