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Ayreon - 01011001 CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.87 | 634 ratings

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3 stars This is a very well-intentioned and good sounding project from Arjen Anthony Lucassen's symphonic metal outfit, and there are quality moments throughout. Rather than the music, though, it is the theme that is the star. The actual plot is vague, having something to do with visions of star children, world doom, dire Roger Waters mirages and Wall-like predictions, occasionally lightened by a soft sentimental center. Unfortunately the album suffers from the Concept Fatigue Syndrome so common these days, when a few riffs and an idea with as much depth as a tuna sandwich is an excuse to foist yet another three hour, 9-part epic spanning two discs (and a novel-length booklet) on to a gullible market. It isn't bad, it's just all a bit familiar, with tons of confidence and layers of sound sculpting but little musical or emotional payoff. More space opera, and it kinda just sits there.

Maybe the record would have benefited from less indulgence and more discipline, but that's easy to say in retrospect and I'm sure Arjen got exactly what he wanted. 'Age of Shadows' starts as a factory-metal riffer with Arabic flavors, unremarkable but spirited, Derek Sherinian's distinct synth and mellotron sounds adding some dimension. 'Comatose' is quite good, sounding a bit like Tori Amos and David Coverdale got thrown together in a last minute duet at a video award show and is a welcome relief from the screaming pomp-metal of this album. But 'Liquid Eternity' is back to the endless and aimless story of cosmic proportions, Viking metal and contrived atmosphere, and 'Connect the Dots' is nearly a pop tune, a pretty good one too. This is followed by the unending parade of dark clouds and cold machines, 'Beneath the Waves' and reasonably good 'Newborn Race'. 'The Fifth Extinction' has some tasty guitar and string sections, one wishing it had appeared sooner, and 'Waking Dreams' carries on with Vangelis robotics.

I suppose if you really have a thing for Symphony X/Enid/Isildurs Bane-style grand undertakings this could thoroughly please you. If you're not a fan of those artists, you may want to save your money for something else. An enormous effort that left me wondering when the news was coming on.

Atavachron | 3/5 |


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