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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$9.96
$9.54 (used)
The Studio Albums 1992-2011The Studio Albums 1992-2011
Box set
Roadrunner 2014
Audio CD$34.19
$46.30 (used)
Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a MemoryMetropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory
Elektra 1999
Audio CD$3.15
$0.27 (used)
OctavariumOctavarium
Atlantic 2005
Audio CD$2.78
$0.94 (used)
Images and WordsImages and Words
Atco Records 1992
Audio CD$3.15
$0.25 (used)
Change of SeasonsChange of Seasons
Atlantic 1995
Audio CD$3.09
$2.15 (used)
Six Degrees of Inner TurbulenceSix Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Wea/Elektra Entertainment 2002
Audio CD$4.84
$3.27 (used)
A Dramatic Turn of Events (Special Edition) (CD+DVD)A Dramatic Turn of Events (Special Edition) (CD+DVD)
Roadrunner Records 2011
Audio CD$4.82
$4.81 (used)
Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Special Edition)(3CD)Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Special Edition)(3CD)
Roadrunner Records 2009
Audio CD$12.41
$8.91 (used)
Train of ThoughtTrain of Thought
Import
Imports 2014
Vinyl$22.32
$22.31 (used)
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DREAM THEATER LIVE AT THE MARQUEE CD ATCO GERMAN IMPORT LIVE 1993 USD $10.98 Buy It Now
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3h
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10h 47m
CD - Dream Theater - When Dream And Day Reunite.Official Bootleg USD $5.00 [1 bids]
10h 48m
Falling into Infinity by Dream Theater (CD, Sep-1997, Elektra (Label) USD $7.44 Buy It Now 11h 27m
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When Dream and Day Unite by Dream Theater USD $10.87 Buy It Now 12h 47m
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FLYING COLORS - BARCELONA 2014 (DREAM THEATER - DEEP PURPLE - DIXIE DREGS) USD $35.00 [0 bids]
13h 26m
Neal Morse - Testimony LtdEdt 3 CD 2003 TRANSATLANTIC SPOCKS BEARD DREAM THEATER USD $46.49 Buy It Now 14h 3m
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14h 52m
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15h 21m
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16h 33m
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DREAM THEATER TRAIN OF THOUGHT JAPAN OBI WPCR-11703 2003 WARNER MUSIC USD $20.00 [0 bids]
17h 29m
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Score 20th Anniversary World Tour - Dream Theater LP USD $46.97 Buy It Now 19h 24m
Dream Theater: Octavarium CD 2005 Atlantic Records USA 83793-2 Original USD $8.95 Buy It Now 20h 9m
DREAM THEATER Greatest Hit 2CD ORG Japan Atlantic/Rhino WPCR-12863 Heavy Metal USD $24.00 Buy It Now 20h 14m
Dream Theater - Awake (1994) USD $2.50 Buy It Now 20h 15m
Dream Theater - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002) USD $3.76 Buy It Now 20h 15m
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Dream Theater - Change of Seasons (1995) USD $2.50 Buy It Now 20h 16m
Dream Theater - Images And Words (1992) USD $2.50 Buy It Now 20h 17m
Dream Theater - Train Of Thought (2003) USD $2.50 Buy It Now 20h 17m
Dream Theater: Awake CD 1994 Atlantic EastWest Records America 90126-2 Original USD $8.95 Buy It Now 20h 19m
Dream Theater: Metropolis Pt. 2 - Scenes From A Memory CD 1999 Eastwest 62448-2 USD $9.95 Buy It Now 20h 25m
Dream Theater - Live Scenes from New York(CD, Sep-2001, 3 Discs, EastWest) USD $10.19 Buy It Now 20h 33m
DREAM THEATER SYSTEMATIC CHAOS RARE UKR ORIGINAL CD BRAND NEW PROGRESSIVE METAL! USD $13.66 Buy It Now 20h 33m
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More places to buy DREAM THEATER music online Buy DREAM THEATER & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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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 | 1140 ratings
When Dream And Day Unite
1989
4.29 | 2559 ratings
Images And Words
1992
4.13 | 1871 ratings
Awake
1994
3.33 | 1388 ratings
Falling Into Infinity
1997
4.29 | 2622 ratings
Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes From A Memory
1999
4.14 | 1762 ratings
Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence
2002
3.58 | 1637 ratings
Train Of Thought
2003
3.66 | 1833 ratings
Octavarium
2005
3.31 | 1573 ratings
Systematic Chaos
2007
3.44 | 1463 ratings
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
2009
3.85 | 1473 ratings
A Dramatic Turn Of Events
2011
3.32 | 800 ratings
Dream Theater
2013
3.55 | 500 ratings
The Astonishing
2016

