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Ayreon - The Human Equation CD (album) cover

THE HUMAN EQUATION

Ayreon

 

Progressive Metal

4.20 | 1220 ratings

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VianaProghead
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Review Nš 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*)

VianaProghead | 5/5 |

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