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Ayreon - Into the Electric Castle CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.14 | 784 ratings

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

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

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

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

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

Grade: B+

1800iareyay | 4/5 |


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