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

3.65 | 368 ratings
Live At The Marquee
1993
3.30 | 356 ratings
Once In A Livetime
1998
4.57 | 494 ratings
Live Scenes From New York
2001
4.25 | 441 ratings
Live At Budokan
2004
4.47 | 500 ratings
Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.62 | 74 ratings
Happy Holidays
2013

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

4.20 | 180 ratings
Images And Words - Live In Tokyo
1993
4.36 | 392 ratings
Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York
2001
3.82 | 183 ratings
Live in Tokyo/5 Years in a Livetime
2004
4.05 | 110 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite [Official Bootleg]
2004
4.30 | 384 ratings
Live at Budokan
2004
3.60 | 50 ratings
A Walk Beside The Band
2005
4.41 | 406 ratings
Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.91 | 139 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
4.04 | 76 ratings
Bucharest, Romania 7/4/02
2007
3.44 | 217 ratings
Chaos In Motion 2007/2008
2008
2.40 | 74 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 5 Other Pretty Cool Videos)
2008
3.63 | 46 ratings
Live at Tokyo Sun Plaza
2009
4.11 | 127 ratings
Live at Luna Park
2013
4.47 | 104 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)

2.14 | 174 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 21 other pretty cool songs)
2008
4.00 | 41 ratings
Original Album Series
2011

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

2.96 | 34 ratings
Afterlife
1989
3.27 | 33 ratings
Status Seeker
1989
2.86 | 25 ratings
The ATCO Demos
1991
2.89 | 58 ratings
Another Day
1992
3.62 | 52 ratings
Pull Me Under
1992
2.89 | 43 ratings
Caught In A Web
1994
3.75 | 54 ratings
The Silent Man
1994
3.04 | 53 ratings
Lie
1994
3.67 | 616 ratings
A Change Of Seasons
1995
3.16 | 59 ratings
Hollow Years
1997
3.83 | 34 ratings
Once In A LIVEtime Outtakes (International Fan Club CD 1998)
1998
3.08 | 58 ratings
Cleaning Out The Closet
1999
3.19 | 65 ratings
Through Her Eyes
2000
2.07 | 33 ratings
Christmas 2000 Fan Club CD
2000
1.92 | 33 ratings
4 degrees of Radio edits
2002
3.29 | 21 ratings
When Demos and Singles Unite
2002
3.02 | 40 ratings
Taste The Memories
2003
2.94 | 32 ratings
Graspop Festival 2002 (International Fanclub CD 2003)
2003
3.17 | 43 ratings
The Making Of Scenes From A Memory
2003
2.81 | 98 ratings
The Number Of The Beast
2003
1.93 | 107 ratings
Master Of Puppets
2003
2.68 | 33 ratings
Los Angeles, California 5/18/98
2003
3.28 | 36 ratings
Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95
2003
3.04 | 46 ratings
The Majesty Demos 1985 - 1986 [Official bootleg]
2003
3.71 | 30 ratings
A Sort Of Homecoming
2004
3.31 | 36 ratings
Images and Words: Demos 1989 - 1991 [Official Bootleg]
2004
3.78 | 65 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite
2004
2.86 | 28 ratings
When Dream And Day Unite Demos 1987-1989
2004
3.34 | 122 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
2.50 | 36 ratings
Awake Demos
2006
3.12 | 32 ratings
Old Bridge, New JERSEY - 12/14/96
2006
3.35 | 63 ratings
Made in Japan [Official Bootleg]
2006
3.43 | 37 ratings
Images and Words - 15th Anniversary Performance (Fan Club CD 2007)
2007
4.13 | 71 ratings
Falling Into Infinity: Demos 1996-1997 [Official Bootleg]
2007
3.13 | 41 ratings
Constant Motion
2007
3.62 | 40 ratings
New York City 3/4/93
2007
3.65 | 17 ratings
Progressive Nation 2008 - The International Fan Clubs CD 2008
2008
2.49 | 58 ratings
Forsaken
2008
2.59 | 72 ratings
A Rite of Passage
2009
3.10 | 76 ratings
Stargazer
2009
3.38 | 71 ratings
Tenement Funster/Flick Of The Wrist/Lily Of The Valley
2009
3.67 | 56 ratings
Odyssey
2009
3.51 | 52 ratings
Take Your Fingers From My Hair
2009
3.23 | 70 ratings
Larks Tongues In Aspic, Pt. 2
2009
3.22 | 78 ratings
Wither
2009
3.10 | 44 ratings
Uncovered 2003-2005
2009
2.54 | 28 ratings
The Making of Falling Into Infinity
2009
3.15 | 27 ratings
Train of Thought Instrumental Demos 2003
2009
3.56 | 116 ratings
On the Backs of Angels
2011
3.16 | 74 ratings
The Enemy Inside
2013
4.11 | 27 ratings
Illumination Theory
2014

