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DREAM THEATER

Progressive Metal • United States


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Dream Theater picture
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$10.79
$10.49 (used)
Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a MemoryMetropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory
Elektra 1999
Audio CD$3.89
$2.75 (used)
Dream TheaterDream Theater
Roadrunner Records 2013
Audio CD$11.91
$8.90 (used)
The Studio Albums 1992-2011The Studio Albums 1992-2011
Box set
Roadrunner 2014
Audio CD$37.11
$36.84 (used)
Images and WordsImages and Words
Atco Records 1992
Audio CD$3.54
$2.42 (used)
OctavariumOctavarium
Atlantic 2005
Audio CD$3.45
$1.22 (used)
A Dramatic Turn of Events (Special Edition) (CD+DVD)A Dramatic Turn of Events (Special Edition) (CD+DVD)
Roadrunner Records 2011
Audio CD$5.37
$3.48 (used)
Six Degrees of Inner TurbulenceSix Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Wea/Elektra Entertainment 2002
Audio CD$5.50
$2.18 (used)
AwakeAwake
Atlantic 1994
Audio CD$3.62
$0.32 (used)
Change of SeasonsChange of Seasons
Atlantic 1995
Audio CD$3.58
$2.30 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
Images And Words - Dream Theater CD Sealed ! New ! USD $6.57 Buy It Now 1h 51m
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Black Clouds & Silver Linings, Dream Theater USD $19.85 Buy It Now 2h 31m
Once In A Livetime, Dream Theater USD $17.45 Buy It Now 2h 31m
A Dramatic Turn Of Events, 0016861776527, Dream Theater USD $17.26 Buy It Now 3h 21m
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Dream Theater Live In Budokan 3 CD Set USD $8.00 [0 bids]
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4h 9m
Train of Thought, 8718469534777, Dream Theater USD $39.96 Buy It Now 4h 20m
Madmen + Sinners by Tim Donahue & JAMES LABRIE (NEW IMPORT CD) Dream Theater USD $6.99 Buy It Now 4h 46m
When Dream & Day Unite by Dream Theater (CD, Jun-2005, Universal) USD $8.99 Buy It Now 5h 22m
Reign - The Greatest Storyeve (fans of Dream Theater, Rush, Journey) USD $7.00 [1 bids]
5h 35m
Dream Theater Images and Words 1992 ATCO Rock Metal Portnoy Petrucci Myung USD $6.99 Buy It Now 5h 49m
DREAM THEATER / SCENES FROM A MEMORY USD $9.99 [0 bids]
10h 31m
DREAM THEATER / FALLING INTO INFINITY USD $9.99 [0 bids]
10h 34m
Jordan Rudess - The Road Home 2007 Dream Theater [Digipak] USD $11.67 Buy It Now 10h 40m
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Dream Theater JAPAN The Astonishing 2CD set SS + PROMO mouse pad SET USD $54.99 Buy It Now 16h 6m
SYSTEMATIC CHAOS [DREAM THEATER] [1 DISC] NEW CD USD $9.78 Buy It Now 16h 13m
DREAM THEATER TRAIN OF THOUGHT CD MADE IN BRAZIL 1st PRESS 2003 RUSH MANOWAR USD $24.99 Buy It Now 16h 20m
DREAM THEATER - DRAMATIC TURN OF EVENTS (180GM) NEW VINYL USD $38.20 Buy It Now 17h 6m
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DREAM THEATER - Systematic Chaos - Vinyl (gatefold 2xLP) USD $45.74 Buy It Now 17h 29m
DREAM THEATER - TRAIN OF THOUGHT NEW CD USD $16.98 Buy It Now 17h 38m
2 CDS - GIGANTOUR - ANTHRAX, MEGADETH, , LIFE OF AGONY, DREAM THEATER, DRY USD $0.99 [0 bids]
18h
DREAM THEATER - BLACK CLOUDS & SILVER LININGS NEW CD USD $14.49 Buy It Now 18h 5m
LIVIT - UNSPOKEN CD 1995 DREAM THEATER VANDEN PLAS SYMPHONY X RUSH USD $8.49 [0 bids]
USD $13.44 Buy It Now
18h 20m
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20h 8m
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DREAM THEATER 1993 Tshirt Petrucci Rush Malmsteen Opeth Vai Queensryche Satriani USD $135.00 Buy It Now 22h 20m
Dream Theater - Change Of Seasons [CD New] USD $10.78 Buy It Now 22h 44m
