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Articles Home » 2008 Articles » Ayreon - 2008 01011001
Ayreon - 2008 01011001

ARTIST: Ayreon
ALBUM: 01011001
LABEL: Inside Out/SPV
YEAR: 2008


LINEUP: Vocalists: Daniel Gildenlow (Pain Of Salvation), Tom Englund (Evergrey), Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian), Anneke Van Giersbergen (Agua De Annique, The Gathering), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Bob Catley (Magnum), Jorn Lande (Masterplan), Floor Jansen (After Forever), Steve Lee (Gotthard), Magali Luyten (Virus IV, Beautiful Sin), Ty Tabor (Kings X), Simone Simons (Epica), Liselotte Hegt (Dial), Phideaux Xavier, Marjan Welman, Wudstik, Arjen Lucassen

Instrumentalists: Arjen Lucassen - guitar, keyboards, synths, bass, programming * Tomas Bodin (The Flower Kings) - keyboards * Derek Sherinian (Planet X) - keyboards * Joost Van Den Broek (After Forever, Star One) - keyboards * Michael Romeo (Symphony X) - guitar * Lori Linstruth (Ex-Stream Of Passion) - guitar * Ed Warby (Gorefest) - drums * Jeroen Goossens (Flairck) - flute * Ben Mathot (Dis) - violin * David Faber - cello

TRACK LISTING: Disc 1 - Y: 01 Age Of Shadows (Incl. 'We Are Forever') * 02 Comatose * 03 Liquid Eternity * 04 Connect The Dots * 05 Beneath The Waves: (A) Beneath The Waves, (B) Face The Facts, (C) But A Memory... (D) World Without Walls (E) Reality Bleeds * 06 Newborn Race: (A) The Incentive, (B) The Vision, (C) The Procedure, D) Another Life, (E) Newborn Race, (F) The Conclusion * 07 Ride The Comet * 08 Web Of Lies

Disc 2 - Earth: 01 The Fifth Extinction: (A) Glimmer Of Hope, (B) World Of Tomorrow Dreams, (C) Collision Course, (D) From The Ashes, (E) Glimmer Of Hope (Reprise) * 02 Waking Dreams * 03 The Truth Is In Here * 04 Unnatural Selection * 05 River Of Time * 06 E=Mc2 * 07 The Sixth Extinction: (A) Echoes On The Wind, (B) Radioactive Grave, (C) 2085, (D) To The Planet Of Red, (E) Spirit On The Wind, (F) Complete The Circle



This 2CD set from Ayreon master commander Arjen Lucassen has all the makings of something 'big'. I mean lets face it.. the album concept, the amazing lineup of musicians, the different array of product surrounding the release of '01011001'.. it just screams into your face.. 'BIG'!! As with the other Ayreon albums released previously, it's evident that Mr Lucassen does not do things by halves (actually he does things by doubles!), but with this album, I think he has definitely surpassed anything that he's done before. There is a theme (not surprisingly), involving the inhabitants of alien planet (called Y in this story, also known as Forever) who have through advancement and technology - lost their emotions. They place their DNA on an Earthbound comet in an attempt to rediscover them when Earth is reseeded with life. Ultimately Earth develops too quickly and is on the verge of destruction despite the intervention of Forever. Somehow the '01011001' story interfaces with the other Ayreon episodes in much the same way as the Star Wars Trilogy!

Musically, it's not half as heavy as previous Ayreon works. Amid the standard fare HM riffs, we get a hybrid of modern elctronica, folk, acoustic - all trying to paint a picture of a pre-apocalyptic Ayreon inspired world. Combined in among this, are the various vocal talent who embellish the painted picture with their unique song singing and storytelling. The vocal arrangements really do take on a whole different level of intricacy on '01011001'. Before writing this review, I did read other reviews elsewhere, and many punters seem to be reading off the same page.. and that is: stylistically this album hasn't really progressed in any new direction at all since 2004's massive undertaking 'Human Equation'. Essentially this is a repeat performance, albeit with a new cast and new concept. I'll let you be the judge.

The Songs
The album is divided into two parts: 'Y' and 'Earth'.

An industrialized machination prelude leads us into of 'Age Of Shadows' which forecasts the fall of humanity. The music a dark twisting mire of guitars, synths, effects and semi-distorted vocals.

'Comatose' highlights Jorn Lande and Anneke von Gisbergen as the vocal pairing joined at the hip in this tale of emotional emptiness. The music is full of sweeping synth pads with nigh on a guitar on display.

