“The Human Equation” by Ayreon

Artist: Ayreon
Title: “The Human Equation”
Label: Inside Out Records
Release Date: 5/25/2004
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rating: 9/10

Multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen has once again crafted a diverse and interesting piece of music for his many fans. Following his successful touring with his “Star One” project this recording might very well be considered Ayreon’s finest work of them all. Like most of his musical adventures, Arjen makes sure to use a cast of performers that are second to none in the world of Progressive and Heavy Metal music. Among them is cast the newly discovered Marcela Bovio who Lucassens found from an Internet contest entry. Her voice is amazing and one can only hope that this is only the beginning of what we will see from her. James LaBrie of the mighty Dream Theater also lends his voice to the piece as the principle character and so does Michael Akereldt of Opeth. The list continues on with Irene Jansen, Devon Townsend and many others. Truly a who’s who in the world of popular Metal and Rock. The story that is lined out this time focuses on the central character who is lying in a hospital bed after a terrible accident. This setting is the polar opposite from his space and fantasy themes of the past. The character is watched by his Wife and Best Friend in hopes of his recovery. At the same time his mind is paid visit by many different emotions and memories; all of them vying for his decisions in the healing process. This was one CD that I was finding myself lucky in seeing a lyric book inside. You need to read along with this piece as you listen. An added part of the appeal I found was the enjoyment of the story itself.

Musically I felt this album was brilliant as it takes Metal and Progressive ideas and manages to tie them all together seamlessly. At some points you will find things that remind you of the classic Progressive legends such as Emerson Lake and Palmer and Jethro Tull. There are so many positive highlights on this disk for me that it was difficult to find the few tracks I liked the most. I leaned towards the track “Loser” for it employed an almost Celtic feel and there were aspects of “Trauma” that I enjoyed. The one bad side of music by Arjen and his projects is the need to focus on the record as a whole and not a simple track or single. His work at Metal Operas is well-known at this stage and the listener cheats themselves if they choose to skip around listening to a song here or a song there. Overall this CD is a high recommendation and a worthy one at that. It is different enough from Star One and also tells a great story. So far Lucassens has not disappointed me, and I am very late to the game having first been exposed to his work with Star One. After listening to the CD I found myself also looking into his other work with this group and also finding myself anticipating his future releases. Take a journey inside someone’s mind with the Human Equation; you will be glad that you did.

Track Listing CD1 & CD2:
1. Day one: Vigil
2. Day two: Isolation
3. Day three: Pain
4. Day four: Mystery
5. Day five: Voices
6. Daye six: Childhood
7. Day seven: Hope
8. Day eight: School
9. Day nine: Playground
10. Day ten: Memories
11. Day eleven: Love
12. Day twelve: Trauma
13. Day thirteen: Sign
14. Day fourteen: Pride
15. Day fifteen: Betrayal
16. Day sixteen: Loser
17. Day seventeen: Accident
18. Day eighteen: Realization
19. Day nineteen: Disclosure
20. Day twenty: Confrontation

Official Web site: http://www.Ayreon.com

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