Transitus (Earbook Edition) – Ayreon
It’s been a good three years since we have seen a new album release from Arjen Lucassen’s project of Ayreon. Though that’s not to say he has not been keeping his music and the project busy over the couple of years with the live releases and even the remake of his third iconic album Into The Electric Castle. Now he’s back with brand new Ayreon album that is perhaps something a bit different, even the plot behind its story line does not appear to have any connection or link with any other Ayreon album like we have seen in the past.
To be honest whether it does or don’t bears no significance to myself simply because it’s very rare that the storyline on most Ayreon albums will gather up my interest simply because I am not a Sci-fi NUT! like the man behind the project happens to be. I would not have a clue how the stories are linked either because the biggest majority of them I don’t find in the slightest that bit interesting at all.
For example, even though still to this day Into The Electric Castle is still my favourite Ayreon album its storyline comes across to me like some boring game show they used to show at Children’s TV time many moons ago here in the UK called the Crystal Maze. The plot is more or less the same were each person has a specific task to perform to stay alive in the game otherwise they will fall into the abyss and meet their fate 😁😁😁.
Yet for some reason when I listen to that album it’s a bit like listening to Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War of The Worlds. I even remember when Into The Electric Castle was released that I once described it like that album. Though it was really down to the way the story was put across by the singers playing their character roles in the story more than anything else, and it was nowhere near the well written story that HG Wells wrote for that epic novel of his.
I am not saying I dislike Sci-fi but when it comes to stories, I prefer them to be more on the ground and down to earth so to speak. Something more along the lines of The Philadelphia Experiment and The Terminator appeals more to me than things in space like Star Wars and so on. Or even The Time Machine come to think of it. With some of the stories Arjen comes up with you would think he was living on another planet 😁😁😁.
To be honest when it comes down to most prog-rock albums it is the music and the way the words are expressed that catches my attention more so than the lyrics. The only two albums in the Ayreon catalogue that ever grabbed me enough to pay attention to the story side of things are The Human Equation and The Theory Of Everything and both of those albums were down to earth. I also quite like the storylines that were written for both of those albums as well.
According to Arjen his latest album Transitus is different because he was not sure if the material, he wrote for it would be fitting with his Ayreon project at first. Hence the reason why his long-time drummer ED Warby (who he always says himself that there can only one) does not appear on it.
His intention was to write something that would be more fitting for a film like a musical not so much a rock opera like he’s done in the past with his live shows. He was in the process of seeking out a director and the right people to enable it to come into fruition before all this Covid got in the way. According to his recent interviews he still has every intention of trying take it to the Cinema houses sort of thing if he can get the backing to support it. Does he really think his storylines are that good 😁😁😁.
Well to be honest I’ve seen some right crap in the past brought to the silver screen by other rock and pop artists such as the likes of The Beatles, The Who and all sorts so it cannot really get any worse. In all honesty the storyline behind The Human Equation would have made a good film unlike the stupidity that the likes of those brought to the screen in films such as Help and Tommy for example.
The one good thing I like about the storyline behind Transitus is that it is down to earth, well sort of 😁😁😁. But before I go any further let’s take a look at the artwork and packaging.
Packaging & Artwork…
The Earbook is made of quality thick cardboard like a hardback book only the size of a vinyl album. The 5 discs are seated firmly in die cut pockets in front and back of the book. The 48-page book contains the usual linear credit notes, lyrics, well detailed pictures of the singers and musicians and a colourful comic book. It also contains some of Arjen’s original black & white sketched drawings detailing the story with both words and drawings.
Overall, it’s a really good well-made high-quality package. However, what I would of liked to have seen was more additional information like there was in the Earbook of Into The Electric Castle for example. That particular Earbook was way more interesting than what we have here. Plus, all the information you do get here is very much repeated with the comic book and Arjen’s sketches.
I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon UK back on the 25th of June and it arrived the day after its release. It also came with the free digital download which came in handy so I could at least listen to the album on the day of its release whilst waiting for it to arrive. The other good thing is that I got it at the price I personally believe it should have been sold at in the first place and I ended up paying £40.17 for it saving me over £20.
