The Theory of Everything (album)

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The Theory of Everything
Studio album by Ayreon
Released October 28, 2013[1]
Recorded Mid-2012-August 2013[2]
Genre Progressive metal
Progressive rock
Length 1:29:33[1][3]
Label InsideOut Music
Producer Arjen Lucassen
Ayreon chronology
Timeline
(2008)
The Theory of Everything
(2013)
Arjen Anthony Lucassen chronology
Lost in the New Real
(2012)
The Theory of Everything
(2013)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Dangerdog 4.5/5 stars[4]
Jukebox:Metal 4.5/5 stars[5]
metal.de 9/10 stars[6]
Metal Injection 8.5/10 stars[7]
Metal Mouth 10/10 stars[8]
Myglobalmind 10/10 stars[9]
Sea of Tranquility 4.5/5 stars[10]
Sputnikmusic 3.5/5 stars[11]

The Theory of Everything is the eighth studio album from Ayreon, a progressive rock project by Dutch musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen, released on October 28, 2013.[12]

As with every Ayreon album, it is a concept album with each character being portrayed by one singer, however being released five years after 01011001 which concluded the original Ayreon story, The Theory of Everything is the start of a completely new storyline for the project. Unlike the previous albums which took place in a sci-fi context (with the notable exception of The Human Equation, taking place in a man's mind), it is set in a realistic world.[1] Lucassen composed all the music, and co-wrote the lyrics with his girlfriend Lori Linstruth, making it his first album in which he shares lyrics credit for all the songs.

In the typical style of the project, the album features several guest singers to portray the characters across the album, including former King Crimson and current Asia member John Wetton, Marco Hietala of Nightwish and Tarot, Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil, Janne JB Christoffersson of Grand Magus and Tommy Karevik of Kamelot and Seventh Wonder. It also features various guest musicians such as keyboardists Rick Wakeman (ex-Yes), Keith Emerson (ex-Emerson, Lake & Palmer), and Jordan Rudess from Dream Theater, and guitarist Steve Hackett (ex-Genesis). It is Lucassen's first collaboration with every singer on the album, with the exception of backing vocalist Wilmer Waarbroek, who already sung on his solo album Lost in the New Real.

According to Lucassen, the album is "four long tracks divided into various segments", with each song longer than 20 minutes for a total of almost one hour and a half of music.[13] The complete number of segments is 42, which is the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, recognized by Lucassen as a direct reference.[14] On December 18, 2013, Lucassen released on YouTube a free version of the album with all vocals sung by Waarbroek.[15]

Production[edit]

After the release of 01011001, Lucassen decided to temporarily put Ayreon on hold, because he was not inspired to continue and also because many critics noted that there was nothing new being offered on 01011001.[16] He then focused on other projects, such as Guilt Machine's first album, Star One's second album, and a new solo album.[17][18]

On August 23, 2012, Lucassen published on his YouTube channel that he started composing a new project,[2] and on October 9, 2012, revealed it via YouTube again to be a new Ayreon album, planned for 2013.[19] On March 26, 2013, Lucassen revealed the name of the next album to be The Theory of Everything.[20] Since then, Lucassen progressively revealed the singers and musicians involved in the new album, through YouTube. On September 6, the artwork and track listing for the new album was revealed on the official Ayreon Facebook page. The album cover was painted by frequent Ayreon artist Jef Bertels.[21]

During the recordings, Lucassen suffered an elbow injury. According to him, it is "pretty serious" and will need to be operated on, with only 70/80% chance of success. However he chose to not be operated immediately because it would delay the release of The Theory of Everything, and continued to record despite the pain.[22]

Lucassen described the album as "less heavy and more instrumental than 01011001", and also cited the films A Beautiful Mind and Rain Man as inspirations for the lyrics.[13]

Story[edit]

The story takes place in a realistic setting as opposed to the science-fiction setting of "01011001".

Phase 1: Singularity[edit]

The plot occurs at various points in time; sometimes in the past, sometimes in the present. A brilliant mathematician wishes to solve the fabled Theory Of Everything, the answer to the great question: what is the meaning of life. His work is obsessive and feverish; working constantly his entire life, much to the frustration to his wife who is caring for their young son who is displaying signs of disability. She begs him to see what his obsession is doing to both her and their child but he is adamant that he has nearly solved the equation but he needs to be sure. Desperate and alone, the mother tries to connect with her son. His consciousness responds but in reality, the boy cannot yet communicate verbally. This marks the first stage of his isolation and frustration.

