9/10

Ok, let´s get one thing straight… I will be having a hard time time writing this without gushing at certain points. Ayreon is a part of my musical DNA and has been a fixture in my life since 1998.
One thing is certain, when Arjen Anthony Lucassen does something, he goes all in. Be it writing prog rock epics about Electric Castles, prog metal masterpieces about child geniuses or a musical that originally was going to be a feature film.
Yes. This is a musical.
Even though it is fused with hard rock and a fair bit of prog rock, this is quite a departure from the metal beasts that made up the two predecessors “The Theory of Everything and “The Source”. So if you´re looking for the heavy, gritty songs of Star One you´ll be disappointed. But never fear, as the songs themselves are compelling and incredibly well written.
Expertly weaving recurring themes and haunting melodies throughout the record, Arjen ditches the space opera for an earthly setting, this time set in the year 1884. Telling of the the terrible fates of starcrossed lovers Abigail and Daniel, this is Arjen at his most lyrical, bombastic and beautiful.
Since I absolutely adore musicals like “Chess” and “Kristina Från Duvemåla” I´m of course partial to one of my favorite musicians of all time doing one. And it is a beauty, let me tell you. When Arjen revealed that one of my greatest heroes of all time, Tom Baker (known for playing Doctor Who in 1970s) was going to act as “The Storyteller”, my heart skipped a beat. His dulcet tones guides the listener on this amazing journey that tells of the destiny that befalls the characters of “Transitus”.
As per usual Arjen has gathered some of the best singers and players around.
Deep breath…
Tommy Kärevik (Seventh Wonder, Kamelot) as Daniel, Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber) as Abigail, Simone Simons (Epica), Dee Snider (Twisted Sister) as The Father, Johanne James (Threshold), as Abraham, Marcela Bovio (MaYan) and Caroline Westendorp (The Charm The Fury) as The Furies, Paul Manzi (Arena) as Henry, Micheal Mills (Toehider) as The Statue and Amanda Somerville (Avantasia, Trillium) as Lavinia.
Also guesting with some blistering fretwork are guitar icon Marty Friedman (Cacophony, ex-Megadeth).
Is it any good then…?
Well, of course it is! I won´t spoil anything but I sincerely think most of Arjens fanbase is going to love this after a couple of listens. It is different but amazing as well.
When I spoke to Arjen earlier this month (watch this space for a long and in-depth interview in the following days!) he said he was worried that people wouldn´t get it and he really needn´t worry. This is another triumph for the humble dutchman and yet another diamond in the crown that is Ayreon.
And did I mention it comes with a comic book? Which helps telling the story even better and one can clearly see how this could play out as a movie. Some might groan and moan that the characters sometimes do not look exactly as their human counterparts but as an avid comic book reader I´ve come to embrace this fact.
All in all, brilliance as usual from Arjen.
https://open.spotify.com/album/70KORU7OqZv2xVny1u3wyJ?si=gq0uwDRjQM62vLZGudmBwA
Artist: Ayreon
Title: Transitus
Label: Mascot
Playing Time: 81 minutes
Rating: 9/10
Land of origin: Netherlands
Stand out track: Fatum Horrificum, Dumb Piece of Rock, Get Out! Now!