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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 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)

3.40 | 338 ratings
The Final Experiment
1995
3.24 | 273 ratings
Actual Fantasy
1996
4.14 | 793 ratings
Into the Electric Castle
1998
3.61 | 519 ratings
Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer
2000
3.63 | 465 ratings
Universal Migrator, Part 2: Flight Of The Migrator
2000
4.20 | 1215 ratings
The Human Equation
2004
3.60 | 102 ratings
Actual Fantasy Revisited
2004
3.89 | 673 ratings
01011001
2008
4.05 | 647 ratings
The Theory of Everything
2013
3.83 | 263 ratings
The Source
2017
3.43 | 70 ratings
Transitus
2020

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

4.30 | 53 ratings
The Theater Equation
2016
3.71 | 22 ratings
Electric Castle Live and Other Tales
2020

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

4.31 | 42 ratings
Ayreon Universe : Best of Ayreon Live
2018

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

2.02 | 29 ratings
Strange Hobby
1996
2.66 | 53 ratings
Ayreonauts Only
2000
4.23 | 74 ratings
Universal Migrator Part I & II
2004
3.71 | 71 ratings
The Final Experiment (Special Edition)
2005
3.96 | 74 ratings
Timeline
2008

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

4.00 | 1 ratings
Sail Away to Avalon
1995
4.00 | 1 ratings
The Stranger from Within
1996
2.75 | 16 ratings
Temple of the Cat
2000
2.93 | 24 ratings
Loser
2004
3.46 | 26 ratings
Day Eleven: Love
2004
3.29 | 17 ratings
Come Back To Me
2005
2.95 | 33 ratings
The Universal Ayreonaut
2008
3.60 | 5 ratings
Talk of the Town
2020

AYREON Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Theory of Everything by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2013
4.05 | 647 ratings

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The Theory of Everything
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 491

"The Theory Of Everything" is the ninth studio album of Ayreon, the musical project by the Dutch songwriter, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Anthony Lucassen and was released in 2013. As happened with all Ayreon's albums, this is also a conceptual album with each character being portrayed by only one singer. However, being released five years after "01011001" which concluded the original Ayreon's concept story, "The Theory Of Everything" is the start of a new storyline for this project. Unlike their previous albums which took place in a sci-fi context, with the notable exception of "The Human Equation", which takes place in a man's mind, this is a story in the real world, indeed.

Unlike in all previous cases, in "The Theory Of Everything" Lucassen composed all the music and co-wrote all the lyrics with his girl friend Lori Linstruth, making of this his first Ayreon's album in which he shares lyrics credits in all songs.

The concept of the story in "The Theory Of Everything" is a drama about "The Prodigy", characterized by Tommy Karevika from Kamelot and Seventh Wonder, a brilliant mathematician with mental disabilities in the style of the film "Rain Man", whose talents other characters want to use for them and in the style of another film "A Beautiful Mind". Arjen pointed out these films as an inspiration to the story of the album. As all we know, the story has always been an essential element on all Ayreon's albums as an important part of the whole piece. If we compare this album with his previous sci- fi stories, this one is more dramatic and brings a higher dose of seriousness in Ayreon's magnum opus.

The line up on "The Theory Of Everything" is divided into vocalists and instrumentalists. The vocalists are: JB as "The Teacher", Sara Squadrani as "The Girl", Michael Mills as "The Father", Cristina Scabbia as "The Mother", Tommy Karevik as "The Prodigy", Marco Hietala as "The Rival", John Wetton as "The Psychiatrist" and Wilmer Waarbroek is on the backing vocals. The instrumentalists are: Arjen Anthony Lucassen (electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, mandolin, analog synthesizers, Hammond and Solina strings), Ed Warby (drums and percussion), Steve Hackett (guitar), Rick Wakeman (synthesizer and piano), Keith Emerson (synthesizer), Jordan Rudess (synthesizer), Troy Donockley (Uilleann pipes and whistles), Ben Mathot (violin), Maaike Peterse (cello), Michael Mills (Irish bouzouki), Jeroen Goossens (bass flute, bamboo flute, contrabass flute and piccolo) and Siddharta Barnhoorn (orchestrations).

