The Human Equation
AYREON

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AYREON - The Human Equation cover
4.16 | 69 ratings | 8 reviews
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Album · 2004

Filed under Progressive Metal

Tracklist

Disc 1
1. Day One: Vigil (1:33)
2. Day Two: Isolation (8:42)
3. Day Three: Pain (4:58)
4. Day Four: Mystery (5:37)
5. Day Five: Voices (7:09)
6. Day Six: Childhood (5:05)
7. Day Seven: Hope (2:47)
8. Day Eight: School (4:22)
9. Day Nine: Playground (2:15)
10. Day Ten: Memories (3:57)
11. Day Eleven: Love (4:18)

Time: 50:47

Disc 2
1. [untitled] (0:04)
2. [untitled] (0:04)
3. [untitled] (0:04)
4. [untitled] (0:04)
5. [untitled] (0:04)
6. [untitled] (0:04)
7. [untitled] (0:04)
8. [untitled] (0:04)
9. [untitled] (0:04)
10. [untitled] (0:04)
11. [untitled] (0:09)
12. Day Twelve: Trauma (8:59)
13. Day Thirteen: Sign (4:47)
14. Day Fourteen: Pride (4:42)
15. Day Fifteen: Betrayal (5:24)
16. Day Sixteen: Loser (4:46)
17. Day Seventeen: Accident? (5:42)
18. Day Eighteen: Realization (4:31)
19. Day Nineteen: Disclosure (4:42)
20. Day Twenty: Confrontation (7:03)

Time: 51:34


Total Time: 102:21

Line-up/Musicians

Musicians:
- Arjen "Ayreon" Lucassen / electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitar, analogue synthesizers, Hammond, Mellotron, additional keyboards, mandoline

Vocalists:
- Devon Graves (Dead Soul Tribe) as 'Agony'
- Devin Townsend (SYL) as 'Rage'
- Eric Clayton (Saviour Machine) as 'Reason'
- Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) as 'Fear'
- Magnus Ekwall (The Quill) as 'Pride'
- Heather Findlay (Mostly Autumn) as 'Love'
- Irene Jansen (Karma) as 'Passion'
- James LaBrie (Dream Theater) as 'Me'
- Marcela Bovio (Elfonia) as 'Wife'
- Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery) as 'Father'
- Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) as 'Best Friend'

Instrumentalists:
- Ken Hensley (Uriah Heep, Various) / Hammond (16)
- Oliver Wakeman (Nolan & Wakeman) / keyboards (17)
- Martin Orford (IQ, Jadis) / keyboards (15)
- Ed Warby (Gorefest, Various) / drums
- Joost van den Broek (Ayreon) / synthesizer (2), spinet (13)
- John McManus / Low-flute (13,16,18), tin-whistle (18)
- Jeroen Goossens / flute (3,5,9,14,18), alto-flute (2), bass flute (5,14), panpipes (6), descant and treble recorder (13), didgeridoo (16), bassoon (18)
- Robert Baba / violins
- Marieke van der Heyden / cello

About this release

InsideOut: IOMCD 168 - SPV 092-60702 DCD

All song written and composed by Anthony Arjen Lucassen
Devin Townsend wrote lyrics for "Rage" on Days 3, 8 and 16
Heather Findlay wrote lyrics for "Love" on Day 13
Devon Graves wrote lyrics for "Agony" on day 17

Thanks to Phonebook Eater for the updates

AYREON MP3, Free Download/Stream

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AYREON THE HUMAN EQUATION reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

adg211288
The review you're about to read is perhaps best described as an edited version of my second review for Ayreon's 2004 album The Human Equation. I originally reviewed this album I think about two years ago at the the time of writing this and said some things about it that mere months later, no longer stood true for me. The first time I said that it wasn’t Ayreon’s best by far, and while I still agree with that, this album grew on me a lot since I wrote my original review, and I couldn't justify to myself leaving it in its current state any longer. So what your're about to read now is hopefully that second review, but with some better reviewing skills I've learned through a couple of years of doing this.

