REVIEW: AYREON – “Transitus”
Arjen Lucassen‘s Ayreon is an ambitious metal opera project. Each Ayreon album is a drama set to music, made up of vocal parts accompanied by various instruments. All the storylines are interconnected and take place in the Ayreon universe. Many established singers and instrumentalists have rendered their talents to the project.
‘Transitus’ is a tale of star-crossed lovers Abby (Cammie Gilbert) and Daniel (Tommy Karevik). Daniel is murdered and finds himself in a realm between heaven and hell called Transitus. The story follows Daniel as he tries to prove Abby’s innocence in his murder. He requests the Angel of Death (Simone Simons) to help him in his quest. The story is narrated by Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame. It isn’t clear how this story ties into the Ayreon universe, but there are allusions to it.
This is as musically diverse as an album can get. It seamlessly blends elements of various genres to support and intensify the narrative. It also features medieval instruments like the glockenspiel, dulcimer, and hurdy-gurdy. The vocalists embody their characters convincingly. Their singing is beautifully balanced and pitch-perfect.
The most memorable moments of the album are its singles. Simone Simons is charming as the sassy and flippant Angel of Death in “The Human Equation”. This is the only song on the album that could stand out on its own. It doesn’t need the narrative to provide context. “Get Out! Now!” features a powerful solo by Joe Satriani.
However, the album could be let down by its length. Some listeners, especially those new to Ayreon, may find it difficult to sit through a two-part album. The tale of a tragic love story is also a pretty common one, and probably not as innovative as other stories in the Ayreon universe.
Overall, Ayreon’s ‘Transitus‘ is a painstakingly composed metal opera. It involves the contribution of many individuals including metal musicians, choral singers, and classical instrumentalists. The vocal prowess displayed is impressive and supports the story well.