AYREON

(NETHERLANDS)

TRANSITUS

(2020)
LABEL:

MASCOT LABEL GROUP

GENRE:

MELODIC METAL

TAGS:
Concept-album, Epic, Symphonic
"The choices made by Arjen Lucassen (Ayreon) in this "Transitus" that make it a musical comedy will surprise many."
ABADDON (27.10.2020)  
2/5
(0) opinions (5) comment(s)
For better or for worse, musicals are in fashion, and prog' has been following the movement for a few years now, either in the form of rock operas (Dream Theater and its "The Astonishing"), or closer to "musical" (Clive Nolan and his projects Caamora and Alchemy). And now it is Arjen Lucassen's turn to embark on the adventure. Ayreon has already produced with talent story-albums, often on Fantasy themes (the epic of Planet Y, among others), concept-albums (the excellent "The Theory of Everything"), and he is now trying to offer a product that will set him apart from his competitors. So here is "Transitus", a musical comedy on double CD, accompanied by a 48-page booklet illustrating its original synopsis in the shape of a comic book.

On the presentation side, the object impresses: in addition to its neat and original artwork, the troop of singers recruited is quite bluffing, even if it calls upon some regulars (Tommy Karevik in particular, who reapplies for the third consecutive time with here the role of hero). Among the newcomers, we note the presence of Paul Manzi (ex Arena).

The story itself is not in line with the previous stories, but the fans of Ayreon's productions will recognize some common points (the reference to the recurring theme "The Human Equation" for example). The action leaves the territories of anticipation to move to the end of the 19th century and tells us an umpteenth variation on an impossible love.

For those who do not have the libretto in hand, it will be difficult to understand the story: neither the recitatives nor the lyrics mention that if the love in question is unavowable and clandestine, it is because he is white and rich and she is black and poor. The story also interweaves two universes, the real world of 1883 and an imaginary world (Transitus), a kind of purgatory from which the hero between life and death tries to rehabilitate his sweetheart, accused of having caused his death when in fact it was an accident. Add a felon brother, an overly bossy father, angels who travel back and forth between the two worlds, and a talking statue that serves as a confidant to the hero, and you have a very confusing plot to serve as a scenario.

In order to clear up this scenario, which is both simplistic and confusing, Arjen Lucassen uses explanatory recitatives at the beginning of each piece. He, who had so brilliantly managed to avoid this pitfall in "The Theory of Everything" where there was  nothing but music, knocks us out with speeches that disrupt the listening and quickly become cumbersome. This explanatory side can be felt even in the structure of some titles, which make us hear a too conspicuous scenaristic cut ('Daniel's Funeral', which joins the list of pieces that are more made to be seen than listened to).

In "Transitus", the instruction seems to have been to push the interpretation towards more expressivity, which is not illogical for a musical, but it gives to the project an emphasis that is not really welcome. The prize goes to Paul Manzi, who does too much ('Talk of The Town', 'Henry's Plot'), but the others are not to be outdone, forcing the line with a whole range of very unexpected vocal tics in the Ayreon universe: catchy at the beginning of phrases, slippage in the treble over the endings, etc. The result is an album that is not only very expressive, but also very powerful. Moreover, the music appears to be constrained to the needs of the story, sometimes sinking into convention (the sweet ballad 'Seven Days, Seven Nights', the bland 'Daniel's Vision'), placing a heavy emphasis on the opening and closing pieces, far from the dynamic balances to which Arjen had accustomed us. In the same way the orchestrations follow the same path ('Inferno', 'Lavinia's Confession'), up to the drums which become heavier ( Juan Van Emmerloot replaced the faithful Ed Warby).

Fortunately all is not bad: Arjen has a know-how which delivers superb vocal harmonies ('Hopelessly Slipping Away'), very effective riffs ('This Human Equation'), engaging melodies ('Two Worlds Now One', tribute to Floyd from 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'). And then its interpreters have a great talent: Joe Satriani and Marty Friedman each give us a magnificent guitar solo, and Tommy Karevik shows a hallucinating mastery of the vibes ('Daniel's Vision').

