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DREAM THEATER

Progressive Metal • United States


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Dream Theater biography
I. Introduction

II. History
    A. Formation and Early Years (1985-1990)
    B. A New Singer and Success (1990-1993)
    C. The Middle Period and Band Turbulence (1994-1998)
    D. Jordan Rudess and the New Millennium (1999-2006)
    E. The Roadrunner Years and the Departure of Mike Portnoy (2007- )

III. Style, Live reputation, Bootleg Culture, and Conclusion



DREAM THEATER is a progressive metal band formed in 1985 in Boston, Massachusetts by guitarist John PETRUCCI, bassist John MYUNG, and drummer Mike PORTNOY. Since the band's conception, they have become one of the most influential post-1970s progressive rock bands as well as ranking as one of the early progenitors of the entire progressive metal genre.



II. History

A. Formation and Early Years (1985-1990)

Based in a love of the sophistication of YES, the virtuosity of RUSH, and the heaviness of IRON MAIDEN, DREAM THEATER had a desire to create complex, heavy, and progressive from the very beginning. Guitarist and bassist PETRUCCI and MYUNG grew up together on Long Island, New York. After high school, both received scholarships to the esteemed Berklee University of Music, where they met drummer PORTNOY, who, incidentally, grew up in a nearby area. The trio soon became friends and began making music together and settled upon the name MAJESTY. This name came about when PORTNOY described RUSH's song "Bastille Day" as "majestic" as they were waiting outside a Rush concert to open. As the band became more "serious," they went out looking for a keyboardist and vocalist. Eventually the band found PORTNOY's high schoolmate Kevin MOORE to play keys as well as schoolmate Chris COLLINS to sing in 1986. The new 5-piece recorded a 6 song demo titled simply "The Majesty Demos" in 1986 on PORTONY's analog 4-track cassette recorder, making an initial run of 1,000 tapes. The tapes, to the band's surprise sold out relatively quickly, which was aided also by the band's distribution of the tapes to friends, family, local rock and metal magazines.

Only a few months after the release...
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The Astonishing (2CD)The Astonishing (2CD)
Roadrunner Records 2016
Audio CD$8.99
$12.99 (used)
Dream TheaterDream Theater
Roadrunner Records 2013
Audio CD$11.26
$7.68 (used)
Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a MemoryMetropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory
Elektra 1999
Audio CD$4.94
$0.97 (used)
OctavariumOctavarium
Atlantic 2005
Audio CD$3.47
$0.47 (used)
The Studio Albums 1992-2011The Studio Albums 1992-2011
Box set
Roadrunner 2014
Audio CD$36.59
$43.58 (used)
AwakeAwake
Atlantic 1994
Audio CD$3.49
$0.44 (used)
A Dramatic Turn of Events (Special Edition) (CD+DVD)A Dramatic Turn of Events (Special Edition) (CD+DVD)
Roadrunner Records 2011
Audio CD$5.49
$4.01 (used)
Train of ThoughtTrain of Thought
Elektra 2003
Audio CD$3.24
$1.38 (used)
Images and WordsImages and Words
Atco Records 1992
Audio CD$4.15
$0.55 (used)
Falling Into InfinityFalling Into Infinity
Atlantic 0191 2012
Audio CD$3.85
$0.44 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
DREAM THEATER Metropolis Pt 2 Scenes From A Memory VINYL 2 LP Numbered Sealed USD $100.00 [0 bids]
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Dream Theater - Systematic Chaos [CD New] USD $7.50 Buy It Now 7h 39m
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9h
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11h 48m
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12h 7m
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Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence ~ Dream Theater USD $2.92 [0 bids]
12h 47m
Awake by Dream Theater (CD, Oct-1994, Elektra (Label)) USD $7.99 Buy It Now 12h 57m
Dream Theater Signed Systematic Chaos Special Edition CD USD $169.99 [0 bids]
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13h 9m
Dream Theater - Score (XOX - 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the... USD $2.92 [0 bids]
13h 17m
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Dream Theater - Instru-Mental I, II and III. 3 CD Trilogy RARE!! USD $55.00 [0 bids]
14h 14m
Live in Japan by Dream Theater (VHS, Nov-1993, A*Vision Entertainment) USD $9.50 Buy It Now 16h 22m
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18h
Dream Theater-Falling Into Infinity(Ltd Numbered 2 x White Vinyl Remastered) USD $39.60 Buy It Now 18h 27m
Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From A Memory (Cassette-1999 East/West) USD $14.99 Buy It Now 19h 45m
AWAKE BY DREAM THEATER (CASSETTE-1994 EAST/WEST,ELEKTRA) SEALED AND UNPLAYED USD $14.99 Buy It Now 19h 54m
A CHANGE OF SEASONS BY DREAM THEATER (CASSETTE-1995 ESAST/WEST, ELEKTRA) SEALED USD $10.99 Buy It Now 20h 6m
Dream Theater - Theater of War USD $9.50 Buy It Now 20h 15m
Dream Theater CD..Awake (CD, Oct-1994, Elektra (Label)) USD $4.99 Buy It Now 20h 21m
Dream Theater - A Change of Seasons (CD 1995) USD $5.85 Buy It Now 21h 29m
Live At Budokan (Us Release) Dream Theater Audio CD USD $16.14 Buy It Now 22h 2m
Once In A Livetime, 0075596230827, Dream Theater USD $12.16 Buy It Now 22h 8m
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1 day
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Greatest Hit (....And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) by Dream Theater (CD, Apr-2... USD $5.50 [2 bids]
1 day
Once In A Lifetime by Dream Theater (CD, 2 Discs, EastWest) USD $4.99 [0 bids]
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DREAM THEATER Metropolis Pt 2 Scenes From A Memory 180g VINYL 2xLP Hand-Numbered USD $161.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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Dream Theater: When Dream And Day Unite [SHM-CD] (Japan) USD $37.42 Buy It Now 1 day
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DREAM THEATER shows & tickets


