Best of the Batch: Ayreon
The Human Equation
Title: The Human Equation
Genre: Progressive Rock
Ayreon, otherwise known as Arjen Lucassen, guitar player extraordinaire, has once again come up with a masterpiece of progressive rock sonic pleasures. It is a feast for your ears, mind, and senses. The Human Equation is a two CD set that tells a story that will capture your imagination. This spectacular production is all about the human condition, well, various levels of it. It is a story within a story if you will.
One look at the lineup on this set and you will see that Lucassen’s peers respect him by contributing and turning in such incredible performances. Many well-known names in the world of progressive-rock take their part in this, to put it mildly, ambitious affair.
I totally loved this album, period. I really got off on all the excellent instrumentation and the varying degrees of vocalists that Lucassen used to present each segment of the story (numbered 1-20 days). I have to admit, I will never feel my words will do this work the justice it deserves, you absolutely must hear this album for yourself to absorb it all and feel the impact of the words and music. This collection of recorded works stands strong and tall amongst all the rest, and I mean anything that is coming out now. It is without a doubt the best prog-rock album I have heard this year, it will be terribly difficult to top this one, as they do not get much better.
The mix down of this recording is phenomenal. Each vocalist comes in for his or her part with such force and beauty to shape each of the 20 days with singularity and purpose. I found Eric Clayton’s voice the most intriguing, he reminded me of Bowie, but a few notches on the lower end of the scale, very powerful and magnetic. The incomparable James LaBrie seems to showing up everywhere lately; he is quickly becoming one of the most sought after vocalist on the planet, and with good reason, he is incredibly versatile and talented. Last but not least, the powerful and moving guitar playing of Arjen Lucassen. After the Star One project, I never thought I would be saying, at least so soon, that there was a better album from this man. Well the time has arrived, he has reached the top of the mountain, but of course, he will surely find another to climb next time he gets in the studio. Now the challenge is taking this on the road, is it even possible? If anyone can pull it off it would be him, I have no doubt.
There was not a big named prog-rock band that did not cross my mind at one time or another while listening to this album; I am gushing with exuberance and energy after hearing this incredible display of musical virtuosity. This is the ultimate convergence of progressive rock royalty. As soon as I got the press release for this, I said send it! I knew straight away that I was in for a sonic treat when I saw the name that you equate with musical excellence, Arjen “Ayreon” Lucassen…I rest my case.