Before we begin proper, I'm just going to give you readers a one paragraph summary of the original review, so that this new one may be taken in context. You might think from reading this that I was negative about The Human Equation originally. This was not so, I actually have the album 79% on the site that hosted the review's scoring system. But 79% does not do The Human Equation justice at all. I called it overrated in terms of Ayreon albums (it is often hailed as the best Ayreon album), and in a way I still stand by that claim, but then again Ayreon has one of the most solid discographies of any artist that I listen to, so when using the term 'overrated' it must be taken in context, with a strong discography even an overrated album may be awarded a high or even perfect score. I also said in my original review that it took me several listens to get into The Human Equation properly and it came clear it me later than I still hadn't given it enough time, since I felt the need to redo my review from scratch. So to close this overly long introduction, I want to stress this one important thing:

Don’t judge this album by your first, or even your first few listens.

Now onto the review proper.

There are twenty songs on The Human Equation, with each title prefixed with Day + an incrementing number. This is in reference to the album's concept, which takes place over twenty days. None of the songs are exactly filler interludes either, so there is plenty of material on offer with the album and in typical Ayreon style, Arjen Lucassen has drawn influence from many different genres of music aside from metal, including folk, classical and psychedelic to name a few of them.

There’s also many different vocalists on the album, each with a different amount of parts. Dream Theater’s James LaBrie dominates the album since he is portraying the lead role in the story of The Human Equation, but others have very little parts. Devin Townsend only features on three of the twenty songs and the late Mike Baker only on one. What’s quite surprising about The Human Equation is the amount of vocals handled by Arjen Lucassen himself. For a man who says he can’t sing, he’s given himself quite a few vocal parts in his role as The Best Friend. Well in my opinion that's actually a good thing because I'm of the opinion that Lucassen is actually a very good singer, okay, he's not in the standards of James Labrie, but he has a very pleasant voice which he uses to great effect in his music, especially on this album.

This is not the greatest vocal cast that Lucassen has ever had on one of his albums but it is a very good one all the same. Not only does he have James LaBrie but also Mikeal Akerfeldt of Opeth. Having one well respected progressive metal vocalist on your album is good, two is outstanding. But it doesn’t end there. Singing in a more classic rock style voice is Magnus Ekwall of The Quill, who actually fights off LaBrie and Akerfeldt and gives the performance of the whole album. For female singers we have Heather Findlay, now formerly of progressive rock band Mostly Autumn, who handles many of the softer sections of the album. In stark contrast to Heather, Irene Jansen (sister of the more well known Floor Jansen) is very much a metal vocalist and her voice is really suited to both heavy sections and soft sections of the album. Marcela Bovio also provides a flawless performance as do Devin Townsend, and Mike Baker. Another singer on the album is Devon Graves, who is the most varied vocalist here because he sounds different on every song he appears on. I still to this day have to double check with the CD booklet to make sure its him singing.

But one of the main reasons why I'm not so keen on The Human Equation is the voice of one of its final singer that I didn't mention in the above paragraph, namely Eric Clayton of Saviour Machine. While I will never be a fan of his voice, he eventually grew on me enough to enjoy the parts of the album that he sings on. He is actually a very good vocalist and very varied with his range of tones, his voice is just not really for me. It's a personal preference thing. But the music that he is singing is spectacular, and deserves more credit than I originally gave it.

Now onto the actual music. Each Day of The Human Equation is vastly different to the last. On Day 1 we begin in a hospital scene. ‘Me’ (LaBrie) is comatose after some sort of accident so we get music that is gentle, while ‘Best Friend’ (Lucassen) and ‘Wife’ (Bovio) sit at his vigil. This song serves as the album’s introduction, the second Day, Isolation is much more of a song. Day one is one of the best ‘intro’ tracks around because it actually has meaning. For a time we stick to light music and then after a brief pause the metal begins, and it can be heard at once that The Human Equation is a much heavier album that many of the previous works, even the supposed definitive metal Ayreon album, Flight of the Migrator.

