DREAM THEATER — The Astonishing

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2.90 | 42 ratings | 8 reviews
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Album · 2016


Disc One: Act I

1. Descent Of The Nomacs (1:10)
2. Dystopian Overture (4:50)
3. The Gift Of Music (4:08)
4. The Answer (1:52)
5. A Better Life (4:39)
6. Lord Nafaryus (3:28)
7. A Savior In The Square (4:13)
8. When Your Time Has Come (4:19)
9. Act Of Faythe (5:00)
10. Three Days (3:44)
11. The Hovering Sojourn (0:27)
12. Brother, Can You Hear Me? (5:11)
13. A Life Left Behind (5:49)
14. Ravenskill (6:01)
15. Chosen (4:31)
16. A Tempting Offer (4:19)
17. Digital Discord (0:47)
18. The X Aspect (4:13)
19. A New Beginning (7:41)
20. The Road To Revolution (3:35)

Total Time 79:57

Disc Two: Act II

1. 2285 Entr'acte (2:20)
2. Moment Of Betrayal (6:11)
3. Heaven's Cove (4:19)
4. Begin Again (3:54)
5. The Path That Divides (5:09)
6. Machine Chatter (1:03)
7. The Walking Shadow (2:58)
8. My Last Farewell (3:44)
9. Losing Faythe (4:13)
10. Whispers On The Wind (1:37)
11. Hymn Of A Thousand Voices (3:38)
12. Our New World (4:12)
13. Power Down (1:25)
14. Astonishing (5:51)

Total Time 50:34


- James LaBrie / vocals
- John Petrucci / guitars
- Jordan Rudess / keyboards
- John Myung / bass
- Mike Mangini / drums

About this release

Release date: 29 January 2016
Label: Roadrunner Records

Thanks to Unitron for the addition and diamondblack, Lynx33, adg211288 for the updates


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Two of my favorite bands are Dream Theater and Ayreon. The former because of their insanely top notch technical musicianship and ability to write some of the best instrumental sections ever into their songs, and the latter for the unique combination of epic storytelling and songwriting project mastermind Arjen Lucassen brings. I have long wondered, though, what would ever happen if the two were to be combined somehow? If either one of the two tried to borrow elements from the other or if some new band came along and managed to combine elements of the two expertly themselves? Well, after years of wondering, I finally have my answer as in 2016 none other than Dream Theater themselves decided to make an attempt at an Ayreon style rock opera, the result of which is a hugely ambitious concept album titled The Astonishing. So, what has this experiment led to exactly? Well, for the very long answer, you can read the following few paragraphs that answer everything in great detail. If you’d like a short answer, please feel free to skip to the very end of the review.

Over the years, Dream Theater have become a rather controversial band, as some of their early releases such as Images & Words, Awake and Metropolis 2: Scenes From a Memory are widely considered as some of the absolute best progressive metal records ever, but in recent years the band has lost of their fans as they’ve had some questionable releases, a rather infamous meltdown with former drummer Mike Portnoy that led to him leaving the band, and overall it seems the band has lost a lot of the respect they once had among metal fans. Personally, I’ve enjoyed every album of theirs to at least some extent, and I’ve welcomed drummer Mike Mangini from the very start and now think of him as a very important part of the group. At the same time, while their previous self-titled release was excellent, I was anxious to see them attempt something a bit more focused again, and so I had very high expectations for The Astonishing when I first heard it would be a concept album, and those expectations only rose when I learned it would be a full blown, 2 disc rock opera. Needless to say, my expectations were more than met, and the album instantly became one of my all time favorites. However, seeing how the band’s recent output had been getting a mixed reception, this album marked a possible turning point for the band, as to whether or not they could finally win their fans back, or if those fans would only drift further away.

