Dream Theater – The Astonishing

How do you dissect a 210 minutes, 34 songs long concept album and turn it into a subjective review without sacrificing anything? Not an easy undertaking when the band in question also happens to be your absolutely favourite band, but here goes nothing…

“The Astonishing” is Dream Theater’s first attempt at a complete lyrical concept album since their opus magnum “Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory” back in 1999. The story takes place in the future and they describe it as follows: “”The Astonishing” paints a tale of a retro-futurist post-apocalyptic dystopia ruled by medieval style feudalism. It’s a place aching for a Chosen One to rise above the noise and defeat an Empire defined by the endless drone of noise machines and the illusion of safety in bland conformity”. I have never been much of a lyrics geek, and they could be singing about cats and dogs for all I care, what matters to me is that the music and vocal lines create a perfect symbiosis.

And like its been the case with all Dream Theater releases following their groundbreaking sophomore release “Images and Words” this album is bound to split the masses. Alone the sheer amount of music on offer will turn some off, and yes it does take its toll on the listener. I’ve listen to this release as much as possible this past week, and I am sure I haven’t discovered half and the album will continue to expand and impress over the course of time.

To get into specific songs or parts of the album would be pointless, because this is one big conceptual epos, where each song is a small piece to the puzzle. Sure everything isn’t shining equally bright and there might be too many songs on offer here. But the end result is a massive progressive metal album of epic proportions.

“The Astonishing” is no new “Scenes”, and it might not even crack my personal Dream Theater Top 5. But it’s never-the-less an album that proves why they are the premier progressive metal band on the planet. They take us on an outstanding adventure into the future, and sets the bar very high for all acts to follow.

This feels and sounds like Dream Theater, and I being a huge fan of theirs is one happy fellow, and my expectations have been fulfilled and now I can’t wait to see and hear the complete album performed live on stage (in March).

This belongs in the upper echelon of our rankings, closer to 10 devils than to 9. It’s not a perfect album, but darn near…


Act I
1. Descent of the NOMACS (NOMACS instrumental) (1:10)
2. Dystopian Overture (Instrumental) (4:50)
3. The Gift of Music (4:00)
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 (NOMACS instrumental) (0:27)
12. Brother, Can You Hear Me? (5:11)
13. A Life Left Behind (5:49)
14. Ravenskill (6:01)
15. Chosen (4:32)
16. A Tempting Offer (4:19)
17. Digital Discord (NOMACS instrumental) (0:47)
18. The X Aspect (4:13)
19. A New Beginning (7:40)
20. The Road to Revolution (3:35)

Act II
1. 2285 Entr’acte (Instrumental) (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 (NOMACS instrumental) (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 (NOMACS instrumental) (1:25)
14. Astonishing (5:51)

Playing Time: 79:49 (Disc 1), 50:34 (Disc 2)

Release date: January 29, 2016

Label: Roadrunner Records

Website: www.dreamtheater.net

Kenn Jensen
About Kenn Jensen 434 Articles
When I kicked this site off back in 2003, I had no idea that it would turn into what it has become. I am very proud of what we've done and achieved over the years. Musically I have a soft spot for 80s inspired hard rock, but my favourite music and bands are all to be found in the progressive universe these days.

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