"The Theory Of Everything" has four lengthy tracks divided into various segments, with each track longer than twenty minutes for a total of almost one hour and a half of music. Thanks to smooth transitions the division by the segments is imperceptible. On the album there are no classical preludes, intros, chorus, guitar solos or repetition choruses. Each of the segments is one scene in the story and its melody, style and length are determined by the events and characters in the scene. So, "The Theory Of Everything" must be heard from the beginning to the end, without shuffle or repeat options. Not that the individual segments don't sound good out of the musical context, but "The Theory Of Everything" must be heard entirely, as an opera, because each segment heard outside of the context have a lighter weight, really. There's a great instrumental emphasis here than on albums past, and each of the four sides are home to epic segments. Ayreon's traditional fusion of traditional progressive metal, electronic, folk and classical music really shines here, and though the album is almost twice the length of usual albums. The eclectic approach is consistent, fresh and engaging.

Hearing about the new cast of vocalists has always been the most exciting part of a new Ayreon's album, for me. In the past, Arjen Lucassen has had a fantastic taste in the voices he chooses for the characters. This time, despite the unquestionable quality performance of all, the names aren't as famous as before. Although the vocalists may not have been as dazzling as expected, Arjen makes up for it with an incredible cast of guest instrumentalists from across the prog spectrum. Dream Theater's keyboardist Jordan Rudess and prog wizard Keith Emerson both stand out for their respective solos, not forgetting the presence of Yes' keyboardist Rick Wakeman and Genesis' guitarist Steve Hackett.

Conclusion: "The Theory Of Everything" is an excellent album, extremely fluid, a total breath of fresh air in Ayreon's career. Everything is in top form and luckily it leaves the door open for more to happen in Ayreon's universe. Compared with the other Ayreon's albums, "The Theory Of Everything" is, probably, more progressive and more symphonic with the keyboards dominating over the guitars, turning the album less metal. I never ceased to be amazed by the quality, invention and sheer boldness of Arjen's on Ayreon's project. So, don't be fooled by the list of forty-two tracks. There's a cohesion that binds the album into an impressive and digestible whole. Despite we didn't hear anything new, here we have an incredible talented playing and amazing writing. The artwork is consistent, as usual. The album offers a great buffet with dramatic vocal performances telling a complex story in the rock opera format with a brilliant musicianship.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 01011001 by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2008
3.89 | 673 ratings

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01011001
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 487

"01011001" is the eighth studio album of Ayreon, the musical project by the Dutch songwriter, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Anthony Lucassen and was released in 2008. As happened with every Ayreon's albums, this is also a conceptual album with each character being portrayed by only one singer. So, we have seventeen singers in total, including Lucassen himself, who contributed to the album, more than in other Ayreon's albums. Of all, except Lucassen of course, only Anneke van Giersbergen and Floor Jansen had sung on previous Ayreon's albums. Anneke had sung on "Into The Electric Castle" and Floor sung on "The Universal Migrator Part One: The Dream Sequencer".

As happened with "Into The Electric Castle" and "The Human Equation", Lucassen didn't write all the lyrics of the album. So, all the lyrics were written by Lucassen and all the music was also composed by him with the exception of two. Anneke van Giersbergen wrote her own vocal melodies and Jonas Renkse also wrote his own vocal melodies.

The concept of the album is about its title "01011001". Lucassen chose the number "01011001" as the name to the album because it's the binary form of the number "89" which is the ASCII code of the letter "Y". Fans of Ayreon's project know the stories behind "Into The Electric Castle" and "The Universal Migrator", and remember that the story of these concept albums is about the humans and the "Forever" people who live on the planet "Y". A long time ago, those people forgot all their emotions and sent a comet to Earth with their DNA to re-create their race, pure and innocence. As all we know, the reality will be different for humanity, and "01011001", of course, deals with this problem. This new musical project of Ayreon is full of metaphors and questions about the human being conditions and ecology. Through a really and true good sci-fi story, Arjenn asks a lot of questions about our world and our existence in the entire Universe.