The albums artwork cover was done by David Letelier who is a motion graphics artist and is quite new to doing this type of work since he only got involved into working with bands back in 2016. He also done the artwork for the live Ayreon release of Electric Castle Live And Other Tales.
Overall, its perhaps nothing special in relation to Jef Bertels who done the artwork for the biggest majority of Ayreon albums. The comic book illustrations were done by Felix Vega. Additional Artwork Layout by Roy Koch. Transitus Logo by Stefan Heilemann. Ayreon Logo by Thomas Ewerhard.
The album was released in the form of 4 formats counting the Digital Download which is the cheapest option and can be had for around £10.99 on Amazon UK. Things have been done a bit differently regarding 1 of the 3 physical formats with this release. For example, unlike previous releases where Arjen had the sense to release a 2 CD + DVD or single Blu Ray package for surround FREAKS! like myself to get their hands on the 5.1 mix. Your only option here was to buy the most expensive package.
One of the other notable things about this release is that it also came accompanied with a 28-page Comic Book that came free with all the physical formats providing that you ordered it from the Ayreon Webstore as the poster above suggests. You can also purchase the Comic Book individually from the store for €7.50.
However, I do find most artists webstores can be more expensive in relation to other stores and I would hardly say you was getting the Comic Book entirely for free. For example, the 2 CD package is priced at €17.99 plus an additional €3 in postage and packing here to where I live in the UK. This works out to around £20 UK which is £5 more than it will cost on Amazon UK where it retails at around £14.99.
Vinyl lovers will get even more of a better deal on Amazon especially has the webstore is charging €29.99 plus €13 p+p for the 2 LP Transparent Red Edition. That works out to near enough £40 here in the UK were as on Amazon UK it also comes with the Comic Book for £22.99 which is quite a massive saving.
It was also released on Gold and Yellow Marble coloured vinyl though they were Limited Editions and only 500 of each were pressed and most likely all would have been snapped up in no time at all despite the expense. To be honest I could not tell you if they cost any more than the Red vinyl but what was is strange is that the album was not pressed onto Black vinyl which I dare say would of been even cheaper.
The most expensive package is the Earbook Edition which was priced at €49 on the webstore and is no longer available. Because there was no cheaper DVD package released with the 5.1 mix this time, this is what I eventually opted to go for myself. Although if it was not for other stores like Amazon I would of ended up buying the 2 CD package instead because with additional cost of the p+p this would of cost over £60 on the webstore which would of been well overpriced in my own opinion.
The Album In Review…
Transitus is the 10th studio album to be released in Arjen Lucassen’s Ayreon project and was released on the 25th September 2020. It’s a double album worth of material that contains 27 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 80 minutes, 43 seconds. This is how double albums should be made just like they were many moons ago.
It’s what I would also consider to be a sensible timeslot especially in relation to fitting it more comfortably onto vinyl. These days many have lost the plot of what a double album is and think we are made of money to be paying the extra expense it costs to put it on more than 2 LP’s.
Though I have to confess that not everything was sensible with how Arjen rushed to get out this new release and he soon had a plethora of complaints plastered over his Facebook page ranging from how he forgot to include the lyrics with both the CD & Vinyl releases, forgot to mention who the vocalists were on the 4th CD that comes in the Earbook Edition.
Though the biggest cock-up was made by his record company who sent out a good few of the pre-ordered Earbook Editions to the wrong address which meant that whilst people where eagerly waiting for them to arrive, they had been sent to other customers who had only ordered the CD. No doubt for the some of the customers Christmas came early 😁😁😁.
Despite all the hiccups and managing to sort most of them out the sales of the album done very well and it even made the Number 1 spot in the Dutch album charts and also sold very well in other European countries such as Switzerland, Germany, Norway and Belgium.
