Saturday, November 17, 2012

November 17th, 2012 - An Imperial Migration Of Epic Proportions



The Meista here with another pairing for you my friends. Today I'm pairing Ayreon's double-album, "The Universal Migrator" and Epic Brewing Company's Imperial Red Ale (Release # 18). This pairing goes out too all my nerdy prog-rock fans!

What do you get when you take a Dutch, multi-instrumental songwriter/vocalist obsessed with fantasy and science fiction as well as a strong obsession and talent for progressive rock and metal and couple that with a large cast of highly talented and interchangeable musicians and vocalists? You get Ayreon... a series of epic "rock-opera" albums, the brainchild of Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Not actually a band, Ayreon is a collection of musicians led by Lucassen. Lucassen's Ayreon projects in short are grandiose, futuristic, and complex albums telling stories of space travel and magic. The Ayreon sound draws heavily from traditional progressive rock and power metal, but there are also strong elements of folk, opera, symphonic composition, and even electronica... creating an explosive, bombastic, and "epic" sound! Some of the more notable players on the album are Bruce Dickinson (Iron Maiden), Fabio Lione (Rhapsody), Neal Morse (Spock's Beard/Transatlantic/Flying Colours), Michael Romeo and Russell Allen (Symphony X), Ralf Scheepers (Primal Fear), Andi Deris (Helloween), among others!

One of my favorite Ayreon albums is the 2004 "The Universal Migrator," a story of the dead Earth's Martian colonists and metaphysical time travel. Where does one even start in describing the songs? There are so many amazing pieces on this album. A few favorites that fit so well with the depth of flavor from the Imperial Red Ale: "2084," "Dragon On The Sea," "The First Man On Earth," "Chaos," "Journey On The Waves Of Time," "Into The Black Hole," "Through The Wormhole," and "Out Of The White Hole," among others.  "The Universal Migrator" is composed of two distinct parts, two discs: "Part 1: The Dream Sequencer" and "Part 2: Flight Of The Migrator." The first part is more along the lines of traditional progressive rock thematically and musically, with multiple harmonies, heavier use of synthesizers, and a more ethereal feel... whereas the second part has much stronger metal leanings (although still proggish), with powerful blasts of guitar and drums and darker imagery and vocals. I guess you could break it down by looking at it this way: for the first part think Pink Floyd, Yes, Emerson Lake and Palmer, and Marillion. For the second part think Iron Maiden, Blind Guardian, Symphony X, Queensr├┐che, etc.

For a big, bold, bombastic album you need an equally impressive beer. Epic's Imperial Red Ale is made with Ultra Premium Maris Otter Malt, Premium Briess Malt, Crystal, Caramalt and CaraAroma malts and Columbus, Mount Hood, and Cascade hops in the boil with Centennial in the hopback as well as in the final dry hopping process. In short, it is a big-ass beer! It pours a a beautiful, cloudy, copper-red with a thick, foamy head that has sustainability and strong lacing. The nose has notes of pine, citrus, and lush grass along with ester and caramel. The Imperial Red's flavor is characterized by a caramely, malty sweetness mixed with a nice, well-balanced, late-kettle hoppy bitterness. For a red, this is much hoppier than most... just the way I like it! As with each listen of "The Universal Migrator," each taste of the Imperial Red invokes an emotioanal response and new discoveries are made. It is flavorful, complex, and I dare say progressive. This is damn good stuff!! My suggesstion is to drink this bad boy out of a nice, big mug so you get the full sense of the body and richness of the nose.

So if you are a fan of big, intense progressive rock/power metal and science fiction, check out Ayreon and specifically "The Universal Migrator." Learn more about Ayreon at http://arjenlucassen.com/ and check out the Imperial Red Ale at http://epicbrewing.com/our-beers/exponential-series/item/484-imperial-red-ale-release-

Cheers!!

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