The vocalists are divided into the characters of "Forever" and the characters of "Mankind". Each song features one specific race but the songs are placed amongst each other. The line up on the album is divided into vocalists and instrumentalists. The "Forever" vocalists are: Hansi Kursch, Tom S. Englund, Jorn Lande, Steve Lee, Floor Jansen, Daniel Gildenlow, Jonas Renkse, Anneke van Giersbergen, Bob Catley and Magali Luyten. The "Mankind" vocalists are: Simone Simons, Wudstik, Liselotte Hegt, Ty Tabor, Phideaux Xavier, Marjan Welman and Arjen Anthony Lucassen. The instrumentalists are: Arjen Anthony Lucassen (electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitars, mandolin, keyboards, synthesizers, Hammond and Solina strings), Michael Romeo (guitar), Lori Linstruth (guitar), Tomas Bodin (synthesizer), Joost van den Broek (synthesizer and piano), Derek Sherinian (synthesizer), Jeroen Goossens (flute, soprano and tenor recorder, bass flute and tin whistle), Ben Mathot (violins), David Faber (cellos), and Ed Warby (drums and percussion).

The music of "01011001" is back to the futuristic mode. Sure, you'll always find some good heavy metal riffs with folk elements but the "spatial" sounds are back and the keyboards and electronic sounds are really present on this release. All songs are catchy and with great melodies, and I like to hear a lot of different influences on them. All in all, the music of this Ayreon's album isn't basically too fast. It's purely deep atmospheric and progressive metal. The melodies are touching, the choruses are catchy. You just have here everything you need to enjoy a good moment. But, of course you must love Lucassen's prog style to enter into the music of this Ayreon's work. "01011001" isn't an easy album to digest. Sometimes it sounds a bit commercial, sometimes it's dark and sometimes it's even sad. But, for my taste, the music on this release is beautiful and totally unconventional. Basically, this album is a fusion of the best parts of Ayreon, Ambeon, Star One and Stream Of Passion. So, what you can get here is awesome as you would think. The best part in some context is like a mountain peak, a true release of emotions that stands out. Everything here is excellently made and produced to the maximum. That's all good here since Lucassen produced this release with the best means of production, as usual. Even the artwork is superb as usual, and it can describe perfectly well the spatial world of Ayreon.

Conclusion: "01011001" is another amazing album of Ayreon. Arjen is back into the cosmos and it's nice to follow this space odyssey once more. "01011001" is a masterpiece. I hope that people will remember all these songs for many years to come. I can see why some people dislike Arjen's works but they just have to remember that it's just a matter of taste. Ayreon is unique and is in a league of its own in which nothing can compete with it. The style of this album isn't surprising. Even more than on "The Human Equation" the songs sound in the familiar Ayreon's style. Sometimes, parts of melodies seem to be a copy of tunes of other Ayreon's albums. But, this doesn't mean this album is predictable or just not interesting for people who already have all other Ayreon's albums. He just has taken the music moulted it into perfection. So, Arjen has done it again and was able to create an album also similar in quality to "The Human Equation".

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 The Human Equation by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.20 | 1215 ratings

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The Human Equation
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer

5 stars Review Nº 483

"The Human Equation" is the sixth studio album of Ayreon, the musical project by Dutch songwriter, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Anthony Lucassen and it was released in 2004. As happened with all Ayreon's albums, this is a conceptual album with each character being portrayed by one singer. However and unlike the previous albums, "The Human Equation" isn't a sci-fi story but it takes place almost entirely in the mind of a character called "Me".

"The Human Equation", is together with "Into The Electric Castle", the only Ayreon's album in which Lucassen didn't write all the lyrics. Devin Townsend wrote all the lyrics of his character "Rage", while Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn and Devon Graves of Deadsoul Tribe also wrote some of the lyrics of their characters, which are "Love" and "Agony".

