Posts tagged ‘ayreon’

January 24, 2013

Album 0227: Ayreon – Into The Electric Castle

Ayreon-ITEC

Release Date: 1998
Genre: Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

DISC ONE

1. Welcome To The New Dimension (03:06)
2. Isis And Osiris

    I. Let The Journey Begin
    II. The Hall Of Isis And Osiris
    III. Strange Constellations
    IV. Reprise (11:11)

3. Amazing Flight
    I. Amazing Flight In Space
    II. Stardance
    III. Flying Colours (10:15)

4. Time Beyond Time (06:05)
5. The Decision Tree (We’re Alive) (06:24)
6. Tunnel Of Light (04:05)
7. Across The Rainbow Bridge (06:20)

DISC TWO

1. The Garden Of Emotions

    I. All In The Garden Of Emotions
    II. Voices In The Sky
    III. The Aggression Factor (09:41)

2. Valley Of The Queens (02:25)
3. The Castle Hall (05:49)
4. Tower Of Hope (04:54)
5. Cosmic Fusion
    I. I Soar On The Breeze
    II. Death’s Grunt
    III. The Passing Of An Eagle (07:27)

6. The Mirror Maze
    I. Inside The Mirror Maze
    II. Through The Mirror (06:34)

7. Evil Devolution (06:31)
8. The Two Gates (06:28)
9. ‘Forever’ Of The Stars (02:02)
10. Another Time, Another Space (05:20)

Total Length: 01:44:38

Welcome To The New Dimension is a fairly lengthy spoken intro. Normally these annoy me to no end after the first time I hear them, but this one gets props for setting the story and backdrop of this big rock opera, while also serving as a tiny bit of an overture, hinting towards the sounds we will hear throughout this album. The first couple tracks are a bit odd, because Arjen put two of the biggest songs right at the beginning, which could be a road block for people trying to get into this band or general sort of thing.

Nevertheless, Isis And Osiris is a fantastic track to set the stage. Let The Journey Begin brings in the different ‘players’ or vocalists all throughout this album. Arjen’s ever pervasive ‘spaceiness’ is present here, and when it gets heavy (which is where The Hall Of Isis And Osiris begins) the transition is natural and welcome. We come back down to the calm Strange Constellations section, which gets stuck in your head remarkably well thanks to Fish’s vocals. The end of this section is one of my favorite parts, as Anneke’s vocals are magical to me. Reprise closes us off fairly well.

Amazing Flight starts the recurring bit about the entire album, the narrator speaking at the beginning of each track. I sort of wish that in retrospect Arjen had placed these at the end of the previous track, it just makes it hard sometimes when you want to listen to a certain track off here and you have to sit through thirty seconds of narration before the song actually begins. Amazing Flight In Space feels straight out of the 70s and introduces the remaining members of our total group. I absolutely adore how Arjen’s hippie character gets a psychedelic feeling, while Jay Van Feggelen’s barbarian is fun and rocking. Stardance sits in the middle of the song as a spacey interlude, but it doesn’t catch me. Flying Colours however is an incredibly fun instrumental section, featuring (but not limited to) flutes, piano, and acoustic guitar and it’s great.

Time Beyond Time keeps up the streak of amazing songs, with a superb chorus and more woodwind goodness. This song by itself is perfect and would make me keep coming back to the album even if it were the only good song on here. The Decision Tree (We’re Alive) is sort of a battle song between two of the characters. This part alone makes the song fantastic, and the chorus is different enough that it just adds another level to the song. Tunnel Of Light gives us the outcome of which character has to die, and is a farewell to Fish’s highlander. The song is somehow upbeat and melancholy at the same time. I love it dearly.

There is a very, very slight dip in quality in the first half of Across The Rainbow Bridge but it is still enjoyable. The very heavy section featuring Arjen is amazing though, and goes into one of the coolest riffs on the album. The Garden Of Emotions starts us off into disc two, and after the intro we get a sudden turn for the very symphonic. It really helps signify the second disc and pretty cool. We get some more trading section during All In The Garden Of Emotions, it’s nice. Voices In The Sky is a fantastic heavy section, I love the arguing vocals. The Aggression Factor takes this to another level by having three singers go all over each other, and this combined with the really neat sounding guitars makes this section just friggin’ phenomenal.