Falling Into Infinity - Dream Theater CD Sealed ! New ! USD $5.90 Buy It Now 22h 50m
Awake - Dream Theater CD Sealed ! New ! USD $6.36 Buy It Now 22h 55m
Dream Theater: Images And Words CD 1992 ATCO / Atlantic 7567-92148-2 Argentina USD $9.95 Buy It Now 22h 58m
Vinyl Picture Album: Dream Theater : Illumination Theory Limited Edition Sealed USD $21.55 Buy It Now 23h 2m
DREAM THEATER ONCE IN A LIVETIME 180GM LP VINYL RECORD NEW USD $55.99 Buy It Now 23h 7m
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Dream Theater - Octavarium (Mixed by , 2005) USD $3.59 Buy It Now 23h 50m
DREAM THEATER 1994 CD - Awake - Queensryche/Fates Warning - Early Press.OOP USD $7.99 Buy It Now 23h 52m
Systematic Chaos - Dream Theater CD New ! Sealed ! 2007 USD $6.36 Buy It Now 1 day
Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings CD 2009 ROAD RUNNER USD $7.35 Buy It Now 1 day
Dream Theater - Live At The Marquee (CD, Feb-1992, Import) ATCO USD $14.71 Buy It Now 1 day
25 Dream Theater photos - High Voltage, London 2011 USD $7.17 Buy It Now 1 day
JELLY JAM self titled CD Progressive Classic Rock Kings X/Dream Theater 2002 NEW USD $6.95 Buy It Now 1 day
DREAM THEATER**LIVE AT LUNA PARK**BLU-RAY USD $11.50 Buy It Now 1 day
James LaBrie - Static Impulse by (CD, Sep-2010, In2) DREAM THEATER USD $7.35 Buy It Now 1 day
DREAM THEATER - INTERNATIONAL FAN CLUBS CHRISTMAS CD LIVE 2000 DTIFC MEGA RARE USD $69.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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1 day
ANGELICA Thrive CD ( DREAM THEATER , PRIMAL FEAR MEMBERS ) USD $9.99 Buy It Now 1 day
Dream Theater 016861760427 (CD Used Very Good) USD $10.63 Buy It Now 1 day
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1 day
Once In A Live Time 0075596230827 by Dream Theater, CD, BRAND NEW FREE P USD $18.11 Buy It Now 1 day
Metropolis, Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory by Dream Theater (CD, Oct-1999,... USD $5.00 [0 bids]
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1 day
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Dream Theater Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence 2x LP 180g Vinyl NEW USD $37.99 Buy It Now 1 day
DREAM THEATER Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory 180-gram VINYL 2xLP Sealed USD $62.09 Buy It Now 1 day
Gigantour [Clean Version] [Edited] 2 Discs, Megadeth,Dream Theater, Anthrax New USD $4.26 [0 bids]
1 day
DREAM THEATER ~ GREATEST HITS 2 CD SET *DIGIPAK* USD $12.99 Buy It Now 1 day
DREAM THEATER ~ IMAGES AND WORDS CD USD $7.99 Buy It Now 1 day
DREAM THEATER ~INTERNATIONAL FAN CLUB CHRISTMAS CD 2000 USD $89.99 Buy It Now 1 day
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Images and Words by Dream Theater (CD, Sep-2003, Atco (USA)) USD $1.00 [0 bids]
1 day
Dream Theater CD~When Dream And Day Unite-1989, France USD $19.99 Buy It Now 1 day
The Astonishing [1/29] * by Dream Theater (CD, Jan-2016, 2 Discs, Roadrunner Rec USD $13.00 [7 bids]
1 day
PAIN OF SALVATION - ROAD SALT ONE CD LTD DIGIPAK 2010 OPETH ARK DREAM THEATER USD $14.86 Buy It Now 1 day
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DREAM THEATER - OFFICIAL BOOTLEG NEW YORK CITY 3/4/93 (YTSEJAM013) 2CD DOUBLE CD USD $35.00 Buy It Now 1 day
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DREAM THEATER Metropolis CLASSIC CD Album TOP QUALITY FRAMED+EXPRESS GLOBAL SHIP USD $57.42 Buy It Now 1 day
DREAM THEATER Falling Infinity CLASSIC CD Album QUALITY FRAMED+FAST GLOBAL SHIP USD $57.42 Buy It Now 1 day
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DREAM THEATER shows & tickets


