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AYREON

Progressive Metal • Netherlands


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Ayreon biography
Founded in Hilversum, Netherlands in 1995 - Hiatus from 2008-2012 - Still active as of 2018

AYREON is the vision of Dutch multi-instrumentalist Arjen Anthony LUCASSEN (ex-VENGEANCE). He formed AYREON around 1994 from the need to create rock operas. His music can be broadly categorised as progressive metal but with themes that range from electronica to folk, symphonic prog and space rock. Lyrically, the stories tend to evolve around fantasy, sci-fi or human emotion. The rock operas tend to involve a series of characters, often represented by a different vocalist and a plethora of session musicians, although LUCASSEN tends to cover the majority of instruments.

AYREON's debut album, ''The Final Experiment'' was released in 1995 through Transmission label, initially as ''Ayreon: The Final Experiment'' with no specific band name. ''Actual Fantasy'' followed in 1996, an album with no specific storyline but a generic concept around fantasy. In 1998, ''Into the Electric Castle'' was released; a double-CD featuring a continuous story of invented characters of different historical eras, with the use of analog equipment giving a vintage feeling. Notable contributions are those of FISH (ex-MARILLION) and Anneke van GIERSBERGEN (ex-THE GATHERING) on vocal sections. The year 2000 saw the release of another double album, ''Universal Migrator'', yet sold independently as ''Part I: The Dream Sequencer'' and ''Part 2: Flight of the Migrator''. Part I focuses on more melodic atmospheres with plenty of electronic passages whereas Part II exhibits more aggressive patterns, closer to classic progressive metal. More guest appearances feature here with highlights including Johan ENGLUND (TIAMAT), Bruce DICKINSON (IRON MAIDEN) and Russell ALLEN (SYMPHONY-X). The same year also saw the release of ''Ayreonauts Only'', a collection of Arjen's previously unreleased tracks.

The departure from Transmission and signing with InsideOut Records was followed by the release of AYREON's 6th and most famous album to date, ''The Human Equation'' in 2004. With the exception of Ed WARBY (drums) who has been with Arjen since 1998, the musicians chosen for this album had never appeared in previous albums. Contrary to previous releases, this album deals with human emotion, including guest appearances from the elite of progressive rock and metal: James LaBrie (DREAM THEATER), Mikael AKERFELDT (OPETH), Devo...
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AYREON Videos (YouTube and more)


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Buy AYREON Music


Ayreon UniverseAyreon Universe
Music Theories 2018
$13.40
$9.13 (used)
Universal Migrator Part I & IIUniversal Migrator Part I & II
Music Theories 2017
$10.87
$18.53 (used)
The SourceThe Source
Music Theories 2017
$18.31
$14.46 (used)
Ayreon Universe (Deluxe Edition)Ayreon Universe (Deluxe Edition)
Box set
Music Theories 2018
$50.98
$55.53 (used)
Actual Fantasy RevisitedActual Fantasy Revisited
Music Theories 2017
$8.61
$13.28 (used)
Into The Electric CastleInto The Electric Castle
Music Theories 2018
$25.99
$22.00 (used)
10110011011001
Music Theories 2017
$12.91
$18.53 (used)
The Human EquationThe Human Equation
Music Theories 2017
$13.24
$10.99 (used)
The Final ExperimentThe Final Experiment
Music Theories 2016
$13.64
$20.44 (used)
Theory of EverythingTheory of Everything
Insideout Music 2013
$14.87
$13.75 (used)

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AYREON discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

AYREON top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.33 | 307 ratings
The Final Experiment
1995
3.21 | 247 ratings
Actual Fantasy
1996
4.14 | 749 ratings
Into The Electric Castle
1998
3.60 | 477 ratings
Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer
2000
3.62 | 426 ratings
Universal Migrator, Part 2: Flight Of The Migrator
2000
4.19 | 1158 ratings
The Human Equation
2004
3.64 | 84 ratings
Actual Fantasy Revisited
2004
3.87 | 636 ratings
01011001
2008
4.04 | 612 ratings
The Theory Of Everything
2013
3.83 | 226 ratings
The Source
2017

