Into the Electric Castle

20th Anniversary of a Space Opera

Some posts on Facebook related to the upcoming video release of “Into the Electric Castle” shows (13 – 15 September 2019) triggered me to publish this post although it’s already some time ago. Many are waiting for this release which is in process. Metal of Loud was present at both Sunday shows.  At the bottom some links to much more photos of the first part of these shows.  

“Into the Electric Castle”, sometimes with the addition “A Space Opera”,  is the third album of the progressive metal project Ayreon by Dutch songwriter, producer, singer, and multi-instrumentalist Arjen Anthony Lucassen, released in 1998. It was now celebrating the 20th Anniversary. Being a concept album, it tells a (science fiction) story with exaggerated, flamboyant characters influenced by B-grade science fiction movies. There are eight main characters (each one sung/played by a different vocalist from different times and locations. They find themselves in a strange place; guided by a mysterious voice which tells them that they must reach “the Electric Castle” if they want to survive.

The story begins with a strange voice (John de Lancie) calling out to the eight characters that are taken from various planes of time. The mysterious voice tells them they are in a place of “no-time and no-space”. Urging them to continue, the voice gives them a task: to reach The Electric Castle and find out what’s inside.

Anneke van Giersbergen

After various steps, they come to the Decision Tree where the voice tells them one of them must die. They must then go through the Tunnel of Light, but the Highlander (Fish) refuses to reach the light, stays behind, accepts his death slowly, and lays himself down to die while the others continue. Then in the Garden of Emotions, the Egyptian (Anneke van Giersbergen – VUUR), overwhelmed by her emotions, becomes convinced that Amon-Ra is coming to seal her fate. She loses her will to continue and wanders alone until she lays herself down and dies as well.

The surviving characters finally reach the Electric Castle, penetrating the Castle Hall. On the Tower of Hope a breeze draws the attention of the Indian (Simone Simons – Epica), luring her away towards the sun despite the warning of the Knight (Damian Wilson) and the Futureman (Edward Reekers – Kayak). On the breeze, she encounters Death itself (George Oosthoek and Mark Jansen – Epica) who takes her while she screams.

Simone Simons / Fish

The characters then come to their final test: the voice tells them that beyond them stands two gates, with one of them leading to oblivion and the second to the desired time of the heroes. One of the gates is old, deteriorated, and ugly, and the other made of gold and appears at first glance to be paradise. The Barbarian (John Jaycee Cuijpers), in his arrogance and pride, walks through the golden gate in spite of his companion’s choice, and falls into oblivion forever.

Finally, the Knight, the Roman (Edwin Balogh), the Hippie (Arjen Anthony Lucassen) and the Futureman, who had chosen the right gate, discover the true nature of the voice: it is called “Forever of the Stars”, and claims that its kind is an alien race who lost all emotions. It also claims its kind caused the emergence of humanity on Earth, and that the eight heroes were in an experiment in understanding and/or rediscovering emotions. Feeling tired, the voice tells them to go on ahead and open the door, and that they won’t remember what has happened.

Arjen Anthony Lucassen

Back in their real time, the heroes all wonder what had happened, with the Hippie asking himself if this journey was the result of his drug abuse, the Futureman wondering if his memory has been erased, the Roman feeling stronger and the Knight thinking he found the Grail in a magic dream. The voice of the Forever of the Stars is then heard, asking them all to remember Forever.
(Source Plot: Wikipedia)

Joost van den Broek

Similar to the vocal cast, the instrumental cast is from various ‘sources’: Johan van Stratum (VUUR) – bass, Joost van den Broek – keys, Marcel Singor (Kayak) – lead guitar, Ferry Duijsens (VUUR) – guitar, Bob Wijtsma (Ex Libris) – guitar, Ben Mathot – violin, Thijs van Leer (Focus) – flute, Ed Warby (Ayreon) – drums and Jurriaan Westerveld – cello.
Backing Vocals: Marcela Bovio (Mayan), Dianne van Giersbergen (Ex Libris) and Jan Willem Ketelaars.

If the schedule of “Ayreon Universe” applies for the release “Into the Electric Castle”, we need to wait for March 2020. For now, we do have some photos:
Sunday afternoon show / Sunday evening show

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