Ayreon – Transitus
Many prog metal artists from the 90’s are continuing strong in today’s world of music, and Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Ayreon is no exception. The new album, “Transitus”, is a step in a new direction, both musically and conceptually. The term “theatrical” would best describe how this record feels throughout. While past Ayreon albums are already quite theatrical in comparison to the traditional rock/metal record, “Transitus” aims to be a full-force musical, with many new singers being introduced once again.
The opening track, ‘Fatum Horrificum’, is the longest track on the album, running at just over 10 minutes in length. After being given the introduction to the story by narrator Tom Baker, who goes by “The Storyteller”, the song goes into a long instrumental overture. A rather simple set of compositions that open the concept straightforwardly, with sections tonally reminiscent of “The Final Experiment” and “The Dream Sequencer”. When getting to the first set of vocals near the 7-minute mark, followed by numerous short songs which represent different scenes, I feel like the instrumental portion could have been its own track. Along the way, you will notice how often The Storyteller pops in to narrate what’s happening, which is helpful for keeping track of the concept when listening, but revisiting it solely for the music can be tiresome.
We reach the first single release, ‘Get Out! Now!’, which features the debut of Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) on an Ayreon album, and immediately sets the tone for him to “rock your socks off”. The song itself could just as well be considered a child of both Twisted Sister and Ayreon; simple, catchy hard rock riffs and grooves, jumping straight to the point. And in that regard, Dee did the song justice. My only flack with it is that, as a single, it’s not the most exciting track, but it works better in contrast with the album.
Starting on disc 2, the music noticeably has taken a darker and heavier turn. The first 2 songs on this disc flow nicely together, and the second track, ‘Daniel’s Funeral’, contains sections that remind me of ‘Day 12: Trauma’ from “The Human Equation”. This one is probably my favourite on the album, and following up with their other single, ‘Hopelessly Slipping Away’, it adds beautiful contrast coming out of a considerably heavier song.
Ayreon – Get Out! Now! (click here if the video does not play)
The drumming on this record is exceptional and is the debut appearance by Juan van Emmerloot, who is known for his live performances with guitar players such as Snowy White, Walter Trout, and Mick Rogers. Genre-wise, he is quite versatile, and with this record jumping from hard rock and metal to even jazz at moments, Juan did not hold back on proving his worthiness for this album.
Without getting too much into the story, there are some elements that give that reprisal feel to other previous Ayreon albums, even though this record is not conceptually connected to them. A pretty significant example is the third single, ‘This Human Equation’, which is an obvious callback to the album, “The Human Equation”. The angels of this story analyze the human race much like Forever of the Stars. Intriguing connection, which is something I love about the Ayreon universe.
Ayreon – This Human Equation (click here if the video does not play)
The choice of singers on this record fits very nicely, and it’s wonderful to see Arjen reaching out to more singers and helping them get the attention they deserve, including Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber), Johanne James (Kyrbgrinder, Threshold), etc. Some other singers who were brought back, such as Tommy Karevik (Kamelot, Seventh Wonder) and Simone Simons (Epica) are undeniable talents who were worthy of returning as the roles they were given, even if for Tommy that this is his third consecutive release with Ayreon.
Ayreon – The Talk Of The Town (click here if the video does not play)
For any Ayreon fan (or as they go by, Ayreonauts), this record achieves once again being able to pull the listener into the story, as it’s one of Arjen’s strengths with composing for this project, and is a major highlight of what these Ayreonauts desire. For anyone who’s unfamiliar with Ayreon and focuses further into the music may have a hard time grasping it from the first listen, as it’s one of Arjen’s more simplistic and, dare I say, derivative works. Sure, he’s keeping true to his identity with the style and vibe of these tracks, but when compared to his previous works, there really isn’t that much we have not heard before. Nonetheless, “Transitus” is another great addition to the Ayreon discography, and anyone looking for an engaging, musical concept should not ignore this.
- Fatum Horrificum
- Daniel’s Descent Into Transitus
- Listen To My Story
- Two Worlds Now One
- Talk Of The Town
- Old Friend
- Dumb Piece Of Rock
- Get Out! Now!
- Seven Days, Seven Nights
- Condemned Without A Trial
- Daniel’s Funeral
- Hopelessly Slipping Away
- This Human Equation.
- Henry’s Plot
- Message From Beyond
- Daniel’s Vision
- She Is Innocent
- Lavinia’s Confession
- Your Story Is Over!
- Abby In Transitus
- The Great Beyond