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Entry updated 9 April 2015. Tagged: Music.

Heavy-metal prog-rock band founded by Dutch musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen (1960-    ). The group's first album, The Final Experiment (1995) is a curious and rather lurid combination of Dark Age Arthuriana and futuristic apocalypse: scientists from the year 2084 send messages back in time (see Time Radio) to a fifth-century minstrel called Ayreon who then relays their doomy message in song. Actual Fantasy (1996) is not a concept album, although several of the songs are sf (particularly "Computer Eyes", "Back on Planet Earth"). The lengthy rock opera Into the Electric Castle (1998) folds further Arthurian touches into an interplanetary quest for the fortress of the title. The plot is overly complex, but the music is an inventive and occasionally grand confection of symphonic rock. Subsequent releases have been largely compared by fans to Into the Electric Castle and found wanting, although the Universal Migrator albums (Part 1: The Dream Sequencer [2000]; Part 2: Flight of the Migrator [2002]) – a Time-Travel narrative that starts on Mars after the apocalypse foretold in the band's first album – occasionally surpass their own narrative incoherence with splendid heavy-metal moments. The Human Equation (2004) concerns a car-crash victim in a coma who reviews his own life; a twist at the end reveals everything to have been a Virtual-Reality simulation created by a Computer called Dream Sequencer. [AR]

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