In that regard, making an album such as The Astonishing was a massive risk, as it’s such an ambitious undertaking, and unsurprisingly many folks were not pleased with the result. Stylistically, this album is not going to please those looking for a pure, straight-forward prog metal album, and I really don’t think that’s what the band was going for. Instead, they have brought in a full orchestra, added in some choir vocals for added effect in some sections, and have made what can best be described as a mix between an Ayreon style rock opera, a broadway musical and even in some aspects a Disney movie. So yes, that mix of styles was bound to be met with mixed responses, but personally, I was always on board and excited to hear what the band would do with this album and over a year after its release, I have to say it’s absolutely brilliant and one of the greatest things ever created. I will say, though, in order to fully appreciate this album it certainly helps if the listener enjoys at least one or two of those styles I mentioned, or even progressive rock as well, because anyone looking only for progressive metal will be hugely disappointed.

Obviously, Dream Theater have some of the best musicians in the world, with guitarist John Petrucci and keyboardist Jordan Rudess in particular being considered among the absolute best of the best at their respective instruments, but on this album while they’re still given a bit of space to show their talents, these are often limited to shorten periods than normal, as this is a largely vocal driven album, making James LaBrie perhaps the most important factor as to whether or not the album could work or if it would be a massive failure. For the most part, the album is focused more on telling its story than on flashy musicianship, but in some ways I love this as one criticism against the band has always been that they’re all about technical showmanship and can’t put any feeling into their music, but the few solo sections on this album are much more melodic than usual and to me they help prove that everything said against them is false, with John in particular putting in a lot of extra touch into his solos on this album. On the whole, the music is much softer than usual for Dream Theater, as it’s a very fun and very showy album, with a lot of added orchestral elements and there are many more progressive rock oriented sections where Jordan uses piano sounds. In fact, many tracks here could best be described as mini ballads, with no metal to be found. At the same time, there are still some metal moments to be found, and if anything the lower quantity of heavier sections helps them to stand out more than usual, and indeed, there are some very intense passages on this album, especially during the first half of disc 2, which is very much a turning point for the story.

Speaking of which, while I can’t go into full detail to avoid turning this review into a novel, the story is a very important aspect of the album, and while it’s at times extremely cheesy, I find it works very well when set to music and it’s certainly very entertaining. Basically, the album takes place in a dystopian world, ruled by the evil tyrant Emperor Nafaryus, and it’s a world where all music has been taken away to be replaced by noise machines (or NOMACS.) A rebel faction called the Ravenskill Militia, led by Arhys exists, and is counting on his brother Gabriel, who’s considered the chosen one who will use his voice to free them from the evil empire. Other important characters include Faythe, the daughter of Nafaryus, who falls for Gabriel once she discovers his music, and Daryus, son of Nafaryus, who’s jealous of the attention his sister gets and so he seeks to end the rebellion on his own. Obviously there are far more pieces to this story, but for the sake of giving a brief summary, those are all the essential characters and plot elements to know. I’d definitely recommend that anyone interested in the album read about the story and characters on the Dream Theater website before listening for the first time and to read the lyrics while listening at least once, to help get the full experience. Some questions to ponder, as you listen: Will Gabriel come through in the end? Will love prevail? Will Nafaryus learn the error of his ways? Can music save the day? And most importantly: Is Emperor Nafaryus such a ridiculous(ly awesome) name that Disney writers are now beating themselves up every day for not coming up with it themselves? Okay, I think the answer to that last one is pretty obvious.

Moving on, I mentioned earlier that James LaBrie is a very important part of this album, and so this brings me to another very controversial fact: You see, on Ayreon albums (and really most rock and metal operas) each character is played by a different guest singer who has been brought in just for the album. Well, that is not what happened with The Astonishing. Nope, always wanting to do things their own way, Dream Theater decided to have James play every role on his own, be it male or female. I actually find he does an amazing job, as he has to show his full vocal range, as well as his ability to portray different characters, which he demonstrated expertly on Ayreon’s The Human Equation. This time around, he makes subtle changes in his delivery to indicate which character is singing. For example, while Nafaryus and Daryus are both menacing, you can tell the two apart fairly easily because the former tends to sound more quirky and showy, while the former is always more serious and business like. Obviously, James has to sing a bit higher than normal when portraying Faythe and other female characters, and he does this quite well, while he’s probably at his best when portraying the strength and determination of Arhys. All in all, I’d say this album represents some of his finest work to date, and as a longtime fan who’s always defended him even while others criticized, I’m extremely pleased with how he sounds on this album. At the very least, it’s definitely a very unique and interesting way of doing a rock opera, and so for that alone it stands out big time.

