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4.5 out of 5 stars19
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 2 July 2008
I have been listening with interest to the releases from Ayreon over the past few years. With each subsequent album he has managed to diversify the sound and further hone his distinctive reputation as one of Europe's most prolific talents.

His last release - 'The Human Equation' had moments of brilliance (the contribution from Devin Townsend for example) that were sadly disturbed with pointless and repetitive instrumentally laden fillers. It wasn't a bad album by any means, however it lacked the flow and continuity of previous releases such as The Universal Migrator - which is a fantastic space-prog-rock experience. The Human Equation also suffered from some overly hammy vocals from James LaBrie.

Thankfully this latest release is much more refined and focused and manages successfully to deliver a solid and epic soundscape of ideas and emotions. The choice of guest musicians is inspired, notably the contribution of Jonas Renkse (Katatonia) fits the track perfectly, using his smooth melodic vocal range to full effect. Bob Catley belts out a ridiculously great performance and the female additions are particularly well executed.

As always with Ayreon, the lyrical content and themes need to be accepted for what they are. Sure, there will be moments when listening to this album where you may crack a smile or even laugh aloud...but that is what i LOVE about Ayreon! It really is an enjoyable romp of a listen which successfully manages to be a believale epic rock project while not taking itself too seriously.

The guitar work is exemplary and the general musical score is constantly engaging and dynamic. The opening 3 tracks are good indicators of the tone of the album as a whole.

Production wise, the sound is thicker and broader than ever and as always, the vocal sound on this album is simply stunning.

A word of advice - Buy the deluxe edition, for the extra couple of pounds you'll get yourself a fantastic package, it really is a lovely item to own.

This album is definitely up there with the likes of Universal Migrator, Star One and Electric Castle. Certainly a contender for album of the year.
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on 31 January 2008
WELL! I am a huge fan of power metal and the like, and when i got this after hearing some of the people that were singin on this i thought i was going to have some kind of avantasia like power metal feast. i was wrong and also dissappointed. But then i listened to it again and i realised just how brilliant this music is. This is barely metal: there is the occasional riff every now and again, but most of the time the guitar is buried underneath atmospheric keyboards: this is not a complaint, though: the keyboards here are phenomonal and just create, along with the production, such an epic feel that you truly wont believe what you are hearing.

The actual vocal and all around melodies on the album range from power/melodic metallish (Age of shadows) to slightly emo-tinged emotional almost psychedellic electronica (the stunning connect the dots)and hard rock (unnatural selection) though more often than not it is usually mid-paced melodic light vocals building up to a big chorus: HOWEVER, you cannot describe the myriad maze of styles represented in this album: there is simply to much going on here to accurately describe the sound, but if i were to sum it up in a few words id describe it as "Progressive Electronic Rock/Metal"...

My personal fave songs are AGE OF SHADOWS - 10/10 - which has an undeniably powerful chorus, and the composition of the track as a whole is pretty stunning: a maze of styles that really does fit and sounds brilliant at the same time: maybe the rockiest "heaviest" track on the album. COMATOSE - 10/10 - An almost entirely electronic track, it has maybe one of the most haunting electronic melodies i have ever heard (starting around the 25 second moment)that leads into a stunningly beautiful vocal performance from Female singer Anneke Van Giersbergen and an also startingly efective vocal performance from one of my fave metal/rock singers, Mr Jorn Lande. CONNECT THE DOTS - 10/10 - I Genuinly cannot describe the style of this song: it is undeniably electronic, with only drums there to serve as an actual physical instrument (apart from at the chorus): but why go into it so much? il just say that it is a stunning song with a stunning vocal performance and a somehow even more stunning chorus. NEWBORN RACE - 09/10 - As a whole the song is not the best, but the melody of the acoustic guitar (if that is indeed what is being played) at the start is lovely and hauntingly emotionally touching, worth buying the album just to hear the acoustic guitar in this song: this is probably just a personal highlight though. THE TRUTH IS IN HERE - 10/10 - The main composer, Mr Arjen himself takes center stage on this song, serving as vocalist and doing brilliantly at it: a perfect representation of the album, really: Great melodies, wonderful performances, and nothing big to complain about.

So, Overall, if you are not afraid of trying something different and are not averse to hugely-prog influenced keyboard-driven music, and simply adore Stunningly complex pieces of music, buy this, if you want a quick blast of melodic metal or pwoer metal or whatever, stay well clear!
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VINE VOICEon 24 February 2008
I've been a fan of Arjen A Lucassen since Electric Castle. His works just seem to get better and better. This is possibly the heaviest Ayreon CD to date, which isn't a bad thing. There are still plenty of hooks and melodies, more so than Human Equation I think. The opening track, Age of Shadows, just won't leave my brain - crunching rhythms, powerful chorus and some beautiful haunting melodies in the middle section.

