AYREON — The Human Equation (review)

AYREON — The Human Equation album cover Album · 2004 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·

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.
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