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The Human Equation is the sixth album by Arjen Anthony Lucassen, released under the name Ayreon. It was released on May 25, 2004. As with other Ayreon albums, it features guest appearances from several musicians previously unrelated to the project, including James LaBrie of Dream Theater, Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth, Eric Clayton of Saviour Machine, and Devin Townsend, performing music arranged and written by Lucassen.

Concept and storyline

The album explores the idea of psychological rebirth, and follows the story a man who, after falling into a coma following a car accident, is confronted with his past, his emotions, and his current situation as he lays trapped inside his own mind. The circumstances surrounding the accident are mysterious, as the man ("Me", portrayed by James LaBrie) ploughed into a tree on a deserted road in broad daylight. Following this, he slips into a twenty-day coma, with each day represented by a single song. Each song follows a slightly different format, though there are major common themes, such as the presence of Me's manifest emotions in his dream world (including Fear portrayed by Mikael Åkerfeldt, Reason portrayed by Eric Clayton, and Pride portrayed by Magnus Ekwall); the presence of Me's Wife (Marcela Bovio) and Best Friend (Arjen Anthony Lucassen) at his bedside; and the past events that Me is forced to reflect on.

The plot builds from Me’s early broken state to his eventual rebirth as a new and better man. His own dark past; in which he suffered beneath an abusive Father (Mike Baker), was driven to become merciless by school bullies, and eventually betrayed his closest friend for his own benefit; is intertwined with the plot surrounding Wife and Best Friend, eventually revealing the cause of the accident: Me had witnessed the two sharing an intimate moment, and had swerved his car into a tree in his despair. The three eventually come clean and forgive each other, leading Me to conquer his negative emotions and escape his nightmarish prison.

The story terminates with a sci-fi twist in contrast to the psychodrama of the album, but reminiscent of earlier Ayreon releases. The final song cuts suddenly to silence as it reaches a crescendo, and a computerised voice announces the shut-down of the Dream Sequencer. The voice of Forever then speaks the final words of the album, tying its events into the overall Ayreon plot that began with The Final Experiment.

Cast (in order of appearance):
Arjen Anthony Lucassen as Best Friend
Marcela Bovio as Wife
James LaBrie as Me
Mikael Åkerfeldt as Fear)
Eric Clayton as Reason)
Irene Jansen as Passion
Magnus Ekwall as Pride
Heather Findlay as Love
Devon Graves as Agony
Devin Townsend as Rage
Mike Baker as Father

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