The Theory Of Everything (2CD/DVD)

Arjen Lucassen's long awaited Ayreon project is a total blast.  Like some of the earlier Ayreon albums, it owes as much to prog rock as it does metal.  All the old school heroes like Emerson, Wakeman, Wetton get to strut their stuff showing a young stud like Rudess a thing or two.  As always Lucassen latches on to some of the best vocalists around and this one is no exception.  Highly recommended.

PLEASE NOTE THERE WILL BE A VERY EXPENSIVE IMPORT "ART BOOK" EDITION FORTHCOMING.

"You know what the metal world needs more of? Musicals. I'm not saying that ironically either. Sure, we have plenty of prog bands putting out concept albums, but cool as these records many be, the story themselves are not the focus of the album. Ayreon mastermind Arjen Anthony Lucassen has resurrected his grandest of all projects to continue showing these folks how to tell an epic story the right way.

With 01011001 the Ayreon story came to an end, or so we thought. Arjen instead decided to focus on projects like Star One, Guilt Machine, and his solo album Lost in the New Real. When he revealed not too long ago that he was working on a new project, it wasn't a surprise to discover it was new Ayreon, but I was still plenty excited.

Lucassen said of the newest record, "It's not science fiction, but a human story set in a science context." So no aliens or battling emotions or any of that. So, in an attempt to better understand the story, I contacting him for the lyrics and much to my surprise, he sent them to me saying, "Oh yes, you need the lyrics, definitely." Holy hell, was he right. The story is indeed more grounded than previous records, but there are still layers to this beast.

Fans of Ayreon should know what to expect here. The Theory of Everything has seven guest singers and each singer plays a part in the story. They are JB (Grand Magus) as the Teacher, Christina Scabbia (Lacuna Coil) as the Mother, Michael Mills (Toehider) as the Father, Tommy Karevik (Kamelot) as the Prodigy, Marco Hietala (Nightwish) as the Rival, John Wetton (Asia/ex-King Crimson) as the Psychiatrist, and Sara Squadrani (Ancient Bards) as the Girl.

Of these singers, the most impressive is the relatively unknown Sara Squadrani. She performs on a large portion of the story and shines every time, especially on "Love and Envy". I was also surprised to be so enamored with the performance of Christina Scabbia. She's always had  a wonderful voice, but her performance in this record might be her finest. Her harmonies with Squadrani stand out particularly on "Mirror of Dreams". This isn't to say only the performances by the female singers are worth mentioning. Tommy Karevik's introduction in "The Prodigy's World" is one of the strongest moments on the album.Press_Photo_01

Every Ayreon album comes an eclectic group of guest musicians. This round primarily consisted of guest keyboardists. Rick Wakeman (ex-Yes) handles a good portion of the record, while Keith Emerson (Emerson, Lake & Palmer) and Jordan Rudess (Dream Theater) both make excellent solo appearances on "Progressive Waves".

Having listened to all of Lucassen's albums at least once, I can say The Theory of Everything is the most musically diverse offering he's had a hand in, perhaps with the exception of his solo record. This isn't as heavy as previous Ayreon titles, but it has its driving moments like "Collision" and the Dream Theather-esque "Frequency Modulation." The aforementioned "Love and Envy" is a slower introspective song, while "Diagnosis" is massive and a little cheesy, but so awesome. "Transformation" has a Middle Eastern feel to it, and  "The Eleventh Dimension" sounds like intergalactic renaissance faire music.

Often times there are jumps in mood, genre, etc in the middle of a song. This is fairly typical for an Ayreon release; what isn't typical is that technically this record consists of only four songs. These four songs are each at least twenty-one minutes, but they are cut up into forty-two pieces (yes, that's a Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy reference) .

This is a fun record. It's a record that does require a time commitment. I'd say listeners should treat it as a proper musical or film in a theater. Try to experience it all in one sitting for the full effect. It's absolutely worth it." - Metal Injection

There are no review yet. Be the first!

