With Ayreon, Arjen Anthony Lucassen has created some of the most impressive progressive metal albums of all time. “Actual Fantasy”, “The Universal Migrator” and “01011001” are my personal favorites. I always felt that some of the albums such as “Into the Electric Castle” and “The Human Equation” overstayed their welcome. They just weren’t that interesting. Or it could be the fact that the space themed albums are what Ayreon succeeds at. Since 1995, Ayreon has been one of those bands that tries different things and doesn’t always succeed. Wait a minute, hold it. For those who don’t know, Ayreon is masterminded by Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Every album has different members and different storylines. Ayreon is the central character (not for a while though). I’m going to keep referring to Ayreon has a band in this review, not just one person. Anyway, Ayreon experiments a lot and most of the time succeeds at creating incredible landscapes of music. When I first heard the news of a new album in the works, I didn’t know what to think. Would it go back to the “Actual Fantasy” sound or would it sound like “Into the Electric Castle” again? Well I was way off. It does go back to the more organic sound found on “The Human Equation,” but it completely obliterated my expectations for an Ayreon album. Welcome to “The Theory of Everything.” Welcome to the future of progressive metal.
“The Theory of Everything” is divided into four movements. "Phase I: Singularity,” "Phase II: Symmetry,” "Phase III: Entanglement,” and "Phase IV: Unification.” Each part runs about twenty minutes and they each have smaller parts that could make up individual tracks. I like the fact that the songs are long but you can also skip to your favorite part of the song. Although it’s not recommended to skip through each phase, it’s just a nice addition. At first listen to this phase, it’s evident that pure love and care went into this album. There isn’t one misstep or low point on the entire album. The recurring songs “The Theory of Everything” are all mind-blowing. Through the album the one basic track keeps evolving until it ends with “The Theory of Everything part 3” which is one of my personal favorites on the album. That’s what this entire album does perfectly, evolution. The album starts and ends the same, so it gives it a full circle feel, with the middle of it transcending music. This isn’t just musicians getting together and making something off the top of their heads, this is pure musical genius that comes from deep within the soul. Tracks like “Potential” and “Dark Energy” are cleansing for the body and mind. I’ve never felt emotions like this through music. The album also has heavier tracks like “The Teacher’s Discovery” and arguably the best rack on the album, “The Lighthouse.” The variation of this album is outstanding. No song sounds the same but the flow is immaculate. Not one song is out of place and not one vocal is in the wrong spot. “The Theory of Everything” is Arjen Anthony Lucassen life’s work rolled into one album. Nobody does it like him and I don’t think they ever will.
As I’ve said before, Ayreon’s albums have been very uneven. “Into the Electric Castle” still doesn’t do anything for me. However, I’ve always been a fan, but now I’m a huge fan. I could go on and on about how groundbreaking this album really is, but I thought I would stop myself before I sound like an ass, unless that already happened. But I really don’t care and I’m not going to avoid the obvious. “The Theory of Everything” is without a doubt the future of all progressive metal and should act as a blueprint. Again, there is not one part out of place and not one track is boring. Different genres and sounds all combine to make something extraordinary. This is more than an album. It’s emotions, love and passion made into sound waves. “The Theory of Everything” is as close to perfection as you can get. It’s a master-class album that will be remembered for years to come and it’ll make bands wish they were this good.
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