Yes | Close To The Edge | A 45th Anniversary Retrospective
This Retrospective Written With Love In Memory Of: Chris Squire – (March, 4, 1948 – June, 27 , 2015)
Label: Original Distribution/ Atlantic Records Release Year: 1972 Country: United Kingdom Genre: Progressive Rock
Band Members – Classic Yes ‘Close To The Edge’ Lineup
Jon Anderson – Lead Vocals Steve Howe – Guitar/Backing Vocals Chris Squire – Bass/Backing Vocals Rick Wakeman – Keyboards Bill Bruford – Drums/Percussion
Track List – Original Pressing 1972
1. Close to the Edge Lyrics – Jon Anderson/ Steve Howe Music – Jon Anderson/Steve Howe I. “The Solid Time of Change” II. “Total Mass Retain” III. “I Get Up, I Get Down” IV. “Seasons of Man”
2. And You and I Lyrics – Jon Anderson Music – Jon Anderson/Themes by Bill Bruford/Steve Howe – except “Eclipse”/Chris Squire I. “Cord of Life” II. “Eclipse” III. “The Preacher, the Teacher” IV. “The Apocalypse”
3. Siberian Khatru Lyrics – Jon Anderson Music – Jon Anderson/Steve Howe/Rick Wakeman
* Editorial Note * This retrospective is meant as a nostalgia piece and celebration of such a fine classic of progressive rock. Please note, Power of Prog or myself will not be forced into publicly taking sides as far as the fractured camps of Yes are concerned. We will not condemn nor condone any public behaviour displayed by the respective surviving members of Yes. This is why I have included various ‘Contact Links’ in my introduction. Furthermore this will be a very objective and unbiased article. Thank you for your understanding and cooperation in this matter.
-RUSH’s Geddy Lee to Rolling Stone Magazine- June, 6th, 2016 –
“To my mind, Yes may be the single most important of all the progressive rock bands,” said Rush’s Geddy Lee, who calls Close to the Edge “among my favorite rock albums of all time.”
Preface – Signs Of The Times
During the 1960’s in the United Kingdom there was much going on at that time. The United Kingdom were still rebuilding from World War 2. The United Kingdom were also as much a part of the Cold War with the Soviet Union as the United States of America was. Due to the rebuilding from World War 2 and the Cold War to follow things appeared to be very bleak and dark in the United Kingdom especially in England. Much like the USA, the United Kingdom also was experiencing its very own ‘Baby Boom’. It would be a set of ‘Baby Boomer’s’ such as these that would go on and make rock history.
In the USA the Civil Rights movement was well underway, Psychedelic Rock and ‘Flower Power’ was born in San Francisco, California. America had been totally wrapped up in the Vietnam War which resulted in protest marches across the country which sometimes ended in violence. One of the protests resulted in four people dead in Kent State University in Ohio. The United Kingdom was also a mirror reflection much like America however much much darker times.
Employment was at an all time low with the post war economic boom and it was important to the economic and cultural development with in English society. A better economy allowed for parents to the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation to send their children to institutions of higher learning and art schools. This was clearly apparent with the musical education of Rick Wakeman – Keyboards , who went to the Royal Conservatory, which was a absolute essential instrument in the creation and evolution of the new fledgling genre of progressive rock movement. Chris Squire – Bass , had some early formal musical training as a choirboy. That experience of vocal melody and harmony would become a fixture in his personal and professional life musically until his untimely passing in 2015.
For those too young to know or to some that need a reminder late 1940’s through early 1970’s in the United Kingdom was not really a beautiful place to live as it is in 2017. These ‘Baby Boomers’ in the UK had to pass by places everyday that were a vicious reminder of World War 2. Many of their parents solely went to work to just rebuild the United Kingdom.As they were coming of age like their American counterparts they too in the United Kingdom also took to the streets to protest nuclear weapons with the Aldermaston Marches. There were plenty of jobs and development but if you were a child like many of the progressive rock bands were during this time, all you knew was old bombed out areas under construction. They did not have the luxury that their counterparts in the USA or Canada that were being raised in what we call the suburbs and subdivisions.
Given all that mentioned above these ‘Baby Boomers’ or Fathers of Progressive Rockwere looking to create a world through music to perhaps escape from the post war madness. This is probably why they sat in studios or basements or even the sheds practicing and writing for hours on end. The long epic compositions of fantasy and otherworldly concepts was birthed out of both the pain of childhood and a coming of age attitude that also produced ‘Acid Rock’, ‘Heavy Metal’, ‘Psychedelic’ and ‘Folk’. Progressive Rock was another tentacle and extension of the ever growing counterculture on a global scale.
Yes’ Close To The Edge – Revisited
Close To The Edge is the fifth album in the Yes library. Yes had just wrapped up their tour in support of their previous album, 1971’s Fragile. They entered into Advision Studios to begin work on what would become Close To The Edge. This was also around the time that the band really started to stabilize as a collective union. After many laborious sessions in the studio Bill Bruford – Drums decided to leave Yes to join King Crimson after the tour and Alan White from the Plastic Ono Band. Now you had what would become the ‘Classic Yes Lineup’ of Jon Anderson – Lead Vocals , Steve Howe – Guitar/Backing Vocals, Chris Squire – Bass/Backing Vocals ,Rick Wakeman – Keyboards and Bill Bruford – Drums.
As far as song volume, Close To The Edge is one of the shorter albums in the Yes library. This is highly ironic due to the fact that the album opens up with the nearly 19 minute epic and self titled track Close To The Edge, which in those days on vinyl almost rode the fine line with the 22+ minute physical restriction that vinyl had. This left Side B that only housed And You And I & Siberian Khatru, which both averaged 10 minutes a track. The recording studio for the band to perform in, thoroughly enabled Bill Bruford’s drums to resonate with the wooden platform and making the group sound “more live”. The studio also housed a booth-like structure constructed of wooden boards which Steve Howe performed in to further enhance his sound. During the recording, the band decided to use a particular take for a track, but realised the studio’s cleaner had put the tape in the rubbish. A scramble in the bins outside the studio ensued, and the missing piece was found and inserted into the master.
During their month of recording, Melody Maker reporter and band biographer Chris Welch visited the studio to observe the recording progress. Welch described a stressful atmosphere, coupled with “outbursts of anarchy” from Bill Bruford, Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman and disagreement from each member after one mix of a song section was complete. Welch sensed the band were not a cohesive unit, with Anderson and Howe the only ones who knew what direction the album was to take, leaving the rest adding bits and pieces “to a vast jigsaw of sound”, to which Chris Squire and Offord were the two who helped put their idea into shape. Wakeman and Bruford, to Welch, remained “innocent bystanders” in the matter. In one instance, Welch arrived at the studio to hear a preview of a completed passage that took several days of round the clock work to produce. He heard a dull thud, to find Offord had fallen asleep on top of the mixing console from exhaustion, “leaving music from the spinning tape deck blaring at an intolerable level.”Bill Bruford found Close to the Edge particularly difficult to write and record with the rest of the band, calling the process torturous and like “climbing Mount Everest”. He became frustrated with the band’s happy, diatonic music and favoured more jazz-oriented and improvisational compositions. Bill Bruford was constantly encouraged by Jon Anderson to write, something he felt grateful for years later, but by the time recording was complete, he felt he had done his best on Close to the Edge and could not offer better arrangements.
Bill Bruford had this to say about that time recording the album before leaving the group.
“So then I knew I needed a breath of fresh air”.
Track By Track – A Look Into Yes’ Close To The Edge
Close To The Edge
This song would be written in four symphonic movements, each staying on point and coming to the intended message the band wanted to say and the tapestry they desired to paint. This was also the very first song where I heard every instrument in a well balanced harmony with one another. The first song I heard where not one instrument overwhelmingly drown out one another or the vocal narratives.
This song was written by Yes lead singer Jon Anderson and guitarist Steve Howe. Jon Anderson has said that many times the lyrics he writes reveal their meanings to him later. He told us that this song is one such example,
“The lyrics, ‘Season witch could call you from the depths of your disgrace,’ I realized what I was singing was all about the idea that your higher self will always save you if you keep your heart in the right place,” he said.
This song came about at a time when the members of Yes were concerned with how to follow up their successful Fragile album. Rick Wakeman had joined Jon Anderson, Steve Howe, Chris Squire, and Bill Bruford on that album. Yes had already amassed an impressive collection of epics that hovered around the ten-minute mark, exceeding what was perceived as the standard length in popular music. But song length itself wasn’t the point, the band wanted to take the time to say what they had to say.
It was during the recording of this album, and particularly this song that Bill Bruford decided to part with the band. He felt the group was going too far with the progressive music and he also felt he had nothing to contribute to the new direction Rick Wakeman would leave for similar reasons after the band’s next album, Tales From Topographic Oceans. He quit shortly after they finished the album, prompting Jon Anderson and Chris Squire to politely ask session drummer Alan White to join for the upcoming tour just days away, or be thrown out of the window of the room they were in. He agreed and has been with the band ever since.
This was one of the songs Yes recorded that couldn’t be recreated live without some outside help. They solved this problem by bringing their producer, Eddy Offord, on the road. He put various church organs, sound effects and vocal bits onto tape, and played them during performances at opportune times from a Revox tape machine. On this track, he was the live sound of the pipe organ and the waterfall.
During a radio show called Yes Music – An Evening With Jon Anderson, the singer explained,
“The end verse is a dream that I had a long time ago about passing on from this world to another world, yet feeling so fantastic about it that death never frightened me ever since. That’s what seemed to come out in this song, that it was a very pastoral kind of experience rather than a very frightening one.”
Jon Anderson is no fan of organized religion, and he takes some shots at the institution in this song, both in the lyrics “How many millions do we deceive each day?” and in the music , a church organ comes in, which is replaced by a Moog synthesizer. Here is what Jon Anderson went on the further say,
“This leads to another organ solo rejoicing in the fact that you can turn your back on churches and find it within yourself to be your own church,”
The chorus lyric “Close to the edge, down by a river” was inspired by Howe while he lived in Battersea by the River Thames. The music played during this section was originally a song of the same name that Howe put together several years before that was in part based on the longest day of the year. Anderson and Howe agreed this section fitted best with a Jon Anderson composition titled “Total Mass Retain”, thus joining the two ideas together.
And You And I
Written by band members Jon Anderson, Bill Bruford, Steve Howe and Chris Squire, this song runs 10:08 and is divided into four parts: I) Cord of Life II) Eclipse III) The Preacher the Teacher IV) Apocalypse
A 5:45 edit was released as a single and charted at #42 in the US.
So who is the “you” referred to in this song? In a interview with Jon Anderson, he answered,
“Probably God. Or it could be we collectively. The audience and I, collectively we look for reality of being a true understanding of the beauty of life. We reach over the rainbow for an understanding of things. You and I climb closer to the light.”
