Ayreon - Into The Electric Castle

Year of Release: 1998
Label: Transmission Records
Catalog Number: TM-014
Format: CD
Total Time: 102:35:00

This is another of those disks that I sought out based on a review by LarryD, and because, in part, of Fish's involvement.

My first listen to Ayreon's Into The Electric Castle was not under ideal listening conditions - in my cramped, highly exposed office at work, meaning the volume had to be low. But, enough penetrated through for me to know that this was a quality, stellar release.

Now, having listened to in more ideal surroundings - headphones at home - I can tell you that it is a stellar release. Arjen Lucassen has gathered the all the right people for this project. I first thought that Jay Van Feggelen's voice was wrong for the role of Barbarian, but as the disc progresses, it seems just right. I am unfamiliar with him otherwise, but he has a very bluesy kinda voice - I thought of Glenn Hughes (and he looks a bit like Eric Clapton).

There are two female vocalists here, too - Anneke Van Giersbergen of The Gathering, and Sharon Den Adel. Well, I was impressed enough with Van Giersbergen to pick up The Gathering's latest release [How To Measure A Planet?] based on that alone (well, not quite that alone, as I had earlier listened to an MP3 of The Gathering).

The rest of this impressive list includes Damian Wilson (ex-Threshold) and two other vocalists I'm unfamiliar with - Erwin Balogh and Edward Reekers. More impressive vocals.

Given that each character has a voice - by which I mean that the arrangements fit the characters personality, origin - you'd think this would be a mismash of ideas, that the music would clash, jar, or otherwise become disharmonious. Well, no. It blends well and cohesively.

The only thing I didn't like, but probably will over time, are the Death vocals of ... well, Death (not the band, btw). A little too growly for my tastes, but wholly appropriate.

And that's just the vocalists - the ubiquitous Clive Nolan is featured on keys on one track, Ton Scherpenzel (synths), Thijs van Leer (flute) and a host of others, some on just one track (or two) others for the whole album.

If you like symphonic progressive, if you like progressive metal, if you like classically influenced rock, ethereal rock ... basically if you like music, you will like this album.

Fish is very good on this disk, though he is typecast as the Highlander - he has a voice that would lend itself to any of the other male roles - except maybe the Hippie, which is Lucassen.

It is a sonic journey well worth taking ... repeatedly. Now I'm anxious to hear the back catalog of Ayreon releases and await the next release. Highly recommended.

Disc 1: Welcome To The New Dimension (3:05) / Isis And Osiris (11:11) A) Let The Journey Begin, B) The Hall Of Isis And Osiris, C) Strange Constellations / Amazing Flight (10:15) A) Amazing Flight In Space, B) Stardance, C) Flying Colours / Time Beyond Time (6:05) / The Decision Tree (We're Alive) (6:24) / Tunnel Of Light (4:05) / Across The Rainbow Bridge (6:20)

Disc 2: The Garden Of Emotions (9:40) A) In The Garden Of Emotions, B) Voices In The Sky, C) The Aggression Factor / Valley Of The Queens (2:25) / The Castle Hall (5:49) / Tower Of Hope (4:54) / Cosmic Fusion (7:27) A) I Soar On The Breeze, B) Death's Grunt, C) The Passing Of An Eagle / The Mirror Maze (6:34) A) Inside The Mirror Maze B) Through The Mirror / Evil Devolution (6:31) / The Two Gates (6:28) / 'Forever' Of The Stars (2:02) / Another Time, Another Space (5:20)

Arjen Lucassen - guitars, mandolin, bass, Minimoog, Mellotron & keyboards
Roland Bakker - Hammonds
Jack Pisters - sitar
Robby Valentine - pianos, synth solos on IIa, IIIa (disc 1) and IV (disc 2), mellotron on VIa (disc 2)
Ern? Olah - violins
Clive Nolan - synth solos on Vc (disc one)
Rene Merkelbach - synth solos on V (disc one) and VII (disc 2), harpsichord on II (disc 2)
Ton Scherpenzeel - synth solos on Vc (disc 2)
Ed Warby - drums
Taco Kooistra - celli
Thijs van Leer - flute on IIIc, IV (disc 1) and II & III (disc 2)
Fish, Damian Wilson, Sharon Den Adel, Anneke van Giersbergen, Edwin Balogh, Arjen Lucassen, Jay van Feggelen, and Edward Reekers - 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 NL

Added: September 1st 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.ayreon.com
Hits: 1401
Language: english


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