DREAM THEATER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.55 | 500 ratings

BUY
The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Conor Fynes
Prog Reviewer

3 stars 'The Astonishing' - Dream Theater (59/100)

My relationship with Dream Theater reminds me a lot of the saddest scenes from the Toy Story movies. I still remember the day, over half a lifetime ago (!!!) that my first copy of Scenes from a Memory came in the mail. The package hadn't come a moment too soon, arriving on the day of my elementary school's graduation ceremony, a triviality I happily skipped in order to free up precious hours I could spend with the album. Even as a child I quickly developed strong opinions towards each of Dream Theater's other albums as I heard them. Images & Words and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence stirred me almost as much as SFAM, while I was left hanging dry by Awake and Train of Thought. Even if I wasn't always sold all the time by Dream Theater, alongside Led Zeppelin and Yngwie Malmsteen they were arguably the biggest musical influences on me before turning 12.

Like Toy Story however, the enthusiasm wasn't permanent. It's never that I bought into the popular opinion that Dream Theater are "wankers", nor did the heavyhanded cheese wear on me. I wouldn't even say I necessarily grew out of them; rather, it was just a case of gradually opening myself to more extreme and fascinating sounds. Like childhood toys, they quietly faded into memory. However, even as bands like Opeth and later Deathspell Omega and Blut aus Nord expanded my vision of what progressive metal could be, I never lost a love for them. Whenever I heard of a new album coming out, I would light up with excitement. I would feel like a kid again. I defended Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds & Silver Linings from less enthusiastic fans, and shared the joy when they returned to roots on A Dramatic Turn of Events.

It wasn't until 2013 when my opinion finally took a sour turn. Their self-titled album was the first time I felt they had released a piece of dog[&*!#]. Even if a few songs on it shined, it was finally enough to convince me that Dream Theater was finished as a creative act. Slogs like "Illumination Theory" were enough to sap my anticipation for future records. That's a good part of the reason why I'm reviewing The Astonishing in early October, as opposed to January when it was released. Is it possible to feel reinvigorated and simultaneously let down by a band with a single album? In most cases I'd say the answer is no, but when a consummate "has been" band tries to pull out all the stops, supposedly creating the most ambitious work of their career, strange things are bound to happen.

On the one hand, I'm happy that Dream Theater have reclaimed some of their energy they most certainly lacked in 2013. Some of the best prog instrumentation they've put out in years is here. James LaBrie hasn't sounded this powerful as a vocalist arguably since Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Even its mere stance as a concept album implies they're trying to make another Scenes from a Memory. There's some of the liveliest music I've heard from Dream Theater in a long, long time. On the other hand, they've somehow managed to lop off the buzz with a mind-numbing amount of filler and the most clichéd, idiotic and self-absorbed concept I've ever seen set to music. I guess hearing quality Dream Theater material without having to wade in [&*!#] would have been too simple, and not "progressive" enough for them, right?