As with most of the material Arjen writes he gets to work on it well in advance and he had been working on the music and the story behind Transitus over the past three years. Like I mentioned its storyline is more down to earth although it also takes in another time or realm that crosses between the boundaries of life and death and is perhaps more of a GHOSTLY! tale of a love story that’s gone wrong so to speak.
As ever Arjen has brought in new vocalists to portray the roles of the characters in the story as well as keeping some of those who appeared on previous Ayreon albums. The same goes for the musicians. Paul Manzi of Arena is perhaps the most notable of singers to me and it was announced back in July of this year that he had left the band. One of the more notable musicians here is the guitarist Joe Satriani who plays a guest spot on one of the tracks.
The other notable person Arjen brought in was the Actor Tom Baker most memorable for his role as the central character role of Doctor Who to narrate the story. I shall go into more detail about the story behind Transitus later on in the “Album Track” section of my review. But first of all, let’s take a look at the packaging contents.
The Package Contents…
No doubt with any package like this they come very well presented, LOOK! the part and are nice to have in your collection. Though quite often not all the extra content serves any real purpose and at times is only put in to make it look like you are getting something of value for your money. It really depends on you as an individual as to what the extra content will give you and I myself can find some of it pointless at times.
For example, regarding the book that comes with these types of packages I myself would rather see more informative information than a load of glossy pictures. Although the book here does lack informative information it is nevertheless still very well done and acceptable in my opinion. Unlike the Picture Books that Steve Hackett does which is only filled with glossy pictures and contains no information at all apart from the usual linear credit notes.
My incentive for buying most of this type of package is for the 5.1 content more than anything though it is a bonus when they come with something to read as well. The reissues of the Jethro Tull back catalogue that comes in a book edition are a perfect example of what a good box set is all about. They even cost less than this and they offer more better content than any other box set I have ever seen and that includes box sets that costs well over £100. Let’s now take a look at the content that comes on the 5 discs.
CD’s 1 & 2.
CD’s 1 & 2 contain the main featured double album. The first disc contains 14 tracks and has an overall playing time of 38 minutes, 50 seconds. The second disc has 13 tracks with a total playing time of 41 minutes, 46 seconds. Please note that the number of tracks on the first CD is only listed like this on the Earbook Edition whereas on the Vinyl and CD packages the first disc only contains 9 tracks due to them making the first track into one longer track.
CD 3 is the first of the bonus discs and contains 22 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 75 minutes, 41 seconds. This is basically the instrumental version of the double album and the reason it’s shorter is mostly likely down to the narration being omitted.
CD 4 is the second bonus disc and this comes with 17 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 57 minutes, 9 seconds. This disc contains the Guided Vocals to which most of them was sung by Micheal Mills & Marcela Bovio. It also features Marjan Welman & Jan Willem Ketelaers who sang Cammie Gilbert & Johanne James parts respectively.
Overall, the extra bonus content does depend on what the individual really gets out of it and to myself it’s perhaps more of a filler more than anything else and I can often see a lot of it as pointless. You are not getting anything different or new here at all and both discs I could see the biggest majority of people only ever bothering to give them one spin.
The DVD’s main menu is very neatly animated and the artwork from the comic book as been put to good use. This would of perhaps made a better picture for the album cover. The menu gives you four options to choose from “Play”. “Song Selection”. “Audio Selection” and “Extras” to which are navigated to by a white square box.
The “Song Selection” is split over 3 screens which can be navigated to by clicking on “Next Menu” and “Previous Menu” respectively. The one thing they did miss out on was to include the “Main Menu” and the only way of getting back to the main menu is via the top menu on your remote control.
Whilst the music is playing it displays a picture from the comic book for each track as seen above. It adds a nice touch and is better than looking at a blank screen like or the same picture all the time like on the DVD of Into The Electric Castle and a much better job has been done here.
The “Audio Selection” offers you the choice of two audio soundtracks and by default it’s set to High Definition Stereo which LPCM 24-bit 48k. The 5.1 mix is in standard Dolby Digital 448kbps 48k and its unfortunate no DTS soundtrack was also made available.