Few song titles start with the word “and”; a more logical title would be “You And I.”Jon Anderson said in a interview why the conjunction appears at the beginning:
“I sang it that way as I was writing it with Steve (Howe) and it just stuck: ‘And you and I climb over the sea to the valley.’ It’s all about the reasons that we have to call our connection with the Divine. So it was something that just rhythmically worked.”
Rick Wakeman, who played keyboards on this track, said,
“It has different movements which all go into each other. The object was having a piece of music that was everything that the Yes critics hated us for and the Yes fans loved us for, which was emotion.”
This was a highlight of the band’s live shows, and one of their favorites to play in concert. The Close To The Edge album was conceived with live performance in mind, which was prescient considering they were still performing it more than 40 years later. They played it start-to-finish along with The Yes Album and Going for the One on a tour that spanned March 2013 – June 2014. When the group resumed touring in July, they once again played the full album, this time along with Fragile.
In a 2014 interview with Chris Squire, he said,
“The audiences respond real well to hearing the music in that format. It reminds them of when they first heard probably what was a vinyl album.”
It originated as a more folk-oriented song that Jon Anderson developed with Howe. Its style and themes were worked on by Howe, Bruford, and Squire, the only track on the album that credits Bill Bruford and Chris Squire as writers.
The closing track on the Close To The Edge album, this song is about unity across cultures. Jon Anderson, who wrote the lyric, has given different accounts of what “Khatru” means. He has said that it means “winter,” and also that it translates to “as you wish” in Yemenite Hebrew.
The meaning of the song is more clear: Jon Anderson is expressing how Siberians go through the same emotions that he does. They’re people like us, just geographically distant. We may be from different places, but we’re all basically the same.
Jon Anderson is credited with writing the lyric to this song, with keyboard player Rick Wakeman, guitarist Steve Howe and Jon Anderson credited for composing the music. The songwriting credits on Yes songs can be deceptive, since the full band was usually involved in some aspect of working up the song.
Steve Howe said that this song was one of their more collaborative efforts.
“That song came together with the arranging skills of the band,” he told Guitar World. “Jon had the rough idea of the song, and Chris (Squire), Bill (Bruford), Rick and me would collaborate on getting the riffs together.”
It is the only track on the album that has Rick Wakeman credited as a writer. In terms of its lyrics. Eddy Offord, who produced the album, remembers using a primitive studio technique to get a swirling sound in the mix: he had an assistant attach a microphone to a cable and swing it around the room to get a Doppler effect.
Siberian Khatru – Through The Filter Of The Musician
“Siberian Khatru” is written in the key of G major and is typical of Yes’ music of this period, featuring abstruse lyrics, complex time signatures and poly-rhythms, and it is divided into multiple sections, with alternating vocal and instrumental passages. The album version begins with an introductory guitar riff, after which the main instrumental theme (played by the keyboards) is introduced. The structure of the main theme is a four-measure phrase consisting of three bars in common time (4/4) and the last bar in 3/4. This theme is repeated until the verse section begins. The lyrics start at about 1:05. The song progresses through various sections, featuring solos by Steve Howe and Rick Wakeman. There is a poly-metric section featuring the guitar, playing in a meter of 12, and bass and drums playing in a meter of 8. Jon Anderson begins singing seemingly random two-syllable words and phrases, which has since become a Yes tradition. The conclusion is similar to the introduction, returning to the main instrumental theme with a guitar solo on top of it, which fades out to the end of the track.
The Art Of Roger Dean – Sleeve Design
Close to the Edge was packaged with a gatefold sleeve designed and illustrated by Roger Dean, who had also designed the cover for Fragile 1971 . It marked the first appearance of the band’s iconic logotype, placed on top a simple front cover design of a linear colour gradient from black to green. Roger Dean’s logo has been described as a “calligraphed colophon”. In his original design, Dean wanted the album to resemble the quality of a gold embossed book. The sleeve includes pictures of the group and Offord that were photographed by Dean and Martyn Adelman, who had played with Chris Squire in the late 1960’s as a member of The Syn. Dean wrote the sleeve’s text and lyric sheet by hand. On reflection on the album’s design, Roger Dean said,
“There were a couple of ideas that merged there. It was of a waterfall constantly refreshing itself, pouring from all sides of the lake, but where was the water coming from? I was looking for an image to portray that”
Close to the Edge received favourable reviews among critics. New Musical Express printed a more mixed review from Ian MacDonald on 2 September 1972. He thought the group were “not just close to the edge, they’ve gone right over it”, though they “played their God-damned guts out” on the album which he called “an attempt to overwhelm us with which resulted in only unmemorable meaninglessness”. MacDonald concluded: “On every level but the ordinary aesthetic one, it’s one of the most remarkable records pop has yet produced”Henry Medoza opened his review for The San Bernardino Sun with: “Not since … Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band has there been one side on an album that expressed such a complete and exciting a musical thought as side one”, and thought it presented the group with a new level of sophistication. He praised the group’s vocal harmonies and Bill Bruford’s“deep irregular bass drum” on the opening of the title track, but picked its third section as the most interesting with the trading vocals Rick, Wakeman’s “dream-like” and “powerful” organ playing. Mendoza described side two as more “uninspiring” than the first, but praised the vocals and harmonies on both tracks, noting they sound like its own instrument on “Siberian Khatru”
John Galanakis – Guitars/Orchestras/Brutal Growls-Clean Vocals Alexandra Misailidou – Female Vocals Jon Soti – Male Vocals Marios Konnaris – Lead Guitars John Sotirakis – Bass Guitars Nikitas Mandolas – Drums
Special Guest Musicians
George Konstantine Kratsas – Bionic Origin – Guest Guitars on The Alpha Origin & Engineering/Mixing/Mastering on entire Entropia Album.
Iliana Tsakiraki – Enemy Of Reality – Additional Leggro Soprano Vocals – Featured on Sense Of Matter
Astral Nova – Intro Shadow Provision The Alpha Origin Sense Of Matter Alternative Hypothesis – Interlude Deceptive Projection Attribution Theory Aggression Entropia – The Final Chapter
Entropy : a measure of the unavailable energy in a closed thermodynamic system that is also usually considered to be a measure of the system’s disorder, that is a property of the system’s state, and that varies directly with any reversible change in heat in the system and inversely with the temperature of the system; broadly : the degree of disorder or uncertainty in a system 2 a : the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity b : a process of degradation or running down or a trend to disorder
Quadrus band is a symphonic metal project from John Galanakis that formed in Athens Greece at June of 2014 with Marios Konnaris and began with the creation of ENTROPIA – concept album. Later on, after 2 years of composing and orchestrations for ENTROPIA, John came in contact with Nikitas Mandolas who recorded the drums for the whole album alongside with Jon Soti, who recorded the Male Vocals, Alexandra Misailidou who wrote the lyrics and the Female Vocals, Marios Konnaris who recorded the lead guitars and John Sotirakis who recorded the bass guitar. Lots of influences from progressive,djent,thrash,death,black,symphonic,folk,celtic, music and guided from the sound of Wintersun, Dream Theater, Symphony x, Epica , Dragonland, Ensiferum, Nightwish,Two steps from Hell and Hans Zimmer, led to the current sound of Quadrus and formed the cinematic style of Entropia
It seems throughout the course of the history of humankind that there has always been a change to totally alter the course of things. Keep in mind that humans have only been on Earth for just under 20,000 years. We have went from being hunter/gatherers, to small tribal villages to the first democratic city states such that was founded in Greece ,to absolute utter crushing and dominating origins of the Persian, Roman, Mongolian, Ottoman , British and American Empires. It also seems when these various Empires got to big or way to coveted by smaller more second or third world populations coming together, that these massive Empires fell and fell hard.
Humankind has not really learned very much from its past. We constantly and repeatedly create circumstances where we can not be self sufficient on the natural and human made resources that were given to us in the this life, that were given to us in this world. We have ran in vicious cycles of political and civil decay through Dystopia that has ultimately led down the road to Entropia. Such is the very futuristic world that new Greek symphonic, progressive metal, cinematic band Quadrus has done such a great job articulating in their independent self financed and distributed album Entropia.
These same universal laws and made made conundrums can also apply to the vast expanse of space over time. Entropia can happen when a solar system or whole galaxies are devoured by super massive black holes, gamma ray’s, or even quasar’s. The story of Quadrus’ Entropia is a combination of both human irresponsibility and the lack of cooperation of the known universe around us. As with all albums that are conceptual in nature we all see the story differently on the big screen in the theater of our minds and listen to the music through various and different filter’s of our comprehension and understanding. It is also becoming more frequent in the symphonic and progressive metal community that we are seeing more and more conceptual albums even as ‘Debut-Albums’. Both sub genres seem to have the proper atmospheres to allow for this to happen. Now a little break down track by track of Quadrus’ Entropia.
Chapter 1 – Born/Fear/Anger/Doubt
Astral Nova – Intro – Born
This begins with a spoken word element to begin to paint the picture on the screen inside the theater of the listener’s mind’s. It is certainly one of the most beautifully articulate spoken word tracks I have heard on a concept album in the last 25 years. That is no exaggeration whatsoever. Alexandra Misailidou – Female Vocals are not only radiant, they are eloquently elegant as she charms the listener into the story and preparing them for the darkness and the silver lining around some otherwise very dark and bleak moments on the album. This is all done over a beautifully elegant keyboard passage followed by a big drum passage like that of a marching band or a race have been given marching orders. It is like the band are looking at a film on the screen and playing to its intensity and various parts much like a symphony would score a film. This seamlessly transitions very smoothly into the next song in Chapter 1 Shadow Provision. Shadow Provision – Fear
Begins with a very high end keyboard chord progression that has transitioned seamlessly from its prior track Astral Nova – Born. Soon after that a blistering intro chord progression begins to take the song and album with it into a very dark and heavy realm. John Galanakis – Guitars/Orchestras/Brutal Growls-Clean Vocals adds some vocal depth when he uses the ‘death growls’ more like an additional instrument perhaps in the emotion of anger due to the fear unleashed on the population through the self inflicted chaos to the people in the story of Entropia.
The drum/bass rhythm rhythm section creates a immediate sense of urgency so that when the clean male vocal comes in it already gives the listener the sense of a chaotic event occurring within the story and on the planet of humanity. Between the deep rhythm section and blistering guitar riffs the male vocal narrative begins to question the very existence past. present and future of his own species. The beautiful female soprano vocal comes in and there is a dialogue between one another as to the situation and questions towards a solution to the problem they now face.
Under the clean male vocals and female vocals there is a underlying death growl. This track is a very cinematic track with heavy straight away power metal style vocals with various progressive chord progression changes. The band wastes absolutely no time engulfing the listener into the world they want to paint and create in the theater of the mind. The guitar solo’s are very wickedly insane along with the perfect accommodation of the various keyboard passages.
