AYREON — Into the Electric Castle (review)

AYREON — Into the Electric Castle album cover Album · 1998 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
As with many, this was my first introduction to Ayreon. Into The Electric Castle (ITEC) is an excellent introduction to Progressive Metal and concept albums respectively.

As a progressive metal taster the album presents a fine example as it not only incorporates the diverse ranges musically of the genre, but helps to introduce people to many other players within the genre via the varied and exciting cast used by mastermind Lucassen.

The album opens, excluding the mostly narrative "Welcome To The New Dimension", with two epics "Isis and Osiris" and "Amazing Flight", both of which are ceaselessly entertaining. Although the rest of the songs are considerably shorter, excluding "Garden of Emotions" that proves a magnificent opener for disc two, I never seem to notice as they all flow so well with each other that my ears tend to ingest it as one.

This is another positive feature of the Ayreon output: Lucassen manages to write such compelling narrative, although I do not rate ITEC as his most accomplished story telling, that whether you feel the work is a masterpiece or mediocre I would say it is possible to be made to stay put just to hear the resolution of the story.

The album is such a mish-mash, but not in a bad way, of styles that it is hard to say what sort of listener would appreciate this most. The album chops and changes between crushing metal to trippy-eclectic rock, to mellow acoustic, to varying electro-genres and everywhere in between.

This isn't my favourite of the Ayreon albums, but is brilliant nonetheless. My problems with it are that maybe it tries to encompass a few too many styles and therefore struggles to retain a solid, singular, feel to the album; some may find this a strong point. Either way this album is an excellent edition for metal fans and well worth trying.
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