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Ayreon - The Final Experiment CD (album) cover

THE FINAL EXPERIMENT

Ayreon

 

Progressive Metal

3.34 | 321 ratings

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progrules
Prog Reviewer
4 stars The storyline of this interesting debut by Ayreon has already been told in earlier reviews and that would mean I'd just be repeating. With my personal feelings about the music of this rock/metal opera I will be original for sure since everybody has an own unique taste about music so that's what I will be describing below.

The album starts with a Prologue, a track that's charactarised by a speaking voice in the first half and an orchestral sounding sort of overture in the second half, this half being my favourite and it has some impressive moments. 3,5*.

Second is a three piece song called the Dawning and is by far the highlight of the album to me. Especially The Awareness is a tremendous piece of musical art to me. The first key tones of the songs after a great acoustic guitar opening (The Premonition) are super melodic and give an "awakening" feel to the song. The rest of this track is also absolutely terrific and is to date probably my most favorite Ayreon track ever, or at least one of them. 4,75*.

Eyes of Time (2nd part of the Dawning) is more of a typical Ayreon track where sound, vocals and build up are concerned. Of course these are in most cases great tracks but in my opinion this piece lacks the outstanding class of previous. 3,5*.

3rd and last part of The Dawning is The Bannishment and is also one of the better parts of The Final Experiment. First mini-movement of this epical track is called A new Dawn and has the same sort of impact as The Awareness in the beginning, next bit is called The Gathering and is the part where Arjen's guitar breaks loose with a fine melody line. Next is The Accusation and is the vocal part of the track (Robert Soeterbroek). 4th subpart is The Bannishment and is my fav part of the epic. Wonderful instrumental contributions by Arjen himself as well as Cleem Determeijer. The last section is called Oblivion and has some growling vocals and is where beauty and greatness is concerned the counterpart of previous sub part. Still all together a masterful track. 4,5*.

Unfortunately we have had the very best by now although I must admit the rest of the album is essential for the Rock Opera, but musically and compositionally it falls a bit short. 5th track is called Ye cortyard Minstral Boy and as the title already gives away it's a medieval sounding song. Well done but not very impressive. 3*.

Sail away to Avalon is another one with an orchestral feel (eventhough it's all done on the keyboards). Very nice also this one, bombastic but not going overboard. 3,5*.

Nature's Dance is a quiet, ballad-like track with some odd sounding vocals done by Arjen with obviously a sound transformer. One of the lesser tracks of the album. 2,75*.

Also Computer Reign is a vocally dominated track with some interesting effects but melodywise this isn't the very best either. 3*.

Waracle starts with war sounds behind an impressive organ tone. After this, gloomy vocal and instrumental sounds reminding me of The Necromancer by Rush. Rest of the song doesn't, is more the usual Ayreon, bombastic with many vocal and instrumental passages. Original song this. 3,5 *.

Listen to the Waves is another rock/metal ballad with distorted vocals. Also this one fails to impress unfortunately. 2,75*.

Magic Ride has some background percussion in th beginning that remind me of Casino. Ok, it's just a minor aspect but it's one of those interesting details. And the rest of the song is not really to write home about to be honest. 2,75*.

Merlin's Will is a lot better with great vocals and good melody lines. This track brings the Opera in the right direction again to get ready for the grand finale. 3,75*.

The Charm of the Seer is one of the "minstrel" songs on this album. It sounds a bit medieval though not as obvious as 5th track. 3,25*.

Swan Song is the most ballad-like track of all ballads on this album with a nice keyboard contribution besides the already playing piano. Nice for the balance on the Rock Opera. 3,5*.

Ayreon's Fate is both the last song as well as the first part of this closer. The other sub parts are called Merlin's Prophecy and Epilogue. The middle part is by far the best in my opinion. Another great bombastic track. 4*.

It's another mind breaker for the final rating. I'm tempted to give four stars but then only if I think of the better tracks and that's not really fair I'm afraid. On the other hand the better tracks are also the longer ones so if I would measure in time it's a very close call for the four stars. And there are more reasons to give the higher rating. It's an impressive album for a debut, it's one of the very few Rock Opera's in history and it's a balanced album when we are talking about rougher/softer parts and about vocals and instruments. Where build up and compositional elements are concerned, it's also a great effort. And last but not least: I wouldn't want to call this a non-essential album (which would be the case if I gave it three stars). So because of this all I will decide for the four stars after all despite the fact it's actually 3,5.

progrules | 4/5 |

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