Usually I’d do a song by song section, but for an album such as The Astonishing, that would be rather difficult, to say the least, seeing how the album contains 34 tracks. Instead, I’ll be briefly detailing some of my favorite moments, both musically and for plot reasons. First off, though, it’s worth mentioning that a few of these tracks are brief instrumentals, which are mostly just various sound effects that may seem inconsequential at a quick glance but these are actually sounds from the NOMACS and are meant to represent the kind of “music”, the world of this album has become dominated by. Let me tell you, that kind of “music” sure is creepy and I’d want nothing to do with it, so if I lived in that world, I’d totally be sending in an application to join Ravenskill!

Moving on then, each disc begins with an overture track, and this kind of structure is meant to mimic that of a musical, with both tracks containing instrumental passages from various tracks on the album, with “2285 Entr’acte” in particular having some great call backs to some of the best moments on disc one, and both tracks allow John and Jordan to have some memorable solos. The first full song on the album is “The Gift of Music”, a rather straight-forward track which starts off as a mid tempo prog metal track before Mike Mangini starts speeding up his drums midway the first verse and we actually get a very brief power metal passage. Aside from that section, the track is the kind of prog metal the band is great at, and Jordan gets a really nice solo in the second half, while the track on the whole does a great job of introducing the concept of the album. The first few tracks on the whole serve as a nice introduction, with the brief ballad “The Answer” doing a great job of introducing Gabriel and showing us his doubts, while “ A Better Life” is basically Arhys giving his men a pep talk, and the track does a great job of showing us how determined this man is, and of course the aptly named “Lord Nafaryus” introduces us to one of the villain figures and shows us how unimpressed he is by the rebellion. Speaking of which, “Three Days” is an interesting track as it’s at times dark and quite heavy, while also being a very theatrical track, and James does an excellent job as Nafaryus on that track, as he issues a threat against Gabriel, and his vocals there are both very menacing and yet also suitably goofy. Likewise, “Act of Faythe” is a softer track and is a great introduction to the title character, showing us how this sheltered girl is surprised and amazing by what she sees from Gabriel and the folks beyond her castle walls.

Moving past the introductory phase, “Brother, Can You Hear Me” makes excellent use of marching drums, and is effectively a rally cry, and shortly after that comes the ballad “Chosen”, my personal favorite track from disc one, as by this point in the story Gabriel and Faythe have been united, and this is beautiful track where Gabriel finally starts to show some of his brother’s determination, giving us the super inspiring chorus “But I can’t climb this mountain without you. No I can’t face this on my own. With you by my side, we will open his eyes, and the truth will deliver us home.” Truly an inspiring chorus, and one my absolute favorite moments on the album. Disc one ends with hints of a possible betrayal on “The X Aspect”, as Daryus threatens Arhys with his son Xander, and says he can only be free if Arhys hands over Gabriel. Thus, begins an epic plot line that carries over to disc 2. Meanwhile, “A New Beginning” features a confrontation between Faythe and her father over her wishes to be with Gabriel, and this is a pretty cool scene, while musically this is the most progressive track on the album and features some great instrumental sections in the second half.

