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Ayreon - 01011001 CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.87 | 634 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I know the truth is out there...

Multi talented songwriter/composer Arjen Lucassen has graced the progressive world with a number of excellent prog metal albums over his career, and all of them a very different product. Whether it be the Aryeon projects, or his side projects such as Ambeon, Stream Of Passion, Star One or any of his various guest appearances one can always expect a number of things. High production value along with an all-star cast of ever changing musicians that join his ranks make Arjen one of the most dynamic and compelling musicians in the scene.

Definitely an acquired taste (like most prog music) Arjen's focal point here (as with many of his albums) is on the fans of his stories and styles. Unrelenting to people who don't like his particular style of otherworldly bombastic progressive metal epics with a folk twinge and overly sci-fi (in a good or bad way, depending on your tastes) lyrics, Aryeon continues on the worn (yet apparently effective) path that he's been on since the Ayreon project started. After the fairly down to earth The Human Equation, which saw the music exploring the human psyche, Ayreon have once again blasted off into space on this album to conclude the saga started over a decade ago.

Musically, this one is fairly familiar. Arjen has always said that he's never wanted to ever make a ''better'' album, but rather, always a ''different'' album. And while this one is different from it's brethren in many respects, this one is much closer in style to Into The Electric Castle and can (appropriately) be seen as a direct follow up to the album. Indeed, in the storyline of Arjen's opera these two are the ones best connected, however all the other albums (spare Actual Fantasy) are given reference. It's clear that here Arjen wanted to go ''behind the scenes'' and explain the whole story as it has evolved over the last decade, and the lyrics very much reflect that.

Less character driven and now more society driven the vocalists are divided into two camps, Earth and Y, human and alien. Whereas other albums had a vocalist voice a person or song they now collectively represent different views of the story as it unfolds. (If this comment seems useless, don't worry, I'm getting to my point) This allows for the many vocalists represented to be used very dynamically and not limiting them to their own dialogs. On this effort Arjen found a great way to have all the particular vocalists play to their strengths where needed.

Speaking of guests, let's get into that a little bit. There's a good amount of talent here. Not quite the all-star cast that The Universal Migrator Duo possessed but still strong, there's vocals featured here by the likes of many. The heavy and raspy Jorn Lande (ex-Masterplan), the mystic Anneke Van Giersbergen (ex-The Gathering), the excellent Daniel Gildenl÷w (Pain Of Salvation) and the soothing Phideaux Xavier (Phideaux) all make wonderful additions to the cast list among many others. As usual, Arjen is able to wrangle all of these talents and mold them into something that really suits his style.

As far as the songs go, on this effort Aryeon really managed to capture the sounds that they were seeking. At times metallic and cold yet at others organic and welcoming. The heavy metal songs on the album sometimes have a beat and rhythm that could seemingly match that of a machine. Coming to mind is the trudging standout Liquid Eternity, the speedy Ride the Comet and the excellent Unnatural Selection.

If course, an over the top double album would be a little monotonous if it was a heavy metal blast-fest the entire way through, so Arjen decided to put in some slower moments. It's common knowledge that I am someone who despises a slow song that breaks the momentum of an album, luckily that doesn't happen here. Any time there's a slow song to break up the constant bombardment of noise it's an incredibly welcome addition. Exceptional standouts on the album include the points where Arjen's Tull influences start to shine through a bit, adding a human touch to the machine. The folk melody behind Connect The Dots adds a harsh contrast between the darkly real lyrics. However it's a couple of ongs off the second half that really make the album. As much as Arjen himself hates to sing on his own albums, he does a freaking good job when he does. One of the album's greatest achievements is the Arjen voiced The Truth Is Out There which shows huge folk touches with flutes and melody to back the delivery. River Of Time is much to the same effect, with a very upbeat yet dark tempo.

Reluctant to give this one a 5 sheerly because it's a hard album to recommend to everyone, this one gets a shining 4. Some people may not enjoy this album if they're not way into the concept since it's the concept that drives the album, but if you're someone who wants a wild space adventure this is definitely an album for you. Certainly a hard album to ingest, this one takes about 4 or 5 listens until it finally clicks thanks mostly to it's length. Regardless, this is an excellent album from a talented performer which would interest any Space Cadet.

Queen By-Tor | 4/5 |


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