The Alpha Origin – Anger -(Featuring George Konstantine Kratsas -Guest Guitars)
This begins in a very thick dark power metal passage much like the style of Nightwish or even Epica. Soon the track has some very rhythm based crunchy guitar chord progression over a clean guitar lead. Soon among the instrumental rhythm and lead chord progression and interchanges come the female soprano vocal, male ‘death vocal’ and male clean vocal that blend and interchange perfectly on time and on key. The male ‘death growl’ on this one serves both a vocal melodic verbal narrative as well as a vocal instrumental narrative in the story. Some of the straight away rhythm guitar and bass/drum rhythm sections are in a very galloping matter much like Iron Maiden meets Dream Theater.
All this brutality in the instrumental half is to set up a very angry lyrical narrative. The instrumental allows for the very cynical, hateful, sarcasm lyrical narrative to breathe where it can be understood clearly. I believe it is intentional. The male vocal also serves as a hardcore indictment to the general population as to what they have done to their world as a collective community. The male ‘death growl’ begins to not only convey anger but it also begins to tell the people how to channel their anger to a legitimate and everlasting solution a motivator.
About the 5:05 mark the piano comes in and the brutality of both the instrumental narrative and lyrical narrative wane a little to allow the listener to absorb the situation from both sides. To the listener that really follows the story from the CD booklet, they can identify and relate to some of the anger the band articulate both lyrically and instrumentally. They start to realise that they can find themselves in a situation as this. Anger is a powerful motivator for change and the band do a great job painting a picture of it on this track. The guitar solo’s are quite fluid. The track ends on a very orchestral passage with various harmonies that convey the appearance of various choirs.
Sense Of Matter – (Featuring Iliana Tsakiraki – Enemy of Reality – Leggro Soprano)
This starts out with a beautiful classical piano that appears it is being played in a concert hall. The clear male vocal come in to continually articulate the overall story in the concept. Then the track explodes with various rhythmic chord progressive passages that are sheer blistering. The passages are definitely and purposefully over the top with the cinematic and dramatic to match the intensity of the story. The band go above and beyond painting the emotion of doubt of the people in the story to the intended audience they are targeting. The ‘death growls’ can actually be very understood, a welcomed surprise where this particular music is concerned. They also continue to serve as a instrument along side the chants from the soprano half of the vocal narrative.
Chapter 2 – Living/Deception/Guilt/Sadness
Alternative Hypothesis – Interlude– Living
Is a instrumental thus, the sub title of Interlude is added. It opens up Chapter 2 – Living/Deception/Guilt/Sadness much like a second ACT in a Three Act stage play. The population of the people are really starting to acknowledge the plight of their situation. This instrumental begins to also set the atmosphere for the Second portion of Entropia.
Deceptive Projection – Deception
Just as a shred of Truth starts to come in so does Deception. The track opens up with a thunderous rhythm section with a dark male spoken word narrative. The instrumental also does a good job building a sense of anticipation for the lyrical narrative. It is the classic a case of you can not have one without the other trying to remove its enemy. There is also multi dimensional choirs to convey various emotions within the people. This is also the point of the story where the resolve of humanity really begins to be tested. The chaos on the outside begins the war for the soul and spirit on the inside of the individual and humanity as a collective. The harmony between the instrumental and lyrical is really tight and cohesive about now and the band really start working as one, much like a well oiled machine. On a lyrical note humanity knows some great deception is coming and scramble to prepare for it. The ‘death growls’ begin to really get more and more intense to match the equal intensity of the brutal almost blackened death metal style instrumental half. The keyboard passages go into the area symphonic fusion. The band ends this with what appears to be machine like effects in progress that will easily and seamlessly transition into the following track Attribution Theory – Guilt.
Attribution Theory – Guilt
This picks up seamlessly in transition off the previous track before it Deceptive Projection – Deception. It appears the machine is turning on a instrumental half of the track. By this point of the album when things get brutal they stay brutal both instrumentally and lyrically. As far as instrumental and effects there is a definitive turn of events in the story. This contains beautifully done keyboard passages with blistering guitar rhythms sections. The instrumental emotion and lyrical narrative displayed are those where humanity seems beside itself and in disbelief over the events that are happening on their Planet Earth. You can say that humanity are truly bearing the burden of guilt over their own actions. The instrumental is very climatic to a further tipping point in the story. Instrumentally it concludes on a major melodic note with various double soprano vocals layer in and out of one another.
Aggression – Sadness
Begins with a thunderstorm effect that is perfectly complimented by a crunchy rhythm guitar. Soon a cleaner guitar chord progression comes in and matches the lush layered keyboard atmosphere on the stronger end of the melodic side. The beautiful soprano and male clean vocal really pay justice to the instrumental portion of this. This track takes on a very odd Gothic element within both the vocal and instrumental much more like Epica. Lyrically the population of Humanity reconcile with their plight and begin to chart the course towards their own survival and preservation. The keyboard atmospheres really remind me of Jens Johanssen of Stratosvarious. This track also marks the end of Chapter 2 much like a second part to a three Act play or stage performance.
Chapter 3 – End Of Circle/Redemption/New Beginning
Entropia – The Final Chapter
This is the finishing epic of Entropia. It opens up the third and final chapter to this epic concept. It is just under 18:00 minutes in length and serves as a major third of the story.
Part 1 – Atom
This starts out with a very subtle keyboard passage in the background while various audio clips from news agencies report disaster, a new planet that is 60% larger than our Earth but is habitable like our Earth. Here you really get the sense as a listener that humanity is doomed and in desperation to find a place of redemption and salvation. It is a Epiphany on a very mass scale.
Part 2 – Epiphany
Lyrically is a definite wake up call for humanity and the very fact they either change their ways and adapt to the circumstances of their actions or they perish under them. This is followed in by some lush glossy keyboard sections with some very brutal rhythm sections blended in with symphonic death metal elements. This is a very angry portion of the epic. The perfect blend of death growls and strong female soprano vocals and choirs really place a sense of conviction here.
Part 3 – Cosmos
This opens up giving the appearance of a intergalactic choir acknowledging the knowledge and understanding they have left. Although they have this understanding they also begin to really recognize their complacency and how it is beginning to devour them from the inside out. All this emotions are conveyed with a very easy and palatable symphonic and cinematic section in the instrumental portion. It is as if they are starting a journey towards perhaps a new home or solution.
Part 4 – Shadow Light Spirituality
This part is very brutal in the sense that this is straight away symphonic/cinematic death metal blended in harmony with spoken word sections. After the emotion give by both the lyrical and instrumental content for the first half or verse of this portion, the band utilizes their native Greek language as if it is the language spoken by this particular sect of humanity. They do this in a very coherent and articulate manner in the midst of such a angry instrumental portion.
Part 5 – Justification
Lyrically this is the age old war between the sciences and religions of humanity. It is as if both sides are making futile attempts to justify their actions and contributions on the race of humanity. This emotion is done with a interchange of the male clean and female soprano with the death growls coming in to convey the utter anger between the sciences and religions. The anger in both the lyrical and instrumental side are in total harmony. The band remains on point and objective with this particular portion of the epic.
Part 6 – Elevation
This seamlessly transitions from Part 5 – Justification with a deep and tuned down symphonic rhythm section that is both cinematic in nature and the appearance of a little bit of space metal. It is a bit slower to allow the listener to breathe and absorb the epic and story that the band has been painting in their minds. The female soprano comes in this time more as a voice of reason and the various instrumental elements allow for that to be possible in harmony with the vocal elements. Humanity also sees they may have a second chance for survival.
Part 7 -Redemption
This last portion of the epic starts at the 13:24 mark and proceeds to bring the entire epic and overall story within the concept of the entire album. The transition is remains continuous and on point towards the end. This conclusion is very blistering and brutal on the instrumental half. It is a non stop power rhythmic sections blended with cinematic keyboard atmospheres. The band does a great job bringing this story and concept to it climatic conclusion. The choir provides the illusion of a humanity once again unified towards the common goal to go on despite all its imperfections and disasters.
In a year that has already produced concept albums by Pain Of Salvation In The Passing Light Of Day and Ayreon’s The Source, that are actually signed artists, it seems that some bands and artists have chosen to go independent/unsigned for their conceptual debuts. Earlier in the year I reviewed some independent/unsigned concept albums from Ireland’s The Vicious Head Society Abject Tomorrow and Aeloias, The Architect and now Quadrus’ Entropia, it appears that this may turn out to be the year of the independent artist or band doing concept albums without any label support whatsoever. Although Quadrus have only been together just under three years they sound and operate like a band that has been around anywhere from 10 to 15 years. This was very well written, arranged, produced, mixed and mastered. This gets a very strong 5/5 for independent quality.
Ayreon | The Source | Album Review & Featured Album Of Week For April 23-30
Label: Mascot Label Group Release Year : 2017 Country: The Netherlands/International Genre: Progressive Metal/Rock Opera/Genre Transcending
Band Members/Original Cast
Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Electric and Acoustic Guitars/Bass Guitar/Mandolin/Synthesizers, Hammond/Solina Strings/All Other Instruments
Ed Wabry – Drums
Original Cast Members/Vocalists
Editorial Note – The People of Forever are Alphans Alpha until they get to Planet Y where they get the title ‘Forever’ !