On to disc two, then, and after that excellent overture track, we get “Moment of Betrayal”, another more traditional prog track that is great on its own, but also sets off a huge chain of events, eventually paying off with a very dramatic scene in “The Path That Divides”, a track that starts off soft but quickly assaults the listener with some of the heaviest, darkest riffs on the album as the plot takes a violent turn with Arhys not betraying his brother, and instead being murdered by Daryus. This, of course, leads to Xander being really angry and he gives us an outburst of emotion on “The Walking Shadow”, the last really heavy track on the album, and probably the darkest moment of all, as Daryus attacks a target emerging from the shadows, thinking it’s Gabriel, but it turns out to be…. Faythe! Yep, it appears tragedy strikes, and Gabriel descends into darkness on “Whispers on the Wind”, before being riled up by a huge choir of fans on “Hymn of a Thousand Voices”, the climatic track of the album where Gabriel uses his voice to bring Faythe back, and we get a happy ending after. Following that track we get two happy tracks to close out the album, though the real standout of the two is “Our New World”, more of a soft progressive rock track where John Petrucci gives us one the happiest sounding guitar solos I’ve ever heard, and this section especially to me helps disprove anyone who says he can’t play with any feeling, because damn do I ever get major feels during that track! Really, most of the album does that to me, and his guitar work is brilliant throughout the album, but that song in particular really stands out. Lastly, the title track while more of a ballad, is a very nice closing to the album and it gives us an incredible final line “Our lives will be astonishing again.” Absolutely brilliant!

Even after over 2500 words, I will admit I still have not done this album justice, and to do so without writing a full length novel would be impossible, but alas, it’s now time to bring things to a close. For that, I will return to my opening question: What would happen if there was ever an album that combined the technical mastery of Dream Theater and the storytelling of Ayreon? The answer: That would be something absolutely brilliant! No, more than brilliant: It would be……… Astonishing!
Dream Theater - The Astonishing

"The Astonishing" is the thirteenth studio album by progressive metal band Dream Theater. Dream Theater is probably the most famous progressive metal band, achieving success in the early 90's with their hit song 'Pull Me Under'. While I'm not really a fan of progressive metal, I do love many of the early bands of the genre including Dream Theater. However, I do feel that Dream Theater's recent albums have been rather flat-sounding and uninspired. But, low and behold, Dream Theater has released a new album and are trying something new. So, with an album title like "The Astonishing", what could possibly go wrong?

Well, I can say one thing. It sure is astonishing, astonishingly bad and cluttered. The album is pretty much a mix of typical sappy DT ballads, pointless interludes that really don't fit in well, songs typical of the band since Portnoy left, and a couple songs that are actually pretty damn good. Those two songs are 'Three Days' and 'A Moment of Betrayal'. Both songs have a strong symphonic metal feel, and 'Three Days' has some swing elements reminiscent of Diablo Swing Orchestra. LaBrie gives a stellar vocal performance on this song, backed by some of Dream Theater's best riffs in quite a while. One thing I must compliment is the improvement on the percussion side, Mike Mangini's drumming finally doesn't sound as flat and seems to have a lot more feeling this time around.

Seeing as this is a concept album/rock opera, how's the story? Well, to sum it up quickly, imagine the cheesiest and most cliched RPG game you can think of. Then, think of the cheesiest and worst Disney movie you can think of. That's practically "The Astonishing". It's pretty much New Dream Theater mixed with a Disney musical and cliche RPG. It doesn't help that it's a double album that lasts over two hours. It's like they had maybe 40-45 minutes of decent/good material, then stuffed the rest of it with boring sappy ballads.

So, unless you like Disney musicals, symphonic double concept albums that are really long, are a Dream Theater fanboy/fangirl, or are suffering from insomnia, I would not recommend this. It's not the worst album I've ever heard, but it's certainly among the most boring. Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
"The Astonishing" is the 13th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in January 2016. It´s the successor to the self-titled album from 2013. "The Astonishing" is a double album release, featuring no less than 34 tracks and a full playing time of 2 hours and 20 minutes of music. It´s a concept album telling a dystopian sci-fi tale. Bearing that information in mind, "The Astonishing" is arguably Dream Theater´s most ambitious release up until now, and we are dealing with an artist who has already released the 57:33 minutes long EP "A Change of Seasons (1995)" (featuring the 23:09 minutes long title track), and of course the double album release "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002)" (featuring the 42:02 minutes long title track) among other ambitious projects. In that respect Dream Theater is today what an artist like Yes was in the 70s. Always pushing progressive rock/metal forward. There is a risk that in doing so you sometimes slip and fall or maybe become a bit overblown (which is what many fans and critics felt when Yes released "Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973)", without further comparisons to this project), and I´m afraid that´s the trap Dream Theater step into on "The Astonishing".