Product Review

You must login or register to post reviews.
Laser Pic

customers also bought

SEE ALL
  • THIS NORTHERN VIRGINIA BASED BAND is a three-piece at heart, musically rooted in the raw energy and rhythmic interplay of RUSH and KING’S X. Fans of dark, guitar-driven rock bands from ALICE IN CHAINS, DEFTONES to the contemporary metal riffing of LAMB OF GOD and PANTERA, will connect to the heavy core of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. Add to that progressive complexity and moody synths inspired by DREAM THEATER and PORCUPINE TREE, and a liberal dose of memorable hooks and melodies, to understand some elements of IRIS DIVINE’s sound. And yet, the band has a distinct identity, not quite sounding like any of the aforementioned bands, and with an emotional urgency that pulls subtly from alternative and other influences.KARMA SOWN IS A TRIUMPH OF A DEBUT ALBUM, immediate and memorable but revealing layers and depth upon repeated listens."Progressive metal is in a rough period right now. The old guard are either releasing sub-standard albums that only make it more obvious how far they have fallen, or they are drastically uncool with anyone who didn't become a fan when progressive metal was first being created. Progressive today tends to mean djent, a style that has sapped all the life and humanity out of music, turning metal into a math equation of time signatures, and not songs that anyone can actually remember. There was a time when progressive metal remembered the ultimate goal of music; to have listeners enjoy the songs so much they would return to them again and again. Today, progressive metal is mostly the sort of music that could pass for muzak, if you don't turn the volume up too loud.Iris Divine wants to change that. They set out with the mission of writing progressive metal that is intricate and challenging, but still produces the kind of songs that listeners who don't have an advanced degree can love and sing along to. It's a challenge, and it goes against the tide, but it's a desperately needed revolution if progressive metal is going to flourish anytime in the near future.I knew from hearing the pre-release track “A Suicide Aware” that Iris Divide was special, and the full album reinforces the point. “The Everlasting Sea” comes out of the gates with plenty of tricky riffing and unusual rhythms, but they lead into big melodies with strong hooks and vocals. Their progressive playing isn't meant for show, it's a tool used to set a tone that juxtaposes with the more melodic moments. Finding the proper balance between these elements is not easy, and many a band have failed miserably trying to do so, but Iris Divine doesn't. On their debut record, they show a skill some bands have spent their entire careers failing to learn.What I love most about the record is that it can be seen in many different lights. If you like straight-ahead metal, there is plenty of heavy riffing and pounding drumming here to keep you satisfied. If you like progressive music, these songs have twists and turns, and Rush-like keyboards, in enough quantity to match the djent crowd. And if you're a fan of old-school radio rock, the choruses in these songs will be music to your ears. Keeping all three of these in mind at the same time can be tricky, but it's worth the effort.For being a trio, “Karma Sown” is a massive sounding record. The production is flawless, big and clear, without ever sounding too polished. The heavy parts are heavy, the vocals are up front, and you would never believe this was a self-produced record that was crowd-funded. I can put it up against many, many of the big label releases, and it would win the fight.In fact, I can think of a dozen so-called progressive metal bands that should immediately hand over their label contracts to Iris Divine, because it's a crime that a band that is advancing progressive metal in the right direction doesn't have the backing of one of the labels. Not to name names, but this album would be bigger than half of the progressive metal released this year if it had the media push behind it.In case you haven't noticed, what I'm saying is that “Karma Sown” is a fantastic debut, and the future of progressive metal. Iris Divine isn't a Dream Theater clone, and they're not djent. What they have done is integrate all the strains of progressive metal into a singular sound, one that could set the standard moving forward. If every band sounded this good, progressive metal wouldn't need to be underground. “Karma Sown” is the best progressive metal album of the year, bar none." - Bloody Good Horror
    $13.00