James Labrie – Dream Theater- As ‘The Historian’ Tommy Giles Rogers – Between The Buried And Me – As ‘The Chemist’ Simone Simons – Epica -As ‘The Counselor’ Mike Mills – Toehider – As ‘T-H1’ Floor Jansen – Nightwish – As ‘The Biologist’ Hansi Kursch – Blind Guardian – As ‘The Astronomer’ Tobis Sammet – Avantasia/Edguy – As ‘The Captain’ Michael Eriksen – Circus Maximus – As ‘The Diplomat’ Nils K Rue – Pagans Mind – As ‘The Prophet’ Zaher Zorgati – Myrath – As ‘The Preacher’ Tommy Karevik – Kamelot – As ‘The Opposition Leader’ Russel Allen – SymphonyX – As ‘The President’ Will Shaw – Heir Apparent’ Wilmer Waarbroek, Jan Willem Ketelaars, and Lisette van den Berg – Scarlet Stories as ‘The Ship’s Crew’ You … Insert Name Here … as ‘The Audience’
Joost van den Broek – ex-After Forever/ex Sun Caged – Grand Piano and Electric Piano Mark Kelly – Marillion – Synthesizer Solo Maaike Peterse – Kingfisher Sky – Cello Paul Gilbert – RacerX/Mr. Big – Guitar Solo Guthrie Govan – The Aristocrats/ex-Asia – Guitar Solo Marcel Coenen – Sun Caged – Guitar Solo Ed Warby – Ayreon/Gorefest/Star One- Drums Ben Mathot – Violin Jeroen Goossens – ex-Pater Moeskroen – Flute/Wind instruments
Lori Linstruth – Photo Stills/Ajren Lucassen & Ayreon Cast
Wayne Joyner – Lyric Videos for Everybody Dies and Star Of Sirrah
Track listing/ Album Anatomy CD 1
Chronicle 1: The ‘Frame’ – 22:22 1. ‘The Day That the World Breaks Down” James LaBrie, Tommy Karevik, Tommy Rogers, Simone Simons, Nils K. Rue, Tobias Sammet, Hansi Kürsch, Mike Mills, 2. “Sea of Machines” Rogers, Eriksen, Rue, Simons, Sammet, Allen 3.”Everybody Dies” Mills, Karevik, Rogers, Allen, Kürsch, Eriksen, Sammet, Jansen
Chronicle 2: The Aligning of the Ten – 21:45 4.”Star of Sirrah” LaBrie, Allen, Kürsch, Sammet, Rue, Rogers, Eriksen, Jansen 5.”All That Was” Simons, Jansen, LaBrie, Eriksen 6.”Run! Apocalypse! Run!” Karevik, Kürsch, Mills, Allen, Jansen, Sammet, Rue, LaBrie 7. “Condemned to Live” LaBrie, Rogers, Eriksen, Simons, Karevik, Jansen CD 2 Chronicle 3: The Transmigration -22:33 1.”Aquatic Race” LaBrie, Sammet, Karevik, Eriksen, Allen, Simons, Rogers, 2.”The Dream Dissolves” Simons, Jansen, Eriksen, Rue 3.”Deathcry of a Race” Allen, Sammet, Jansen, Karevik, Zaher Zorgati, Simons 4.”Into the Ocean” Allen, Mills, Eriksen, Kürsch, Sammet, Karevik, Rue
Chronicle 4: The Rebirth – 21:53 5.”Bay of Dreams” LaBrie, Rogers, Mills, Eriksen, Rue 6.”Planet Y is Alive!” Karevik, Allen, Kürsch, Mills, Sammet, Jansen 7. “The Source Will Flow” Rogers, LaBrie, Simons 8. “Journey to Forever” Sammet, Eriksen, Kürsch 9. “The Human Compulsion” Simons, LaBrie, Rogers, Eriksen, Allen, Rue, Sammet, Kürsch, Karevik, Jansen 10. “March of the Machines” Mills
When I was making ‘Star Wars,’ I wasn’t restrained by any kind of science. I simply said, ‘I’m going to create a world that’s fun and interesting, makes sense, and seems to have a reality to it.’
A film is – or should be – more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings. The theme, what’s behind the emotion, the meaning, all that comes later.
Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.
My Introduction To The Genius Arjen A Lucassen & Ayreon.
I can remember back in the 2000 shortly after the turn of the new century I strolled into Diamond Head Records with some serious spending money. I was primarily focused on buying music by bands or artists I had never heard of before. I remember picking up Zero Hour’s self titled debut, Explorers Club Age Of Impact,Pain Of Salvation’s One Hour By Concrete Lake, Perfect Element Part 1, Entropia. I was really after Arena’s The Visitor and Pride albums.
As I was flipping the CD’s in the bin for Arena I came across two CD’s from Ayreon. They were both in The Universal Migrator series, Part 1 The Dream Sequencer and Part 2 Flight Of The Migrator. I noticed the utter mass of talent that was on both parts to the Universal Migrator. My curiosity nailed me and I had to go find out what this was. I went home listened to them both in one sitting inside a headset. It not only blew the hell out of my mind, it also converted me into a fan of Arjen Lucassen’s work as a collective. From there I returned back to the record store 2 days later and bought The Final Experiment, Actual Fantasy and Into The Electric Castle.I went down the Yellow Brick Road, Across The Rainbow Bridge, Through The Wormhole and have never returned since.
2017 The Present
Now it is 2017 and Arjen Lucassen has no signs of slowing down as he has returned for his 8th installment with another epic Progressive Rock & Metal Opera, Ayreon The Source. I am continually amazed and impressed of the rosters of talent that Ajren Lucassen is able to recruit for the Ayreon albums. Once again he has managed to recruit the who is who within the progressive rock, progressive metal and even symphonic and power metal communities. With Arjen on this run as far as vocalists are James LaBrie – Dream Theater as ‘The Historian‘, Tommy Karevik – Kamelot/Seventh Wonder as ‘The Opposition Leader’, Tommy Rogers – Between the Buried and Me as ‘The Chemist’ Simone Simons – Epica as ‘The Counselor’, Nils K. Rue – Pagan’s Mind as ‘The Prophet’ ,Tobias Sammet – Edguy/Avantasia as ‘The Captain’ , Hansi Kürsch – Blind Guardian as ‘The Astronomer’ ,Mike Mills – Toehider as ‘TH-1’ Russell Allen – Symphony X as ‘The President’ , Michael Eriksen – Circus Maximus as ‘The Diplomat’ Floor Jansen – Nightwish/ex-After Forever/ex-ReVamp as ‘The Biologist’ Will Shaw – Heir Apparent’ Wilmer Waarbroek, Jan Willem Ketelaars, and Lisette van den Berg – Scarlet Stories as ‘The Ship’s Crew’ , Zaher Zorgati – Myrath as ‘The Preacher’.
To really understand Ayreon’s The Source one should listen to The Final Experiment 1994, Into The Electric Castle 1998 , The Universal Migrator Parts 1&2 and 01011001 2008, as the story line arcs across all those past Ayreon albums. The main emphasis mainly being on 01011001 in 2008. Much like in the Star Wars Series where Episodes 4 A NEW HOPE, 5 THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK & 6 RETURN OF THE JEDI , were all released before their respective prequels EPISODE I THE PHANTOM MENACE, STAR WARS: EPISODE II ATTACK OF THE CLONES and STAR WARS: EPISODE III REVENGE OF THE SITHso were Ayreon’s The Final Experiment 1994, Into The Electric Castle 1998 , The Universal Migrator Parts 1&2 and 01011001 2008 were all released before Ayreon’s The Source as it is a prequel of the story of the people of ‘Forever’ Planet Yand how the story was before the events of 01011001 took place.
The story Through technological advancement, ‘Forever’, a race of aquatic beings living on Planet Y, has found the secret of longevity. They have advanced to the point that they have become completely dependent on machines and are losing their emotions. A passing comet on a collision course with Planet Earth provides the opportunity to revitalize their race; ‘Forever’ harness the comet to carry their DNA to a new home on Earth. When the comet and Earth collide, the cataclysmic impact exterminates the dinosaurs (the Fifth Extinction), but from the ashes of destruction, humans arise. At first, the experiment with seeded DNA seems successful: through the humans ‘Forever’ vicariously relive the emotions they experienced before the age of machines. In order to help mankind overcome their physical ailments and mental limitations, ‘Forever’ speeds up human evolution. But the result is tragic: people develop a similar technological dependency with their emotions waning just like ‘Forever’ and moral development not keeping pace with their capacity to invent. ‘Forever’ must find a way to save mankind from its imminent self-destruction… or should they?
With Ayreon’s The Source you find some familiar faces that have already participated on previous Ayreon albums such as Ed Warby – Drums, who is basically another band member as much as its creator Arjen Lucassen himself. You also have some Ayreon Alumnireturning James LaBrie – Dream Theater as ‘The Historian’, Tommy Karevik – Kamelot/Seventh Wonder as ‘The Opposition Leader, Hansi Kürsch – Blind Guardian – As ‘The Astronomer’ ,Mike Mills – Toehider as ‘TH-1‘ Russell Allen – Symphony X as ‘The President’, Floor Jansen – Nightwish/ex-After Forever/ex-ReVamp as ‘The Biologist’, Simone Simons – Epica as ‘The Counselor’, and Wilmer Waarbroek – Guide Vocalist for Ayreon’s The Theory Of Everything 2013 and part of ‘Ships Crew’ on The Source.
The new talent added to the ever growing Ayreon franchise roster are Tommy Rogers – Between the Buried and Me as ‘The Chemist’ , Nils K. Rue – Pagan’s Mind as ‘The Prophet’ ,Tobias Sammet – Edguy/Avantasia as ‘The Captain’, Michael Eriksen – Circus Maximus as ‘The Diplomat’, Will Shaw – Heir Apparent’, Jan Willem Ketelaars, and Lisette van den Berg – Scarlet Stories as ‘The Ship’s Crew’ , Zaher Zorgati – Myrath as ‘The Preacher’. Some of the newer instrumentalists Arjen Lucassen recruit for The Source are as follows, Paul Gilbert – RacerX/Mr. Big – Guitars, Mark Kelly -Marillion – Synthesizer Solo, Maaike Peterse – Kingfisher Sky – Cello, and Guthrie Govan – The Aristocrats/ ex-Asia – Guitar Solo.
Arjen Lucassen really has a very esteemed business model and a reputation of such prominence where he can invite people back to Ayreon while bringing newer talent aboard with every Ayreon album. This is a true testament of the extraordinary character and distinguished personal and professional reputation Arjen Lucassen has built for himself over 30 years in the business. With all the talent Arjen Lucassen is able to recruit the economy of such a business model is uncanny. Arjen Lucassen practically and unintentionally has been able to introduce the world to bands they may or may not of heard of due to some talent that appears on a Ayreon project. I am one of them people that was introduced to bands or newer bands through my purchase of a Ayreon album alone.
With Ayreon The Source the listener not only gets a true prequel to prior Ayreon story lines you also have a story that even those new to the Progressive Rock/Metal concept album and Progressive Rock/Metal Opera can easily follow with the booklet provided. Like his last Ayreon album The Theory Of Everything where there were four parts broken up into 20+ minute segments, The Source is broke up in very similar fashion. This time he has broken the album into Four Chronicles, Chronicle 1: The ‘Frame’, Chronicle 2: The Aligning of the Ten, Chronicle 3: The Transmigration and Chronicle 4: The Rebirth. This really sets up a very fluid and easy to comprehend and envision the story like a motion picture movie on the screen in the theater of the mind of the listener. Ayreon’s The Source clocks in at almost 90 minutes. It will require a small bit of time to really enjoy it. If possible I totally suggest using the lyrics within the booklet provided on all its release formats, versions or options whatever you buy. Now a little track by track analysis of Ayreon’s The Source.
