I’ve been enjoying Dream Theater‘s last release entitled The Astonishing since its release, this late January.

the_astonishing

After listening to it at least 20 times, I can say for sure that this is one of my all-time favorite Dream Theater albums. The combination of a cohesive story, with kick-ass orchestration and chorus, really resonates with me.

Being brutally honest, I’m pretty sure a lot of hardcore DT fans are going to hate this album, labeling it as “two hours of rock ballads”.

For me, everything is lost when I close my eyes and see the story happening inside my head, and credit where it’s due, this is LaBrie’s show. The different voices and emotions conveyed is one of the high points in my opinion. For a second close, we have Ruddess and Petrucci preparing the atmosphere for LaBrie to shine. Where is Myung and Mangini? Well, support roles this time. They do the job, but I kinda miss them overall.

This album is technically perfect – when you have a team of virtuozzo players, knowing they are trying to do less is a laudable effort.

Now, on to the individual track highlights.

Dystopian Overture

Something I would never expect for a metal album – putting all the melodies together, like they do at the operas.

The Answer

Wow, this one gave me goosebumps. Hard not to relate with times when we face opportunities at life and are kinda scared of trying, moving forward.

Lord Nafaryus

I really like how this music wildly changes the mood. Highlight for this part:

His decision is made
So his journey begins
Up to the edge of the realm
To meet the savior

In the coming days
They’ll announce His Grace
And he’ll ask to be amazed

When Your Time Has Come

Lyrics speak for themselves, great solo, rich-not-shredded-melody.

When you’re facing the path that divides
Know that I will be there by your side
Find your strength in the sound of my voice
And you’ll know which choice is right

Three Days

Voice dynamics really tell about Nafarius being a spoiled brat jealous of Gabriel’s being in the spotlight. Catchy chorus – one of my favorites. Remembers me of Build Me Up, Break Me Down.

Brother, Can You Hear Me?

Anthem. Goosebumps.

A Life Left Behind

This one remembers me of excerpts of Images and Words; Bonus points for Mangini here.

Chosen

I’m a sucker for good lyrics, and the music is more than appropriate to pass the message forward.

And there’s a reason, now I see
The reason I’ve been chosen
She sees the light inside of me
A reason to believe

A Tempting Offer

One of the most theatrical performances here.

A New Beginning

This is the album’s pinnacle, almost like a good old DT song, with a beautiful bass+drums+laid back guitar at the end. This song screams “maturity” as a band. Complex, layered song, without being technically excessive.

2285 Entr’acte

Just a beautiful tune. Move along

Moment Of Betrayal

Nice song overall, we can haz bass 🙂

Begin Again

I really like the well-blended orchestration towards the end.

My Last Farewell

Dark melody, dripping the pain the protagonist feels.

Losing Faythe

One of my favorite melodies from this album, specially when the orchestra joins.

There’s a reason now I see
The reason you have chosen
To find the light inside of me
If only I believed

Astonishing

I love the progressions found here

I don’t pretend to have the answer
Never said I have the key
But somehow they see, a light inside of me
Am I not the man who I was meant to be

Then becomes:

I’ve always had the answer
All this time I held the key
And now that I see
The reason to believe
I can be the man who I am meant to be

Wrap-Up

At the end of the day, originality, musicality, cohesion, emotion is what makes The Astonishing, well, Astonishing. Even if this doesn’t sound like your average Dream Theater album, it screams aloud that we still have much more to see from these crazy musicians.

I am eager to see them telling this story live, hope they come down to Brazil during this tour.

I definitely rate this 9.5 / 10.

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