DREAM THEATER has no upcoming shows, according to LAST.FM syndicated events and shows feed

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)

3.21 | 1066 ratings
When Dream And Day Unite
1989
4.29 | 2403 ratings
Images And Words
1992
4.12 | 1758 ratings
Awake
1994
3.33 | 1298 ratings
Falling Into Infinity
1997
4.29 | 2461 ratings
Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory
1999
4.14 | 1661 ratings
Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence
2002
3.58 | 1550 ratings
Train Of Thought
2003
3.66 | 1740 ratings
Octavarium
2005
3.31 | 1482 ratings
Systematic Chaos
2007
3.44 | 1380 ratings
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
2009
3.86 | 1388 ratings
A Dramatic Turn Of Events
2011
3.35 | 705 ratings
Dream Theater
2013
3.97 | 246 ratings
The Astonishing
2016

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

3.64 | 346 ratings
Live At The Marquee
1993
3.29 | 338 ratings
Once In A Livetime
1998
4.58 | 467 ratings
Live Scenes From New York
2001
4.25 | 413 ratings
Live At Budokan
2004
4.47 | 476 ratings
Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.70 | 60 ratings
Happy Holidays
2013

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

4.20 | 161 ratings
Images And Words - Live In Tokyo
1993
4.36 | 373 ratings
Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York
2001
3.81 | 169 ratings
Live in Tokyo/5 Years in a Livetime
2004
4.07 | 101 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite [Official Bootleg]
2004
4.30 | 360 ratings
Live at Budokan
2004
3.58 | 43 ratings
A Walk Beside The Band
2005
4.41 | 385 ratings
Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.93 | 126 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
4.06 | 68 ratings
Bucharest, Romania 7/4/02
2007
3.44 | 202 ratings
Chaos In Motion 2007/2008
2008
2.36 | 63 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 5 Other Pretty Cool Videos)
2008
3.66 | 38 ratings
Live at Tokyo Sun Plaza
2009
4.16 | 106 ratings
Live at Luna Park
2013
4.54 | 78 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)

2.12 | 167 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 21 other pretty cool songs)
2008
4.04 | 35 ratings
Original Album Series
2011

