Ayreon ( pronunciation /ˈɛɹiən/) is a musical project by Dutch composer and musician Arjen Anthony Lucassen. Ayreon's music is mostly heavy metal and progressive rock but combines them with genres like folk, classical and electronica. The majority of Ayreon's albums are dubbed "rock operas" because the albums contain complex storylines featuring a host of characters, usually with each one being represented by a unique vocalist.
Ayreon's music is characterized by the use of traditional instruments in rock music (guitars, bass guitar, drums, analogue synthesizers, electric organs) mixed with instruments more native to folk and classical music (e.g. mandolins, violins, violas, celli, flutes, sitars and didgeridoo). Lucassen writes the music and the lyrics, sings and plays most of the instruments on all of the Ayreon albums, alongside many guest musicians. His most regular collaborator is drummer Ed Warby.
Due to its particular nature, Ayreon never play live; however, several Ayreon songs were included in two live albums by other Lucassen's bands: Live on Earth by Star One and Live in the Real World by Stream of Passion.