For the past 25 years, Dutch composer/vocalist/songwriter Arjen Anthony Lucassen has reigned as one of the most consistent and distinguished named in progressive metal. Essentially, he produces wildly ambitious, sundry, and mesmeric rock operas with the help of some truly revered genre musicians and singers. While virtually all of his projects are exceptional, it’s his longest and most prolific one—Ayreon—that towers above the rest. Specifically, his third sequence under the moniker, 1998’s Into the Electric Castle, was a true game-changer, which is why it’s still considered his magnum opus by many diehard devotees.
On April 10th, Lucassen will release a brand-new live performance of the album (and bonus material), entitled Electric Castle Live and Other Tales, on Music Theories Recordings. (It follows the 20th anniversary remix of Into the Electric Castle that was issued in 2018.) To help tide us over until then, he’s just unveiled a video for the record’s third (and likely best) track, “Amazing Flight”. With camerawork and visuals that match the splendor of the music, it’s an incredible performance that reveals why Electric Castle Live and Other Tales just might be the superlative live Ayreon release thus far.
In a nutshell, the LP ties into the larger Ayreon storyline by revolving around eight strangers brought together by the saga’s primary recurring character—Forever of the Stars—to embark on a mythical quest. As for Electric Castle Live and Other Tales, it was recorded over four nights at Tilburg’s 013 venue in September 2019; aside from playing the entire album, Lucassen and company also delve into one track from each of his side projects (The Gentle Storm, Ambeon, Stream of Passion, Star One, etc.), plus a cover of “Kayleigh” from Marillion’s seminal Misplaced Childhood. Naturally, it features many people who played on the original record, such as flutist Thijs van Leer (Focus) and singers Fish (ex-Marillion, solo), Damian Wilson (Headspace, ex-Threshold), and Anneke van Giersbergen (Devin Townsend, VUUR). Also appearing are Epica vocalist Simone Simons, MaYan vocalist Marcela Bovio, and After Forever keyboardist Joost van den Broek.
Of the “Amazing Flight” segment, Lucassen says this “is the final preview from Electric Castle Live. Are you ready for this ‘Amazing Flight in Space’? Just watch this cool hippie dude (me) wipe the floor with that uncool Barbarian! And what a band! Oh, and here’s some friendly advice for you parents out there: please tell your kids not to follow the bad example of this crazy hippie and his naughty water-pipe!”
Take a look at “Amazing Flight” for yourself and see if it doesn’t transport you to a wonderful new world, too. Also, be sure to pre-order
Electric Castle Live and Other Tales here. It’s available in many different formats, such as a standard CD+DVD set, a Blu-ray digipack, and even a lavish deluxe edition housed in a wooden case.