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Ayreon - The Theory Of Everything CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.04 | 602 ratings

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5 stars Arjen Anthony Lucassen is surely one of the most able composers and multi-instrumentalists out there. He managed to create at least a couple of very good albums and one masterpiece (The Human Equation), so everyone was very excited about this one. The Theory of Everything is conceptually speaking a little bit distant from the predecessors, since science fiction is not central anymore and it's more about psychology. In many aspects, it reminds me of The Human Equation itself, in some cases even some musical choices recall to that masterpiece.

The album is structured in 4 suites, 20+ minutes each: Singularity, Symmetry, Entanglement and Unification. Every suite is articulated in an average number of 10 movements, that's the reason why the album features 42 tracks in total. Let's talk a little bit about each suite:

Phase I: Singularity is about the beginning of the story of The Prodigy (aka Tommy Karevik): he's a genius boy who starts to work on the theory of everything thanks to his incredible ability in mathematics. Almost every other important character is introduced here, such as The Father (Michael Mills), The Mother (Cristina Scabbia), The Girl (Sara Squadrani), The Rival (Marco Hietala) and The Teacher (JB). As we can see, there is not the same quantity of singers hired for this album as there was in the previous works, but they are all great! This suite is mainly heavy but there are also some atmospheric moments and of course a lot of proggy keyboards, rhythms and whatever you'd like to hear in an Ayreon album. Progressive Waves is one of the most incredible piece of music I have recently listened to, with an incredible keyboard presence and an outstanding drum part. What a pity that Emerson's keyboard solo here is quite a shame, while Rudess handles it better than in Dream Theater. The negative aspect of dividing in tracks these suites is that it is evident the "sense of collage". While in a suite there usually are 3-4 minutes long movements, in these suites the tracks last even less than one single minute, and so the atmosphere and everything just changes almost too frequently. The good thing about this is that The Theory of Everything ends being probably the most eclectic album by Ayreon, I think thanks to these constant change in the suites, too. Generally speaking the album is a little bit too heavy to satisfy me completely and sometimes there is something that just does not work especially in the vocal arrangements and that sense of epic that I don't completely like. But that's nothing really negative here.

Phase II: Symmetry sounds quite similar to the previous suite, but it features one more great character such as The Psychiatrist (John Wetton). The keyboard solo by Rick Wakeman is something really special and he just nails his fellow keyboardists featured in the other piece of music. Electronic influences are more evident here. The only not really fine thing here is The Argument 1 which i think is quite useless and too short; it was probably included in the album just to reach the quote of 42 tracks (which recalls the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy). The first part of Potential contains a very nice acoustic vibe while Quanum Chaos begins with the most electronic-like arpeggiator-thing ever done by Ayreon.

Phase III: Entanglement is honestly my favorite suite of the album. It contains movements such as Fluctuation, Side Effects, Frequency Modulation and String Theory which I totally love and go from the powerful synth atmospheres to orchestral soundrack-like music, etc. Collision blew my mind away with its arpeggiator synthy things and of course an epic drum performance. Wetton, Mills and Karevik deliver an outstanding vocal performance in Side Effects while almost every moment dedicated to the two Italian female vocalists is spectacular. And I have no words to describe the magnificence of Frequency Modulation intro keyboard sounds. After the pirat-esque ethnic dynamics of Magnetism and the epic string atmospheres of String Theory it seems like everything possible has been done here. Arjen is just a genius here, with sounds out of human understanding and great melodies. Great concept developments, too. This suite is simply one of the best things ever happened to mankind.

Phase IV: Unification is this album's grand finale, with some other highlights as The Parting featuring a mind-blowing vocal performance by Mills and an unforgettable guitar solo by Steve Hackett. The opener movement, Mirror of Dreams is an acoustic song featuring very touching female vocals, while The Visitation contains some phenomenal electronic keyboard moments. With that track begins a conceptual and musical climax which explodes in the wonderful guitar solo by Lucassen himself in The Uncertainty Principle, also containing very nice organ arrangements. The third part of the titletrack basically completes the concept, while everything finishes like it started with The Blackboard (Reprise). One final surprise leaves some space for a possible sequel for this great concept album...

... and we really hope this will eventually happen!

Vote: 9+ (Top 20 albums = 5 Stars)

Mattone | 5/5 |


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