Ayreon - The Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight Of The Migrator

Year of Release: 2000
Label: Transmission Records
Catalog Number: TM-020
Format: CD
Total Time: 65:36:00

Part two of Ayreon's Universal Migrator story is the prog metal side of the story, where guest vocalists include Bruce Dickinson, Fabio Leone, Robert Soeterboek, and Ian Parry among others, as well carryovers from Part 1, Lana Lane and Damien Wilson providing backing vocals. Like part one, the album begins with a narrative intro, followed by an overture, before the story begins. Where Part 1 was a journey through time, Part 2 is a journey through space, in a time before the Big Bang and leads to a transformation for our protagonist. That both halves have a beginning, middle and end means that one can listen to the two independently, but listening to them as a whole gives you the complete journey.

As can be expected from a prog metal release, this one is driving and energetic, full of both grinding guitars and fantastic solos from some of today's stellar axemen - Symphony X's Michael Romero and Shadow Gallery's Gary Wehrkemp as well as Oscar Hollerman and Lucassen himself. Of course the guitars are only half the story, as you'll also find some fine keyboard pyrotechnics from the likes of Erik Norlander (Rocket Scientists/Lana Lane), Rene Merkelbach, Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon) and Keiko Kumagai (Ars Nova). Not to mention the fantastic vocals - those mentioned above plus others. Oh, and let us not forget the driving percussion from Ed Warby.

"Dawn Of A Million Souls" (Symphony X's Russell Allen on vocals) has a martial rhythm, a symphonic and swirling bridge, a sharp, emotional solo from Romero, among the keys of Lucassen and Norlander, and driving percussion from Ed Warby. This is a taut and muscular opening to an equally strong album.

Peter Siedlach's strings provide a subtle opening to "Journey On The Waves Of Time," which has an otherwise choppy rhythm, it's irregular and bit off kilter. Vocalist Ralf Scheepers sounds a lot like both Dickinson and Wilson. The bass lead interlude reminds me of Dream Theater over which Norlander plays a wild Hammond solo. "The Taurus Pulsar" section of "To The Quasar" is Beatles-esque ... well, if the Beatles were a metal band, of course. Andi Deris handles the synth-accented vocals, over keys and acoustic guitar (Lucassen). I thought of "Across The Universe," which seems highly appropriate even if it is just me. It's quite subtle for the first three and half minutes, before part B, "Quasar 3C273" kicks in, grinding guitars and percussion pound out a rhythm, with some obligatory spacey laser-precise sound effects. The shrill keyboard solo that ends the track comes courtesy of Merkelbach.

Spacey synths lead us "Into The Black Hole," (with a pattern that made me think of the Beatles' "She's So Heavy.") Dickinson handles vocals here, but he sounds like someone else at first. It isn't until we're deep into the track that we know for sure it's the Maiden mainman. The second movement is very dark - churning guitars, horror keyboards (playing descending notes) ... Lucassen's gets the crunchy guitar solo spot here, Norlander the keyboards. Part three, "The Final Hour," swirls like mist in a very gloomy place, the slower pace elongating everything casting towering shadows. The lyrics here include: "now silence devours us / massive ... suffocating ..." Yup, that's the feeling you get. I love the keyboard parts throughout this track.

"Through The Wormhole," is a wild ride, enhanced by the guitar, pulsing percussion, throbbing bass, driving keys with Fabio Leone's voice the propellant. Gary Werhkamp's guitar solo spot sends us falling through the hole at a breakneck pace, though without losing the sense that someone else is controlling our descent. We come out the other side into something almost Floyd-esque except for that bubbling guitar phrases that hints at something more to come - we're not disappointed as our ride isn't quite finished yet.

"The New Migrator," a two-track suite that closes out the album, is very dark and atmospheric to begin with ... almost inaudible. But like the dawn follows night, brighter keyboard passages rise up, opening up the track to yet another speedy keyboard solo ("Metamorphosis") and Ian Parry on vocals in part two "Sleeper Awake."

Choas (5:10) / Dawn Of Million Souls (7:45) / Journey On The Waves Of Time (5:47) / To The Quasar (8:42) a) The Taurus Pulsar b) Quasar 3C273 / Into The Black Hole (10:25) a) The Eye Of The Universe b) Halo Of Darkness c) The Final Hour / Through The Wormhole (6:05) / Out Of The White Hole (7:11) a) M31 b) Planet Y c) The Search Continues / To The Solar System (6:11) a) Planet Of Blue b) System Alert / The New Migrator (8:15) a) Metamorphosis b) Sleeper Awake

Arjen Lucassen - electric and acoustic guitars (solos: 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9), bass guitar, analogue synthesizers, Hammond, Mellotron and additional keyboards
Erik Norlander (Rocket Scientists, Lana Lane) - analogue synthesizers, piano, vocoder, Hammond (solos: 4, 5, 7) and additional keyboards (solos: 1, 3)
Ed Warby (Gorefest, ex-Elegy) - drums
Michael Romeo (Symphony X) - guitar solo (2)
Oscar Holleman - 2nd guitar solo (4)
Gary Wehrkamp (Shadow Gallery) - guitar solo and keyboard solo (6)
Rene Merkelbach - last keyboard solo (4)
Clive Nolan (Arena, Pendragon) - 2nd synth solo (5)
Keiko Kumagai (Ars Nova) - keyboard solo and Hammond solo (9)
Russell Allen (Symphony X) - vocals (2)
Ralf Scheepers (ex-Gamma Ray, Primal Fear) - vocals (3)
Andi Deris (Helloween) - vocals (4)
Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden) - vocals (5)
Fabio Leone (Rhapsody) - vocals (7)
Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius) - vocals (7)
Robert Soeterboek - vocals (8)
Ian Parry (Vengeance, Elegy) - vocals (9)
Damian Wilson - backing vocals (2)
Lana Lane - backing vocals (4, 5, 6, 9) and narration (1)

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: Progressive/Power Metal

Origin NL

Added: January 30th 2001
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.ayreon.com
Hits: 1309
Language: english


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