AYREON Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

4.26 | 43 ratings
The Theater Equation
2016

AYREON Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.29 | 30 ratings
Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live
2018

AYREON Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.09 | 28 ratings
Strange Hobby
1996
2.67 | 49 ratings
Ayreonauts Only
2000
4.17 | 73 ratings
Universal Migrator Part I & II
2004
3.70 | 69 ratings
The Final Experiment (Special Edition)
2005
3.95 | 72 ratings
Timeline
2008

AYREON Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

0.00 | 0 ratings
Sail Away to Avalon
1995
0.00 | 0 ratings
The Stranger from Within
1996
2.74 | 14 ratings
Temple Of The Cat *
2000
2.90 | 23 ratings
Loser
2004
3.44 | 25 ratings
Day Eleven: Love
2004
3.26 | 16 ratings
Come Back To Me
2005
2.96 | 32 ratings
The Universal Ayreonaut
2008

AYREON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live by AYREON album cover DVD/Video, 2018
4.29 | 30 ratings

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Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
Special Collaborator Symphonic Team

4 stars Ayreon return to the stage in a blaze of glory with The Ayreon Universe. This is selections of Ayreon gold gleaned from Arjens back catalogue and supplemented with a plethora of vocal artists, some of which appear on the original tracks. The dvd that accompanies the CD is the best way to get maximum enjoyment from this but it can be experienced nicely without the visuals. The production on this is exemplary, each musician can be heard and the vocals are not overpowering. I love how the crowd roar when certain artists take to the stage such as the incredible Floor Jansen and Damian Wilson. Its a cool thing to hear the crowd explode when Arjen appears too. He is the visionary behind the whole concept so well deserved. I am no newcomer to Ayreon, having devoured every album, sometimes on countless listens, so I had heard some of these tracks many times, however its been a while since i heard anything prior to Human Equation so it was a joy to revisit tracks from Electric Castle and Actual Fantasy. I adored the live renditions from Human Equation, 011001001 and The Theory of Everything. It is also wonderful to see the vocalists injecting so much passion and energy into their roles with flawless performances. I missed Devin on Loser but its handled sufficiently. The trio of women singing angelic harmonies on Valley of the Queens is spellbinding. Everybody Dies is a powerhouse performance. Amazing Flight in Space features Arjen on vox, Dawn of a Million Souls is unforgettable, and And the Drids turned to stone is beautifully sung. The Eye of Ra finale is excellent featuring a massive harmony of voices.

Their are 2 discs of incredible masterpiece tracks from the universe we know as Ayreon so really no surprises that it is being rated highly. I prefer the studio albums but this is still an awesome concert experience. For those who could not be there, this is the next best thing. I hope Ayreon release more material soon as the albums are simply outstanding prog masterclass products.

 The Theory Of Everything by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.04 | 612 ratings

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The Theory Of Everything
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars I used to be very fond of this double album when it was released because of the line-up, music and the length. As time progressed, my opinion has deteriorated someway. 90 minutes is very long to stay focused to an album unless it is very good and cohesive. There is a lot of professionalism in it, especially thanks to Lucassen's guitar playing and keyboard masters Wakeman, Emerson and Rudess joining the boat. Vocals are less famous with the exception of Wetton. While music is better than average, the album suffers by having too many short tracks that don't help staying focused. If I should pick one instrumental track, listen to Number 7 with Rudess or Emerson giving a killer synth or Moog solo.

 Universal Migrator, Part 2: Flight Of The Migrator by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.62 | 426 ratings

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Universal Migrator, Part 2: Flight Of The Migrator
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Impressive line-up with memorable vocal performances and no instrumentation lagging behind, that is another output by Ayreon.