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

2.87 | 28 ratings
Afterlife
1989
3.26 | 28 ratings
Status Seeker
1989
2.83 | 21 ratings
The ATCO Demos
1991
2.86 | 52 ratings
Another Day
1992
3.66 | 45 ratings
Pull Me Under
1992
2.85 | 37 ratings
Caught In A Web
1994
3.75 | 48 ratings
The Silent Man
1994
2.99 | 46 ratings
Lie
1994
3.66 | 590 ratings
A Change Of Seasons
1995
3.06 | 53 ratings
Hollow Years
1997
3.85 | 27 ratings
Once In A LIVEtime Outtakes (International Fan Club CD 1998)
1998
3.07 | 53 ratings
Cleaning Out The Closet
1999
3.17 | 56 ratings
Through Her Eyes
2000
2.00 | 27 ratings
Christmas 2000 Fan Club CD
2000
1.91 | 28 ratings
4 degrees of Radio edits
2002
3.25 | 16 ratings
When Demos and Singles Unite
2002
2.98 | 33 ratings
Taste The Memories
2003
2.94 | 28 ratings
Graspop Festival 2002 (International Fanclub CD 2003)
2003
3.16 | 39 ratings
The Making Of Scenes From A Memory
2003
2.79 | 88 ratings
The Number Of The Beast
2003
1.91 | 99 ratings
Master Of Puppets
2003
2.69 | 28 ratings
Los Angeles, California 5/18/98
2003
3.37 | 30 ratings
Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95
2003
2.90 | 41 ratings
The Majesty Demos 1985 - 1986 [Official bootleg]
2003
3.80 | 26 ratings
A Sort Of Homecoming
2004
3.43 | 30 ratings
Images and Words: Demos 1989 - 1991 [Official Bootleg]
2004
3.83 | 57 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite
2004
2.90 | 21 ratings
When Dream And Day Unite Demos 1987-1989
2004
3.33 | 114 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
2.46 | 30 ratings
Awake Demos
2006
3.07 | 26 ratings
Old Bridge, New JERSEY - 12/14/96
2006
3.34 | 55 ratings
Made in Japan [Official Bootleg]
2006
3.48 | 31 ratings
Images and Words - 15th Anniversary Performance (Fan Club CD 2007)
2007
4.18 | 62 ratings
Falling Into Infinity: Demos 1996-1997 [Official Bootleg]
2007
3.15 | 34 ratings
Constant Motion
2007
3.67 | 34 ratings
New York City 3/4/93
2007
3.82 | 11 ratings
Progressive Nation 2008 - The International Fan Clubs CD 2008
2008
2.44 | 52 ratings
Forsaken
2008
2.56 | 64 ratings
A Rite of Passage
2009
3.08 | 69 ratings
Stargazer
2009
3.36 | 66 ratings
Tenement Funster/Flick Of The Wrist/Lily Of The Valley
2009
3.64 | 50 ratings
Odyssey
2009
3.46 | 46 ratings
Take Your Fingers From My Hair
2009
3.17 | 64 ratings
Larks Tongues In Aspic, Pt. 2
2009
3.20 | 71 ratings
Wither
2009
3.08 | 39 ratings
Uncovered 2003-2005
2009
2.53 | 23 ratings
The Making of Falling Into Infinity
2009
2.79 | 24 ratings
Train of Thought Instrumental Demos 2003
2009
3.56 | 111 ratings
On the Backs of Angels
2011
3.23 | 66 ratings
The Enemy Inside
2013
4.16 | 19 ratings
Illumination Theory
2014

DREAM THEATER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 246 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Zodijakyl

2 stars Long gone are the days when people marvel listening DT. More by design, arrangements and the approach than the accomplishment itself (and technical virtuosity). Gone is the time of "Learning to live", "Scarred" or "Beyond this life" not to mention "Change of Seasons" where each segment of each piece was a gem in itself. Since the departure of MP and even more today, this architecture / creativity gave way to the exhibition rather than writing. The arrival of Mangini only amplified even more this new direction! It is true that the man is a technical monster, so huge that his perfect control makes it completely mechanical play and as if it was out of a simulation via a soft kind EZ Drummer or Superior Drummer. His contribution is more in the mimic (to perfection) JP and JR madness than to give body and depth to music and sometimes play the role of bridge or lead (as did MP) between the different sections and even during the evolutions thereof. On the other hand, we dont hear Myung, who spawned "Learning to Live" "a trial of tears" and "Strange Deja vu". Disappeared, both in the presence and in the contribution. I'll avoid commenting LaBrie performance (overall and since long ago), freed from the oppression of the boss and that drove him to do anything other than sing cheesy ballads. Ultimately, and even apart from the above, the latter Opus has no interest except the format. In fact, the form has taken over the content, apart 2-3 titles here and there, that I can't describe as progressive music. The frenzied duets or hyper technical playing itself are not enough so that I may consider this album as progressive. The technical achievements are expected to intensify a complex writing, not cover it up.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 246 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Mebert78

5 stars If you're looking for a traditional Dream Theater album, it's not The Astonishing. No, this album is much, much more than that. In fact, I'd suggest that people not even view this album as an "album," per se. It's a musical. And fans who approach the two-disc conceptual rock opera expecting the band's usual formula of long songs and blistering instrumentals will likely be disappointed. Luckily, I'm not one of those fans. I truly adore everything about this unique dystopian masterpiece.

Now, before we go any further, I should disclose that I'm one of the band's biggest fanboys. For example, I've got a Dream Theater decal on my car and I attended the band's induction into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame in 2010, to give you an idea of how hardcore I am. Despite my "fanboyness," I was still skeptical when I saw details about the album start to emerge in late 2015. Everything seemed lavish and over the top about The Astonishing -- from the elaborate map of a fictional kingdom to the flying noise machines that resembled something out of the 2013 science-fiction movie, "Oblivion." But I trust in the judgment of guitarist John Petrucci. The band has released a dozen studio albums since the late '80s, with Petrucci steadily guiding the band lyrically and musically. He always comes through. And in the case of The Astonishing, he's come through once again -- and with flying colors.

