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CD review AYREON "Ayreon Universe - Live"

Veröffentlicht am 16. März 2018 von Markus W. in Ayreon, Ayreon Universe, Live, Rock, Prog Metal, Prog Rock, Hardrock, News, Mascot Label Group, CD Review

CD review AYREON "Ayreon Universe - Live"

(10/10) There are musicians were you wish their music would be as big their ego and you have musical passionistas like Arjen Lucassen, iconic composers that got the gift of an endless flow of creativity combined with musical skills to realize these ideas and dreams. The Dutch guitarist has been part of so many bands and projects that it's hard to keep track of all of them. Things started with Bodine, a band from Den Haag, before the first international success came with hardrock outfit Vengeance. Especially "Arabia" included already some multilayered sounds and more complexity than what fans got to hear with the predecessor "Take It or Leave It". 

After having left Vengeance the 2m tall guitarist had several projects in the starting blocks of which Star One and Ayreon are the most important ones. Ayreon debut in 1995 with "The Final Experiment", with eight additional longplayers that followed. "The Source" was the latest studio album to date, a record that saw the light of day in 2017. Even though the band released excellent longplayers it stayed a studio project, mainly due to huge number of guest musicians that have been involved in the various productions and the complexity of bringing such an awesome group of people together on stage. 

2015 was a kind of turning point when it comes to live ambitions for Ayreon. "The Human Equation" got a live production, leading to four shows at Nieuwe Luxor Theater in Rotterdam. One of these shows has been recorded and the release of a live DVD/CD some months later gave all Ayreon fans a chance to be part of this unique moment. It feels like these shows acted as a trigger for more. Fans were highly enthusiastic and the four Rotterdam shows have been the kick-start for the Dutch guitarist to go even bolder when it comes to live ambitions.

Lucassen planned to do one show at 013 in Tilburg under the banner of "Ayreon Universe", this time, in contrary to "The Theater Equation", arranged by Lucassen himself in cooperation with Joost van den Broek. Ayreonauts all over the world got extremely excited by this news and it was pretty soon obvious that one show would not do the job. Two more concerts have been added, all being sold out in no time too and even a try-out show in a smaller set-up got the 'sold-out' sign very quickly.

Fortunately for all the lucky ones who witnessed this unique moment in rock as well as for all the other fans of Lucassen's excellent music this special event was captured on film and tape. It will be end of March this year when Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group brings this show right into peoples living room in various formats.

In total 16 original singers (list se below) have been involved during these three shows in April 2017, performing 28 songs from Ayreon (plus two from Star One) which led to more than two hours of exciting rock and metal, performed to perfection.

Songs played that night captured the entire Ayreon journey in rock. The debut "The Final Experience" was present with three songs, all in the first half of the show, and also latest highlights ("Everybody Dies" and "Star of Sirrah") from "The Source" have been performed. The main focus though was on the 2008 record "01011001" and "The Theory of Everything" from 2013. Five songs each made it on the impressive setlist while it was the Star One classic "The Eye of Ra" rounded of a terrific night. 

Arjen Lucassen succeeded with 100% when it comes to his ambition of creating a special evening of music. Passion and a strong willpower were the key to mount such a brilliant production. "Ayreon Universe" lifts the bar when it comes to concerts and live recordings. To coordinate so many musicians, on stage and from a production perspective, is an enormous effort. Everybody involved in this concert experience - musicians and fans, cherished all the hard work. It was a unique moment, a once-in-a-lifetime event, that every fans of rock & metal music should have been seen and listened to. This live release is big and needs to have a pole position in every serious collection of rock.

 

(10/10)

 

Tracklist:

CD 1:

  1. Prologue
  2. Dreamtime
  3. Abbey of Synn
  4. River of Time
  5. Prologue: The Blackboard
  6. The Theory of Everything, Part 1 & 2
  7. Merlin's Will
  8. Waking Dreams
  9. Dawn of a Million Souls
  10. Valley of the Queens
  11. Ride the Comet
  12. Star of Sirrah
  13. Comatose
  14. Day Sixteen: Loser
  15. And the Druids Turn to Stone

CD 2:

  1. The Two Gates
  2. Into the Black Hole
  3. Actual Fantasy
  4. Computer Eyes
  5. Magnetism
  6. Age of Shadows
  7. Intergalactic Space Crusaders
  8. Collision
  9. Everybody Dies
  10. The Castle Hall
  11. Amazing Flight
  12. Day Eleven: Love
  13. The Eye of Ra