The heavier companion of Part 1 also has interesting singers to offer, Russell Allen from Symphony X among others. Michael Romeo steps in one of the guitar solos. Excellent vocal perfomance comes from for me unknown Ralf Scheepers in "Journey On The Waves Of Time" who has a high-pitched vocal and scream. Bruce Dickinson let hear his classic vocal in the slow and ultra heavy "Into the black hole" with a splendid rich analogue synth solo. "Chaos" is a packed instrumental ouverture with brilliant guitar soloing by Lucassen. I still prefer Migrator 1 due to better melodies.

 Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.60 | 477 ratings

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Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

3 stars Universal Migrator part 1 is less of a metal opera and more a collection of various songs. Despite having interesting guests such as Damian Wilson, Neal Morse, songwriting is less memorable than on the two previous albums and instrumental prowess and arrangements won't save the day.

The first instrumental intro takes long 5 minutes with not much going on. "My hours Mars" has great female vocals, mediocre male vocals and a slow pace. Some compositions like "The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B. Coro" have undistinguishable melody and dominant atmosphere or say surface. "Dragon of the sea" feels like awakening with its quality female vocals and strong melody by Lana Lane. Jacqueline Govaert leads us through "Temple of the cat" with folky renaissance melody. Unforgettable Damian Wilson's high pitched vocal adds points to "And The Druids Turn To Stone." Neal Morse's song has traces of his typical melodies, this guy is doing his best on this one song.

A good but non-essential album by Ayreon.

 Into The Electric Castle by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 1998
4.14 | 749 ratings

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Into The Electric Castle
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by sgtpepper

4 stars In comparison to the first two albums, this is a really songwriter-oriented album that quite steers away from conventional progressive metal album. There is a variety of styles and vocals presented, from pop, folk, rock to metal and even classical music. I prefer the second album that I find more dynamic. "Valley of the queens" has a warm female vocals by Anneke van Giersbergen. "The two gates" has an anthemic chorus with multiple vocals. The epic "The garden of emotions" is a mini-opera with a nod to the 70's prog masters, namely Rick Wakeman.

With its time over two hours, it is an overwhelming and challenging listening and you better split it into more parts. However, there are tracks that will quickly grow on you while the album maintains high artistic quality over time.

 Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2000
3.60 | 477 ratings

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Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by SonomaComa1999

3 stars REVIEW #16 - "The Universal Migrator Part 1: Dream Sequencer" by Ayreon (2000):

Dutch multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen's Ayreon project is one of the foremost outfits in the prog metal sub- genre, with many of his albums receiving critical praise on this site. Ayreon is best known for its elaborate rock opera album structure, which are concept albums that for the most part are set in the same fictional universe. Lucassen takes care of pretty much all the instrumentation, with the vocal parts of each character in the story being played by various "guest musicians" that have included icons such as Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson and Dream Theater's James LaBrie.

Ayreon's 2000 album "Universal Migrator" is split into two parts; now one could interpret this move as good marketing on Lucassen's part, but it seems that the music on parts one and two are thematically different. The first part (Which I will be reviewing) features more traditional melodic prog while the latter is more of what we would expect in an Ayreon album with a strong prog metal sound. Personally I prefer the slower, calmer and more intricate tendencies of classic prog, so I was excited to see what Lucassen could do in this vein of the genre. As is the case with Ayreon albums the guest vocalists return, but this time we see each vocalist take up a part in each song. The concept behind "Universal Migrator Part 1" is very interesting; following a war in the year 2084 which wiped out all life on Earth, the surviving humans set up a colony on the nearby planet Mars, which eventually collapses due to a lack of supplies, leaving one person remaining who is the last human being alive. This protagonist enters a contraption called the "Dream Sequencer", which allows one to revisit past lives and essentially live through human history, before he perishes just like the rest of humanity. Each of the protagonist's past lives are catalogued through their own individual songs - from the present day in 2084 all the way down to the dawn of humanity (we go even FURTHER back in time in the second part of the album).

