Rating:
10
Ayreon - Into The Electric Castle
1998


Disc I
01. Welcome To The New Dimension [feat. Peter Daltrey]
02. Isis And Osiris [feat. Fish, Sharon Den Adel, Damian Wilson, Edwin Balogh & Anneke Van Giersbergen]
    1 - Let The Journey Begin
    2 - The Hall Of Isis And Osiris
    3 - Strange Constellations
    4 - Reprise
03. Amazing Flight [feat. Jay Van Fegellen & Arjen Anthony Lucassen]
    1 - Amazing Flight In Space
    2 - Stardance
    3 - Flying Colours
04. Time Beyond Time [feat. Edward Reekers, Damian Wilson & Edwin Balogh]
05. The Decision Tree (We're Alive) [feat. Jay Van Fegellen & Fish]
06. Tunnel Of Light [feat. Fish, Anneke Van Giersbergen, Edwin Balogh & Damian Wilson]
07. Across The Rainbow Bridge [feat. Damian Wilson, Edwin Balogh & Arjen Anthony Lucassen]

Disc II
01. The Garden Of Emotions [feat. Anneke Van Giersbergen, Edwin Balogh, Jay Van Feggelen, Sharon Den Adel, Damian Wilson, Edward Reekers & Arjen Anthony Lucassen]
    1 - In The Garden Of Emotions
    2 - Voices In The Sky
    3 - The Aggression Factor
02. Valley Of The Queens [feat. Anneke Van Giersbergen]
03. The Castle Hall [feat. Damian Wilson & Jay Van Feggelen]
04. Tower Of Hope [feat. Damian Wilson, Jay Van Feggelen, Arjen Anthony Lucassen & Edward Reekers]
05. Cosmic Fusion [feat. Sharon Den Adel, Edwin Balogh, Edward Reekers, George Oosthoek & Robert Westerholt]
    1 - I Soar On The Breeze
    2 - Death's Grunt
    3 - The Passing Of An Eagle
06. The Mirror Maze [feat. Edward Reekers, Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Damian Wilson & Edwin Balogh]
    1 - Inside The Mirror Maze
    2 - Through The Mirror
07. Evil Devolution [feat. Edward Reekers]
08. The Two Gates [feat. Jay Van Feggelen & Damian Wilson]
09. "Forever" Of The Stars
10. Another Time, Another Space [feat. Edward Reekers, Edwin Balogh, Damian Wilson & Arjen Anthony Lucassen]


The third time's the charm. Or so they say. How appropriate it is then that my third review should be a review of Ayreon's third and best (or second best, if you prefer The Human Equation) album, the progressive rock/metal masterpiece that is Into The Electric Castle. As most fans of Arjen Anthony Lucassen probably already know, he never intended for this album to be anything other than a masterful work, because he believed that the vitality of his Ayreon project depended upon it. With this in mind, Arjen created the concept and music for a progressive sci-fi epic and gathered some of the best vocalists around. Now thirteen years later, here I am to state the obvious: Arjen and co succeeded in their goal, they succeeded in every possible way.

The concept for the album is a purposefully cheesy, over-the-top sci-fi story with exaggerated cliché characters, who are each taken from their time and placed in a world of "no time and no space". Arjen picked each of his singers so well that the realization of this story through music and lyrics is simply stunning. Not only are the vocalists (Anneke van Giersbergen, Damian Wilson, Edwin Balogh and others) great, but they really become one with their roles, delivering a performance that is both vocally impressive and emotionally involving, something that you would not expect from a cheesy sci-fi story. The music itself is splendid. How often do you come across a song where blues guitar is interrupted by acoustic space-rock as in "Amazing Flight"? From the majestic synthesizers that open "The Garden Of Emotions" to the catchy almost-impossible-not-to-sing-along chorus of "The Castle Hall", Into The Electric Castle is filled to the brim with wonderful melodies that demonstrate Arjen's ability to write great songs in many different styles, including progressive rock, metal, fusion, folk and more. Another great thing about the album is the use of real violins, cellos and flutes as opposed to using synthesizers to produce decent - but nonetheless fake - imitations of the real instruments.

It is difficult to find a fault on the album, even when specifically looking for one. Into The Electric Castle is one of those albums, where the creator has gone over everything time and again to make sure that the final result is nothing short from perfect. OK, to be fair, the first disc isn't quite on par with the mind-blowing second disc, a couple of songs on it can get a bit too simple and "happy" for my taste, "Tunnel Of Light" being an example of this.

In conclusion, with so many excellent vocalists, a great number of musical styles incorporated and a duration of over 100 minutes, the only thing greater than Arjen's ambitions, is the actual result: a true masterpiece of progressive rock music. The very last words on the album as spoken by Forever Of The Stars are: "Remember forever..." Thank you Arjen, we most certainly will.

