Nov 192013

(DGR reviews the new album by Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon project. This is obviously an Exception to Our Rule.)

I have a deep and abiding love for the Ayreon project. Describing it to people on the occasions when I can do so has proven to be an endless source of entertainment because it always ends with someone just going, “That sounds ridiculous”. They’re right too. Ayreon is a ridiculous project, one in the business of making space metal operas filled with multiple characters represented by multiple singers and then having insane guestlists of musicians written up for each one as well.

It’s not so much that I love Ayreon for how well Arjen Lucassen does with the music, but more so because of the absolutely insane amount of ambition that the project has required. He has told stories that span galaxies and cover millenia in the blink of an eye, and he has wrangled some of the best vocal performances out of an amazing array of musicians that I’ve ever heard. It just seems so grand, and when it comes to that, The Theory Of Everything is at face value a concept disc about a father/son team of geniuses working to unite physics of the macro and quantum levels; yes, the whole thing just seems… ridiculous.

No matter how hard outlets like Popular Science, Bad Astronomer, and Io9 try, physics at a granular level isn’t a sexy subject (although googling ‘sexy physics’ has provided hours of entertainment), but the results are. When broken down into layman’s terms and punctuated with pretty pictures, physics can seem incredible, but physics is much like meeting your heroes/watching your favorite food being made. It loses a lot of that appeal when you realize how much bookwork/math/study goes into it. The idea of Ayreon tackling this subject, whilst also dealing with the ideals of a father who feels inadequate because his son ranks somewhere high on the savant/autism range, is remarkable. Continue reading »

Jan 132012

(DemiGodRaven (ex-TNOTB) looks at the similarities between the Assassin’s Creed games and the albums of Ayreon, and speculates about how the latter may shed light on how the former is going to end.)

Anyone who has been aware of my writing for a while knows pretty well that I’m a pretty huge nerd when it comes to video games. They’re my second love, with the first being music. They’re also the two most expensive hobbies in the world, but that is a whole other subject for some other time. Occasionally, there is an incredible crossover between some form of metal and video games, and I can’t help but give it a knowing wink and nod. Or, in this case it’s a confluence of all sorts of things that just happen to share the same archetypal concept.

The thought for this article began to cross my mind as I wrestled my way through the latest Assassin’s Creed game, which if you haven’t been following the series has basically gone from a sort of Lost-esque conspiracy science fiction to batshit fucking insane within the span of two yearly iterations as Ubisoft (the game’s developer and publisher) attempts to strange as much money out of the franchise as possible.

What is funny about the story of these games is that it has pretty much evolved into the same story told by the Ayreon discography, with its dream sequencer experiments and the end of mankind. Of course, you also have to acknowledge that even though the elements of each story are as fantastic as can be, the bare guts of each one are fairly basic and recognizable. I’ll be analyzing this to some extent while also pointing out the ridiculous similarities between the game series and the concept behind most of Ayreon’s work.

As always this deserves warning: I am going to be spoilery as fuck in the following article. Just a note though, it’s not like you should give a shit. Judging by the latest Assassin’s Creed game, the writing team doesn’t. Continue reading »