We begin in the present day, where the protagonist enters the Dream Sequencer. I do have to say that I was unsatisfied with how the album started - we get this extended introduction where the voice of Lana Lane (playing the Dream Sequencer) basically goes through the instructions on how to start the machine up. Eventually the music officially begins on the title track; there are obvious parallels between this and the music of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour's solo work, with spacey guitar solos and an ethereal background atmosphere. It's nothing too exciting, but I suppose it serves as a fine introduction into "My House on Mars", where the story begins to reveal itself. We learn about the protagonist's life on Mars, having been raised there from a child and never getting to truly experience life on Earth (at least in this incarnation). Although his father promises to bring him to the home planet, he never comes through as he is killed in the carnage of the war, and the protagonist realizes that he will never see Earth. This is an improvement on the opener; we get some grand musical passages, even though I consider the vocals by Swedish doom metal frontman Johan Edlund (playing the protagonist) of Tiamat to be sub-par. Backing vocals are provided by Nightwish vocalist Floor Jansen (playing the protagonist's sister), but are only provided on the chorus. I will have to say the chorus and the musical interludes are pretty fun and grand, leaving for one of the album's decent highlights. More Gilmouresque guitar parts are featured in the solos, but the vocals largely dominate this track. In fact, the first four tracks on this album are pretty strong in their own right; continuing onto the next piece "2084" we get more information on the war that has essentially led to the end of humanity as we know it, and its exodus to Mars. We start off with a pretty long sinister instrumental opening before the guitar re-enters; so far this album sounds like a metal version of Pink Floyd's "Division Bell" with more vocals and a concept. In the lyrics, we get some allusions to "The Final Experiment" album, as well as the character of Ayreon himself - musically I wasn't too impressed with this song, as it prods along following a painfully slow instrumental opening. I appreciate the use of synth and more traditional prog structures, but so far I have not really been blown off my socks.

The fourth track "One Small Step" changes that. Featuring the vocals of late-70's/early-80's Kayak vocalist Edward Reekers, we finally begin our journey back in time through history. As the song title may indicate, we go to the year 1969, on the morning of July 20 as the world watches American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin become the first humans to ever land on the Moon. The protagonist is a young child who like many others was awake in the wee hours of that day just to watch one of humanity's pivotal achievements. I find this song evocative on a personal level given the background of the concept; this is the epoch of space travel in our world, but by 2084 in the story all that progress and hard work is erased by war. I think that this is my choice song on the album; the lyrics make a needed transition to a symphonic style, with Lane backing up Reekers to make for some very great choruses. We get some interspersed samples of various real-life conversations between astronauts, including Armstrong's famous "one small step for man, one giant step for mankind" recording as he becomes the first human to ever walk on the Moon. Everything about this song is solid; we move away from the Gilmour guitars and over towards this retro 70's sound with chant and a prominent synth solo. As I have mentioned before, I am not too fond of prog metal, so the inclusion of a 70's vocalist and a generally 70's sound immediately intrigues me. Moving on we go back a few centuries for the song "The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B. Cocq" which obviously is a reference to Rembrandt's 1642 masterpiece "The Night Watch". Of course, we saw this work of art the subject of a King Crimson song on that band's 1974 album "Starless and Bible Black" which I am very fond of; we get off to a very good start until we get to the vocals, accredited to Mouse of the band Tuesday's Child. Not only do we get this digitalized and distorted voice, but it sounds like some sort of fusion between John Lennon and Noel Gallagher. Personally the vocals were a huge turnoff on this tune - it isn't necessarily bad musically, and the concept is rather cool with the protagonist now being a part of the crowd immortalized in Rembrandt's painting, which of course is a very seminal moment in Dutch history. The middle instrumental section is pretty good, aided by the presence of the immortal mellotron which is set up in tandem with a guitar solo and a synth solo. My major gripe with this song are the vocals; they really don't match with the time period; if there was ever a time in this song to use a vocalist with a thick Dutch accent, now was the time to use him.