The “Extras” contains the bonus material and I am fairly sure that Arjen has uploaded most (if not) all of this content on his Youtube channel. The video clip gives you the choice of stereo and surround sound and is in the same audio formats as in the “”Audio Selection”. The video itself is 7 minutes, 22 seconds long and is a mix of the music that makes up the “Fatum Horrificum” suite and is very well animated with some GREAT! graphics.
The behind the scenes is a 50 minute, 16 second documentary featuring Arjen and many of the singers and musicians talking about the album and recording their parts for it. You also get 1 minute, 56 seconds of footage showing you Noa Gruman conducting and directing the Hellscore Choir and the official promotional trailer.
Overall, the extra bonus material is quite good to have and contains some useful informative information with the documentary. I would not say it was best bonus content I have seen in relation to what I have seen on previous Ayreon releases but it’s worthy of 6 out of 10.
The 5.1 Mix.
Transitus is very much an album that is suited for a 5.1 mix with all its effects and I quite like this mix that Arjen Lucassen has done and he has done a very good job of it I will say. He’s certainly utilised the surround field very well placing effects, backing vocals and other instrumentation in the rears and panned some of them across all the channels for good effect in the right places.
Considering the mix was only done in Dolby Digital and there is no DTS. It does sound very good and gives you a very good immersive experience and I am not even missing a DTS Soundtrack as much as I thought I would. Nice of him to include a 24-bit lossless stereo mix as well and I don’t see many audiophiles and surround FREAKS! kicking up a fuss with these mixes and I take my hat off to him and give him a very good well deserved 👍👍👍.
Musicians & Credits…
All music & lyrics by Arjen Lucassen. Narration by Arjen Lucassen, Lori Linstruth & Tom Baker. Script & Story by Arjen Lucassen. Recorded at The Electric Castle and various other locations. Stereo & 5.1 mix by Arjen Lucassen. Stereo & 5.1 Audio Mastered by Brett Caldas-Lima at Tower Studio. Artwork by David Letelier. Additional Artwork Layout by Roy Koch. Comic Book Illustration by Felix Vega. Transitus Logo by Stefan Heilemann. Ayreon Logo by Thomas Ewerhard.
Vocalists & Characters
Tom Baker (The Storyteller)
Tommy Karevik (Daniel)
Cammie Gilbert (Abby)
Marcela Bovio (Fury/Servant/Villager)
Paul Manzi (Henry)
Amanda Sommerville (Lavinia)
Johanne James (Abraham)
Caroline Westendorp (Fury/Servant/Villager)
Simone Simons (The Angel of Death)
Michael Mills (The Statue)
Dee Snider (The Father)
Dianne van Giersbergen (Soprano)
Dan J. Pierson, Jan Willem Ketelaers, Lisette van den Berg, Marjan Welman, Will Shaw. (Villagers)
Hellscore Choir (Directed by Noa Gruman)
Guitars, Bass, Keyboards, Glockenspiel, Dulcimer, Toy Piano.
Joost van den Broek
Hammond, Piano, Fender Rhodes.
Juan van Emmerloot
Guitar Solo on “Get Out! Now!”.
Guitar Solo on “Message From Beyond”.
The Album Tracks In Review…
The word “Transitus” comes from the Latin, meaning passage or crossing and in Western Christianity Transitus refers to the time of passage through death to life. This is a story that crosses between earth and the spiritual realm and what we have here is basically a story about a well to do Toffee nosed family set in the late 19th century in like a gothic setting. Although it’s perhaps more like the Victorian times back here in England.
The storyline is a bit basic and nothing really that new especially when it comes to the down to earth side of it. Which is about some well to do rich kid falling in love with one of the maids and the rest of his family being dead set against it sort of thing. The only real difference is how the stories plot unfolds and interacts between the spiritual realm of heaven and earth and it is more like a fantasy rather than something that will give you the willies so to speak 😁😁😁.
