Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Tales from the Progressive Oceans Part. 12

                             AYREON: Into the Electric Castle (1998)
  Ayreon is the personal project of the Dutch multi-intrumentalist/composer Arjen Lucassen. He formed Ayreon in 1994 and his main purpose was to compose Rock operas. The music of Lucassen varies from Progressive Metal up to Symphonic Prog, depends on the theme of each opera. His favorite themes are Sci-Fi, Fantasy and human emotions.
 "Into the Electric Castle' was his 3rd work and it was released in 1998. It is a concept double album and it contains the story of 8 characters from different times and locations. They find themselves in a strange place and guided by a mysterious voice, they realize they should find and enter The Electric Castle in order to survive. During their travel they will face their personal fears and they will have to overcome them.
Well.... To be honest I find the story very cheesy, but that doesn't change the fact that its a very good album.
Now let's see some very interesting information concerning this album.
Arjen Lucarssen gathered an impressive amount of musicians in order to record this album, and many of
them are very famous. And when I say "impressive amount" I mean it! There are 10 singers and 12 musicians participating here. Each of the singers as you can imagine plays the role of each of the 8 character, plus a couple more who are used as "The Voice" and "Death". We see some very famous names among them, such as:
 Fish (ex-Marillion) who plays the role of the Highlander (of course!),
Annekke Van Giersbergen (from The Gathering) who plays an Egyptian princess,
Sharon den Adel (from Within Temptation) who plays an Indian, 
Robert Westerholt (from Within Temptation as well) who plays Death,
and of course Arjen Lucassen who plays the role of a hippie.
As for the musicians, the most famous names here are definitely Thjis Van Leer, the flute player and leader of the band Focus, and Clive Nolan (keyboard player of Pendragon & Arena).
   In my opinion Into the Electric Castle is most probably the best work of Ayreon, and I recommend it to all the fans of Progressive Rock, or Rock in general.
In the following two videos you can see a beautiful live version of 'The Valley of the Queens', and the studio version of 'Isis & Osiris' with Fish on vocals.