The Human Equation

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The Human Equation
Studio album by Ayreon
Released May 25, 2004
Recorded June 2003-March 2004
Genre Progressive metal
Length 1:42:14
Label InsideOut Music
Producer Arjen Lucassen
Ayreon chronology
Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator
(2000)
The Human Equation
(2004)
01011001
(2008)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen chronology
Live on Earth
(2003)
The Human Equation
(2004)
Embrace the Storm
(2005)

The Human Equation is the sixth album from the progressive rock project Ayreon by Dutch musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen, released on May 25, 2004 via InsideOut Music. As with other Ayreon albums, it features guest appearances from several musicians previously unrelated to the project, including James LaBrie of Dream Theater, Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth, Eric Clayton of Saviour Machine, and Devin Townsend, performing music arranged and written by Lucassen.

As with every Ayreon album, it is a concept album with each character being portrayed by one singer. However unlike previous albums, The Human Equation is not a sci-fi story but take place almost entirely in the mind of a character called Me (played by LaBrie) who is in a coma after a car accident, with each song consisting of one day spent in coma. While his Wife (Marcela Bovio) and Best Friend (Lucassen) are at his side in the real world, Me, trapped in his own mind, encounters representations of his own feelings and recall his life from his childhood to his accident.

The album was released in three different editions: a regular edition with two CDs, a Special Edition with two CDs and a DVD, and a Limited Deluxe Edition with two CDs, a DVD and a 36-page booklet. The album peaked at #7 at Dutch Albums Chart and at #50 at Germany Albums Top 50.[1] The album was also released on vinyl on December 2012.[2]

The Human Equation is, together with Into the Electric Castle and The Theory of Everything, the only Ayreon albums in which Lucassen did not write all the lyrics: Townsend wrote all the lyrics of his character Rage, while Heather Findlay of Mostly Autumn and Devon Graves of Deadsoul Tribe also wrote some of the lyrics of their characters, Love and Agony. The albums marks the first collaboration between Lucassen and Bovio, selected by Lucassen via an internet female singing contest to play Wife. The following year, Bovio and Lucassen created together progressive/symphonic metal band Stream of Passion.

Concept and storyline[edit]

The album explores the idea of psychological rebirth, and follows the story of a man who, after falling into a coma following a car accident, is confronted with his past, his emotions, and his current situation as he lays trapped inside his own mind. The circumstances surrounding the accident are mysterious, as the man ("Me", portrayed by James LaBrie) ploughed into a tree on a deserted road in broad daylight. Following this, he slips into a twenty-day coma, with each day represented by a single song. Each song follows a slightly different format, though there are major common themes, such as the presence of Me's manifest emotions in his dream world including Fear (Mikael Åkerfeldt), Reason (Eric Clayton), and Pride (Magnus Ekwall); the presence of Me's Wife (Marcela Bovio) Best Friend (Arjen Anthony Lucassen) at his bedside; and the past events that Me is forced to reflect on.

The plot builds from Me’s early broken state to his eventual rebirth as a new and better man. His own dark past, in which he suffered beneath an abusive Father (Mike Baker), was driven to become merciless by school bullies, and eventually betrayed his closest friend for his own benefit; is intertwined with the plot surrounding Wife and Best Friend, eventually revealing the cause of the accident: Me had witnessed the two sharing an intimate moment, and had swerved his car into a tree in his despair. The three eventually come clean and forgive each other, leading Me to conquer his negative emotions and escape his nightmarish prison.

The story terminates with a sci-fi twist in contrast to the psychodrama of the album, but reminiscent of earlier Ayreon releases. The final song cuts suddenly to silence as it crescendoes to a climax, and a computerised voice announces the shut-down of the Dream Sequencer. The voice of Forever of the Stars then speaks the final words of the album ("Emotions...I remember..."), tying its events into the overall Ayreon plot that began with The Final Experiment.

Track listing[edit]

All lyrics written by Arjen Anthony Lucassen except where noted, all music composed by Lucassen.