In the end, it is a mixed feeling that remains after listening to "Transitus". The option "musical comedy" has printed a direction towards which it is difficult to follow Arjen Lucassen. Can do better, obviously...
- Official website

TRACK LISTING:
01. Fatum Horrificum
02. Daniel's Descent into Transitus
03. Listen to My Story
04. Two Worlds Now One
05. Talk of the Town
06. Old Friend
07. Dumb Piece of Rock
08. Get Out! Now!
09. Seven Days, Seven Nights
10. Condemned Without A Trial
11. Daniel's Funeral
12. Hopelessly Slipping Away
13. This Human Equation
14. Henry's Plot
15. Message from Beyond
16. Daniel's Vision
17. She is Innocent
18. Lavinia's Confession
19. Inferno
20. Your Story Is Over!
21. Abby In Transitus
22. The Great Beyond

LINEUP:
Arjen Lucassen: Chant / Guitares / Basse / Claviers / Dulcimer, Glockenspiel
Thomas Cochrane: Trompette, Trombonne
Alex Thyssen: Invité / Cor
Amanda Somerville: Chant / Invité
Ben Mathot: Invité / Violon
Cammy Gilbert: Chant / Invité
Caroline Westendorp: Chant / Invité
Dee Snider: Chant / Invité
Dianne Van Giersbergen: Chant / Invité / Soprano
Jeroen Goossens: Invité / Flûte
Joe Satriani: Guitares / Invité
Johanne James: Chant / Invité
Joost Van Den Broek: Claviers / Invité / Piano
Juan Van Emmerloot: Batterie / Invité
Jurriaan Westerveld: Invité / Violoncelle
Marcela Bovio: Chant / Invité
Marty Friedman: Guitares / Invité
Micheal Mills: Chant / Invité
Patty Gurdy: Invité / Hurdy Gurdy
Paul Manzi: Chant / Invité
Simone Simons: Chant / Invité
Tom Baker: Invité / Narration
Tommy Karevik: Chant / Invité
   
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(5) COMMENT(S)    
 
 
CORTO1809
27/11/2020
  0
N'ayant jamais réussi à adhérer aux précédents albums, trop metal à mon goût, ce virage vers l'opéra-rock, même kitsch, avait tout pour me séduire. Que les chants soient parfois "forcés", que la musique soit contrainte de suivre la trame narrative, tout cela fait souvent partie du paquet-cadeau opéra-rock. Et certains titres, très efficaces, remplissent parfaitement le contrat de ce genre de productions. Mais ce qui est pour moi rédhibitoire, c'est la présence de trop nombreux passages narratifs qui, outre le fait que le procédé soit daté, cassent la dynamique de l'album et finissent par gâcher le plaisir pris à l'écoute de certains titres. Dommage !
STRUCK
27/11/2020
  0
Pas un mauvais album en soi mais l'impression de redite très forte conjuguée avec d'importantes longueurs (speech entre titres notamment coupant les éventuelles envolées...) l'importent finalement ! Personnellement, j'attends autre chose de l'ami Arjen qui nous a habitué à largement mieux par le passé.
SIXELIA
05/11/2020
 
2
1
Pas non plus convaincu par le casting. On tombe dans une sorte de caricature du métal opéra avec quelques moments malgré tout magiques.
TONYB
27/10/2020
  0
Pas du tout séduit par le casting vocal, Manzi je n'y arrive décidément pas que ce soit dans Arena (qu'il a quitté) ou ici.
Des bons moments de musique tout de même, et pourtant l'impression de rapidement tourner en rond. Bref, de loin l'album le plus décevant d'Ayreon, assez loin des fulgurances passées. Peut-être le bon moment pour passer à autre chose ? La piste Ambeon était tellement séduisante ...
TORPEDO
27/10/2020
  0
Un joyeux fourre-tout, parfois ennuyeux, souvent insupportable (L'envie de pouvoir bâillonner certains chanteurs est souvent présente). Même s'il est logique d'évoluer pour un artiste, on est très loin de la qualité des albums comme Dream Sequencer ou Electric Castle.
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