A few years later, the boy is now in a maths class at school. His teacher is astonished that he has answered every question correctly, even the one which has troubled the older man all his life. When asked how he solved it, the boy says he doesn't know; the answers just appear before his eyes. Another boy, who is jealous of the prodigy, remarks that he is the brilliant one and protests; saying that the other boy is a fake and is trying to deceive the teacher. Outside the classroom, the rival bullies the prodigy, leading a female class-mate to confront him and asks why he torments him so much. The rival cannot believe his ears and, in turn, rebuffs the girl; saying she is a fool for believing in him and falling for his, in the rival's eyes, fakery.

Later on, the teacher visits the prodigy's father to ask about the boy and tells the father that he has never encountered such a brilliant mind. Surprised at this, the father says that the boy hasn't shown any signs of life, let alone intelligence, at home and that the teacher must be mistaken. The teacher is taken aback and counters that the father is heartless for saying that the boy is weak, leading to an angry return from the father who scolds the teacher for not knowing the full facts. Calmly, the teacher tells the father that he must awaken the genius in the boy, spend more time with him, connect, and eventually awaken his mind. The father reluctantly agrees. As he tries to connect with his father, the prodigy struggles, leading his mother to suggest taking him to a therapist. The father thinks about this and reasons that if his mind can be unlocked, he can help him with his work.

Phase 2: Symmetry[edit]

A psychiatrist questions the prodigy, asking him about his life and his struggles. Slowly, the prodigy says that he doesn't understand what is going on around him. He is confused with all that is going on in his mind. The mother asks the psychiatrist if he can help the prodigy shine through and move his way through his life undisturbed. Tests are carried out and the psychiatrist reports that there are impairments; distractions. However, the boy is indeed gifted but his mind is ablaze with thoughts and noise. He suggests putting the boy on an experimental drug he is working on to combat the thoughts. He does warn, however, that the side effects could involve extreme delusions and possible psychosis. The father immediately says that the prodigy should join the trial. His mother, however, does not want her son used as a guinea pig; refusing to allow her son to go through the treatment. Meanwhile, the rival, still hurting from the prodigy's brilliance, becomes more resentful and angry; lamenting that the boy may be special but he must not beat him or be allowed to outshine him.

The teacher, also troubled, goes through the prodigy's work in school; trying to find a role for himself in the boy's development. The girl is studying in the next room and wonders about the mystery of the prodigy. The two think about how each can help; the girl wanting to get near the prodigy and help him open up, the teacher wanting to further the boy's education and intelligence. Elsewhere, a secret meeting occurs between the psychiatrist and the father. Still very interested in furthering his work, the father says the drug is the only answer. The psychiatrist keeps the dosage low so the boy doesn't realize he's being manipulated synthetically. The two shake hands and go their separate ways.

At home, the treatment begins. Over the next few days, the drug is implemented and the prodigy's mind begins to clear; his neural pathways unblocking and the noise receding. His inspiration increases to the point of maximum clearance. The father says that the theory of everything is nearly complete but he needs his son to help him. As the two connect, the answers to the question of life will be revealed and history will be made. However, all is not well...

Phase 3: Entanglement[edit]

Now in full flow, the prodigy is finally awake and functioning at a greatly increased level of intelligence. The teacher is aghast at the change in the prodigy; the distance in his eyes has gone and a bright light is shining through. Unclouded, the prodigy can now work properly, the noise in his head has quietened. However, the teacher is concerned; the change was almost instantaneous and couldn't possibly be natural. The prodigy reassures him that he feels fine and is perfectly okay. Now feeling more confident, the prodigy stands up to the rival. The two have an angry exchange and confront each other. The prodigy says that the rival is bitter because he now has a match for his genius. The rival counters and says that the prodigy will need him eventually. Anger builds in the prodigy to the point of lashing out and becoming aggressive, a side effect of the drug he is on.

The psychiatrist gathers reports and tells the father that his worst fears have been realized. The prodigy is showing signs of side effects to the drug. Something in the boy's brain chemistry is interfering and causing bouts of psychosis and delusions. He says that the prodigy must be told what's happening. The father reluctantly agrees, sits the boy down and tells him the whole story and that he only did it to help further the boy's intelligence. Enraged, the prodigy angrily turns on his father, accusing him of deceiving the one person he is supposed to be looking after: his own son. The prodigy leaves home to stay with his female class-mate. A bond forms between them and they become close. The rival, now increasingly bitter and hostile, says that the prodigy only wants to use the girl for his own ends. The prodigy laments that the meds help him to see things better. His delusions are being kept at bay for the time being. Eventually, the rival hatches a plan. As the prodigy's meds run out and he cannot get any more, the rival proposes they rob a bank to create more. The prodigy can use his brilliant mind to bypass security protocols on the bank's surveillance system. Horrified at this, the girl berates the prodigy; saying that the tables have turned: the prodigy is now being used. If he goes through with this, he will never see the girl again. He will lose her. The plan goes through, however. and the operation is successful. The two rivals are now rich beyond their wildest dreams. The girl is now beside herself with rage; angrily shunning the prodigy. Realising what he's done, he is all alone and afraid.

