Spread across three discs and over three hours, this is an unashamedly grandiose conceptual tale about the steampunk-influenced underground city of Cogtopolis, and the attempts by rebel factions to return to the world above. The characterisation, plot and whole backdrop of the work is breathtaking in its scope (Cogtopolis even has its own alphabet). Imagine The War Of The Worlds if it had been tackled by Ayreon rather than Jeff Wayne and you’re halfway there. Indeed, Arjen Lucassen’s just one of the guests here, along with Blaze Bayley (Iron Maiden), and prog-savvy actors Mark Benton and Zach ‘Gremlins’ Galligan.
The music runs the gamut from melodic prog to hard rock and all points in between, but never loses focus. With alternate spoken word ‘radio play’ sections and elaborate compositions, The Clockwork Fable works equally well as a story or as a musical piece, and is accompanied by packaging so expansive that you can practically luxuriate in the sights, sounds and smells of this richly imagined world. If you love something with a real taste of unashamedly OTT opulence, you must get this. As befits a trilogy involving Gandalf, this is a career-defining, magical epic.