Time for a fantasy album review. I started this review last month when I got the album, but I held off on it until I receive my companion comic book. The comic has only just arrived, due to a combination of me ordering late and things taking forever to ship to Australia. But I’ve read it; I now have the full (for now??) Transitus experience.
First impressions, the opening track, Fatum Horrifcum is amazing. Tom Baker’s narration over the creepy into music is perfect, and then it’s followed by ominous chanting, heavy music, and it really sets this up as a dark fantasy, rather than the scifi we usually get in an Ayreon album.
Then Tommy Karevik starts singing, and he is amazing here. This is Karevik’s third appearance in an Ayreon album, as he was originally in The Theory of Everything as The Prodigy and in The Source he played The Opposition Leader. I’ve enjoyed listening to him in Ayreon, but I’ve never really been able to get into his other work. Though after listening to him here I decided I needed to put more effort into that and I’ve been enjoying some Kamelot songs.
Listen to My Story is amazballs. Karevik and Simone Simons are both awesome here. After having listened to Simons on Ayreon for a while, I finally connected the dots and realised that it was her and her band Epica that did those awesome English metal Attack on Titan theme covers a few years back. I think I’m going to call Listen to My Story as my favourite song on the album. Great performances, super catchy, very heavy metal with a dash of swing jazz. Very unexpected but awesome combo.
These first two tracks were combined into the Daniel’s Decent into Transitus Medley video, which I think is so far the only official Ayreon non-live music video.
A few tracks later we get Talk of the Town which is another stand out. Any time you can get a hurdy-gurdy in a metal song you’re winning. It’s followed by the combo of Old Friend and Dumb Piece of Rock. The latter of which is the only appearance of Toehider’s Mike Mills on this album. Fittingly, Dumb Piece of Rock has a bit of a Toehider vibe, and is a nice, fun silly tack on an otherwise bleak album. It’s equally as fun and silly in the comic, where all the statues in the garden start dancing and Daniel admits he may have just been imagining things.
After that we get Dee Snyder’s appearance as Daniel’s father in the track Get Out! Now! This was the first song released from the album, as a lyric video a few months back. I have loved it since then, it’s a real rocker of a track, and having the man who sang We’re Not Gonna Take It being the lead singer on this song is hilarious. This song is pretty much the opposite of Twisted Sister’s hit track, and I love that so much irony has been included on the meta level without taking away from the story.
Condemned Without a Trial is another awesome track. And the track that makes me sure we’ll get a live performance of this album some day. And damn, She Is Innocent and Lavina’s Confession are cool, then it goes into Inferno, which has some of that ominous chanting from the into. Love how The Great Beyond reprises Talk of the Town.
All Ayreon albums are rock operas, and The Human Equation and Into the Electric Castle have both been performed live (with Human Equation being modified to make the story flow easier on stage) but Transitus would work very well as a musical. I’ve heard rumors that there is some sort of film adaptation in the works but no English sources to confirm it.
There are references to the Ayreon Forever story, but Transitus doesn’t appear to be linked to that story. My personal headcannon is that any Ayreon album that doesn’t follow the Forever story is taking place within the Dream Sequencer like The Human Equation did. Speaking of which, there is a song on this album called The Human Equation, about the Angel of Death and her Furies observing humanity. There are a lot of little references to the wider Ayreon universe. I wasn’t a big fan of this song when I first heard it, but it has really grown on me.
After waiting so long for the comic, I don’t actually have a lot to say about it. It is a 28 page retelling of the story, and it looks really cool. I do like the art, done by Felix Vega. It looks like a story made of old school heavy metal art; especially the scenes in Transitus with the Angel of Death and her Furies. Of course, the more I look at this picture, the sillier the boobs look.
I don’t think it has a lot to offer as a stand alone comic, as it goes through the story very quickly, more like a story summery than anything else. As a companion to the album though, it is amazing. It makes it easier to follow along with the story and visualise what is happening while listening. There is also an extra scene at the end that shows Henry’s fate. I’m really glad this was included, because in the album he seems to get away with being a jerk while Lavinia’s fate is shown. One thing I don’t like about the comic is the logo. I really wish it had used the same one as the album.
Overall, I love Transitus. It’s another solid concept album for the Ayreon discography, filled with great performances from tons of guest vocalists and musicians. I like that there quite a few female vocalists this time around. The comic is a great piece of merch. It’s a really nice collector’s item, and I would love some comics of other Ayreon albums. 9/10 from me.