This is the album that got me into Arjen's music and still, I have to admit, by far my favourite of his. Hell, it's one of my favourite albums, period. Some people may complain about the "juvenile" or "cheesy" lyrics... do they not realise it is mean to be in the style of a 50s B-Movie?! It's meant to be a bit daft... the characters are meant to be total cliches... it's having fun! After a few spins I found the narrator's deranged saturday night sci-fi theatre ramblings totally addictive - it really is a performance that, silly or not, would be hard for most people to do and get away with it. I totally applaud Arjen's no-shame approach to taking such a daft concept so seriously.
Anyway, that stuff aside, I love this album! A stunning "cast", of which Anneke (from The Gathering), Damien Wilson and the guy playing "The Barbarian" are probably the standouts. My only real complaint would be a lot of the best characters are killed off, which is good in that their deaths are some of the best moments on the whole thing (Valley of the Queens!!) but bad in that there's a bit of a void once they're gone. Well, I guess the middle of side 2 is definitely a little weaker than the rest as well. What stands out on this compared to the later Ayreons is the pure sense of escapism and adventure. There is a real sense of "what's going on?!" and, unlike the new "zero one" album, its the longer songs that are the most captivating and deliriously catchy. The twenty odd minutes from the intro kicking in until the end of the brilliantly overblown instrumental section of Amazing Flight are just utter perfection.