[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/ayreon_7574.jpg]]

-->''"Welcome. You have entered the cranial vistas of psychogenesis. This is the place of no-time and no-space. Do not be afraid...."''

''Ayreon'' is a series of sci-fi/fantasy RockOpera albums by Dutch musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen. The music is mainly a combination of folk-influenced ProgressiveRock and ProgressiveMetal, but many other genres are represented. A key element of Ayreon's sound is the use of many guest musicians and vocalists - ''01011001'', for example, has 17 singers, including Lucassen himself.

Although each album has its own concept or plot, the stories are all connected, if in sometimes strange ways. (The possible exception is ''Actual Fantasy'', which has songs based on several different stories and doesn't seem to be related to the other albums, although it could be argued elements of "Stranger from Within" were used in ''The Human Equation'', and "Back on Planet Earth" has several concepts that are later used in ''01011001''.) Because of the MindScrew nature of the series, it's hard to describe the plot without giving away major spoilers for the different albums.

After a minor HypeBacklash to 01011001, Arjen decided to stop making Ayreon albums, releasing Music/LostInTheNewReal, with him as the only lead vocalist.

Then, in 2013, he released [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D776GI1qYwI this]] [=YouTube=] video, stating that Ayreon [[{{Uncancelled}} would be coming back]], albiet with a different storyline.

Compare and contrast Music/{{Avantasia}}.

'''Albums:'''

From the first storyline:
* 1995 - ''The Final Experiment''
* 1996 - ''Actual Fantasy''
* 1998 - ''Into the Electric Castle''
* 2000 - ''Universal Migrator Part I: The Dream Sequencer''
* 2000 - ''Universal Migrator Part II: Flight of the Migrator''
* 2004 - ''The Human Equation''
* 2008 - ''01011001''

From the second storyline:
* 2013 - ''The Theory Of Everything''

Ayreon songs include (remember, thar be spoliers here):
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UFrKM8dbMaY Sail Away to Avalon]] (from ''The Final Experiment'')
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vFCuqrveXLM The Stranger from Within]] (from ''Actual Fantasy'')
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGpSf_m85dw Across the Rainbow Bridge]] (from ''Into the Electric Castle'')
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6htH064TRY The Castle Hall]] (from ''Into the Electric Castle'')
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oxq5M8AVEh0 Temple of the Cat]] (from ''The Dream Sequencer'')
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cHsmVa5pPWA Into the Black Hole]] (from ''Flight of the Migrator'')
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c-ncSNUswVY Day Three: Pain]] (from ''The Human Equation'')
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SpclhmwvOE Day Eleven: Love]] (from ''The Human Equation'')
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BBM-SpMo5pk Liquid Eternity]] (from ''01011001'')
* [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RVWwdEkE5PM The Sixth Extinction]] (from ''01011001'')

Notable guest vocalists include:

* Music/BruceDickinson (Music/IronMaiden) - ''Flight of the Migrator''
* Hansi Kürsch (Music/BlindGuardian, Music/DemonsAndWizards) - ''01011001''
* Ande Deris (Music/{{Helloween}}) - ''Flight of the Migrator''
* James [=LaBrie=] (Music/DreamTheater) - ''The Human Equation''
* Mikael Akerfeldt (Music/{{Opeth}}) - ''The Human Equation''
* Music/DevinTownsend (Music/StrappingYoungLad) - ''The Human Equation''
* Johan Edlund (Music/{{Tiamat}}) - ''The Dream Sequencer''
* Jorn Lande (''Music/{{Masterplan}}'') - ''01011001''
* Fabio Lione (Music/RhapsodyOfFire) - ''Flight of the Migrator''
* Timo Kotipelto (Music/{{Stratovarius}}) - ''Flight of the Migrator''
* Fish - ''Into the Electric Castle''
* "Sir" Russell Allen (Music/SymphonyX) - ''Flight of the Migrator''
* Mike Baker (Shadow Gallery) - ''The Human Equation''
* Daniel Gildenlöw (Music/PainOfSalvation) - ''01011001''
* Sharon den Adel (Music/WithinTemptation) - ''Into the Electric Castle''
* Anneke van Giersbergen (Music/TheGathering) - ''Into the Electric Castle'', ''01011001''
* Jonas Renske (Music/{{Katatonia}}) - ''01011001''
* Damian Wilson (Threshold) - ''Into the Electric Castle''
* Tom Englund (Music/{{Evergrey}}) - ''01011001''
* Bob Catley (Magnum) - ''01011001''
* Marco Hietala (Music/{{Nightwish}}, Music/{{Tarot}})- ''The Theory of Everything''
* Cristina Scabbia (Music/LacunaCoil) - ''The Theory of Everything''
* Tommy Karevik (Music/{{Kamelot}}, Music/SeventhWonder) - ''The Theory of Everything''

