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Ayreon - Universal Migrator, Part 1: The Dream Sequencer CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.60 | 493 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars Lift off!

Ayreon is the Alan Parsons Project of progressive Metal with multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen playing the role of Parsons in bringing together a large number of guests to create conceptual albums. Overall, the first Universal Migrator album is a more toned down project from Ayreon which in my opinion makes it all the better. For once Arjen shows prudent restraint and does not indulge in his usual desire for excesses and over-the-top theatrics. His otherwise constant tendency to cram as many musical elements as physically possible into one and the same album is kept nicely in check on this particular rare occasion.

He also wisely avoids letting the storytelling take over the music as he did so blatantly on the previous Into The Electric Castle and elsewhere. The almost complete absence of narration here helps to lower the cheese-factor significantly and bring focus back to the spacey and atmospheric music itself. The lyrics are still full of clichés as usual, but it is much more discrete here and thus easier to ignore it this time. This album has actually more in common with the two strong Star One albums than to other Ayreon albums, not only because of the space theme but also in several of the abovementioned respects.

As usual with Arjen Lucassen's musical projects, there is an all-star cast of Rock celebrities providing vocal and instrumental services. But while I think that some other Ayreon albums included just too many people for their own good, and I often got the impression (perhaps unfairly) that the main purpose was more commercial than artistic, the present album is more moderate and more balanced with the outside contributions. Clive Nolan and Damian Wilson make welcome reappearances and Neal Morse provides a vocal.

I can perhaps understand why some Metal fans would be disappointed with this album as there is hardly anything heavy or hard edged to be found here at all. But Prog fans, on the other hand, should find this more enjoyable than other Ayreon projects. There are spacey as well as folky elements which creates a very nice mix of electronic and acoustic instruments. Overall, this album is much more coherent and less erratic compared to the bloated Into The Electric Castle.

Possibly Ayreon's best. Recommeded!

SouthSideoftheSky | 3/5 |


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