Ayreon: Universal Migrator, Part 1 and 2 – A Full Review17th November 2022
Blimey, what have I let myself into? Reviewing both parts of Ayreon’s Universal Migrator? Do you know how much music that involves? I mean that’s two entire CDs of fairly long songs to listen too several times. Sheesh…… Thankfully, I like prog rock and this should fit in nicely.
So let’s go.
Wait, just before I crack on. Let’s talk Ayreon.
So Ayreon, in case you don’t know, is singer, song-writer, musician and producer Arjen Lucassen. He combines prog rock with power metal, folk, electronica and classical music to create some unique tracks.
Universal Migrator Part 1 (The Dream Sequencer) and Part 2 (Flight of the Migrator) were released back in summer 2000, when I still had hope and the world hadn’t turned to shit. Both albums had far reaching sci-fi ideas in the best tradition of prog and concept albums. Now 22 years later, Arjen has spent his time remixing and remastering these albums to bring their sound up to date and to help introduce them to a new audience, an audience that grew up in the shadow of 11th September, the constant war on terror, financial Armageddon and political turmoil all over the world. What a difference 22 years can make.
Part 1 – The Dream Sequencer.
First up is the more proggy of the two albums which is set in 2084 just after a world war which has wiped all life from the face of the earth. During this war there were some survivors who escaped to Mars. The album tells this story and goes on to describe the last human alive, living all alone in this Martian colony who after inventing a time machine goes back through time. It is a bleak and desolate view of humanities future, sadly one that I can now see isn’t too far from what is likely to happen especially as this is over 20 years old and we’ve done nothing to prevent such a catastrophe over that time.
Now being completely honest, I can’t get into this album. I’ve tried, but there just isn’t anything that hooks my attention. It sounds good, it’s well produced etc etc etc. Sadly, there just isn’t a song that hooks me and gets me deep into the album. It is the ‘softer’ of the two albums and is a lot more melodic than part 2, but I don’t think that’s it.
Pretty much none of the songs would I be eager to listen too again.
Part 2: Flight of the Migrator.
Now this is where I really got into the music. The album is harder, heavier and significantly more powerful.
First up is Chaos and this was exactly what I was hoping for with it’s shredding guitars and epic drum solo, this track made me listen to it 3 times in a row. At about 5 minutes long it is a great length for this type of track. Follow this up with the next track, Dawn of a Million Souls, with its heavy Jon Lord and Deep Purple feel to it, it has a sound very reminiscent of those massive songs from the 70’s by your Purple’s, Dio, Rainbow et al. Cracking tune.
The fifth track, Into the Black Hole, made me do a double take as well, I thought to myself “Is that Bruce Dickinson? Wait, Is he singing?” Yes people. It is Brucey and he’s singing not just shouting loudly like he does with Maiden these days. To be fair, this was recorded two decades ago so well before his throat issues. But it was still nice to hear one of the true all-time greats singing properly. And to cap it all off, it is mixed absolutely brilliantly. We all know Maiden have issues when it comes to Bruce and how his vocals are always so far over the music, but on this track he is right there, it is superb.
These should be considered as separate albums and as a combined double album. That’s a bit odd, but it is what it is.
Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer
My initial reaction was that this felt generic, coming from a time that is over two decades ago I don’t think I should be too surprised by that. It is nice and a fairly listen. However, it isn’t anything I particularly want to listen too again. Score 6/10
Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator
This second album is really when I got into the music. For me, this is the more enjoyable of the two. And even though it sounds odd to take a few songs from a concept album onto a playlist, I’m doing that with Chaos, Millions Souls and Black Hole. So for those three songs alone, this is a pretty strong album and well worth it’s score 9/10
Universal Migrator Part 1
- The Dream Sequencer
- My House on Mars
- One Small Step
- The Shooting Company of Captain Frans B. Cocq
- Dragon on the Sea
- Temple of the Cat
- Carried by the Wind
- And the Druids Turned to Stone
- The First Man on Earth
- The Dream Sequencer Reprise
Universal Migrator Part 2
- Dawn of a Million Souls
- Journey on the Waves of Time
- To The Quasar
- Into the Black Hole
- Through the Wormhole
- Out of the White Hole
- To the Solar System
- The New Migrator
Label – Music Theories
Release – 18th November