AYREON

(NETHERLANDS)

THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING

(2013)
LABEL:

INSIDEOUT MUSIC

GENRE:

PROGRESSIVE ROCK

TAGS:
Celtic, Concept-album, Epic, Symphonic
"With shorter tracks than usual, "The Theory Of Everything" seduces with its extremely thorough concept and musicality, a perfect synthesis of Arjen Lucassen's previous productions."
ABADDON (22.10.2013)  
5/5
(0) opinions (0) comment(s)
Built in a long flashback, the story of "Theory of Everything" spans eleven years. It is the story of an autistic child whose great potential only a teacher will detect, which will lead the parents to a psychiatrist. After long hesitations, the psychiatrist agrees, under pressure from the father and against the mother's advice, to include him in a research protocol. The product used works beyond expectations and frees the child's mind, who turns out to be a genius, to the great displeasure of the best pupil in the class, who will then become his worst enemy, as well as his rival in love. 

The awakening of the hero serves the interests of the father, who has been searching for Universal Theory for years. But the side effects of the treatment force to suspend him, and from then on the prodigy lives a tidy life at the side of his beloved. He then realizes that he will fall back to his initial state and makes a deal with his enemy, who has become a brilliant chemist, who offers to synthesize the drug he is missing. However, the father, obsessed in his ultimate quest, tries to persuade the mother to influence her son. Outraged that her child's life could be put at stake, the mother decides to leave, pushing the father to commit suicide. Yet the same night, the son receives a visit from his father (this is the fantasy element of the story), and together they solve the ultimate equations that give them the secret of Universal Theory. Exhausted by drugs, the son collapses, taking with him the much sought-after secret. The professor and the lover can only note the death of the genius ...

The subject, complex, and not unlike that of Daniel Keyes' "Flowers for Algernon", underlies many psychoanalytical subjects: the need for paternal recognition, constant maternal protection, ambition (of the teacher, the father, the rival) which comes before love, the male/female oppositions (here men are guided by ambition, women by love and the acceptance of difference)... It is difficult not to see here a close relationship with the personal life of Arjen Lucassen, who a few years ago went through a depressive episode, and who here stirs up these subjects with a real feeling, extremely well related. For, not surprisingly, Arjen knows how to tell stories, and makes the musical ambiences fit closely with his narrative. 

Musically, "The Theory of Everything" appears as a very accomplished synthesis of Lucassen's different projects. We'll find there the spatial side of Ayreon's albums, the keyboards remaining as modern and relevant as ever, but also the more metal side as in Star One's albums or "The Flight of the Migrator" and finally the more psychological feeling of the Guit Machine project.

The whole - 90 minutes all the same! - is divided into four parts of equal length, composed of short tracks (the longest one is 3'50), which is surprising in Ayreon's discography: No more too long developments, but rather a conciseness necessary for the narration. The transitions are extremely neat and sometimes touch on genius - the link between 'A Reason to Live' and 'Potential' is sublime -, and we find the recipes that made the success of Ayreon's compositions: a dazzling vocal cast, with honourable mention to Sara Squadrani and Tommy Karevik, impressively sensitive; prestigious guest-stars, as on every album: here Rick Wakeman, Steve Hackett, Jordan Rudess, Troy Donockley and Keith Emerson who is the only disappointment, content to poorly cover the beginning of Moog's solo from 'Blues Variations' ("Pictures at an Exhibition"); the use of modern, inventive keyboards, able to contrast with aggressive riffs ('The Lighthouse', 'The Breakthrough'); the contribution of Celtic sounds (Uleian Pipes, Irish Bouzouki, flutes) and finally the impeccable presence of the faithful Ed Warby on the drums.

Like any great concept-album (one can think of Arena's "Visitor" for example), "The Theory of Everything" is worth listening to in one go, with the help of the booklet for the first listening to fully grasp the richness of the subject. Once this has been assimilated, the work appears to be one of the best concept-albums ever proposed. The lack of complex developments is then forgotten and one only has to let oneself be carried away by the story of this extraordinary journey!
- Official website

TRACK LISTING:
01. Prologue: The Blackboard
02. The Theory Of Everything Part 1
03. Patterns
04. The Prodigy's World
05. The Teacher's Discovery
06. Love And Envy
07. Progressive Waves
08. The Gift
09. The Eleventh Dimension
10. Inertia
11. The Theory Of Everything Part 2
12. The Consultation
13. Diagnosis
14. The Argument 1
15. The Rival's Dilemma
16. Surface Tension
17. A Reason To Live
18. Potential
19. Quantum Chaos
20. Dark Medicine
21. Alive!
22. The Prediction
23. Fluctuations
24. Transformation
25. Collision
26. Side Effects
27. Frequency Modulation
28. Magnetism
29. Quid Pro Quo
30. String Theory
31. Fortune?
32. Mirror Of Dreams
33. The Lighthouse
34. The Argument 2
35. The Parting
36. The Visitation
37. The Breakthrough
38. The Note
39. The Uncertainty Principle
40. Dark Energy
41. The Theory Of Everything Part 3
42. The Blackboard (reprise)

LINEUP:
Arjen Lucassen: Guitares / Basse / Claviers / Mandoline
Ben Mathot: Violon
Cristina Scabbia: Chant
Ed Warby: Batterie
Jb: Chant
Jeroen Goossens: Flûtes
John Wetton: Chant
Jordan Rudess: Claviers
Keith Emerson: Claviers
Maaike Peterse: Violoncelle
Marko Hietala:
Michael Mills: Chant / Irish Bouzouki
Rick Wakeman:
Sara Squadrani: Chant
Steve Hackett: Guitares
Tommy Karevik: Chant
Troy Donockley: Uleian Pipes, Flûte Basse
   
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