The Human Equation is also the Ayreon album that uses growled vocals the most. Normally Lucassen would feature growls in one song at maximum but this time we hear growls in Pain, Trauma, Loser, Confrontation and faintly in the background of School. They are either provided by Akerfeldt or Townsend. Due to the heavier nature of the music the growls fit in very well, but it’s the clean vocal performances that make this album vocally worthwhile.

Pain (Day 3) is one of the albums best songs because of the varied vocalists and a very good acoustic section that suddenly turns up in the middle of the song and true to form of progressive metal, its almost as if it came out of nowhere. It’s almost impossible to get bored once you connect with The Human Equation as you’ll always have a different musical direction thrown at you from track to track. This is a very demanding listen, don’t get me wrong, but it’s rewards are sweet. If you lack concentration however this is not the album for you.

The fifth Day, Voices is also another of the highlights mainly due to the vocals of Magnus Ekwall. At times he brings mind to Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant. The music starts folksy but later turns into something very heavy. The vocal trade offs are always good and well thought out. This album is like something that could be performed in theatre.

Other highlights from the first of the two discs are Day six: Childhood, and Day ten: Memories. The former is quite a sad sounding sound but the way its so emotional sung is fantastic. The latter features some of the best lead guitar on the album. Both are mostly lighter music though.

The second disc, while containing some very strong material is actually lacking in album highlights. The only one that really sticks out here is the folk metal song Day sixteen: Loser, which is actually pretty daft, especially with its lyrics. “If you had any balls at all you’d grab me by the throat.” It does a good job of portraying the scene of the mocking father, and it is all because of these lyrics, although God knows what Devin Townsend is going on about at the end in the section that he wrote for the song.

Overall this album is very strong, just not the strongest of the Ayreon albums. Neither is it the weakest of albums that have so far been released. And it does need a lot of time to grow on you (I cannot stress that enough). I recommend it to fans of progressive music only, or if you're not a total prog head, and are still interested in what you've been reading, then not as your first Ayreon album. There are three Ayreon albums that I find superior to this one (The Final Experiment, Into the Electric Castle & 01011001), but if you're coming at this from the view of a metal fan, I'd say listen to Flight of the Migrator first then if you're still interested think about trying The Human Equation out.

(Review originally written for Heavy Metal Haven)
arcane-beautiful
I’ve been a bit of fan of Ayreon for a while now, so I’m slowly trying to get all their albums. And this one is a must have.

Out of my 2 favourite albums (the other being 010101101), this is one of them, and it is very hard to choose a favourite, because I love them both so much , but I think as an album this is better, but I still prefer the other (as you will see why with my review of that album).

Having said that, I think this album really showed what Arjen is capable of, composition & performance wise. The instrumental sections are to die for and the line up of vocalists is just amazing.

This album is also quite lengthy, being near 2 hours long, but to be honest, when

As you all know, this is a concept album, dealing with a man in a coma, who has to deal with reality, his past & his emotions all attacking him while he is in a state of suspended animation.

This is a must have masterpiece. It’s one of those albums that I knew from the first listen that I will love this album for many many years to come.

Day 1: Vigil – Good intro. Great vocals. 8/10

Day 2: Isolation – Amazing vocal performances. The instrumental section is just mesmerizing. 10/10

Day 3: Pain – Impressive vocals. One of the better chorus’. 10/10

Day 4: Mystery – One of the best songs on the album. Great chorus and some great dramatic performances. 10/10

Day 5: Voices – Great vocals. Good arrangement and some nice instrumental work. 9/10

Day 6: Childhood – The instrumental sections are quite cheesy with the pan flutes (that always remind me of Karate Kid movies). Pretty nice song though. 9/10