Note: Due to the very nature of the series, it is difficult to discuss the tropes without revealing major spoilers. To those that are new to the series; you have been warned.
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''Ayreon'' includes examples of the following tropes:
* AfterTheEnd: ''The Universal Migrator''
* AncientAstronauts
* AnyoneCanDie: The Electric Castle. "Indeed, some may die."
* ArcWords: From ''The Theory of Everything'' : "A future to build/A role to fulfill/Something to give/A reason to live"
* ArtifactTitle: Ayreon was the main character in the first album, and ''The Dream Sequencer''.
* ArtisticLicenseAstronomy:
** Alpha Pegasi is not in M31, and comets don't move from one star system to another, let alone cross intergalactic distances.
** With regard to Alpha Pegasi, they might have meant to say Alpha Andromedae, since they refer to Sirrah, which is another name for that star. M31 is also known as Andromeda. Then again, confusingly, they refer to "Sirrah '''in''' Alpha Pegasi", which gives the impression they think Alpha Pegasi is a constellation...
** It can be assumed that the comets were moved by the power available to the Forevers, though why they even needed them if that is the case is a mystery.
*** As a carrier/vehicle, most likely.
* [[AscendToAHigherPlaneOfExistence Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence]]: The last man alive, possibly the Forevers.
* AuthorAvatar: Some fan theories have it that Mr. L is supposed to be Arjen Lucassen himself, mostly because they have the same last initial (and Mr. L is played by Arjen Lucassen in the one song he appears in). Taken a step further by [[Music/LostInTheNewReal a later solo album]] which although not technically an Ayreon album, has many nods to it and revisits Mr L
* BigBrotherIsWatching: The E-Police.
* BilingualBonus: If you count binary as a language, anyway. The title of the most recent album is ''01011001'', which maps to 89 in decimal numbers. 89 is ASCII code for Y - the name of the planet that the Forevers live on. Also, the song "Age of Shadows/We Are Forever" has a few verses of binary or pseudo-binary (voices chanting "zero, one, zero" "off, on, off" "no, yes, no"). The verses respectively translate to "help help", "forever" and "sos sos".
* BittersweetEnding:[[spoiler:the ending of ''Flight of the Migrator''. The last human being dies alone in the Dream Sequencer. In his final moments, Forever speaks to him in his mind and tells him that his soul will become the new Migrator and spread life to other worlds in the Universe]].
** [[spoiler: At the end of ''The Theory of Everything'' the Prodigy finally solves the Theory, but slips into a catatonic state and his father is dead]].
* BlindSeer: Ayreon
* ClarkesThirdLaw
* CloudCuckooLander: The Hippie
* ColorfulSong: The Hippie's part in ''Across the Rainbow Bridge''.
* ConceptAlbum: All of them.
* ContinuityNod
* CreatorBreakDown: After Arjen lost his senses of taste and smell, the poor man went into a depression for some time. See Darker and Edgier.
* CyberneticsEatYourSoul: The Forevers
* DarkReprise: ''One Small Step''. "As I lie here in this cold tank..."
* DarkerAndEdgier: The Ayreon albums were somewhat dark to begin with, but they've been getting progressively grimmer in tone since Universal Migrator. On the other hand, see Lighter and Softer.
* DepopulationBomb: At the end of ''01011001''
* DisappearedDad: Me's father in ''The Human Equation''; the Colonist's father in ''Universal Migrator''
* DownerEnding: The ones that aren't bittersweet.
* DrivenToSuicide: [[spoiler:The Father in ''The Theory of Everything'']]