If you've seen any of the band's recent promotional interviews for The Astonishing, Petrucci has made it clear that he didn't set out to write typical Dream Theater songs for the album. Rather, he and keyboardist Jordan Rudess were writing music to accompany the futuristic story Petrucci had written -- a story about an oppressive world void of human music that is rescued by a "chosen one" named Gabriel, who has the "gift of music." There's some love mixed in too, I should note. For a band known for its instrumental prowess, this was a big risk and departure from their standard recipe. But let's be realistic. The band has given us three decades of great music and if they want to experiment for an album cycle I'm all for it. It's one of the reasons I respect this band so much. They're willing to challenge themselves.

I'll admit, my first reaction was that the album might be too Rudess-heavy and slow in spots. But then, I followed along with the booklet's character dialogue as well as the track-by-track descriptions of the plot and scene posted on the band's website and I found myself enjoying and appreciating it a whole lot more. The tunes are tailored to the tale's tone and chatter to the point where it created a "theater" in my mind. Fitting for a group named Dream Theater, I'd say. The illustrations posted in the booklet and on the website helped the visualizations as well. Overall, the song flow and music choices were more understandable in the story's context and it was a fun experience. I even felt my heart racing at the climactic moments.

Musically, there's a little bit of everything on The Astonishing. There are some conventional-sounding Dream Theater songs like "The Gift of Music" and "Moment of Betrayal," there are beautiful ballads like "When Your Time Has Come" and "Chosen," and there are others that jump all over the map like "A Tempting Offer" and "My Last Farewell." There are also some sound effects to bring the story to life as well as a full orchestra and choir. Oh, and vocalist James LaBrie plays the role of eight characters. In total, there are over two hours of music. And I must say that every time I listen to the album I find a new part that mesmerizes me.

My only criticism is Roadrunner Record's poor handling of the album's pre-order distribution. I didn't receive my copy in the mail by release day, so I had to spend my Friday night trying to find a store that still had it in stock. I totally refuse to listen to a new album on YouTube. I wanted the complete package in my hands to experience the album the way it was meant to be experienced. Oddly enough, I ended up enjoying it so much that I kept both copies -- one for home, and one for my car. It's safe to say I'll be listening to lots of The Astonishing.

All in all, The Astonishing is an incredibly ballsy album that shows us the progressive metal giant's creative spirit and innovative side continue to expand, evolve and explore new places -- even a whopping 30 years into their career. And I can't wait to see where they take us next.

- Michael R. Ebert (www.michaelrebert.net)

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 246 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Arbiter

5 stars I can't understand why some are down on this album. Perhaps because it is more symphonic and less mechanical than some of DTs creations, but its melodic characteristics are what make this such a fine composition. I guess it depends what you're into - melody or rhythm. It is definitely a vast improvement over the last two outings.

Unlike other reviewers, I don't find this album disjointed at all. The story carries well and is punctuated smoothly by the music. Nor do I find it too long as some have suggested. It is a pleasant way to spend two hours IMO.

Not quite a masterpiece, I give it 4.5 stars.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 246 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars It took me a while to get into this long concept album about the possible future of the human race in this technology era where the most tragic consequence, would be that the music could be done by machines! At first, i had trouble to feel the flow of the songs with many moods ant rhythm changes from one song to the other. This is a opera rock of another kind of what the band has done recently. The addition of the orchestra, a choir, classical arrangements, with violin and a lot of piano from Jordan make this album less heavy but that doesn't mean that we don't have any heavy parts in this 2 hours music. We can hear some influences from SODTI and SFAM in various passages and of the band Circle of Illusion that made a opera kind of album of that nature few years ago. I really enjoy to hear the band switching in a different territory for a brief moment touching folk, exotic and circus music. The short interludes with special sound effects of robotic machines, military march etc, bring a soundtrack dimension to this music. There is still the big sound of John in the lead guitar, the more direct rock approach and those melancholic parts with Jordan playing the piano or James singing a power ballad. It seems clear that the contribution of Jordan and John have been very important here to create this ambitious album. Mike Mangini's drums don't have enough punch to fit in this rather well produced music. There is no long epic song here, unless you see the whole album as a big piece. In conclusion, this could be the Tales From Topographic Oceans album of Dream Theater, a work that reveals itself after a certain amount of listening.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 246 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Muller

