Released: 2000, Century Media Records
I will not be reviewing part one of the Flight of The Migrator because it is NOT metal and it is (to me) totally boring. I guess it's OK to put on if you are experiencing sleep deprivation and need to be knocked cold. Fuck is it ever boring... Part one, known as The Dream Sequencer is described as "a song-orientated melodic and atmospheric journey." (yeah, into the land of sleep). Part two Flight of the Migrator is described as "a heavy progressive adventure through time and space." Since this the more "metal" of the two this is the CD that this review is for.
The brains behind this "band" is Dutch-born Arjen Lucassen. Apparently he is well known in Europe - and sells many albums without playing any gigs. Maybe it's my ignorance, maybe it's geography, maybe it's the overall non-metalness of this CD but until this album came out and I read about the lineup of vocalists on it, I had no clue as to what Ayreon was about.
Check out this partial list of guest singers on this CD: Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Andi Deris (Helloween), Bruce Dickinson (uhhh - GOD), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody), Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius), Ian Parry..... man if you read the back cover and saw those names you'd think this CD was gonna be mind blowing power metal. If you believe all the propaganda that is out there on this CD you'd also think this CD was a godsend....well let me tell you, to me it's not that at all!
After a spacey intro the song "Dawn of a Million Souls" creeps in. This sounds more like a progressive rock track than metal. It's strong point is the soloing. It's keyboard-laden which is OK in parts but can be overbearing in places. Next up is "Journey on the Waves of Time" which features the golden voice of Ralf Sheepers. Again this song is overpowered by keyboards and when the Hammond organ kicks in I feel ill. Next up is the song with Andi Deris on vocals - I hear bits of older 70's prog-bands on this acoustic song. Andi's vocals are as usual, top notch, but musically this song is nothing to soil your pants over. Near the four minute mark this song finally kicks in with some heavy choppy riffing - pretty damn cool and about time but it's short-lived. "Into The Black Hole" is one of the better songs, could it be because Bruce Dickinson sings on it? - Yeah, that's why!! haha...it starts out all dreamy sounding then gets heavy half way through and sounds sort of Dream Theater-ish. The only thing in this song that's whacked is the keyboard solo which makes me think of that 60's sci-fi "classic" Dr. Who....weird stuff. "Through The Wormhole" starts out very cool as the keyboards fade in. Great vocals on this one by Fabio as well. This one has a main riff that reminds me of "Radar Love" - big time. The soloing in this one is godly.
Overall this is not what I expected. I did enjoy the sci-fi feel and theme and the impressive musicianship of all involved. So after listening to the CD a few times I did like it more. This is not something you thrown on for a casual listen. I would say that some people will probably hate this because: "it's not metal enough"; "there's too many keyboards"; "too prog-rock" blah blah blah......But then there will be some who will call this pure genius and think it's the best piece of melodic progressive rock/metal ever. Best idea is pick this up with an open mind and not with the expectation of something super heavy or in the power metal vein.
For those interested in who sings on what song this is the vocal line-up for this CD:
Russel Allen (Symphony X)
'Dawn Of A Million Souls'
Ralf Scheepers (ex-Gamma Ray, Primal Fear)
'Journey on the Waves of Time'
Andi Deris (Helloween)
'To the Quasar'
Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden)
'Into the Black Hole'
Fabio Lione (Rhapsody)
'Through the Wormhole'
Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius)
'Out of the White Hole'
Robert Soeterboek (Ayreon)
'To the Solar System'
Ian Parry (Elegy, Vengeance)
Damian Wilson (ex-Landmarq, ex-Threshold)
Backing vocals on 'Dawn Of A Million Souls'
Backing vocals on 'To the Quasar', 'Into the Black Hole', 'Through the Wormhole' and 'Sleeper Awake'
Much more information on the these CD's and Ayreon's other work can be found at the website http://www.ayreon.com