Valley Of The Queens isn’t a terribly great song, but it’s short so it thankfully passes by quickly enough. I enjoy the harpsichord, flute, and the vocal line but I’m still not entirely fond of the song. The Castle Hall was my favorite song on the album for a very long time. The lyrics are fantastic, and I absolutely love the synths here. That somewhat square wave bass works so well, and adds something somewhat intangible to this whole pile of goodness. Still a brilliant song. Tower Of Hope does a similar thing with its synths and is probably the most upbeat song on here. It’s pretty great.

Cosmic Fusion is a song that took me a long time to get into, and now I wonder why it did. I Soar On The Breeze serves as the intro, and it takes its time but it still has some nice vocal lines and synths. Death’s Grunt signifies the transition into a heavier section, and is the thing I love the most about it. Arjen sparingly uses harsh vocals, and whenever he does use them it is always a powerful moment. In this instance he actually has two different vocalists playing the role of Death, and they are separated by the stereo field, and the music keeps building up through this whole section and I hate when it ends. The Passing Of An Eagle is a fun instrumental section to finish the track off.

The Mirror Maze is a bit of a breather from the last track. Inside The Mirror Maze makes up roughly the first half of the song, and feels like Pink Floyd a bit. I really, really like the vocal line during Arjen’s sections. Through The Mirror has never really caught me, and is probably why I tend to forget abut this song. Evil Devolution is also a song that I forget exists. It does have a really strong riff in the middle, the title gets stuck in my head, and the ending is nice though.

The Two Gates starts the end game here, and I love this. Everyone giving their reasons for whichever gate they choose is great, it’s a great climax of sorts. ‘Forever’ Of The Stars is a brief story track, explaining the entire concept of this album. It’s a fairly neat story, but the music is really what keeps me coming back. Another Time, Another Space is sort of an epilogue, as the characters that succeeded go back to their normal lives, wondering whether everything was just a dream. It’s a really nice ending track to an amazing album. Despite a few misgivings I had that I specified, I’m gonna go ahead and give this a perfect score, simply because it gets better every time I hear it.

Final Rating: 10/10

June 8, 2012

Album 0047: Ayreon – Elected

Release Date: 2008
Genre: Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Elected (03:37)
2. E=MC² (03:32)
3. Day Six: Childhood (03:04)

Total Length: 10:14

Elected is an Alice Cooper cover. The song was the idea of this false ‘rivalry’ between Ayreon and Avantasia. To put an end to it of sorts, Arjen and Tobias Sammet recorded this song together. It’s a fairly fun upbeat song, with added pokes to each using the other’s favorite singer in their projects. I’m not too big on the song itself though. E=MC² is originally from Ayreon’s latest album, and this version is a simpler acoustic guitar and vocal take. I actually am not fond of the song at all honestly.

Day Six: Childhood is from The Final Experiment album, in a piano and vocal version. This time however I actually like the original song, and this version is great as well. It’s honestly more emotional and stripped down, pretty great. This track is about the only reason I’d listen to this EP to be honest. Not much else going for it otherwise.

Final Rating: 4/10

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March 23, 2012

Album 0024: Ayreon – Day Eleven: Love

Release Date: 2004
Genre: Progressive Metal

Tracklisting:

1. Day Eleven: Love (radio edit) (03:41)
2. No Quarter (03:41)
3. Space Oddity (04:57)

Total Length: 12:19

Day Eleven: Love is a pretty great song with a fantastic chorus. The bridge is by far the best part though. This edit is about 30 seconds shorter than the album version, so there’s really no need to listen to it in comparison. I really just keep it for posterity. No Quarter is a Led Zeppelin cover, and this is definitely not my favorite version of this song. It has some cool ideas with the acoustic guitar usage, but I just can’t shake the feeling that this version misses what made the original so great.

In contrast, Space Oddity feels to me like a great updated cover. It keeps the idea of the original, making the introspective parts even more atmospheric and downtrodden, while the rock parts are heavier. The vocals are also really cool on this, especially when the harmonies start. This cover is the only reason to listen to this single.

Final Rating: 5.5/10