Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

Prog Metal Masterpiece - 100%

Don_Petrucci, April 4th, 2007

I first heard about Ayreon through iTunes suggestions but paid no attention until I stumbled upon the web site I downloaded a few songs off of some albums and was impressed, but not wowed. Then, I got most of Ayreon's albums for Xmas. I listened to this album first and almost never got to my other CD gifts.

The Human Equation follows the story of a man who falls in a coma after plowing his car into a tree. While in a coma, he unlocks some hidden region of his mind where he confronts his emotions and and memories. Meanwhile, his best friend and wife sit at his hospital bed waiting for a sign of life. As usual, Arjen manages to pick out each vocalist perfectly. Though most of the voices on this and his other albums were new to me, some big names stood out. He roped in Mikael Akerfeldt, Devin Townsend, Mike Baker, and James LaBrie, some of my favorite metal vocalists for this extravanganza.

Everything about this album screams perfection. Arjen's compositional skills have fully blossomed, resulting in the most musical album in the Ayreon catalogue. His lyrics also fully capture emotions. Passion, Love, and Agony often are together; Reason can be swayed by Passion, etc. You come to truly feel this album; I cried as the man revisits his abusive and lonely childhood. When the wife and best friend tell anecdotes on "Memories," I smiled in the same way I do for real anecdotes; it's not a joke, so you don't laugh, but you smile because it's amusing. At other points I was downright terrified; Arjen's slim but powerful acoustic arrangements crate the eeirest atmosphere. Ed Warby rejoins Arjen as apparently Ayreon's permanent drummer, if Arjen's interview on the special edition DVD is any hint.

Now, on to the vocalists. Fans of Opeth who prefer Mikael's clean vocals will love this album as most of his vox are clean, though he does some growls on Day Twelve. James LaBrie gives what may be his most impassioned performance to date. Those who do like his vocals are encouraged to check this out; it beats a good portion of DT vocals, which I happen to love. Arjen once again uses beautiful yet upsetting female vocals. I was initially dismayed to hear Devin Townsend essentially phoned in his performance, as he did not want to sing other people's lyrics. However, Arjen allowed him to write his own lyrics for Rage, and they fit perfectly to the story while still retaining that unique Townsend approach. The real suprise for me was ex-Psyhcotic waltz vocalist Devon Graves. I have yet to hear Psychotic Waltz or Devon's new project Dead Soul Tribe, but I'm going to get anything he's been a part of. Arjen is right on the mark when he says that you'll be reading the lyrics booklet every time Devon comes on, not because you can't understand him, but you are trying to determine who the new vocalist is. He is all over the place on this record; his versatility here could match Daniel Gildenlow's on Pain of Salvation releases.

For the longest time, DT's Scenes From a Memory held my top spot for greatest prog metal release and Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime was my personal favorite. The Human Equation managed to supplant both. The production, the arrangement, the vocals, everything is perfect. As with all Ayreon albums I read along to the album with the booklet to see which vocalist was where. I usually start with the album and keep reading even if I get ahead. Yet, as the story progressed, I stopped because I did not want to ruin the story. I was that engaged to the concept. I cannot recommend this album enough and to those who believe a good prog metal collection is nothing but Dream Theater, Queensryche, Opeth, Fates Warning, and Symphony X (I was in that boat not too long ago), you haven't even started if you don't have this album.

My recommendation: put this album on somewhere you won't be disturbed, have your lyric booklet ready, and enjoy. The album must be listened to as a whole.