  • Second album from Greece's answer to Joe Stump. Mike Dimareli is a neoclassical shredder that can keep up with the best of 'em. No idea what the Artical thing means but apparently it's part of the group name. Luckily this isn't an instrumental album - Dimareli saw fit to enlist Phantom Lord vocalist Bill Aksiotis who acquits himself nicely. Firewind keyboardist Bob Katsionis is on board offering his fair share of pyrotechnics as well. I thought shred was dead but apparently not.
    $14.00
  • The third and final album of the Blackmore/Dio marriage was a fine one. "Gates Of Babylon" and "Kill The King" and the title track are now timeless classics of hard rock.
    $5.00
  • "Esoteric Antenna is pleased to announce the release of "SIGNAL TO NOISE”, the new studio album by twice Grammy nominated PINK FLOYD engineer ANDY JACKSON."Signal to Noise” is a fine, modern, progressive work, which draws on Andy Jackson’s exemplary work as an engineer and producer. Besides being an allusion to Andy’s sound engineering background, the title refers to many of the lyrical themes of the album. Andy explains; "The album reflects on the sorting of what is important in life from the humdrum of everyday existence, and is in itself an analogy for the process of the creation of the album”.Andy Jackson began his career at Utopia Studios in London, training under James Guthrie, a relationship that continues to this day with the duo being co-pilots of Pink Floyd’s sound.  Andy had success as a recording engineer at Utopia, including hits with Boomtown Rats "I Don’t Like Mondays”, before the call came from James Guthrie to follow him into the world of Pink Floyd, to work on the film of "The Wall”, an offer he couldn’t resist, having been a Floyd fan for many years. So started a relationship that continues to this day, (on albums such as "The Final Cut”, "A Momentary Lapse of Reason”, "The Division Bell”, "Pulse”, Roger Waters’ "The Pros and Cons of Hitchhiking”, David Gilmour’s "About Face”, "On An Island”, "Live in Gdansk”), resulting in two Grammy nominations for his work and Mix magazine’s award for best live sound engineer for "Pulse” tour. He is also engineer and a co-producer of the soon-to-be-released Pink Floyd album, "The Endless River”.Along side his work with Pink Floyd and wider work as an engineer, he has recorded three albums, recorded with friends, as a musician in his own right: "On the Surface”, "Obvious” and "Mythical Burrowing Animals”.  All three works were ideas ahead of their time it would seem. He did find time along the way to produce work for other artists, including the seminal British Goth band Fields Of The Nephilim. This again was the genesis of a relationship that would lead to the present day, after ex Nephilim Tony Pettitt asked Andy to join his new band The Eden House as guitarist. After three years with Eden House, Andy felt it was time to move on & embark on a new challenge of a completely solo album project. This has lead to the creation of the "Signal to Noise” album, a wonderful sonic experience that is sure to Andy Jackson heralded as a significant creative force in modern Progressive music."
    $17.00
  • Adrenaline Mob is a new hard rock/metal band assembled by Russell Allen (Symphony X), Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater), Mike Orlando, and John Moyer (ex-Disturbed).This style of music is a bit of departure for Allen and Portnoy. Adrenaline Mob seems to take its direction from their bassist who was a member of Disturbed. The music fits in the Disturbed/Godsmack vein. Allen's vocals are much more aggressive sounding than in Symphony X reminding a bit of Rob Zombie. Guitarist Mike Orlando plays with hyper-kinetic abandon. Mr. Portnoy...is Mr. Portnoy. What would you expect? This band is definitely going to be controversial with the Symphony X and Dream Theater crowd because it sounds so extremely different from those bands. Your move.
    $9.00
  • I'm not familar with what is currently going on in the Venezuelan progressive rock scene but if this is any indication I want to hear more... Mojo Pojo's music is an amalgam of melodic prog rock and fusion with a smattering of metal tossed in for good measure. The music grooves and is extremely catchy. A good chunk of the album is instrumental and these guys stretch out and shred Morglbl style on some tracks and just straight up prog rock on others. Vocals are fine - a mix of English and Spanish. Oh yeah - James Murphy heavies it up with a guest guitar solo on one tune but if you are metal averse I wouldn't sweat it, you'll enjoy the tune as well. Overall the music has a real upbeat feel good vibe. Nice packaging courtesy of Hugh Syme (how the hell can they afford them? Life must be good in Venezuela!). Mojo Pojo offers much for all progressive rock interests and can be easily recommended.
    $11.00
  • "These days, it is one thing just to be able to release an album given the current state of the music business. However, to release said band’s best material while trying to pin down a job, scrap together some funds, have a family, maintain a “normal life” and deal with record companies with a 2014 “business model” is a whole other thing all together.Most bands know that the gold at the end of this rainbow, through all the hard work and creativity, is merely deeming albums a “labor of love” and hope and pray they get enough gigs to make it “worth it” even with vast monetary loss. So is the life of A Sound of Thunder – a snapshot of a hard working band that is both the current and future of this business. Blessed with immense talent upswing that garners a “legion of thunder” to quickly reach crowdsourcing campaign goals, it is actually hard to take any record company offers seriously. Whether or not the band made a pact with the seven princes of hell, “The Lesser Key of Solomon” is A Sound Of Thunder's best work to date and a sleeper album of the year that should not go unnoticed.In stark contrast to “Time’s Arrow” (which listening back now almost sounds Cro-Magnon by comparison), “The Lesser Key of Solomon,” pushes the band in a much more progressive and mature direction over a bed of gleefully evil lyrical content. The style is a unique combination of progressive rock, 90’s W.A.S.P. and an overly obvious dose of eerie King Diamond. Oddly enough, when the Kickstarter edition of opening track “Udoroth” was issued to backers, it was a real stripped down pure metal song in the “Queen of Hell” vein and seemed way more basic metal than what the band has been releasing in recent years. However, when the completed album version hit my stereo it was as if it had been transformed. Choirs, sound clips, and added vocal parts have expanded it into way more than the simple barbaric nature of the pre-release.With longer songs and higher levels of progression all around, “The Lesser Key of Solomon” presents the band's most complex material to date – with a foursome of tracks in “The Boy Who Could Fly,” “Elijah,” “Blood From the Mummy’s Tomb,” and “House of Bones” that stand up to any album released this year and back. “Elijah” is near 10 minutes with so many flowing parts it could really be divided into three separate and distinct tracks, but it is just so damn perfect linked together.Guitarist Josh Schwartz has perfected his craft over the years and each album presents an ever growing talent. On “Lesser” there is more exploration with bluesy styles alongside the usual butchering riffs and soaring, engaging solos that have propelled him into one of the best out there. Sadly though, he is still under the radar of most of the world. Check out the guitar emoting on “Black Secrets” and “House of Bones.” Backed up by the monster rhythm section of drummer Chris Haren and bassist Jesse Keen, the musicianship is absurdly fantastic.Vocalist Nina Osegueda has blossomed into one of the leading front women in the business today (and if you haven’t heard….shame on you). You won’t hear an operatic droning or any glitzy bubble gum pop metal infused vocals that are all the rage in Scandinavia these days. What you get is ass kicking, bold, face-punching power. On “Lesser,” Osegueda really expands her “softer side” (shown last on “Time’s Arrow” favorite “I’ll Walk With You”). Check out the performances on “One Empty Grave” and “Lesser” favorite “The Boy Who Can Fly,” with just the perfect amount of emotion to draw listeners into the same feeling. On top of all that, Nina has clearly re-stumbled upon the King Diamond back catalog, for she adds a huge dose of creepy “sing song-telling” in tracks like “Elijah” (check out 7:34-7:50 for example).Armed with the knowledge that the next album is already nearly completed… I can’t even imagine where this talented U.S. act will take its musical direction. “The Lessor Key of Solomon” already represents the best material the band has released to date, which is exactly how I felt with “Time’s Arrow.” The constant drive to be better coupled with perfect execution makes "The Lesser Key Of Solomon" easily rank among the elite albums released in 2014. Skipping over this album would be a real disservice to truly inspiring and independent music." - Metal Underground
    $15.00