"Dragon on the Sea" brings us to the year of 1588, and one of the protagonist's past lives is revealed to be that of England's Queen Elizabeth I, who is giving her Speech to the Troops at Tilbury just prior to the Royal Navy's stunning defeat of the Spanish Armada. Of course, the title refers to the English naval leader Sir Francis Drake, who led the Protestant English (and Dutch) into battle against the Catholic Spaniards. The Spanish defeat in this battle opened up the gates for British colonization of the New World as Elizabeth realized the abilities of her empire. Lane takes over on vocals once again, and just like the previous song, I am not entirely impressed with the end result. One thing that immediately struck me was the use of Hammond organ - I really liked that, but the vocals are once again a bit of a turnoff. I really have to say that I am enjoying the concept as a history buff, but so far outside of "One Small Step" the music has been mediocre - not bad, just unimpressive. This doesn't change with "Temple of the Cat", which is the track's lone single. We go across to the Western Hemisphere, namely modern-day Guatemala where the protagonist, now a young girl of the Mayan Empire, travels to the Jaguar Temple in the ancient city of Tikal. Lucassen this time recruits Jacqueline Govaert of the Dutch pop rock band Krezip to do vocals here; with the Abbaesque thick foreign female accent, it seems that the music becomes even more detached from prog. Overall this is a very mellow song with its own fair share of flute and dreamy soundscape, but at this point I have pretty much given up on the vocals on this album. Given that this is a concept album that is heavily reliant on vocals, it becomes rather annoying, especially since we saw in "One Small Step" how great this album can sound with the right vocal style.

For the eighth track "Carried by the Wind" we enter this sort of medieval-inspired metal where Lucassen enters the fray on vocals, playing the character of Ayreon and making several allusions to "The Final Experiment". Arjen's voice isn't bad at all; it's a bounceback from the previous three songs, and I sort of wish it were a bit longer. Most of the songs on the album to this point have been in the eight minute range, but the length begins to taper off as we go on. "And the Druids Turn to Stone" officially takes us before the Death of Christ to somewhere around 2800 BC. Damian Wilson of Threshold comes in on vocals to provide fantasy-inspired lyrics on the creation of the monument of Stonehenge in the UK. It is stated that it was actually created by Druids who were transformed into stone to make the monument we know today. I really did not focus as much on the concept at this point as I did the music, which is beginning to improve once more; Wilson is a fine vocalist with a great range and the thematic elements of the music are beginning to return to that classic style that I enjoy. We cap things off with "The First Man on Earth", which features Spock's Beard vocalist and founder Neal Morse as we finally reach the dawn of humanity in 50000 BC to investigate the origin of our species. Once again, we have a competent vocalist who can handle the music as we approach more modern territory. While this song has been regarded as a takeaway on the album, I just am not very accustomed to this newer take on prog, and will simply acknowledge that this is a good song; it does fine at wrapping up our story before the protagonist goes even further back in time in Part 2. The album is book-ended by a reprise of the "Dream Sequencer" instrumental song that we heard at the very beginning of the album.

I have listened to a few Ayreon albums in the past, but those were more of his better-known works such as "The Human Equation." Even as a guy who isn't that infatuated with prog metal, I still appreciate Lucassen's music and contributions to the genre. I really enjoyed the concept on this album, with us going back in time every song - of course, the more recent history stuck out to me, and even the song "One Small Step" was emotionally moving. I see that song as the major takeaway on this album, and a track that I may revisit once again in the future. "The First Man on Earth" and "My House on Mars" are two other standout tracks that are objectively good, while the rest is largely average and mediocre works. One big problem this album has is that it rarely deviates or changes sound; we get largely the same type of melodic prog throughout the entirety of an album which goes on for over an hour. That unto itself makes this album very repetitive, but I was able to fill the gap by researching the various historical passages and the concept itself. There are many other Ayreon albums which are better suited to get you into Lucassen's music; "Universal Migrator Part 1" is hardly one of his masterpieces, even though it is a fine album in its own right. With that all said and done, I will give this album a 3-star (78% - C+) review; definitely an album for Ayreon fans and any generic prog fan as a whole. It is definitely worth a listen for the aforementioned three songs I referenced in this conclusion. It gets rather dull through the middle of the album so do beware.

 Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live by AYREON album cover DVD/Video, 2018
4.29 | 30 ratings

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Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

4 stars 'Universe' - Ayreon (78/100)

As I first opened up Ayreon's Universe, slipped in the disc and pressed play, I came to the halting realization: I've been a fan of this band now for over ten years. Ten years. That may not be such a long time in the grand scheme, but looking at the way my taste in music has warped and changed in the time since, it's really something to behold that Ayreon's music still holds up as the progressive metal par excellence I remembered it as. I know it's actually been quite a bit longer than ten years too, but it's 2008 that stands out as my personal "year of Ayreon." I can still distinctly remember counting down the weeks until 01011001 was released, with the sort of naive enthusiasm that's only possible when you're fifteen years old and still new to the deeper end of the music pool. I remember reading announcements of the CD release party happening half a planet away in Tilburg (if memory serves) and trying to concoct some wild scheme to raise money enough to make it there in person. Music has remained a central motivating force in my life, but I do miss the days when I'd get hooked on a band like that.

In that sense, Universe feels very much like a sort of homecoming for me as a listener-- and that's not even touching on the significance it must have for everyone involved, not least of all Arjen himself. Universe feels both like a retrospective of Ayreon's career and one of its most triumphant moments all at once. Seeing music live tends to have that effect, but the demanding scope of the material has had the effect of keeping live appearances rare. Between scope and rarity; there's two reasons why Universe (but more importantly the event it captured) feels larger-than-life.

I won't delay with the obvious. Yes, Ayreon's Universe sounds fantastic. The performances are incredible across the board. Most important of all, the rock opera bombast on display really owes itself to a live setting. "Larger than life" in the studio sounds larger still on a theatre stage. There wasn't a lot invested in playing out the story action. Nonetheless you can tell the ensemble's confident enough to have some fun with it; Mike Mills' loopy role as MC comes to mind as a case of good humour in an undertaking that could very well have taken itself too seriously. Who could blame them if they had? Over a hundred people were reportedly involved in the production. There wasn't a ton of precedent to lean on outside the pilot Theater Equation from a couple years back. I've always been boggled by the amount of planning, networking and logistics that must be involved in recording an Ayreon album; that challenge rockets up an exponential curve in a case like this where it's all coming together in a single place and time.

I'm not sure how much distinction there should be made between Ayreon Universe, and the shows. As for the shows themselves, they turned out incredibly, and as much as I enjoy Universe I burn with envy for all those who got to see it in the flesh. I stand by the thinking that the Universe shows will go down as a bold- fonted chapter in the band history. The DVD release itself is competent in all the ways that matter, but lacks the jaw-dropping effect in of itself as a frame for the magic it captured. The visual direction and film editing feels bog- standard for a concert DVD, and the documentarian second disc disappointingly boils down to the sort of mutually congratulatory talking heads segments you get in every special features disc-- not the piercing Ayreon documentary I might have hoped for. The sound design and mixing are immaculate, but that was never in doubt to begin with.

I think Ayreon made the right choice in casting a wide net across all albums. Most of their songs work great as standalones anyway. The fact remains that they had a lot of excellent material to select from; I could repeat saying this because it's as much a burden as a boon to Universe. There were always going to be subjective essentials left off. But for whatever tunes with high stage potential left omitted, like "Journey on the Waves of Time" and "Carried By the Wind", there are bangers like "River of Time" to set things straight. My love of 01011001 was reaffirmed watching Hansi Kursch come on stage. Better still, the live setting breathed a new appreciation for the material on Actual Fantasy and The Theory of Everything; the two Ayreon records I had never been more than "meh" about. I've since returned to them and found new angles I hadn't quite heard before. Funny how live albums can do that.

 Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live by AYREON album cover DVD/Video, 2018
4.29 | 30 ratings

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Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy / RPI / Symphonic Prog Team

4 stars This show was made possible because of the involvement of 100 people.The musicians are from different Metal bands, some have played with Arjen Lucassen before. Many vocalists were chosen to sing in this almost 30 songs and more than 2 hours of music. This is the first big production in the Ayeron live release with the latest technology, projections, elaborate light show and mixed brilliantly by Arjen himself in stereo and surround. The high definition show showcases the greatest hits of Ayreon with some big Space-Symphonic Metal music with some folk passages. This a collaborative effort, Arjen only played at the end with that energy he is known for. And this is that energy and passion that transpire from every musician during this show. The sound is big, the mix is clear and the picture sharp. The one hour and a half documentary is led by with Arjen and his keyboard player and features mostly interviews with the cast and how Arjen discover them and decided to invite them to this project. The choice of vocalists for each song is spot on and the musicianship is tight with some talented and experienced players. A must for Ayreon's fan and a good place to discover the band.
 Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live by AYREON album cover DVD/Video, 2018
4.29 | 30 ratings

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Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by Revelation_Space

5 stars There are somehow no reviews for this yet, despite it now being out for a couple of weeks. I bought the signed, limited edition 'earbook' version of this set, which has already sold out. It comes with 2 CDs, 2 DVDs and a blu-ray of the concert, along with a nicely finished book full of photographs and information about all participants. Well worth the money.

As for the concert itself, it is apparently the first EVER 'official' live Ayreon concert. There was the 'Theater Equation' from a few years ago, but apparently that wasn't a true Ayreon concert. That's a technicality, but either way this is a wonderful set. No less than 16(!) singers and 8 instrumentalists - plus Arjen himself - perform dozens of tracks from various Ayreon albums with great enthusiasm and obvious joy. The singers act out the various parts, having conflicts on stage where the characters are fighting. This is not a rigid concert at all.

The production values are surprisingly high, with an enormous screen projecting animations to accompany the music. The sound balance is fantastic, and the editing and camera work far better than I had assumed they would be. Arjen even gives a heartfelt speech towards the end, where he confesses to being "scared [&*!#]less" by playing live - presumably the reason it has taken so long for them to get up and do this. I haven't watched the special features yet, but there's a documentary about putting the show together which looks great, along with interviews with everyone involved.

I've listened to this concert all the way through at least 10 times now, and it's fantastic, I wish I had been there. If you at all like Ayreon's music you can't fail to love this.

 The Source by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2017
3.83 | 226 ratings

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The Source
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

4 stars Modern progressive music icon Arjen Anthony Lucassen returns in 2017 with `The Source', the ninth studio album under his Ayreon project banner. Another double CD sci-fi concept work that has the Dutch multi-instrumentalist joined by a range of vocalists and guest musicians, `The Source' is a return to the stronger heavy metal sound of most previous Ayreon works after 2013's `The Theory of Everything' removed much of the harder riffing (it's certainly a heavy rock opera, but definitely not a `prog-metal' album at all!), but like that same album, Lucasssen has gone all `Tales from Topographic Oceans' again and served up four side-long multi-suite pieces of twenty-plus minutes in length (labelled as `Chronicles' here), and it's one of his most ambitious and varied works to date.

Everyone loves prequels, right?! Well, sarcasm aside, with `The Source', Arjen offers a tale set before all the previous albums, detailing a planet overrun by a computer given artificial intelligence and the protagonists of this apocalyptic story fleeing to start a new life on strange alien worlds, and the challenges that come with that. It's a little silly, but admirably richly realised by ambitious lyrics presented through a range of characters given voice by vocalists from various prog and metal-related acts such as Nightwish, Epica, Edguy, Blind Guardian, Mr Big, Dream Theater and others, as well as boasting musical contributions from players in Marillion, the Aristocrats, After Forever and more. But front and center is multi-instrumentalist Lucassen, a performer of immense skill and variety, and he and his musical companions have delivered another sterling musical and artistic statement.

