Ayreon

Arjen Lucassen

Ayreon is a musical project by Dutch songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist musician and record producer Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Ayreon's music is mostly progressive metal but combines it with genres like folk, classical and electronica, symphonic and space rock. The majority of Ayreon's albums are dubbed rock operas or metal operas because the albums contain complex storylines featuring a host of characters, usually with each one being represented by a unique vocalist. Lyrically, the stories tend to evolve around fantasy, science fiction or human emotion. Ayreon's music is characterized by the use of traditional instruments in rock music (guitars, bass guitar, drums, analogue synthesizers, electric organs) mixed with instruments more native to folk and classical music (e.g. mandolins, violins, violas, cellos, flutes, sitars and didgeridoo). Lucassen writes the music and the lyrics, sings and plays most of the instruments on all of the Ayreon albums, alongside many guest musicians. His most regular collaborator is drummer Ed Warby. In addition, flute player Jeroen Goossens has featured on every Ayreon-release since 2004's The Human Equation. Arjen  Lucassen sings and plays guitars, bass, keyboards, synthesizer, hammond organ, mellotron, mandolin, various other instruments and does the drum programming. Due to its particular nature, Ayreon never play live; however, several Ayreon songs were included in two live albums by other Lucassen's bands: "Live on Earth" by Star One and "Live in the Real World" by Stream of Passion. Arjen explained where the name Ayreon came from, saying: "Though I do like the similarity of the sound of my own name Arjen and the project name Ayreon, this is purely coincidental. Yet no one seems to believe that! Originally I called the leading character of the first Ayreon album 'Aries'. But then I had to change it because it had to fit the meter of the song. I wanted the new name to sound old fashioned because of the medieval influences, so I used the old-English sounding 'AY' (Aylesbury, Ayrshire). But I also wanted it to sound modern because of the futuristic parts (2084) so I used 'ON' (electron, neutron, etc.), hence 'Ayreon'."



HISTORY

The first Ayreon album, released in 1995, is The Final Experiment, which has a mixture of science fiction and medieval themes. The album features thirteen singers and seven instrumentalists, most of them Dutch. The Final Experiment is often mentioned as one of the first metal operas and a reviver of the rock opera genre. The album was originally titled Ayreon: The Final Experiment, with the artist listed as Arjen Lucassen, but upon re-release, the title was changed to The Final Experiment, and the artist was changed to Ayreon. One of the vocalists on the album is Barry Hay, the leading vocalist and frontman of the Dutch rock band Golden Earring.

The Charm of the Seer

Actual Fantasy from 1996 is the only Ayreon album without a continuous story. With its individual fantasy stories, it can still be considered a concept album, though. There are only three singers and three instrumentalists on Actual Fantasy. Themes inspired by songs on this album can be found on later Ayreon releases, particularly the two Universal Migrator albums. The album did not sell as well as its predecessor.

Back on Planet Earth

The double album Into the Electric Castle followed in 1998. The album features eight singers, each playing a role of a single character, and eleven instrumentalists. Arjen has stated that he wanted this particular album to be a more flight-and-fancy-free record, or "pure escapism" than the previous albums' more serious tones, and portrayed his characters in more of a B-Movie light. The album  features a continuous story of invented characters of different historical eras, with the use of analog equipment giving a vintage feeling. Notable contributions are those of Fish (ex-Marillion) on vocal sections and Thijs van Leer vocalist, Hammond organ player and flautist of the Dutch progressive rock band, Focus, on flute. Peter Daltrey of Kaleidoscope (Fairfield Parlour) is the narrator. The album was a huge success and is widely regarded as one of Ayreon's best albums.

Isis and Osiris

Across the Rainbow Bridge 

The Castle Hall

The twin Universal Migrator albums (The Universal Migrator part 1 & part 2) were released in 2000. The first album, The Dream Sequencer consists of soft, atmospheric progressive rock with plenty of electronic passages, whereas the second album, Flight of the Migrator, exhibits more aggressive patterns, closer to classic progressive metal. Both of the albums feature around ten singers supported by many instrumentalists. Some of the most notable guests are vocalists Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden (who made an appearance on the Flight of the Migrator album), Johan Englund of Tiamat, Russell Allen of Symphony X and Neal Morse of Spock's Beard and Transatlantic. More contributions are those of Clive Nolan of Arena and Pendragon on synth and Michael Romeo of Symphony X on guitar.

Carried by the Wind

Dawn of a Million Souls / Journey on the Waves of Time / To the Quasar / Into the Black Hole / To the Solar System

Shortly following Universal Migrator came Ayreonauts Only, an album generally meant to be only for diehard fans of Ayreon. The album itself was the second to not follow a specific storyline; instead it contained alternate versions (with different vocalists or instrumentalists) of existing songs, or the original demos used when recording them. In addition, it contained a preview of Arjen's then-upcoming project, Ambeon. It is the only Ayreon album not to see re-release on InsideOut Music. In 2004 came The Human Equation, the 6th and most famous album of Ayreon to date. With The Human Equation, Ayreon turned away from the usual science fiction and fantasy themes, dealing with human emotion. As on Into the Electric Castle, there are several singers, each playing their own role. With the exception of Ed Warby (drums) who has been with Arjen since 1998, the musicians chosen for this album had never appeared in previous albums, including guest appearances from the elite of progressive rock and metal: vocalists James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Mikael Åkerfeldt (Opeth) and Devon Graves (Psychotic Waltz), as well as Ken Hensley (ex-Uriah Heep) on Hammond among other big names. 


