There is no secret about my undying man-crush on a certain Bard of Middle Earth, and when it came to my attention that he was to appear on another of Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s projects… well it’s safe to assume I require a new F5 key. Now. well and truly late of its January release date, the album has finally breached the shores of this self imposed quarantine-city we call Perth.
With the obligatory revolving door of big-name metal vocalists, the project follows the story of Ayreon’s previous works, an epic space opera telling the story of what appears to be a time set before the Dream Sequencer stories (and in fact references them on the second disc). As the story unfolds, we find that the opera in fact tells the story of an alien, or possibly post-human, race seeding the Earth with life as we know it. Of course, it wouldn’t be an “Epic Space Opera” if it weren’t terribly more complicated and involved than that, but short of writing a discourse to rival Principia I couldn’t possibly attempt to convey it as well as listening to the album does.
01011001 is very easy to listen to, spanning more genres than most people can name, with solos galore and plenty of call-and-answer opera (not to mention Hansi’s gorgeous signature layered chants and power melodies). Flavours of Industrial, Classical Acoustics, Goth, Power Metal and a healthy splash of War Of The Worlds as a tribute to one of its inspirations. In fact, if War Of The Worlds had a love child with Sir Clarke’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, and it was breast fed pure metal by Freddy Mercury… now that is an image that will haunt you for life!
All in all, 01011001 by Ayreon is certainly in my top releases of the year (both anticipated and realised), and I highly recommend it to anyone and everyone who would give it a try. Hit up the video for a taste of the brilliance therein.