I can't really believe it is already over twenty years since The Final Experiment first project of Arjen Lucassen signed as Ayreon. Time flies and so far every next opera by Dutch composer is better than previous. Every album since The Human Equation is an instant classic. 01011001 is considered as one of the most important concept albums in metal music ever. I know The Theory of Everything so good, if I play it in my car I can't talk on a next day, as my throat is so sore. Information about new Arjen's album The Source made my day. I was waiting for it so long. I wanted to get some exclusive LP version. Some of famous limited editions. And you know what? I was too late. Preorder of it was gone in an hour. An hour! So I got regular black vinyl version. Well, next time...
The Source tells a story of habitants of planet Alpha from Andromeda System who have to run away from their home planet. They gave too much decision making power to 'The Frame' computer whose task was to solve all planet problems and it decided to eliminate the Alphan race as ultimate solution. Well, Ayreon was never cheerful in his vision of future. All his science fiction fantasies were dark and disturbing. In The Source we also get lots of references to sci-fi classics like Stanislaw Lem or Philip K. Dick.
Arjen as always wrote whole story and music. Then he invited "some" friends to help him. Closing credits for his projects are always impressive. And so we will hear voices of Dream Theater, Kamelot, Epica, Edguy, Blind Guardian, Between the Burried and Me, Symphony X or Nightwish. Also musicians of Marillion, The Aristocrats, Asia or Sun Caged. Result is absolutely amazing. Since the opening song we're getting marvelous dialog between almost all characters accompanied by powerful riff. "Sea of the Machines" has one of the best melodies Arjen ever wrote, next in line "Everybody Dies" is an acting (yes, acting) masterpiece of Michael Mills... I won't go any further. I won't tell you who is who, I won't reveal if Alphan race escaped dying planet and find new home, and I won't tell you what they found there. I'm not this kind of person. Come and listen yourself and discover what this cover really means.
Album is full of thick, almost doom metal riffs I love. Keyboards are doing magic (Mark Kelly proved his legend position). Strings, flutes... Plenty of instruments filling up every second of this piece. But somehow it isn't overwhelming. Epic, oh yes, but not overwhelming. I also like the fact it is "just" seventeen songs here, not forty two as on previous Arjen's work. It makes more sense to me, on The Theory of Everything track were divided into parts even though they were creating a whole and they sounded better together.
Artwork is stunning. That's the one of the reasons you should buy vinyl. You need to get this cover in a proper size to see all the details. You need to move from the couch to flip the record over as this is a 4 act opera. You need to feel the weight of this object. Gatefold with dark graphic, photographs of whole cast with short bio of each character. Large format booklet with (don't be afraid to use this term) libretto and more breathtaking landscapes. It is a double LP so you got two 180g records here, with same style labels. Discs themselves were made with much attention to details.
I love every small scrap of this release, every page of the booklet. The Source got already few "album of the month" titles. Is it best Ayreon? Why we always have to rank albums from best to worst? I like melodies on The Source more than The Theory of Everything even though I prefer second one's plot. It's another Ayreon and it's superb! I just was too late to get limited edition... Next time I'll be quicker!