Day Twelve: Trauma

Day Fourteen: Pride

Day Sixteen: Loser

Starting in 2004, after changing from Transmission Records to InsideOut, Arjen began rereleasing his Ayreon catalog on the new label, with enhancements ranging from basic (The Universal Migrator, issued as a two-disc set instead of two separate albums) to drastic (Actual Fantasy Revisited with completely re-recorded drums, bass, synth and flute). In 2005, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Ayreon, The Final Experiment was reissued with a bonus semi-acoustic disc. At the end of September 2006, when Arjen's new studio was finished, he began working on a new double album entitled 01011001, which was released on January 25, 2008. This album was noticeably darker than previous Ayreon releases, Lucassen attributes this to a depression and his divorce in the preceding year. The sci-fi concept returned in 01011001; the first disc's name is Y, the name of the fictional planet where the forever come from and the second disc's name is Earth, where the forever supposedly populated to experiment feeling. The name of the album, 01011001, is the binary code for Y. On this album, Daniel Gildenlöw (Pain Of Salvation) contributes vocals and Derek Sherinian (Planet X, ex-Dream Theater, Yngwie Mamlsteen etc.) on keyboards.

Ride the Comet

The Fifth Extinction


River of Time


The Sixth Extinction


On April 25, 2008, Arjen released a new Ayreon EP named Elected. The EP features two tracks from 01011001, one from The Human Equation and an Alice Cooper cover (Elected), with vocals by Arjen and Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia). On September 16, 2008, Arjen announced on his official website the release of Timeline, his second compilation album, that will reunite selected songs from all Ayreon albums and an unreleased one in three CDs and a DVD. The album was released on November 7, 2008 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and all of the EU on November 17, 2008. It was released in America on January 13, 2009. Between 2009 and 2012, Arjen put Ayreon on hiatus. He finished working on his new side project, Guilt Machine, in 2009. Since then he has started working on the second Star One full-length album and, upon its completion, is said to have intentions on recording a solo album under his own name. Regarding the release of another Ayreon album, he stated the following: "As for whether there will be another Ayreon album, I'm never sure. Ten years could go by before I decide to do another one. I have to say that a lot of the reviews for 01 said it had some cool moments but it had that typical Ayreon sound, that there was nothing new being offered, and I think I can agree with that. I decided I'm going to stop with this Ayreon story, with this sound, and concentrate on other projects first. Then, if I decide to go back to Ayreon I'll do something different with it. I have no idea how, but if there's going to be another one it should be different." On August 23, 2012, Lucassen published on his YouTube channel that he started composing "a new project". He officially revealed it to be an another Ayreon album (due in 2013) on October 9, 2012. Responding to fan comments on his website, Arjen stated on October 12 that it would probably take a year before the album was completed. He also stated that the album would be the start of a new story apart from the previous Ayreon albums, and confirmed the presence of drummer Ed Warby as usual. The double album, The Theory of Everything, was released on October 28th, 2013. Guest musicians are, amongst others: John Wetton (Asia, King Crimson etc.) on vocals, Rick Wakeman (Yes), Keith Emerson (ELP) and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) on keyboards and Steve Hackett (Genesis) on guitar.


Phase I: Singularity



DISCOGRAPHY
Studio albums

The Final Experiment (1995):
1. Prologue (3:17)
Act I The Dawning
2. The Awareness (6:36)
3. Eyes Of Time (5:06)
4. The Banishment (11:08)
Act II King Arthur's Court
5. Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy (2:46)
6. Sail Away To Avalon (4:02)
7. Nature's Dance (2:28)
Act III Visual Echoes
8. Computer-Reign (Game Over) (3:25)
9. Waracle (6:44)
10. Listen To The Waves (4:59)
11. Magic Ride (3:36)
Act IV Merlin's Will and Ayreon's Fate
12. Merlin's Will (3:20)
13. The Charm Of The Seer (4:12)
14. Swan Song (2:44)
15. Ayreon's Fate (6:56)

Actual Fantasy (1996):
1. Actual Fantasy (1:35)
2. Abbey Of Synn (9:34)
3. The Stranger From Within (7:36)
4. Computer Eyes (7:31)
5. Beyond The Last Horizon (7:34)
6. Farside Of The World (6:21)
7. Back On Planet Earth (7:01)
8. Forevermore (6:10)





Into the Electric Castle (1998):

