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(8/10) Dream Theater enters almost new territory with their new double header "The Astonishing". It's the second time that the New York-based band releases a concept album that is, this time, spread out over two CD's ("Scenes from a Memory" has been the first concept album). In total 34 songs, some of them are more interludes than full songs, found a spot on the setlist.

The story, told on "The Astonishing", is a kind of futuristic tale that takes place after the breakdown of society. Things developed backwards after such a collapse and old, almost medievil, structures have been re-developed. Such a story of course demands a hero which, in this case, is a young guy that gives hope to the people by music. In this context the new longplayer can stand in line with rock operas like "Tommy" and "The Wall", not only when it comes to the story, but also when it comes to way the tunes are written and put together on the album.

This story is the base for such an ambitious musical package that is combining a lot of Dream Theater moments on one release. The sound and the expertise of the five-piece is predestinated for such a challenging album. Dream Theater increases the width of the their sound on this double CD by even experiementing with bagpipes sounds, electronic moments and James La Brie also discovers the 'evil' spectrum in his vocal range, moments when he sound rough and menacing. I'm not sure if this would have been taken place if the story would have screamed fior it.

All this enriches the album since it unveils new details each time you listen to it. "The Astonishment" is everything, but for sure not musical fast food. The record is more a eight couse dinner that demands time and asks for attention. Some of the dishes are well known, some incrediences are newly combined and some things might not fir your taste. Anyhow, "The Astonishing" unveils various shades of Dream Theater's trademarks.

An introduction called "Descent of the Nomads" opens the first chapter of this more than 2 hours long story, followed by a dramatic number called "Dystopian Overture". It's an instrumental that could be also taken from a movie soundtrack.

After such a non-vocals beginning James LaBrie gets his first 'scene' with "The Gift of Music", a quite melodic moment accompanied by a certain ease. Compared to this more Dream Theater typical song structure, "Lord Nafaryus" has a far more rock musical-like expression. Songs like "Brother, Can You Hear Me?" follows the same pattern which underlines the rock opera atmosphere of this longplayer.

Silent tracks are present on "The Astonishing" (Act of Faythe") as well as electronical interludes that are popping up here and there.

Tunes like "Three Days" combine drama with complexity and very melodic vocallines. "The Road to Revolution" brings together all these elements too and the result is a great tune with big soundscapes.

The main songwriters for "The Astonishing" have been John Petrucci and keyboarder Jordan Rudness. That's something that can be heard back on the album by some quite hard riffs as well as reoccuring piano parts and keyboard foundations. Actually I had a few moments, thinking that some of the songs sound like Dream Theater meets Savatage/TSO.

The sound of "The Astonishing" is very well done. The record got a clean and organic production, in which each of the instruments gets its space. Sometimes the production switsches into being more cold and technical, just as demanded by the storybook.

Dream Theater's new album brings more than 2 hours of finest Dream Theater music to your home. "The Astonishment" is an album that might be perceived controversially but it contains, without any doubt, a lot of great songs. It might became a bit long but if you handle it like a 2 hours movie rather than a 'normal' longplayer, then you will explore, step by step, the beauty of each of the tunes. All in all, the album is a brave step that shows Dream Theater in a partly new manner by still being 100% Dream Theater.

 

(8/10)

 

Tracklist:

Disc: 1

  1. Descent of the Nomands
  2. Dystopian Overture
  3. The Gift of Music
  4. The Answer
  5. A Better Life
  6. Lord Nafaryus
  7. A Savior in the Square
  8. When Your Time Has Come
  9. Act of Faythe
  10. Three Days
  11. The Hovering Sojourn
  12. Brother, Can You Hear Me?
  13. A Life Left Behinbd
  14. Ravenskill
  15. Chosen
  16. The Tempting Offer
  17. Digital Dischord
  18. The X Aspect
  19. A New Beginning
  20. The Road to Revolution

Disc: 2

  1. 2285 Entr'acte
  2. Moment of Betrayal
  3. Heaven's Cove
  4. Begin Again
  5. The Path That Divides
  6. Machine Chatter
  7. The Walking Shadow
  8. My Last farewell
  9. Losing Faythe
  10. Whispers on the Wind
  11. Hymn of a thousand Voices
  12. Our New World
  13. Power Down
  14. Astonishing

 

Label: Roadrunner Records

Genre: Prog Metal

Release Date EU: January 29th, 2016

CD review DREAM THEATER "The Astonishing"
Tag(s) : #Dream Theater, #News, #CD Review, #Heavy Metal, #Prog Rock, #Prog Metal, #Rock Opera, #Concept

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