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Ayreon - 01011001 CD (album) cover




Progressive Metal

3.87 | 634 ratings

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3 stars Well, even though I'm still absorbing this thing, I think I can make a fair review.

First, I wasn't expecting anything innovative or excitingly new from this album. Nor should anyone who has been listening to Ayreon for any length of time. But I was hoping. After all, the previous album was a masterpiece that still resonates for me to this day. That one hasn't lost its appeal at all for me since it was released almost 4 years ago (has it really been that long????).

Sadly, the diversity of that album seems to have been mostly cast aside for the homogeneity of this album. This is more similar to Electric Castle than any other Ayreon album, but it not nearly as good. After all, that was something new, this really isn't.

My biggest issue here is that for most of the album it sounds like one male and one female vocalist are all that are featured. Aside from Daniel Gildenl÷w, I don't find any of these singers to have distinctive voices. I think the problem is the dearth of power metal type singers on this album. And Jonas Renkse sounds like a carbon copy of Mikael ┼kerfeldt's vocals from the previous album (which is interesting, since they have been very good friends for years), but not quite as good to my ears. Gildenl÷w, of course, has his distinctive style and even manages to send shivers down my spine at a couple of moments. But he has just a few parts, like all the vocalists, and can't really break the homogeneity all by himself. The female vocalists, with one exception, all sound more or less the same. That high, smooth female prog vocal approach that is so common these days. The one exception, Magali Luyten, sounds like the male power metal singers.

Still, this doesn't mean the singing is bad, just not very diverse. Which used to be the norm on an Ayreon album (Electric Castle and Human Equation most notably).

The music is not particularly exiting either. I can enjoy it while it's playing, but nothing really sticks in my head afterwords, like with previous albums. The deja vu feeling is strong in several places, and the musical diversity is not even as strong as on previous albums (not something Ayreon albums are known for in the first place.......but even less so here). Still there are good moments, like Tomas Bodin's solo in Waking Dreams in particular, and several of Arjens guitar breaks in other areas. The first and last tracks are classic Ayreon, in a good way, and quite enjoyable on the whole. The production is crystal clear, the playing flawless, and the drumming excellent as always for an Ayreon release.

I can't help but think that the whole Ayreon concept has reached it peak on this album, the story line kind of tying previous album story lines together and telling us the history of the race Forever. Where can he go from here? My fear is he will try to continue it. I think part of what made the Human Equation so successful was that it broke from the usual story line of Ayreon albums, but still tied it into those at the very end.

The art work is fantastic and the packaging on the limited edition is very nice, though I much prefer those wonderful digi-books that Inside Out used to put out (and used on the Human Equation limited edition) to the slipcase and fold out package here.

All in all, this album isn't far from what I expected, though I was hoping it would be the same high standard as The Human Equation. I think this album has the potential to burn out even the most rabid Ayreon fans (or maybe not, judging from the 5 star reviews here). In my case, I think it has. But that doesn't mean I don't like it at all, as I said it is still enjoyable but just doesn't have anything particularly special to make it stand out for me. I think 3 stars is the perfect rating and description for this album; good, but not essential at all. If Arjen doesn't change course with the next Ayreon album (assuming there is one), I suspect my interest as well as my rating, will be lowered.

infandous | 3/5 |


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