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Arjen Anthony Lucassen.jpg
Arjen Anthony Lucassen, the main creative force behind Ayreon
Background information
Origin Waalwijk, North Brabant, Netherlands
Years active 1995–2008, 2012–present
Labels Transmission, InsideOut, Century Media, SPV GmbH, Mascot Label Group
Associated acts Ambeon, Finch, Guilt Machine, Star One, many others
Website http://www.ayreon.com
Members Arjen Anthony Lucassen
Past members Guest performers

Ayreon /ˈɛriən/ is a musical project by Dutch songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist musician and record producer Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Ayreon's music is described as progressive rock, progressive metal[1] and power metal[2] sometimes combined with genres such as folk, electronica, experimental and classical music. The majority of Ayreon's albums are dubbed "rock operas" (or "metal operas") because the albums contain complex storylines featuring a host of characters, usually with each one being represented by a unique vocalist.

Each Ayreon album tells a different story, but all, with the notable exceptions of Actual Fantasy and The Theory of Everything, take place in the same fictional, science fiction universe; additionally, Lucassen's solo album Lost in the New Real is also set in the Ayreon universe. Ayreon's music is characterized by the use of traditional instruments in rock music (guitars, bass guitar, drums, analogue synthesizers, electric organs) mixed with instruments more native to folk and classical music (e.g. mandolins, violins, violas, celli, flutes, sitars and didgeridoo). Lucassen writes the music and the lyrics, sings and plays most of the instruments on all of the Ayreon albums, alongside many guest musicians. His most regular collaborator is drummer Ed Warby.

Due to the project's particular nature, Ayreon live performances are extremely rare. Several Ayreon songs were included in two live albums by other Lucassen bands: Live on Earth by Star One and Live in the Real World by Stream of Passion. In September 2015, The Human Equation was performed in its entirety live in a full-scale theatrical production called The Theater Equation, which was later released as a live album and DVD. On September 15, 16 and 17 of 2017, a career-spanning live show called 'Ayreon Universe' was played in 013, Tilburg. It featured sixteen vocalists: Floor Jansen, Damian Wilson, Hansi Kürsch, Tommy Karevik, Anneke van Giersbergen, Marco Hietala, Jonas Renske, Michael Mills, Marcela Bovio, Irene Jansen, Robert Soeterbroek, John Jaycee Cuijpers, Edward Reekers, Jay van Feggelen, Maggy Luyten and Lisette van den Berg, and a band consisting of Ed Warby, Johan van Stratum, Marcel Coenen, Ferry Duijsens, Joost van den Broek, Ben Mathot, Jeroen Goossens and Maaike Peterse[3]. Arjen Lucassen himself made an appearance playing guitar and singing on several songs.


Origins: The Final Experiment and Actual Fantasy (1995–1998)[edit]

The first Ayreon CD, released in 1995, is The Final Experiment, which has a mixture of science fiction and medieval themes. The album features thirteen singers and seven instrumentalists, most of them Dutch. The Final Experiment is often mentioned as one of the first metal operas. The album was originally titled Ayreon: The Final Experiment, with the artist listed as Arjen Lucassen, but upon re-release, the title was changed to The Final Experiment, and the artist was changed to Ayreon.

Actual Fantasy from 1996 is the only Ayreon album without a continuous story. With its individual fantasy stories, it can still be considered a concept album, though. There are only three singers and three instrumentalists on Actual Fantasy. Themes inspired by songs on this album can be found on later Ayreon releases, particularly the two Universal Migrator albums. The album did not sell as well as its predecessor.

Into the Electric CastleTimeline (1998–2008)[edit]

The double album Into the Electric Castle followed in 1998. The album features eight singers, each playing a role of a single character, and eleven instrumentalists. Arjen has stated that he wanted this particular album to be a more flight-and-fancy-free record, or "pure escapism" than the previous albums' more serious tones, and portrayed his characters in more of a B-Movie light. The album was a huge success and is widely regarded as one of Ayreon's best albums.[4][5][6]

The twin Universal Migrator albums were released in 2000. The first album, The Dream Sequencer consists of soft, atmospheric progressive rock, whereas the second album, Flight of the Migrator, consists of a more heavy-metal theme. Both of the albums feature around ten singers supported by many instrumentalists. One of the more notable guests was Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden, who made an appearance on the Flight of the Migrator album.

Shortly following Universal Migrator came Ayreonauts Only, an album generally meant to be only for diehard fans of Ayreon. The album itself was the second to not follow a specific storyline; it instead contained alternate versions (With different vocalists or instrumentalists) of existing songs, or the original demos used when recording them. In addition, it contained a preview of Arjen's then-upcoming project, Ambeon. It is the only Ayreon album not to see re-release on InsideOut.

