Ayreon - 01011001

Year of Release: 2008
Label: InsideOut Music
Catalog Number: SPV 79682 DCD
Format: CD
Total Time: 102:15:00

Once upon a time there was a tall boy who wanted to become a guitar player. He practiced hard and one day started playing with a band. He roamed the land with this band for some 15 years. But then he wanted more... he had a vision and wanted to realize it. Now, 12 years and a lot of albums passed, that dream has not only been realized, it has become a standard in music! His discography counts some 23 albums, not counting the countless guest performances. That, in a nutshell, is the story of Arjen Anthony Lucassen.

His last Ayreon album dates back to 2004, The Human Equation, so it has been some 4 years. During that time he was very active in Stream of Passion, but left that band to concentrate on his Ayreon project and he did not want to put SoP on hold for that.

Although initially I loved The Human Equation, I found that after a while that the album lost my interest. So I was pretty anxious about this new album with this strange title: 01011001. The explenation for the title: it is the binary code for Y. And this Y is also found on his last 4 Ayreon albums, bringing back the science fiction theme that was absent on THE. And did I think THE was over the top when it comes to vocalists, well, with 01011001 he tops that: 18 different singers!

I am always intrigued by Arjen's choice of singers, as he has a way of bringing out the best in people. We see a few familiar names (Floor Jansen, Anneke van Giersbergen), some 'established' names (Tom Englund, Bob Catley, Daniel Gildenl?w) and some relatively unknown names (Wudstik, Marjan Welman). The singers are divided into two groups, Forever (the alien from the planet Y, hence the title) and Man. I won't go into the story, you can read that at the Ayreon website or in the booklet, otherwise this review will become really long :-)

Musically all Ayreon ingredients are present. Although Lucassen is a very versatile musician, his sound is recognisable and at times it reminds me very much of THE and I also hear touches of Actual Fantasy. Of course it is again a concept album, so the album should be viewed as one whole piece. No filler tracks, no voice overs, but a very well prepared blend of progressive and classic rock, progressive metal and even a bit of folk.

The opener "Age Of Shadows" sets the tone, as it brings us these crunchy yet heavy riffs. Wow, what a great opener of the album. And already we meet the first 6 (!) singers in the first five minutes. The second part of the song, "We Are Forever," really impressed me: Jonas P Renkse (Katatonia) has a great voice! And he is followed by the ever beautiful Anneke van Giersbergen (Agua de Annique), which makes this opener already the first highlight. "Comatose" is a rather dark song, with a surprisingly soft singing Jorn Lande (Masterplan). As said: Arjen Lucassen brings out the best in singers and finds ways to have them sing different than [their] usual [style]. The effect is fantastic. In this song, the guitars are absent, which enhances this dark feeling.

In "Liquid Eternity," Bob Catley (Magnum) amazes me, as his voice fits this song so well. This song has these heavy guitar chops again, like in "Age Of Shadows." And then those keyboard and string arrangements! Both Jorn and Floor Jansen (After Forever) get to show their vocal power here. "Connect The Dots" knows only one (lead) vocalist: Ty Tabor (King's X). I found his voice reminiscent of Arjen's vocals, so I had to double check. Especially since Arjen does the backing vocals in this song. :-) After "Beneath The Waves," which has this typical Ayreon sound, mainly because of the keyboards and Arjen's familiar guitar play, some folk is introduced on "Newborn Race." Here Daniel Gildenl?w (Pain of Salvation) gets some more room to show his vocal qualities. The folk is brought by Arjen's acoustic guitar and the whistles and violins, and for some reason it fits into this sci-fi setting. And we get a shredding solo by former Stream of Passion guitar player Lori Linstruth. There are not many solos on the album, but that's OK, as the ones that are there fit the songs. One thing that struck me while listening to this song: I did not know Jorn Lande could sound like the late Phil Lynott! Just listen to the second half of this song and you'll hear what I mean...

After some tasty drum work from Ed Warby in "Ride The Comet," the first disc ends with a ballad: "Web Of Lies," a song about internet relations, beautifully sung by Simone Simmons (Epica) and Phideaux Xavier (Phideaux).

The second disc opens with another familiar Ayreon-sounding song, "The Fifth Extinction," a song that has become one of my favourite tracks of the albums. I can't explain why, but it just sends shivers down my spine. Especially with two of these great singers: Tom Englund (Evergery) and Steve Lee (Gotthard), who both have this slightly high pitched, powerful voice; and the combination of Arjen's heavy riffs and Warby's tight drumming. Here also Hansi Kursch (Blind Guardian) gets some more room. The killer synth solo is from Derek Sherinian (Planet X).

"Waking Dreams" brings back memories from the Dream Sequencer, with the warm (synth) bass line and the vintage keys. I really love Renkse's voice, here again taking the lead; [and there's] a synth solo from Tomas Bodin (The Flower Kings).This [track] is another highlight and personal favourite. "The Truth Is In Here" could have been taken from THE, so similar is the sound. Still, I am glad Arjen has decided he is a singer as well, so he takes the lead here, backed by Liselotte Hegt (Dial). After "Unnatural Selection," we hear more folk in "River Of Time," again with a sound we have heard on THE . Here Hansi Kursch and Bob Catley share the vocals, resulting in a folky, catchy song.