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DREAM THEATER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DREAM THEATER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.20 | 1098 ratings
When Dream And Day Unite
1989
4.30 | 2471 ratings
Images And Words
1992
4.13 | 1810 ratings
Awake
1994
3.33 | 1340 ratings
Falling Into Infinity
1997
4.29 | 2533 ratings
Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory
1999
4.14 | 1706 ratings
Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence
2002
3.58 | 1590 ratings
Train Of Thought
2003
3.66 | 1781 ratings
Octavarium
2005
3.31 | 1518 ratings
Systematic Chaos
2007
3.44 | 1414 ratings
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
2009
3.86 | 1425 ratings
A Dramatic Turn Of Events
2011
3.34 | 746 ratings
Dream Theater
2013
3.62 | 403 ratings
The Astonishing
2016

DREAM THEATER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.65 | 356 ratings
Live At The Marquee
1993
3.30 | 347 ratings
Once In A Livetime
1998
4.58 | 480 ratings
Live Scenes From New York
2001
4.26 | 427 ratings
Live At Budokan
2004
4.47 | 490 ratings
Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.69 | 67 ratings
Happy Holidays
2013

DREAM THEATER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.21 | 171 ratings
Images And Words - Live In Tokyo
1993
4.37 | 380 ratings
Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York
2001
3.82 | 175 ratings
Live in Tokyo/5 Years in a Livetime
2004
4.07 | 103 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite [Official Bootleg]
2004
4.31 | 370 ratings
Live at Budokan
2004
3.62 | 45 ratings
A Walk Beside The Band
2005
4.42 | 391 ratings
Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.94 | 131 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
4.09 | 70 ratings
Bucharest, Romania 7/4/02
2007
3.44 | 207 ratings
Chaos In Motion 2007/2008
2008
2.37 | 67 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 5 Other Pretty Cool Videos)
2008
3.68 | 41 ratings
Live at Tokyo Sun Plaza
2009
4.16 | 114 ratings
Live at Luna Park
2013
4.54 | 90 ratings
Breaking The Fourth Wall (Live From The Boston Opera House)
2014

DREAM THEATER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

2.13 | 171 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 21 other pretty cool songs)
2008
4.05 | 37 ratings
Original Album Series
2011