There is even a comical side to it and it is perhaps better suited to a comic than being made into a film. But then again, the story is very short and too short for comic in reality, and the comic you get for your seven and half bucks you could easily fit into one issue of the Beano or Dandy. Although I will say that both the musical and lyrical content do help stretch it out more so let’s delve into it a bit deeper as I go through album tracks.
Tracks 1 – 6. Fatum Horrificum: (a) “Graveyard”. (b) “1884”. (c) “Daniel And Abby”. (d) “Fatum”. (e) “Why?!”.
The opening track is the longest on the album weighing in at 10 minutes, 21 seconds although this is far from one track like “The Day That The World Breaks Down” from the previous album The Source and is a suite made up of bite size snippets. The biggest majority of this 6-part opening track is instrumental and mainly features keyboards and orchestration and it kicks off in the graveyard in gothic style and features the Hellscore Choir directed by Noa Gruman chanting words in latin.
The second part the narrator Tom Baker enters the equation and 1884 is where the story is set and I have to say he does a brilliant job of pulling you into the story. To hear the story properly behind Transitus the album is the way to go and all the comic book will give you is a mere snippet of it. You can read it in less than what this 2 minute, 17 second snippet will take to play and the comic book is more of a graphical presentation more than anything else.
The story is one of those that starts at the end and goes back a year earlier to show you who done it and how it all came about sort of thing. I am not going to go into the details of the story though there is a lot of death in it and it’s centred around two characters namely Daniel and Abby who loved each other to death 😁😁😁. The song “Everybody Dies” on his previous album The Source springs to mind as a spoiler alert 😁😁😁.
The third part or snippet very much has a Pink Floyd feel about it and it features some nice slide and guitar work from Arjen it is only very short though and it then falls back into the gothic chanting from the Hellscore Choir which is the fourth part. The fifth part is the shortest snippet to which features the first of the vocalists Tommy Karevik who plays the main character role of Daniel. He enters into the equation by screaming his way through it for a short burst and is followed by a short burst of orchestration that beefs up the dramatics.
The final part of the suite is a short song that features Cammie Gilbert another of the main characters in the story who plays the part of Abby. Also, on vocals is Johanne James who plays the part of Abby’s father Abraham. Musically this chugs its way along with its driving rhythm and most of the main instrumentalists feature in the whole of the 6-part suite.
Overall, the opening suite is the most PROGMATIC! track on the whole of the double album and it features some tasty keyboard work from Joost van den Broek and Arjen himself. It is perhaps that side of the instrumentation that makes it more PROGMATIC! than anything else in reality. I suppose in a way it would have to be a contender for the albums TOP SPOT! Though the way it’s been split into small snippets and how it’s all been put together does not completely GEL! especially the final part which is the song.
Track 7. Daniel’s Descent Into Transitus.
Many of the songs along the album are also bite size snippets and this next track features Tommy Karevik solely on vocals and we also get some more narration by Tom Baker at the very beginning. Musically it’s quite powerful and the orchestrated keyboards, guitars and drums provide the right amount of power for Karevik to express the role of his character very well. It also features some GREAT! work by Ben Mathot on violin and Jurriaan Westerveld on cello.
Track 8. Listen to My Story.
This next track starts off once again with some fine narration by Tom Baker and in reality, he is the only one who is holding the story up and together because musically there is no doubt, they are BIGGING! things up. However, it sounds more like something out of Batman rather than anything from a horror or ghost story. Most of the songs on the album are power chord driven and are more structured like metal to which I can find very boring at times because it does not have anywhere else to go.
Most of the time the guitars and keyboards are more or less playing the same thing and they offer nothing in the way of lead work. The only thing that remotely stands out in the way lead work on this track is Thomas Cochrane’s trumpet & trombone and they add the POW! & ZAP! and are the holy smokes Batman 😁😁😁.
It’s on this song they also inject a bit of comedy into it with the opening words “Well hello there” delivered by Simone Simons who plays The Angel of Death and this is a zillion light year away from Transitus. The song is done in the way of duet with both Simons and Karevik on main vocals with both the other Fury’s Marcela Bovio and Caroline Westendorp backing them up to which they all do a fine job.