I find the first CD 'Y' to be significantly better than the second 'Earth', where I think the music suffers at the expense of the narrative on a couple of tracks. This isn't too bad if you're following the story from the lyric book, which you really have to do if you want to distinguish between the performers. As usual for Ayreon, the chosen female singers in particular all sound very similar (but they are beautiful!) The listener doesn't have to follow the story however, so if you're not into comets, extinctions and DNA migration across the stars, don't worry!

Again there is brilliant use of traditional instruments - the strings and wind instruments don't take a back seat just because it's heavier and darker. There's also quite a lot of electronica, perhaps more than the other CDs. In places it sounds a lot like The Dream Sequencer (CD1 of Universal Migrator).

The bonus DVD is great and well worth the extra price, with a long documentary following the artists visiting and recording their pieces with Arjen. For those who've seen the Human Equation one, it is similar to that. There is also the animated video to Beneath the Waves on the DVD, and some tracks with Arjen's initial vocals in place of the guest performers.

Thankyou Arjen and all those involved with Ayreon, this is fantastic stuff and any music lover should appreciate it in some way.
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on 12 October 2008
Hi! I decided to share my opinion since the existing all came from people who had expectations. I, for myself, can tell that I had none. I came in contact with Ayreon through this album only, so I will cannot compare it to other work of Arjen Lucassen.
This is an absolutely great musical work which grows and grows at every new listen. Arjen chose his vocalists wisely, and they all present some great moments, especially some of the male vocalists (can't point their names, though).
Musically, I believe it to be a small treasure in the immense heavy metal scenario! I have no words to describe Arjen Lucassen's talent but awesome. He combines textures, vocals and melodies like only a true music composer does.
This is one of those albums that makes you feel obliged to thank the artist in some way. I know I will... I'll buy the album!

It is definetely a MUST-MUST-have.
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on 2 February 2008
I've been excited about this album for over a year now since I first heard about it. All the building up to it the preview tracks that were released the trailer and the CGI music video all built up my excitement for this album and when I recieved it I was initually unsure what to tihnk of it. But the songs have been stuck in my head all week and I keep listening to it, it has grown on me each time I've listened to it and I thin kti is a truly great labum. Mayben ot as good as his previous album the Human Equation but still a great album, that may take a few listens to growo n you :) Also this album sounds a hell of al ot heaiver and more aggressive and has a darker feel to it.
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on 20 August 2009
A lot of albums get the sentence "Best album of all time" added to it, but I think the title derves to go to Ayreon's 01011001 album. All the singers accompanying the brilliant instrumental work is breath taking, also its amazing how in-depth a story can be on a album, especially since it links to the earlier work.

Also this album contains what is in my opinion, the most Epic part of a song in the history of music. Just listen to Beneath the Waves, about 4 minutes in and you will know exactly what I mean.

Buy this album right now.
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on 6 February 2008
i love the feel of this man's albumns,this new offering is just so easy to listen too,heavy at times,and i just did'nt want the songs to end,if your going on a long car journey then get this mans three previous albumns and this one ,i gaurentee you will not be bored, superb production and vocals ,and those guitars ! Turn it up and lose yourself in the storyline and let the music speak to you,excellent.
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on 18 June 2009
Having heard a couple of the tracks on Youtube i went ahead and bought this album and i am so glad I did as it is superb in ever way.

I like the concept and the songs themselves are memorable and epic, even the quieter ones have a certain majesty to them. The singing is top notch throughout with the singers very much giving a performance rather than just carrying a tune.

The music, both in its playing and its complexity and scope, is wonderful to listen to and it certainly avoids being just one thing or another in terms of style.

Anyone looking for a good album to hear could do a lot worse.
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on 31 May 2009
2008 was a great year for metal music but this hands down was the best release of the whole year and easily in Ayreon's top 3 albums to date. In my opinion it has one of the best vocal casts that composer Arjen Lucassen has put together and some of his best and most epic songs and a very fitting way to close off the first chapter of the Ayreon saga (not counting stand-alone track Epilogue: The Memory Remains for retrospective album Timeline). There is no bad track and no bad vocal performance on here and easily a lot better than 2004's The Human Equation.
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on 24 April 2011
Just like J. White I came to Ayreon after being a huge fan of Avantasia and thought that this would be something similar. At first I was severely disappointed. After listening to it a few times and accepting it was something completely different though I found it much more enjoyable. The cast of musicians on this is spectacular and most of the artists will be familiar to anyone into metal. So, although the music does not have the power of Avantasia or similar bands it has much more ambiance and just as much emotion.

Keep up the good work Arjen :D
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