Stylistically the music on "The Astonishing" is unmistakably the sound of Dream Theater. It´s progressive rock/metal with challenging rhythmic playing, adventurous keyboards, virtuoso guitar playing, and James LaBrie´s distinct sounding voice in front. The album is generally a bit more song oriented and not quite as technical as we´re used to from the band, although there are still some very complex sections to be found on the album. The overall feeling after listening to the album is that of a musical or a rock opera though, which is something new in their discography. "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (1999)" was a concept album too, but it never felt like a rock opera/musical style album. Any minute while listening to "The Astonishing" I´m expecting other singers to join in and play/sing the supporting roles of the concept, but it´s only LaBrie singing, which is a bit of a shame when they opted to go down the rock opera/musical road, but LaBrie of course still does a great and professional job.

As far as concepts go, the story is overall rather predictable and the lyric lines are often cliché filled and quite frankly not very sophisticated or intriguing. The music is relatively dynamic with both heavy parts, epic parts, and more ballad type mellow parts. The more mellow part of the band´s sound is more prevailent here than ever before, and it becomes a bit tiresome after a while, because most of the more mellow tracks are very simple and not that memorable. In fact that ´s an issue throughout the album. The melodies either sound like a rehash of ideas from previous releases or they are forgettable and with such a long release the least you could ask is catchy melodies. You don´t really get that here.

It´s not all bad of course, and we´re as usual exposed to brilliant musicianship (as usual though it´s almost impossible to hear John Myung´s bass in the mix), a professional sound production, and professional songwriting too (although it´s not that interesting, it´s still obviously written by professionals). That´s why I don´t label "The Astonishing" a complete disaster, because obviously it´s a very bold attempt at doing something different, and I greatly respect that. I´m just pretty sure that if they had collected all the good ideas featured on the album and made a 45 minutes long album out of those ideas, instead of diluting them with filler material to push the playing time a good way past the 2 hour mark, this could have been a better quality release. I won´t rule out the possibility that others could enjoy this far more than I do, but to my ears it´s their least interesting release to date. Still, because of the professionalism on display, I think a 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong. That´s as objective a rating as you´ll get.
Have you ever been in a situation where your heart wants you to love a release but your brain keeps nagging you that it's actually not that good? That's exactly the position I've found myself in with the latest offering from US progressive metal titans Dream Theater. The album is The Astonishing (2016) and it's their thirteenth full-length. Much like the earlier Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002) The Astonishing is a double disc studio effort from the group. It's presented as a concept album in a rock opera format so on paper at least comparisons to acts such as Ayreon and Avantasia could be drawn, except the actual execution of the idea is all wrong.

You see projects like the aforementioned two have shown to the metal world that this format of concept album features a story with a cast of characters. That's exactly what Dream Theater has created here. The thing is those projects have also shown that in order for this format to be truly effective you also need to match a vocalist with each character. Yet on The Astonishing Dream Theater have elected to not bring in any guest vocalists to play the characters on their rock opera, instead having vocalist James LaBrie sing the lot, which results in the story becoming messy and lose all context. Now I'm not saying that even Ayreon did this sort of thing right every time. The first Ayreon album The Final Experiment (1995) actually had the opposite problem to The Astonishing as it featured a small cast a characters but a larger cast of vocalists sharing the roles. On further albums though Ayreon got the format dead right, including on The Human Equation (2004) which featured James LaBrie in the lead role, so it's surprising that LaBrie hasn't really brought anything from that experience to Dream Theater in order to make sure that this rock opera was done right. Maybe the band were afraid that having too many quest singers would mean their own singer didn't get as much singing time compared to the standard of an Ayreon album, but as my other rock opera example Avantasia proves you can still have a cast and a full time lead singer and make it work. So as a rock opera The Astonishing is something of a mess right from the word go.

