Rating:
7.5
Ayreon - The Final Experiment
1995


Disc I

Prologue
01. Prologue
    1 - The Time Telepathy Experiment
    2 - Overture
    3 - Ayreon's Quest

Act I: 'The Dawning'
02. The Awareness
    1 - The Premonition
    2 - Dreamtime (Words Become A Song)
    3 - The Awakening
03. Eyes Of Time
    1 - Eyes Of Time
    2 - Brainwaves
04. The Banishment
    1 - A New Dawn
    2 - The Gathering
    3 - The Accusation
    4 - The Banishment
    5 - Oblivion

Act II: 'King Arthur's Court'
05. Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy
06. Sail Away To Avalon
07. Nature's Dance

Act III: 'Visual Echoes'
08. Computer Reign (Game Over)
09. Waracle
10. Listen To The Waves
11. Magic Ride

Act IV: 'Merlin's Will And Ayreon's Fate'
12. Merlin's Will
13. The Charm Of The Seer
14. Swan Song
15. Ayreon's Fate
    1 - Ayreon's Fate
    2 - Merlin's Prophecy
    3 - Epilogue

Disc II [2005 edition bonus]
01. Dreamtime
02. Eyes Of Time
03. The Accusation
04. Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy
05. Sail Away To Avalon
06. Nature's Dance
07. Waracle
08. Merlin's Will
09. The Charm Of The Seer [Feat. Robby Valentine]


This was not a beginning. This was The Beginning. It was a daring beginning, for the time of rock operas was long past, things in the vain of The Who "Tommy" or "Jesus Christ Superstar" hadn't been done in ages. And in 1994 Dutchman Arjen Anthony Lucassen began to carry out the project of rock opera, a project combining different music styles, different singers and a science fiction story to back this all up.

In short this album tells us a story of a blind minstrel Ayreon in the 6th century Britain, in the times of King Arthur and Merlin the sorcerer. In 2084 the world is at the edge of dying and scientists develop a computer program to send visions back in time. Ayreon is the one who receives the images and he makes a brave attempt to spread the word and warn the world.

It is hard to give a general impression of the album, it's just too diverse so I'll go shortly over each track. After introduction in "Prologue", the album starts quietly with "The Awareness" which grows as it goes with a nice keyboard and guitar solos to become a strong symphonic rock track accompanied by ex-Kayak singer's Edward Reekers' emotional voice. "The Eyes Of Time" is heavier track with slow pace and strong rhythm yet it too has faster instrumental solos towards the end. "The Banishment" which starts out as a semi-acoustic track goes on to have good guitar solos and an amazingly good fast bass solo by Peter Vink to be underlined by a verse in growling vocals.

The next song "Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy" is in a very strong contrast, done in the vain of music of middle ages. Such quiet acoustic tracks in-between heavy tracks are aces up Lucassen's sleeve. He not only brings down the pace to take a breath but also makes music rich in changes. The next track "Sail Away To Avalon" is a good rock track with macho vocals by Barry Hay, a singer of Golden Earring. Having the vocals by the biggest name on the album this track also got to be released as a single.

Arjen goes on to sing himself on semi-acoustic track "Nature's Dance" to lead listener to hard-rockish "Computer Eyes (Game Over)" with Ian Parry on vocals to reach a low point of the album -- "Waracle". It is not actually that bad a song. It is just too slow and depressing with its heavily distorted guitars in the beginning that it does not feel fit at first. But to see the reason behind this you'll have to check out the lyrics -- war is what it is about. Same goes for "Listen To The Waves". These tracks are essential to the album but they bring the pace down and break a flow of the album a trifle too much. "Magic Ride" does quiet it all down before the oncoming explosion.

"Merlin's Will" kicks in with a pompous atmosphere to restore the flow again. One of the most interesting track's is the following "The Charm Of The Seer" which to my surprise goes in waltz rhythm for some time. The coming hard-rock set just makes this track wonderful. I like the voice of Ruud Houweling and especially operatic improvisation on the side of Lucie Hillen. Definite pearl.

The piano instrumental "Swan Song" is the quiet before the storm. Arjen could have easily managed creating emotional classical music had he only had the interest. The album ends with a grand finale "Ayreon's Fate" having six different singers on it. And grand is not only just a word for quantity -- the track is really grand in sound. This is what is called symphonic rock.

From the beginning Arjen has been able to mix different music styles and make them sound good. There are influences from '60s rock and psychedelic to folk, jazz and metal. Acoustic or electronic, you name it. With the structure of the songs being dynamic and changing it never really sounds like it did before. Though after this album rock and metals operas have sprung out like mushrooms after the rain, most of them lack a certain component. And that is variety in music and vocal performance. I can't rate this album really high just because Arjen has gone on to create even better works. Yet this album remains special in many senses. Though maybe not as accessible as are later albums, it is still a majestic piece of music -- a milestone in progressive rock scene.


Band profile: Ayreon
Album: The Final Experiment


 



Written on 21.12.2004 by
Ivor
I shoot people.

Sometimes, I also write about it.
More reviews by Ivor ››



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Torelli - 17.02.2007 at 22:15  
I think this one is one of Ayreon's best album, deffiently a masterpiece!
It also have helped me to be more tolerant to other music styles aswell.
lazarus - 02.05.2007 at 05:39  
maybe you're right, this album doesn't have a lot of great songs, but we can find in this a good start into the prog stuff, The Banishment is the top song.
Bitch Boy - 03.05.2007 at 23:00  
It isn't Ayreon's best but definitely a good beginning. I think it's one of the most original albums in the metal scene.
Hourglass - 18.11.2008 at 07:18  
Maybe it's cuz am an ayreon fan but this album kicks ass, I specially like "Eyes of time", "Merlin's will", and "the banishment"
Uirapuru - 28.10.2009 at 05:58  
Written by Guest on 18.11.2008 at 07:18

Maybe it's cuz am an ayreon fan but this album kicks ass, I specially like "Eyes of time", "Merlin's will", and "the banishment"


These are also my fav songs. ''Sail away to Avalon'' is also great.

I liked this album, but its not worshipping like XD... The last three songs are clearly the climax to me, greatest moment in the album, but the beginning has some boring moments.

''
The outcome of the Final Experiment has now been placed in your hands........''

That sounded kind of comical when I heard...

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