DREAM THEATER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

2.94 | 31 ratings
Afterlife
1989
3.29 | 30 ratings
Status Seeker
1989
2.86 | 23 ratings
The ATCO Demos
1991
2.88 | 54 ratings
Another Day
1992
3.64 | 47 ratings
Pull Me Under
1992
2.87 | 39 ratings
Caught In A Web
1994
3.76 | 51 ratings
The Silent Man
1994
3.02 | 50 ratings
Lie
1994
3.66 | 603 ratings
A Change Of Seasons
1995
3.17 | 56 ratings
Hollow Years
1997
3.86 | 32 ratings
Once In A LIVEtime Outtakes (International Fan Club CD 1998)
1998
3.08 | 56 ratings
Cleaning Out The Closet
1999
3.18 | 60 ratings
Through Her Eyes
2000
2.04 | 31 ratings
Christmas 2000 Fan Club CD
2000
1.91 | 31 ratings
4 degrees of Radio edits
2002
3.32 | 19 ratings
When Demos and Singles Unite
2002
3.01 | 37 ratings
Taste The Memories
2003
2.94 | 30 ratings
Graspop Festival 2002 (International Fanclub CD 2003)
2003
3.17 | 41 ratings
The Making Of Scenes From A Memory
2003
2.80 | 93 ratings
The Number Of The Beast
2003
1.91 | 102 ratings
Master Of Puppets
2003
2.67 | 31 ratings
Los Angeles, California 5/18/98
2003
3.33 | 33 ratings
Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95
2003
3.04 | 43 ratings
The Majesty Demos 1985 - 1986 [Official bootleg]
2003
3.74 | 28 ratings
A Sort Of Homecoming
2004
3.30 | 33 ratings
Images and Words: Demos 1989 - 1991 [Official Bootleg]
2004
3.80 | 62 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite
2004
2.83 | 24 ratings
When Dream And Day Unite Demos 1987-1989
2004
3.33 | 118 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
2.48 | 33 ratings
Awake Demos
2006
3.13 | 30 ratings
Old Bridge, New JERSEY - 12/14/96
2006
3.34 | 59 ratings
Made in Japan [Official Bootleg]
2006
3.45 | 35 ratings
Images and Words - 15th Anniversary Performance (Fan Club CD 2007)
2007
4.15 | 68 ratings
Falling Into Infinity: Demos 1996-1997 [Official Bootleg]
2007
3.15 | 38 ratings
Constant Motion
2007
3.65 | 37 ratings
New York City 3/4/93
2007
3.73 | 15 ratings
Progressive Nation 2008 - The International Fan Clubs CD 2008
2008
2.48 | 55 ratings
Forsaken
2008
2.57 | 68 ratings
A Rite of Passage
2009
3.10 | 73 ratings
Stargazer
2009
3.37 | 69 ratings
Tenement Funster/Flick Of The Wrist/Lily Of The Valley
2009
3.65 | 54 ratings
Odyssey
2009
3.48 | 50 ratings
Take Your Fingers From My Hair
2009
3.20 | 68 ratings
Larks Tongues In Aspic, Pt. 2
2009
3.19 | 75 ratings
Wither
2009
3.10 | 42 ratings
Uncovered 2003-2005
2009
2.51 | 26 ratings
The Making of Falling Into Infinity
2009
3.16 | 25 ratings
Train of Thought Instrumental Demos 2003
2009
3.56 | 113 ratings
On the Backs of Angels
2011
3.21 | 69 ratings
The Enemy Inside
2013
4.23 | 22 ratings
Illumination Theory
2014

DREAM THEATER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.62 | 403 ratings

BUY
The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
Special Collaborator Rock Progressivo Italiano Team

5 stars New Dream Theater releases always elicit two very conflicting reactions amongst the wide range of prog-rock and heavy metal listeners. To the long-time loyal worshipping faithful, Dream Theater are the most technically skilled, flawless and thrilling leaders of the prog-metal genre that exist beyond criticism, and to the unconverted many they're the most grandiose, cheesy and embarrassing example of progressive musical masturbation imaginable - there's very little medium ground! Well, it's very likely that both the uninterested and proper DT fans had no idea what was in store from the heavy prog group this time around, and modern progressive releases don't come any more lavish, stylish, self-indulgent and excessive than this!

Delivering what is easily the most ambitious studio work of their 31 year, 13 studio album career to date, `The Astonishing' is no less than a full-blown grandiose heavy rock opera, the likes of which Dream Theater or endless lesser progressive rock bands have never even come close to attempting before. A two and a half hour extravaganza based around a futuristic concept about the future of music (although there's much more to it than that), guitarist John Petrucci drew inspiration from his obsession with `Game of Thrones' and similar epic sagas, and sure enough the album is made up of a wordy, complex narrative detailing a rich variety of characters, all given voice by lead vocalist Jamie Labrie (no slumming it with multiple guest vocalists like those Ayreon discs, thank you very much!), which is initially intimidating and confusing, so keep the CD booklet handy!

