Universal Migrator, Pts. 1-2 review by Ayreon

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  • Released: Aug 3, 2004
  • Sound: 5
  • Lyrics: 6
  • Overall Impression: 6
  • Reviewer's score: 5.7 Decent
  • Users' score: 9.5 (11 votes)
Ayreon: Universal Migrator, Pts. 1-2
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Sound — 5
Now at first, I know I'm going to be hated by some prog-metal fans or hardcore Ayreon fans for the inferior rating I've given this album, being a prog metal fan myself. I assure you this is an honest rating on my part. It'll be explained. Ayreon is a project that is almost single-handedly Arjen Anthony Lucassen, who plays guitar, synths, bass, and primary songwritings for it. He incorporates a vast number of guest singers, and on this particular album he incorporates one singer per song, unlike other albums where multiple singers share a song. This album is a re-release of the two Ayreon Albums "The Dream Sequencer" and "Flight Of The Migrator," which share a continuous storyline about Arjen's sci-fi story about how the universe formed. The universal migrator refers to the very first soul in the universe that spreads new souls throughout the universe. Interesting storyline, isn't it? The problem is, the songs are almost not worked out very well in my opinion as to how the storyline goes. There are parts where I severely dislike the lyrics because it ruins the track it is in as a song. Enough about lyrics until I get to that part of the review.

The first disc contains mostly atmospheric soundscapes and not much heaviness at all. Now normally, I don't care a all if the music is "heavy," that is not the factor I am looking for in my music. But innovation is. In my opinion it is just the same thing over and over again. And on the other hand, it can get too progressive, that the songs tend to drag, become uninteresting. And I just cannot stand the synth and techno elements used in Arjen's style. Sounds too computerized. On the second disc is where the "metal" begins and gets more dynamic, and slightly more interesting than the previous disc, however I am just sick and freakin tired of the "thum-du-dum" banging riffs that some people call "metal guitar." I think it is one of the most boring and non-creative styles used in modern metal, even in prog. The techno-elements make it worse as well. It ruined a song with one of my favorite ever singers featured. I hate the sounds of analog synths as well. You know, the kind that those very old bands used (Deep Purple, etc). In my opinion, the make the name of keyboard instrumentation a complete joke. I swore that I would never incorporate any form of techno or electronic sounds in my music, ever. Some guitar parts are fast and talented, but I honestly feel that Arjen could do better in some areas in the disc. The bass is terrible, almost completely inaudible. That just made me plain mad. And what can I say about the drums? Nothing new at all. Just heavy drumming, not that interesting.

Lyrics — 6
Disc 1: The Dream Sequencer.
The last human being alive, a Martian colonist, steps into the recreative "dream sequencer" to spend his remaining hours there. He goes through the past in his sequenced dreams.

01. The Dream Sequencer - intro track. Some compterized (and rather corny) dialogue and sound effects at the beginning, and the rest of the track is just a synth pattern.
02. My House On Mars - now, this may be the only track I have listened to a second time. Features Johan Edlund (Tiamat) on vocals and depicts the colonist and his sister as children being left behind on Mars after an Earth war. Only time when music is actually interesting in my opinion.
03. 2084 - it's kinda boring. Lana Lane is not that great a singer.
04. One Small Step - about the 20th century Apollo mission to the moon. Singer skills are boring and the chorus was kinda lame.
05. The Shooting Company Of Frans B. Cocq - I declare this the most prepostrous track on the disc. Storyline is about some shooting company? Posing for a master painter in the 17th century? I don't like this at all and I never heard it again and hope not to.
06. Dragon On The Sea - don't really hate it, but then again, not that interesting. Female singer acts as Queen Elizabeth sending Sir Francis Drake against an armada.
07. Temple Of The Cat - this was the single from the album? I know, short, radio-friendly, blah blah blah. So far I've not really seen how any of those songs fit into the storyline so well. This song is about a Mayan girl on the central American continent.
08. Carried By The Wind - Arjen himself sings here. To be honest with you Ayreonauts, I won't reallycare about hearing him sing again. Music? Nope, not interested.
09. And The Druids Turn To Stone - I've nothing really new to say same as the other songs.
10. The First Man On Earth - song topic speaks for itself. I'll give creadit to the songwriting details here but that's it.
11. The Dream Sequencer Reprise - synth outro.

Disc 2: Flight Of The Migrator.
The metal disc, now describing the journey of the migrator.

01. Chaos - cheesy computer dialogue again, but goes to metal instrumentaion.
02. Dawn Of A Million Souls - Symphony X guest musicians Russell Allen and Michael Romeo! Russell is superb, however the chorus lyrics need musch to be desired. "What a show! Behold!" that's kinda hard to forgive.
03. Journey On The Waves Of Time - power metal band Primal Fear's vocalist featured. This is actually one of the more listenable songs in this whole re-release. Love that singer, but I wish Primeal Fear had more creativity than just a power metal guideline.
04. To The Quasar - kinda annoying singing in the first half, but gets real awesome I must admit on the second half. Overall, this is too electronically fused and disinterests me from listening to it again further.
05. Into The Black Hole - Bruce Dickinson on vocals! Longest track on the album going over ten and a half minutes. The synth solo is actually fine (unlike having synth throughout music, here's an exception: I really like synth SOLOS when the song calls for it and I'd practice some myself) Fine outro chorus. I honsetly wish Arjen would stop thum da da dumming on his guitar and do more leads. More basswork, for Maiden's sake!
06. Through The Wormhole - Rhapsody singer Fabio Lione. Excellent singing! Yet music completely ruined by the consistent techno. Why Arjen? Why do you do this? Please, for the sake of good vocals, lets not ruin the rest on the crucial components! Good synth solo by Shadow Gallery's Gary Wehrkamp though.
07. Out Of The White Hole - Stratovarius singer Timo Kotipelto. Awesome singing like he always is. Note the analog-synth intro. That's what I was talking about that I really hate. One of the most annoying keyboard sounds ever produced besides the terrible Van Halen keyboards.
08. To The Solar System - here in the storyline the dream sequencer starts to break up and the colonist, as the Universal Migrator, cannot reach Earth even in his dream.
09. The New Migrator - the colonist's body is dead, but he now knows that his spirit cannot die. The real migrator communicates to him without words and tells him that he is the new universal migrator and must carry out his impending destiny. Must admit, good storyline, and the song's not too bad either. You can't help but feel happy for the fortunate colonist.

Overall Impression — 6
Arjen Lucassen may be an awesome storyteller, but the lyrics need some work definately. The music is something I will never ask for seconds however. I don't want my opinion on this album and of Ayreon to affect your own of course. I don't discourage you from trying this one at all. By all means, give it a listen. If you like your music free of electronic sounds, this isn't for you. For those who like prog/creative music in all horizons (even electronic), I'd even say you've already heard it and liked it. I must give credit to Arjen for being good at what he does. My point is, this is not my style of music, and its to me uninteresting.

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