The concept is about a man who had a car accident. He crashed into a tree. It was broad daylight with no other car in sight. The road was empty. This man slips into a coma after his accident. The story is set in two different locations. One is at the hospital where his best friend and his wife are sitting next to his bed. The doctors are wondering why he doesn't wake up. Why he is still in coma, because physically he should be okay. The other location is inside the man's head. The man has discovered some strange realm within his head, where he's being confronted by his personal emotions. These emotions are being portrayed by the singers. So, there's "Fear", "Pride", "Love", "Rage", "Passion", "Reason" and "Agony". There's also the character of the man, "Me", his wife, his best friend and there's his father too.

The line up is divided into vocalists and instrumentalists. Vocalists are: James LaBrie as "Me", Mikael Akerfeldt as "Fear", Eric Clayton as "Reason" Heather Findlay as "Love", Irene Jansen as "Passion", Magnus Ekwall as "Pride", Devon Graves as "Agony", Marcela Bovio as "Wife", Mike Baker as "Father", Arjen Lucassen as "Best Friend", Davin Townsend as "Rage" and Peter Daltrey as "Forever". Instrumentalists are: Arjen Lucassen (electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitars, mandolin, lap steel guitar, keyboards, synthesizers and Hammond organ), Joost van den Broek (synthesizers and spinet), Martin Orford (synthesizer), Ken Hensley (Hammond organ), Oliver Wakeman (synthesizer), Ed Warby (drums and percussion), Marieke van den Broek (cellos), John McManus (flute and whistle) Jeroen Goossens (flute, alto flute, bass flute, panpipes, descant and treble recorder, didgeridoo and bassoon) and Robert Baba (violins).

Musically, this new Ayreon's album is in the vein of the music of Lucassen, a lot of beautiful melodies, sometimes sad, sometimes happy, but always well written. It's versatile as any Ayreon's album has been, and in this case is even more. For the ones who know Lucassen's music there is again a lot of keyboards, flute, violins etc., and it sound is again very atmospheric, very progressive and also very heavy in some parts, in its style. But, the great stuff that shows that Arjen is certainly one of the best musical compositors on Earth is this easiness that the master has to write his music for us, for him, but also for his guest musicians. Personally, I think it's very hard for me to find any musician who can do that like him. All songs are killers, the stories are superb, so are the lyrics, and the singers line up can't be better, really.

The choice of singers for the parts has been very thorough. After listening to the album many times it's hard to imagine other singers in these roles. LaBrie manages to carry a lot of feelings suitable to the moments. Akerfeldt singing more than grunting is simply amazing. Heather and Marcela with their sweet and emotional voices are lovely. Irene with her powerful voice is incredible. Townsend gets really raging in his own manner. Graves delivers a versatile performance.

But, not only the singers and the story make this album so good. The music and the musicians are both of the first class. The album blends elements from classic, folk, electronic, rock and psychedelic to hard rock, prog and metal at its best. There are violins, cellos, flutes and pipes, there are amazing keyboard solos by some amazing keyboardists, there are guitars by Arjen in his distinctive style and there are drums by Warby. You can't help notice Ed's fine performance.

Conclusion: As is usual on any Ayreon's album, there's a great collection of artists, musicians and singers. It's a real pleasure to see so many great artists on a single album. And as usual, we are in presence of another conceptual album. But, there's a small surprise here that firmly ties this album to all other Ayreon's albums. No sci-fi story here, which is a real surprise for the fans, I guess. But, this is one of the best, if not the best story written by him. So, what more can I say about this wonderful album? Undoubtedly, this is the best work, so far, of this great Dutch artist. He knows perfectly well how to involve so many people without losing his musical identity. This is a perfect mix, full of quality, with a lot of musical styles, new and incredible voices, amazing collaborations and mainly with great music. Again, Mr. Lucassen does that and was able to create amazing music on a wonderful album. It deserves again the maximum rating from me. Definitely, when in the future we look for Rock Operas, we can't forget the name of Arjen Anthony Lucassen.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

 Transitus by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.43 | 70 ratings

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Transitus
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by Zuidema