Track 9. Two Worlds Now One.
This is one of the better songs on the album and once again it’s got quite a FLOYD-ESC! feel to it and features some GREAT! guitar work from Arjen. It even has a little touch of Jethro Tull from Jeroen Goossens on the flute. Both Karevik & Gilbert share the lead vocals again with Bovio & Westendorp on backing vocals and they all do a GRAND! job and this is another contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 10. Talk of the Town.
Things do start to pick up a bit from from here and this next song features Paul Manzi, Tommy Karevik and Cammie Gilbert taking care of the vocal duties with the main core of the band Joost van den Broek, Juan van Emmerloot and Arjen himself who play on all tracks. Patty Gurdy on Hurdy Gurdy makes her first contribution on the album and both Jeroen Goossens on flutes and Ben Mathot’s violin are also well utilised here.
Arjen did put out four videos of the songs from the album on his Youtube channel before it was released and this one, I felt was the best of them. Paul Manzi is a GREAT! singer and I am sure Arena will miss him. I also see the band have replaced him now with Damian Wilson who appeared on many Ayreon albums and its perhaps unusual not to see him on this one.
The “Talk of the Town” is a GREAT! song that has quite a medieval and Celtic touch to it and reminds me of some of the material that was written for The Theory Of Everything back in 2011. It’s another contender for the albums TOP SPOT!
Tracks 11 & 12. Old Friend / Dumb Piece of Rock.
The next couple of tracks are tied together and “Old Friend” is a short ballad of a song that once again features Tommy Karevik solely on vocals and he’s supported by a fine melody played on the piano by Joost van den Broek who does play some GREAT! piano work throughout the album. Jurriaan Westerveld’s cello also wonderfully supports this fine song.
“Dumb Piece of Rock” is perhaps the stand out track on the album and features Micheal Mills on vocals who has appeared on some of the more recent Ayreon albums and he does do a terrific job not only on the main vocals but with his QUEEN-ESC! harmonies.
It’s a very powerful rock song that gives Juan van Emmerloot a chance to bang out his sticks on the drum kit and along Arjen’s heavy metal guitar and all the other musicians they drive it along very well. It’s my personal favourite track on the album and merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!
Track 13. Get Out! Now!.
“Get Out! Now!” is another powerful rock song and even though this one is mostly sung by Dee Snider apart from a verse sung by Tommy Karevik. Oddly enough it does sound a bit like an Arena song. Both Marcela Bovio & Caroline Westendorp are on backing vocals and it also features a lead solo shredded by Joe Satriani who does quite a blistering job on it.
The video above is another of the four songs Arjen posted on his Youtube channel before the album was released and this song ROCKS! enough to be another contender for the albums TOP SPOT!
Track 14. Seven Days, Seven Nights.
The final track on the first disc “Seven Days, Seven Nights” gets ended off with another fine short ballad sung by Simone Simons once again backed up on the piano by Joost van den Broek and some fine harmonies by Marcela Bovio & Caroline Westendorp.
Track 1. Condemned Without a Trial.
Things start to hot up and rock up again back on earth and this track is metal driven by Arjen’s guitars, Juan van Emmerloot‘s drums and Jeroen Goossens adds a fine touch of Jethro Tull to it on the flute. The vocal duties are handled by Dan J. Pierson, Jan Willem Ketelaers, Lisette van den Berg, Marjan Welman, Will Shaw who play the part of the villagers and Paul Manzi who all do a GRAND! job.
Track 2. Daniel’s Funeral.
The pipe organ and bells are called for and Joost van den Broek provides them on its sombre opening, though there is perhaps more to the musical side of things of a funeral for a friend here. This is a song that gets built up with other elements such as the cello and violin, driven guitars, drums and expressive vocals by Amanda Sommerville & Paul Manzi.
Track 3. Hopelessly Slipping Away.
One of the better songs on the 2nd disc and its structured around a bass synth, along with the melody lines played on the guitar. Both of these two elements of its musical structure remind me of something from Alan Parson’s 1999 album The Time Machine. Ben Mathot’s violin also lends very well to giving this more of melodic structure.