  • "By opening their self-titled album with a group of children reciting a sing-songy version of the Pledge of Allegiance to the U.S. flag, keyboardist Frank Lucas, drummer Chuck White and bassist Steve Edsey prove early on that their self-titled LWE debut will be unlike so many other instrumental progressive-music CDs flooding the marketplace these days. First of all, there are no guitars. Lucas' piano — rarely does he use synths — propels this music into a feel-good stratosphere, while the rhythm section of White and Edsey provides a mighty backbone. (The subtle potency of this trio is no surprise, really, considering that all three men have gigged with the likes of guitarists Michael Angelo and Neil Zaza, as well as the prog-metal band Ion Vein.) Edgar Gabriel, a principal violinist for Cirque de Soleil, also appears on three of LWE's eight tracks.Pre-release comparisons to Emerson, Lake & Palmer and the Chick Corea Electrik Band might have been overstated. This music is less pretentious (although no less dramatic) than ELP's work, and it lacks the blatant fusion references of Corea's late-1980s/early-1990s outfit. Instead, listeners get a steady 54-minute stream of clever, quippy and wholly engrossing music that includes the marvelous, bouncy opener "Liberty," the beachcomber anthem "Hasta Mañana" and "The Nightcap," an uncharacteristically dark, mysterious and sexy piece. LWE milks its cleverness with songs whose titles reference the Chicagoland trio's influences: "A Note to Jordan" (as in Dream Theater keyboard maestro Jordan Rudess) and "Waiting for Bela" (as in premier banjo player Bela Fleck).Count LWE among the most promising acts on ProgRock Records' burgeoning roster of talent." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $3.00
  • 3 album slipcase set includes: Departure, Escape, and Frontiers.
    $16.00
  • "One of the interesting and strangely rewarding things about being a power metal enthusiast in 2015 is the fact that, due to the general indifference shown by media outlets and the metal population at large, particularly within the United States, fans don’t really get hit over the head with an uninterrupted outpouring of releases 8 days a week as you might for, say, death and black metal. Perhaps that seems like a strange thing to celebrate, but during an age where glut has become the new standard, it’s refreshing to exist in a realm where you often don’t have much of a choice but to really get to know the releases you count as triumphs. To illustrate the point: While there have been a few noteworthy power metal releases in 2015, there haven’t been enough to completely overshadow what's still getting regular play from 2014's sufficient crop. In this sense, power metal is defying the "churn & burn" mandate that seems to govern much of music today.The shortage of a comprehensive power metal vogue also means that, for the most part, the bands that commit to the genre are by-God in it for a true love and obligation to the game. In other words, there’s little evidence of bandwagoning, which is equally refreshing.With that in mind, if you’re lucky enough to resonate with power metal and haven’t been paying attention to what’s been rumbling down the chute from the U.S. lately, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. Releases haven’t exactly been dropping from the trees, per say, but a good portion of what we’ve gotten certainly qualifies for medal contention. To keep things pinned to 2015, consider Artizan’s The Furthest Reaches, Tanagra’s None of This is Real, and Judicator’s ludicrous At the Expense of Humanity. Three high-quality PM records from one country in one year might typically be sufficient, but St. Paul, Minnesota’s Chaos Frame apparently prefers to kick the festivities up to a deafening roar, because Paths to Exile, their sophomore effort, is nothing short of extraordinary.First of all, are you shittin’ me with this thing? Who? Wuh? Where’d?There's nary a bad tune to be found on this record. Seriously. That fact alone should be enough to inspire some of you to pound some samples into your ears and free the tight velcro grip on those wallets, but just in case it’s not: Chaos Frame shares current, ex- and guest members from Noble Beast, a band that released one of 2014’s most sublime examples of exhilarating, aggressive modern power metal. And while Paths to Exile certainly shares some of that band’s Blind Guardian-galvanized strut, particularly in those exquisitely stacked choruses, Chaos Frame is an entirely different beast altogether. An even more... noble beast, one might wager? Inconceivable. Just a more proggy, less dungeon-inspired incursion that shares the same level of skill in terms of first-string musicianship from a relatively unheralded act.Something a number of American progressive/power metal acts seem to be managing in excess lately is the idea that you can be uplifting without being overly bubbly, and Chaos Frame nails that notion home with a one-ton hammer. There are no “Heavy Metal Hamsters” or squirrelly circus jigs within a hundred miles of these dudes. Outside of the opening track, every song flashes moments where things seamlessly break off for a stretch of surprisingly dense or FAST execution that strikes with as much oomph as Brian Blessed charging atop a Clydesdale. For comparison’s sake, think Pharaoh, Falconer, Manticora and Spirit of Ukko era Kiuas all balled into one. Now add one of the better vocal performances this side of a Daniel Heiman-fronted Lost Horizon/Heed record and you’ve got the basic gist.Lofty praise, for sure, but Paths to Exile delivers, front to back. And as satisfying as the entire picture manages to be, the weight delivered in its midsection via “Terra Firma,” “Paper Sun” and “Giantkiller” is just staggering. Nimble acoustic picking blends with knotty riffing and ample time signature shifts; infectious choruses swirl into falsettoed, King Diamond-inspired “oh-ohhhs”; bolts of blast-beating drums run like hellfire; pretty leads split the sky without ever being overblown; and there’s even a bloody saxophone solo that winds up resting so perfectly within the overall scheme of things that you’ll wonder why more bands of this nature don’t work this oft-maligned instrument into their own blueprint. Embrace your inner Tim Cappello, heavy metal.It’s been a while since I’ve come across a prog/power metal record as altogether satisfying as Paths to Exile. In the end, however, one probably needs some level of appreciation for the style to fully acknowledge what’s going on here. It’s too bad, really, because above all else, Chaos Frame simply succeeds at delivering great heavy metal – energetic, exciting, empowering heavy metal that’s perfectly suited for those who appreciate impeccable musicianship, towering vocals and just generally feeling fucking fantastic after listening to one of the better records that 2015 has to offer." - Your Last Rites
    $12.00
  • Third album from this Finnish power metal band finds them on a new label - Spinefarm Records. The sound hasn't changed at all. This is operatic female fronted power metal exactly in the same direction of Tarja era Nightwish.
    $15.00
  • Remastered edition with 4 bonus tracks."Sepultura had shocked the death metal world in 1989 with the release of their third album, Beneath the Remains, whose seamless combination of songwriting chops and utter brutality quickly transformed the Brazilians from scene outsiders to one of its brightest hopes. The band toured nonstop in support of the album for most of the following two years, and was therefore pressured by both time constraints and enormous expectations when the bandmembers finally entered Tampa's Morrisound Studios with producer Scott Burns to record 1991's Arise. And though it ultimately lacked the consistency of its predecessor and added little innovation to the band's sound, Arise has aged surprisingly well, proving itself a worthy progression and surprisingly well-rounded in its own right. First single "Dead Embryonic Cells" was unquestionably the strongest of the band's death metal era, and its accompanying video broke new ground thanks to ample MTV rotation. Ironically, the subsequent banning of the vicious title track's video (filled with apocalyptic religious imagery) by the cable network would generate even more publicity than Sepultura could have hoped for had it actually been aired. Other album highlights included such complex, multifaceted pieces as "Desperate Cry" (an all-around tour de force for lead guitarist Andreas Kisser) and "Altered State" (which combines a Tarzan-style intro with a grinding detuned main riff and even acoustic guitars), as well as more straightforward thrashers like "Infected Voice" and mid-paced chuggers like "Under Siege (Regnum Irae)." Simply devoid of filler material, this album remains a classic of the death metal genre." - Allmusic Guide
    $8.00
  • "Trans-Siberian Orchestra's second album, Christmas Attic, may not be as focused or serious as Christmas Eve, but it is just as enjoyable and maybe even more consistent, thanks to Paul O'Neill's increasingly impressive compositions and an improved musicality." - Allmusic Guide
    $6.00
  • "Gurnemanz, was a German folk rock band, who have recorded and pressed privately two excellent albums during the mid 70s. Their delightful music is somewhere between first Broeselmaschine, Hoelderlin and Ougenweide. All ingredients are there, sitar, flute, lute, lyre, mandolin etc played by master musicians, but above all is this stunning female voice of Manuela Schmitz.This is their first album, originally pressed privately in 1975, most tracks are sung in English.Deluxe 180g vinyl, from the original analogue master tapes, exact reproduction of the original first pressing. 500 pieces limited edition."First ever official exact reissueGreat German folk rock album with female vocals from 1975Fully authorizedMostly English lyricsExpertly remastered by band member John Cremer himselfLimited, deluxe exact reissue on 180g vinyl with printed inner sleeve 500 pieces  
    $29.00