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Much, much better - 91%

OSheaman, August 13th, 2003

See? When you finally get off your ass and make some actual music, everything looks so much rosier for you and your little one-man band.

Arjen Lucassen, the only permanent member of Ayreon, recorded this album at the same time as The Universal Migrator Part !, which makes me wonder if he didn't just record a big mass of songs, stick all the cool ones on Part II, and put all the rest on Part I. Whatever he did, it is obvious that this album is, forgive the pun, light-years ahead of Part I in both sound quality and the "not-boring-as-a-fucking-history-lecture" factor. The songs in here have actual variety, with beats and rhythms and interesting instrument work and all of that high-class stuff that makes an album actually interesting to listen to. The increase in both overall tempo and variety in sounds (there's a lot more guitar work and interesting keyboard arrangements on this album) make the album an actual treat to listen to and firmly establish Ayreon as Progressive Metal (instead of wanky Prog Rock, as Part I was).

Highlights. Hmm . . . well, the opening track is cheesy as fuck (again), but the music after the little voice part is pretty cool. Journey on the Waves of Time has a few parts that you could even headbang to, and there's a violin solo in the beginning! To the Quasar kind of highlights the contrast between the keyboard work and the heavy guitar sounds, and the result is a really interesting song. Through the Wormhole has a fantastic vocal section matched up with some great keyboard work. The New Migrator sounds a bit like Erotomania, but it is a very cool closing to the album.

There's no continuing story here, so there's nothing to lose buy ditching the first album and only buying the second, which is what I suggest you do here. Unless you think that female voice doing the 'Universal Migrator' thing is sexy. Freak.