I know The Astonishing is hammy and self-involved from start to finish; I can't help but love certain things about it however. At its very best, it comes across as a spry continuation of the bright prog they revived on A Dramatic Turn of Events, blown up considerably with symphonic orchestration and sprawling structure. Ignore the lyrics to "The Gift of Music" and "A New Beginning" for a second, and focus on what they're doing with the music. The busy interplay and effortless finesse is nothing new for them, but it can certainly feel that way in light of their last album. A lot of Dream Theater's detractors brush them off on the charge of wankery, but that polished technicality is easily the most exciting thing about them here. I don't think it's ever been the amount of notes that Dream Theater plays that have set many listeners against them; it's the way they fall short when they opt for other approaches.

Lamentably, The Astonishing is pretty chock-full of these "other approaches". Even if it's easily the most bombastic album these guys have ever put out, it's also probably the softest album note-for-note. The technical prog-outs are as impressive as ever, but their ballads post-Kevin Moore have always been hit-or-miss. Many of the 34 tracks take the shape of piano interludes and lilting vocals. Don't you get it? Dream Theater aren't trying to be badass here, they're trying to make you feel your feelings! Not that I haven't been struck emotionally by DT in the past, but whenever they did so, it was an authentic by-product of the band capitalizing on their strengths. Here, you can tell they set out specifically to tug on your heartstrings. Given the album's faux-dystopian concept revolves around the spiritual power of music I suppose it makes sense, but the dry kind of hammy superemotion expressed here almost serves to work against that thesis.

The biggest standout talent this time around is easily James LaBrie. Surprisingly, a lot of fans seem to agree. I've always loved his voice (despite understanding why others do not) but he sounds particularly passionate and confident as a vocalist. His stepping up to the plate could not have happened on a more fitting album. The Astonishing is a very vocal-driven album. I don't think there's any salvation for the plot or lyrics, but for what it's worth, the melodies and performance almost make the whole thing work. It's all the more impressive to hear James adopt different voices for each of the personae in this story. This ability to characterize his voice is something any fan who has heard their covers knows full well, and it's refreshing to hear this talent put to use on original material.

Although Dream Theater have given their detractors plenty of extra justification to hate them with this album, I'd honestly say a lot of the music is solid. A near-hour of this stuff could have been cut and the album would be no worse for well, but I get that they weren't trying to make a normal album with The Astonishing, and I can respect it as such. The only unforgivable aspect here are the lyrics and general concept. Falling somewhere between a mindless ape of 2112 and terrible Young Adult dystopian fiction, The Astonishing supposedly tells the story of an evil empire and a band of rebels who resist them using, uh, music? I get the basic idea they're digging up here, but I couldn't help but think of a battle where soldiers are popping up from trenches and shooting at other with riffs. Okay, so music enlivens the spirit, and creates e-m-o-t-i-o-n. Evil empires don't like emotion, apparently. I guess Dream Theater wanted to make a soundtrack to the film Equilibrium, instead where they take out all of the cool martial arts gunplay and replace it with [%*!#]ing piano ballads. That's nothing to say about the moronic cast of characters. A rebellious girl named Faythe? An evil leader called Nefaryus? Pour a load of venomous earwigs into my hearing holes and end me now.

There are times where it reads like very bad Star Wars fanfiction, and even then that is giving it too much credit. I have a soft spot for self-absorbed rock opera concepts (see: Ayreon, Rhapsody of Fire) but The Astonishing sounds like a corporate-sponsored amalgamation of all the most predictable tropes coming together into a single, amorphous [&*!#]pile of irrelevance. Insult is added to injury when you consider how great the conceptual angle has worked out for them in the past. Scenes from a Memory is arguably my favourite album concept ever, where clever lyrics unfolded a mindbending concept that still leaves me in awe. So it took them less than two decades to shed that brilliance completely in favour of a microwaved casserole 2112? Lyrics aren't everything, to be sure, but with the weight the album's marketing placed on the hokey concept, it's almost unbelievable they allowed something like this to mar otherwise solid music.

It's incredibly easy to criticize The Astonishing. Dream Theater haters could have a field day with this one like none other in the past. My job of reviewing this album would be a tad simpler if I could simply dislike it. But when you look past the trite concept, the filler interludes and ballad material, the saccharine bombast and ridiculous length (and it is possible to look past all of that, sort of) there's some of Dream Theater's most exciting material in a long time waiting. Of course, all but the band's biggest fans won't have the patience to get to the good stuff. Maybe in a few years they can release a "Greatest Hits from The Astonishing" EP and call it a day?

