Have you ever had the feeling, that some CDs are just way better than others? (Yes, almost every day… - Alex) For some reason, only a couple of albums in your collection have the power to bring you to another level of ecstasy?
This AYREON-album is one that fits that description. Now, this is not your regular album. First of all, it's a concept album, with all songs describing the story of 8 characters from different times (such as a knight and an Egyptian) that are suddenly stuck in an unknown world, where a voice guides them to the electric castle, and thereby, their ticket home. But more elements are special. This is not a regular album, but an opera!! Yes, a total of 8 singers (Anneke van Giersbergen and AYREON-regulars Damien Wilson and Edward Reekers just to name a few) appear on a variety of tracks, all "playing" a role in the opera. Oh, and I even forgot to mention that AYREON is in fact, one guy, Dutch mastermind Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Well, this album (as most of his albums) is as unusual as this sounds!
Now for the music. There is more or less a bit of everything. There are lots of acoustic passages, but also very heavy guitars. And then there's the flutes, synthesizers, pianos, you name it, it's there. With a total of 11 musicians this is indeed a grand project (which took about one and a half year to record). I dare to say that this album has a bit for everyone (of course, don't expect extreme Metal, this is more or less a very diverse version of Heavy Metal, with loads of elements that you will not find anywhere else). And the vocals. It's amazing how all the characters add a little bit extra to the whole. No voice sounds the same, and they all amazingly fit the image that the character would have if it existed.
I could start pointing out great songs, but I think that it's pretty obvious how much I love this CD. However, if we're being picky about this, listen to "Isis And Osiris", for a great display of what the album stands for. Or what about the fantastic piano/flute/guitar-riff near the end of "Amazing Flight" (I would say that this is the best piece of music I ever heard), or what about the powerful "Castle Hall", or... I could go on, but really, you have to listen for yourself. Maybe there's the only point of criticism. This album is so damn good, that you just have to listen, and concentrate fully on it's beauty. This is not meant to be played while busy...
And how would you rate this? Is it perfect? Probably not. Is it beyond perfect? Probably not. Is it worth 10/10... Hell yeah!!!!