CD 1
1. Welcome to the New Dimension (3:05) 
2. Isis and Osiris (11:11) 
a) Let the Journey Begin
b) The Hall of Isis and Osiris
c) Strange Constellations
d) Reprise 
3. Amazing Flight (10:15) 
a) Amazing Flight in Space
b) Stardance
c) Flying Colours 
4. Time Beyond Time (6:05) 
5. The Decision Tree (We're Alive) (6:24) 
6. Tunnel of Light (4:05) 
7. Across the Rainbow Bridge (6:20)

CD 2 
1. The Garden of Emotions (9:40) 
a) In the Garden of Emotions
b) Voices in the Sky
c) The Aggression Factor 
2. Valley of the Queens (2:25) 
3. The Castle Hall (5:49) 
4. Tower of Hope (4:54) 
5. Cosmic Fusion (7:27) 
a) I Soar on the Breeze
b) Death's Grunt
c) The Passing of an Eagle 
6. The Mirror Maze (6:34) 
a) Inside the Mirror Maze 
b) Through the Mirror 
7. Evil Devolution (6:31) 
8. The Two Gates (6:28) 
9. Forever of the Stars (2:02) 
10. Another Time, Another Space (5:20)

Universal Migrator part 1: The Dream Sequencer (2000):
1. The Dream Sequencer (5:08) 
2. My House On Mars (7:49) 
3. 2084 (7:42) 
4. One Small Step (8:46) 
5. The Shooting Company Of Captain Frans B Cocq (7:57) 
6. Dragon On The Sea (7:09) 
7. Temple Of The Cat (4:11) 
8. Carried By The Wind (3:59) 
9. And The Druids Turn To Stone (6:36) 
10. The First Man On Earth (7:19)
11. The Dream Sequencer Reprise (3:36)

Universal Migrator part 2: Flight of the Migrator (2000):
1. Chaos (5:10) 
2. Dawn of a Million Souls (7:45) 
3. Journey On The Waves Of Time (5:47) 
4. To The Quasar (8:42) 
a) The Taurus Pulsar 
b) Quasar 3C273 
5. Into The Black Hole (10:25) 
a) The Eye Of The Universe 
b) Halo Of Darkness 
c) The Final Hour 
6. Through The Wormhole (6:05) 
7. Out Of The White Hole (7:11) 
a) M31 
b) Planet Y 
c) The Search Continues 
8. To The Solar System (6:11) 
a) Planet Of Blue 
b) System Alert 
9. The New Migrator (8:15) 
a) Metamorphosis 
b) Sleeper Awake

The Human Equation (2004):

CD 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) 

CD 2
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)

01011001 (2008):

CD 1-"Y"
1. Age of Shadows (including We Are Forever) (10:47)
2. Comatose (4:26)
3. Liquid Eternity (8:10)
4. Connect the Dots (4:13)
5. Beneath the Waves (8:26)
a) Beneath the Waves
b) Face the Facts
c) But a Memory...
d) World Without Walls
e) Reality Bleeds
6. Newborn Race (7:49)
a) The Incentive
b) The Vision
c) The Procedure
d) Another Life
e) Newborn Race
f) The Conclusion
7. Ride the Comet (3:29)
8. Web of Lies (2:50)

CD 2-"Earth"
1. The Fifth Extinction (10:29)
a) Glimmer of Hope
b) World of Tomorrow Dreams
c) Collision Course
d) From the Ashes
e) Glimmer of Hope (reprise)
2. Waking Dreams (6:31)
3. The Truth Is In Here (5:12)
4. Unnatural Selection (7:15)
5. River of Time (4:24)
6. E=MC2 (5:50)
7. The Sixth Extinction (12:18)
a) Echoes on the Wind
b) Radioactive Grave
c) 2085
d) To the Planet of Red
e) Spirit on the Wind
f) Complete the Circle

The Theory of Everything (2013):

CD 1
Phase I: Singularity (23:29)
1. Prologue: The Blackboard
2. The Theory Of Everything part 1
3. Patterns
4. The Prodigy's World
5. The Teacher's Discovery
6. Love And Envy
7. Progressive Waves
8. The Gift
9. The Eleventh Dimension
10. Inertia
11. The Theory Of Everything part 2
Phase II: Symmetry (21:31)
12. The Consultation
13. Diagnosis
14. The Argument 1
15. The Rival's Dilemma
16. Surface Tension
17. A Reason To Live
18. Potential
19. Quantum Chaos
20. Dark Medicine
21. Alive!
22. The Prediction

CD 2
Phase III: Entanglement (22:34)
1. Fluctuations
2. Transformation
3. Collision
4. Side Effects
5. Frequency Modulation
6. Magnetism
7. Quid Pro Quo
8. String Theory
9. Fortune?
Phase IV: Unification (22:20)
10. Mirror Of Dreams
11. The Lighthouse
12. The Argument 2
13. The Parting
14. The Visitation
15. The Breakthrough
16. The Note
17. The Uncertainty Principle
18. Dark Energy
19. The Theory Of Everything part 3
20. The Blackboard (reprise)



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