Category Archives: music

Sci-fi in music: The Dream Sequencer by Ayreon

Here’s the story: in the 22nd century humanity finally manages to wipe itself out in a massive world war…. Earth is dead, with not a single person left alive. A few colonists on Mars have enough supplies to last a few more years, but slowly they die off as well. This is the story of the last survivor, the last member of the human species anywhere. He was born on Mars and has never been on Earth, and now he too faces death soon. He chooses to end his days inside the Dream Sequencer, a sort of very advanced virtual reality machine. Inside it, one can relive earlier parts of one’s life, but what’s more, under the “pre-incarnation protocol” it can take you back to relive your past lives as well. So this last human being decides to get in the machine and go back, back, back… as far back as he possibly can before he dies (and trust me, he goes far). After the first song to set things up, each remaining song is about one of his previous lives.

Hokey as hell? Sure. But hey, there’s some good music here. This is, after all, Ayreon — the main project of the very talented multi-instrumentalist Arjen Lucassen (a name you may remember from my previous Star One review. And of course there’s a whole gang of guest vocalists: Damian Wilson (Threshold, Landmarq), Edward Reekers (Kayak), Floor Jansen (After Forever), Jacqueline Govaert (Krezip), Johan Edlund (Tiamat, Lucyfire), Lana Lane, Mark McCrite (Rocket Scientists), and Neal Morse (Spock’s Beard, Transatlantic). So… some nice progressive rock with lots of great vocals, and a SFnal-ish-type story to boot. Not too shabby.

My favorite songs are the first three, and I’ll give you some clips below. “The Dream Sequencer” sets up the story as our protagonist enters the machine. In “My House on Mars” he relives his days growing up as a Martian colonist. In “2084” he goes back to his immediately previous incarnation, who dies during the final war on Earth. This is my very favorite, featuring the lovely voice of Lana Lane (I’m a huge fan of the female voice in rock and metal, and some of Lane’s solo work too), as well as some quite mournful yet poetic lyrics:

My body lies motionless
Upon the kitchen floor
The Earth has died, the world’s at rest
2084

…..

We carried on down the road we chose
The path of nevermore
The journey ends, the book is closed
2084

This is part one of a 2-cd set called The Universal Migrator; but I didn’t care as much for part two, so I won’t delve into that.

For a tracklisting, audio samples, and more info, I’ll refer you to Lucassen’s Universal Migrator page on his website.

As promised…..

“The Dream Sequencer”

“My House on Mars”

“2084”

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Sci-fi in music: Evergrey, In Search of Truth

Have you ever had your life destroyed because of being abducted by aliens over and over again and being experimented upon? No? Ok, well, me neither. But it’s a well-known science fiction theme, and Swedish metal band Everygrey has an entire album devoted to it, called In Search of Truth, and it’s one hell of a concept album, both lyrically and musically. In fact, it’s among my top five favorite albums of all time.

And before you even begin to think the whole idea sounds cheesy, allow me to point out how terribly and utterly wrong you would be about that. This is a very serious and dark work about psychological suffering. You won’t hear much about little green men and flying saucers. What you will hear is a portrait of one individual whose life is turned upside down because he is a frequent abductee — or because he thinks he is. It doesn’t really matter whether his claims are true or if he’s simply delusional; the whole point of the album is to paint a picture of a man ripped apart by fear and anxiety, who lives in constant dread that his tormentors will return again at any moment, and who feels shame and despair because no one will believe him. Here’s a sampling of lyrics to give a feel of this:

Their constant presence deceives me
I can´t tell when I´m awake or when I dream
And my hiding is useless
My anxiety reveals me
Gives me away

“Rulers of the Mind”

They´re coming
They´re coming here to stay
They´re coming
They´re taking me away…

I beg for a helping hand
I´m reaching I am searching
But no…
And i pray for an ear that listens
My hope is washed away
I´m here alone

“The Encounter”

The night has come
It brings the fear
It´s never-ending everlasting
What was that sound?
Is somebody here?
I can sense their presence
The room is getting colder

Screams for answers
Lost beyond control
And I
I try to find a reason
But here I am a hollow soul
Here I am
I´ve been marked by the triangle

“Mark of the Triangle”

As far as the music goes, that’s every bit as impressive as the lyrics and story. Everygrey plays a form of dark and highly melodic metal with progressive elements, and every part of it is of the highest caliber. They have this amazing ability to suddenly shift from a thick grinding wall of sound to a soft melodic interlude, and it’s completely seamless and natural. And the vocalist Tom Englund is able to get across a real emotional depth. His voice has just the right mixture of roughness and sensitivity, and he uses it with the utmost level of passion. This is one of the few albums I own that inspires me…. no, almost forces me to sing along with it (well, to try anyway).

Here are some clips for your listening pleasure. It’s not the best sound quality, but you take what you can get. I recommend turning your volume UP as this music needs to be heard LOUD for best effect:

Rulers of the Mind:


The Encounter:

Mark of the Triangle:

Sci-fi in music: Star One


I’ll be posting from time to time about some noteworthy appearances of science fiction in music. For my first entry, I can think of no more worthy example than Star One’s Space Metal.

Star One is a side project of Arjen Anthony Lucassen, who is better known for his band Ayreon, a Dutch progressive rock outfit which also draws heavily from sci-fi and fantasy. Star One is like a heavier, more metal version of Ayreon. And as usual for Lucassen, he has a group of guest vocalists from other bands to help him out. Space Metal showcases the voices of Russell Allen (Symphony X), Damian Wilson (Threshold), Dan Swano (Nightingale), and to balance all the guys with some beautiful female vocals, Floor Jansen (After Forever).

This album is Lucassen’s way of paying tribute to science fiction. Most of the songs are based on various movies and tv shows (although somewhat loosely at times). Here’s the tracklist, along with each song’s inspiration:

  1. Lift Off
  2. Set Your Controls
  3. High Moon (Outland)
  4. Songs of the Ocean (Star Trek IV)
  5. Master of Darkness (Star Wars/ESB)
  6. The Eye of Ra (Stargate)
  7. Sandrider (Dune)
  8. Perfect Survivor (Alien)
  9. Intergalactic Space Crusaders (Blake’s 7)
  10. Starchild (2001: A Space Odyssey, 2010: The Year We Make Contact)

My favorite song is “Master of Darkness” with its dark brooding sound and blistering Hammond organ. However, my favorite lyrics come from “Songs of the Ocean”:

We shape light, we travel space,
but we don’t know the words to the songs of the ocean.
We survive, the human race,
But we don’t know the words to the songs of the ocean.

But enough words; you really just wanna know what it sounds like, right? Here are some YouTube clips of some live Star One performances:

High Moon:



Songs of the Ocean:



The Eye of Ra: