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  The Human Equation
Ayreon
InsideOut Records
20 tracks / 103:19 min
 
 Rarely have I purchased an album based solely on word of mouth, without either having heard even a snippet from it or being familiar with the artist.  James LaBrie, lead vocalist for Dream Theater, is the only cast member of Ayreon’s molten musical, The Human Equation, whom I knew well, and I was only vaguely familiar with Devin Townsend and Saviour Machine’s “Eric Clayton.”  But the word I heard from my musical circles is that this is the first must-have album of the year.  And indeed it is.
 
Arjen Lucassen assembles a progressive all-star cast for a two-disc concept album (you may begin salivating) revolving around the thoughts of a man in a coma after an automobile accident.  LaBrie stars as “Me.”  Lucassen, besides being the lead musician (all guitars, mandolin, keyboards and synthesizer) and conductor, supports as “Best Friend.”  Other vocalists getting significant track time are Clayton as “Reason” and Irene Jansen of Karma and Star One as “Passion.”
 
The Human Equation strikes me as somewhere in-between Dream Theater (for the album construction as well as for LaBrie’s vocals) and Jethro Tull (the album sports flutes and whistles on eight of the 20 tracks).  Each track represents a day that “Me” is lying in a hospital bed trying to sort out the voices in his head representing various emotions and mental faculties.  The arrangement of the tracks chronicles his sorting out his thoughts and coming back into the world a better man.
 
This is not the kind of album where you are going to pick out favorite songs and put them on repeat over and over again.  It must be taken as a whole.  I might not even have purchased the album if I had only heard a few samples.  That being said, “Day Three: Pain” is an outstanding song in my mind.  Lucassen brilliantly weaves despair and hope together in both word and tone.  In the standout duet of the album, Devin Townsend as “Rage” screams: 
All the time, I had waited with rage
All the time, I was promised my salvation. 
Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn challenges as “Love”: 
I can’t accept this, we will find a way
Out of this cesspool of doom and dismay
Beyond this dejection there’s beauty and grace
A glorious future we long to embrace. 
We also get a pleasant taste of medieval metal in “Day Eleven: Love,” the story of “Me,” nervous to ask a girl to dance.  Jansen implores as “Passion”: 
Do it right, do it right, we ain’t got all night
Do it now, do it now, I think you know how! 
As for buying this album, ditto.
 
Dan Singleton
10 July 2004
 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

   
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