Thursday, November 7, 2013
Ayreon - The Theory of Everything (2013)
As always, Arjen gets some help from several guest artists from the metal world. Some of the big names this time are Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater), Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil), Marco Hietala (Nightwish, Tarot), Janne Christoffersson (Grand Magus) and many more. And with this well experienced crew comes some good musical performance, even if there is a significant variation in styles.
As far as the story goes, it is just like any other Ayreon album where every singer is a character. The only difference with "The Theory of Everything" is that Ayreon is starting from scratch with a new story (the rest of the albums, from "The Final Experiment" to "01011001", portrays one giant saga). It is about a man who tries to figure out the theory of everything (if you are wondering what it is, look it up on Wikipedia. I got an headache just by trying to figure out what it was about) just because he is having trouble of living an "ordinary" life. It is certainly an interesting story, and the lyrics and vocalists really brings it to life.
But it is the music that is the main ingredient to really make a great concept album, and Ayreon's characteristic epic sound works every time. It is both a beautiful and grand sound that also morphs into different sounds from other eras and regions, like in "Phase 1: Singularity" we get sounds from the middle ages, the Arabian region and also some futuristic tunes. The music is truly versatile and brings true depth to the album, but I feel like this is a album that you must listen to in its entirety. I cannot just pick a couple of songs or one specific phase that stands out from the others, because they are all linked so strongly together that it would be a risk just picking out one from the link. But I see it as a strength since it makes a more cohesive album.
But are there any weaknesses with "The Theory of Everything"? Well, the album demands its listener, which means that people with a small amount of patient will not only have a harder time enjoying the album, but also might not even listen to the entire thing in one sitting. Otherwise there is nothing wrong with this album, but I do feel that the musicality does not last very long in my head. There are only few small parts in every phase that I remember well, but I think that could have been fixed if Arjen would have done eight 10+ minute songs instead of four 20+ minute songs.
I can honestly say that Arjen Lucassen has made another great epic. "The Theory of Everything" is Ayreon out to the fingertips and fans of the band will probably put this album instantly on the top of their "end of the year" list. And even though I also loved the album and its story, I still feel that there are things that could have improven, especially the memorability factor. None the less, "The Theory of Everything" is a magnificent album that is the definition of epic.
Phases worthy of recognition: all of them
Rating: 9/10 Symmetries