Sunday, May 7, 2017

Ayreon - The Source (2017)

With the current situation of our environment and the constant evolution of technology, it is fair to wonder what the future will bring us, and if it even goes so far that we not only can, but are forced to search for a new planet. Can we travel through galaxies, or maybe even alter our DNA so we can adapt to the ever changing climate. These are some of the themes that the fantastic story teller Arjen Lucassen takes up in his new Ayreon album "The Source", another grand and epic album that tells a captivating story while playing some wonderful metal in the process.

"The Source" is actually considered as a prequel album to the 2008 release "01011001", a story that tells of how the "Forever" race came to be, and that they were humans at first, living in planet Alpha. The humans builds machines to solve all of the world's problems, the only problem is human itself is the cause, so the machines starts to rebel and begins a mass execution, forcing the humans to flee to a whole new planet called Y. It is definitely a story that Ayreon nerds will soak in with ease, and the story itself is exciting in all four of its acts (or "Chronicles" as they are called).

To make it all happen, Arjen has once again invited a lot of professional vocalists to play different roles in this epic saga, and the guest list is simply incredible. We have James LaBrie, Simone Simons, Hansi Kürsch, Tommy Giles Rogers, Floor Jansen, Russell Allen, Tobias Sammet, and many more. It is a lot of people to cram into one single record, but Arjen does a great job to include them all enough so that no one is left in the dust, giving them space to shine.

It also seems like Arjen has taken his guests in consideration when it comes to the sound of "The Source". Sure, it does sound like Ayreon, but there are a lot of small influences from Blind Guardian, Avantasia, Dream Theater, and even Between The Buried And Me (not the death metal part obviously). It still sounds the same though, giving the album a core sound that is really sturdy and strong, holding up for the entire one and a half hour of play time.

But it is the song list that makes "The Source" so magnificent, 17 story driven songs that all brings something to the table without feeling dragged out, not even the 12 minute opening track "The Day That The World Breaks Down" feels too long. It is a wide variety of beautiful arrangements, oriental flavours, catchy hooks, exhilarating tension, and lots of emotions that display everything from fear to pure joy. I personally are more drawn to the songs that have more power in them, especially "Planet Y Is Alive!", a purely euphoric song where all singers are pushed to the limits in a massive power metal tune that sends chills up your spine when Sammet hits the climax with such force. But this is an album with a lot of great songs, so you will find at least a couple that will tingle your right spots, no matter what your taste is.

It is safe to say that Arjen Lucassen hit it out of the park again with "The Source", because even if the album is meaty, you can still swallow it relatively easy, much thanks to the exciting story and the fair length of the songs. It is definitely an album that matches the man's discography, being grand and epic in a lot of ways, and utilizing the strengths of all his guest vocalists is a talent in itself, one that Arjen truly has mastered. In conclusion, a fantastic record that can easily be listened to multiple times both now, and probably in the future as well.

Songs worthy of recognition: Planet Y Is Alive!, The Day That The World Breaks Down, Everybody Dies, Condemned To Live, Deathcry of A Race

Rating: 9/10 Stars of Sirrah

More reviews of Ayreon
The Theory of Everything

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