4 stars When I heard The Astonishing billed as a rock opera I was both excited and apprehensive: with Metropolis Part Two: Scenes From a Memory and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence as a reference I didn't doubt Dream Theater's creative capabilities, but I couldn't ignore how I felt when I first heard In the Presence of Enemies Pt. 1 and 2, and how disappointed I was ( and with much of Systematic Chaos, for that matter). So, it was with a bit of trepidation that I hit the play button on my CD player, and, while I did have a few eyebrow raising moments as I listened, I have to say that I mostly found myself wrapped in sonic bliss.

It's my understanding that Jordan Rudess was something of a co-producer of the album and his creative influence is pronounced throughout: with beautiful piano passages, choral arrangements, and those clever NOMACS tracks full of synthy clicks, pops and blasts. Much like with Metropolis Part Two: Scenes From a Memory, Jordan Rudess' presence is undeniable here, and The Astonishing is certainly better for it.

While I've come to take for granted excellent musicianship from Dream Theater, I'd be remiss to not point out the amazing vocals by James LaBrie. Giving voice to a relatively large cast of characters, LaBrie gives them personality, individuality and emotional depth; and, on some tracks, a palpable sense of empathy. I don't think you can ask much more of a vocalist in a rock opera.

On my first listen through of the album, I found myself lost in the beautiful, lush, dense musical landscapes of The Astonishing, and was happy. On my next listen, I read the lyrics along with each track, trying to get an understanding of the story and the cast. The dystopian sci-fi/fantasy mashup of a setting where the dearth of music is emblematic of a repressed society is a little incredulous, and the premise that music can inspire that society to rise above their circumstances made it a little harder for me to be willing to invest two and a half hours of my time to listen. Fortunately, on subsequent listens the beauty of the album transcends my minor concerns and, ironically proves the premise, at least in my case.

All in all, I find The Astonishing to be an excellent listen. Despite my nit-picky concerns I can't deny the grand accomplishment Dream Theater has here. And after several listens I found myself humming some of the musical themes repeated throughout the album during my day. This one will stick with me for a bit, it seems. The Astonishing is certainly an album I'd recommend.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 246 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by crashandridemusic

4 stars To limit this review was a daunting task, almost as daunting as listening to it in its entirety. But nonetheless, it felt necessary to give my two cents on the most anticipated and fan-dividing album of the year: progressive metal giants Dream Theater's concept double album 'The Astonishing.' It seems everyone has something to say about this one, at polar opposite ends of appreciation. I've read both harsh contempt and deifying praise for 'The Astonishing,' which has only confused my expectations. But after two listens to this album lasting over two hours, I have finally formed an opinion. And where do I stand, you ask? Somewhere in the middle.

'The Astonishing' is truly remarkable considering its size and scope. I like to think of all of the what I call 'mega-concepts' ever made, being concept albums lasting over a span of multiple albums. Older albums like Genesis' 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway,' Pink Floyd's 'The Wall,' and The Who's 'Quadrophenia' come to mind quickly, cinematic and operatic in nature. This album falls right in line with the others, being less of a metal album and more of a soundtrack instead. Something about these mega-concepts bring out a lighter, dramatic side of the bands performing them, which Dream Theater succumbs to here. There is a noticeable lack of shredding, instrumental duels between different members, or keyboard-driven wankery of the Wizard, but they're not altogether absent. Instead, this album relies heavily on two members: singer James LaBrie and pianist (not keyboardist) Jordan Rudess.

