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Ayreon - 'The Source' http://rocktopia.co.uk/media/reviews/photos/thumbnail/200x200s/15/c9/df/ayreon-the-source-86-1494876196.jpg

Added by Central Electronic Brain     May 15, 2017    
 
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Another astonishingly rich album from one of modern Prog, nay, modern Rock music's most creative talents.

Hot on the heels of 2016's live release 'The Theater Equation', Arjen Anthony Lucassen is back with a new studio tour-de-force and the kind of musical ambition that simply makes your jaw drop. The surprise this time, for those of us who thought the 'Forever/Planet Y' saga ended with '01011001', and who enjoyed the more modern day focus of 'The Theory Of Everything', is that Lucassen has returned to his science fiction theme with what's said to be a prequel.

The story of 'The Source' is set a notional six billion years ago with Planet Alpha in political and ecological crisis, and the Alphans seeking solutions from their global computer mainframe. The "Frame" concludes that the planet's problems are caused by the Alphans themselves and that they must be exterminated. They seek to escape their fate by sending the chosen few to seek a new planet on the only ship they have capable of making such a journey – in the process condemning them to live with the anguish of having left families, friends and the rest of their people to almost certain doom.

The unfolding story is told in just under ninety minutes, through seventeen tracks of typical intrigue and breadth. Lucassen has described 'The Source' as his "Rock album", and overall it's certainly heavier and more guitar-based in parts than other Ayreon material. That's not to say it's one-dimensional, as the Folky 'All That Was', the flutes of 'Deathcry Of A Race', the AOR vocals of 'Journey To Forever' and the spacey synths of 'Planet Y Is Alive!' and 'The Human Compulsion', for example, testify.

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Lucassen uses twelve vocalists on the project, and, in a break with his usual approach, conscripts a number (around half) who have performed on past albums. The performances, as usual, are top notch with notable contributions from the likes of James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Simone Simons (Epica), Mike Mills (Toehider), Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia) and Tommy Karevik (Kamelot). Beyond the vocals, Ed Warby again provides drums, with guitar contributions from Paul Gilbert (Mr Big) and Guthrie Govan (The Aristocrats, Steven Wilson) with guest keyboards courtesy of Marcel Coenen and Mark Kelly (Marillion).

This is another astonishingly rich album from one of modern Prog, nay, modern Rock music's most creative talents. It rewards repeated listens and is a worthy addition to the Ayreon canon.

Michael Anthony

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