Ayreon - The Human Equation review
|Album:||The Human Equation|
|Release date:||May 2004|
01. Day One: Vigil
02. Day Two: Isolation
03. Day Three: Pain
04. Day Four: Mystery
05. Day Five: Voices
06. Day Six: Childhood
07. Day Seven: Hope
08. Day Eight: School
09. Day Nine: Playground
10. Day Ten: Memories
11. Day Eleven: Love
01. Day Twelve: Trauma
02. Day Thirteen: Sign
03. Day Fourteen: Pride
04. Day Fifteen: Betrayal
05. Day Sixteen: Loser
06. Day Seventeen: Accident?
07. Day Eighteen: Realization
08. Day Nineteen: Disclosure
09. Day Twenty: Confrontation
Disc III [special edition bonus DVD]
+ Inside - Behind The Sence
+ Concept - Concept Of The Human Equation
+ Drums - Interview With Ed Warby's Drums
+ Video - Day Eleven: Love [Video}
+ Teaser - Teaser Trailer
After having busied himself with Ambeon and Star One the mastermind Arjen Anthony Lucassen is back with Ayreon - a project that can be equalized with the meaning of rock operas and concept albums. And this time he is back with the 6th ambitious album and as always with lots of guest singers and musicians.
Unlike previous releases this one has been accompanied with a lot of promotion that has tickled the nerves of fans for almost a year. But the wait was worth it. The album features eleven singers and great musicians of whom only drummer Ed Warby and Arjen himself have appeared on previous Ayreon albums before, a small rule Arjen introduced to keep things fresh.
And unlike previous albums this one is as far from usual sci-fi concepts as can be, standing firmly on the ground… Well sort of. The story takes place in a hospital where the main character Me, portrayed by James LaBrie (Dream Theater), is lying in a coma after a car accident. A weird accident in broad daylight with no other cars in sight. For twenty days at his bed he is accompanied by his Wife and his Best Friend and an instant appearance of Father, the characters being portrayed by Marcela Bovio (Elfonía), Arjen Anthony Lucassen and Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery) respectively. But the main struggle goes on inside the head of Me where emotions strive to guide and fight him through his past life. All in all there are seven emotions involved: Eric Clayton (Saviour Machine) as Reason, Heather Findlay (Mostly Autumn) as Love, Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) as Fear, Magnus Ekwall (The Quill) as Pride, Irene Jansen (Karma, Star One) as Passion, Devon Graves (Dead Soul Tribe) as Agony and Devin Townsend as Rage.
As the story unfolds around Me we find ourselves in memories of childhood and fear of cruel Father who never gave ground to his son, yet who was the one to form a very competitive and cold personality. We find ourselves facing the fears of school and dislike of other children due to the need of winning. We see how Me finds his Love, we see how he is affected by the death of his Mother. Slowly we discover how everything piles up to lead to the accident that doesn't seem to be an accident at all. And all the way it is accompanied with the struggle for life - to be or not to be…
The choice of singers for the parts has been very thorough. After listening to the album many times it is hard to imagine other singers in these roles. James LaBrie is James LaBrie and he manages to carry a lot of feelings suitable to the moments. I always liked Mikael Åkerfeldt singing more than grunting and here he is simply amazing, though he doesn't get away without grunting, him performing as Fear and all. A very good surprise was Eric Clayton who with his deep full voice sounding very wise couldn't have fit better his part of Reason. Heather Findlay and Marcela Bovio with their sweet and emotional voices suit Love and Wife, as Irene Jansen with her powerful voice is best for Passion and Magnus Ekwall with his high and somewhat cold voice for Pride. Devin Townsend gets really raging in his own manner at being Rage, especially as Arjen let him write music and lyrics for the parts of Rage himself. But probably the best surprises were Devon Graves with a very versatile performance and an extraordinary part by Mike Baker. I still can't get over that one - I don't know whether to laugh or cry imagining a Father like that. And then of course there is Arjen himself who actually is not that a bad singer as he likes to think of himself.
But not only singers and story make this album good. It's the music! It's versatile as any Ayreon album has been and even more. Arjen blends elements from classic, folk, electronic, rock and psychedelic to hard rock, prog and metal at their best. Though many people can't accept these constant and overwhelming changes in sound, it has become Arjen's signature. There are violins and cellos, there are flutes, pipes and even didgeridoo, there are amazing keyboard solos by Joost van der Broek (Sun Caged, Star One), Martin Orford (IQ), Oliver Wakeman and Ken Hensley (ex-Uriah Heep) with his Hammond - and all this delivered in a fitting mood. Then there are guitars by Arjen in his own distinctive style and drums by Ed Warby. Oooh… the drums!! You cannot not notice his fine performance. And all this is intertwined in complexity that will amaze me for a long time. In a way it all combines Arjen's previous works, there are bits from each album and each side is sounding more complete than before. If I am to pick a couple of tracks then no doubt wins contradictory song "Loser", but among others "Pride", "Voices", "Hope" and "Love" stand out too. "Love" has also been released as a single, soon "Loser" will be as well.
And at the end there is a small surprise that firmly ties this album to all other Ayreon albums. No sci-fi, eh? Well guess again and see how this one fits the overall concept. Though "hows" are only known to Arjen himself. I wonder if it ever was meant that way. Oh well. In conclusion I can only say that to me it is already the top release of the year. And it all is delivered in a limited edition package. Well a fan is a fan and one can't skip a chance to see what goes on behind the scenes. Those who appreciate versatility grab at least a regular double disc edition and you'll not be disappointed.
Written on 11.06.2004 by
I shoot people.
Sometimes, I also write about it.
|After 4 long years, one of the best musicians is back with again something… just magic… Thanks a lot for being back Arjen, thanks again for producing great stuff like you do each and every time.
My friends, the new fantastic album of Mr Lucassen through Ayreon is released now and I'm proud to say that we have here one of the most beautiful things that I've ever heard. "The Human Equation" with its fantastic guest singers combo, with its magic musicians, with its beautiful songs, is now in store and the only thing that I can say is that all the guys who pretend to be metal or music lovers must own it. Otherwise… Shame on you…
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