AYREON – Transitus (2020)

AYREON - Transitus (2020) full

From the mastermind of Dutch multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen, AYREON is about to release its new album ‘Transitus‘, inspired by supernatural movies such as The Others, The Changeling and Ghost.
As with any Ayreon album, it is an explosive and expansive affair and features an all-star cast including Dee Snider (Twisted Sister), Joe Satriani, Marty Friedman, Amanda Somerville (Avantasia, Trillium), Simone Simons (Epica), amongst many others.

After amassing 25 years’ worth of cult following, and delivering some of the most bombastic live productions of his work, Arjen is back with a new Ayreon album in 2020, this time entitled “Transitus.”
This double album is a nineteenth century Shakespearean tragedy with a prominent supernatural component. As with “Human Equation,” the characters are named and defined as individual characters (or supernatural beings).

To summarize without spoiling too much, a stately manor in the 1800s is the estate of a father figure performed by Dee Snider, while the roles of his two sons protagonist Daniel and antagonist Henry are delivered by Tommy Karevik (Kamelot, Seventh Wonder) and Paul Manzi (Arena) respectively.
The son Daniel is madly in forbidden love with Abby, one of the serving girls, performed by Cammie Gilbert (Oceans of Slumber). Young Abby’s parents are performed by Amanda Somerville and Johanne James.

The less mortal roles are Toehider’s Mike Mills as a living statue, Epica’s Simone Simons as the Angel of Death, and Marcela Bovio and Caroline Westendorp as The Furies.
And the whole story is narrated by Tom Baker of Doctor Who fame.
And as the ice on the cake, ‘Tansitus’ is narrated by one of the most iconic and recognizable voices in sci-fi history, most known from his eight-year stint as Doctor Who, Tom Baker.

As this is the sort of “Pulp Fiction” where the story is told out of sequence, our narrator informs us that Daniel’s tormented soul is already cast down into the quasi-Purgatory of Transitus, so we know before the story even gets underway that his courtship of Abby does not exactly proceed as planned.
Tommy Karevik does a great job as he always does with any body of work. We find a groovy-heavy little jam as Daniel’s character attempts to plead his case to Simone Simons as the Angel of Death, along with her BFF’s “the Furies.” Paired with some delightfully Migrator-era Arjen guitar leads, the romantic tragedy proceeds to unfold for the listener.

In the interest of spoiler avoidance, let’s leave the story there.
What happens to Daniel? What is his goal in the afterlife? Can his soul be saved? Do Daniel and Abby listen to “Unchained Melody” and make pottery? Only the remaining 20 tracks of the album will tell.

The vocalists handle themselves very well. When Daniel’s brother makes appearances, it’s just like listening to the latest Arena record, most notably “The Legend of Elijah Shade.” Simone actually manages to sound incredulously snarky, until the plight of Daniel and Abby manages to win the sympathy of the Angel.
“Dumb Piece of Rock,” musically bears a great deal of resemblance to some of the folk-metal staples of “Human Equation,” with Mike Mills doing his usual exceptional work with incredible range and technique, although the talking statue seems to have no bearing on the rest of the story. It’s the sort of scene that most directors end up leaving on the cutting room floor.
The one and only Dee Snider is a perfect fit for the disapproving father figure; he’s not gonna take it. Anymore. What will always be taken (gladly) is a Satch solo, which works surprisingly well as part of a parental eviction track.

On the second half of the album, wherein Daniel has seven days and seven nights to make things right, Cammie acquits herself admirably as Abby. The depth of her timbre is perfectly complimentary to Tommy’s range.
The main highlight of the second disc may actually be Marty Friedman transporting us back to some of his best phrasing since “Dragon’s Kiss” and “Rust in Peace.” The leads and harmonized parts are just, well, it’s Marty. So very possibly the one of the best heavy rock guitarist alive.
The song “Abby in Transitus” opens up with some of the most nostalgic Ayreon writing and playing, invoking a bit of “Castle” and “Migrator.” The final track, “The Great Beyond” builds to a crescendo, with one last belting finisher by Tommy, a bit like LaBrie’s finish upon waking up in “Human Equation.”

“Transitus” has exceptional musicianship, great singers, great guitar players and a really solid execution. Of course production is very good.
Highly Recommended


CD 1:
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

CD 2:
01. Condemned Without A Trial
02. Daniel’s Funeral
03. Hopelessly Slipping Away
04. This Human Equation
05. Henry’s Plot
06. Message from Beyond
07. Daniel’s Vision
08. She is Innocent
09. Lavinia’s Confession
10. Inferno
11. Your Story Is Over!
12. Abby In Transitus
13. The Great Beyond

Arjen Anthony Lucassen – Vocals, Guitars, Bass, Keyboards
Dee Snider – Vocals
Amanda Somerville – Vocals
Simone Simons – Vocals
Marcela Bovio – Vocals
Tommy Karevik – Vocals
Cammie Gilbert – Vocals
Johanne James – Vocals
Michael Mills – Vocals
Joe Satriani – Guitars
Marty Friedman – Guitars
Joost van den Broek – Hammond organ, Piano
Ben Mathot – Violin
Jeroen Goossens – Wind instruments
Jurriaan Westerveld – Cello
Alex Thyssen – Horns
Jan Willem Ketelaers – Vocals
Wilmer Waarbroek – Vocals
Will Shaw – Vocals
Marjan Welman – Vocals
Lisette van den Berg – Vocals
Patty Gurdy – Hurdy gurdy
Juan van Emmerloot – Drums


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