For `Chronicle 1: The 'Frame', a moody scene-setting premonition delivered by Jamie Labrie introduces the first three track arc. The twelve and a half minute proper opener `The Day the World Breaks Down' is frantic and pounding, a crash of fancy violin-lifted orchestral-like overtures obliterated by relentless heavy-metal riffing, dazzling synth runs and breathless vocal histrionics. The second half coasts into a reflective interlude of bluesy guitar and sparkling piano, that also reminds that the best Ayreon moments are when the various fragments hold tight compact tunes with recurring choruses that serve as stand- alone songs in their own right. Folk-tinged prettiness weaves in and out of `Sea of Machines' gutsy crunch, and the malevolently over-dramatic `Everybody Dies' mixes in everything from Dream Theater-like bombast given a touch of retro- prog keyboards and playful back-and-forth vocal responses (there's definitely a touch of Queen buried in there too), and it sounds like Arjen might have been listening to those rollicking symphonic fanfares of the classic early Italian prog PFM albums!

Despite its bludgeoning mud-thick riffing and rousing repeated chorus, the chiming guitars throughout the opening movement of the Second Chronicle's `Star Of Sirrah' remind of both Pink Floyd's `Sheep' and Porcupine Tree's `Time Flies'. `All That Was' is a swooning violin female-fronted folk ballad with heavier bursts that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Lucassen's Gentle Storm album `The Diary' from 2015, and unsurprisingly with its title, `Run! Apocalypse! Run!' (just look at all those exclamation marks!) is a dizzying maddening sprint of runaway break-neck keyboard soloing, crushing guitars and wailing frantic vocals. This first disc concludes with `Condemned To Live' that mixes in everything from stark vocal contemplations, moody cello and violin backings to its heavy drama.

`Chronicle 3 - The Transmigration' and its opening passage `Aquatic Race' kick off with some hilariously shrieking boisterous multi-vocal choruses frequently reprised throughout, and some snarling metal riffs that remind of Black Sabbath are broken up by dreamier interludes. While `The Dream Dissolves' is mostly a luxurious folk-flecked ballad, it culminates in a glorious synth solo from Mark Kelly that harkens back to the early years of his own band Marillion, and alongside a sleek electric guitar solo from Suncaged's Marcel Coenen, the duo deliver a classic sounding pure Neo Prog climax. Eastern-flavoured vocal drones, operatic purrs and a pinch of Jethro Tull-like flute weave throughout `Deathcry Of A Race', and `Into The Ocean' is a ballsy Hammond-dominated pounding arena rocker that falls somewhere between Deep Purple and the Dio-fronted era of Black Sabbath!

`Chronicle 4 - The Rebirth', `Bay Of Dreams' creeps with pulsing electronic programming and glistening guitars as it grows in power, and `Planet Y Is Alive!' is one of the most amusing moments of the disc, a thrashing blast of crunching drumming and an absurdly delirious chorus (and a spacey guitar solo in the instrumental break from The Aristocrats' Guthrie Govan is lovely)! The reflective ballad `The Source Will Flow' floats with a multitude of dreamy harmonies from several of the singers, the joyous and vocally gospel-tinged `Journey To Forever' is tinged with ringing mandolin among its chugging riffing, and `The Human Compulsion' is a final heavy curtain call for all the performers before the gloomy electronic fragment `March Of The Machines' and its eerie spoken word finale wrap the disc in a surprisingly dark and intense manner.

As always with the Ayreon works, there's a touch of kitsch and amusing over-seriousness that sometimes renders parts of the music a little overwrought and hammy (yet Arjen himself is very amusing and self-deprecating!), but there's such a conviction and attention to detail to the material here, and it's also extremely admirable that Lucassen is so proud of his prog-rock self- indulgences! The reliance on metal elements means that `The Source' perhaps doesn't have the versatility or crossover appeal that `The Theory of Everything' might have had for a wider audience, and on the surface it looks a little intimidating trying to approach its eighty-eight minute length, but constant replays reveal a sweeping, grand work that successfully flows between passages and belts you around the head with its attacking heaviness. Ayreon fans are sure to love it, and its another very accomplished, slick and bombastic masterwork from the reigning king of grandiose metal storytelling.

Four and a half stars.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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