* EarlyInstallmentWeirdness: Although good albums in their own right, ''The Final Experiment'' and ''Actual Fantasy'' are a bit odd to listen to later on. The music is softer and more electronic than other albums, the production's a bit below his later works, and their noticeably shorter than the double albums he'd later be known for.
* TheEndOfTheWorldAsWeKnowIt
* EpicRocking
* FanService: ''Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator'' is particular FanService for those who are fond of power metal, as many famous metal vocalists (Timo Kotipelto, Fabio Lione and Bruce Dickinson in particular) lend their voices to that album. (Ironically, Arjen went on record as saying this was his least favourite album...)
* FishPeople: [[spoiler: the Forevers]]
* FlingALightIntoTheFuture: first, they try to fling a light into the ''past'', and when that doesn't work, the Migrator becomes the "light"
* FunctionalMagic: Merlin, the Stonehenge druids.
* GenreShift: ''The Theory of Everything'' shifts away from the MindScrew ScienceFantasy themes, being more of a psychological drama grounded to reality.
* GhostInTheMachine: "Me" in ''The Human Equation''.
* HamToHamCombat:
** Frequently. But for a particularly awesome example, check out the four-way melee between Tom Eglund, Steve Lee, Daniel Gildenlow and Jorn Lande starting at 3:00 in [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vr0OvPyoisw The Fifth Extinction.]]
** Mike Baker vs. Devin Townsend in "Day Sixteen: Loser"
** [[BloodKnight The Barbarian]] (Jay van Feggelen) and the [[BraveScot Highlander]] ([[{{Marillion}} Fish]]) In 'The Decision Tree', magnificently singing about [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy which one of them is a better warrior]].
* HeavyMithril: They're sci-fi/fantasy.
* HeyItsThatVoice: Is that (fill in the blank) from (insert name of band here) singing about black holes? [[spoiler:Probably.]]
* HumansAreTheRealMonsters: We gave them dreams, and what did they dream?
* IJustWantToBeNormal: Ayreon in the song "Nature's Dance". It's [[BlessedWithSuck understandable]].
* ImportedAlienPhlebotinum: the Dream Sequencer and the machinery used in the Final Experiment.
* ItsAllAboutMe: The barbarian oh so very much.
* KarmaHoudini: The Rival on ''The Theory of Everything''.
* LargeHam:
** Both Bruce Dickinson and Jay van Feggelen (the Barbarian) come to mind. Bruce even has the line "Feed me light!"
** Steve Lee on ''01011001'' comes to mind too. "The AGE of SHAAADOWS has beguuun!!!" Particularly ironic since he's supposed to be playing a character incapable of feeling emotions.
** Ayreon provides the perfect arena for the who's who of prog metal to compete to out-ham each other.
* LighterAndSofter: Music/LostInTheNewReal to the joy of many fans.
** ''The Theory of Everything'', compared to the previous Ayreon album ''01011001''.
* LuddWasRight
* MadOracle: Ayreon and Mr. L.
* MagicFromTechnology: the Dream Sequencer [[spoiler: and the Electric Castle.]]
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: [[spoiler: Did the Prodigy's father return as a ghost to help his son, or was he a side effect of the drugs that the Prodigy was taking?]].
* MetalScream: Shows up occasionally, for example on "Loser" from ''The Human Equation''.
* MindScrew: Pretty much everything.
* NeoclassicalPunkZydecoRockabilly: Folk progressive rock pop neoclassical metal.
* MusicalisInterruptus: On ''The Human Equation'', "Day Twenty: Confrontation" is interrupted [[spoiler: by a Forever]]. Not just [[spoiler:''a'' Forever. It's "Forever" of the Stars - the same one that was in ''Into the Electric Castle''.]]
