Ayreon’s latest release, The Source, is a massive undertaking from renowned Dutch composer Ajren Anthony Lucassen which features eleven guest vocalists (yes, you heard that right, 11 guest vocalists) portraying unique characters in an epic sci-fi tale. The Source isn’t just A metal opera album, it is THE metal opera album.  While fans of bands such as Mastodon, The Protomen, or Brendan Small’s Galaktikon will be very familiar with the notion of a concept album, Ayreon takes it to the next level. The Source is comprised of two discs, divided into four chapters or ‘chronicles’, each moving the story forward as an grand conflict unfolds.  It is man vs. machine, a world in peril, and the threat of extinction of the inhabitants.  As not to spoil The Source, it is highly suggested that fans personally delve deeper into this truly well crafted, cosmic odyssey for the nitty gritty details but suffice it to say they will not be disappointed.

From the very beginning of the 12 min opener, “The Day That the World Breaks Down”, everything an album like this should deliver, is dished out in spades. Colossal shaking riffs, bombastic drums, and even more enticing, explosive vocal performances from every vocalist, leaves the listener with chills. Each track helps craft a beautiful picture of a futuristic adventure on a far off world, like our own but also very different. The vivacious and energetic vocals of artists like Dream Theater’s James Labrie, Nightwish’s Floor Jansen, and some truly standout performances by Epica’s Simone Simmons are the stuff a composer’s dreams are made of. Take a look at tracks like “Star of Sirrah” or “Condemned to Live” all the way down to the more dramatic tracks like “Everybody Dies”, “Bay of Dreams”, or “Planet Y is Alive” for starters.

The Source delivers so much quality and admirable production choices.  Perfectly showcasing each vocalists strengths, with such impeccable canter that it makes one album, with nearly a dozen singers, seem almost normal. That is quite possibly one of the greatest things about this project, how well it is done, the transitions between ‘characters’ is so smooth you KNOW it is a different narrator (vocalist) but the epic continues, without respite. Regardless of a track’s tempo, it is absolutely perfect for the moment; evoking the listener’s emotions and forming the mood in that instant.   This is hardly shocking considering Lucassen’s own immense talent, not to mention the guest musicians that contributed their talents to this masterpiece of earth shattering progressive power metal.

The Source may almost seem overwhelming, considering it is a concept album, jam packed with the creme-de-la-creme of progressive metal vocalists, and has a Terminator-esque story line, but each and every track is magnificent on its own or as part of the epic, so those easily  is just as enjoyable when taken track by track, so no worries for those fans that may get ‘lost in the sauce’.  Despite The Source being a prequel to the eight prior releases from Ayreon, newcomers will not be lost in the ‘chronicle’, they will be introduced to it and inspired to pick up the prior releases. And those familiar with the story will continue to have their mind blown with how Ayreon has managed to keep the tale so vivid and enthralling, not to mention the tremendous amount of talent enclosed within The Source’s cover. Fans should be prepared for a new obsession because when The Source ends they will be dying to hear more of this musical journey juggernaut.

Tracklisting: CD-1
1.The Day That The World Breaks Down
2.Sea of Machines
3.Everybody Dies
4.Star of Sirrah
5.All That Was
6.Run! Apocalypse! Run!
7. Condemned to Live

Tracklisting: CD-2
1.Aquatic Race
2.The Dream Dissolves
3.Death Cry of A Race
4.Into The Ocean
5.Bay of Dreams
6.Planet Y is Alive
7.The Source Will Flow
8.Journey to Forever
9.The Human Compulsion
10.March of the Machines

Ayreon can be found on social media here:
https://www.facebook.com/ArjenLucassenOfficial/
http://www.arjenlucassen.com/

 

Written by Ken Kaizer for Bloodrock Media on May 18, 2017
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