Arjen Lucassen, the mastermind behind some of the seminal efforts in progressive rock and metal of the last fifteen years has been hard at work over the past five years. Releasing nearly an album a year since the last Ayreon album 01011001 debuted in 2008, Arjen has kept himself quite busy with the numerous side-projects to his prog-mothership, and now, after an extended hiatus, Lucassen is preparing to release the next installment to the Ayreon canon, now dubbed The Theory of Everything.
News has been slow regarding this return, but as the year has progressed we have been treated with little bits and pieces of exciting news, the most recent being that the new Ayreon record will be a double album. Now, this isn’t too surprising given that nearly ever Ayreon release to date (with the exception of Actual Fantasy) has been a double album, but seeing as the most recent Lucassen efforts haven’t officially been double albums (Guilt Machine, Star One, and his solo effort all featured bonus discs, but none of them were a part of the main album) it seems that Lucassen wanted to assure fans that the return to such an acclaimed project will live up to its past.
With this news also comes some interesting details regarding the story of the album. As anyone who is a fan of Ayreon will know, almost every album before The Theory of Everything has followed a large over-arching concept, with each album playing out a different chapter of the broader story. However, Lucassen ended that story with the last Ayreon album, 01011001, and the epilogue song ‘The Memory Remains’, which saw the destruction of the human race.
For awhile fans have been speculating on how Lucassen would be continuing the story, and now that Lucassen has spoken to Prog-Rock Mag about the new album, we have learned that he intends to start a new story for the project.
It’s extra challenging as well, because lyrically I’ve left the old Ayreon universe behind, and I have to create a new one from scratch.
As a fan of Ayreon, it will be weird not getting to experience anymore tales of the Forevers (the main antagonists of the previous Ayreon albums) but of course if Lucassen’s writing holds up, I will welcome this new story with open arms. The Theory of Everything is tentatively due out later this year.