Track listing/ Album Anatomy
Chronicle 1: The ‘Frame’ – 22:22
1. ‘The Day That the World Breaks Down”
James LaBrie, Tommy Karevik, Tommy Rogers, Simone Simons, Nils K. Rue, Tobias Sammet, Hansi Kürsch, Mike Mills,
In his signature sound Arjen Lucassen quickly creates that distinctive and unique sound that separates him from others who do rock/metal opera concept albums. Within that filter he creates a very sense of urgency with the atmosphere he is creating for the listener and his characters within the production. It appears darkness has enveloped the population of the ‘Forever’people. In a very warmth voice James Labrie – Dream Theater- As ‘The Historian’ in a very quiet yet polite way sets up a heavy layered dark atmosphere. Soon after the track takes a very heavy guitar driven up tempo chord progression and Tommy Karevik – Kamelot – As ‘The Opposition Leader’ comes in with what appears as a scathing and scolding indictment towards his fellow people of ‘Forever’.
Arjen then changes the chord progressions and time signatures instrumentally to where they will be in perfect harmony with the concern and worry of Tommy Giles Rogers – Between The Buried And Me – As ‘The Chemist’ and Simone Simons – Epica -As ‘The Counselor‘ as they start to reconcile with their plight and current circumstances. Now the people of ‘Forever’ must prepare for a new home planet where they can preserve their way of life civilly,economically religiously and human life itself. Nils K. Rue – Pagan’s Mind as ‘The Prophet’ ,Tobias Sammet – Edguy/Avantasia as ‘The Captain’, each provide confirmation as well as insight. The music is in perfect harmony with the emotions of every character involved. Tobias Sammet – Edguy/Avantasia as ‘The Captain’ , Hansi Kürsch – Blind Guardian as ‘The Astronomer’ ,Mike Mills – Toehider as ‘TH-1’ all begin work on the how to solve the impending apocalypse to come. As the science community of ‘The Captain’, ‘The Chemist’ , ‘The Astronomer’,and Floor Jansen – Nightwish/ex-After Forever/ex-ReVamp as ‘The Biologist’ start work on the exit strategy to leave their current world before disaster strikes, Russell Allen – Symphony X as ‘The President’ and Michael Eriksen – Circus Maximus as ‘The Diplomat’ have a talk. ‘The President’now consumed in guilt over the impending crisis begins to real beat himself up. ‘The Diplomat’ steps in to try to both calm ‘The President’down from his guilt and appeal to his humanity. Instrumentally during this time Arjen has almost a bluesy, psychedelic atmosphere he has planted in the background of the dialogue between ‘The President’and ‘The Diplomat’. This bluesy psychedelic atmosphere is very much like Amazing Flight from Into The Electric Castle in 1998.
This opens up in a heavily folk laden intro. Soon it takes a very folk ethereal turn where ‘The Chemist’enters in and in the traditional Ayreon mold gets the double vocal harmony treatment. This makes the opening passage fuller and warmer. ‘The Diplomat’ – Eriksenstarts to experience many issues around him. His vocal is very warm and extremely articulate in harmony with the instrumental portion which has heavy elements of the flute. ‘The Prophet’ – Ruekeeps having visions and with a very gentle yet high range continues to forewarn the people of what he is seeing. These visions are very similar to those that Ayreon, the blind minstrel, was finally able to see back in the 6th century on Ayreon’s The Final Experiment back in 1995, that was also broken into 4 Act’s as well.
Act I The receiver of the telepathic messages is Ayreon, a blind minstrel living in 6th century Britain. He’s lived his life in darkness from the day he was born, but one fateful day everything changes — Ayreon can see images. The minstrel believes these visions are sent to him by the Lords of Time. Unaware of how much time there is left before earth is destroyed Ayreon sets out to tell the tale of earth’s demise singing songs of wars, natural disaster, and computer technology. The terrifying tales frighten the villagers who run him out of town.
Much of this track has elements of Ayreon’s The Human Equation/The Theory Of Everything and 01011001 meaning their are some slower melodic mellow areas that build towards heavier more powerful melodic harmonies. Arjen is really good at dropping the tone instrumentally and allowing his guest vocalists breathe and give their own life and character to the very character they are portraying on every track. This track is both a perfect example of that and perfect example of allowing the vocalist to breathe and relationship building with his guest vocalists and musicians. There are many more examples of this to come on the album.
This track concludes Chronicle 1 ‘The Frame’. This part of the story takes on a more power progressive metal sound with the faster up tempo of power blended with the progressive intricate chord progression and time changes. ‘TH 1’ the computer mainframe or artificial intelligence begins to really accurately analyze and convey just how horrible the situation really is for the people of ‘Forever’. Soon the people of ‘Forever’ come to terms and begin to accept the situation and working towards the solution of survival , yet some start to cynically express their utter doubt such as ‘The Opposition Leader’and ‘The Chemist’. ‘The President’even becomes cynical. In this track you can really notice that Arjen Lucassen had Tommy Rogers – Bewtween The Buried And Me as ‘The Chemist’ in mind. Arjen wrote that character to express rage and utter anger and Tommy Rogers supplied the guttural growls to provide for that anger and emotion in ‘The Chemist’. However through all the cynical anger, rage, and fear ‘The Diplomat’ still attempt to try and reason with the people. There is a bit more keyboard passages on a otherwise very heavy and guitar driven Ayreon album. A heavy album that still stays on point with clean and melodic harmonies.
Now for those who are lifetime Ayreon fans and followers you are probably asking yourself where is the typical unknown talent that Arjen recruits? The talent that never gets a chance. Some of you expected a vocalist or perhaps a musician. I believe Arjen went a entirely different route. He gave a video making the honour and privilege to create and edit a lyric video for Star of Sirrah here. Wayne Joyner of Atlanta, Georgia USA created a fantastic video for this track. He in fact is Art Director for Prog/Power USA. Therefore for this reason I have decided to withhold my typical commentary on the track and allow this ‘Unknown Talent’to shine through the video he made for this Ayreon song.
Starts out as a very psychedelic folk track. It is also a symphonic metal dream come true with Simone Simons and Floor Jansen in perfect harmony for the first time on Ayreon. This track picks up some heaviness towards the 2:00 mark. It then drops and another beautiful duet between Simons and Jansen appears again. The various progressive changes in the guitar solos allow the listener to stay on point with the concept.
This particular track really starts off with a blistering opening passage inside the instrumental portion. The instrumental is written and done in such away that it thoroughly give the song a serious sense of urgency. The people of ‘Forever;’ are in a panic at this point. The sense of urgency created in the instrumental is certainly magnified 8 fold with the 8 vocalists on this particular track. Panic, sense of urgency, state of emergency are all eloquently articulated in every vocalist and character they are portraying. This is definitely one of the quicker tracks on The Source. There are a few breaks were it drops but those are not long at all. The fast pace of this track can be equated to The Universal Migrator – Part 2 Flight Of The Migrator where it was the heavier half and Part 1 The Dream Sequencer was the more experimental folky and atmospheric half.
7. “Condemned to Live”
LaBrie, Rogers, Eriksen, Simons, Karevik, Jansen
Slowly starts out with a deep well executed rhythm section that keeps building layers upon layers with various keyboards, deep rhythm section of a semi acoustic guitar will a electric guitar in time and on point in harmony. The vocals are full of warmth that convey fear, disbelief and guilt. The track builds and builds where it eventually has heavy explosions of guitar stringed sections meshed in harmony with rhythm section. The vocals are more ethereal at this point and Arjen Lucassen remains on point with his unique Ayreon cinematic signature sound. This is the last track on CD 1/Side B if you buy the vinyl ,that appropriately closes out the first half of the journey through The Source.
Starts off as a isolated vocal harmony almost A Capella. Soon a deep rhythm section takes the track in a very groove laden direction. There is a dynamic exchange between both ‘The Historian’ and ‘The Captain’will the underlying rhythm section. Then ‘The Opposition Leader’ begins his rhetoric over again with a very drum laden background beat. This is also at the point both instrumentally and lyrically were the people of ‘Forever’begin their epic odyssey to their new home planet. It is at this time lyrically that the people of ‘Forever’ begin to reconcile they will need a change of habits.This narrative continues with a harmonic dialogue between ‘The Biologist’and ‘The Astronomer’. The instrumental portion of this track hold the lyric narrative very accountable emotionally, mentally and spiritually. This is also the first time we hear ‘The Ships Crew’ mini choir of Will Shaw – Heir Apparent’ Wilmer Waarbroek, Jan Willem Ketelaars, and Lisette van den Berg – Scarlet Stories.
2.”The Dream Dissolves”
Simons, Jansen, Eriksen, Rue
Starts out with a synth sound effect created by Arjen himself. He like playing with various synth effects on all his work. Soon the violin comes in with the synth sound effects and the drums. It all creates a really psychedelic atmosphere. There is something of real depth and beauty about the feminine emotion Simone Simons – ‘The Counselor and Floor Jansen – ‘The Biologist’ that really speaks to the soul and heart and the story really takes a very emotional turn here. The track gets heavier with a thick rhythm section before going back to the smooth atmospheric keyboard passage. The track picks up and displays very deep rhythm tones. Mike Eriksen – ‘The Diplomat’ and Nils K Rue – ‘The Prophet’ bring a masculine emotion to balance the track. The guitar solo here is insanely atmospheric in nature.
This explodes out of the gate with a powerful and heavy flute that is soon joined with a powerful bass/drum/rhythm guitar rhythmic section. All these melodic forces at once are a immediate wall of sound of sheer heaviness. Soon the track drops to a acoustic chord progression where ‘The President’ address the people of ‘Forever’.Russell Allen has always been a great vocalist of character and emotion throughout his times of participation on Ayreon and this is another confirmation of that. Soon the people of ‘Forever’ begin to enter the vicinity of their new planetary home. The instrumental portions take on a very cosmic space metal element familiar with the Ayreon franchise. The dialogue takes on a cooperative narrative. This is also the first appearance of Zaher Zorgati – Myrath – As ‘The Preacher’. I really liked the way Arjen allowed Zaher Zorgati to sing in his native Arabic, it added another layer of depth and brought something new to the Ayreon franchise. Both Simone Simons and Floor Jansen execute their respective soprano qualities on here as well.
4.”Into the Ocean”
Allen, Mills, Eriksen, Kürsch, Sammet, Karevik, Rue
This comes in very smoothly from Deathcry of a Race with a heavy metal bluesy style much like a Deep Purple Mark 2 sound especially Space Truckin’. The Hammond style keyboard and deep rhythm section are a match made perfectly for all the vocalists involved. For vocalists such as Russell Allen and Mike Mills. The very instrumental sound also allows the listener to see Mike Eriksen, Hansi Kursch, Tobias Sammet, Tommy Karevik and Nils K Rue on a another melodic dimension that they would not otherwise hear in their respective bands Circus Maximus, Blind Guardian, Avantasia/Edguy, Kamelot or Pagan’s Mind. Arjen Lucassen seriously channels Ritchie Blackmore on many levels here. The Hammond Organ in the spirit of the late great Jon Lord, is the unsung hero on a instrumental level.
