Electric Castle Live and Other Tales

Label: Music Theories Recordings/Mascot Label Group
Three similar bands: Star One/Arjen Anthony Lucassen/Vengeance

Rating: HHHHHHH (7/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
1. Welcome to the New Dimension
2. Isis and Osiris
3. Amazing Flight
4. Time Beyond Time
5. The Decision Tree
6. Tunnel of Light
7. Across the Rainbow Bridge
8. The Garden of Emotions
9. Valley of the Queens
10. The Castle Hall
11. Tower of Hope
12. Cosmic Fusion
13. Robby Valentine
14. The Mirror Maze
15. Evil Devolution
16. The Two Gates
17. Forever of the Stars
18. Another Time, Another Space
19. Shores of India
20. Ashes
21. Out in the Real World
22. Twisted Coil
23. Kayleigh
24. Pink Beatles in a Purple Zeppelin
25. Songs of the Ocean

Edwin Balogh – Roman
Fish – Highlander
Anneke van Giersbergen – Egyptian
Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Hippie
Edward Reekers – Futureman
Damian Wilson – Knight
George Oosthoek – Death
John de Lancie – Forever of the Stars
Simone Simons – Indian
Mark Jansen
Marcela Bovio
John Jaycee Cuijpers – Barbarian

Ed Warby – drums
Marcel Singor – lead guitar
Ferry Duijsens – guitar
Bob Wijtsma – guitar
Johan van Stratum – bass
Joost van den Broek – keyboards
Ben Mathot – violin
Thijs van Leer – flute

Robby Valentine - piano

The Final Experiment (1995)
Actual Fantasy (1996)
Into the Electric Castle (1998)
Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer (2000)
Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator (2000)
Ayreonauts Only (2000)
The Human Equation (2004)
01011001 (2008)
The Theory of Everything (2013)
The Theater Equation (2016)
The Source (2017)

Universe (2018)

Produced and mixed by Arjen Anthony Lucassen

Released 2020-03-27
Reviewed 2020-03-26



läs på svenska

I have actually been looking forward to this release since I got the link for booking the tickets for the shows back in October 2018, almost a year before the shows in September 2019. I can’t say that being there witnessing the show lowered expectations, I was probably looking forward to it even more after that. So, it is a good thing that Ayreons can’t disappoint, or can it? Not really, I have been listening to this album at least once almost every day since I got access to it in the middle of February, it has kind of messed up my work of reviewing other albums and will probably continue to do so going forward. I was thinking that I was to review the music and just comment shortly on the video from the stuff that has been released on youtube so far but when I arrived home today I found the package with the super-special box on my doorstep so I could watch it and write this.

It is almost the entire cast of vocal performers from the original album, the barbarian is replaced and so is the narrator Forever of the Stars who is portrayed by actor John de Lancie who is well-known for his role as Q in Star Trek. I have read somewhere that the Forever character could have been based on Q, so who better than de Lancie to do that part. And then we have some great musicians with violinists, flutists, cellists, Joost and Ed Warby of course. The bulk of the show is the Into the Electric Castle story that is played in full but then we get other tales in form of Arjen’s other projects like The Gentle Storm, Ambeon, Guilt Machine, his solo album from 2011 and Star One with Kayleigh, a Marillion song as a bonus to give some more space to Fish. It ends with Songs of the Ocean from the Space Metal album from 2002 – a great sing along track to end it all.

If I were to describe the music, it is progressive rock and metal with many fresh ideas. Into the Electric Castle kind of set the tone for the Ayreon legacy, it was the first really successful album and the elements we are used to are kind of introduced on this album. We have reviewed Ayreon plenty of times on Hallowed so if you want to know more of the style you can read on there. What I can say is that the general picture is quite similar to the original album, but the sound is a bit bigger with larger sound, heavier and somewhat more epic. The narration is different, better or worse probably depend on your outlook, I like both, but you have to compliment de Lancie for the way he narrates the story.

The video material is very good, the cutting is good and light and that stuff. It is nothing revolutionary, but it doesn’t really matter as it is more than adequate, and it is about the music and that is really impressive. The performances and the sound are outstanding, breathtakingly perfect is probably the best way to describe it. And the physical releases are great-looking, the mediabook is a great choice with nice booklet and everything. The extra material is really good as well if you like that kind of stuff.

I don’t usually hand out seven points, last time was 2017, but this one really deserves that rating as it is one of the finest releases on this millennium. And it is not only because it reminds me of the show I saw, I didn’t see this one which means that you cannot see me on the video – which is a good thing. So if the show was the highlight of 2019, the album is the most memorable part of 2020, can’t think of anything I will remember more from the year. So, don’t miss your chance to sing along with Songs of the Ocean…