CD Label: Inside Out Music
Arjen Lucassen a.k.a. Ayreon, is well known for his epic progressive rock space operas. In 1998, he released an absolute masterpiece, and one that I am ashamed to say, missed somehow. Well time is the healer and now three years later, Inside Out Music signed a deal with Lucassen to reissue his music and Into The Electric Castle, a double album of progressive rock stories and sci-fi fantasy, is one of those releases. This special edition features a Quicktime movie of Arjen in the studio discussing the album. In the liner notes, he refers to this recording as a classic, and no doubt, it most certainly is.
Typical of Ayreon, he engaged many of the brightest stars available to help tell his story and play the music to set the stage for his characters. Artists such as Fish and Damian Wilson perform vocal parts (look at the credits for the extensive list) and Clive Nolan and Robby Valentine provide keyboards, and Arjen is on everything -- guitars, vocals, mandolin, bass, moog and mellotron.
This is an incredibly eclectic mix of rock music. You can hear all the influences of Lucassen come bubbling to the surface, those wonderful classic rock bands like Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Alan Parsons, and of course, the immortal Beatles. Were would prog-rock be without Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?
You cannot help it; you become sucked into the story by the mesmerizing music and the incredible vocals of all the contributors. Essentially the story revolves around a group of stolen souls that come from different times to enter a strange portal that takes them on a dangerous journey. All of their trials and tribulations are explored in each song, until they reach the Electric Castle were they must choose between door number one or two, nuclear portals that take you back to your own time or into an eternal abyss of oblivion.
This is truly a fascinating work of music and story. Arjen really should sit down and write a science fiction novel, he certainly has the imagination and talent to do so. This music is so powerful and melodic that it becomes easy to envision everything that is happening during the story. I think they should make this into a movie it would be fantastic! I cannot say enough about how excellent all of the instrumentation and vocals are throughout this album. For this much music, you would expect some filler, it never happens, every track is superb. Do you call yourself a prog-rock fanatic? You do not qualify as such until this album is part of your collection.