2 stars Rather odd CD in the repertoire of Ayreon. Whereas usually firmly rooted in progressive metal, this album is more a cross-over between "musical" and '80's hard rock. And it's a big disappointment. The story-telling by Tom Baker takes up way too much space, often destroying the pace of the album. Also, the songs are short and there is hardly any song development, which you typically would find in the progressive genre; this time, no epics. There are some nice parts here and there but each time when you think: now we're getting somewhere - whoosh, next track. The vocals have the typical, theatric presentation that one associates with musicals; this is probably just me, but it I found it hard to relate with the characters, which is difficult to begin with, in view of the, I have to say it, extremely boring story. Speaking of the vocals (which are are quite in front of the mix, by the way) - no Anneke van Giersbergen this time. This is SO wrong. Also wrong: super-drummer Ad Warby is sadly missing. Arjen: what happened? I'm a big fan of Arjen and his last concert in Tilburg (Into the Electric Castle) was nothing short of fantastic, but I really hope they skip this album in the next show. I really wanted to like this album, but for me, it doesn't work. Sadly.
 The Human Equation by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.20 | 1215 ratings

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The Human Equation
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by Isaac Peretz

5 stars Ayreon was a band that took me a good time to get into. At first they sounded like Dream Theater with many vocalists but after giving some of Ayreon's best works multiple tries I started to appreciate them more and more. At first, their albums look intimidating: Most of their works are long, two-CD concept albums with multiple featured singers from different bands. Lucky for me though, I'm a Flower Kings fan, so I'm pretty used to that type of album format. All this orchestration is led by Arjen Lucassen.

Anyways, while I can't say everything he has done is spectacular (nothing to be disappointed about), I definitely can say his best works pack quite a punch. The Human Equation is without a doubt one of his two master works, the other one being Into The Electric Castle (my personal favorite).

The Human Equation tells a story across two CDs and twenty tracks, each track symbolizing a day. Pretty much close to everything you've heard in progressive metal can be found in this album: Mellow ballads, happy ballads, technical riffs, headbangable riffs, different vocal styles that benefit from the wide spectrum of vocalists present, and a very consistent balance of these characteristics through the one hundred minutes of music.

Can definitely say this one has grown on me a lot. This album, along with Into The Electric Castle, are the two only Ayreon albums that deserve a five star rating.

 The Human Equation by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2004
4.20 | 1215 ratings

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The Human Equation
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by TCat
Forum & Site Admin Group Eclectic / Prog Metal / Heavy Prog Team

4 stars Ayreon is a progressive metal project by multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen. He is the only constant member of the project, however, he often uses many well-known vocalists and artists from around progressive circles to put together some elaborate and amazing rock operas. The Human Equation, released in 2004 is one of his best. It stands out from his other work as being the first album where Arjen centers the story/album around real life and not fantasy as he had in previous albums. That is a big advantage for this album as it is a lot easier to relate to it.

So, the tag Progressive Metal fits to his music, but be aware that Arjen also uses a lot of Neo, Symphonic and Classical Progressive influences in his music, and he utilizes them quite extensively. The album The Human Equation is a perfect example of that, it is a varied and emotional album dealing with the main character being in a coma for 20 days after an automobile accident and dealing with his own emotions and personality. There are several musicians involved in the making of this album including Devin Townsend (as Rage), Heather Findley (as Love), Mikael Åkerfeldt (as Fear) and James LaBrie (as "Me", the main character) just to name a few. Most of the vocals are clean vocals except for a few rare occasions when it is important to the storyline. The music is quite variable and dynamic and so are the vocals. The voices can be quite emotive at times, just like you would expect in such an emotional tale.

I'm not going to go into a lot of detail about this album because it is one that any progressive fan should already be familiar with. One thing you have to say is that there is plenty for all progressive fans of any sub-genre should love. The album has been reviewed many times already in the Archives, but it has been awhile since the last review, so I thought I would help remind everyone out there that this album exists, it is one of Ayreon's best. It shows Arjen at his songwriting and performing best. Personally, for me it just barely misses the masterpiece mark, but it is still one that I come back to quite often. The problem I have with it is the concentration is too centered around the story and the lyrical aspect of it all, but that is not to say that there isn't a lot of excellent instrumental passages here, because there is. I feel like because of the importance of the story and the characterization involved that development tends to suffer in many places throughout the album. But, this is not a reason to avoid this album, because, for many, that may not even be an issue.

