And here it is! The new Ayreon record. Starting immediately when listening to the opening song The Day That The World Breaks Down Arjen Lucassen again creates his own fascinating world for us to get sucked in, like he has done many times before. But this time it’s pretty clear what is going on, machines stop working and the world goes boom! The song Everybody Dies does a perfect job of telling you this in a very catchy and cheery way.
The album pulls something from a variety of different music genres. In general, the songs are very heavy metal, heavy guitar riffs with the incredible drum parts of longtime Ayreon drummer Ed Warby that holds it all together. But there are also some funky bass lines or even the more folk-like sounds that you might remember from The Gentle Storm. The best example for this would be the beautiful duet between Floor Jansen (Nightwish) and Simone Simons (Epica) called All That Was where these two nightingales are perfectly in sync with each other. This is what makes The Source, or arguably any Ayreon album so great. Lucassen knows exactly what everybody is capable of and where to put his wonderful cast and crew, which makes it sound like everything fell in to place and is where it is supposed to be.
What caught my attention when listening to the album several times is that The Source is a much catchier album than its predecessors, it often chooses a more comical or satirical approach rather than being serious, despite its dark and gloomy theme. Don’t be fooled by titles like Condemned To Live or Everybody Dies but rather expect a Black Mirror or Monty Python feel to it. But not in a bad way. The album still has a lot of strength and professionality. If anything, I would say this particular approach brings even more personality to the album.
For this album, none other than Queen guitarist Bryan May was asked to join, but he unfortunately had to cancel. However, you can still hear that Lucassen is greatly inspired by these legendary rockers of the seventies and eighties. Long shredding guitar solos like in The Dream Dissolves, high pitched male vocals that just scream glam rock and a subtle hint to Queens’ Bicycle Race in The Aquatic Race, where Zaher Zorgati (Myrath) showcases his beautiful Arabic vocals.
The Source is a multidimensional masterpiece that appeals to new Ayreon fans and seasoned Ayreonauts alike, that to me is already capable of being the metal album of the year!
You can also read our interview with Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen here.