Ayreon is some guy who got a lot of people to collaborate with him in making his symphonic progressive metal concept albums. This is just Part 1 of the whole Migrator concept album, Part 2 has been reviewed elsewhere on TDSR (The only place for straightforward honest reviews. We tell it like it is! How’s that for the company slogan,eh?).
Before I begin, just a short disclaimer. I normally avoid progressive metal. After listening to Dream Theater and Pain of Salvation, I decided that I could do without prog in my life. I am better off with my beloved Thrash and Black metal. So I am a little biased when I hear something like this, normally because I consider prog metal to be wankery without any respect for the listener, full of overblown concepts nobody wants to listen to in the first place (Dream Theater, I hate your guts.Take your wanky music and stick it up your ass.)
The Geeks of Big Bang Theory will like this stuff
Now, with that out of the way, lets talk Ayreon. This guy really did try to bring out the whole package. This is a two part concept album, and he specifically states on the back cover of the album that the first part (The Dream Sequencer) is a “song oriented melodic and atmospheric journey” while the second part (Flight of the Migrator) is a “heavy progressive adventure through time and space”.
Basically this is the “soft” and the second one is the “heavy” album. This album is comprised mostly of ambient, electronica and symphonic elements. The sounscaping is lush, ladies and gentlemen, they wanted to overwhelm your senses. Lots of synths and sound samples, and mellotrons et all. Nothing metal here. People who want the prog metal wankery would do better to turn their attention to the second part. (Flight of the Migrator). Its more of a ambient+electronic with female opera singers and rich orchestration backed up with synths kinda album. The emphasis is on the melody and harmonies.
Ohh. The concept. Almost forgot. Well, the story starts with a guy who is one of the last colonizers on Mars entering a machine called the Dream Sequencer, which takes him back in time. In the Ayreon constructed timeline, Earth ended with WWIII in 2084, after which people moved off to Mars. The Dream Sequencer takes the colonizer back in time, first to 2084 (the end of Earth), then to 1969 (first man on the moon), then to the 17th century, then to the 16th century and so on and so forth. Everytime he sees the view from the perspective of a person who was there. Back and further back he goes, until finally he sees himself as an ape and witnesses the evolution of man. The story here ends at around 50000 BC. That’s the story of this part, the rest of the story shall be told in the second part.
Coming back to the music, the lead guitar is the Dave Gilmour type, slow, beautiful, somewhat reminding me of Gilmour’s lead work on Wish You Were Here, and his solo albums (On an Island, About Face etc..). Of course, I tend to get weary somewhere around the half an hour mark, but do not let that stop you from listening to this album. My attention span is suited more to the Motorhead type of music. Just me. They have back up singers, opera singers, the whole chingchoomash. Its huge sounding, you know? The music is very solemn, has an aura of its own. The concept, instead of making me laugh, helps in making the music more enjoyable.
My gripes-the usual, too long for my attention span (70 minutes!!) and it aint no The Wall, there is NO metal, proggish or otherwise on this album, (though that is not a gripe with me, might be one for people who came looking for metal though), and also there is so much going on, there is no focus on the melodies, as a result lots of good moments just get lost in all that orchestration and in the attempt of trying to blow the listener away, they forget to make one strong melody and emphasize that good part.
If you can get past all those things you are welcome to the Universal Migrator saga. Recommended songs- 2084, One Small Step, though I warn you it is meant to be listened to in one piece.
All AYREON reviews HERE.
More PROGRESSIVE/ART/PSYCHEDELIC reviews HERE.