The biggest plus of the album for me is the amount of variety and dynamic change throughout it all. You never have to worry about getting tired of any one style or sound as so many genres are touched upon here quite well and it is literally one of those albums where everyone will find things to absolutely love about it. I feel the strongest tracks are the heavier and most emotional ones such as "Day Two: Isolation", "Day Eleven: Love", "Day Twelve: Trauma", "Day Sixteen: Loser" and "Day Eighteen: Realization". For those that love a lot of drama, emotion and dynamic in their music, this is a must have.

 Transitus by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.43 | 70 ratings

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Transitus
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by alainPP

4 stars AYREON released his last album at the start of the 2020 school year: An album divided into LP, CD and DVD, a BD booklet to explain the musical background a little, in short a lot of things to say that we are not dealing with a simple CD. "Transitus" is the strange dimension between heaven and hell, it is a well orchestrated, well put together rock opera where the titles are linked one after the other; no big titles like on '' into the electric castle '', no radio-edit titles like on '' the final experiment '', but a bit of both! Okay, I'm telling you about these two major albums because it sits between them, ie much better than what Sir Arjen released to us previously. Singers like Simone Simons from Epica, Tommy Karevik from Kamelot, Cammie Gilbert from Oceans of Slumber, Amanda Somerville from Trillium, Paul Manzi from Arena and Dee Snider from Twisted Sister, to name a few - some, who play an opera piece that should have been filmed! A "Doctor Who" narrator Tom Baker who introduces the titles of the album, which takes the story forward to the late 1800s (yes that changes usual sci-fi stories!), Centered on the cursed love story between Daniel, played by Tommy, a son of a wealthy aristocratic family, and Abby, played by Cammie, a servant working for the family. The story will trigger catastrophic events which are therefore transcribed in this prog universe; titles which find their continuity over the plot and which pass much better than the test of DREAM THEATER with "the astonishing" in my opinion. Here, the 2 CDs go by very quickly, keep you going despite a few well-calibrated repetitions (after more than 25 years it is also a little logical!), And for those who still doubt, immersing themselves in them for 80 minutes is well worth a film shoot. Arjen never ceases to amaze in his time vessel.
 Transitus by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.43 | 70 ratings

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Transitus
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by lukretio

4 stars If there was an end-of-year list for "the most difficult albums to rate and review", then Transitus, Ayreon's 10th full-length release, would easily top the 2020 edition. This is because Transitus is so much more than just a music record that, depending on what aspect of the release one focuses on, the subjective experience (and how positively one feels about the whole thing) can be very different. This is not completely unusual for Arjen Lucassen - nearly all Ayreon's instalments are based on massive concepts that transcend the simple musical format - but I feel this time Arjen truly surpassed himself. To put things in perspective, Transitus was initially conceived as a movie, not as an Ayreon's album. However, things did not quite work out as planned, mainly due to the prohibitive financial costs that would have been necessary to pull off a high-quality project of such a scale, and so Transitus became simply a new release under the Ayreon's banner (although Arjen recently revealed to PROG magazine that the movie idea has not been completely put to rest yet). The unusual genesis of the album has inevitably colored its development and sound in quite a unique way. Hence, as a music album, Transitus is rather different from any other album released by Ayreon.

First of all, it is much lighter and rock-oriented than Ayreon's other recent releases. Musically, Transitus is closer to Ayreon's early rock operas such as The Final Experiment and Into the Electric Castle, with some added touches of dark ambient that brings to mind the mellower first part of The Universal Migrator project. The headbangable riffs and pounding drumming that have characterized nearly every Ayreon album in the past 20 years are nowhere to be found, and indeed Transitus is the first album since the very early days where we do not even find Arjen's loyal drummer Ed Warby, who is instead replaced by the more rock-oriented Juan van Emmerloot. In short, there is almost no prog metal on Transitus, but a lot of lighter (prog) rock.

