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mr_ingot, October 30th, 2007

Up until this point, Ayreon has made music overly lyric-based. Yes, this is a good idea for concept albums, but I always wanted to hear better music. And then this came out, and I was satisfied. The lyrics are well-written, but shallow compared to normal Ayreon lyrics, but all is made up for with some of the great power metal singers of our time (Ralf Scheepers, Bruce Dickinson-not really power metal but still good, Russel Allen) along with some of the best prog/power music I've heard.

The album starts out with some weird gurgling machinery sound effects, but the real song (Chaos) starts when Lana Lane asks: "Are you sure you want to continue?" And then the song bursts into your ears, an instrumental power metal song that is quick and...well...chaotic. In the middle lies a drum solo, a typical Ed Warby fill extended tenfold, and then it goes back. As the song ends, you really feel how much that was just a small explosion of what's to come.

The second song is my personal favorite, Dawn of a Million Souls. Any power metal fan will love the chorus, and the verse is more soulful than I've ever heard Allen with Symphony X. Combine that with a great, stomping riff to catch on to your mind, and you’ve got the best song on the album.

This is followed by a more mediocre Journey on the Waves of Time, sung by Ralf Scheepers (shrieks included), with a strange riff in some odd time that I don’t care to count out, so it’s just kind of mediocre except for the end of the chorus, as Ralf sings: “Out of the paaaaaaaaaast…AAAAAAAAAAAST!” and shrieks at the top of his lungs. Great moment, only to be followed by more mediocrity. I don’t mind too much, actually, because it really stands out compared to the rest of the song.

Next up is Andi Deris, singing Into the Quasar. Honestly, this and the previous song are why the album doesn’t deserve a 100. Andi just doesn’t really sing. He uses so many flange filters and distortions that his voice is almost unrecognizable, and I don’t like it. Again, it has its good parts. They come, namely, in the form of two great riffs in the later sections of the song. [i]That[/i] is something to headbang to.

And, it’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: Bruce Dickinson. It looks promising, it’s going to be a great song…and of course it is. All though Into the Black Hole is a bit slow for my tastes, Bruce is as good as always. He was absolutely PERFECT. This song alone gets a 100. The usual was used for actual music material, but it is brought up from the 90 it would have had just from Bruce Dickinson singing over it.

The next three songs aren’t nearly as good as Into the Black Hole, but that’s to be expected. All have their catchy moments, there’s definitely some good singing, and some scattered heavy riffs. All very nice and good. The last song, having to be very fucking epic (that’s how it is with all concept albums), meets most expectations. It starts dully with some classical piece, but that’s what the search button is for. As this little classical excursion builds up to an end, comes VERY FUCKING EPIC. The song is as good as and a little more than the best of most power metal bands, being hard and fast, powerful and heavy, sentimental and emotional all in one. And it’s not even the singing like the rest of my albumly favorites that I like. It’s the song. The best I can describe this as is VFE (VERY FUCKING EPIC), so I’ll leave it at that and let you listen and love for yourself.

Although there are some mediocre moments, I’ve never stopped listening to [i]any[/i] of the songs on this album. I may sound like a slobbering Ayreon fanboy, but I’m actually quite critical of most power metal, and this is a unique Ayreon album that truly completes your collection of power metal. Don’t miss it.