Artist

Ayreon

The progressive metal outfit Ayreon is essentially just Dutch multi-instrumentalist and songwriter Arjen Anthony Lucassen (formerly of the more mainstream metal band Vengeance), plus a revolving-door cast of collaborators and guest musicians that changes from project to project.

Ayreon albums are usually large-scale concept epics and sometimes rock operas, in the latter case featuring a different vocalist for each character. Lucassen formed Ayreon in 1994 and released its first album, The Final Experiment, the following year. The more ethereal Actual Fantasy followed in 1996, and from there Ayreon only got more elaborate. 1998's Into the Electric Castle was a campy, sci-fi concept work spanning two discs and featuring guests like ex-Marillion singer Fish and the Gathering's Anneke van Giersbergen. Next up was Universal Migrator, another double-disc set whose volumes were issued separately under the subtitles Part I: The Dream Sequencer and Part II: Flight of the Migrator. These featured even more guest appearances, most notably Tiamat's Johan Edlund and Iron Maiden's Bruce Dickinson, plus current and former members of Gamma Ray, Primal Fear, Helloween, Stratovarius, and Symphony X; musicians included Rocket Scientist's Erik Norlander and ex-Gorefest drummer Ed Warby. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi