- Category: Reviews
Review by Logan LeeMarch 20th 2015
Hi there Perfect Prog fans. Long time no see and I have to admit it's all my fault. The reason is that my little princess was born on late 2013 and the first year was really rough. Hope to be forgiven by the small gift at the end of this review: A brief interview with the one and only Arjen Lucassen.
When I first heard TToE (The Theory of Everything), I was not able to get it right away but only because I could not listen to it as whole all together. Between one outburst of crying and a diaper to change it was almost impossible to proceed. When I finally got the chance, I could no longer stop listen to it and decided that there was no better way to start writing reviews again.
TToE is the first album after the Ayreon original story enclosure (with the amazing 01011001) and it is based on a genius boy who has an extraordinary ability on math (almost unnatural) and his confrontations with other characters, that might be friendly but also hostile, who will eventually (hopefully) lead him to elaborate The Theory of Everything. Obviously, each character is played by a different singer which lead us to the cast chapter: For what concerns the instrumental parts/arrangements the expectations since it could count on people like Rick Wakeman, Keith Emerson, Jordan Rudess and Steve Hackett not to mention Ed Warby (long time drummer on Arjen's projects) and Arjen himself (which is a guarantee), but there was a little concern for the voices chosen (Tommy Karevic, Cristina Scabbi among others). I even saw lots of critics around prog magazines (see interview below for Arjen's response to that) which don't find me at their part. I think that their interpretation gave the TToE an unique aspect to distinguish it from the past albums and I could not find important lacks worth to mention.
Technically the album is divided in four (nearly) 20 minutes "super suites" and each one contains from 9 to 11 small tracks, but the emotions and peaks keeps turning around during the listening session. I guess Arjen intentionally did this in order to misguide listeners in same way the Genius boy is disoriented in his path. The album is hard to get, but you just have to enter (or at least try) the logics behind the concept: Sometimes to understand the whole (Universe/Album) you need to really focus on small pieces (subatomic particles/2-3 minutes tracks).
I will dedicate some words to the Artwork: Ayreon's artwork keeps getting better on its looks and it is wall due to the Belgian artist Jef Bertels who is able, in an extraordinary way, able to be as "prog" as Arjen on his drawings. The oblique angle of the sea/ship in first level and all scientific details on the back turns this artwork into something really suitable for the work as well.
I am a longtime fan of Arjen's works and it is really hard for me to value any of his albums in an objective prospect but even though TToE is not (YET: since I may change idea if I continue to listen to it) at the same level of The Human Equation and 01011001 I still think it is a MUST HAVE. Flawless in all its aspects, The Theory of Everything deserves 9,5/10 and I have to disagree with almost all critics I've seen around.
Now, please set back and dedicated some minutes to the Interview. Hope you will all enjoy it since for me it was a great honor to even talk to him :)