Second, Transitus is a very vocal-driven album. Of course, this is something that can be said about nearly every Ayreon album, given that the use of (usually amazing) multiple vocalists who take centre stage in the songs is one of the trademarks of Ayreon's music. In this sense, Transitus is no exception, showcasing a stellar cast of singers, each one putting in superb performances (the cast includes Epica's Simone Simons, Kamelot's Tommy Karevik, Oceans of Slumber's Cammie Gilbert, Trillium's Amanda Somerville and Twisted Sister's Dee Snider, to name just a few). But on Transitus things have been really pushed to the extreme, to the point that the album sounds more like a musical than a conventional rock album. There is a very strong "Broadway" feel to this album that manifests itself in the exuberance and buoyancy of the music, in the frequent use of choral backing vocals, in the reprise of the same themes at various points in the album, and even in the way some singers actually act their parts at places rather than singing them (Simone Simons is a primary example of this). The choice of some of the singers also reflects the unusual musical direction of the project: according to Arjen, for instance, Paul Manzi (ex-Arena) was chosen partly because he is actually studying to become an actor. But the most conspicuous "Broadway" element in Transitus is without doubt the presence of a narrator (impersonated by the legendary Tom "Doctor Who" Baker) who introduces nearly every song of the album and helps push its story forward. The storyline also marks a departure from Ayreon's usual sci-fi themed concepts. The story takes place in the late 1800s and is centred on the cursed love story between Daniel (played by Tommy Karevik), a son of a rich aristocratic family, and Abby (played by Cammie Gilbert), a servant working for the family. The family is very unhappy about the romance between the two young lovers and this triggers a chain of catastrophic events that involve conspiracies, betrayal, murder, compassionate angels of deaths, and ghostly appearances, before the story reaches its (supernatural) happy ending. Arjen has always been a master at crafting these amazing stories that transport the listener to a parallel dimension, but I found Transitus's concept particularly fascinating and entertaining, partly because of its gothic undertones and partly because of its underlying message about the futility of class and race divisions. I also loved the idea of accompanying the album with a comic book (beautifully illustrated by Felix Vega), which gives more details about the "scenes" that are represented through the various songs. I thoroughly enjoyed the all-inclusive experience of sitting down for one hour and a half with the record, the lyrics and the comic book. It truly made me forget about my present for a while and transported me to the fantasy world described in the story.

This brings me to the central point I want to make in this review: Transitus is not just a music record, and it cannot be fully appreciated by only focusing on its musical content. Transitus is a more encompassing art form, akin to going to the theatre to watch a musical show. The comic book, the narrator, the sound effects, the acting ? they are all part of the package and contribute in equal amounts to the listener's experience. Granted, this means that Transitus may not be to anyone's liking (hence why Arjen initially did not want to release this as an Ayreon album, to avoid setting wrong expectations about what the project is truly about). Some may dislike the constant presence of the narrator, or the over-the-top acting/singing of some of the vocalists; others may find the music a bit too "safe" and vanilla (it's true: there are not so many surprises in terms of musical content, most things you hear here you can probably also find on other Ayreon's albums, and there are not even too many moments of epic musician showmanship). But I think that these elements all make sense when considered through the lens of the musical/movie experience. I find that the slightly tamer musical background (in comparison to Ayreon's other releases) is actually perfect as it does not distract too much from the main attraction of the project: the story enacted by the singers.

As a musical/movie experience, I genuinely enjoyed this, probably more than any other Ayreon's album (with the exception of my favorite record by Ayreon, Into the Electric Castle). One minor complaint I have about Transitus, though, is that the second disc is perhaps a tad too fragmented: with 13 songs crammed in 41 minutes (only slightly more than 3 minutes per song), I find the story stuttering a little bit in the second half, as there are too many changes of scene and too many different musical themes to properly sink in. In this sense, I find that the first disc is better constructed and more enjoyable, as the themes are given more space to grow on the listener.

To conclude, Transitus is different from your standard Ayreon's album, or from any conventional rock/metal album, for that matter. As a simple music record, it does not work so well: the narrator can be distracting, the music is not at the level of complexity and originality that Ayreon has accustomed us to, and there are probably even more over-the-top singing parts than ever. I can easily see why some people have criticized Transitus as a simple album release. The true grandiosity and magnificence of Transitus comes through only when appreciated as a more holistic art experience, which includes the comic book, the acting and, who knows, someday maybe even a movie to accompany the music. Transitus is not an album I would put on while I commute to work, or when I am multitasking. Transitus is an album that can only be fully appreciated when one sits down with a cup of tea and the comic book and lyrics sheets at hand, dims the lights and lets the storytelling begin. This is when Transitus becomes a truly captivating listening experience, and I am sure it will continue to do so for me for many times to come in the future.

[Originally posted on www.metal-archives.com]

 Transitus by AYREON album cover Studio Album, 2020
3.43 | 70 ratings

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Transitus
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by The Jester

4 stars Review # 109.

Transitus is the new Rock opera by Ayreon, which, I pre-ordered a few months ago, in the red vinyl version, which also includes a comic book with the story, signed by Arjen. I guess because of that, a few days ago, I received an e-mail with a code for the digital version of the album. So, while I am waiting for my order to arrive, I had the chance to listen to the album before its original release.

Have in mind that my review (or my point of view if you like), is based on the 3-4 times that I listened to the album so far. Maybe in the future, I will change my mind for better or worse, but for the moment, I believe that it is a very enjoyable, well-crafted album, with lots of wonderful moments in it.

Once more, Arjen gathered around him a big number of musicians and singers, but some of the usual names are missing; but there are some "newcomers" instead, like for example, Dee Snider of Twisted Sister, or Paul Manzi of Arena.

This time, Arjen Lucassen left aside his usual sci-fi themes, and created a dark story from the 1800's. Well, maybe the story is a bit cheesy, but we are not talking about a movie here, so that's not a problem. (For me at least).

Starting from the impressive and kind of gloomy intro (Fatum Horrificum), the story takes shape, as more and more characters are included in it. At the beginning of most songs, there is a narrator included, who gives us information about what is going to happen in the story, and this is something I really like. Let's not forget that this is not a simple album; it's a Rock Opera, with many characters and a plot, so we must somehow be informed of what's going on.

As I wrote on some of my older reviews, when it comes to Rock operas, I cannot separate the songs, because I see it as a whole puzzle with many pieces; and for that reason, I will not get into details for each song. Yes, there are some very good songs, and some others, maybe not so good ones, but each song serves its purpose I guess. To move the story further ahead.

Finishing this, I have to say that I am very pleased with my purchase, despite that it cost me double the price you will see in Ayreon's shop, because of the postal fee, but I am not regretting it at all, because this is a very enjoyable album for me. Give it a chance, it deserves it! My Rating: 4.0 stars

 Electric Castle Live and Other Tales by AYREON album cover Live, 2020
3.71 | 22 ratings

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Electric Castle Live and Other Tales
Ayreon Progressive Metal

Review by kurtrongey

3 stars Arjen Lucassen only does things on a grand scale, so you can imagine when he does a live extravaganza, it's going to pull out every stop he can reach. In this case, he enrolled a pretty well-known actor to narrate interlinking material, John De Lancie, famous as "Q" from Star Trek: That Next Generation. Well, I love that show and that actor (got to meet him once), so that's a big plus to soften me up to be receptive to this over-the-top prog-metal block party. Singers like Fish from Marillion and Anneke van Giesbergen from The Gathering get big parts in the performance of the complete concept piece "Into the Electric Castle," and then the show ends with a suite of Ayreon "hits." Focus' Thijs van Leer gets a flute spotlight in a few places as well. As always, it's fun, silly stuff, performances are tight, arrangements are thick and rich and everybody seems to be having a great time. Lucassen even gets Fish to sing "Kayleigh" at the end, although tuned about 3 1/2 octaves down. It doesn't fit my definition of greatness, but you're probably not breathing if you don't crack a smile at the high spirits or just the likable b-movie hokeyness of it all.
Thanks to ProgLucky for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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