Dream Theater
The Astonishing



by HunterHuntable USER (6 Reviews)
March 7th, 2016 | 9 replies

Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Not that astonishing

Dream Theater are a band you either love, loathe or tolerate. Having stapled several decades in the progressive genre and gone through multiple line-up changes with many classic and questionable albums, The Astonishing is no surprise to fans and haters alike: an ambitious and over the top effort that draws you in and spits you out.

The album is the first full concept album since 1999's epic Metropolis Pt II: Scenes from a Memory. Does it live up to Scenes or even Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence musically and lyrically? No, not by a long shot. The Astonishing is a mish-mash of music and cheesy storyline. Consider it Game of Star Wars. With over two hours of music, a few combined minutes of bleeping and strange science fiction noises and basically an hour of ballads, it's a strange concoction even for a band like Dream Theater.

There are many great moments throughout the record. The Gift of Music could easily be considered one of Dream Theater's best songs, at least for the Mangini era. The signature guitar VS synth solos are still present but not as much as one would come to expect. There's also the matter of James LaBrie's vocals which are usually seen as the weak point of the band by many. I personally love LaBrie's singing voice and though his talents are definitely showcased throughout, there tends to be a feeling that this rock opera would benefit from more variation. The album contains a full choir and orchestra but no real sense of the characters that are portrayed. It can be hard to follow which character is saying what. Special guests or perhaps even narration and dialogue would have cleaned up the story. You can't help but feel an Avantasia-like formula would have helped make this album shine. Unfortunately, the formula used here is ROCK SONG - BALLAD - ROCK SONG - RANDOM BLEEPING NOISES - ROCK SONG - BALLAD.
Lyrically The Astonishing is as bizarre as the storyline. With a true Rush 2112 inspiration throughout, the lyrics are often cringeworthy. One such example features in Act of Faythe:
"My music player
My private paradise
My music player
A refuge I must hide"

The problem isn’t that there is so much of this album; it’s that there’s so little that is memorable. It’s an album that requires growing time. Ultimately though, it’s so typically Dream Theater that you can’t help but admire the content. There are some great tracks to be heard on The Astonishing. From their happiest and poppiest "The Road to Revolution" to "Our New World" the latter of which could easily have come from the Falling into Infinity sessions.
Is it a bad album? No. It's just not a great one. It's a long and overly complex record that if trimmed would stand out as one of their finest. For the first time listener the album requires patience and focus, most of which becomes difficult after the fourth or fifth ballad. Not even an orchestra or choir or fancy production budget could save Dream Theater this time.
Like the band itself, this is an album you'll either love or hate. You may simply read up on the plot and your mind will be made up.

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Comments:Add a Comment 
March 7th 2016


Album Rating: 3.0

I listened for a month before daring to write a review.

March 7th 2016


Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off


March 7th 2016


Album Rating: 1.5

Hunter the problem is in that month about fifty other Sputnik users beat you to the punch

March 7th 2016


Album Rating: 2.5

Good review, well said pos'd.

March 7th 2016


Album Rating: 3.5

Review is a little short for the two hour listen. I don't find quite a lot of memorable songs that's true, but that album to me as a whole, is memorable. That's something I've rarely felt hence my rating. But yeah the concept story really sucks.

March 7th 2016


Album Rating: 3.0

Just made it through the first disc. Take out the ballads and I'd say it would be one of their better albums, I'm already enjoying it more than all their post-Portnoy records. Worth noting that Rudess and Labrie kill it... perhaps that also explains the number of ballads. Off to disc two.

March 8th 2016


Album Rating: 2.0

never even checked

March 9th 2016


Album Rating: 3.0

DoofusWainwright, yep but I wasn't trying to be first in at reviewing this

March 9th 2016


lol that rating chart

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