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Better than the other one - 81%

Egregius, June 24th, 2006

So Arjen 'Ayreon' Lucassen wanted to do two different albums: one up-tempo and one slower. I already expressed my dissapointment at the Part 1, the slower one. So here I am to say: Part 2: Flight of the Migrator is a lot more enjoyable.

Continuing the story from The Dream Sequencer (which you don't actually have to have listened to to understand this one), the person entering the dream sequencer (device to relive past lives) in part 1 continues further back, beyond the first man on earth, to follow the path of the first Soul, the one big Universal Migrator which is the source of all other souls. Ambitious as usual, and slightly corny. What is not slightly corny, is the spoken intro. It's VERY corny. But hey, I'm used to that from Ayreon by now.

In contrast to the other album, this one is a lot more energetic, and actually has a direction: each song follows the path of the Universal Migrator through space from the Big Bang into the Solar System, and it forms one big story..in a way. This album is a good solid metal stomper, energetically blazing through songs with a true all-star vocalist team. I mean: Bruce Dickinson (Iron fucking Maiden), Sir Russel Alan (Symhpony-X), Ralf Scheepers (Gamma Ray), Andi Deris (Helloween), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody), Timo Kotipelto (Stratovarius), Ian Parry (Hammerhead!), and hey, Robert Soeterboek too. All this backed up by Damian Wilson, Lana Lane, and on the instruments the likes of Ed Warby, Michael Romeo (Symphony-X), Clive Noland and more.

Each song stands solidly on it's own, and this album has to appeal to a large number of power, prog and speed/heavy metal fans, not just on the basis of the vocalists. Arjen Lucassen seems to have left out most of his vintage influences for this album; there's very little spacey mellotrons and moogs, although there are of course some typical spacey synths (it's just a lot less hippy/70s sci-fi sounding). Ed Warby shows his skills in rhythm and stomping drum-riffs, and there seems to be a lot of prominent guitar-heroism going on in the songs, from Arjen and his all-star guests, in both the riffing and the soloing and the 'bridging' department. Actually, to describe the music it would be easiest to say it's on a mid-way point between Iron Maiden, Symphony X and Helloween, except that it's mostly up-tempo.

Where the album in my opinion fails in my opinion, is (again) lack of scope and ambition. It's not as bad as I described in the Dream Sequencer review, but the vocalists seem trapped in a meager story. And again the lack of vocalist interaction; everyone's doing their own thing, putting their trademarks on a song Arjen Lucassen wrote, but nothing beyond that. It's again the magic of Into The Electric Castle that I miss. The story of a Universal Migrator going through the universe is nice and all, but when it amounts to 'Going into a black hole', then 'Through a wormhole' and then 'Out of a white hole'..there's not much there, is there? In the end, I don't feel 'fulfilled'; too little substance.

That's why one shouldn't consider this album a typical Ayreon metal opera album; it's just a really solid metal album with a common (but cheesy) theme, that could've been a lot more.