This is another fine duet sung by Cammie Gilbert & Tommy Karevik and was another of the songs Arjen posted on his Tube Channel before the album was released and it ends off nicely with a nice bit of acoustic guitar.
Track 4. This Human Equation.
Musically this next track is a bit like a rocked-up version of the “Doctor Who Theme” with its backbeat and as ever Tom Baker is doing a GRAND! job throughout all the tracks with his narration. This is the final of the four songs that a video was made for and the vocals are provided by Simone Simons, Marcela Bovio, and Caroline Westendorp who provide the theatrical dramatics along with the music and do also do a NICE! job of it.
Tracks 5 & 6. Henry’s Plot / Message from Beyond.
Paul Manzi & Amanda Somerville share the vocal duties on this short haunting piece played on the keys by Joost van den Broek. It’s good to see Manzi getting more of a role in the story. The bass line on “Message from Beyond” is a bit like something from Jeff Wayne’s musical version of War of the Worlds. Both Amanda Somerville & Cammie Gilbert are on vocal duties and it features a rather nice guitar solo towards the end played by Marty Friedman of Megadeth and all do quite a fine job here.
Tracks 7 – 9. Daniel’s Vision / She is Innocent / Lavinia’s Confession.
“Daniel’s Vision” is the shortest track on the second disc that features the voice of Tom Baker some expressive words delivered by Tommy Karevik set to some atmospheric keyboards from Joost van den Broek. Many of the shorter tracks on the album are merely used for part of the storey and “She is Innocent” is another short track that perhaps has a rush of adrenalin with how the guitars and drums beef it up. Karevik provides the main vocals and is backed up by Somerville.
The tension is hotting up in the story and the rush of adrenalin and power continues on “Lavinia’s Confession” this time with Amanda Somerville and Johanne James on vocals. I quite like the bass guitar on this track and it’s got quite a springy punctuation to it as if its picking up the rattle of the strings so to speak.
Track 10. Inferno.
The story is reaching its dramatic climax and the Hellscore Choir are back chanting more Latin words of doom as more are going to be engulfed in the flames of hell. Johanne James is the one caught in the thick of it all calling out in desperation, adding to the dramatics are the well-orchestrated keyboards, guitars and drums pounding their way along in marching style.
Track 11. Your Story Is Over!.
The Angel and her Fury’s or Batman and Robin are back for a bit more POW! and ZAP! and “Your Story Is Over!” is the same song as “Listen to My Story” and here it gets reprised with a slight change to the lyrics. The same female crew are taking on the vocal duties and it is the end of the story. Well almost 😁😁😁.
Track 12 & 13. Abby In Transitus / The Great Beyond.
The final couple of short tracks are the stories epilogue and the first of them “Abby In Transitus” musically has another FLOYD-ESC! feel about it and that is basically because the intro part of it is a reprise of “Two Worlds Now One“. However, the second part of it also has an “Echoes” feel to it with Joost van den Broek’s keyboards and I quite like the atmospheric sound of Juan van Emmerloot’s drums too. Cammie Gilbert sings this one solely.
More themes reoccur for the closing track of the album “The Great Beyond” and it appears that there is a happy ending after all as Daniel and Abby are reunited. Both Cammie Gilbert and Tommy Karevik express the final words to the story and it all gets nicely put to bed with the Hells Choir breathing down their necks 😁😁😁.
To sum up Transitus by Ayreon. I could honestly say that in terms of the written materials musical structure and how it was all put together could easily be the weakest album in the Ayreon catalogue. There is not really anything in the way of a real good standout track over the whole double album. To be honest I was disappointed how The Source turned out overall, but it did have some strength and “The Day That The World Breaks Down” and “Everybody Dies” were very good standout tracks.
I would also say that 90% of the time the music is not really fitting with the story and the way it’s been delivered by the singers is no different to any other Ayreon album. What we have here is more fitting with a Rock Opera like Tommy was and not really a film like The Who’s other album Quadrophenia. It’s perhaps more suited to the comic book presentation its already been given 😁😁😁.