In 2004 came The Human Equation. As on Into the Electric Castle, there are several singers, each playing their own role. With The Human Equation, Ayreon turned away from the usual science fiction and fantasy themes with a seemingly semi-normal psychological theme.

Starting in 2004, after changing from Transmission Records to InsideOut, Arjen began rereleasing his Ayreon catalog on the new label, with enhancements ranging from basic (The Universal Migrator, issued as a two-disc set instead of two separate albums) to drastic (Actual Fantasy, "Revisited" with completely re-recorded drums, bass, synth and flute). In 2005, to coincide with the 10th anniversary of Ayreon, The Final Experiment was reissued with a bonus semi-acoustic disc.

At the end of September 2006, when Arjen's new studio was finished, he began making a new album entitled 01011001, which was released on 25 January 2008. This album was noticeably darker than previous Ayreon releases, Lucassen attributes this to a depression and his divorce in the preceding year.[7]

On 25 April 2008, Arjen released a new Ayreon EP named Elected. The EP features two tracks from 01011001, one from The Human Equation and an Alice Cooper cover (Elected), with vocals by Arjen and Tobias Sammet.[8]

On 16 September 2008, Arjen announced in his official website the release of Timeline, his second compilation album, that will reunite selected songs from all Ayreon albums and an unreleased one in three CDs and a DVD. The album was released on 7 November 2008 in Germany, Austria and Switzerland and all of the EU on 17 November 2008. It was released in America on 13 January 2009.[9]

Hiatus (2008–2012)[edit]

Arjen took a break from Ayreon and completed a new side project, Guilt Machine, in 2009. He also went on to release a second Star One album in 2010, and then a solo album under his own name in 2012. At the time, regarding the release of another Ayreon album, he stated the following:[10]

"As for whether there will be another Ayreon album, I'm never sure. Ten years could go by before I decide to do another one. I have to say that a lot of the reviews for 01 said it had some cool moments but it had that typical Ayreon sound, that there was nothing new being offered, and I think I can agree with that. I decided I'm going to stop with this Ayreon story, with this sound, and concentrate on other projects first. Then, if I decide to go back to Ayreon I'll do something different with it. I have no idea how (laughs), but if there's going to be another one it should be different."

During the Ayreon hiatus, Lucassen released a solo album, Lost in the New Real, which also takes place in the Ayreon universe.

The Theory of Everything and The Theater Equation (2012–2015)[edit]

On 23 August 2012, Lucassen published on his YouTube channel that he started composing "a new project".[11] He officially revealed it to be another Ayreon album (due in 2013) on 9 October 2012.[12]

Responding to fan comments on his website, Lucassen stated on 12 October that it will probably take a year before the album was completed.[13] He also stated that the album would be the start of a new story apart from the previous Ayreon albums, and confirmed the presence of Ed Warby as usual.[14] On March 2013, Arjen revealed that the title of the upcoming album would be The Theory of Everything.[15]

On 8 August 2013, in an announcement on his Facebook channel, Lucassen stated that the new album was "basically ready" and "just in time for a release this year".[16] The album was released on 28 October 2013.[17] This album featured 7 vocalists and 11 guest musicians. He invited renowned musicians such as Rick Wakeman from Yes, Keith Emerson of Emerson, Lake & Palmer, Jordan Rudess of Dream Theater, and Steve Hackett of Genesis. For the guest singers he invited Janne "JB" Christoffersson of Grand Magus, Cristina Scabbia from Lacuna Coil, Marco Hietala of Nightwish, new Kamelot vocalist Tommy Karevik, and Toehider vocalist Michael Mills to play the characters for the storyline. Similar to the Human Equation album, Arjen developed a story that had more of a psychological theme and it took place here on Earth as opposed to outer-space.

In September 2015 The Human Equation was performed in its entirety live in a full-scale theatrical production called The Theater Equation. It was produced by Shadow Freaks b.v., a production company founded by Lucassen's former manager Yvette Boertje. Most of the original vocalists signed on for the production[18] which was performed four times only at the Nieuwe Luxor theater in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Lucassen did not perform himself, his part as Best Friend was performed by Wudstik. Instead, Lucassen appeared on stage in the end of the play in a small role of "Forever of the Stars". He also served as a musical adviser to the project and worked with the project's music director Joost van den Broek to translate the music to the theater stage. The last performance was recorded and DVD release is planned.