* MythArc: Though the albums are stand alone for the most part, each continues the mystery of the Forevers and the end of the world prophecied by Ayreon.
* NotSoDifferent: The Father and the Prodigy from ''The Theory of Everything""
->'''Father:''' "I was driven and blind, not so unlike yourself!"
* OutOfOrder: Listening to the albums out of order won't spoil anything. Listening to the storyline from beginning to end, however, requires some skipping around between the albums. The timeline of events in the Ayreon universe is described on [[http://img15.nnm.me/c/f/8/4/7/606ff7d8f46f1c3f6fbe571953a.jpg a poster]] that came with the ''Timeline'' compilation. With this in mind, the chronological order of the albums and songs goes something like this:
** The first disc of ''01011001'' (excluding "Connect the Dots" and "Web of Lies"), "The Fifth Extinction," "Waking Dreams," "Unnatural Selection," "Connect the Dots," and "Web of Lies"
** ''Into the Electric Castle''
** "The Truth is in Here," "River of Time," and "E=MC^2" from ''01011001''
** ''The Final Experiment''
** "The Sixth Extinction" from ''01011001''
** ''The Human Equation''
** ''Universal Migrator Part I: The Dream Sequencer''
** ''Universal Migrator Part II: Flight of the Migrator''
** "Epilogue: The Memory Remains" from ''Timeline''
* PhlebotinumKilledTheDinosaurs: Such as [[spoiler: the careless trajectory of a child's lost meteorite?]]
* {{Reincarnation}}: [[spoiler: Ayreon == Hippie == L == Colonist == Universal Migrator == Elizabeth I, among others]]
* ProgressiveMetal
* RivalsTeamUp: [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin The Rival and the Prodigy work together.]]
** The Prodigy and his Father in "The Breakthrough".
* RockOpera
* RomanticismVersusEnlightenment: Firmly on the Romanticism side. ''01011001'' is especially {{anvilicious}} about this, but the message is present on other Ayreon songs and albums too.
* RunningGag: the many ways Arjen has come up with not to thank his brother.
* SceneryPorn: Due to the quality of the music, most albums have this to some extent, but part 1 of the Universal Migrator is so atmospheric it's hard not to imagine what the songs are describing.
* SchmuckBait: The golden gate.
* SopranoAndGravel: Floor Janssen and Jonas Renske in ''01011001'', the Indian [[spoiler: and Death]] in ''Into the Electric Castle''
* TheStoner: Hippie.
* SufficientlyAdvancedAliens: The Forevers.
* TitleDrop - ''01011001'' has a TitleDrop of the previous album (almost) in "The Sixth Extinction": "We must resolve this human equation..." Voices can also be heard chanting "0...1...0...1..." in "Age of Shadows/We Are Forever" on the same album. ''Actual Fantasy'' has two title drops both in "Actual Fantasy" and at the start of "Beyond the Last Horizon". ''The Final Experiment'' and ''The Universal Migrator'' also have [[TitleDrop Title Drops]] in them. However, if you listen closely, (or read the lyrics,) you will find that they do not spell out the title (01011001, or Y), but rather the word "help" in ASCII binary code. The "off"/"on" part spelling "forever" is probably a better example.
* TheGreatOffscreenWar: WorldWarIII. However, we do get a very brief glimpse of what probably was one of the last battles in the intro of 2084.
* TouchedByVorlons: L
* {{Uncancelled}}: To the delight of many fans.
* UnhappyMedium: Ayreon and Mr. L.
* UnrealisticBlackHole: Well, yeah--it's ''singing''!
* WhatCouldHaveBeen: [[Music/{{Kamelot}} Roy Khan]] had initially accepted an invitation to be a guest vocalist, but had to back out due to a minor throat injury that he did not want to agitate.
* WorldWarIII
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