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Ayreon - Average Offering From The Masters Of Sci Fi Progressive Metal
on February 16, 2010
Once again Arjen Lucassen has put together Ayreon for another massive two disc science fiction concept album. This one has another all star cast of vocalists and instrumentalists to help transform Lucassen's dramatic futuristic vision. On hand this time around are Daniel Gildenlow (Pain Of Salvation), Anneke Van Giersbegen (The Gathering), Bob Catley (Magnum), Ty Tabor (Kings X), among others. The album clocks in at close to two hours with a sprawling mix music the core of which is mostly bombastic progressive metal. None of this is new to long time Ayron fans, but might be a bit daunting for those not accustomed to gigantic progressive rock opus fantasies. I first discovered Ayreon with the "Into The Electric Castle" album from several years back. The album blew me away and I quickly became a fan. I have since collected all of the band's other works and enjoy them all especially the two "Universal Migrator" albums. "0101101" is apparently a sequel (or at least has a connection) to the Migrator discs. What this story is really all about is difficult to say. After about a dozen listens I am still not sure what it is all supposed to mean. It is science fiction rock on a grand scale with lots of pomp and circumstance. So how does the albums stack up compared to the band's other releases? Unfortunately not quite as well in my opinion. I can't quite put my finger on what I find different here. The formula is similar to earlier discs, but this one never quite grabs me. It seems overly long and although the music is all played superbly and the vocals are all top notch the material just seems to be a notch below some of Ayreon's earlier albums. Maybe the bombastic sci-fi formula is just getting a bit stale. Not to be too harsh on the album, the production as always is stellar, and it will probably appeal to a lot of Ayreon fans. Overall though, I don't think this one stacks up as one of their best, but it is difficult to pinpoint exactly why.