Singer LaBrie gives the performance of his career in 'The Astonishing,' probably one of his better showings in their long discography. Being coached by lyricist/guitarist (and creator of the concept) John Petrucci, LaBrie provides different vocal deliveries for each character in the concept, approaching each set of lyrics as the character would. I admit sometimes it's hard to tell which character is talking, but in some cases the deliveries are quite noticeable. The ponderings of Lord Nafaryus in 'Nafaryus' and the conversation between its two main characters in the following song 'A Savior In The Square' are spot- on, with the antagonist's snarl and protagonist's hopeful voice. There are other instances throughout 'The Astonishing' that LaBrie's vocals shines, particular in notable piano arrangements by Rudess. Something I particularly enjoyed about this album is the increased piano presence compared to the over-the-top keyboard effects. The piano is something that isn't particularly focused on in prior work, so it becomes a breath of fresh air after listening to older albums like 'Train of Thought' and 'Black Clouds and Silver Linings.'

As for the remaining instruments, they are basically left in the background. There are moments when guitar chords and soloing are brought to light, but not nearly as focused as in other albums. In fact, I was surprised by the lack of bass guitar and drums on 'The Astonishing.' John Myung's bass rhythms are always complementing Petrucci's ridiculously fast guitar solos, but are not given the opportunity in the more piano-centric album. In addition, drummer Mike Mangini feels left out on every album he's played on, instead used as a pendulum for the others. I would never think in my years of listening to Dream Theater that one of its members would be used in a way that didn't accurately portray their talents, but Mangini's contributions to 'The Astonishing' (and to a lesser extent their previous self-titled album) leave much to be desired. If only Mangini was used to strengthen dramatic moments in the album's concept, it would provide another needed dimension.

As for the album's concept, it's a longwinded tale about a post-apocalyptic, dystopian future, kingdoms and rebels, saviors and the importance of music. Cheesy indeed, following the current trend of young adult, sci-fi movies. Honestly, I haven't been able to tackle this beast in my two listens through, so I will have to leave this for you all to figure out. Ten bonus points to those that can comment below and summarize the album's concept. What I have noticed is that much of the album's lyrics are quite predictable, following similes and metaphors written by infinite others bands (like a phoenix rising from ashes, David versus Goliath, etc.). In this case, though, it serves as a positive in tackling the album's concept, making it much more approachable and relatable.

An album with 34 songs, it was hard to pick which songs rise above the others. Since a majority of them follow the same flavor of orchestral, cinematic vocals and piano arrangements, I had a hard time deciphering which song was which. Much of the album uses repetitious arrangements to string the songs together, which doesn't help matters. With that said, I can think of two that stand out: the single 'The Gift of Music' and 'The Path That Divides.' I feel these two stand out to me the most because they remind me so much of the culmination of their sound. Reading so many arguments about what influenced the album's sound, I can definitely hear moments of albums like 'Awake' and 'Falling Into Infinity,' while at the same time hearing newer albums like 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' and 'Dream Theater.'

Despite the positives and negatives, praise and scorn, there is one pressing matter about 'The Astonishing,' the elephant in the room: Who has time to listen to a two hour, eleven minute album nowadays? Since its release on Thursday evening/Friday morning, I've listened to 'The Astonishing' a total of two times over several interrupted listens. With a wife, a child, a job, and a time-consuming hobby, I have little left in my day to devote to anything, let alone listening to an album longer than most movies. Don't get me wrong, I love long albums, especially long concept albums. 'Act IV: Rebirth in Reprise' by The Dear Hunter is a notable 74 minute album, while 'Good Apollo Volume I' by Coheed and Cambria is a breathtaking 71 minutes of your day. But devoting 130 minutes to anything is absolutely insane. The worst part is despite the cries of filler material in this album, nothing could be taken away without sacrificing its quality. As much as I'd love for this album to elapse over one album instead of two, every song is essential. This format might work perfectly in a live setting, but I simply don't have enough time to listen to 'The Astonishing' in its entirety. This album will be one of those that one act will be listened to more than another.

To summarize my thoughts of this album, I'll answer these three important questions:

Is it better than their last self-titled album? Absolutely, since I considered it one of their worst they've ever released.

Is it their best album? Absolutely not. Nothing can (and will ever) touch 'Metropolis Part II.'

Is it worth listening to? If you have the time and patience, of course!

So do give the ol' college try on 'The Astonishing.' I won't be clich' and say it's astonishing, but I will say that Dream Theater left everything on the table with this album. With its positives and negatives, they weren't afraid to pour their soul and push the boundaries of progressive metal.