Day 7: Hope – A nice jaunty tune. Very relaxing. 9/10

Day 8: School – Devin’s vocals really surprised me. Amazing arrangement. 10/10

Day 9: Playground – A beautifully arranged instrumental. 9/10

Day 10: Memories – The lyrics are quite funny. A beautiful wee song. 10/10

Day 11: Love – Classic Ayreon at it’s best. Amazing chorus. 10/10

Day 12: Trauma – What an epic. Love Mikaels screams in this song. Quite a dark moment for Ayreon. 10/10

Day 13: Sign – Beautiful arrangement. Very multi-dimensional. 10/10

Day 14: Pride – Amazing vocals from James & Magnus. Pretty kick ass song. 9/10

Day 15: Betrayal – Nice and dramatic with some nice instrumentation to liven the mood. 9/10

Day 16: Loser – Nice almost Irish jig sound to the main riff. Great vocals…especially from Devin. 10/10

Day 17: Accident? – Nice, slow and dramatic. 9/10

Day 18:Realization – Some pretty cool instrumental work, allowing the instruments to represent emotions, a very Eternia thing to do. Pretty epic. 10/10

Day 19: Disclosure – Amazingly arranged with some great vocal performances. 10/10

Day 20: Confrontation – It wouldn’t be Ayreon without an epic ending, and boy is it epic. And spoiler, the whole story was just a dream from the Migrator…ha fail.

CONCLUSION: Their most perfect album, and an amazing cast of vocalists. If you haven’t heard of Ayreon, I think this is the perfect start.
rushfan4
The Human Equation is an absolute masterpiece progressive concept album (rock opera). The album consists of 20 songs spread over 2 discs. The concept is a story relaying the various human emotions felt by the title character (sung by James LaBrie) who following a car accident is left in a comatose state. He is attended at his bedside by his wife (Marcela Bovio) and his Best Friend (Arjen Lucassen). Each of the various emotions are sung by a different guest vocalist, including Heather Findlay as Love, Mikael Akerfeldt as Fear, Devon Graves as Agony and Devin Townsend as Rage. The songs mostly alternate between the thoughts inside his head and the conversations between his wife and his best friend. It is an emotional story of love and betrayal and forgiveness. To fully understand this concept album it is highly recommended that you follow along to the lyrics with the CD booklet. Within the CD booklet each of the various vocal parts is clearly labelled as to who is singing which parts. This is definitely an excellent aid for following along and gaining an understanding of which emotions he is dealing with. Many of the songs are duets with alternating male and female vocals. The female vocals on this album are absolutely gorgeous. Word of warning: there are some death metal growls sung by Agony and Rage which have a cringe inducive factor, but quite frankly in my opinion, these death growls are actually appropriate in order to convey these emotions of Agony and Rage and the amount of death growls is very small so they shouldn't put off the listener too much.

All in all, this is one of my favorite albums of all time. I suppose that one of the things that I like best about it is that the concept is clear and about real life situations. There is relatively nothing abstract about the concept and it isn't a sci-fi fantasy concept (I like these too, but they can tend to be a bit cheesy). Happy listening!!! I hope that this review has been of some help to someone who hasn't heard this album and is looking for an excellent concept story/rock album to add to their collection.

topofsm
Ten or Twenty minutes of great prog and progressive metal tracks awash in a sea of filler. That is my best description of Ayreon's 'The Human Equation'. It's disappointing because really, Arjen Lucassen is a talented songwriter and should know better to cap it off when he needs to, rather than letting the album go on. And on. And on.

The sound is pretty typical. There are modern (neo?) prog songs, and there are standard progressive metal ones. Although Lucassen has invited a few virtuoso guests like Ken Hensley from Uriah Heap and Oliver Wakeman, there's nothing on this album that's really technical. If anything, the prominent keyboards and lots of well known talented musicians make the album progressive, as the songs are pretty standard anyways.

The album starts off in a manner pretty standard for the rest of it. After the short "Vigil" the next actual song "Isolation" kicks off with James Labrie in the forefront. The riffs aren't really incredible, and Labrie going back and forth with Eric Clayton comes off as very cheesy, even for a prog album. Things don't continue much better until Devin Townsend comes in midway through "Rage". Holy crap! Why is he missing from the rest of the album? His parts are great, and strangely enough he fits into the album perfectly and makes it worth listening to. His bursts out make the album. Unfortunately, he scarcely makes more appearances.

