ARTIST:

AYREON

(NETHERLANDS)
TITLE:

THE HUMAN EQUATION

(2004)
LABEL:

INSIDEOUT MUSIC

GENRE:

PROGRESSIVE ROCK

TAGS:
Concept-album
""The Human Equation" offers a rock always very personal mixing spatial sounds and big guitars but less striking than in "The Dream Sequencer" or "The Electric Castle"."
TORPEDO (05.04.2004)  
3/5
(0) opinions from our readers (0) comment(s)

The arrival of this new Ayreon album was a long wait. Indeed, it took four years for Arjen Lucassen to concoct a new concept album on two CDs, of which he seems to be the only one to have the secret. Its release will be worthy of the event, the album being declined in three versions: the basic edition, the limited edition and the last one including the basic edition accompanied by a DVD containing many bonuses.

As usual, Lucassen has surrounded himself with a plethora of singers who play a well-defined role in the story. You will find James Labrie (DT), Eric Clayton (Saviour Machine), Devin Townsend, Akerfeldt, Heather Findlay (Mostly Autumn), Magnus Ekwall (The Quill), Devon Graves (Dead Soul Tribe), Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery), Irene Jansen (Karma) and Arjen Lucassen himself. As far as musicians are concerned, the list is shorter but just as prestigious with Martin Orford (IQ), Joost Van Den Broek (Sun Caged) and Oliver Wakeman.

To reassure the unconditional Ayreon fans who might have feared a definitive stylistic turn towards metal since "Star One", this album bears the signature of "Ayreon". We are thus in front of a rock always very personal mixing spatial sounds and big guitars in a melodic concern always pushed. 

With such charismatic guests, it was to be expected that the vocals are one of the most important and most worked elements. Each of them assumes a character with a vocal style typical of their respective personal bands: Labrie's lyricism, Ekwall's power - which more than impressed me -, Townsend's fury, the softness of the female voices that perform prowess in the chorus, Eric Clayton's gravity, etc. The osmosis between all these voices and the efficiency of certain dialogues are very often a total success (Day Four: Mystery).

On the composition side, Lucassen's talent is still relevant today. The man seems to have a unique musical experience to succeed in integrating so many references from different musical worlds. The fusion of his rock sound with different folklore, especially Celtic, hits the bull's eye every time. Never doing things by halves, real musicians have been hired to take care of the flute, violin and cello parts, scattered throughout the album.

If the description of this virtuosity is more than tempting, "The Human Equation" nevertheless suffers from a few flaws. The first is renewal. Following Lucassen's career since his first album under the name of Ayreon, the reminiscences of past works are numerous and the effect of surprise is much less obvious. It is undeniable that the guy always manages to bring us a lot of strong emotions, especially on his choruses, where the addition of a very large guitar, an arrangement on the keyboards or a vocal line inevitably makes us shiver, but the intensity is no longer on the level of a "Dream Sequencer". 

The second will be much more pernicious because it will depend above all on its affinities with certain stylistic exercises and certain melodies. For my part, I was very disappointed to see Devin Townsend confined to shouting out his lyrics when he has a quite exceptional voice on clear vocals. Then I was punctually embarrassed or even annoyed by certain turns that some titles take. For example, "Day Three: Pain" starts in the most beautiful way but is completely ruined by a chorus with a style and a soaring voice that is not very appropriate for the verse. Unfortunately, the list of these little things is long enough to have left me with a general feeling of frustration.

Being a fan from the very beginning, it is possible that my judgment may make some people hesitate. Still, it would be unfair to call this album a failure. It simply didn't give me what I expected and even less the pleasure that "The Electric Castle" or "The Dream Sequencer" gave me.


More informations on http://www.ayreon.com





TRACK LISTING:
01. Day One: Vigil
02. Day Two: Isolation
03. Day Three: Pain
04. Day Four: Mystery
05. Day Five: Voices
06. Day Six: Childhood
07. Day Seven: Hope
08. Day Eight: School
09. Day Nine: Playground
10. Day Ten: Memories
11. Day Eleven: Love
12. Day Twelve: Trauma
13. Day Thirteen: Sign
14. Day Fourteen: Pride
15. Day Fifteen: Betrayal
16. Day Sixteen: Loser
17. Day Seventeen: Accident?
18. Day Eighteen: Realization
19. Day Nineteen: Disclosure
20. Day Twenty: Confrontation

LINEUP:
Arjen Lucassen: Guitares / Basse / Claviers / Mandoline
Devin Townsend: Chant
Devon Graves: Chant
Eric Clayton: Chant
Heather Findlay: Chant
Irene Jansen: Chant
James Labrie: Chant
Joost Van Den Broek: Claviers
Ken Hensley: Claviers
Magnus Ekwall: Chant
Marcela Bovio: Chant
Martin Orford: Claviers
Mikael Åkerfeldt: Chant
Mike Baker: Chant
Oliver Wakeman: Claviers
   
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