The continuous suites of music that feature on the double CD set are generously swamped in pompous orchestra and choir, with soaring over-the-top symphonic themes, plentiful regal fanfares, drippy ballads and break-neck heavy metal instrumental runs woven in and around them. Although the combination doesn't always deliver the goods, the undeniable ambition, confidence and sheer ego on display is hugely impressive, and there's not many bands that would have the pull and status in the progressive rock community to be allowed such a challenging undertaking. Much of the credit here must go the keyboard talents of Jordan Ruddess who frequently dominates the direction of the music, essentially (for better or worse) going `Full Wakeman' (and you should NEVER go `Full Wakeman'!) and delivering lavish endless spiralling piano runs and dazzling keyboard workouts full of symphonic flair. This means it's definitely Dream Theater's least obviously metal work (something some die-hard metalheads will likely find impossible to get past), but perseverance is the key, and the harder heavy moments show up with more frequency on the second disc.

Early observations that the album is almost completely devoid of proper songs proves to often be inaccurate, as repeated listens (and that is an absolute must that simply has to be committed to if you ever hope to begin to appreciate the effort on display here) reveals plenty of self-contained grand themes with sweeping harmonies and clever reprises of earlier moments. Instead of bombarding the listener with endless lengthy instrumental runs, they're instead skilfully implemented in constant short bursts around the vocal passages. As the album can prove to be somewhat overwhelming, it might be best for listeners to divide the two discs into chunks of several tracks in a row and stick to playing them over and over, then moving on to another few, as it may be the only way to get your head around the bulk of the album.

Despite that assumption that a two-plus hour Dream Theater album would likely be jammed full of endless lengthy instrumental runs, it's actually vocalist James Labrie that drives the majority of the discs. He remains as ever a hugely divisive singer, but to his credit he has never attempted such a challenging range of styles as he does here. On `The Astonishing' he certainly sounds stronger, more varied and much more convincing than, for instance, the desperate `Dark Master' embarrassments of the earlier `Systematic Chaos' album that attempted a similar `fantasy-lyric' style. Unfortunately the dreaded `breathy oh-so-emotional' drippy ballad moments that Labrie often attempts are out in full-force throughout this set (some have labelled the album `Disney Theater' in a very snarky way!), and there's a definite overreliance on chest-beating call-to-arms moments (although they probably make more sense in the context of the story), but thankfully the melodies are strong that they often lift even the sappiest moments. Labrie comes across as very determined to impress here, and whether you really love his approach or not, it really is a showcase for the singer and he deserves a lot of praise.

There's several highlights scattered throughout the entire collection. Where it was once a throwaway `single' on its first release, `The Gift of Music' is perfectly placed right after an instrumental teasing overture of themes to come that opens the first disc, delivering as a punchy and catchy melodic rocker to get the blood flowing right from her start. `A Better Life' delivers a winning chorus that soars on repeated plays and a tightly executed guitar solo, `Lord Nafaryus' is almost Queen-like, `A Saviour in the Square' is heavy E.L.P blustery fanfare and `When Your Time Has Come' has a romantic reassuring lyric for it's warm chorus. `Three Days' has moments of cartoonish theatrical pantomime pomp, the opening of `A Life Left Behind' shamelessly and affectionately apes Yes' `Tempus Fugit' off their `Drama' album, `Chosen' is an epic power ballad, and the intricate `A New Beginning' holds the longest instrumental stretches of the first disc where all the players are given lengthy soloing moments to shine, with drummer Mike Mangini especially powering up a storm.

The second disc opens with another overture `2285 Entr'Acte' that hints of the better fusion of heavy metal with orchestra, choir and intricate instrumental elements to come. `Moment of Betrayal' delivers heavy riffing and a terrific chorus lifted by effective group harmonies, plus the instrumental soloing spot in the middle brings to mind traces of Dream Theater's earlier epic `Scenes from a Memory'. Delicate piano, Opeth-like acoustic guitar and a gothic eeriness permeates between heavier bursts in `Heaven's Cove', and in a few moments `Begin Again' swoons with Focus-like flair behind a triumphant symphonic choir and orchestral chorus (but man, the `Frozen/Tangled' Disney qualities really fly on this one!). There's a creeping dramatic tension to `The Path that Divides' with galloping riffing, the heavy riffs take on a battering quality behind loopy synth runs on `The Walking Shadow' (with a touch of King Crimson metallic edge), and `Hymn of a Thousand Voices' is a warm Yes-like ballad with strong vocal harmonies and lovely violin before becoming consumed my pompous choir. `Our New World' is a confident and effortlessly melodic AOR rocker, and `Astonishing' sweeps with orchestral reprises of previous themes and a final run of absurd blustery fanfares to make for a fittingly big finale.