Again, I cannot emphasize how much filler is in the album. The next tracks after are filler, until the single track "Hope", which is beautiful and full of retro keyboards and soft melodies. But it's better than any of the Genesis clones, it's quite nice, and the main theme is quite intricate. It seems that the best tracks on the album are the ones with Townsend bursting into anger and the soft, almost devoid of metal ones, since the next decent track is "Love" a passionate and fun song, which isn't heavy but distorted guitars add to the melody and Irene Jansen comes in with an emotional pleading chorus.

Again, the album continues with filler. There are a few cool solos here and there, but nothing special. Again, this album seems to go nowhere! "Loser" is quite a fun track. Is it just me or are the singles the best tracks on the album? Anyways it's full of energetic folk styled instrumentation and composition and contains (again) a great screaming outro courtesy of Townsend as well as an excellent vintage organ solo by Oliver Wakeman.

And then, nothing, for the next closing tracks. The songs in the album are with a few exceptions almost completely unmemorable. This is the trouble when progressive artists try and make double albums. Most of the time the material they release can easily be moved to one disc, often less than that. Such is the case in The Human Equation. The softer more prog rock oriented tracks and the Devin Townsend tracks could go together so well in this release and make a single CD. Or an EP! But in this case it's an entire double album, where there's a bunch of boring tripe to wade through to get to some truly quality tracks.
Conor Fynes
'The Human Equation' - Ayreon (9/10)

I can remember the first time I listened to 'The Human Equation.' It was a quiet evening, and I was busy looking up new music to get into. Reading about a band called Ayreon, my interest was suddenly peaked. A band that used elements from a multitude of different genres? Guest vocals from Dream Theater, Devin Townsend and Opeth? I had to check it out.

My first taste of Ayreon was through 'The Human Equation.' Since then, Ayreon has become one of my all- time favourite progressive artists. 'The Human Equation' has everything you would expect in the typical prog masterpiece, and more. There are elements from folk, classical, electronic, gothic, avant-garde and metal, laid atop a heavy progressive backdrop.

This album is incredibly ambitious. Harkening back to the night first listening to 'The Human Equation' in full, I was addicted. It was the musical equivalent of a 'book you can't put down.' As a work that's almost two hours in length, it's definately alot to swallow; but I was enveloped in both the storyline and music, and needed to finish the saga before I headed to bed.

The plot (provided you have a cast of characters list, and the lyrics in front of you) is relatively easy to follow, considering it's mass complexity and style. In summary, the majority of the 'musical play' takes place inside a man's head during a coma, where he speaks with different emotions; different facets of his character and being. In the real world, his best friend and wife look and watch over him, both with dark secrets of their own. It's a deeply psychological trip, and would make for an excellent film script, if the opportunity arose.

'The Human Equation' is very popular among prog fans, and there's no wondering why. It's a masterpiece of modern prog, and shouldn't be missed! Five stars.
Phonebook Eater
8/10

"The Human Equation" is Lucassen's masterpiece.

Wow. Just wow. I just listened to this album 4 times, but that's enough to realize that this is a masterpiece. The Human Equation is for sure Ayreon's (Lucassen) most ambitious and fine album, and for sure one of the best progressive metal albums ever,and it would even in my opinion go down in prog history.

The Human Equation is long concept album divided in twenty songs, also called "Days", and two cds. Lucassen, Ayreon's mastermind, invited for this album a huge amount of famous and excellent guests including James Labrie, Mikael Akerfeldt, Devin Townsend, Devon Graves, and many others, including a minor but excellent role performed by Shadow Gallery's singer Mike Baker.

