Well, being a huge Dream Theater fan I figured I had to do this after all. I’m reading a lot of mixed reviews here and there, so here’s my take on it.
I believe DT finally broke the bad streak of similarity in their few last albums featuring the extremely technical 200mph/song, of which if you ask me which song is from which album. I can’t even tell you. Where else you can easily distinguish any DT song prior to and including Octavarium.
So far this album is pretty relaxed, and there’s some really good music I can enjoy listening to. I don’t know, maybe I’m getting old… But all the fast paced DT songs are not my thing.
The Astonishing feels like old DT of the 90’s is back, I hear a lot of Scenes from a Memory, and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence in it, even The Wall from Pink Floyd. In fact, once again I wasn’t planning on seeing them live this year; last time I saw them was in 2010 with Iron Maiden. But now I have my tickets reserved after I heard the full thing.
After a few listens I can tell the album is complete, it has the nerve touching guitar solos by Petrucci, I love the drum sound and again you might disagree with me here, Mangini (and everyone else) have toned down and changed their playing style. Labrie is shining throughout the album, the only thing is that you’d expect a different voice for each of the characters on the album which is what’s missing, but Labrie is doing a great job nevertheless. The album is packed with all the Christmassy, funky, Circus and even TANGO beats and Luigi’s Mansion theme in “2285 Entr’acte“, it’s all in there, something you’d always expect DT. But I never expected to hear Tango honestly. That 5/8 and 6/8 riff though in Three Days is just too badass.
By the way you can listen to the entire album on Dream Theater’s official YouTube channel for free. I’m not entirely sure why did they take this risk but my guess is to draw bigger crowds to their shows.
Anything after Octavarium is nothing but a musical masturbation of their extremely technical capabilities.
Honestly, I’d take this album any day over their extremely technical (and only technical) albums like Black Clouds.. A Dramatic Turn.. or the self titled Dream Theater albums. basically anything after Octavarium is nothing but a musical masturbation of their extremely technical capabilities.
It hasn’t even been a week The Astonishing is out so I can’t rate it just yet, but so far I can tell it’s not on par with any of their masterpieces I&W, Awake, A Change of Seasons, but I can rate it as good as Six Degrees; and I love Six Degrees.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m doing this review because I love DT. And as a musician I have learned a LOT from every single member and former-member of this band.
People nowadays rate albums based on the technical level of the musicians. We forget that this is actually art, it’s not a race or a competition. Hell, “The Gift of Music” song is pretty much about this, people stopped enjoying music a long time ago, they just want to hear the next guitarist do something extremely crazy, so they can go and show their friends what their favorite band’s guitarist can actually do.