Chronicle 4: The Rebirth – 21:53
5.”Bay of Dreams”
LaBrie, Rogers, Mills, Eriksen, Rue
Starts out with a very electronica element much like Arjen Lucassen executed on Ayreon’s Actual Fantasy album in 1996. They keyboard atmospheres blend gracefully with the warm vocals of James Labrie and Tommy Roger’sdouble tracked vocals. The people of ‘Forever’ make their final descent to their new Liquid Home. The track soon picks up on the heaviness and we hear Mike Mills, Mike Eriksen and Nils K Rue all in their respective vocal elements.
6.”Planet Y is Alive!”
Karevik, Allen, Kürsch, Mills, Sammet, Jansen
This starts out with a very heavy lush Hammond atmospheric synth with a perfectly complimentary rhythm section to match it. This is very heavy on the drums and this is where the utter depth of Ed Wabry comes into play. The People of ‘Forever’ begin to really take inventory of their new home on Planet Y. They begin to explore what they can use or can not use to sustain life on their new home. Hansi Kursch’s emotional proclamations really shine on this track. The isolated guitar solo is a thing of beauty and really adds another atmospheric payer to the song and album in general. The calm and additionally heavy atmosphere’s both respectfully allow ‘The Capatain’ – Tobias Sammet and ‘The Biologist’ – Floor Jansen to breathe and articulate to the listener their view of the new world.
7. “The Source Will Flow”
Rogers, LaBrie, Simons
Starts off with a very oceanic liquid effect along with graceful keyboards passage. Tommy Roger’s – ‘The Chemist’ has some really warm clean vocals that set up ‘The Historian’ – James Labrie with grace. The beautiful vocals of ‘The Counselor’ – Simone Simons really are spot on with the main narrative.
8. “Journey to Forever”
Sammet, Eriksen, Kürsch
In the very elegant A Capella style ‘The Ships Crew’Will Shaw – Heir Apparent’ Wilmer Waarbroek, Jan Willem Ketelaars, and Lisette van den Berg – Scarlet Stories really set the table for the melodic and harmonious feast to follow. ‘The Ships Crew’ also show a beautiful sign of optimism towards their new home Planet Y. Soon a lush acoustic guitar comes in and the cooperative dialogue between the ‘The Captain’ and ‘The Diplomat’ really display for the first time in a while a spirit of union, a spirit of community and affirmation.
The second to the last track has a very profound signature present on all Ayreon albums. This signature being a multi vocalist epilogue or finish. It is a way to both display all the vocalists again and like a Rock Opera on a stage serves as the ‘Curtain Call’ and ‘Final Bow’ to ‘The Audience’ You .
10. “March of the Machines”
Much in the tradition of The Final Experiment, Actual Fanatasy, Into The Electric Castle, The Universal Migrator, The Human Equation and 0101101,Arjen Lucassen utilizes ‘TH 1’– Mike Mills to a very futuristic finish to the journey that is Ayreon’s The Source.
There is no doubt whatsoever that for the last 25 years Arjen Lucassen has been the ‘Undisputed King’ of the Rock/Metal Opera.Arjen Lucassen is the modern day George Lucas/Isaac Asimov/Carl Sagan/Stanley Kubrick/ meets Bach/Beethoven/Pete Townsend and Ritchie Blackmore set to music, melody, vision and imagination. Ayreon’s The Source is also one of the most tangible conceptual rock/metal albums in the last 25 years. Whether you are a lifetime fan of Ayreon or a newer fan of Ayreon, The Source is a excellent introduction to the newer listener and a solid validation to the lifetime fan. I give this a 6/5 stars and it is easily the front-runner/contender for my Album of The Year 2017 list.
Band Members Hans Jorg Schmitz – Creator/Percussion/Keyboards/Guitars/Bass Dago Wilms – Guitar/Bass Gary Farmer – Rickenbacker Bass Steve Unruh – Flute/Violin Pantelis Petrakakis – Bass Andrew Marshall – Spanish Guitar Phillip Schmitz – Keyboards/Piano/Voice Peter Simon – Woodwinds Erik Vaxjo – Mellotron Chip Gremillion – Keyboard Scott Taylor – Ulliann Pipe Kathrin Daniel – Voice Viktoria Papen – Voice
King Of Agogik Morning Star is inspired by the poetry of Christian Morgenstern.
Tracklisting Veils Open… ..To The Place Of Origin Mother Of Depth The Art Of Make~Up Suprema Lex Ignes Fatui A Visit To The Mouse Barber The End Of Dithyramb Curtain Call
Definition of concept something conceived in the mind : thought, notion an abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances the basic concepts of psychology the concept of gravity
Throughout its 45+ years, it seems that progressive rock and metal have given birth to some of if not the absolute best concept albums or conceptual albums. The part of the world you live in bring both of those titles to a ever growing and never-ending sub genre within our class of music. Some believe you have to have a concept album loaded up with all lyrical content as to follow the main story or objective of a concept album. I said this before here at Power of Prog and will say it again. Although I still have a love for concept albums loaded up with lyrical content I also love conceptual albums where the majority of the content is instrumental.
Now in April 2017 I have the honour to review King Of Agogik’s Morning Star by German drum virtuoso Hans Jorg Schmitz. King Of Agogik was a special experimental project that Hans Jorg Schmitz set out to create and develop in 2006. Morning Star is the sixth album in this melodic franchise. Morning Star is inspired by the poetry of Christian Morgenstern. Who is Christian Morgenstern you ask?
Christian Otto Josef Wolfgang Morgenstern (6 May 1871 – 31 March 1914) was a German author and poet from Munich. Morgenstern married Margareta Gosebruch von Liechtenstern on 7 March 1910. He worked for a while as a journalist in Berlin, but spent much of his life traveling through Germany, Switzerland, and Italy, primarily in a vain attempt to recover his health. His travels, though they failed to restore him to health, allowed him to meet many of the foremost literary and philosophical figures of his time in central Europe. Morgenstern’s poetry, much of which was inspired by English literary nonsense, is immensely popular, even though he enjoyed very little success during his lifetime. He made fun of scholasticism, e.g. literary criticism in “Drei Hasen”, grammar in “Der Werwolf”, narrow-mindedness in “Der Gaul”, and symbolism in “Der Wasseresel”. In “Scholastikerprobleme” he discussed how many angels could sit on a needle. Still many Germans know some of his poems and quotations by heart, e.g. the following line from “The Impossible Fact” (“Die unmögliche Tatsache”, 1910)
This may have been created by a drummer but make no mistake this is a very profound melodic artistic expression. The album ranges from classic neo progressive elements, heavily melodic chants, heavy melodic instrumental metal and thought provoking spoken word portions with some social commentary. Therefore there is a wide spectrum of elements within the progressive rock and metal standards. This is also one of those albums that will require both a open mind and a few spins to pick up on the main objective to the concept. I would like to explore and point out some highlights from King Of Agogik’s Morning Star on a track by track analysis.
Peter Simon – Oboe , Phillip Schmitz – Piano/Keyboards , Hans Jorg Schmitz – Drums/Keyboards/Guitar
This opens up with a very heavy keyboard progression that sets up the first of many atmospheric elements on the album.From there a sound effect of a phone rings and you hear a dialogue between two men. Soon after that the drums come in and make a abstract construct through what sounds like a regressive filter with a spoken word element blended right into it. The track bleeds seamlessly into the next song The Unavoidable Wayfare …
The Unavoidable Wayfare …
Hans Jorg Schmitz – Drums/Keyboards/Guitar’s , Dago Wilms – Ryhthm & Solo Guitar , Gary Farmer – Rickenbacker , Steve Unruh – Flute & Violin , Peter Simon – Woodwinds , Phillip Schmitz – Piano , Erik Vaxjo -Melltron , Viktoria Papen – Voice, Chip Gremillion – Keyboard
This transitions seamlessly off Veils Open. It opens up with a beautiful atmospheric effect done on keyboards and quickly goes into a beautifully unorthodox Arabic Scale done with well disciplined woodwind instrument that soon explodes into a Neo Progressive harmony between the drums, keyboards and a neo progressive guitar. The heavy new progressive instrumental harmony has a slight progressive metal element to it. The track soon drops where the Arabic Scale starts taking the track in and out of odd time signatures and chord progressive passages. The drums are more in time with the Arabic Scale that seems to be the dominating factor throught the track. It also takes on a heavily Mellotron induced melody that allows the track to maintain its unique quality. Each and every turn and layer upon layer chord progression and time signature is building towards what I believe to be the second part of a multi tracked 24:34 minute track followed by the following track , …To The Place Of Origin. Parts of the next half of this track remind me a lot of 1980’s Neo Progressive elements of a Jan Hammer meets Shamallwith a lot of intricate keyboard progressions in harmony with the insane clinic Hans Jorg Schmitz seems to be putting on. The helicopter effects are something very unorthodox where they fit nicely into a surround sound system. This ends with some insane intricate changes between the drums and keyboards.
…….To The Place Of Origin
Hans Jorg Schmitz – Drums/Keyboards/Guitar’s , Dago Wilms – Ryhthm & Solo Guitar , Gary Farmer – Rickenbacker , Steve Unruh – Flute & Violin , Peter Simon – Woodwinds , Phillip Schmitz – Piano , Erik Vaxjo -Melltron , Viktoria Papen – Voice
Again in appropriate concept fashion this track bleeds seamlessly off of the previous track The Unavoidable Wayfare …… It transitions so smoothly that it gives the listener the true audio illusion that it is the second part of a multi tracked 20+ minute epic. It begins with a beautifully orchestrated acoustic guitar in harmony with the flute and violin. This sets up for a more folk style atmosphere in the vein of more of Jethro Tull meets Camel meets Big Big Train. The violin eloquently done reminds me a lot of Robby Steinhardt of Kansas, especially dust in the wind. The guitar builds layers upon layers to meet in harmony with the rhythm section. The neo progressive folk progression allows the listener time to breathe and begin to absorb the album more on a soulful level. It is one of the more symphonic and orchestral laden tracks on the album providing depths of even classical music. The middle section is is a real roller coaster of emotion with the various time changes and those Arabic Scale instrumental reprisals to remind you you of the conceptual spine of the album. The drum and rhythm section continues its beautifully intricate exchanges of various chord progressions and time signatures and synth atmospheres. This track finishes with a elegant female spoken word telling a story over the drum beats in harmonic balance.
Mother Of Depth
Phillip Schmitz – Fender Rhodes, Hans Jorg Schmitz – Keyboards and Carillion
This begins with a gracefully done harmony of various keyboard and Carillon harmonies forming a deep toned atmosphere. The atmosphere created is quite dark in nature however serves as a bridge track Navde.