 When Dream And Day Unite by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.20 | 1140 ratings

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When Dream And Day Unite
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE Team

4 stars The debut album WHEN DREAM AND DAY UNITE seems to have been a much hated album since the beginning by the now much worshipped progressive metal band DREAM THEATER that emerged from the primeval metal ooze all the way back in 1985 when the three long term members John Petrucci, John Myung and Mike Portney were all students at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA and formed a band under the name Majesty. Under that moniker they managed to release one demo before being sued by another band of the same name and ultimately changed it to the name of a movie THEATER in Portney's hometown. The three founding members started out covering Rush and Iron Maiden songs and it's no surprise when you hear this debut album. The title WHEN DREAM AND DAY UNITE actually was lifted from the song "Bastille Day" from Rush. After many auditions for lead singers, the band settled on Charlie Dominici who at times nails the Geddy Lee vocal thing which IMHO is no easy feat and certainly uncommon.

Fast forward to 1989 and the band known as DREAM THEATER released their debut album. It's pretty amazing but after only a few years of throwing all the musical ingredients into their magic musical cauldron, this band actually started sounding like a distinct entity within the musical universe although there is certainly no hiding where all the influences came from. Rush and Iron Maiden are the biggies, but there are many traces of the progressive metal bands emerging from the 80s including Fates Warning and Queensryche but what really separates DREAM THEATER from the pack is their inclusion of symphonic prog keyboards that add a whole new dimension to the big bang of progressive metal of the era. Not so much Rick Wakeman inspired but actually more like a neo-prog band like Arena or IQ where the keys add a background atmospheric development to the mix with occasional outbursts of virtuosic wankery. Portney and Petrucci also display total mastery of their respective instruments on this one as well.

I really don't understand why this album gets the flack that it does. Yeah it's a raw and somewhat archetypal for the band's future sound that would admittedly only gain power and focus to create albums much more magnificent and magnanimous than this one but nevertheless is filled to the brim with all kinds of metal rawness and hard driving energy that make debut albums of top notch bands like DREAM THEATER so much fun! Already on board this release are signs of completely distilled musical masterpieces such as on the all instrumental mind bleep "The Ytse Jam" where not only do the members display full command of their technical chops but we also hear the songwriting brilliance on tracks like "The Killing Hand" which deftly blends technicality and songwriting prowess and "Afterlife" which already blends addictive melodies with the top notch progressive metal chops of the day. True that Dominici might cop too much of a Geddy Lee worship complex and the other influences hadn't quite simmered down into the proper cohesiveness of the future albums but i am constantly amazed at how well the band pulled things off on this album and find it more than a thrilling album to revisit time and time again. The music on this one is a lot more aggressive and rooted in heavy metal but it still displays amazing progressive time sig workouts in full regalia.

Yeah, i know. It's that horrific album cover right? It's one of those WTF were they thinking moments in metal history. Nothing against pretty dude on the cover but all i know is that if i was about to be branded like a bovine in a stable i'd probably have a more emotional response on my face. DREAM THEATER really should offer an alternative album cover for re-releases of this album but don't let the horrible album cover scare you away. This music offers a complex array of many musical styles perfectly blended together in a very listenable way. The production may not be as good as it should have been considering there were like four guys in on it and in the end this album has a lot of prototype elements that were much better done on "Images And Words" as well as albums beyond, but damn if i don't find this a brilliant blueprint or rough draft of what would fully ferment in the next few years to become one of the progressive music's knights in shining armor to rescue the genre from the ever stagnating glam metal scene. Woefully underrated. Close your eyes, ignore the album cover, listen to the music! It's excellent!