Whether you like it or not, Dream Theater have delivered a big progressive work that may prove, in its own way, to be one of those genre-changing double works such as `Tales from Topographic Oceans', `The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway' and `The Wall' (and to a lesser extent `Subterranea' and `Snow' by I.Q and Spock's Beard), forever to be argued about, discussed, misunderstood, equally praised and derided, declared a self-indulgent incoherent mess by some, the crowning achievement of their discography by others. `The Astonishing' literally harkens back to a time when the greatest crime of bands like Yes, Genesis and Pink Floyd delivering these hugely challenging double length works was simply being endlessly ambitious, experimental and inventive, full of creativity and inspiration at just the right time, determined to test both their listeners and themselves. The fact that the band are really pushing the whole album format as a proper artistic musical statement that demands to be played over and over here in an era of nonsense pick-and- mix single downloads is also hugely admirable. Love Dream Theater or hate them, this is everything progressive rock should and can be, and as such, whether loathed or worshipped, it deserves immense respect and recognition. Big moments in progressive rock don't happen too often anymore, and fans of the style should be thankful events like this can still happen in the genre.

Five stars.

PS ' Sorry for `The Astonishing'-length review!

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.62 | 403 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Thorkiller

2 stars ...and The Confusing. That's probably the word that sums up my current relationship with this band. To be honest, I started losing interest in Dream Theater all the way back in Octavarium. The only good thing about that album is the self-titled song, and after that the album releases has been absolutely medi-core. Other than that, DT has meant a lot to me way back as a younger kid getting into prog music, but that was actually when they made good albums. And for each album DT released without Portnoy, I related myself more and more on why Portnoy wanted a break from the band and eventually quit the whole thing as a result. I just can't relate to the music anymore, which is also the same reason Portnoy decided to end the relationship. It's just so sad that the rest of the guys didn't see it the same way.

This review will not go through every song and detail about the story, but more as a overview of the current path that DT has taken the last few years, and their last few albums, especially this one. Sooo, I sat down in the couch and prepared myself for 2 hours of music that I didn't really get a good vibe from either the INCREDIBLY cheesy trailer on YouTube, or the two singles released online, beforehand. And listening to the first few songs, I knew exactly where this train of thought was heading.

It was heading full speed to Petrucci-Land, a place where drum-mixing has a progressive meaning; progressively WORSE for each album they release apparently. And how hard is it, really, to listen to feedback from TWO albums beforehand, that people who liked them even complained about the mixing? As we all know by now, Petrucci have seemed to take complete control over the ship since Portnoy's departure. And that was also my main concern about DT's future when they brought in Mangini, which btw is a amazing drummer (too bad everything is triggered to death and poorly mixed). The feeling I got when I first finished the album, was the same as the two previous albums. It's sounds like they've just run out of ideas and desperately tries to recycle stuff from previous work.

I feel like "The Astonishing" is like a reeeeally long version of the song "A nightmare to remember", from the BCaSL album. This epic, grand scale fantasy, angels and demons themed sound that both Ayreon and Symphony X did a 100 times better already. Petrucci was not afraid of mentioning Lord Of The Rings and Game Of Thrones as influences to this album, and if he grows a little more beard and pump even more iron, he's going to turn into a bear straight out of those books, by this rate. While it sure is brave and admirable to try to make a Rock-Opera, it just turned out very nerdy and cheesy. But I quite like the idea and theme tho, this future utopia where the only music is some kind noise that some flying Matrix-like robots are delivering as the "only acceptable (and propagandic) music" from the government. But to execute this in form of a concept album, was a little too much to expect. The whole setting of this album just felt like such a downgrade from their previous, well respected and very much intellectual concept albums. It's like Petrucci forgot how to create some depth and symbolic meaning in their music, and instead went full on making a kids bedtime story book (Any1 starting to feel Portnoy's absence here???). Because that's literally how I feel like the lyrics and the plot turned out; very cliché and a story so foreseeing that it was almost embarrassing at times.

It's almost hard to think this is the same band that gave us Scenes From a Memory and And Six Degrees. Those where good stories. But somehow a 40+ year old man comes up with Emperor Nafaryus and Crown Prince Daryus, which sounds way to childish to be taken seriously by me, anyway. After a couple more listenings to the whole thing, I still feel somehow the same. I truly think it's hard for a band, already made 12 albums before this (and played probably every scale and technique in existence on those), to come up with something fresh. And it just felt like they made this because it was the only thing they really could do, to not repeat themselves. The album has a few cool parts here and there, and I like the live orchestral approach to things. The playing ability is also present, but it lacks serious dynamic. Generally I feel that their newer work has become more compressed, more studio polished and straight out lazy made at times.

