The brilliance that is Ayreon

6 05 2008

In the category of things that I have been almost constantly excited about since learning about them two years ago (I suppose that’s a rather specific category) is the musical project known as Ayreon. Ayreon is the brainchild of Arjen Anthony Lucassen and has a very satisfactory wikipedia entry, so I now cease telling you things that you could be reading over there. Instead I will tell you why I love Ayreon.

If you’ve ever been listening to some heavy metal and thought, “Damn, this could really use a classical string quartet breakdown right about now,” or, alternatively, been at an orchestra recital and thought, “Wow, some guy should totally be out front wailing on a guitar over this epic track,” then you may find Ayreon extremely satisfying. Now, maybe you listen to symphonic metal groups like Nightwish and you think you’ve got it covered in the strings and shredding category, but I encourage you to check out Ayreon because it will bring you something new. I can’t guarantee that you will enjoy it, but it will be different.

Arjen is steeped in rock history and he loves every bit of it. The albums are influenced by almost every conceivable genre. A few of these being heavy metal, progressive metal, progressive rock, psychedelic rock, blues rock, folk, celtic traditional and other world musics. The songs tend to be long, sweeping, and split into several different movements with lots of variety. I think this contributes to the albums immense replay value. There are no segments that really go on too long: as soon as I am getting familiar with that monster guitar riff, there’ll be a key change and a violin swell, or a mandolin solo. It’s utter, delicious, music-geeky madness.

I highly recommend it.

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3 responses

7 05 2008
Marlin May

Wow!

Another Ayreon fan. Who’d of thunk it?

I first picked up the two Universal Migrator discs at NEARFest a couple of years ago to listen to on the drive home. It was one of those, “You like science fiction, try this guy’s stuff” sort of conversations. Within an hour of getting home I had hopped online to order ‘Into the Electric Castle’, ‘The Human Equation’, and ‘Star One’.

Simply Brilliant.

The music that Lucassen writes is so complex, that he has to get the best and brightest of the Prog world to sit in on his recording sessions. People like Eric Nordlander. You do have some of discs don’t you? I recommend his ‘Music Machine’ and ‘Stars Rain Down’ at the very least

7 05 2008
Dan

One of my favorite aspects of the group (which I forgot to mention above) is all the incredibly talented guest musicians. I am personally wowed by Ed Warby, as a drummer myself.

Which albums and instrument(s) does Eric Nordlander play on for Ayreon? I’ll have to check out his stuff. Thanks for the recommendations!

7 05 2008
Marlin May

Which albums and instrument(s) does Eric Nordlander play on for Ayreon? I’ll have to check out his stuff. Thanks for the recommendations!

Nordlander is a keyboardist (analog & digital synthesizers) a composer and lyricist. He contributed keyboards on the Universal Migrator albums, and on Star One – Space Metal. He contributed lyrics on the Universal Migrator, along with (i’ve just remembered) Neil Morse of Spock’s Beard, another band you need to listen to (they do a great live show). Neil has left Spock’s Beard, however, to pursue more Christian oriented prog.

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