However, I would also say that the biggest majority of Ayreon albums do not have standout tracks and they are not all like The Source and Into The Electric Castle and have been glued together to shape and fit into the storyline behind them more than anything. For example, I cannot think of a standout track on The Theory Of Everything though the way that album was put together with its songs and musical structure is way ahead of Transitus. It’s very much more along the lines of progrock and not snippets of pop and rock songs like we have here.
What really holds Transitus together is that it has a narrator and just like War Of The Worlds had a very good one with Richard Burton so does this with Tom Baker. He very much has the right voice to deliver the story and when paired up with the many singers Arjen has always had to express the words like they are acting out their parts. That is what really makes this work more so than its musical structure.
I can understand why Arjen was not sure this was going to be an Ayreon album in the first place just by the musical structure being very different. It would not have been until he added the words to the story, the narrator and all the singers that it started to sound like an Ayreon album that’s why it really fits in with the Ayreon catalogue.
To conclude my review of the latest Ayreon album Transitus. The real core behind the album is its story and how its delivered and that should be enough to draw in most Ayreon fans alike including myself. This is not an album that contains blistering guitar and keyboards solos and its musical structure does not really allow the space for them either.
I would not say it’s the best story Arjen Lucassen has come up with either but least its more down to earth like the stories we seen on The Human Equation and The Theory Of Everything and that is what personally appeals more to my taste and why I can enjoy listening to this album and think it’s quite a good album. I think the 5.1 mix works very well for it too and Arjen gets a BIG THUMBS UP! for it 👍👍👍.
I certainly would not call it the PROG! album of the year either. However, I do feel that it deserved to reach the number one spot in the album charts in his own country and many countries. My highlights from the album are as follows: “Fatum Horrificum: (a) “Graveyard”. (b) “1884”. (c) “Daniel And Abby”. (d) “Fatum”. (e) “Why?!”. (f) “Guilty“. “Two Worlds Now One“. “Talk of the Town“. “Dumb Piece of Rock“and “Get Out! Now!“.
Overall, Transitus might not be the album that will sit with a good few PROGSTERS! out there I would expect, but nevertheless it still has that Ayreon feel about it which should appeal to the biggest majority and still should not disappoint. Please note that my price point rating score below is based on the price on the price from the Ayreon Webstore and not from other outlets.
A Bit More Than A Dumb Piece Of Rock…
The 2 CD track listing is as follows:
01. Fatum Horrificum: Graveyard. 1:20.
02. Fatum Horrificum: 1884. 2:17.
03. Fatum Horrificum: Daniel And Abby. 1:32.
04. Fatum Horrificum: Fatum. 1:29.
05. Fatum Horrificum: Why?!. 1:08.
06. Fatum Horrificum: Guilty. 2:35.
07. Daniel’s Descent into Transitus. 2:40.
08. Listen to My Story. 4:02.
09. Two Worlds Now One. 4:05.
10. Talk of the Town. 5:21.
11. Old Friend. 1:40.
12. Dumb Piece of Rock. 4:13.
13. Get Out! Now!. 5:02.
14. Seven Days, Seven Nights. 1:26.
01. Condemned Without A Trial. 3:49.
02. Daniel’s Funeral. 4:58.
03. Hopelessly Slipping Away. 4:28.
04. This Human Equation. 4:19.
05. Henry’s Plot. 2:19.
06. Message from Beyond. 5:21.
07. Daniel’s Vision. 1:44.
08. She is Innocent. 2:09.
09. Lavinia’s Confession. 1:52.
10. Inferno. 2:17.
11. Your Story Is Over!. 2:41.
12. Abby In Transitus. 3:01.
13. The Great Beyond. 2:48.
Packaging Rating Score. 10/10.
Price Point Rating Score. 6/10.
5.1 Mix Rating Score. 8/10.
Bonus Material Rating Score. 6/10.
Album Rating Score. 7/10.