So where does this leave DT now, in the future? They have already done normal, big, small, double, softer, harder and even more mainstream albums. And to me, it all sums up the point Portnoy had (not trying to sound like a Portnoy fanboy here). DT's creativity is running out. They should have done like Porcupine Tree, stop while you are at your best, and do something else for a while. And eventually come back refreshed and with new ideas which is more than just the same old. I think it's a hard time being a DT fan these days, because so many of us long for what once was.

With Portnoy's departure, they didn't just lose a drummer. They lost, maybe the biggest creative force and visionary in the band. And that's been proven and shown, sadly, for the 3rd time now...

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.62 | 403 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by King Manuel

2 stars When I heard "The Gift of Music" prior to the album release I was thrilled. What an uplifting, catchy and energetic tune. With high expectations I started looking forward to the release of "The Astonishing". When I finally got the album however disappointment set in quickly. The "Gift of music" stands out as a highlight amongst a huge amount of mediocre unmemorable cheesy ballads (Act of Faythe, Alife left behind, Begin Again, Loosing Faythe, Hymn of a thousand voices) and lots of mid-tempo theatrical pomp rock pieces (e.g. Brother Can You hear me, The Road to Revolution, My last farewell, Astonishing ). This album probably holds the record with the most "skip" candidates in my collection so far.

I have been a big Dream Theatre fan since When Dream and Day Unite hit the shelves and I have bought all albums, bought several DVDs and attend several life performances. And with all those purchases I have always been satisfied, sometimes more than satisfied, truly thrilled (Octavarium, A dramatic turn of events, Dream Theater) and totally blown away (WDaDU, Images and Words). But this is for me the absolute lowest point in a long career of an otherwise brilliant band. The often criticised "Falling into infinity" is a stellar masterpiece compared to this. One and a half stars. You can add a couple of stars if you are a fan of cheesy and cringe worthy musicals.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.62 | 403 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by jampa17
Prog Reviewer

4 stars Amazing if you are a fan, average if you are a hater

Well, is either way with Dream Theater, to love them or hate them. Even for older fans who now they claim "they are not fun anymore". Well, I have to tell you, after the somewhat disapoiting Self titled album, this one is particularly interesting, fresh and strong for DT standards.

I mean, the story is good, is solid and the dialogs are quite cool. James Labrie did a strong effort to bring character to each of the parts and rolls and the musicianship is as always, overwhelming and powerful. This is Petrucci's baby all along, he wrote all the lyrics and he shared credits of the music only with Jordan Rudess, who is usually the perfect assistant to what is up in the mind of the guitar player. And still, even without the creative input from James and John Myung, the album ended up well rounded and cool.

The first disc is more powerful, setting the tone, with a lot of music going on, short songs and making it quite interesting in some parts. If you are already a fan, you will be in safe and already known waters. Some tricks here and there that will catch your attention, but is the same strong DT that we love. It's simple.

The second disc is a lot more slow and mellow, just like the second disc of SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE. Of course, you will need a lot of time to appreciate it as a whole since it lasts more than two hours. But, I think it's great to have bands that demand more from the audience, they don't care about the digital tendencies from nowadays of hearing singles and ignoring the complete disc. In this case, you need to go on and listen an pay attention to the story, to the plot and of course, the music.

It's a strong 4 stars album. It has everything DT is known for: great and interesting riffs and instrumental parts, great vocal performances, a strong plot and a fresh sound. If you are a hater (of course here are many), this is not your album. I love how DT doesn't care anymore about convince people about anything. They just do what they like, and for the time being, they remain as the most influential prog metal band of the Century. 4/5.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.62 | 403 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Angelo
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Do you know that feeling of magic, that you felt when you first looked into the eyes of the love of your life? The sparkle you saw there and felt in your heart? That's what I felt when I heard Dream Theater's When Dream and Day Unite, way back in 1989. TheAstonishing

That feeling started disappearing after Falling into Infinity, with Metropolis Pt.2. After that, their albums started feeling like showing off (certainly on Petrucci's end) instead of making music for the fans. With Octavarium, I thought they were on the way back, but they lost me again after that.

Now, with all the fuzz around The Astonishing, I was hoping the fire had once again rekindled. Listening to the album this week, having ordered it last week only after weeks of doubt, I am once again disappointed. The album is too much, too long, and too uninventive to win me back. I listened, and only found things that have been done before, and probably better, by the likes of e.g. Ayreon. The music may not be bad, but it's not worthy of the Dream Theater I once knew. First it was the shredding that turned me off, now they're trying to create a musical and failing.... A pity really. The genuine energy and enthousiasm of the first four albums are what made Dream Theater for me, and it's all gone.

