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Ayreon - 'The Theory Of Everything' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/46/0a/28/Ayreon-The-Theory-of-Everything-70-1383248663.jpg Hot

Added by James Gaden     October 31, 2013    
 
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Lucassen has confirmed his status as one of the best, most consistent, eclectic and gifted songwriters Rock and Metal has seen.

After the unanimously lauded ‘01011001’ album and the story closing ‘Epilogue: The Memory Remains’ track on the ‘Timeline’ box set, it appeared that the multi-project maestro Arjen Anthony Lucassen may actually be consigning his landmark Ayreon “band” to history. Albums from other AAL-led projects appeared, the misunderstood Guilty Machine, the underrated Star One and a simply fantastic solo effort dazzled and delighted, yet the ever hungry Ayreon fan-base hankered for a return to their perennial favourite. So too it would appear did Lucassen himself, with the adventurously titled ‘The Theory Of Everything’ resurrecting the project name, if not the science fiction storyline associated with it. Instead what has been delivered here is a more theatrical, if (slightly) less fanciful tale of science against human emotion, where deceit, obsession, betrayal, madness and insecurity are explored through the search for ‘The Theory Of Everything’. Involved though that may sound, I’m actually underselling the intricacy of what has been devised here, but listen carefully to this double disc album and all will be revealed...

An amazing forty two separate tracks are pieced together into four movements, ‘Singularity’, ‘Symmetry’, ‘Entanglement’ and Unification’ and in that sense attempting to highlight individual songs is pointless. However across ninety minutes of music you can rest assured that every guitar, keyboard, percussion, vocal trick that Lucassen has up his sleeve is stunningly revealed, with the wide ranging scope of Progressive and Metal, Symphonic and Power (and Folk) being more than enough to satisfy and enthral. Some new elements are also revealed, with flutes, violins, Irish Bouzouki and Uilleann Pipes (courtesy of Nightwish man Troy Donockley) broadening the Ayreon soundscape even further.

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As ever Lucassen has amassed an amazing cast of singers to portray the roles in his “play” (scene synopsises are actually interspersed through the lyrics in the booklet...) and even more amazingly, they are all first time Ayreonauts. JB (Grand Magus) plays The Teacher, the upcoming Sara Squadrani (Ancient Bards) The Girl, the lesser known Michael Mills (Toehider) is The Father, Christina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) The Mother, Tommy Karevik (Kamelot) thrives as The Prodigy, Marko Hietala (Nightwish) revels as The Rival, while Asia man John Wetton is a revelation as The Psychiatrist, even if he does get some techno-babble lyrics to try and convince with. However hold on to your hats when you find out that no less than Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson and Jordan Rudess make up the keyboard trio and Steve Hackett handles lead guitar! Add in Lucassen’s guitars, bass, keyboards and mandolin and this is arguably the most celebrated Ayreon line-up ever assembled.  

Lucassen himself describes ‘The Theory Of Everything’ as possibly his most Progressive release, and while that point is arguable, there’s no doubting the ambition behind the music created here, nor the depth of the story. The manner in which it all comes together being nothing short of breathtaking...

With ‘The Theory Of Everything’ Lucassen has not only crafted a stunning album, he has also confirmed his status as one of the best, most consistent, eclectic and gifted songwriters Rock and Metal has seen so far this century.

Steven Reid

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