Arjen returns to his pomp metal roots with 'Liquid Eternity' with only a break in the mid-section for a violin solo.

'Connect The Dots' is really the odd one out here. It features jangly pop verses that appear contemporary (rather than the Ayreon world of Y), the music is somehow integrated with metal, it kinda works.. I think.. Arjen and Kings X man Ty Tabor combine on this one.

'Beaneath The Waves' is a lovely five-part sequence. Quite lush, deeply atmospheric, the male/female vocal lines giving it some contrast. This song describes the liquid world of the Forever on their home planet Y.

'Newborn Race' describes the process required for the Forever to return their DNA back in time via an earthbound comet. There are a multitude of singers on this one, the music is a mix of restrained metal riffs with some symphonic passages.

Loads of cool synthesizer effects lead the way on 'Ride The Comet' - an excellent track with a tribal drum backbeat, the lyrics talk of DNA (extremophiles) being taken for a ride to Earth on a comet.

The other unusual track on this first CD (again, contemporary, rather than the subject matter thus far) is 'Web Of Lies'. I'm sure there is a reason for its inclusion on this disc. It appears to be vocal duet between Simone Simons and Phideaux Xavier.

The first disc is 50 minutes, and save for two oddball tunes ('Connect The Dots' and 'Web Of Lies') this could've contained the storyline of the Forever and Planet Y (aka in binary.. 01011001) to this single disc quite nicely.

The second disc relates to the seeding of Mankind thanks to the Forever, and Humanity's eventual downfall thanks to a war in 2084. part of this story also dovetails back to Ayreon's past albums.. particularly the debut 'The Final Experiment'.

'The Fifth Extinction' describes the Forever debating the merits of their seeding experiment. The male vocalists on this song all have dialog with each other. When Lucassen's guitars aren't blitzing this track, Derek Sherinian's synth adds texture as well as that OTT 'pomp element.

'Waking Dreams' is the tale of how the Forever will guide early Humanity on its quest of evolution, through a process of managed thoughts and ideas through waking dreams. This track is quite mild, the only metal aspect being a guitar solo.

Arjen and Liselotte Hegt are the vocal duo on the excellent 'The Truth Is In Here'. This song looks at the Forever interaction with current-day Humanity through the eyes of a human being... 'they speak to me in dreams, they can see all I can see, they have always been my guide'.. Musically it's a cross between Kansas and 'Voyage' era Brian McDonald. Arjen's role is that of the human protaganist, while Liselotte's role is that of a disbelieving ward nurse.. 'Mr L.. did you take your meds?', or won't you please relax, let me make your bed..'

For me, 'Unnatural Selection' is the best song on the album. It's probably the heaviest, and describes the Forever's methods in which to accelerate human development and evolution. However this comes at a cost as humanity has taken these accelerations and used them for the wrong reasons.

'Rivers Of Time' has a folk/celtic feel to it, and again, dovetails back to 'The Final Experiment' album, where humanity in the year 2084 was given visions of humanity's decline, the Forever would assist by sending these visions back via the rivers of time.

'E=MC2' talks of the revelations by scientists in the final days of mankind - with the discovery of time telepathy, and the ability to project visions of mankind's decline back to medieval England to the blind minstrel 'Ayreon' - who would of sow the seed of mankind's fall through song and story - which would snowball over the coming generations so that mankind would not make the same mistake twice.. hopefully to the point where the future is safe.

The final song 'The Sixth Extinction' highlights the demise of mankind. The projections into the past appear not to have any effect on the final days for man. The year 2085 was the catalyst for the end times, but did anyone or anything survive? The Forever have not given up hope..

In Summary
If you did well to read this entire review, then you should perhaps congratulate me for writing the blimmin' thing up! It's a bit of a listen, and you really have to place your self into the Ayreon universe to absorb it all. Lucassen has an amazing capacity to create something vast, and though there were some fantastic musical passages within, I felt myself drifting quite a bit with it. For me, the only thing that kept it together was the storyline. My suggestion to listeners of the album? Get a handle on the storyline first, before listening to it. No one can truly comprehend the Ayreon universe better than Arjen himself, and what it is he is trying to acheive. I'm pretty certain that if an album's worth of conceptual material can be kept to between 60-70 minutes (i.e. one standard CD) then the listeners interest maybe better retained. However, just about every Ayreon album is a double whammy so we should all be used to the way Arjen puts an album like this together. I have a feeling that '01011001' will open a few doors for others wanting to convert sci-fi concepts into a rock opera environment, but at the moment, no-one does it quite as well as Arjen Lucassen does.

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