"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 Rock Opera albums by Dutch musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen. The music is mainly a combination of folk-influenced Progressive Rock and Progressive Metal, 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 Mind Screw nature of the series, it's hard to describe the plot without giving away major spoilers for the different albums.After a minor Hype Backlash to 01011001, Arjen decided to stop making Ayreon albums, releasing Lost In The New Real, with him as the only lead vocalist.Then, in 2013, he released this YouTube video, stating that Ayreon would be coming back, albiet with a different storyline.Compare and contrast 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):
Cristina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) - The Theory of Everything
Tommy Karevik (Kamelot, Seventh Wonder) - 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.Ayreon includes examples of the following tropes:
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.
Author Avatar: 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 a later solo album which although not technically an Ayreon album, has many nods to it and revisits Mr L
Bilingual Bonus: 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".
Bittersweet Ending: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.
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.
Early-Installment Weirdness: 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.
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...)
Musicalis Interruptus: On The Human Equation, "Day Twenty: Confrontation" is interrupted by a Forever. Not just a Forever. It's "Forever" of the Stars - the same one that was in Into the Electric Castle.
Myth Arc: 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.
Father: "I was driven and blind, not so unlike yourself!"
Out of Order: 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 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
Title Drop - 01011001 has a Title Drop 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 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.