Kathrin Daniel – Voice , Hans Jorg Schmitz – All Instruments
This track keeps on point with the more darker and deeper atmospheres on the album. There is a very articulate spoken word section in both German of a poetic nature. The instrumental atmosphere is quite psychedelic in nature.
The Art Of Make~Up
Hans Jorg Schmitz – Drums
This is a perfect storm of epic drum proportions. The symphony of hi hats blending with snares and eloquently in harmony with cymbals is a dream for listeners who really love drums and tight rhythm sections. Playing sometimes in odd time signatures there is a little blend for the most objective mind and progressive purist at once.
Hans Jorg Schmitz – Drums, Dago Whilms – Guitar & Bass , Peter Simon – Oboe
This begins with various effects as if the listener has been transported to a war zone. This is a all out audio assault on the senses. With deep rhythm sections and dark and heavy handed neo progressive metal elements with police sirens effects, this is certainly a track that will get the attention of the listener for sure. It includes parts of Winston Churchill’s infamous speech following the all out assault of Nazi Germany during the start of World War 2. From there it runs a series of spoken word segments over some good solid progressive hard rock. Fragments of spoken word nature of President John F Kennedy and various other world leaders throughout history are very upfront and present with a vast amount of social commentary. The instrumental atmosphere remains very very aggressive towards the finish line of the track.
Dago Whilms – Guitars , Scott Taylor – Keyboards/Bass/Guitar
Begins as a very folk driven acoustic ballad. One that may come out of the regions of say Scotland or Ireland as it steadily takes on heavy layers of Celtic elements. The guitar and Celtic elements remind me very heavily of Dave Bainbridge and IONA or even Mostly Autumn.
A Visit To The Mouse Barber
Pantelis Petrakakis – Bass , Hans Jorg Schmitz – Drums
Opens up with a heavily funk driven bass chord progression in harmony with various percussive cymbals giving the track very unorthodox and fresh sounds. The drums and bass take on a far more melodic narrative here. Even more so than a percussive narrative. This is another track that is a rhythm section lovers dream come true.
The End Of Dithyramb
Gary Farmer – Bass , Dago Whilms – Guitars, Peter Simon – Woodwinds, Steve Ubruh – Fute & Violin, Andrew Marshall – Spanish Guitar, Hans Jorg Schmitz – Drums/Keyboards/Guitars
This begins with a healthy rich Spanish/Latin chord progression along with various percussive elements to present this 20+ minuteepic. Once again Hans Jorg Schmitz has a very intricate understanding of layering various time signatures and effects on a composition. Soon the violin takes it into more of a traditional classical atmosphere. The violin even at times allows some Far East Orient elements loose. Soon the piano, drums, bass, and guitars take the listener on a unorthodox and unpredictable journey of sonic excellence. It is as if Santana and Yes got together to develop a Latin Progressive Rock composition with a slight flavour of Jethro Tull with the presence of the flute. This track is like a perfect balance and blend of Jethro Tull’s Aqualung meets Yes Tales Of Topographic Oceans meets Santana – I, II, & III.
This track is also like Bach or Beethoven on drums writing one of their classic symphony scores. This takes on qualities of traditional progressive rock with some heavy Celtic and World influence to even some cosmic elements from a RUSH 2112 meets Tangerine Dream’s – Zeit 1972. All the instruments are very clearly heard both on their own accord and in the collective harmony of things. Hans Jorg Schmitz has written this very complementary so his guest musicians can really be heard. That is a tougher task than many think it is. It also takes a humble and gracious soul to do that for guest musicians. The breathing space each of his guest has on this track is just a remarkable feat.
The last five minutes of the track is much like a straight away, 1970’s era classic rock acoustic track in the vein of Blind Faith’s Can’t Find My Way Home, however in a instrumental fashion. Soon the sweet rhythm sections and atmospheres that have been the standard for Morning Star start to really bring it home for the listener. The elements in their collective really come together to perfectly compliment the last and final track Curtain Call.
Dago Whilms – Guitar, Phillip Scmitz – Piano/Keyboards, Hans Jorg Schmitz -Drums/Keyboards/Guitar
Is very appropriately named for the last and final track on Morning Star. The journey is about over however not until it is ended properly. It is a full reprisal track that ends much like it began back in the first track Veils Open. The same narrative is pumped through a more abstract filter with a much more melodic atmosphere serving as the backbone. It ends in a very ‘Pink Floydian’matter with the guitars. You can hear many of the elements in this short track that you heard through the entire journey of the album.
King Of Agogik is some of the very best instrumental work that I have heard since great instrumental albums as Ayreon’s Actual Fantasy, Liquid Tension Experiment 1 & 2, Gordion Knot 1 &2 and even the two from Melodic Revolution Records I featured last year, Leon Alvarado The Future Left Behind and Darrel Treece Birch No More Time . King Of Agogik is very groundbreaking with every release. It is a perfect album for those interested in a quality instrumental progressive rock album and it will also suffice the progressive purist at the same time. This is on my list already as a contender for Instrumental Album of 2017 at least. I do hope to see some more social media presence on this franchise. It is worth the time to invest social media presence such as Facebook or Twitter. Credit goes to Chip Gremillion who shared a few copies with me making this review possible. I am giving this a strong 5/5.
Throughout the history of most human existence we have striven for a peaceful world a utopia, a paradise. To achieve this goal some have turned to organised religion, others have turned to education and higher learning while others just have no belief at all and turn to vice’s or various other activities. Let’s say for a moment that the human experience believes it has already reached its maximum Utopian society where you did not have to worry about offending other people, there were no wars, plagues, famines, etc . What if we were not even allowed to feel emotion, love, anger, forgiveness, rage under this utopia. One would assume all world issues were solved.
Now what would happen if one day a young man suddenly had a raging headache or felt something snap inside his body that would begin a downward spiral? The Utopian filter he used to see a paradise is now collapsing into a nightmare Dystonia society. Buildings decay, economies fall all around the world, lust enters the heart and suffocates and confuses true love. This entire downward spiral all began when a implanted micro chip malfunctioned within this young man. This is the world that Irish guitar genius Graham Keane has created with his monumental debut The Vicious Head Society Abject Tomorrow.
After a personal struggle and turmoil in his own life Graham Keane began to question everything much like the character in the story after the implant failed. It also served as a motivator to start work on Abject Tomorrow. Graham was not by himself and enlisted some of the very best musicians in the world to meet his goal with the album. Musicians enlisted are Derek Sherinian – Alice Cooper/Yngwie Malmsteen/Dream Theater, Kevin Talley – Dying Fetus/ Misery Index/Chimaira/Six Feet Under, Wilmer Waarbroek – Ayreon and Pat Byrne – Hedfuzy. With all that talent and Graham Keane’s vision The Vicious Head Society’s Abject Tomorrow has a lot of depth and substance that most debut concept albums lack. There is a little bit of everything on Abject Tomorrow from traditional high range progressive metal, to the more modern elements with the use of death growls and djent elements. I will point that out along the way with some highlights from every track with a track by track analysis.
The Sycophants begins with a very beautiful Hammond organ style synth passage that serves both as a melodic and percussive instrument. This creates for a haunting eerie atmosphere before the guitars come in with intricate chord progressions and various time signatures. This works very well as part of the overall introduction of the album. The vocals and rhythm sections come in and really anchor the listener into the composition and album rather quickly. There is a lot going on in the first 2:50 minutes to apprehend the listener’s attention. The instrumental portion compliments the emotion of the lyrical content and story quite well. About the 4:50 mark the bass takes a wicked percussive chord progression that is magnified by the keyboard atmospheres and time signature changes that are much like Haken and Dream Theater. The rest of the track is a roller coaster in and out with time signature changes.
Abject Tomorrow transitions with ease off the previous track The Sycophants. This track opens up with a very blistering, yet thunderous display of profound rhythm sections both in the areas of the bass and drum and even the guitar. The opening is straight up textbook progressive metal at its finest. The keyboard provides a very eerie atmosphere in the back by which the thunderous rhythmic time signatures and interchanges. The vocals come in very dark brooding matter. The vocals are partially a very wicked spoken word section that is soon met with a cleaner high end vocal to match match the instrumental narrative before the track gets out right brutal.
The track takes a very tuned down instrumental approach with a tuned down guitar and the bass working both as a melodic and instrumental tool. This bleak heaviness is met much like earlier Opeth and Katatonia with the death growls at the 3:00 mark. The heavier more progressive death metal element within the song really conveys anger and rage both on a lyrical and instrument front. The death growl’s help to convey the fear and anger the character is now waking up to. It is much like a scathing indictment on the Dystopian society with the death growls carrying some of the lyrical narrative. The rest of the track takes a very heavy melodic directive. The death growls even become more of a instrument towards the close of this track.
Downfall (Voice In The Sky) opens up with lush ethereal keyboard layers that continue to build along with the electric guitar solo at the onset. Soon the rhythm section of drums and bass come in to help anchor the track and eventually set the song and story narrative up. The heavy rhythm sections really work well in harmony with the stringed and keyboard progressions before the track drops and all we here is a bass and isolated vocal take the story into another passage. The track takes on a very unusual dynamic with a more neo progressive keyboard synth with some very brutal death metal vocals. It makes this portion of the track a more progressive melodic death metal passage for the time of the verse. The double tracked vocals add a very odd time signature and depth to this track as well. The song takes a break and the beautiful harmony of piano, bass and guitar and violin coming together helps bring the entire track to its climatic conclusion.
Agenda (I) Cryptograms (II) A Digital Self opens up with certain sound effects that transport the listener to a proverbial wasteland in the theater of the mind. Soon the track takes off with some serious deep tuned down rhythm chord progressions to give the track a level of brutality. The guitar is way tuned down. It is a six string guitar tuned down to sound like a seven string. The 5 string bass really gives the instrumental portion a really brutal depth that works in perfect harmony with the death metal growls. Then the track takes on a very odd yet appropriate unusual power metal melody. The melodic death metal elements run along in the vein of a Amon Amarth or even later Carcass. This track is a monstrous roller coaster of emotion between the cleaner more melodic parts in balanced harmony with the deep tuned down melodic death metal portions. The spoken word section continues to elaborate deeper into the conceptual plot of the story on this one. The guitar wide open guitar solo really allows the listener of track and the album to begin to absorb the album.
The 11th Hour starts out with a open keyboard chord progression along with a dark and bleak spoken word section. Then the track takes on a ultra melodic approach with high ranged harmonies. This is briefly interrupted in spots by further melodic death growls and dark spoken word elements. All of those elements allow for the illusion of multiple characters or perhaps personalities within the mind of the main character. It is as if the music is reflecting these multiple emotions within the character , characters or personalities.
Psychedelic Torture Trip is a very intelligent instrumental track. It allows for the listener who is really following the concept to absorb the story even further. It also allows for the listener that just likes innovative musical time signatures and chord progressions to devour the album from a melodic perspective. The keyboards are obviously the signature of the one and only Derek Sherinian with his fusion style blended in harmony with Graham Keanes guitar passages.