What would save an album that didn't execute it's concept too well would be some awesome music but unfortunately that's the real kicker regarding why I don't see The Astonishing as being a very good Dream Theater album. It's just not that good. I wanted to love this album and I really tried my damnedest to like it, but the bottom line is that for the first time in their career Dream Theater have left me feeling completely underwhelmed by their music. Bored by it even. They pulled off a double disc album well with Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (an album that I recently found that I like more now that I did back when I was listening to Dream Theater a lot more often), but this time too much of the running time feels like filler designed to move the story along, which due to the above they aren't actually being very successful at doing. Conceptually it's overblown in the regard that story seems to have been the most important thing to Dream Theater and their music has really taken a beating for it, resulting in a drawn out album that I find a struggle to listen to at all, much less in a single sitting of over two hours and thirty-four tracks. It might help if I could even follow the story, but I can't. I don't know if it's because it's badly presented or because it's that uninteresting that my attention wanders, but neither is a good thing.

I'm not saying that this album doesn't have it's moments where I sit up and really take notice. I was even quite hopeful at the very start of the album with the decent instrumental Dystopian Overture followed by first proper song The Gift of Music, but such decent moments quickly become few and far between after that point. For a metal band, even for a progressive metal band like Dream Theater, there seems to be just too much time on this album given over to lighter and more ballad orientated music. I happen to not mind light music and have even enjoyed some of Dream Theater's forays into it on past releases (notably The Silent Man from Awake (1994)), but it's really not their forte. With so much time given over to it on The Astonishing its just yet another thing counting against me liking the album too much.

I've considered that an album with such grand intentions as The Astonishing can't really be fairly judged in the same amount of listens as one might a 'normal' album but there always comes a point where a listener has to write a release they are not enjoying off. The fact that I cannot find even a shred of motivation to listen to The Astonishing again says it all for me really. An absolutely (diehard) fans only release. I am bitterly disappointed.

Members reviews

Cylli Kat
On repeated listenings, I'm finding at least some things to appreciate on this release. [edited № Stardate 11812.15]

Dream Theater - The Astonishing.

Initially I had some real issues with this album, and repeated listenings didn't seem to help. Today, I tried something new; I played the album disc II first, then disc I. Then, I tried the entire album on random. I feel somewhat differently about The Astonishing after trying this approach. There are some very well written and performed parts of this album. There is also a fair amount of "filleresque" material (which I understand are integral to the "story") to be found here.

When Dream Theater gets it right, they absolutely shine, and there are moments of sheer brilliance to be found here, but the story itself and some of the filler stuff makes me cringe quite a bit...

Overall, I have to give Dream Theater some credit for being so confident, pompous and audacious to release this album. In my opinion, had they let the ideas brew a bit longer, and had John come up with a better, more mature storyline, this could have been a genuine masterpiece.

So, upon further listenings, reflection and review, I have to significantly upgrade my initial rating from zero to Three point 25 Stars (***.25)

A good, but not excellent addition to your collection.

As always, your mileage may vary,

Grace and peace, Cylli Kat (Jim Calistro)

Original review below;

Dream Theater The ASSEATISHING review № Stardate 11810.19...

Wow!!! Everything that Dream Theater could've done wrong they did do wrong on this remarkably horrendous pile of puerile, juvenile dreck.

After being endlessly assaulted on facebook every 28 seconds with some new bit of "blah, blah, blah", about this album (I'm talking about during its initial release days), I unfriended all the band members and unliked/unfollowed the band.

I literally thought: 'Whats next? A video game, a graphic novel, a CGI movie?!?!?' Not knowing I was actually close to the mark on that one...

This is so beyond dreadful. I've tried repeatedly to garner some type of appreciation for this album; but as of this writing the only thing I'm willing to do with the discs are turn them into coasters...

