Arjen Lucassen has returned with a new Ayreon album for 2017, The Source being the latest adventure in the long saga which has been the stalwart concept and story of Lucassen’s discography. The Source is actually a prequel to the Ayreon story, of which I have been a fan since I first heard about it. There have been many magical moments throughout the now nine album saga. I particularly enjoyed Into the Electric Castle, The Human Equation and 01011001, although Actual Fantasy, The Final Experiment, both parts of The Universal Migrator and The Theory of Everything were also excellent.
It is a fantastic storyline, full of power and momentous music. From ancient times through the evolution of our world and onward towards space travel and planetary colonization, it has been a powerful journey, full of great lyrics and musicianship, pulled together with fine performances by musicians and singers from throughout the globe. Lucassen has been akin to the George Lucas of the musical experience and every aspect of this journey, from the in depth stotylines to the choosing of the players and singers, has made Lucassen the premier composer of this type of futuristic space rock. Arjen has melded traditional rock, space rock, heavy metal and progressive rock to paint from this grand palette his stories which document history and warn of potential future outcomes for planet Earth.
In this latest reading of the story I feel that Arjen has accomplished a rewrite of sorts, a prequel to the story, using new singers and musicians. Although the songs have changed, the story is very similar. Like Hollywood, he has decided to try a fresh re-boot of the Ayreon story with new performers. This also seems like a summary or overture of the complete storyline. I know that Arjen’s fans love the Ayreon concept and never want the story to end, but with this disc I feel he is replaying it, but it’s a fun story which engages a multitude of talented artists.
Yes, there are highlights, like Everybody Dies, and James LaBrie’s singing as ‘The Historian’ character on The Day that the World Breaks Down, The Star of Sirrah and others. Any album graced with his singing will always hold the interest for Dream Theater fans like me.
Marillion’s Mark Kelly plays keyboards while Epica’s Simone Simmons and Floor Jansen from Nightwish play central characters, singing their roles perfectly. Any band would be more than happy to include the guest list of top new heavy metal talent in whatever project they were creating. There is no question that assembling these great talents is both fun and creates some excellent music, their performances interpreting the story in innovative ways and sending it in new directions.
The record label, Mascot, describes the album in these words: “The title of The Source invites various interpretations. It’s a reference to water — the source of life — and the water planet where the escaping Alphans find a safe new home after their long, arduous journey. The Source also points to the origins of humanity and the question of where we come from. The title also hints at the role that the album itself plays in the whole Ayreon catalogue. Given that it is a prequel, it can be thought of as the source of the entire Ayreon epic.”
The only question I am left with is, ‘Why?’
For me it is time for a new story. It is hard to branch out when this direction is obviously so profitable and enjoyable for the artists, but for fans like me it’s definitely time for something new.
I like this album, and highly recommend it for anyone new to Arjen’s fan club or this genre of music. That said, I hope to review something completely different from Arjen the next time he releases an album.
2017 will be a very Ayreon year, with multiple live performances taking place across Europe. Having a new album with new songs, singers and players is important to that end.
Get this album and enjoy the re-start of the Ayreon Universe.
[And you can read Professor Mark’s recent interview with Arjen Lucassen HERE.]
Chronicle 1: The Frame
01. The Day That the World Breaks Down (12:32)
02. Sea of Machines (5:08)
03. Everybody Dies (4:42)
chronicle 2: The Aligning of The Ten
04. Star of Sirrah (7:03)
05. All That Was (3:36)
06. Run! Apocalypse! Run! (4:52)
07. Condemned to Live (6:14)
Chronicle 3: The Transmigration
01. Aquatic Race (6:56)
02. The Dream Dissolves (6:11)
03. Death cry Of a Race (4:43)
04. Into the Ocean (4:53)
Chronicle 4: The Rebirth
05. Bay of Dreams (4:24)
06. Planet Y Is Alive! (6:02)
07. The Source Will Flow (4:13)
08. Journey to Forever (3:19)
09. The Human Compulsion (2:15)
10. March of The Machines (1:40)
Total Time – 88:33
Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Electric & Acoustic Guitars, Bass Guitar, Mandolin, Synthesizers, Hammond, Solina Strings, all other instruments
Joost van den Broek – Grand Piano, Electric Piano
Mark Kelly – Synthesizer Solo
Maaike Peterse – Cello
Paul Gilbert – Guitar Solo
Guthrie Govan – Guitar Solo
Marcel Coenen – Guitar Solo
Ed Warby – Drums
Ben Mathot – Violin
Jeroen Goossens – Flute, Wind Instruments
James LaBrie – as ‘The Historian’
Tommy Karevik – as ‘The Opposition Leader’
Tommy Rogers – as ‘The Chemist’
Simone Simons – as ‘The Counselor’
Nils K. Rue – as ‘The Prophet’
Tobias Sammet – as ‘The Captain’
Hansi Kürsch – as ‘The Astronomer’
Mike Mills – as ‘TH-1’
Russell Allen – as ‘The President’
Michael Eriksen – as ‘The Diplomat’
Floor Jansen – as ‘The Biologist’
Will Shaw, Wilmer Waarbroek, Jan Willem Ketelaars & Lisette van den Berg – as ‘The Ship’s Crew’
Zaher Zorgati – as ‘The Preacher’
Record Label: Mascot
Country of Origin: The Netherlands
Date of Release: 28th April 2017