The story is focused on a man ("Me", portrayed by James Labrie), who just came into a deep coma, where he is sorrounded in his mind by all his inner feelings ( Love, Fear, Pride, Agony, Rage, Reason, Passion) that force him to think about his previous life and how he got into the coma. Meanwhile his best friend, portrayed by Lucassen himself, and me's wife, portrayed by an excellent Marcela Bovio, are next to him in the hospital bed, feeling guilty for what happened, since they think it is in part their fault.

The twenty days flow perfectly, and each song is a prog metal gem, with a massive use of different instruments ( the digeridoo in day sixteen is unbelievable) and moods: in fact, many times it isn't metal at all.

The first cd is my favorite: songs like "Isolation", "Pain", "Childhood", "School", and "Love", have completely changed my way of appreciating and listening to music. But the second Cd isn't at a lower level: even here some songs are unforgettable, like the last two, "Disclosure" and "Confrontation", or the great and provocative "Loser".

Anyway, each song shines in it's own way, so this album can really be considered perfect, with maybe a few weak moments, but its still an essential release for any prog metal fan.
AtomicCrimsonRush


Every moment, every track, every conceptual idea that permeates this album is a tour de force of progressive conceptual brilliance. Arjen has pulled together some of the best artists to present a jigsaw puzzle of emotions and elucidations of the mind of one who is in a coma due to a horrific accident. The story is so solid and potent it would be criminal to release too much of it here. Suffice it to say, it is powerful and unforgettable.

In every track we are presented with a day in the coma of the victim - what is going on in his mind? What is he hearing? what is he sensing? All his regrets, bitterness, lost hopes, longings for love and life are captured beautifully in these tracks. All styles of prog are also presented from symphonic, eclectic to manic prog metal and even a touch of foreign sounding prog (Loser).

The album presented in 2 CDs is a chronological perspective of a mind that has been clouded by remorse and tragic circumstances, so we, as a listener, are drawn into this world and it can become an overwhelming experience if we allow it. For example on CD1 , in the emotive 'Love' we hear about his deepest desires and we feel for him; In 'Pain' we hear how he has been betrayed, In 'Childhood' we hear of his torment at school. The best track of CD1 is 'Love', beautifully sung by Mostly Autumn's Heather Findlay and others to support her. Irene Jansen as 'Passion' does a great vocal on the album too, usually in 2 harmonies - very Gothic and sinister.

CD2 begins with the barnstorming thrasher 'Trauma' that lights up with vocals from the incomparable Mikael Åkerfeldt and Devin Townsend. 'Sign' is a nice touch with a soft vocal from Marcela Bovio. The booklet is wonderfully produced and tells a story itself in simple pictograms and artistry. 'Betrayal' gives the story more depth and the showstopper is 'Loser' sung with passion by Mike Baker. Its simply great! 'Accident?' brings us back to how it all happened - was it an accident? We find out the truth and why.... this leads to the awesome finale with 'Confrontation' and all the artists have a turn in their own eclectic style, the musical virtuosity is second to none.

Its a rock opera of sorts but more like Spock's Beard's 'Octane' (similar story) or a Pink Floyd concept album (The Wall) than an opera. The concept is strong and the vocals are delivered par excellence. James LaBrie is sensational as 'Me' and special mention to Arjen for his role. This album could easily be made into a movie length DVD - the thing runs for a whopping 102:14.

Did I mention the music? It is as dynamic as you are likely to hear - scintillating keyboards and amazing guitar solos throughout, backed by pounding drums with varying time signatures.

Don't take my word for it, buy it and see for yourself - this album is the best album of 2004 and will go down in history as a bonafide prog masterpiece.

Members reviews

cold103
A fantastic album! It may be my favorite album of all time. I think it gives me more goosebumps than any other album I've ever heard. All of the singers are great. Every instrumental part is great. All of the compositions are great. Every aspect about it is great! I'm never bored when I listen to it. There isn't one track on it that I don't like. This album seems to take me on the biggest adventure. There's many corners to the cube. More so than any other album I've ever heard! Many interesting situations. This is a must buy!

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