Try before you buy, at best.

Also published on my blog www.angelosrockorphanage.com

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.62 | 403 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by 42ndAGE

5 stars i have come to a conclusion about this album. It is very reminiscent of what is happening in our world today. Everything is so polarized; left vs. right; Good vs. Evil. Christians vs Muslims. Republicans, Democrats. It seems that all is the same coin flipped over again and again. It seems to run so deep that a new Dream Theater album is controversial. I must say that I am in the "this album is great" camp. I realize that the story is kind of campy but the music? I will say that it is the best album of this year. Ok, It's the only music I have gotten this year, but that's not the point. The last great concept albums in MHO were IQ's Subterranea and Saga's 13th Generation. This album has everything to compete with those classics. My biggest complaint would be the mixing of Myung's bass. Petrucci, Rudess and Labrie are at their best. Mangini is a little too clinical, I miss Mike P's versatility. I think this will stand the test of time as the production is incredible. I must say that I am really looking forward to the new Haken album. If any band could produce something better than this, i would think it might be them. As for The Astonishing, 5 stars. It truly is.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.62 | 403 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

2 stars (Warning: this review contains a synopsis of the plot of this album, gleaned only through repeated attempts at trying to pay attention for over 2 hours at a time to sometimes garbled, and more often painfully cheesy lyrics, sung too often over unmemorable music. It is this authors attempt to piece what can be discerned from this album solely from what can be heard, and assemble them into a cohesive, if not humorously entertaining plot. If you dare to read the actual meaning intended by the composers, their version is located at the band's web site. YMMV. Lord Nefaryous indeed.)

When Dream Theater, who's musicianship and technical abilities have always been first rate, create a rock opera that spans 2 full CDs, over 2 hours of music, and call the set "The Astonishing", the results should be, most certainly... well... astonishing.

Whiskey! Tango! Foxtrot!

It's difficult to put into words just how many things are wrong with this album.

Let's start with the story. "Far in the future", a world exists without music. An original concept, huh? Let's ignore the fact that this concept has been done before, most notably by a certain Canadian trio, that Dream Theater must have been familiar with, as they have covered some of their songs in concerts. So, in the synopsis that's given to us very early in the lyrics, we are told why there is no music. Is it some sort of "Footloose"-like society that has banned music? Did something occur to somehow obliterate music from the world? No! Apparently people in this enlightened land "have no time for music". I guess all of the iPods and such were obliterated by a electro-magnetic pulse, or a bad firmware update or something.

We then meet our hero, Gabriel, who recently lost his wife, Evangeline, to some sort of illness. It seems that this event has driven Gabriel over the edge into madness (or perhaps the cause was Gabriel realizing just what Collins, Banks and Rutherford did to his once majestic band --- but I digress), so he decides, justifying his actions as being for the sake of his son, that he would take matters into his own hands and incite the people away from their productive lives and into a revolution so they can listen to Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, and of course, the Bieber. These people must deserve what they get, because by the end of the track, they are calling Gabriel "The Chosen One".

It's at this point in the album that I get so fed up with the story, and the embarrassingly ham-handed lyrics, that I turn to the music instead of the words. So let's get into that.

The album opens well. The overture is what I had hoped for in this album. It's an overblown symphonic rock blast, with Petrucci and Rudess riffing over strong orchestration. The next track, with the story I outlined above is not bad musically either. But then, the musical continuity goes out the window.

For most of the rest of the album (2 hours, remember?) it appears that words were given to James La Brie, and he would make up a melody for them, and Petrucci and Rudess would get the band to fill in behind him. There is no musical continuity bringing the individual tracks together. Think about the great rock operas out there. All of them have memorable themes that wind through many different disparate songs. But here, all we get are unmemorable little ditties, some with decent prog metal breaks (but mostly not). A woman listening with me at one point said it sounded like bad Journey songs (I couldn't disagree).

There are a few good songs scattered about the album, but not enough to keep the entire work from being tedious.

And the "uplifting" finale? "Astonishing" it's not.

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 Dream Theater by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.34 | 746 ratings

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Dream Theater
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Rune2000
Special Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars Another two years - another Dream Theater release...