The Source and Ayreon Universe (2016-present)[edit]

In October 2016, Ayreon's official Facebook page posted a video announcing a new album for 2017, mentioning a cast of multiple and yet to be announced singers and also his move to a new label: Mascot Label Group.[19] In January 2017, Lucassen revealed the album cover and its title: The Source.[20] In the typical style of the project, the album features several guest singers to portray the characters across the album; although Lucassen usually prefers to work only once with a same singer in Ayreon, he mostly cast returning performers for The Source, including James LaBrie (Dream Theater), Simone Simons (Epica), Floor Jansen (Nightwish), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Tobias Sammet (Edguy, Avantasia), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot, Seventh Wonder), and Russell Allen (Symphony X, Adrenaline Mob), together with newcomers such as Tommy Giles Rogers (Between the Buried and Me), for a total of twelve vocalists.[21] The album was released on April 28, 2017.

In November 2016, it has been announced that there will be a first ever official Ayreon concert in September 2017 (technically the second Ayreon concert, first being The Theater Equation), entitled Ayreon Universe. The show will feature 16 singers performing lead and backing vocals and eight instrumentalists. Singers include Floor Jansen and Marco Hietala (Nightwish), Damian Wilson (Threshold), Hansi Kürsch (Blind Guardian), Tommy Karevik (Kamelot), Jonas Renkse (Katatonia), Anneke van Giersbergen (The Gentle Storm), among many others, as well as Lucassen himself. The show's set list will also contain songs from Lucassen's side project, Star One.[22] Russell Allen was originally going to be one of the vocalists, but he became unavailable because of increased activity with Adrenaline Mob and serious injuries in a tour bus accident involving the band.[23]


Arjen explained himself where the name Ayreon came from, saying,

"Though I do like the similarity of the sound of my own name Arjen and the project name Ayreon, this is purely coincidental. Yet no one seems to believe that!

Originally I called the leading character of the first Ayreon album 'Aries'. But then I had to change it because it had to fit the meter of the song. I wanted the new name to sound old fashioned because of the medieval influences, so I used the old-English sounding 'AY' (Aylesbury, Ayrshire). But I also wanted it to sound modern because of the futuristic parts ("2084") so I used 'ON' (electron, neutron, etc.), hence 'Ayreon'."[24]


Regular collaborators
  • Ed Warby – drums, percussion (1998–present)
  • Joost van den Broek - piano, synthesizer (2004-present)
  • Jeroen Goossens - flutes (2004-present)
  • Ben Mathot - violin (2007–present)

List of guests in Ayreon[edit]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Album details Peak chart positions Sales
The Final Experiment
  • Released: October 27, 1995
  • Label: Transmission, Inside Out Music, SPV
  • Formats: CD
Actual Fantasy
  • Released: October 23, 1996
  • Label: Transmission, Inside Out Music, SPV
  • Formats: CD
Into the Electric Castle
  • Released: August 30, 1998
  • Label: Transmission, Inside Out Music, SPV
  • Formats: CD, digital download[34]
Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer
  • Released: June 20, 2000
  • Label: Transmission, Inside Out Music, SPV
  • Formats: CD, digital download[35]
90 64
Universal Migrator Part 2: Flight of the Migrator
  • Released: June 20, 2000
  • Label: Transmission, Inside Out Music, SPV
  • Formats: CD, digital download[35]
87 61
The Human Equation
  • Released: May 25, 2004
  • Label: Inside Out Music
  • Formats: CD, digital download[36]
50 160 7
  • Released: January 25, 2008
  • Label: Inside Out Music
  • Formats: CD, digital download[37]
18 90 85 54 2 96 80
The Theory of Everything
  • Released: October 28, 2013
  • Label: Inside Out Music
  • Formats: CD, digital download[38]
21 37 41 46 26 3 36 58
The Source
  • Released: April 28, 2017
  • Label: Mascot Label Group
  • Formats:
10 95
17 27
1 36 38
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.


Title EP details
  • Released: April 25, 2008
  • Label: Inside Out Music
  • Formats: CD, digital download[46]


Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Sail Away to Avalon" 1995 The Final Experiment
"The Stranger from Within" 1996 Actual Fantasy
"Temple of the Cat" 2000 Universal Migrator Part 1: The Dream Sequencer
"Day Eleven: Love" 2004 39 The Human Equation
"Come Back to Me" 2005
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Compilation albums[edit]

Title Album details
Ayreonauts Only
  • Released: December 12, 2000
  • Label: Transmission
  • Formats: CD
  • Released: November 7, 2008
  • Label: Inside Out Music
  • Formats: CD

Live albums[edit]

