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Ayreon - The Theory Of Everything CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

4.04 | 608 ratings

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4 stars I don't tend to write reviews here, but as other reviewers noted, this case requires it.

There is no need to review the artistic size of the album. With the cast that Arjen collected, the performance of all vocals and instruments was bound to be virtuoso. There was no other option. I mean.. when I saw Palmer, Wakeman and Hackett apart from all other names, my jaw dropped. And their musical skill does not disappoint. They know their stuff. Better than I do. It would be an insult to them if I even thought of criticizing their performance.

What cries for .. a rant? an opinion?.. is this album itself, as a concept. It is no uncommon thing to find epic compositions in the prog world. I mean it's even encouraged - give your listener more time to feel the ambiance, the mood and build him up to something that will blow him away. And will keep blowing him away for the rest of the day. Or life. But to achieve this requires true genius. I mean 'thick as a brick' level of genius.

Album-wise, first - the storyline. I am not going to put it down here, that would be a spoiler. But to be honest, the best I can say about it is 'simple'. I mean, we got used to epic sci-fi fantasy from Arjen. It was awesome. So maybe it's just that I am reluctant to accept change? But alas. the previous album 0101...10123 storyline did not shine as well. It was such a contrast with the human equation's depth and emotion, that I couldn't believe it. At times, when listening to 01101.. i was wondering if it is actually banal, or is it just me? The theory of everything isn't banal. But it's so unoriginal I want to cry. I actually read a classic novel just last month which was pretty much this storyline. Just made interesting and deep. The storyline in the album just sounds cliché, and is so oversimplified.. But hey, we don't have to listen to a lot of it. I got the impression that there is much more instrumental parts in between the vocals (story-telling), compared to previous Ayreon projects.

But the instrumental parts are the most frustrating! It is hard to 'get into' this album. It starts amazing. I mean from the word go, it grabs interest, the first instrumental part is just oh-so- good that i lock the door and turn off the phone not wanting anybody to disturb my nirvana experience for the next 90 minutes. And then the nirvana leaves. I am trying to soak myself in the musical experience but it doesn't let me any more! Again and again, one can feel the music actually having direction and a proper plan, leading me to something epic. I smile and close my eyes - this is going to be it! - but just as I finish the thought it goes away and a new harmonic theme starts, leaving me pretty baffled. I mean the riffs and themes themselves are good-to-great-to-amazing. But there are so many of them, changing so rapidly, I don't have the time to appreciate them! Oh Arjen. I want, i so want to love this album but every time I get close to hugging it with adoration it seems to slip out of my grasp and change inside out. In the end what I end up doing, is memorizing the timestamps of particular themes, and listening to them 2-4 times in one go, before letting it move on the the next chapter, simply to give me the time to enjoy it for a decent amount of time, before i have to readjust. That seems to do the trick!

I have to contradict the opinion stated in other reviews: No, 'songs' as a concept with choruses and predefined structures are not immovable objects. Plenty of examples to illustrate this. I am always interested when somebody goes 'the other way' and records his personal way. It's great. But it is SOOO difficult to move away from this paradigm, that it becomes dangerous to tamper with the idea.

In the end, as I mentioned before, this album leaves me in an ambiguous mood. So many times I was on the verge of 'this is epically amazing' - the same amount of times i was left never having gotten to that point in the end, it is frustrating! But all in all, it is still probably one the better things to come out this year, and well worth anybody's 90 minutes of 'me-time- in-the-music-room-do-not-disturb'. The performances of each instrument are as close to perfect as it is possible. The effects are great. It is the putting of all of them together where it falls down from being a masterpiece to good/excellent. In the end it feels like somebody gave you a candy, and as you unwrapped it, took it away, giving you another wrapped one to enjoy. It is by far not a 5 star, and probably doesn't feel like a 4. But thinking about it, 3 would probably be an under evaluation. Just for that reason, it's going to be a 4.

Gendalfas | 4/5 |


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