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.55 | 500 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Steven Brodziak

5 stars I have to seriously question the honesty of the potential trolls who have discarded this album with one and two star ratings. Dream Theater has been a progression of music since they came on the scene in the late 80's. Yes, Images and Words was a landmark album for Prog Metal. Yes, Scenes from a Memory established their concept-album bona fides. But are you looking for them to produce the same thing again? Like all talented musicians, the Dream Theater crew has grown and expanded musically. The Astonishing is another step in that progression. We DO LIKE PROGRESSIVE MUSIC, right? I am personally thrilled that James Petrucci could come up with such a bold, ridiculous concept and bring it to fruition. He incorporates a science-fiction story into a Broadway-musical Prog-Metal Opera! WTF! It reminds me of some of the outlandish stretches you can be brought to listening to an Ayreon album. The musicianship is, as always, breathtaking. The orchestrations and interludes are fresh and new-sounding, while still sounding like Dream Theater. There are fewer hard edges to this music, but it is not sissified in any way. If you can't appreciate Theater Music (minus the Dream), then perhaps your appreciation of Prog suffers because of that. I Love Music. Musical Music. Talented Music. It doesn't have to have e electric guitars, it can have cellos. Dream Theater has always excelled at developing a melodic line and carrying it forward, then twisting it around, flipping it over and looking at the underside. They do that here and the melodies feel natural, not forced. Petrucci can often be accused of playing "too many notes". Well, he manages to control himself throughout most of "The Astonishing" for the greater good of the composition. Sure, there are characters and story lines happening that we may or may not want to read into to find out, but the music carries us along so that the importance of those details does not really matter, and does not detract from the enjoyment of the composition. James LaBrie sounds like he is 20 years younger and delivers powerfully without the false n need to sound like different characters when he is singing for them. The themes are timeless: power, oppression, freedom, l love and family. Prog has delivered such beautiful gems to us in the last decade. Bands stretching limits and doing things we haven't heard before. It is god-damned hard to put something new on the airwaves when there is so much out there, but I honestly think t that Dream Theater has done that with this album. "The Astonishing" is like Dream Theater meets Andrew Lloyd Weber. And if you can't appreciate Andrew Lloyd Weber, then you can't be a true Prog-head and you should run back to your Yngwie Malmsteen albums. I have been a DT fan since about 1992 when I bought Images and Words. If you make music for a quarter century, there are going to be high points and low points. The low points, for me, have been "Awake" and "Train of Thought", while each still had some very nice moments. Their musicianship has always held them up. There is not and has not been a week musician in this band. Mike Portnoy leaving certainly changed their feel but not really their musical direction, and Mike Mangini has chops that no one can question . Jordan Rudess on keys is a treat to listen to whether he is wailing on the synth or tickling the ivories like a virtuoso. The plain fact is that these guys produce sounds that sound excellent, period! The orchestrations are excellent, the production is solid as always. DO NOT let the trolls tell you that this album is not worth the listen. IT IS!!!
 Images And Words by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.29 | 2559 ratings

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Images And Words
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Rodrigo Andrade7

5 stars "Images and words" is the classic that set new ground of the progressive metal subgenre, this is the older Dream Theater at its best. Amazing guitar solos,amazing lyrics,amazing vocals,amazing keyboards,amazing drums... everything about this album is amazing. The album is melodic,fast paced,emotional and strong, proggy at its best!! Everything sounds well on this album, the length is perfect and every track gives you a lot to listen to, from amazing keyboard solos opening a way to guitar solo sections ending up with Labrie picking and controlling the song with his strong and powerful vocal! This is the classic Dream Theater, if you have never heard this album you don't know anything about progressive metal, this is the pinnacle of what this band has ever made. Dream Theater just got a fantastic bump since their debut album, "Images and words" is above everything the band had made before on every level. Highlights of the album: "Pull me under" an amazing track that easily defines Dream Theater greatness, "Another Day" a beautiful melodic track with a outstanding sax solo, "Metropolis part 1 (the miracle and the sleeper)" the masterpiece of the album! This is one of the most memorable songs Dream Theater has ever put up, its amazing on every level, and my other highlights go out for "Under a glass moon" and "learning to live"

"Somewhere like a scene from a memory, There's a picture worth a thousand words..." ♫♫

Rating - 5 Stars: Essential, a masterpiece of progressive rock music No hesitation here, this is easily 5 stars, top tier Dream Theater music.