God’s Of The New Age opens up with a wall of fury between the thunderous drum and bass rhythm section. The rhythm guitar also comes into play to add a very deep tuned down rhythm chord progression. This also allows for the cleaner vocals to pop and really stand out on the track to carry all sums of the parts in perfect harmony. Soon the melodic death metal growls come in. The death metal portions are very easily understood for those with a objective mind and ear. The chord progressions off the guitar are really modern progressive metal much like a Haken meets Leprous meets Zero Hour.
Analogue Spectre: (I) Reflection (II) Thought Data Stream (III) The Passing (IV) Amaranthine (V) Ghost in the Machine (VI)is the 18+ minute epic and final track to close out this epic conceptual story. It begins with some heavy keyboard effects with a spoken word section that seems like artificial intelligence speaking to the listener. The keyboards are a more vintage 1970’s keyboards that are more Pink Floyd. The drums slowly come in and soon the guitar and the grand introduction begins. Yes this track is for those listeners with longer attention spans. The track soon drops into a smooth guitar and bass rhythm section with the vocal briefly isolated before the track really picks up and we hear multiple vocals all in harmony with the stringed passages.
There are multiple parts to this epic that all begin to tie both the track and the entire album together. To those that listen for the story and music you will be able to understand this more and more with every listen. Throughout the epic the time signatures and chord progressions go from traditional progressive metal to modern more recent djent style chord progressions. This is truly a very guitar driven track due to the length of the composition. About half way through there is a break where there are some beautiful keyboard passages in harmony with percussion cymbals. The guitar once again takes the track to another depth and dimension.
In music or any form of artistic expression we are only limited by our imagination. The human imagination can be used to transport others imaginations to areas unknown if we allow it. The Vicious Head Society’s Abject Tomorrow is a dynamic example of the true power the human imagination really has. The Vicious Head Society’s Abject Tomorrow is a science fiction show set to music. The Vicious Head Society’s Abject Tomorrow is also the best independent/unsigned progressive metal concept album and artistic expression I have heard in the last 10 years. If this is the debut I will enjoy the journey to follow this new franchise. I am giving The Vicious Head Society’s Abject Tomorrow a very strong 5/5.
Science fiction is any idea that occurs in the head and doesn’t exist yet, but soon will, and will change everything for everybody, and nothing will ever be the same again. As soon as you have an idea that changes some small part of the world you are writing science fiction. It is always the art of the possible, never the impossible.
I think that prog rock is the science fiction of music. Science fiction speculates on what the future might be and look like and how we’ll get there, and yet there’s always a central theme of humanity, or there should be. Progressive rock has the same concept of exploration into the parts of the music world that hasn’t been explored.
Progressive rock and progressive metal have always provided the perfect tapestry for anyone ambitious band or artist to explore the subject of science fiction. The fact that there are very little boundaries or the typical mainstream musical parameters have allowed for a perfect union between progressive rock/metal and science fiction to create some of the most thought provoking stories ever written. Sometimes progressive rock/metal science fiction albums are actually written so well they have a uncanny ability to paint a full motion picture film on the screen inside the theater of the mind who listens to them. Aeolias The Architect does just that, explores the boundaries of science fiction through the further exploration of the art of progressive rock and metal. Aeolias are a independent unsigned new progressive metal/rock band out of Ireland. Here is a brief biography of the band to introduce them below:
AEOLIAS was born in the summer of 2012, originally under the name AEOLIAN, by guitarist Graham Doyle and bassist Emmet Standish after the disbanding of of their previous band THE MIGHTY OVERDRIVE. Deciding not to let this setback destroy what had been built, they decided to continue on and recruit new members. Since a lot of the music was their creation, they felt they were entitled to use it in this new incarnation of the band. However, they also felt that since half the members had left and the band was essentially broken and so AEOLIAN was born. Now with a band that could develop as a tight unit AEOLIAN was complete. A new musical direction with old songs rearranged, new songs realised and longer compositions written the future is now developing. The first new member to join the band was vocalist Siobhan. After hearing a demo recording of her singing, and being completely blown away by her vocal talents it was obvious that she was the right person for the job. With a strong vocal technique, keen sense of melody and with an ability to sing in a low register she could put a lot of male singers to shame. The next member to join the band was drummer Trey. A immense powerhouse, a drummer who sits right in the pocket, John Bonhams pocket. A drummer who has fused his two favourite drummers John Bonham and Nico McBrain into his own unique style. A drummer with a wealth of experience in other bands, including a stint with a Tool tribute band. Upon the first jam with Trey, it was evident that this was the guy who would complete the lineup. Now with a band that could develop as a tight unit AEOLIAN was complete. A new musical direction, old songs rearranged, new songs realised. Longer compositions written, the future is now developing. 2016 sees the band reduced to the trio of Siobhan, Graham and Emmet and finally releasing new material and also renaming (slightly) the band to AEOLIAS. ‘Providence’ was released online during the Summer of 2016. A pre-curser to the bands debut album “The Architect” which is now released as of the beginning of April 2017.
Aeolias’ The Architect proves once again just how intelligent progressive rock/metal is and can be . The title The Architectis very fitting for a young independent/unsigned band in the embryonic stages of building a career in this industry. The very fact that Aeolias are a independent/unsigned band allows for more breathing room to explore certain science fiction subjects along with various musical time signatures and chord progressions that may otherwise not see the light of day if the band were under label scrutiny. In my experience bands and artists do a majority of their best and most creative work when they are on that independent/unsigned plain. Now a few highlights and a break down track analysis on Aeolias’ The Architect.
Odysseus is a very appropriately named title for the first track. The lyrical subject matter follows very much after Homer’s The Odyssey. This is the start of a intergalactic space exploration on the lyrical side. On a instrumental side the track opens up much like a movie film score with a deep orchestrated keyboard synth in harmony with what appears to be a old world Gaelic style chant. The drums soon come in in harmony with the orchestration. Then the track takes on a more traditional progressive metal approach. With deep rhythmic atmospheres and a lower tenor on the vocals this gives the track the audio illusion that one is about to take a journey through space and time. Siobhan Filbey – Vocals has a very keen sense of utilizing her mezzo – soprano tenor quite well in harmony with the deep rhythm and stringed chord progressive atmospheres. It gives the listener the illusion that there are more than one vocalist on the album. The band also effectively and seamlessly bleeds Odysseus into the next track Redefining The Theory.
Redefining The Theory continues with spot on and seamless transitions. This transitions into a more ambient atmospheric track. The bass guitar really serves as the anchor both in melodic and percussive terms. The guitar stringed section soon comes in with the beautiful mezzo soprano vocals. This all combines with a uniquely and distinctive sound that is very different than what is in the progressive rock and metal communities today. The vocals play in perfect harmony with both the stringed and rhythm sections. Lyrically this track deals with very personal and internal issues that see the main character starting to look at his understanding of life differently than he once knew it. He therefore comes to a reasoning of his new understanding. The rest of this track melodically allows for the lyrical content to work like a metamorphosis. Much of the last half of this track takes on a soundtrack vibe about it. Plus the spoken word portions add depth to the track. Also in concept like fashion transitions seamlessly into the next part of the journey and track Ergosphere.
Ergosphere may in fact be the shortest track on the album at only 7:48 however there is still a lot going on here. It starts with a deep emotion both instrumentally and lyrically. In astrophysics a Ergosphere is the edge or point of no return up against a black hole. The band does a beautiful job rhythmically depicting the emotion one may feel as a human knowing they are headed into the said point of no return. There are a lot of rhythmic layers upon layers built on the backbone of bass and drums. The vocals stay on point and register with the instrumental portions. This track gets progressively and aggressively heavier the further into it the listener gets. It also is arranged perfectly to set up the last half of the album. Once again the band remains on conceptual point and seamlessly transitions this track to the following track Providence.
Providence transitions beautifully from where Ergosphere ended. It begins with a subtle yet atmospheric keyboard along with a very unique reggae like percussion passage executed perfectly by Emmet Standish , who basically a one man percussion machine . It is soon met with beautiful vocal chants done by Siobhan Filbey . The atmosphere the band creates at the start of this gives the listener a sense, a audio illusion of interstellar deep space travel on a instrumental level. The track gets increasingly heavier and more progressive the further into the track. The entire aesthetic is heavy throughout this. The vocals take various dimensions of beauty. The band certainly has a beautiful unique vocal signature unto themselves that separates them from other progressive bands of this era. Lyrically Providence does deal with some controversial subject as it relates to organised religion. The main character in the story starts to question the hypocrisy into organised religion and its direct or indirect results of those who follow it. The band has a uncanny ability to convey this heavy and brooding emotion of the character in harmony of both the lyrical and instrumental content within the track. The vocals take on a beautiful ambient quality again here.
Theorem once again easily transitions where Providence left off. Theorem is also the final track on the album that serves like a melodic summary of the album in its entirety. This one works over four parts to bring the entire experience of the album together. Those parts are The Architect, The Anarchist, The Analyst, and Aeviternity. The character fully has another understanding of life, a epiphany, something that has changed everything in his psyche. The band uses its full melodic talent to convey this understanding. The band with its rich ambient approach also maintains various chord progressions and time signatures allowing for the progressive rock and metal elements to speak for themselves. Theorem is a 26:47 epic as well. With much invested listening time and attention to detail the listener can even detect a few Easter Eggs or hidden gems within both the lyrical and instrumental portions that also really help tie the entire concept together as a collective.
Aeolias The Architect is a album that has surprised me already in a year that will see many concept albums. This is a very ambitious and lofty statement for a new independent/unsigned band to put together as a debut album. Aeolias continue the rich tradition and evolution into progressive rock/metal conceptual albums. This album is certainly the perfect album for those who love and live for progressive rock and metal concept albums. This album also joins classic progressive rock/metal albums with science fiction concepts or themes. Albums like Pink Floyd – The Piper At The Gates Of Dawn – 1972 ,Tangerine Dream – Zeit – 1972, Nektar – Journey To The Centre Of The Eye – 1971 ,Yes – Tales From Topographic Oceans – 1973 , RUSH – 2112 – 1976, Klaatu – 3:47 EST – 1976 , Ayreon – The Final Experiment 1994, Into The Electric Castle – 1998, The Universal Migrator 1&2 – 2000, 01011001 – 2008 and the upcoming The Source – 2017 , Star One – Space Metal – 2002 , Forgotten Suns – Innergy – 2009to name a few. Aeolias The Architect will one day be in the same conversation as those albums I just mentioned. For a independent/unsigned band that created a very intelligent thought provoking album on both instrumental and lyrical sides, I give Aeolias The Architect a 5/5.