Ayreon - 01011001

Disc 1 - Y
1. Age of Shadows
2. Comatose
3. Liquid Eternity
4. Connect the Dots
5. Beneath the Waves
6. Newborn Race
7. Ride the Comet
8. Web of Lies

Disc 2 - EARTH
1. The Fifth Extinction
2. Waking Dreams
3. The Truth Is In Here
4. Unnatural Selection
5. River of Time
6. E=MC2
7. The Sixth Extinction

Ayreon is back, finally.

This album ought to come with a warning text: “caution, this album is highly addictive, do not play it if you do not have one hour and forty two minutes until the next thing you need to do”, it is that good.

The previous album, The Human Equation was very impressive and promised a lot more from the Dutch multi-talent Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Human Equation had in a sense a dark theme about a man in a coma after a car crash and how he communicates with his feeling, the theme of “01” is a bit more back to the Areon roots of space and Planet Y and things like that, but with a bit down to Earth as well.

Knowing what has come from Ayreon in the past one is prone to have great expectations for this record and I guess you have already read the grade, still that doesn’t really say it all since the Ayreon albums are almost all worth the highest grade and that also comes to this offering that may well be the definite best, or the ultimate Ayreon album whatever superlative you like to use. It is deeper and darker in theme than its predecessor and the melodies all suits me very well even though I honestly became a bit worried when hearing the riff for the opening Age of Shadows which felt very much like a metal hymn. But it grew on me, still the following tracks open up a whole new palette and again Arjen is reinventing music.

To describe what Ayreon sounds like is impossible to do in words, it is rock, metal, classical, gothic metal, extreme metal, deep, dark, heavy riffs, growls, operatic vocals, screams, spoken words, distorted singing and a lot more stuff that goes on. The similar bands is bands where Arjen has been a part, it is really hard to describe it in words. One thing that is very striking of course is the use of many singers, seventeen to be exact and most of them known. A striking thing here is that I really like the singing oh Hansi Kürsch though I almost always hate him in Blind Guardian and does not buy their records thanks to having him as a vocalist, but Arjen has done miracles before, I mean getting Bruce Dickinson to sound good is a real achievement and this Hansi thing is almost as good as that with Bruce back in 2000.

Everything from cover art to the limited- or special edition DVD is as well made as always when it comes to Ayreon. I really recommend to get the Special or limited version of this album since the DVD is very impressive and it contains some interesting stuff as well, among others and animated CGI video for the track Beneath the Waves. It also contains short talks and some studio filming of the singers and session filming of Ed Warby’s drum recordings. It is a lot of interesting stuff on the DVD, even if that isn’t even close to what the CDs is offering.

Musically speaking this is as versatile as the Human Equation which was the most versitile before this one, it is amazingly nice violins in tracks like Web of Lies to heavy metal stuff like the introducing riff in age of Shadows. It is almost the entire spectra of the music, from classic to death metal, at least one growl from Tom S. Englund regularly of Evergrey. Arjen hilself is also singing on a track called The Truth is in Here.

I just cannot help being impressed by this amazing guy and it is not mainly his height that is impressive, it is what he writes under whatever name he uses, this just once again calls for another Star One release, something more straightforward and heavy would be nice following this deep and progressive album where all the stories of the former albums are connected and we learn about the reasoning around the final experiment and so on. If you know the former stories this album is far more interesting even though it is the music that is the main focus, the story just adds this other dimension.

I really like all tracks but a track like Web of Lies with its amazing and emotional violin lines is one of the best. As goes for the deep track called comatose with Anneke Van Giersbergen’s very personal vocals along with Jorn Lande’s, it is a great track. As is The Truth is in Here where Arjen is playing a mentally ill person who sees images from all albums in his dreams, amazing is the right word. Beneath the Waves is another killer track, actually the album is full of these tracks and it is probably the best Ayreon release as of yet, we will have to hope for more releases like this in the future for an even better Ayreon Catalogue.

With all this said I hereby pronounce Ayreon the best band ever, sorry Styx you will have to live with being knocked down from the first spot since Ayreon now have seven great albums, you have only as many and this album is probably better than anything ever done, IMHO.

If you do not buy this album, you will regret it the rest of your life if you hear it some time later on, and there will be a part of you missing unless you get it.

01011001 fills the hole you have inside, that is a known medical fact.

official website

Label - InsideOut
Three similar band - Star One/Anthony/Vengeance
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
Hansi Kürsch
Daniel Gildenlöw
Tom S. Englund
Jonas Renkse
Jørn Lande
Anneke van Giersbergen
Steve Lee
Bob Catley
Floor Jansen
Magali Luyten
Simone Simons
Phideaux Xavier as PX
Marjan Welman
Liselotte Hegt
Ty Tabor
Lori Linstruth - Guitar
Michael Romeo Guitar
Derek Sherinian - Keyboard
Tomas Bodin - Keyboard
Joost van den Broek Piano and Keyboard
Jeroen Goossens - Flutes
Ben Mathot - Violins
David Faber - Cellos
Recorded, Mixed, Produced and Mastered by Arjen Anthony Lucassen at The Electric Castle, Oudenbosch, Netherlands
Arjen Anthony Lucassen (V,G,K,S,B,Programming)
Ed Warby (D,P)
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)