The Theory Of Everything review by Ayreon

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  • Released: Oct 28, 2013
  • Sound: 8
  • Lyrics: 8
  • Overall Impression: 8
  • Reviewer's score: 8 Superb
  • Users' score: 9.1 (24 votes)
Ayreon: The Theory Of Everything
2

Sound — 8
Ayreon are a very particular group. They aren't like most other renowned progressive metal groups, and not just because Ayreon takes influences from such genres as classical and electronica. Ayreon is standout because the majority of their music is written and performed by one man, Arjen Anthony Lucassen. As the driving force behind Ayreon, Lucassen not only sings but plays mandolin, synthesizer, mellotron, drums, piano, flute, banjo, lute, bass, hammond, and half a dozen additional instruments. For those moments where he suffers from a creative block, he enlists the aid of many guest musicians, including Dream Theater's James LaBrie, Steve Lee from Gotthard, and vocalist Tobias Sammet of Avantasia. Because of these unusual circumstances, Ayreon has never manned the stage and performed live, although some songs from the band's catalog have made their way into the set list during some live appearances of Lucassen's side projects. Since the group's carnation in 2004, Ayreon have released (up until most recently) seven studio albums and a number of successful singles, including "Come Back to Me" and "The Stranger From Within." The album titles themselves took inspiration from Lucassen's own passion for science fiction; a few examples include "Actual Fantasy," "Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer," and "01011001," the last of which peaked at number two on the Dutch Album Chart. Following the release of "01011001," it was announced that Ayreon would be going into hiatus; the reason being so Lucassen could spend time on other projects and return to Ayreon to create a standout studio album. Apparently this is that time, as Ayreon are marking a resurgence with their first new album in five years, and shows Lucassen bringing along a more impressive list of guest musicians than ever before. "The Theory of Everything" is actually a concept album, with each character being voiced by a different vocalist. This new studio effort is comprised of 42 segments which span across two discs, which has been recognized by Lucassen as a direct reference to "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." The album's title track is a conclave of dominating electric guitar, futuristic sounding synthesizers, elegant piano playing, and harmonious lead vocals, which show a team of singers jumping back and forth between one another. It may sound like absolute chaos, but the end product is standout. The synthesizer playing itself is impressive, which is anticipated when you have Rick Wakeman of Yes, Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Dream Theater's Jordan Rudess and Steve Hackett from Genesis together in the same room.

Lyrics — 8
"The Theory of Everything" boasts a standout list of lead vocalists as well. Such formidable names as Asia's John Wetton and Marco Hietala of Nightwish make appearances on the new album, which of course makes for some standout vocal harmonies. When you have such a list of talent together on one studio album, it leaves very little for one to focus on in a negative light.

Overall Impression — 8
Ayreon give a knockout performance with their new studio album, "The Theory of Everything." Between the album's striking list of guest musicians to the standout end product, this is an album that comes highly recommended to any progressive metal fan, as well as any Ayreon follower.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Peres.T.Peanut
    This is probably the best album I've heard this year, Arjen is one of my all time favourite musicians and a ****ing genius.
    Priest_of_Judas
    What an uninformative review of an exceptionally visual and complex album. Perhaps I ought to write one myself, this album deserves a deeper and more thought-provoking review. Also, Ayreon has been around since approximately 1995.
    Spoony_Bard
    Ugh, yes. Please write a review. Gotta love these "reviews" where the majority of the content is just a biography of the band. Yep, I can Wikipedia, too!
    beneharris
    All that wikipedia-ing, and he still calls it a "group." Its really Arjen and that's about it.
    travislausch
    I love how this is considered a group when Ed Wabry is literally the only other member and everyone else is a guest. Anyway, definite AOTY.
    ordinary_story
    Gotta thank UG for introducing me to Ayreon and their materful 01011001. This is another great album with some great moments and a creepy ending too
    damillion
    That album was really great indeed. Not sure about this one yet since I have such mixed feelings about it. Maybe I should write a review as well...
    travislausch
    It's funny because Arjen really didn't like how that one turned out. I thought it was good too, though. No Electric Castle, but a good album nonetheless.
    mwolfgang94
    Haven't listened to the album yet, but this is a terrible "review." I literally know nothing more about the album than I did before I clicked on this.
    Tap Master
    I may review this of Priest_of_Judas decides not to. I really like Ayreon, and I think an "8" cannot be possible.
    damillion
    It depends on the inflation of grading. Too many fanboys keep giving perfect tens to everything. 7/10 should be a remarkable grade, but now it's almost come to mean bad. 8/10 in my mind is a very high grade for an album. It's what I gave one of my favourite records this year: Leprous "Coal".
    curtis.edwards.
    I love how when reviewing the lyrics the reviewer is more focused on the vocal harmonies and the list of talent.
    WildthingJR
    This album definitely tops 01011001. The melodies, harmonies and overall composition have become even better.