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Ayreon

My trip!

I’m back from Amsterdam, and holy COW was it amazing.

We landed at 6:30 AM local time, which actually killed us but we got to ride the train into the city as the sun was coming up. Beautiful. We wandered around and got lunch to kill time until we could check into the hotel and pass out!

The concert was PHENOMENAL. Easily the best show I’ve ever gone to. I bought a new compact camera before the trip that was supposed to be good for low-light photos, and I was not at all disappointed. It held up through 2.5 hours of continuous shooting and I got some amazing photos!!!

(I took almost 400 photos this is just a suuuuuuper small sample)

For the rest of our week there, we really just explored the city. We got lots of museums in, including the Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Rijks museums. Amsterdam is a small city, so from our hotel, we were pretty much able to walk anywhere we wanted. We only used public transport to go to the zoo and the airport. The weather was wonderful: high 50s or low 60s the whole time, and both rain and sun.

I didn’t want to be that girl who took pictures of all her food, but my word, the food was amazing. We ate at half a dozen tiny little cafes, not one of them the same. We sampled sushi, Dutch, Italian, Vietnamese, and even (after we got back to Amsterdam from the concert) European McDonald’s! XD The bread there is so much better than here, the ice cream was wonderful, but I did not care for the chocolate at all!!!

Easily the best vacation I’ve ever taken. For a whole week, I didn’t worry about work, or class, or even money that much. My boyfriend and I talked and laughed and explored together, which really strengthened our relationship. We definitely want to come back someday ❤

Kathleen

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The Source

And now for something completely different: a review of a music CD!

And I just gotta talk about it okay plZ BEAR WITH ME

The Source is the latest progressive metal album by Ayreon, aka Arjen Anthony Lucassen, a project of his in which he writes metal operas. He writes and plays most of the music for his albums, but invites vocalists from different (mostly metal) bands to sing the parts. Many of his albums follow a science fictional story. This album, The Source, reveals the origins of The Forever, the alien race that is at the center of the story.

Alpha, the planet The Forever originally inhabited, is dying. It’s being shut down by the Frame, the computer system that controls the entire planet. It thinks that in order to solve the ecological and political problems of the planet, it has to wipe out the entire race. Ten of the Forever manage to escape in a spaceship called the Starblade. They head for an ocean planet near the Star of Sirrah. In order to adapt to their new aquatic environment, they take a drug they call “the Source” or “Liquid Eternity” to change their bodies and minds. They alternately mourn for their fallen race, worry that they will forget their origins and repeat their past mistakes, and rejoice in their new world, the new start they have for their future. But… deep in the depths of the ocean, there is one robot who stayed faithful to their masters thus far… whom the Forever have forgotten.

The cast of vocalists is incredible: Tommy Karevick of Kamelot, Russell Allen of Symphony X, Simone Simons of Epica, Hansi Kursch of Blind Guardian (both of these bands my boyfriend and I have seen in concert), Floor Jansen of Nightwish, and many more. They all sing together at multiple points in the album, and have lots of duets together, making it feel more like an opera than previous Ayreon albums. All the vocalists do an amazing job of conveying the emotions of their characters. Each song flows seamlessly from one track to the next, so that the music and the story are uninterrupted. There is a serious lack of continuity listening to the playlist of the album on YouTube vs. listening to the album on iTunes. Even the few seconds it takes for the next video to load is too long, too jarring.

There are parts that are epic, parts that are pure headbanging metal, parts that are tragic, parts that are funky with an amazing bass, parts that are creepy. It adds up to a sweeping, awe-inspiring whole. For previous fans of Ayreon, there are multiple references to past albums, both in the lyrics and within the music. For new fans, I am so sorry you have to listen to this one first, because no other Ayreon album will come close to this for you. I was completely blown away by it and it’s been on repeat since it dropped. This has permanently replaced my favorite album, 01011001… and my favorites are incredibly hard to replace!

Thank you for being patient with this late Wednesday post… and listening to me rant about metal, no less!

– Kathleen

The Concert of a Lifetime

I have some very exciting news for all of you!

I’m going to Europe next year!!! =D

My boyfriend and I are metalheads. (It’s really fun to tell people that in real life; they do a double take. I guess I don’t look like the kind of girl who would be a metalhead XD) There is a band we both like called Ayreon: it’s a project of Arjen Anthony Lucassen, who’s been composing and playing music for years. Arjen writes all the music and lyrics for the Ayreon albums, most of which are beautiful, multi-layered metal operas. He plays most of the instruments for the albums, and invites artists from other bands to sing the parts of different characters and as guest musicians. Because of the peculiar nature of his music, Ayreon concerts are not a thing.

Until now! Last week, Arjen announced the first ever Ayreon concert! And we were able to get tickets!! All three shows sold out within 48 hours, so we were very lucky to get them!!! The concert will take place in Tilburg in the Netherlands next September.

I’ve been dancing on clouds ever since we purchased the tickets. Going to Europe has always been a dream of mine, and now it’s finally happening! This concert may very well be a once in a lifetime experience, and we’re so happy that we’re going to be able to be there together ❤

I will, of course, be telling you guys all about it when the time comes =P Until then, have some of my favorite Ayreon songs!!! >:D

Counting down the days already! (288, if anyone was curious =P )

– Kathleen

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