More interesting is "E=MC2," as here two relatively unknown singers appear. Wudstick is a hip-hop singer and Marjan Welleman sings in the band Elister. Well, if I need to point out one really great moment on the album, this is the song! These two singers, although from different backgrounds, are simply amazing! Here we have a cool guitar solo from Symphony X's Michael Romeo... very good stuff!

Like all stories, at a certain point the story is told. The last sentence of "E=MC2" is: "The outcome of the Final Experiment is now been placed in your hands..." Sounds familiar? Yes, the circle of all Ayreon albums is now closed and all the dots are connected. That leaves us with? "The Sixth Extinction"... Once more, almost all singers come together and complete the circle... but it is not a pretty picture they paint. Here Renkse shows us why he sings with Katatonia, with his doomlike voice. Many familiar aspects of the Ayreon Universe pass by, like the references to Mars, the Migrator and... the year 2085; one year after 2084, the year in which, according to The Dream Sequencer, Earth was destroyed...With his piano solo, Joost van den Broek (After Forever) brings us some hope... if there is any hope left at all...

I must say, when I first played the album, I liked it. But I had a very hard time playing anything else. So for the past week, I have been playing nothing but 01011001 and I even managed to remember the title! Looking back I was just as enthusiastic about The Human Equation, but that faded after a while. However, with 01011001, I doubt that will happen, as it offers so much to discover. Putting this album into words will never do it justice. This album is, simply put, a masterpiece. It has all the familiar ingredients, yet prepared in a different way. And trust me, it will take you (and me) more than a week to fully discover all the melodies and layers the album has to offer. For almost 10 years I [have been] telling everyone that Into The Electric Castle is Arjen Lucassen's best album, but that conviction is not so string anymore after listening to 01011001! It may very well be that this is Arjen's best work to date, but time will tell.

I can only recommend people to get the version of the album with the DVD, as it is really great to see almost all singers getting introduced, telling how they discovered Ayreon and seeing them in the studio. Also the featurette about Ed Warby's drumming is very impressive. Ed is a very nice, quiet guy, but when behind his drum kit, he plays like no one else can! No wonder he [was] invited [to play on] the past Ayreon albums! And there is lots more to the DVD, which will only add to the listening pleasure of the album.

Disc 1 - Y: Age Of Shadows / Comatose / Liquid Eternity / Connect The Dots / Beneath The Waves / Newborn Race / Ride The Comet / Web Of Lies

Disc 2 - Earth: The Fifth Extinction / Waking Dream / The Truth Is In Here / Unnatural Selection / River Of Time / E=MC2 / The Sixth Extinction

Arjen Lucassen - all electric and acoustic guitars, bass guitars, mandolin, keyboards, synthesizers, Hammond, Solina and (backing) vocals
Ed Warby - all drums and percussion
Ben Mahtot - violin
David Faber - cello
Jeroen Goossens - flute, bass flute, tin whistle, soprano and tenor recorder
Lori Linstruth - guitar solo (CD1: 6)
Derek Sherinian - synth solo (CD2: 1)
Tomas Bodin - synth solo (CD2: 2)
Michael Romeo - guitar solo (CD2: 6)
Joost van den Broek - synth solo and piano (CD2: 7)
Tom Englund, Steve Lee, Daniel Gildenl?w, Hansi Kursch, Floor Jansen, Anneke van Giersbergen, Jonas P Renkse, Jorn Lande, Magali Luyten, Bob Catley, Ty Tabor, Simone Simmons, Phideaux Xavier, Liselotte Hegt, Wudstik, Marjan Welman - vocals

Ayreon - The Final Experiment (1995)
Ayreon - Actual Fantasy (1996)
Ayreon - Into The Electric Castle (1998)
Ayreon - The Univeral Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer (2000)
Ayreon - The Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight Of The Migrator (2000)
Ayreon - Ayreonnauts Only (2000)
Ambeon - Fate Of A Dreamer (2001)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One - Space Metal (2002)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One - Live On Earth (2003)
Ayreon - The Human Equation (2004)
Ayreon - Actual Fantasy Revisited (2004)
Ayreon - The Final Experiment - Special Edition (2005)
Ayreon - 01011001 (2008)
Ayreon - Timeline (2008)
Arjen Lucassen's Guilt Machine - Arjen Lucassen's Guilt Machine (2009)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen's Star One - Victims Of The Modern Age (2010)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen - Lost In The New Real (2012)
Ayreon - The Theory Of Everything (2013)
Ayreon - The Theater Equation (CD/DVD) (2016)
Ayreon - The Source (CD/DVD) (2017)
Ayreon - Ayreon Universe - Best Of Ayreon Live (2018)

Ayreon - The Theater Equation (BR) (2016) Ayreon - Ayreon Universe - Best Of Ayreon Live (DVD/BR) (2018)

Genre: Symphonic Prog

Origin VA

Added: February 16th 2008
Reviewer: Marcel Haster
Artist website: www.ayreon.com
Hits: 1301
Language: english


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