A Rock opera concept solo project by ex-BODINE and VENGEANCE guitarist / keyboard player Arjen Anthony Lucasson. AYREON would make a sizeable impact upon the Rock world and inspire a plethora of imitators internationally. The grandly titled 'The Final Experiment - A Rock Opera' album, a tale of a 6th century minstrel, features many guests including KINGDOM COME vocalist Lenny Wolf, VAN EE's Robert Soeterboek, KAYAK singer Edward Reekers, ELEGY's IAN PARRY and GOREFEST vocalist Jan-Chis De Koeijer. Lucasson's old comrades in arms Jay van Feggelen of BODINE and Leon Goewie of VENGEANCE would also be in force.
On the musical side drums would be held down by Ernst van Ee of VAN EE and HELLOISE whilst bass was delegated to Q65 man Peter Vink and Jan Bijlsma. FINCH's Cleem Determeijer provided the elaborate keyboard work. The single, 'Sail Away To Avalon' finds GOLDEN EARRING's Barry Hay on lead vocals and flute. The 'Actual Fantasy' album was issued as a CD-ROM in the Netherlands which included video footage for 'Strangers From Within'.
Oddly, despite the mammoth world-wide success of 'The Final Experiment' AYREON would temper the grandiosity down for 1996's follow up 'Actual Fantasy', this record, with both Soeterboek and Reekers in evidence once again, coming across as a straight forward accessible Hard Rock album.
'Into The Electric Castle', over 100 minutes of music lavished across a two CD set, would break the band internationally. The guest list was even more edifying than the debut. For this outing individual voices portrayed story line characters with Sharon van Edel of WITHIN TEMPTATION as 'Indian', FISH suitably cast as 'The Highlander', Anneke van Giersbergen of THE GATHERING as 'Egyptian', Jay van Feggelen as 'Barbarian', THRESHOLD's Damian Wilson as 'Knight' and Edwin Balogh of TAMAS as 'Roman'. The whole affair was held together by the esteemed patronage of ROGER DALTREY of THE WHO as the main 'Voice'. GOREFEST and LANA LANE man Ed Warby took on percussive duties throughout with Robby Valentine of VALENTINE, Ton Scherpenzeel of KAYAK and Clive Nolan of PENDRAGON demonstrating their skills on piano and keyboards. 'Into The Electric Castle' had a huge impact on the international Rock scene which was soon awash with imitators.
Whilst the sprawling 'Into The Electric Castle' set had made it onto a double CD package the follow up 'Universal Migrator' was spread over two packages billed as 'The Dream Sequencer' and 'Flight Of The Migrator'.
'The Dream Sequencer' hosted the mellower side of AYREON. Donating for this outing would be Johan Edlund of TIAMAT, Floor Jansen of AFTER FOREVER, LANA LANE, Jacqueline Govaert of KREZIP, Neal Morse of SPOCK'S BEARD and THRESHOLD's Damian Wilson. Rob Snijders of CELESTIAL SEASON manned the drum kit.
The latter sequence 'Flight Of The Migrator' would prove to be AYREON's most heavyweight offering to date. It pulled in such guests as PRIMAL FEAR's Ralph Scheepers, HELLOWEEN frontman ANDI DERIS, ELEGY's IAN PARRY, TIMO KOTIPELTO of STRATOVARIUS, Russell Allen of SYMPHONY X and RHAPSODY, VISION DIVINE and LABYRINTH vocalist Fabio Lione. Most notable of all though was the undoubted coup of attaining IRON MAIDEN's BRUCE DICKINSON.
Luccasen found time amidst all this activity to make a guest appearance on ERIK NORLANDER's 2000 album 'Into The Sunset'.
Such was the success of the AYREON project that an album collection of demos and alternate takes arrived in early 2001 dubbed 'Ayreonauts Only'.
Lucassen would divert his energies briefly onto another ambitious venture entitled AMBEON releasing the 'Fate Of A Dreamer' album in 2001. Lucassen announced the formation of a new Sci Fi themed project STAR ONE in late 2001, a confederation of name musicians which included Dan Swanö of EDGE OF SANITY and NIGHTINGALE, Damian Wilson of THRESHOLD, Russell Allen from SYMPHONY X and countryman Floor Jansen of Doom merchants AFTER FOREVER.
Lucassen would form part of LANA LANE's touring band for 2002. He would also find time in 2002 to guest on the grandiose GARY HUGHES Arthurian concept album 'Once And Future King'.
Getting back into gear with the ever expanding AYREON saga Lucasson set about recording a sixth album, 'Ayreon: The Human Equation', during the latter half of 2003. Initial guest vocalist confirmations included Devon Graves of DEAD SOUL TRIBE, Magnus Ekwall from the THE QUILL, Heather Findlay of MOSTLY AUTUMN, Eric Clayton of Christian Metal band SAVIOUR MACHINE and Mike Baker from SHADOW GALLERY. During November OPETH frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt and STRAPPING YOUNG LAD mentor DEVIN TOWNSEND would also be confirmed. One of the last vocalists in line would be the relatively unknown Marcela Bovia from Mexican act ELFONIA, the lady having won her position on the record by sending in a demo via an online request. Notable guests on the keyboard front included URIAH HEEP veteran KEN HENSLEY and IQ man Martin Orford.