Title Album details
The Theater Equation
  • Released: June 17, 2016
  • Label: Inside Out Music
  • Formats: CD+DVD

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Huey, Steve. "Ayreon biography". Allmusic. Retrieved 2014-10-17. 
  2. ^ a b Sharpe-Young, Garry (2003). A-Z of Power Metal. London: Cherry Red Books Ltd. ISBN 1-901447-13-8. 
  3. ^ http://www.arjenlucassen.com/universe/
  4. ^ "RateYourMusic ratings of Ayreon albums". Rateyourmusic.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-15. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  5. ^ "SputnikMusic's review of the album". Sputnikmusic.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  6. ^ "ProgArchives user ratings of Ayreon's albums". Progarchives.com. Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  7. ^ "Ragnarök Radio Interview Part one". Ragnarokradio.co.uk. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 2008-04-14. 
  8. ^ "New Ayreon EP – with a special surprise…". Arjenlucassen.com. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  9. ^ "Timeline: New Ayreon compilation album". Arjenlucassen.com. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  10. ^ Begai, Carl (12 April 2009). "AYREON – When The Lights Go Down". Carl Begai. Archived from the original on 17 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-14. 
  11. ^ "Arjen Lucassen starts composing new project". YouTube. 23 August 2012. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  12. ^ "Arjen Lucassen announces a new AYREON for 2013". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  13. ^ "New Ayreon coming in 2013". ArjenLucassen.com. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  14. ^ "New Ayreon coming in 2013". ArjenLucassen.com. 9 October 2012. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  15. ^ Ayreon ennouncing the name of his album at their official Facebook. 26 March 2013. Retrieved on 26 March 2013.
  16. ^ "Ayreon". Facebook. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  17. ^ "New Ayreon release THE THEORY OF EVERYTHING". ArjenLucassen.com. 31 August 2013. Retrieved 2014-02-20. 
  18. ^ "The Theater Equation". Thetheaterequation.com. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  19. ^ "Brave Words & Bloody Knuckles". 6 October 2016. Retrieved 7 October 2016. 
  20. ^ "Finally...". Ayreon official page. Facebook. 19 January 2017. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  21. ^ "Lucassen confirms the casting". 23 December 2016. Retrieved 19 January 2017. 
  22. ^ "Ayreon Universe". 21 November 2016. Retrieved 21 November 2016. 
  23. ^ http://www.gainesville.com/news/20170714/truck-slams-into-adrenaline-mobs-rv-on-i-75
  24. ^ Hill, Gary (March 2008). "Ayreon – Interviewed by Gary Hill". Music Street Journal. Retrieved 3 June 2013. 
  25. ^ "Home - Offizielle Deutsche Charts". Officialcharts.de. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  26. ^ "Les charts français". Lescharts.com. 2004-05-23. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  27. ^ "Das österreichische Hitparaden- und Musik-Portal". Austriancharts.at. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  28. ^ "Die Offizielle Schweizer Hitparade und Music Community". Hitparade.ch. 2008-02-17. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  29. ^ "Swedish Charts Portal". Swedishcharts.com. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  30. ^ "Norwegian charts portal". Norwegiancharts.com. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  31. ^ "Dutch Charts". Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  32. ^ "Ultratop Belgian Charts". Ultratop.be. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  33. ^ "Ultratop Belgian Charts". Ultratop.be. 2008-02-16. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  34. ^ [1][dead link]
  35. ^ a b [2][dead link]
  36. ^ [3][dead link]
  37. ^ [4][dead link]
  38. ^ [5] Archived 2 November 2013 at the Wayback Machine.
  39. ^ "Metal By Numbers 11/13: Stryper has a hell of a debut". Metal Insider. 2013-11-14. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  40. ^ "Metal By Numbers 11/27: Five Finger Death Punch Debut At Number 2…Again". Metal Insider. 2013-11-29. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  41. ^ "Metal By Numbers 11/6: The Charts Doth Protest The Hero Too Much, Methinks". Metal Insider. 2013-11-06. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 
  42. ^ "Le Top de la semaine : Top Albums – SNEP (Week 18, 2017)" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved May 9, 2017. 
  43. ^ http://oe3.orf.at/charts/stories/2602614/
  44. ^ "Sverigetopplistan - Sveriges Officiella Topplista". Sverigetopplistan. Retrieved 5 May 2017.  Click on "Veckans albumlista".
  45. ^ http://lista.vg.no/artist/ayreon/6096
  46. ^ [6][dead link]
  47. ^ Steffen Hung (2008-05-17). "Dutch Charts". Dutchcharts.nl. Retrieved 2015-12-08. 

External links[edit]