Phase 4: Unification[edit]

Troubled, the girl calls on the prodigy's mother. The two talk about the prodigy and his vulnerabilities. The girl laments that she abandoned him too early and too harshly. The mother says that his life is complicated and his heart is mysterious in such a way that he cannot be understood by anyone but himself. The girl then asks how he will survive without care and attention from his mother and his love, the girl, to guide him. The mother responds by saying that they cannot guide him any more and that he must be allowed to flourish and use his brilliant mind to return to them in time. Meanwhile, alone with the teacher, the prodigy is hiding out. The teacher tells him that things must be put right and find the way must be found again. A lighthouse is a few miles up the beach and may be the perfect place to dwell and recuperate. The two men go up to the lighthouse but the prodigy is still troubled; the noise is coming back and he is now hearing voices intermittently. The teacher knows this and tells the prodigy that he can call on him "if the voices start to whisper". "The theory of everything will be solved here, it ends here", the prodigy muses.

At home, the mother and father have an explosive argument. The two lock horns and after the row, the mother tells the father that he pushed her away too much and that his obsession is his only life. Now alone, the father realizes what he has done and vows to reconnect with his son and end the nightmare. End the quandary: solve the theory and change history. He finds out where his son is and rushes to his side with one goal in mind. Solve the theory. The two meet up and confront each other; each angry at the other. However, tensions ease when the two men's goals merge into one. They were destined to solve the Theory Of Everything; the meaning of life: the one question which has baffled many scientists and physicists for generations. As the two minds combine, they spend many days working feverishly; doing calculations, doing equations and solving complex formulae. Finally, the answer is revealed. They finally achieve what was deemed impossible: they have solved the theory of everything.

Now weak from working and emotionally drained, the prodigy breaks down; writing a note to the teacher telling him that science now has the answer it has been looking for since the splitting of the atom. The theory has been solved. He then collapses. The girl tells the teacher that there was a tragedy in the lighthouse. She said that the father couldn't have been there and that it had to be a ghostly dream, because he killed himself the night before, before seeing his son again. Although the theory was solved, it resulted in the demise of both men. The mother and the girl ask whether the theory was worth it in the long run, becoming seduced by the pull of theoretical science. They propose that the world is not yet ready for the answer.

Now in the present, the teacher, now advanced in age, wanders aloud as he looks at the equation on the blackboard how such a formula united such fiery souls. He stares at the board, gathers his thing and walks out of the school room. He turns, takes one last look back...and then switches the light off.

Track listing[edit]

CD 1[edit]

All lyrics written by Arjen Anthony Lucassen and Lori Linstruth, all music composed by Lucassen[23].

Phase I: Singularity
No. Title Length
1. "Prologue: The Blackboard"   1:55
2. "The Theory of Everything Part 1"   3:01
3. "Patterns"   1:03
4. "The Prodigy's World"   1:31
5. "The Teacher's Discovery"   2:58
6. "Love and Envy"   2:39
7. "Progressive Waves"   3:16
8. "The Gift"   2:38
9. "The Eleventh Dimension"   1:46
10. "Inertia"   0:45
11. "The Theory of Everything Part 2"   1:50
Total length:
23:29
Phase II: Symmetry
No. Title Length
12. "The Consultation"   3:49
13. "Diagnosis"   2:48
14. "The Argument 1"   0:24
15. "The Rival's Dilemma"   2:22
16. "Surface Tension"   0:57
17. "A Reason to Live"   0:45
18. "Potential"   3:14
19. "Quantum Chaos"   2:09
20. "Dark Medicine"   1:23
21. "Alive!"   2:29
22. "The Prediction"   1:05
Total length:
21:31

CD 2[edit]

Phase III: Entanglement
No. Title Length
1. "Fluctuations"   1:01
2. "Transformation"   3:13
3. "Collision"   3:26
4. "Side Effects"   2:59
5. "Frequency Modulation"   1:44
6. "Magnetism"   3:54
7. "Quid Pro Quo"   3:09
8. "String Theory"   1:29
9. "Fortune?"   1:36
Total length:
22:34
Phase IV: Unification
No. Title Length
10. "Mirror of Dreams"   2:30
11. "The Lighthouse"   3:16
12. "The Argument 2"   0:49
13. "The Parting"   3:27
14. "The Visitation"   3:27
15. "The Breakthrough"   2:00
16. "The Note"   1:11
17. "The Uncertainty Principle"   2:09
18. "Dark Energy"   0:44
19. "The Theory of Everything Part 3"   1:29
20. "The Blackboard (Reprise)"   1:13
Total length:
22:20

Charts performance[edit]

Chart (2013) Peak
position
Austrian Albums Chart[24] 37
Belgian Albums Chart (Flanders)[25] 58
Belgian Albums Charts (Wallonia)[26] 36
Dutch Albums Chart[27] 3
Finnish Albums Chart[28] 28
German Albums Chart[29] 21
Norwegian Albums Chart[30] 26
Swedish Albums Chart[31] 46
Swiss Albums Chart[32] 41
U.S. Heatseekers Albums[33] 13

Personnel[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "New Ayreon release The Theory of Everything". Arjen Lucassen's official website. Retrieved September 9, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Hoekdate=23 August 2012. "Arjen Lucassen starts composing new project". YouTube. Retrieved 23 August 2013. 
  3. ^ "Tracks of the album". Facebook. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  4. ^ http://www.dangerdog.com/2013-music-reviews/ayreon-the-theory-of-everything.php#.Um3CwW3rDMV
  5. ^ Andy Lye. "Jukebox:Metal review". 
  6. ^ http://www.metal.de/progressive-metal/review/ayreon/55678-the-theory-of-everything/
  7. ^ http://www.metalinjection.net/reviews/album-review-ayreon-theory-everything
  8. ^ http://metalmouth.net/2013/10/ayreon-the-theory-of-everything/
  9. ^ http://myglobalmind.com/2013/10/17/ayreon-theory-everything-review/
  10. ^ http://www.seaoftranquility.org/reviews.php?op=showcontent&id=15207/
  11. ^ Gerhart, Thompson D. "Ayreon - The Theory of Everything (album review ) | Sputnikmusic". sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  12. ^ "Ayreon: The Theory Of Everything Title Track Available For Streaming". Blabbermouth. October 16, 2013. Retrieved October 28, 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Lucassen answering a fan". Arjen Lucassen's official website. Retrieved 9 September 2013. 
  14. ^ "Ayreon - Timeline Photos | Facebook". facebook.com. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  15. ^ "Ayreon - I mixed the amazing guide-vocals that @Wilmer... | Facebook". facebook.com. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Begai, Carl (12 April 2009). "AYREON – When The Lights Go Down". Carl Begai. Archived from the original on 17 April 2009. Retrieved 14 April 2009. 
  17. ^ "Arjen unveils new project: Guilt Machine". Arjen A. Lucassen official website. 23 February 2009. Archived from the original on 19 February 2009. Retrieved 23 February 2009. 
  18. ^ "Arjen's solo album title and cover art revealed". Arjen A. Lucassen official website. 23 February 2012. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  19. ^ Video on YouTube
  20. ^ http://www.arjenlucassen.com/content/the-theory-of-everything-ayreon-album-title/
  21. ^ "AYREON: 'The Theory Of Everything' Cover Artwork, Track Listing Revealed". Blabbermouth. Retrieved 8 September 2013. 
  22. ^ http://www.arjenlucassen.com/content/photo-album-27-may/
  23. ^ Waarbroek, Wilmer (17 December 2013). "Ayreon - Phase I: Singularity (Vocals by Wilmer Waarbroek)". YouTube. Google. Retrieved 18 December 2013. 
  24. ^ "Ayreon - The Theory Of Everything - austriancharts.at". austriancharts.at. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  25. ^ "Ayreon - The Theory of Everything on Belgian (Flanders) charts" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2013-11-08. 
  26. ^ "ultratop.be - Ayreon - The Theory Of Everything". ultratop.be (in French). Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  27. ^ "The Theory of Everything on Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  28. ^ "Suomen virallinen lista - Artistit Ayreon: The Theory Of Everything" (in Finnish). Retrieved 4 November 2013. 
  29. ^ "Germany – The Theory of Everything" (in German). Retrieved 2013-11-06. 
  30. ^ "Norway – The Theory of Everything on Norwegian Charts". Retrieved 2013-11-18. 
  31. ^ "Norway – The Theory of Everything on Swedish Charts" (in Sweden). Retrieved 2013-11-11. 
  32. ^ "Ayreon - The Theory Of Everything - hitparade.ch". hitparade.ch. Retrieved 1 January 2014. 
  33. ^ "Ayreon - Chart history". Retrieved 25 February 2014. 
  34. ^ a b "New Ayreon album trailer -- The Theory of Everything". YouTube. 8 October 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2013. 
  35. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDRqQuqt45U

External links[edit]