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Album cover
Artist: Ayreon
Title: Flight Of The Migrator
Label: Transmission TM-020
Length(s): 65 minutes
Year(s) of release: 2000
Month of review: 07/2000

Line up

Arjen Anthony Lucassen - electric and acoustic guitars, bass, analog synths, Mellotron, Hammond, keyboards
Ed Warby - drums
Erik Norlander - analog synths, taurus pedal, vocoder voice, hammond, keyboards
Peter Siedlach - strings
Guitar solo's:
Lucassen on 1, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9
Michael Romeo on 2
Oscar Holleman 2nd solo on 4
Gary Wehrkamp on 6
Synth solo's:
Erik Norlander on 1, 3 (Hammond), 4, 5, 7
Rene Merkelbach last solo on 4
Clive Nolan 2nd synth solo on 5
Gary Wehrkamp on 6
Keiko Kumagai on 9 (+ Hammond solo)
The singers are Sir Russel Allen (2), Ralf Scheepers (3), Andri Deris (4), Bruce Dickinson (5), Fabio Lione (6), Timo Kotipelto (7), Robert Soeterbroek (8) and Ian Parry (9).
Backing vocals by Damian Wilson on 2 and Lana Lane on 4, 5, 6, 9 and voice on 1.

Tracks

1) Chaos 5.10
2) Dawn Of A Million Souls 7.45 MP3 or RealAudio
3) Journey On The Waves Of Time 5.47
4) To The Quasar 8.42
5) Into The Black Hole 10.25
6) Through The Wormhole 6.05
7) Out Of The White Hole 7.11
8) To The Solar System 6.11
9) The New Migrator 8.15

Summary

A disadvantage of the Ayreon cds is that I have so much to type in the line up section. The advantage is that notwithstanding an all star cast, the focus is always on the music and the music is good. If you've read the review of the first part, the melodic and atmospheric journey, you know I was particularly happy with it. Both discs say on the back that they are the first part of a 2cd release. One of them must be wrong, and in fact this is the second part.

The music

Like the first one it album opens with Lana Lane introducing the concept. The difference is that afterwards the music takes a turn for progmetal. The music reminds me a bit of Rhapsody, fast and classically oriented. Instead of the melodies of the first part, we now should yield to the energetic soloing on this second part. Some the keyboard work reminds me of Keith Emerson and because of the metal one may be tempted to think of Mastermind here. Dawn Of A Million Souls opens with keyboards, quite heavy symhponic passages here. The chorus, sung by Sir Russel Allen, reveals the typical accessible vocal lines that Ayreon tends to. The cosack choirs support the chorus, while the verses are more typically masculin hard rock vocals. After an intermezzo on strings and the return of the vocals, Symphony X's Michael Romeo plays a sharp yet melodic guitar solo. Violin opens Journey On The Waves Of Time and later on some symphonic keyboards are to be heard. The vocals on this track are quite aggressive. This is rather typical powermetal and I'm not that fond of it, although Norlanders Hammond solo is quite a nice passage and the eerie keyboards in the vocal parts are also quite nice. Warby behind the drums seems to feel right at home. The two parted To The Quasar is the next one up. The partly vocoded vocals are by Andi Deris. The first part is rather relaxed, but the powerfully rhthm guitars of the second part are impressive. In this way from the melodic first part we transition into pumping progmetal with low bass playing and Lana Lane singing one of her high pitched backing vocals. Still I have to admit that compositionally and melodically the first disc is better. It might be that the heaviness of the music drowns out detail, but I get more the impression that the heaviness of the music lets one get away with more. The songs are well structured, everything fitting together well, but the melodies lag behind a bit and also the soloing is more of the meandering kind. The longest track is Into The Black Hole that opens triumphantly and harkens back melodically to the foregoing. Then the music winds down and Dickinson starts to sing. The guitar sounds as a mix between bass and acoustic guitar in he beginning and in the anthemic chorus we find the opening theme returning. This is a very good track, also in the dramatic melodic lines of the verses. Halo Of Darkness is the second part of this track. The vocals are more aggressive here and less melodic. The Final Door signifies a return to the laden atmospheres of the first part with a majestic final including a fastpaced keyboard solo probably by Clive Nolan. I have to admit that the high pitched guitar work also reminds me of Arena. Hmm. Through The Wormhole has an opening in which sequencers take the fore. Of course the guitar does everything to put that to right and quickly we find ourselves in troubled waters. Pumping keyboards/organ and guitarwork, the hasty vocals of Rhapsody's Lione lend a nervous quality to this track. Out Of The White Hole continues the heavy line of the previous track, but the verses are rather relaxed. The verses are not that distinctive. Planet Y is visited, but does not happen to be what we were looking for. There are some nice variations in the vocals on this second part, although the seems to be sung in fairly straightforward manner. After another orchestral break point The Search Continues and the vocals of the first part return. To The Solar System finds us near Earth, or does it? Shards of familiar melodies prop up. Soeterbroek opens with dark, somber vocals, but the chorus sounds more optimistic. In fact, it is rather typical for Ayreon. The fast monotonous percussive sounds lend an industrial and menacing air to the music. After an experimental end in which the system breaks down we arrive at the conclusion of the second part. After a slow opening we get a particularly driving passage in Sleeper Awake that recurs later in the frantic chorus. Very good. At times I'm reminded of Rainbow here, but of course the music is a tad heavier and faster. Keiko of Ars Nova does well soloing on the synths and organ.

As to the artwork: as good as that on the first disc. It struck me that the picture of Lucassen in the booklet of the first cd is used as inspiration for the drawing on the cover of the second, but the picture of Lucassen in the booklet of the second is a different one.

Conclusion

Quite a heavy album this one and I like it less than the first part (but then again I liked that one very much). Powerful music, some good melodies, well played and produced (of course) and on the whole a satisfying progmetal album, that does reveal many of the typical Ayreon manner and styles, but also features echoes of current progmetal bands. Recommended to progmetal lovers, but if you are more the typical prog or even ballad type, then the first part should be more in your line.
© Jurriaan Hage