Completely vapid, inane, & banal concept, hyper-overdone virtuostic masturbation done with the inimitable Dream Theater aplomb.

This is what happens when you write an album to appeal to little girls who believe in Unicorns and play with My Little Pony®...

Time for Dream Theater to get back to making good music again...

Or, it's time for them to retire...

Believe me; I wanted to go on a song by song tirade, but I literally don't think I could bear to hear this album ever again, so, I scrapped that idea...

A great big fat ZERO on my personal scale. Forced to give it 1 star due to the PA rating process.

As always, your mileage may vary,

Grace and peace, Cylli (Jim Calistro)

Originally posted at progarchives.com
Ok...I know there is a lot of confliction about this record and people have their different opinions on its execution, but I am one of those who is not afraid to admit that I quite liked this record...I'm not saying that its a bad album or a great album, I think it sits somewhere in middle ground along with albums like 'Falling into Infinity' and 'When Day and Dream Unite', which in turn weren't really Dream Theater's strongest moments or that's what I think. Getting back to the album itself I found that this had a different curve on the music as it seems to be more dominated by Piano, Keyboard and orchestration rather than the extreme guitar and synth work Dream Theater is better known for, I'm not saying different is a bad thing though as bands tend to change music styles to suit a particular audience to attracted new fans while trying to keep old fans interested and coming back for more, but it seemed that this lighter approach put off a lot of old DT fans sadly. The only thing I was disappointed with was John Myoung's bass lines couldn't be heard and Mike Mangini's druming was a little too simplistic in places, but I enjoyed the concept of the record, I will say that when you first listen to it you really need to have the lyric book open so you know which character James LaBrie is portraying in turn and you really need to have alot of focus/concerntration for this record due to the duration of it...131 minutes worth of music and lyric content over 2CDs...glad I did have focus for this album...I would only say listen to this if you have the time and patience for it.
Bands change, right? That could be used to argue Dream Theater's case, but they never actually changed, did they?

"The Astonishing" is in itself a rather terrific concept album, and it explores very interesting territory in both its lyrical and its musical approach.

Even though I can totally say that the lyrics fulfill their job, they don't really do much more for me - probably since I don't really understand the astonishing concept that they do so much to explore. The music, though, seems to have given the word "progressive" an entirely new meaning. The band brilliantly crafts through symphonic passages and short blurbs. Standalone songs, such as "The Gift of Music" and "Our New World" help create checkpoints for listeners first exploring the three hours of snippets of vocals, guitars, and synthesizer solos.

If Mike Petrucci was there, they probably would have never created this album. Even though I prefer John Petrucci to Mike Mangini, it seems a real good thing that Mike Mangini took over on drums.

Many cheers for this great album - may it shine on, and hopefully, pave the road for future Dream Theater albums of the same sort.
The Astonishing. Dream Theater is immediately asking for criticism right from the start. Positive or negative, it's a pretty ballsy title. Having been a fan from 1992 until recently I feel as though it's time to make my opinion known, I mean, an awful lot of people have made their feelings known about this cd. I just read a review that claims that Dream Theater are the most technically proficient band in this genre. That MAY have been true in the past, but it sure as hell isn't the case anymore. There are a hundred bands in this vein that are equal to or exceed DT's level of talent. However, this is supposed to be about The Astonishing. In a word - No. Not astonishing. Not imaginative. Not original. And frankly, probably their worst attempt.... ever. No need to put out an album a year, or every two, if you don't have the songs. I am beside myself, having to write this, however, there is just too much great music out there to settle for this pablum. Don't waste your money. Don't even waste the 2 hours it takes to get through it. I am sorry to say that, for me, the ride is over. They need to go their separate ways and try to inject some freshness into their playing. I said. I am not happy about it. They were my favorite band for years. This listener is moving on. I know most of you won't agree, and that's fine. I don't agree with 75% of the reviews on here. Just felt the need.

1 1/2 stars

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