Ayreon albums are always lavish productions with a long running time, a dramatic storyline and numerous guests. That’s also the case with their latest effort Transitus, but there are some differences.
The story is not directly connected to the Ayreon universe, though there are some allusions to it. It’s a gothic ghost/love story with sci-fi elements set in 1884 featuring the main characters Daniel and Abby. Ayreon mastermind Arjen Lucassen says it is inspired by a combination of movies like The Others and The Changeling, soundtrack composers such as John Carpenter and Ennio Morricone and rock operas like Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy and The Wall.
Transitus includes extensive narration, provided by Doctor Who’s Tom Baker. He has the pipes and the acting chops to provide the narrative context behind the songs. The musical cast is a combination of veteran Ayreon performers and some newcomers.
Kamelot’s Tommy Karevik as Daniel has the largest role. He is an expressive and powerful singer who brings the character to life. He has appeared on a few previous Ayreon albums and is extremely comfortable in this setting. Cammie Gilbert of Oceans Of Slumber is new to the Ayreon universe, and gives a strong performance as Abby.
Another newcomer is Twisted Sister’s legendary frontman Dee Snider. He plays Daniel’s father, and is featured on “Get Out! Now!” He’s perfect in the role and shows a different side vocally. One of the other standouts on Transitus is Epica’s Simone Simons as The Angel Of Death. Her showcase song is “This Human Equation.”
Others featured on the album are Amanda Somerville (Avantasia, Trillum), Marcela Bovio (MaYan), Michael Mills (Toehider), Noa Gruman (Scardust) along with guitar wizards Joe Satriani and Marty Friedman.
The storyline is a universal one, not as unique or compelling as some of their previous albums, but it works, and everything is tied together well by Baker’s narration. There are 22 songs clocking it at around 80 minutes, but that’s actually slightly shorter than their last several albums.
There are a few lulls, but the arrangements are varied and the strong vocal performances overcome any shortcomings. Ayreon fans will be drawn into Transitus’ world with everything you’d expect lyrically and musically from an Ayreon release. Some configurations of the album also come with a 28 page graphic novel to delve even deeper into the story.
(released September 25, 2020 on Music Theories)
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Listen To Ayreon – “This Human Equation”