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Ayreon - Into the Electric Castle CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.14 | 784 ratings

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I've been listening to this album since it was released and just recently purchased the "Special Edition" released in 2004 by InsideOut label. My primary motives of listening the album were two things: first, the label "Space Opera" under The "Into The Electric Castle" album title because I love rock opera. My first love on rock opera was when in 1977 I listened to Indonesian musician Harry Roesli released a rock opera about historic hero called "Ken Arok" as an album after a series of rock opera stages he and his gang did in Bandung, West Java, Indonesia. It changed my perception towards combining drama and rock music and it was an excellent album. Second, one of my favorite vocalists and excellent lyricist Fish was featured in this album as actor as well as lyricist. So this combination that has made me buy the album. Frankly, I was not aware who Arjen Lucassen was at the time. But this album blew me away at first listen, couple years ago.

The last two weeks I put this special edition package regularly on my CD player. Until this morning when I played it while I was reading Kouzes and Posner's book "The Leadership Challenge" (this one has nothing to do with music), I found the ultimate enjoyment combining these two activities that I really love: reading book and listening to music. Oh man . what a great event. Well, music is good media for contemplation, I think. It helps me absorb the contents of the book I'm reading. That suffices to say that I need to write a review of this album!

As Arjen puts it in the album sleeve, this third album was planned to be a killer - it's a reality, I think. Despite, I have never heard his previous two albums before this one. Pity me. Sorry Arjen, I have to prioritize my spending on CD purchase. Reading the album sleeve is a kind of "mandatory" for me before I start with the musical journey of the album. And I enjoy Arjen's candidness in writing his personal sleeve notes. On one part I agree with his statement "Recently I listened to ITEC after not having heard it for quite sometime. A feeling of joy came over me ..". Yeah!

Disc One

The album kicks off with a narration that serves as opener for the entire journey with "Welcome to the New Dimension". The space environment is created through the use of floating keyboard and effects sounds. At first listen I thought that this intro was bit too long as it has so many talks and settings. But it grew with couple of spins especially with the use of howling guitar sounds that help enrich the spacey nuance. Some riffs are also provided especially at the end of narration passage.

It moves seamlessly and unnoticeably to second track "Isis and Osiris" where the acoustic guitar work and mandolin bring in Fish unique voice combined with female backing voice "let the journey begin .". It commands the start of the journey into eternity. The song itself is actually a dialogue involving many other singers. Having been introduced through acoustic guitar rhythm with some spacey keyboard, the song has a series of excellent riffs in relatively medium tempo music. It has a great melody combining guitars, keyboards and vocals. The ending part with Fish voice and acoustic guitar / mandolin combined with keyboard reminds me to Marillion's early albums and Fish solo career.

"Amazing Flight" starts with a narration continued with great guitar rhythm and organ that bring the music into a combination of blues and space rock. The electric guitar solo brings nicely the vocal line to enter the music. Floating keyboard sounds also characterize the music. It's a combination of ambient, blues, psychedelic and space rock. I enjoy the organ solo combined with electric guitar. It's really stunning! This song also contains excellent spacey interlude exploring keyboards and organ, continued with another uplifting music. It's so great hearing the flute work of Thijs Van Leer of FOCUS at the ending part of this song. But that's not the peak! As the song moves into piano solo combined with acoustic guitar work - oh man .. What a great segment! The flute returns back to music and provides FOCUS nuance here. If you love FOCUS, you would love this part!

The music is then disconnected and restarted again with a soft acoustic guitar work and ambient vice line to open "Time Beyond Time". It's a slow spacey opening with excellent melody. It moves into an upbeat mode but with maintaining the slow tempo. As with other tracks, this one has a stunning guitar solo as well. The one at the ending part is truly memorable, especially because it moves seamlessly to the next track "The Decision Tree" with ambient keyboard followed with acoustic guitar in different setup. With different setup and melody, this track is a logical continuation to previous track. The keyboard solo just before the upbeat, fast tempo track during ending part reminds me to Rick Wakeman's work.