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.55 | 500 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by UMUR
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

3 stars "The Astonishing" is the 13th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in January 2016. Itīs the successor to the self-titled album from 2013. "The Astonishing" is a double album release, featuring no less than 34 tracks and a full playing time of 2 hours and 20 minutes of music. Itīs a concept album telling a dystopian sci-fi tale. Bearing that information in mind, "The Astonishing" is arguably Dream Theaterīs most ambitious release up until now, and we are dealing with an artist who has already released the 57:33 minutes long EP "A Change of Seasons (1995)" (featuring the 23:09 minutes long title track), and of course the double album release "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002)" (featuring the 42:02 minutes long title track) among other ambitious projects. In that respect Dream Theater is today what an artist like Yes was in the 70s. Always pushing progressive rock/metal forward. There is a risk that in doing so you sometimes slip and fall or maybe become a bit overblown (which is what many fans and critics felt when Yes released "Tales from Topographic Oceans (1973)", without further comparisons to this project), and Iīm afraid thatīs the trap Dream Theater step into on "The Astonishing".

Stylistically the music on "The Astonishing" is unmistakably the sound of Dream Theater. Itīs progressive rock/metal with challenging rhythmic playing, adventurous keyboards, virtuoso guitar playing, and James LaBrieīs distinct sounding voice in front. The album is generally a bit more song oriented and not quite as technical as weīre used to from the band, although there are still some very complex sections to be found on the album. The overall feeling after listening to the album is that of a musical or a rock opera though, which is something new in their discography. "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (1999)" was a concept album too, but it never felt like a rock opera/musical style album. Any minute while listening to "The Astonishing" Iīm expecting other singers to join in and play/sing the supporting roles of the concept, but itīs only LaBrie singing, which is a bit of a shame when they opted to go down the rock opera/musical road, but LaBrie of course still does a great and professional job.

As far as concepts go, the story is overall rather predictable and the lyric lines are often cliché filled and quite frankly not very sophisticated or intriguing. The music is relatively dynamic with both heavy parts, epic parts, and more ballad type mellow parts. The more mellow part of the bandīs sound is more prevailent here than ever before, and it becomes a bit tiresome after a while, because most of the more mellow tracks are very simple and not that memorable. In fact that īs an issue throughout the album. The melodies either sound like a rehash of ideas from previous releases or they are forgettable and with such a long release the least you could ask is catchy melodies. You donīt really get that here.

Itīs not all bad of course, and weīre as usual exposed to brilliant musicianship (as usual though itīs almost impossible to hear John Myungīs bass in the mix), a professional sound production, and professional songwriting too (although itīs not that interesting, itīs still obviously written by professionals). Thatīs why I donīt label "The Astonishing" a complete disaster, because obviously itīs a very bold attempt at doing something different, and I greatly respect that. Iīm just pretty sure that if they had collected all the good ideas featured on the album and made a 45 minutes long album out of those ideas, instead of diluting them with filler material to push the playing time a good way past the 2 hour mark, this could have been a better quality release. I wonīt rule out the possibility that others could enjoy this far more than I do, but to my ears itīs their least interesting release to date. Still, because of the professionalism on display, I think a 3 star (60%) rating isnīt all wrong. Thatīs as objective a rating as youīll get.

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.55 | 500 ratings

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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!

 Images And Words by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1992
4.29 | 2559 ratings

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Images And Words
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by ArtuomNechuev

5 stars Excellent compromise. I'm sure, it is said almost everything concerning this very album, so I'm not going to praise it with all that pompous epithets and to eulogize it again and again. Not that I don't like, quite the contrary. But there is something more than the music itself, it's composition and performance, emotions and atmosphere that draws me to Images And Words over and over again. It's all about the astounding spirit of the record, which became a sublime middle ground between the "old" and the "new" music. I can hardly convey this feeling, a kind of perception ? the music is just balancing on the edge between that old school, sincere feel and fresh, sensible and precise approach. Not only the production is responsible for it, but yet the exceptional blend of all the components, of which the most indispensable became the talent and real thorough and HARD work of all the members. Their not inveterate, but at the same time already mature musical perception, creativity and conveyance moulded such a product to which I can't but do justice and which can be considered not only as metal or progressive, but as the intricate, yet beautiful and versatile music indeed.
 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.55 | 500 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...

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.55 | 500 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.

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.55 | 500 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.

Thanks to [email protected] for the artist addition. and to Andy Webb for the last updates

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