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"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, albeit with a different storyline.

In 2017, Arjen revealed that the next album in the Ayreon saga, titled The Source, would be a return to the original storyline, serving as a prequel of sorts. The album features 12 singers in total, including some notable returning cast members.

Compare and contrast Avantasia.

  • The Final Experiment (1995)
  • Actual Fantasy (1996)
    • Actual Fantasy Revisited (2004, remaster)
  • Into the Electric Castle: A Space Opera (1998)
  • The Universal Migrator (2000)
    • Part I: The Dream Sequencer
    • Part II: Flight of the Migrator
  • The Human Equation (2004)
    • The Theater Equation (live album which is basically the theatrical adaptation of The Human Equation recorded in 2015, released in 2016)
  • 01011001 (2008)
  • The Theory Of Everything (2013)
  • The Source (2017)

Ayreon songs include (remember, thar be spoilers here)

    Notable guest vocalists 

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:

  • All There in the Manual: Several of the albums have narrations in their album booklets that would guide you through the Mind Screw of it all. Lyric sites have since also included those narrations.
  • Anachronic Order: To experience the plot chronologically would require a rather complicated playlist, frequently jumping between albums. To experience it linearly from an in-universe perspective would occasionally result in swapping albums mid-song.
  • Artistic License – Astronomy:
    • Alpha Pegasi is not in M31.
    • 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.
    • The quasar 3C 273 is not located in the center of the Virgo cluster of galaxies, but much further away.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Epilogue (The Memory Remains)" is this for the whole Forever saga.
  • Clarke's Third Law
  • Concept Album: All of them.
  • Continuity Nod
  • Design Student's Orgasm: Many of the album covers are by artist Jef Bertels.
  • Epic Rocking: And how!
  • 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 they're noticeably shorter than the double albums he'd later be known for.
  • Heavy Mithril: Sci-fi with a hefty mix of Arthurian fantasy and historical fiction.
    • Myth Arc: Though the albums are standalone for the most part, each continues the mystery of the Forever and the end of the world prophesied by Ayreon.
  • Incredibly Long Note: More recent material has seen bouts of this, e.g. Jørn Lande near the end of "Newborn Race", Tommy Karevik in "Patterns", and Sara Squadrani in "Quid Pro Quo".
  • Large Ham: Ayreon provides the perfect arena for the who's who of Progressive Metal to engage in Ham-to-Ham Combat with each other.
  • Ludd Was Right: Because all these machines you're enjoying right now will eventually grow cold-hearted enough to kill you.
  • Mind Screw: EVERYTHING.
  • Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly: Folk progressive rock pop neoclassical metal. More accurately, Progressive Metal with Genre Roulette.
  • Rock Opera: Except Actual Fantasy.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: Firmly on the Romanticism side. 01011001 is especially anvilicious about this, but the message is present on other Ayreon songs and albums too.
  • Running Gag: The many ways Arjen has come up with not to thank his brother.
  • Scenery Porn: Due to the quality of the music, most albums have this to some extent. The Dream Sequencer is so atmospheric it's hard not to imagine what the songs are describing.
  • Siamese Twin Songs: Lots.
  • Soprano and Gravel:
    • The Indian (Sharon den Adel) vis-à-vis Death (Robert Westerholt and George Oosthoek) in the second part of "Cosmic Fusion".
    • Fear (Mikael Åkerfeldt) provides his own gravel in "Day Twelve: Trauma".
    • To some extent, Guttural Growler Magali Luyten delivers a Type 4 Metal Scream hook to contrast the ethereal verses in "Ride the Comet".
    • Floor Jansen and Jonas Renkse in the second part of "The Sixth Extinction".
    • The Chemist (Tommy Rogers) whips up his signature Metal Scream in "Everybody Dies" while everyone else sings cleanly.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Forever.
  • Uncancelled: To the delight of many fans.
  • World War III: Most prominent in "Waracle", "2084", and "The Sixth Extinction".

Tropes per album

    open/close all folders 

    The Final Experiment 

    Actual Fantasy 
  • Shout-Out: Instead of a full-on story like most Ayreon works, Actual Fantasy is inspired by sci-fi and fantasy films.

    Into the Electric Castle 

    The Dream Sequencer 

    Flight of the Migrator 

    The Human Equation 

Tropes regarding the theatrical adaptation will go to The Theater Equation.


    The Theory of Everything 
Father: "I was driven and blind, not so unlike yourself!"

    The Source 


How well does it match the trope?

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