Release Date: Jan 29, 2008
Genres: Heavy Metal, Progressive Metal, Neo-Prog
Number Of Tracks: 15
'01011001' is an album with a scope and storyline most other bands could only dream of conjuring up.
UG Team, on february 01, 2008 5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: 01011001 has been in the making for quite some time and sonically speaking, there's little to pick on. The level of producing records has gotten so high that on occasion I feel that this section is almost unnecessary. But, for what it's worth, it's an immaculate production, and that is no small feat given the numerous elements involved. Industrial sampling, choirs, multi-layered harmonized vocals, soft sections, heavy sections... you name it, and this album probably has it. It's a slick, modern production and it isn't overly aggressive, but nor is it overly soft. I hate to say it sometimes, but it's pretty much what you could expect from a production in this day and age. Multi-instrumentalist and mastermind Arjen Lucassen has succesfully managed to craft a sound that leaves nothing to be desired. // 10
Lyrics: I'll do my best to keep this somewhat short. 01011001 is the fourth album in a series of albums dealing with a continuous storyline. I'll leave out the previous three, and focus only on this album. On the Planet Y, which is also the name of the first disc (and for the geeks among us, 01011001 is the binary for the number 89, which in ASCII becomes the letter Y), a race has lost touch with their emotions and have become completely dependent on machines. They of course think this stinks, so they hop on a comet and fly to earth, where they crash onto the planet, killing all the dinosaurs, and thus we have mankind. However, things don't work out as smoothly as these beings had hoped, 'cause also us humans end up being dependent on machines eventually, losing touch with our morals and that stuff.
In the end, I guess we can shorten it down to being a sci-fi story that mixes in a good dose of social criticism. Lyrically, it's good. Hell, writing such a long album and not ending up with any vomit-inducing lines is a feat worthy of 7/10... but! I am always one for rewarding the daring souls in the industry who dare go beyond the standards of the genres. This album features several different characters, all with well-written lines and when dialogue occurs, it succeeds and surpasses attempts by most others in the genre. Lyrically and thematically, it's a very convincing case. // 8
Overall Impression: To start it off -- the most striking feature of this album is without a doubt the number of guests. 17 different vocalists and almost 10 different instrumentalists. Notables include guitarist Michael Romeo of Symphony X, Derek Sherinian, Simone Simons of Epica, Tom Englund from Evergrey, and perhaps the guy who gets the biggest chunk of the vocals, Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian. Vocally and instrumentally, it's very, very well done. The majority of the album probably leans towards the softer side of the spectrum, warranting the progressive tag, but there should be enough heavy sections to please most fans of this type of music. There's a truckload of captivating melodies on this album, and Arjen works the main themes very well, adding subtle flavors and layers to them when they return. For lack of a better phrase, it's almost subliminal at times.
Secondly -- it's long. 102 minutes, to be precise. For those quick in maths, that means 2 CDs. The first disc, which is called Y focuses on the race who hop on the comet and crash on to earth, while the second disc is fittingly dubbed Earth, and focuses on... yeah, you get it. Sadly for Arjen and his project, when you get to the part about the length of it, is when it gets a bit sticky. As much as I wish it would, 01011001 doesn't hold up the entire way. I can't help but lose interest time after time when the album rolls past the 60-ish minute mark. The opening however, with Hansi pulling most of the workload is, well, awesome. The shining moment one could say comes a bit too soon, with the soothingly beautiful Comatose. It's far from being a fast downhill after that, but the material afterwards isn't nearly as captivating as the opening half-hour or so.
Still -- it's a good progressive album, and it should get good points just for the vocal performances and the scope of the album. There's plenty of good material to be found on these two CDs, but when push comes to shove, one can't help but feel 01011001 outstays it's welcome by 20-or-so minutes. // 6
kranoscorp, on january 12, 2009 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: This album is the newest offering from the Norwegian genius, Arjen Lucassen. For those of you new to Ayreon, the Arjen basically does a "Steely Dan" by masterminding the entire album, and then utilising various friends and session musicians to create the album. Arjen generally plays parts like guitar, bass, etc. but enlists the session musicians for alternative vocals, strings and folk instruments, and soloes. The cool thing about the album is that it is one gigantic Rock Opera, with each song being a chapter in an overall story.
Arjen creates an extremely varied album. It is very hard to label, with songs ranging from folk metal (River of Time, Newborn Race) to progressive metal (E=MC^2, Ride the Comet) to electronica (Comatose). Although songlength usually averages out at 8 minutes with 15 songs total, the songs still maintain momentum without feeling drawn out. Every song is good in it's own right, but what really makes the album shine are the standout vocals and soloes. All the vocalists paint Arjen's story with sweeping choruses and opera-like singing. The vocals really make the album what it is, and the soloes (a favorite of mine being Symphony X guitarist Michael Romeo's from E=MC^2) really bring the songs to the next level. The soloes are tasteful while being fairly skilled. The only issue I can think of as to the sound is that the bass guitar and acoustic guitar are often drowned out in the recording, but with around 6 other instruments and an equal amount of vocalist on any given song, that is to be expected. // 10
Lyrics: This is the most important area for the album, and boy does it excell. The story describes how an alien race tries to survive, I will leave it at that as I do not wish to spoil it for you guys. The lyrics discuss controversial issues such as evolution and abortion cleverly in the story, such as in Newborn Race, "Do we have the right to play gods? / I strongly feel I have to make a stance". Thankfully, this insinuations are fairly well hidden, so Arjen avoids the pitfall that many bands encounter by not coming off as preachy. Of course, since this is a Sci-fi story, there are certain lyrics--such as "He's the last man alive. / (Searching for the answer)" in The Sixth Extinction--which subjectively come off as cheesy, but again that is to be expected, and Ayreon does not make a habit of it. // 9
Overall Impression: Although this album is not better or worse than Ayreon's previous offerings, Arjen's musical genius shows clearly in this album. The entrancing story telling, phenominal vocals, and immpressive soloes clearly push this album above and beyond what is expected from a standard release from an artist. Standout songs such as River of Time, E=MC^2, and The Sixth Extinction give a good view of what this album is like, but all of the songs need a listen considering how diverse they are. All of the issues I have listed are either minor or unsurprising; this album s truly great. A must listen for fans of Rock Operas and musicians going through a lyrical slump, this album is inspiring and a great addition to any repertoire. // 10
mqsand2112, on august 21, 2009 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: Freakin awesome band! Very unique style of music, almost a really vocal techno metal. The keyboards sound really, really nice. Especially in songs like Age of Shadows/We Are Forever and Comatose. The band is very coordinated, and it is a very smooth sound throughout both albums Y and Earth. The chorus for Liquid Eternity sounds great, and Unnartural Selection has some vocal lines intertwining. The solo on E=mc2 is pretty good too. Insane sound coming from this band, almost revolutionary. Favourite song soundwise is Age of Shadows/We Are Forever. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics are pretty mind boggling and hard to grasp, which is usually a good thing. There seems to be major connections in between songs on both albums, but it is still hard to say. The vcalists are outstanding in this band, fantastic harmonization and synchronization, very well done. The lyrics and the instruments go hand in hand, not one time where they felt out of place. Ayreon definitely knows what they are doing when it comes to songwriting and storytelling. Favourite song lyrically is Liquid Eternity. // 9
Overall Impression: I can't compare this band, it is really quite unique. I have to say that I liked the Y album a bit more than the Earth alum. Both are great, but I'm not to fond of River of Time. The whole ideology behind this band is pretty sweet though. This album is great go and buy it because it is awesome. It is something new, I'm glad I stumbled upon it. Hands down best song on the album is Comatose! // 9