There doesn't seem to be an end to the never-ending album-tour-album-tour cycle that the band have been following since the release of their debut album back in 1989! Even thought I would have wished that the band would have taken more time with their releases and not stress them in time for the next tour, this schedule have done good for Dream Theater and they have managed to keep up their momentum. The albums have been climbing in the charts and the fan base seems to expand every single day. Still, everything is far from perfect in the Dream Theater camp as the band have been accused of following the same formula while writing and recording their new albums. These complains have become more prominent with the releases of Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Some of these complains have grown even larger after the departure of Mike Portnoy and the release of A Dramatic Turn Of Events, an album that I consider their return to form after almost a decade of stagnating releases. Where should the band take their music on the follow up to their successful 2011 release? Well, why not simplify the sound even more than they did in the past? But that would create another fan outrage, someone cries! No problem, just add a 20+ minute composition to the mix and pretend that it's a skillfully written interconnected suite.

You might have already guessed that I'm not a fan of this 2013 release, but it isn't for the lack of trying on my part. I began listening to the album right when it was released back in September 2013 and have continued revisiting it over the years. My original reaction was very bleak and I couldn't really make much of the new material. I could certainly hear that Dream Theater have simplified their sound and the shorter track lengths didn't do much to convince me otherwise. Plus, the songs lack an distinct identity and instead are a combination of many influences fused into one melting pot. There are quite a few obvious nods at some of the progressive rock giants like Yes, Rush and E.L.P.. But instead of covering those bands greatest achievements, Dream Theater have embraced the more commercially inclined moments that those bands have achieved over the years.

After the disappointment of the first eight tracks, where even the highlights bring back a feeling of been there and done that, we've finally arrived at the 22 minute multi suite Illumination Theory. Is this the one redeeming factor that will save the album, just like Octavarium did for many fans on the album with the same name back in 2005, or will it be like one of the four longer compositions on Black Clouds & Silver Linings? My take is that it's actually neither! Illumination Theory is not even a real multi-suite composition and should be described as a mix of a few bits and pieces that the band have been working on but couldn't turn into full length tracks.

My take of the 2013 band-titled release is that it's a wolf in sheep's clothing where Dream Theater have released a new Falling Into Infinity but they tried to camouflage it as a new Octavarium. Either way, neither of the alternatives sounds all that original to my ears.

**** star songs: False Awakening Suite (2:41) The Looking Glass (4:52) Enigma Machine (6:01) Along For The Ride (4:44)

*** star songs: The Enemy Inside (6:17) The Bigger Picture (7:40) Behind The Veil (6:52) Surrender To Reason (6:34) Illumination Theory (22:16)

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.62 | 403 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by jazz2896

1 stars I have listened to this album quite a few times to try and understand where some people are getting these "masterpiece" ideas from, and unfortunately, all I can say is quite the opposite. I have never been a huge fan of this band, but some of their earlier work is quite good. A lot of it is more fun and less self-important, but it appears with the departure of Portnoy, the fun has gone down and the self-importance has increased significantly. Unfortunately, this doesn't quite correlate with the quality of music. The music itself is fairly bland, standard Dream Theater fare, except with less interplay between the band. The album is all vocals/guitar/keyboards, with no drum or bass parts really sticking out of the mix and piquing the interest. These songs could have benefited from more diverse use of the instruments, for the whole thing ends up being very samey, sonically and texturally. Theoretically, the instrumentation and ballad heavy tracklist could have worked, but the writing itself isn't particularly new or invigorating for the band. Utter snooze fest. Not recommended for anyone, unless you are a die-hard-to-a-fault fan of the band.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.62 | 403 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Tony R
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

1 stars Descent Of The Nomarks

I need to put my cards on the table and that is that I am not really a Dream Theater fan. I am familiar with all their albums though and they have all the ingredients that would, should, ought to make them one of my favourite bands. However I've always felt that the virtuosity displayed by the band seems to come at a price and that price is taste. They do not engage me emotionally at all most of the time. That and the immature, tasteless and frenetic fretwork of Mr Petrucci.

So, a double album, a concept album no less. Imagine Paradise Theater-era Styx teaming up with Rush and Pink Floyd to create 2112 part II and you have it right there. Now imagine Dream Theater performing this beast with their immense propensity for grand Guignol and you have the astonishingly over-ambitious mess that is The Astonishing. I went watching Cats The Musical in Manchester last week and half expected Dream Theater to walk on stage.

So, there's snatches of good stuff here and there and it is instantly recognisable as a Dream Theater album but I couldn't put my finger on one track from this over-theatrical monstrosity that I liked. If enough media outlets were to play this album to the general public I am reasonably certain that a second wave of Punk Rock would emerge to sweep it all away. This album is surely the longest suicide note in musical history.

Dreadful, dreadful stuff.

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