01011001 review by Ayreon

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  • Released: Jan 29, 2008
  • Sound: 10
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 8.6 (77 votes)
Ayreon: 01011001
5

Sound — 10
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.

Lyrics — 8
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.

Overall Impression — 6
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.

24 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Ez0ph
    Awesome I'm gonna get this now I didn't even know that they were putting out a new album
    highwayone73
    A friend of mine has been playing this album nonstop for a few weeks now (thank you, bit torrent). As far as pure musicianship goes, Arjen can't be touched. The vocals suffer a bit but aren't horrible. This isn't quite as good as the Universal Migrator but it's a very strong release. Now could somebody please tab the riff from "The shooting company of Capt. Frans B. Cock" I'd be eternally greatful.
    DustyBannister
    ever dying wrote: Yay, 01 rocks.. It won't beat THE for me tho..
    That was an awesome album, I really like Universal Migrater Pt1
    Mihyaeru
    ernasty10050 : I think this album is awesome. I had never heard of Ayreon before but it's epic.
    Unfrotuantely theres a lot of people butm orep eople should he is a genius
    Universal_Moon
    ya the planet Y thing and the machines they are actually talking about the great PLanet nibiru story. quite interesting
    Yasaki
    Great CD like usual. Arjen did it again. It's not better then the rest. It's just good. I'd give it an 8
    Aziraphale
    I've always loved Arjen for the fact that to me he's the exact opposite of what Raphael Faunus described. Electric Castle and Equation are two of the most emotionally striking records I've heard, and despite being "prog" it never gets weird for the sake of being weird. To me he's one of the biggest musical geniouses on the planet, because he can write catchy songs without the slightest hint of musical cliches.
    Metal_stuff
    I actually like Disc 2 a lot more. It brings out some of the folkish style that Arjen has used in past releases. As for as a HE compariso, I'd say its pretty close. Both albums have neat stories and the guests really make for a diverse sound on everything Arjen puts out. I'd say its a worthwhile listen for any fan of progressive music.
    whirleygig
    [quote=Raphael Faunus]I honestly didn't like this album at all, though I suppose it can be suspected since I'm no big fan of prog-rock (King Crimson, OSI, Porcupine Tree and Chroma Key are exceptions). Generally there is little hold to it that in essence delivers any emotion to the listener; All it seems to be is shiny production and epic musicianship. However, I'm not -feeling- anything from it, so to speak, and seeing as it can't carry its workload on making you give a shit for the characters, it just doesn't quite work like you'd think a band should. King Crimson? Epitaph was a beautiful song that made you feel all forms of emotion. Unfortunately, Ayreon has no Epitaph.[/quote] I would say you need to check out 'The Human Equation'. The emotion in that masterpiece just blows me away. Definitely one of the best pieces of music I've ever heard.
    Reviewer Pete
    Mihyaeru wrote: Wow I'm actually suprised to even see a review of an Ayreon album on here due to what appears to be the pure lack of fans hanging around UG...
    I aim to please.....myself. :p
    Mihyaeru
    Wow I'm actually suprised to even see a review of an Ayreon album on here due to what appears to be the pure lack of fans hanging around UG...but anyway being a biy Ayreon fan meself I was eagily awaiting this album since I first heard it was to be released, but in teh end i think its a very good album. The Human Equation is still my favourite but this is still very good has some awesome moments on it but then some just good moments too. I think it is 1 of those albums that may take a few listens before you truly apprecaite it
    Raphael Faunus
    I honestly didn't like this album at all, though I suppose it can be suspected since I'm no big fan of prog-rock (King Crimson, OSI, Porcupine Tree and Chroma Key are exceptions). Generally there is little hold to it that in essence delivers any emotion to the listener; All it seems to be is shiny production and epic musicianship. However, I'm not -feeling- anything from it, so to speak, and seeing as it can't carry its workload on making you give a shit for the characters, it just doesn't quite work like you'd think a band should. King Crimson? Epitaph was a beautiful song that made you feel all forms of emotion. Unfortunately, Ayreon has no Epitaph.
    El Maurizio
    I saw an interview with Arjen on a dutch tv-show just a few days ago, im not really a fan of the genre but im gonna check this album out, i might like it
    heavyprog
    Good review, but I disagree pretty strongly with the comment about it dragging on. There are just so many good songs on this album and so many awesome performances that I never found it overlong.