Ayreon - 01011001

Dutch supremo on cosmic conceptual trip

01011001

You can always rely on Dutch guitarist/singer Arjen Lucassen to stretch the concept of the concept album, whether it be a Star One blast into orbit or a medieval meander into battle. This time, though, his two-CD journey takes us from Planet Y to Earth, a race of aquatic post-corporeal beings investing themselves in the evolution of humanity.

Telling their tale of aeons, Lucassen enlists a galaxy of prog/ rock/metal stars, yet Disc One is a comparatively understated grower, rather than a sonic assault. Innumerable synth effects come into play from the off. Age Of Shadows has Pain Of Salvation’s Daniel Gildenlow and After Forever’s Floor Jansen assisting; Liquid Eternity mixes even farther-out sounds with acoustic niceties; Beneath The Waves gets rather Floydian. It’s only on Ride The Comet that Lucassen ups the ante, with Epica’s Simone Simons closing the first half in sweet style.

Disc Two is more of the same. Lucassen knocks out a Blackmore’s Night-like effort on The Truth Is In Here, but River Of Time could be Jethro Tull, kind of. Finally, The Sixth Extinction sees a 12-minute all-hands closer with everything from death growls and heavy riffs to ethereal piano.

3 stars 3 stars 3 stars

SPV | 80001 189 (2-CD)

Reviewed by Tim Jones
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