 

Label: Music Theories Recordings / Mascot Label Group

Genre: Progressive Rock

Release Date EU: March 30st, 2018

 

Formats:

  • 5-Disc Earbook with 2CD, 2DVD and Blu-ray
  • Blu-ray
  • 2DVD
  • 2CD
  • 3LP (Black vinyl)
  • 3LP (Limited edition gold vinyl - Ayreon webstore exclusive)

 

Vocalists:

  • Floor Jansen - Nightwish
  • Damian Wilson - Threshold
  • Hansi Kürsch - Blind Guardian
  • Tommy Karevik - Kamelot
  • Anneke van Giersbergen - The Gentle Storm
  • Marco Hietala - Nightwish
  • Jonas Renkse - Katatonia
  • Mike Mills - Toehider
  • Marcela Bovio - Stream of Passion
  • Irene Jansen - Ayreon
  • Robert Soeterboek - Star One
  • John Jaycee Cuijpers - Praying Mantis
  • Edward Reekers - Kayak
  • Jay van Feggelen - Ayreon
  • Maggy Luyten - Nightmare
  • Lisette van den Berg - Scarlet Stories

 

Instrumentalists:

  • Ed Warby - Drums
  • Johan van Stratum - Bass
  • Marcel Coenen - Lead guitar
  • Ferry Duijsens - Guitar
  • Joost van den Broek - Keyboards
  • Ben Mathot - Violin
  • Jeroen Goossens - Flutes, woodwinds
  • Maaike Peterse - Cello
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AYREON's Arjen Lucassen signing session

Veröffentlicht am 30. April 2017 von Markus W. in Arjen Lucassen, Ayreon, News, Prog Metal, Prog Rock, Mascot, Paagman, Den Haag, Rock, Rock Opera

AYREON's Arjen Lucassen signing session

Ayreon's mastermind Arjen Lucassen was on a small signing tour through The Netherlands this weekend. After having had a stop in Venlo, Breda and Bergen op Zoom (all Dutch cities), the guitarist invited for a signing session in Den Haag on Sunday April 30st

Before signing all kinds of Aryeon and Star One items, the guitarist talked openly about the effort of creating the newest album - a 365 days and 24/7 exercise that led to a fantastic result entitled "The Source". Also the planned live shows in September have been part of the talk that took place prior to the signing session. In the beginning it was one show at 013 that stood on the list but was quickly extended to three shows - all sold out within no time. Unfortunately no extra shows can be added. This has mainly to do with the fact of an huge organisational pre-work to safeguard a participation of as many as possible Ayreon guests and friends.

Listening to this extra class musician was a pleasure. It's amazing with how much passion and humbleness Lucassen talked about Ayreon and his dedication for music, all very much appreciated by fans that made it to this extraordinary session.

AYREON's Arjen Lucassen signing session
AYREON's Arjen Lucassen signing session
AYREON's Arjen Lucassen signing session
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CD release AYREON "The Source"

Veröffentlicht am 28. April 2017 von Markus W. in Ayreon, Arjen Lucassen, News, Prog Metal, Prog Rock, Metal Opera, Mascot, Rock, Hardrock, Heavy Metal

(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.

 

(10/10)

 

Tracklist:

CD1

Chronicle 1: The 'Frame

  1. The Day That the World Breaks Down
  2. Sea Of Machines
  3.  Everybody Dies

Chronicle 2: The Aligning Of the Ten

  1. Star of Sirrah
  2. All That Was
  3. Run! Apocalypse! Run!
  4. Condemned To Live

CD2

Chronicle 3: The Transmigration

  1. Aquatic Race
  2. The Dream Dissolves
  3. Deathcry of a Race
  4. Into the Ocean

Chronicle 4: The Rebirth

  1. Bay Of Dreams
  2. Planet Y Is Alive!
  3. The Source Will Flow
  4. Journey to Forever
  5. The Human Compulsion

 

Label: Music Theories Recordings

Genre: Progressive Metal

Release Date EU: April 28th, 2017

CD release AYREON "The Source"
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CD/DVD review AYREON "The Theater Equation"

Veröffentlicht am 3. Juli 2016 von Markus W. in Ayreon, CD Review, DVD review, Prog Rock, Prog Metal, Classic Rock, Hardrock, Heavy Metal

(9/10) Almost a year ago many die-hard fans of Ayreon witnessed the musical production of the iconic "The Human Equation" prog metal album from 2004. Unfortunatley Arjen Lucassen didn't perform himself that night, but there have been many guests and friends doing those four shows in the Nieuwe Luxor theater in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Since those nights have been very unique, one out of four concerts has been recorded. It's the show that took place on Sunday, September 20st, 2015 that is now released on CD and DVD.

