(10/10) It's maybe a bit of a strange metaphor, but listening to Ayreon's new album feels like an exciting journey through all kinds of different landscapes. Having a look around is a thrilling thing with an endless offer of new impressions. Sometimes it's the smaller differences and other times it's a full change of what reaches your eyes. "The Source" is a musical version of such a journey and/or the perfect soundtrack. It's an album that constantly offers new impressions. This album is more than just a number of songs that end up on the same carrier; it’s a comprehensive work that combines creativity with musical perfection.
Releasing a double CD package is a challenging endeavor since it demands a bigger amount of exciting song. Having listened to "The Source" several times led to one conclusion: the amount of creativity that sits with Arjen Lucassen is amazing. The songs on these two discs are more than just tunes - they are soulful compositions that cover everything between fragile nuances and dark guitar sounds. The glue that keeps all this together is Lucassen's excellent guitar and his musical vision.
As with the earlier Ayreon releases also this time it’s a storyline that connects the different chapters on “The Source”. This album is linked to the 2008 release “01011001” and can be seen as a kind of prequel. The story is about The Alphans and the planet they are living on. The situation gets worse over time which leads to a decision to give all decision power to a computer mainframe. The unforeseen effect hot the Alphans hard since the machines concluding that they themselves are the cause for all trouble and should be eliminated. As with Noah’s ark there’s one ship that can bring some of The Alphans to a new planet – Planet Y. What sounds like a savior includes an element of doom as well. These chosen ones have to leave family and friends behind with the certainty of no moment of reunion. The story continues with the rise and fall on planet Y which you can mainly discover on disc 2. I don't want to spoil too much here.
The songs on “The Source” are beyond any doubt. Lucassen serves a kaleidoscope of compositions that tackle everything a fan could expect from such an album. I don’t want to dissect each and every anthem on this longplayer. These tunes needs to be listened to and not read about. However, the first two songs give a good overview of the cinematic width of this release. Silent notes are interacting with heavy riffs, the latter being something notable since “The Source” is partly heavier than the predecessor. This benefits the album since it creates even more excitement and arcs of suspense.
As with the earlier Ayreon albums the Dutch multi-instrumentalist didn’t do things just on his own. Lucassen has a constant partner in crime when it comes to Ayreon. Dutch drum icon Ed Warby is a constant contributor and also this time it’s him providing the heartbeat for this album. Next to Lucassen himself it’s also Paul Gilbert, Marcel Coenen and Guthrie Govan contributing on guitar while Marillion’s Mark Kelly created bigger soundscapes with his keyboard. The by far biggest group of guests are all the singers that performed on “The Source”. It’s a very long list that would be too much for this review, but while listening to the album you can hear many very family voices.
Ayreon live shows are few and far between which is, based on the included musicians, a more than logical consequence. Up to now there are three dates confirmed. Ayreon will be on at 013 in Tilburg. The three shows will take place mid-September and have been sold out in no time. Ayreon is a class on its own – a project, created by a creative mastermind, that’s unique in rock music.
Chronicle 1: The 'Frame
- The Day That the World Breaks Down
- Sea Of Machines
- Everybody Dies
Chronicle 2: The Aligning Of the Ten
- Star of Sirrah
- All That Was
- Run! Apocalypse! Run!
- Condemned To Live
Chronicle 3: The Transmigration
- Aquatic Race
- The Dream Dissolves
- Deathcry of a Race
- Into the Ocean
Chronicle 4: The Rebirth
- Bay Of Dreams
- Planet Y Is Alive!
- The Source Will Flow
- Journey to Forever
- The Human Compulsion
Label: Music Theories Recordings
Genre: Progressive Metal
Release Date EU: April 28th, 2017