Ayreon – Into The Electric Castle: A Space Opera (1998)
From Savatage’s Rock Opera to Aryeon’s Space Opera, a Sci-fi concept album so mind-bogglingly immersive that its highly accessible nature stands as testament to the skills of Ayreon’s songwriter, producer, singer and multi-instrumentalist; Arjen Anthony Lucassen.
Channeling the no fear attitude of Prog Rock giants Yes, this terminally unfashionable pinnacle of Progressive Metal is in fact a timeless ode to unshackled escapism and indulgent flights of fancy and is an essential Progressive Metal masterwork. Camper than a clearance sale at Millets, Into The Electric Castle‘s irresistable sense of fun throws everything into the mix; Prog Rock/Metal, Neo-Classical, Space-Rock, Folk and Jazz-Fusion all make an appearance and all (somehow) blend seamlessly.
“You must enter the nuclear portals of the electric castle!” instructs the narrator on “Welcome To The Dimension”, who are we to argue when the journey is still this enthralling and this captivating 17 years later.
Dream Theater – Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (1999)
A melting pot of Trad Metal riffs, shred-heavy guitars and copious amounts of old- school inspiration courtesy of the likes of Priest, Maiden and Rush, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory – the long-awaited follow-up to”Metropolis—Part I: The Miracle And The Sleeper”, found on 1992’s equally accomplished album Images And Words – is commonly regarded as Dream Theater’s pièce de résistance.
Currently celebrating their 30th Anniversary, Dream Theater have come close to matching the sheer genius on display here many times (Images And Words/Train Of Thought/Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence) but Metropolis is the epitome of their fearless approach to Progressive music.
One listen to Fatal Tragedy, a furious mix of Queen meets Metallica meets Yngwie Malmsteen, should be enough to convince you that this album is as monumental now as it was back in ’99.