"Tunnel of Light" begins with a short narration followed with continuous acoustic guitar work that brings in Fish voice to sing the melody. Howling guitar sound at the back helps enrich the texture of the song. Unfortunately I do not favor the use of female backing vocals here - sounds bit poppy to my ears, really. And, it's a bit boring too. Composition-wise, this song has a straight forward structure from start to end. "Across The Rainbow Bridge" starts with a stalagmite sounds in the cave overlaid by narration that brings the ambient music and excellent vocal line. The guitar fills serve as rhythm section except at the end of singing passage where it provides with some riffs. The song moves into progressive metal vein with heavy riffs. This song closes disc one excellently.

Disc Two

Disc Two starts with another narration followed beautifully with a symphonic music in slow tempo with "The Garden of Emotions". When the symphonic nuance has gone, suddenly it turns into a psychedelic style with guitar fills and voice line reminiscent of PORCUPINE TREE. As with other tracks, this one is heavy with intensive dialogues between singers played in space rock and progressive metal styles. Again, this track has great keyboard solo as well as guitar.

"Valley of The Queens" is a short song that serves as a transition piece to the next one. It's an ambient music with female vocals, acoustic guitar and keyboards. It moves seamlessly to "The Castle Hall" with a more energetic music and uplifting mood - combining the combination of great keyboard and electric guitar. Some melody of the keyboard reminds me to a traditional music. Acoustic guitar work is used as transition between passages. Composition-wise, this track is a beautiful one: it has powerful songwriting, excellent melody and tight structure.

"Tower of Hope" begins with a long sustain, single note, keyboard sound and effects followed with repetitive guitar riffs that bring the music into medium/fast tempo style and uplifting mood. This song is unique especially in the middle of the track where the interlude turns the music into jazz with some Rick Wakeman keyboard style. It then continues with an atmospheric windy nuance combined with spacey keyboard that feature female voice under "Cosmic Fusion". It's a melodic singing part with guitar fills that serve as rhythm. The song moves into progressive metal with some growling vocals backed with symphonic music. Very nice. It reminds me to HAGGARD or OPETH. It flows continuously with medium tempo music and it ends up nicely with spacey keyboard sound in quieter passage featuring guitar melody. I can see the work of ARENA's CLIVE NOLAN clearly here as he contributes to this album. The ending part of this song is really great, combining all instruments like violin, cello, guitar and keyboard contribution in solo until the song ends. Great ending!

"The Mirror Maze" continuous seamlessly from previous track with a short narration continued with classical piano work featuring male vocal. It's so melodic. The first half of this song is completely mellow but the later half has brought the music into more progressive metal vein. The guitar solo work at the end is stunning. "Evil Devolution" begins with a boiling water sounds and spacey narration. The first half is really a quiet passage featuring vocals and symphonic keyboard/ But in the middle of the track, the music moves upward with more energetic venture maintaining the symphonic nuance. The song even move into fast speed power metal vein with heavy riffs and wonderful guitar solo work. Oh man .. what an excellent tune! I love the keyboard solo, again! The song ends up like a holocaust.

"The Two Gates" starts off with introductory narration followed beautifully with a combination of melodic keyboard solo and guitar fills. It moves into faster tempo in an uplifting mood demonstrated by the sounds of guitar and keyboards. It's an excellent track especially with the 70s organ sound that reminds me to classic rock tunes. The song continues with an ambient opening of "Forever of The Stars" followed with narration. This tracks serves as a transition piece featuring the exploration of keyboard and robotic talks.

"Another Time, Another Space" concludes the album in medium tempo song that starts with a combination of acoustic guitar and keyboard. This song serves as an encore to close the chapter and it provides another promise with another space rock album. It's a nice track.


Having listened to in great details, I conclude this album is an excellent addition to any prog collection with 4.5 out of 5 stars of overall rating. Even though until todate I still can NOT play the enhanced video - and I don't know why - I still HIGHLY RECOMMEND you to purchase this Special Edition double CD. This album is better than the next follow-up albums:The Universal Migrator. Keep on proggin' .!!!

Progressively yours,


Gatot | 4/5 |


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