CD 1
No. Title Vocals Length
1. "Day One: Vigil"   Arjen Anthony Lucassen, Marcela Bovio 1:33
2. "Day Two: Isolation"   James LaBrie, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Eric Clayton, Irene Jansen, Magnus Ekwall, Heather Findlay 8:42
3. "Day Three: Pain" (Lucassen/Devin Townsend) Devon Graves, LaBrie, Devin Townsend, Findlay 4:58
4. "Day Four: Mystery"   Lucassen, Bovio, LaBrie, Jansen, Ekwall, Graves 5:37
5. "Day Five: Voices"   Ekwall, LaBrie, Clayton, Findlay, Åkerfeldt 7:09
6. "Day Six: Childhood"   Graves, LaBrie 5:05
7. "Day Seven: Hope"   Lucassen, LaBrie 2:47
8. "Day Eight: School" (Lucassen/Townsend) Åkerfeldt, LaBrie, Townsend, Graves, Ekwall, Clayton, Jansen 4:22
9. "Day Nine: Playground" (Adaptation of Edvard Grieg's Morning mood) instrumental 2:15
10. "Day Ten: Memories"   Lucassen, Bovio, Ekwall, Findlay, Jansen, Clayton 3:57
11. "Day Eleven: Love"   LaBrie, Findlay, Jansen, Ekwall, Graves, Åkerfeldt, Bovio 4:18
Total length:
50:20
CD 2
No. Title Vocals Length
12. "Day Twelve: Trauma"   Clayton, Åkerfeldt, Graves, Jansen, Ekwall 9:54
13. "Day Thirteen: Sign" (Lucassen/Heather Findlay) Findlay, Bovio, LaBrie, Lucassen 4:47
14. "Day Fourteen: Pride"   LaBrie, Ekwall, Clayton 4:42
15. "Day Fifteen: Betrayal"   Åkerfeldt, Graves, Clayton, Jansen, LaBrie 5:24
16. "Day Sixteen: Loser" (Lucassen/Townsend) Mike Baker, Townsend 4:46
17. "Day Seventeen: Accident?" (Lucassen/Devon Graves) Clayton, Bovio, Graves, Jansen 5:42
18. "Day Eighteen: Realization"   Clayton, LaBrie, Jansen, Ekwall, Findlay, Graves, Åkerfeldt, Lucassen, Bovio 4:31
19. "Day Nineteen: Disclosure"   Lucassen, Bovio, Findlay, Jansen, LaBrie 4:42
20. "Day Twenty: Confrontation"   Lucassen, LaBrie, Bovio, Findlay, Graves, Jansen, Clayton, Ekwall, Åkerfeldt, Peter Daltrey 7:03
Total length:
51:41

Disc 2 has ten four-second and one nine-second hidden tracks which introduce "Day Twelve: Trauma".

DVD (Special and Deluxe editions)
No. Title Length
1. "Inside" (behind the scenes) 45:27
2. "Concept" (the concept of The Human Equation) 3:05
3. "Drums" (Ed Warby's drums) 3:32
4. "Video" (videoclip of "Day Eleven: Love") 3:49
5. "Teaser" (teaser trailer) 1:28
Total length:
57:25

Personnel[edit]

Ayreon[edit]

Guest Vocalists[edit]

Guest Instrumentalists[edit]

The Theater Equation[edit]

Yvette Boertje, Lucassen's ex-manager, is as of 2014 leading a project to create a musical based on the album, with Arjen's support.[3] It is set to take place on September 2015 in the Netherlands only.[3] The original plan was to create a fan-made project, but since some of the original musicians showed interest in the initiative, the organizers decided to make it a greater venture.[3]

Cast[edit]

Part of the original cast will return for the musical, and that includes two instrumentalists. Joost van den Broek, who performed some solos on the original album, will return as the musical director. Some of the other musicians have already worked with Arjen in other Ayreon albums. The singers who will play the roles of Fear, Father and Rage are yet to be announced.[4]

Vocalists[edit]

  • James LaBrie as Me
  • Jermain van der Bogt (a.k.a. Wudstick) as Best Friend
  • Heather Findlay as Love
  • Irene Jansen as Passion
  • Magnus Ekwall as Pride
  • Devon Graves as Agony
  • Marcela Bovio as Wife
  • Eric Clayton as Reason
  • Epic Rock Choir (formed by 20 people to be selected via a June 2014 audition)

Instrumentalists[edit]

  • Marcel Coenen - (Sun Caged) guitar
  • Freek Gielen - guitar
  • Johan van Stratum (Stream of Passion) - bass
  • Erik van Ittersum - keyboards
  • Ruben Wijga (ReVamp) - keyboards
  • Ed Warby - drums
  • Jeroen Goossens - flutes and woodwinds
  • Ben Mathot - violin
  • Maaike Peterse (Kingfisher Sky) - cello

References[edit]