"The Theater Equation" was more than just four live shows. Already the choise of location indicates that things have been much bigger than musicians performing songs. The entire setup was more a production of a modern rock opera based on Ayreon's "The Human Equation" album.

The result is an impressive show that fortunatley was captured on CD and DVD. Embedded in a formidable set design most of the musicians that contributed to the iconic studio album 12 years ago could also be convinced to be part of those fantastic live events in Rotterdam. Dream Theater frontman James LaBrie was part of the set as well as Devon Graves that many of you also know from his time with the mind-blowing Dead Soul Tribe/Psychotic Waltz. I could continue with name dropping which probabaly would make this review far too long. 

Anyhow, next to the fantastic music, known already from the studio release, it's the DVD/Blu Ray that creates a lot of excitement. As mentioned, this show was more a theater play and the way how it's recorded reflects this very much. Many other filmed live shows are done with various cameras that capture all perspectives and angles. "The Theater Equation" DVD instead gives the fan an idea of how it looked like sitting in the theater. There is almost a feeling of sitting in the Luxor. In the end it is the play and the characters on stage that guarnatee the dynamic and excitement rather than a fast cut and a lot of different perspectives.

"The Theater Equation" makes a unique moment in progressive metal accessible to a wider group of fans, something you shouldn't miss since those nights have been pure and finest art, in many ways.

 

(9/10)

 

Tracklist:

DVD 1:

  1. Day one: Vigil (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  2. Day two: Isolation (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  3. Day three: Pain (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  4. Day four: Mystery (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  5. Day five: Voices (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  6. Reprise Pain 1 (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  7. Day six: Childhood (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  8. Day seven: Hope (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  9. Day eight: School (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  10. Reprise Childhood (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  11. Day nine: Playground (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  12. Day ten: Memories (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  13. Reprise Pain 2 (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  14. Day eleven: Love (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  15. Day twelve: Trauma (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  16. Day thirteen: Sign (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  17. Day fourteen: Pride (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  18. Reprise Vigil (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  19. Day fifteen: Betrayal (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  20. Reprise School (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  21. Day sixteen: Loser (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  22. Day seventeen: Accident? (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  23. Reprise Pain3 (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  24. Day eighteen: Realization (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  25. Reprise Trauma (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  26. Day nineteen: Disclosure (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  27. Day twenty: Confrontation (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  28. Dream Sequencer System Offline (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)

DVD 2:

  1. Try-Out Show
  2. The Theater Equation Trailer
  3. Behind The Scenes - Introduction
  4. Behind The Scenes - Casting
  5. Behind The Scenes - The Epic Rock Choir
  6. Behind The Scenes - The Band
  7. Behind The Scenes - Band Rehearsals
  8. Behind The Scenes - The Understudies
  9. Behind The Scenes - Cast Rehearsals
  10. Behind The Scenes - 5 Days To Go
  11. Behind The Scenes - Opening Night
  12. Behind The Scenes - Emotions: I Remember
  13. Curtain Calls

CD1:

  1. Day one: Vigil (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  2. Day two: Isolation (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  3. Day three: Pain (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  4. Day four: Mystery (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  5. Day five: Voices (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  6. Reprise Pain 1 (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  7. Day six: Childhood (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  8. Day seven: Hope (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  9. Day eight: School (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  10. Reprise Childhood (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  11. Day nine:Playground (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  12. Day ten: Memories (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  13. Reprise Pain 2 (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  14. Day eleven: Love (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)

CD2:

  1. Day twelve: Trauma (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  2. Day thirteen: Sign (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  3. Day fourteen: Pride (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  4. Reprise Vigil (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  5. Day fifteen: Betrayal (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  6. Reprise School (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  7. Day sixteen: Loser (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  8. Day seventeen: Accident? (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  9. Reprise Pain 3 (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  10. Day eighteen: Realization (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  11. Reprise Trauma (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  12. Day nineteen: Disclosure (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  13. Day twenty: Confrontation (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)
  14. Dream Sequencer System Offline (live in Rotterdam in September 2015)

 

Label: InsideOut Music

Genre: Prog Metal

Release Date EU: June 17th, 2016

 

CD/DVD review AYREON "The Theater Equation"
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