Taken from Crashandridemusic.com

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 246 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Progfan1958

3 stars Now Playing: Dream Theater - The Astonishing (2016) A couple of listens in now ( my, it's long ) and overall it's not a bad album, but IMO it's just too disjointed and there's no real flow from start to finish. At first it almost sounds as if DT were attempting to write their own version of "The Wall", but it never quite gets there. Lots of good melodies though, but why, o why does Mangini's kick drum have such an annoying "click, click, click" throughout ? I don't mind a bit of brightness on a bass drum, but for me it's overbearing and distracting on this record. I will listen to it again, but "Scenes From A Memory" this is not. One further note, why use character names like "Emperor Nefaryus" ? This isn't a Disney movie....unless DT are planning to start playing on a cruise ship and open a theme park. You can do better fellows.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 246 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Rockstar10908

4 stars People can say what they want... But this is a beautifull album. A lot of reviewers are complaining about there not being one or two real STAND OUT tracks on this album, but the reality is, this album should be taken in as two huge and magnificent pieces. Each with their own themes and the waves of energy.

While there is a lack of metal coming from this band, only Dream Theater could make something so wondrous and beautiful. And while sure the drums sound a little compressed and generated, Mike Mangini is still one of the best drummers in the world, and it is clearly evident in The Astonishing.

I do not think the star rating system gives great accuracy to the rating of this work to Dream Theater fans. So, from a rating of Falling To Infinity to Metropolis Part 2, this album is a solid Images and Words.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 246 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by uribreitman

3 stars Stupid storyline and overlong, this DT album is a failed product. Instead of editing the ordeal down to about 50 minutes, DT chose to build a laughable West-End musical, about too many people in an unreliable future. A society with no music? are you serious, guys? I can't relate to anything in this Spinal Tap rock-opera. If this is "2112" meets "The Matrix" meets "Game of Thrones", I'm really not impressed. I've edited this 2-disc monster into a reasonable short 1-CD format. Here are the songs in their correct, edited order: 1) Dystopian Overture 2) The Gift of Music 3) A Better Life 4) A Life Left Behind 5) A New Beginning 6) Moment of Betrayel 7) The Path That Divides 8) The Walking Shadow 9) My Last Farewell 10) Astonishing This way you get an effective disc - not very innovative, not to bright, but at least - it's listenable. Why should I do the editing work for the band? a professional musical producer would have done the same, easily. The 2-CD package is filled with "filler" ballads, boring monolgues and a lot of pure kitsch. DT has produced an un-listenable product, which costs about 19 USD at iTunes, which is a bit too expensive. That's why I rate this audio-mess a fair 3/5 stars.

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 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.97 | 246 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by sukmytoe

5 stars Excellent!! I wasn't enamored with Dream Theater's last self titled release although it was by no means a bad album. With this work Dream Theater fans the flame that I have for them in no uncertain terms. Some may complain that there are no solid single tracks on the album but those that do are missing the point entirely. The whole work is a track, a composition that meanders through various music styles telling a grand story that is not too far removed from Rush's 2112 work. There are sweet melodies, moments of symphonic grandeur, eclectic sounds, harsh heavy moments - and throughout it all the technical wizardry of the different band members (typical of the band) astounds. Some may complain that the work is too long but again a point is then being totally missed - I would rather have more than less - especially when the work is of this quality. If I can't get through it in one sitting then two or more sittings is just fine. The whole of the "Walking Dead" TV series would take hours to work through in one session but personally I love the series and to watch episodes is just fine. James LaBrie has never sounded as good and what he achieves by taking on the various characters of the story and giving them their own vocal identities is brilliant. John Petrucci - well, what can we say? - probably easily the best lead guitarist out there today. Jordan Rudess - keyboard wizard extraordinaire. Mike Mangini - He already holds world records and he is a machine here. John Myung - some complain that he is always missing in the mix but if he weren't there you'd hear it and know - his technical base playing is part of the Dream Theater wall of sound.

This is a theatrical rock / metal / opera and it stands up with the best of them. You can't love Operation Mindcrime and not adore this. I can't wait to take this spectacle in Live as it will be grand.

Five very easy stars.

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