Performance: 10
Songwriting: 10
Originality: 10
Production: 10


Band profile: Ayreon
Album: Into The Electric Castle


 


written by ErnilEnNaur | 01.03.2011


Guest review disclaimer:
This is a guest review, which means it does not necessarily represent the point of view of the MS Staff.



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Dark Blood - 01.03.2011 at 22:55  
Pretty nice review. Although I find it hard to connect your words with your score. Reading it doesn't gave me the feel of a perfect 10. But of course, knowing Arjen's work and the fact that we're talking about his absolute 'Masterpiece' I already know it's a perfect 10. I'm just trying to think as an "outsider".
I think both cd's are equally great, and being a progressive fan (and a fan of long songs, if there is such a thing, lol) I must say the highlight of this album is the beginning. 'Isis And Osiris' and 'Amazing Flight' are the 2 epic songs in this masterpiece in my opinion.

Nice review once again
ErnilEnNaur - 01.03.2011 at 23:17  
Written by Dark Blood on 01.03.2011 at 22:55

Pretty nice review. Although I find it hard to connect your words with your score. Reading it doesn't gave me the feel of a perfect 10.


Thank you! And I agree, I was forced to cut out some important parts due to the limitation on the number of words I could use. Also, I believe that in the interest of fairness, at least a very small portion of a review should deal with the weaknesses of the album (and no album is without faults), even if the overall score is a perfect 10. I hope that I at least managed to successfully communicate those aspects of the album that make it one of my all time favourites: the great story, the perfectly picked vocalists and the richness of all the musical styles incorporated. Sigh...how can ANY review do this album justice, let alone one that can use no more than 500 words?
Dark Cornatus - 01.03.2011 at 23:39  
I could never justify giving this album a 10, i still much preferred Ayreon's first album than any other. I like songs on the album, like Amazing Flight, but overall for two cds, it was quite boring. Same goes for The Human Equation, except imo, this had more variety and a better story.
Dark Blood - 02.03.2011 at 00:22  
Written by Guest on 01.03.2011 at 23:17

Written by Dark Blood on 01.03.2011 at 22:55

Pretty nice review. Although I find it hard to connect your words with your score. Reading it doesn't gave me the feel of a perfect 10.


Thank you! And I agree, I was forced to cut out some important parts due to the limitation on the number of words I could use. Also, I believe that in the interest of fairness, at least a very small portion of a review should deal with the weaknesses of the album (and no album is without faults), even if the overall score is a perfect 10. I hope that I at least managed to successfully communicate those aspects of the album that make it one of my all time favourites: the great story, the perfectly picked vocalists and the richness of all the musical styles incorporated. Sigh...how can ANY review do this album justice, let alone one that can use no more than 500 words?


True. I know what you mean. It's hard to turn some album's feelings into words, specially when you're limited like that. And like you said, a good review is suppose to show the reader both good and bad sides of an album (personal or general opinion).

Another thing: for someone who's not into this kind of music, I understand it can be difficult and somewhat boring to listen. Hell, my most beloved albums were not a 'love at first sight' thing.. quite the opposite. I remember I had a hard time getting to Arjen's music, but nowadays I consider him one of the most talented and underrated musicians out there. But that's just a matter of taste and opinion.
Troy Killjoy - 02.03.2011 at 05:30  
The tracklist is longer than the review, and this is a well-detailed review.
ErnilEnNaur - 02.03.2011 at 10:09  
Written by Dark Blood on 02.03.2011 at 00:22

Another thing: for someone who's not into this kind of music, I understand it can be difficult and somewhat boring to listen. Hell, my most beloved albums were not a 'love at first sight' thing.. quite the opposite. I remember I had a hard time getting to Arjen's music, but nowadays I consider him one of the most talented and underrated musicians out there. But that's just a matter of taste and opinion.


It took me nearly half a year to get into the Electric Castle (no pun intended ). As for Arjen being underrated, I don't like that word. People have the right to like or dislike him as much as they please, but I do consider him one of the absolute greats of the last 20 years of prog/metal. There's nothing else like Ayreon out there.
Unna Med - 25.06.2012 at 21:09  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 02.03.2011 at 05:30

The tracklist is longer than the review, and this is a well-detailed review.

Sometimes I just cannot understand if Troy likes an album or not. His comments are too vague.
Troy Killjoy - 26.06.2012 at 00:37  
Written by Unna Med on 25.06.2012 at 21:09
His comments are too vague.

I don't think you understood my comment. I was simply making an observation, not implying whether or not I like the album.

After all, I've never listened to an Ayreon release.
Unna Med - 26.06.2012 at 11:37  
Written by Troy Killjoy on 26.06.2012 at 00:37

Written by Unna Med on 25.06.2012 at 21:09
His comments are too vague.

I don't think you understood my comment. I was simply making an observation, not implying whether or not I like the album.

After all, I've never listened to an Ayreon release.

Actually, that idea came to my brain, but it didn't get through

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