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Ayreon - 1995 The Final Experiment

ARTIST: Ayreon
ALBUM: The Final Experiment
LABEL: Transmission
YEAR: 1995
CD REISSUE: 2005, Inside Out Music, IOMCD 202 * 2016, Music Theories Recordings, MTR74931-2


LINEUP: Personnel

TRACK LISTING: 01 Prologue * 02 The Awareness * 03 Eyes Of Time * 04 The Banishment * 05 Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy * 06 Sail Away To Avalon * 07 Natures Dance * 08 Computer Reign (Game Over) * 09 Waracle *10 Listen To The Waves * 11 Magic Ride * 12 Merlins Will * 13 The Charm Of The Seer * 14 Swan Song * 15 Ayreons Fate


Lately I have been watching a US/Canadian TV series called 'Travelers'. The story concerns the downfall of humanity, and how it affects the future. Concerned future citizens send back mental intelligence into the minds of present-day people, in the hope that they can change and/or influence the present, therefore changing the outcome of the future. This reminded me so much of the debut Ayreon CD, the rather immense 'The Final Experiment', which has similar themes re: past, present and future.

Of course, this is the band of former Vengeance guitarist Arjen Lucassen, who has since gone on to take Ayreon into the upper hemisphere of space/prog metal. Lucassen left the Dutch metallers back in 1992, and forged a new career in the progressive metal realm. 'The Final Experiment' is part narrative and part rock opera, which tells the story of 'Ayreon', the blind minstrel from medieval 6th Century Britain, who has been chosen to sing of Humanity's decline, through the visions being sent to him through the futuristic concept of 'time telepathy' from the year 2084 AD. It makes for great theater, and it sounds immense, especially the CD and enhanced recordings which followed a few years after its initial release in 1995.

The Songs
There's a big cast involved here, with Lucassen doing most of the work, but with help from many fine musicians and singers. The album is fifteen songs long, and is presented in a series of Acts, as we follow Ayreon's quest on this epic adventure. Pretty tough to do at the best of times, but even tougher when you are blind. Schizophrenia anyone? The bombast of the first three songs is incredible, and drags you into the story quickfire. Kayak's Edward Reekers sings the part of both Merlin on 'Prologue' (sounding like a BBC TV presenter.. lol) plus Ayreon on 'The Awareness' as our hero awakens to a world of visions. Meanwhile, Kingdom Come's Lenny Wolf relays a strong performance on 'Eyes Of Time', the third track. 'The Banishment' is a strong and forceful (but melodic) progressive metal offering with a hint of olde world themes. The story by this stage sees Ayreon cast out of his village because of his new found abilities.

Act II sees Ayreon accepted as part of King Arthur's Court, where he can relay his visions to the members of the Court. 'Ye Courtyard Minstrel Boy' is a folk music piece with Ian Parry doing the honours. 'Sail Away To Avalon' is a heavier piece, mixing classical themes with heavy metal and folk. This part of the story sees the quest go in search of the Holy Grail. 'Nature Dance' is a short 2 min 30 sec piece that is mostly folk, wth Ayreon reflecting on his situation.

Act III sees Ayreon interpret his visions. The songs here each identify what the future issues are. 'Computer-Reign (Game Over)' is the vision of Humanity's allowance of technology to take over future society. Not unlike the great AI (artificial intelligence) debate in Earth's here and now! Humanity's lust for war and destruction is the prevalent vision on 'Waracle', while the powerful 'Listen To The Waves' highlights Humanity's destruction through pollution. By the time we get to 'Magic Ride', Ayreon senses his quest remains unfulfilled, and wishes to go out on a literal magic ride before everything closes around him.

Act IV sees Merlin the great wizard of the Arthurian Court intervene in what he believes to be Ayreon's lies and falsehoods. So he gives Ayreon a curse, which prevents his visions from being seen ever again. Though in a final vision, Merlin sees that Ayreon's visions were actually true, and does his best to ensure that his songs and words will be picked up in the late 20th century, still enough time to prevent Humanity's final destruction. Hence this album and CD.. lol!

In Summary
For lovers of progressive metal with an epic storyline, then this is an album worth sitting through with an album jacket in your hand (if not, revert to the Wikipedia page (lol!), and navigate your way through the tracks. It's an all-out Dutch classic. 'The Final Experiment' was picked up by Inside Out Music ten years after its initial release, plus an additional second disc which contains nine alternate versions of the original track. Since then, a further HQ release has been issued in 2016. There really is no excuse to put this album through the wringer as it passes its 21st Anniversary.

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#1 | gdazegod on November 30 2016 09:50:46
Ayreon - The Awareness
YouTube Video:

[url=]Direct to YouTube[/youtube]
#2 | melodiapositiva on November 30 2016 16:27:17
Incredible album with a very interesting story, and more if you like sci fi!
The great Arjen did it even better with his third opus 'the electric castle', both album are imho prog rock masterpieces. clap
#3 | jefflynnefan on November 30 2016 23:49:16
This all sounds really interesting and I am a sci-fi/horror nut. So, I'll have to give it a listen.
#4 | Explorer on December 01 2016 16:17:17
For me anyway,Ayreon`s use of multiple vocalists does on occasion lead to some of his albums sounding a little disjointed, but that said he has done some incredible music, and yes `The Electric Castle` is a Prog/Metal classic.
#5 | Nick C on December 03 2016 09:49:42
My mate owns a record shop in Hebden and reckons Aryeon's Inside the Electric Castle was/is his best selling CD in all the time he's been there! I've never actually heard anything by them though... Grin
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