• Mon. Jul 22nd, 2024

It is hard to believe, but The Astonishing is Dream Theater’s 13th studio album!

These prog rock giants have been going strong for decades, ever since putting out their debut album way back in 1989. It was 1992’s Images and Words that truly put the band on the map, due in no small part to the smash hit “Pull Me Under,” but the group has continued to persevere over the years, as one of progressive rock and metal’s most inventive and creative bands.

 

Dream Theater is back with The Astonishing, their latest studio album.
Dream Theater is back with The Astonishing, their latest studio album.

 

Personally, this fan was doubtful that the band would be able to continue shelling out solid music with the departure of longtime drummer Mike Portnoy, but the band’s prior two studio efforts established that there was nothing to worry about at all. The band’s lineup currently comprises James LaBrie, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess, John Myung, and Mike Mangini (formerly of Extreme).

A concept album occupying two discs, The Astonishing is arguably Dream Theater’s most epic, complex, and ambitious work to date (and that is truly saying something). Once again, the group manages to do what they have done so expertly over the years – combine riff-heavy rock with more melodic, lighter sounds. This “best of both worlds” approach has given the band a diverse sound for years, and here they have given us a complex concept album (though admittedly I have not tried to follow the story too closely).

Dream Theater definitely proves that they still have what it takes musically on The Astonishing. The album, well, astonishes (did you expect anything less?) With a diverse sound throughout that feels like an odd amalgamation of Emerson, Lake, and Palmer fused with Queensryche, and things completely out of the ordinary and unexpected in places, no one is ever going to accuse these guys of running out of ideas or steam. You are bound to experience a number of emotions as you listen to the band’s latest record, but I assure you boredom will not be one of them.

If there is one minor complaint with the otherwise solid record, it is that the band almost throws a little too much music our way. It is superb, but I would have preferred a single album that just focused on the highlights rather than a drawn-out double album that exceeds two hours. That does not mean the final product is lackluster, though. Fans are going to find plenty to enjoy.

If you are new to Dream Theater, this is definitely not the place to start (pick up their 1992 magnum opus Images and Words, or the comically-titled Dream Theater’s Greatest Hit and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs if you are new to the band). But longtime fans are going to appreciate what the band is bringing to the table here. The Astonishing comes recommended!

 

 

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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