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Dream Theater – The Astonishing (2016) [Official Digital Download 24bit/96kHz]

Dream Theater – The Astonishing (2016)
FLAC (tracks) 24 bit/96 kHz | Time – 02:10:36 minutes | 2,75 GB | Genre: Rock
Studio Master, Official Digital Download  Source: HDTracks | © Roadrunner Records

The Astonishing is the thirteenth studio album by American progressive metal band Dream Theater, released as a double album. It is enriched exponentially by the integration of a real orchestra and choir, arranged by conductor David Campbell, whose work graces over 450 gold and platinum albums. Other organic sounds are more abundant than at any point in the band’s history, with Rudess in particular relishing the tones from a grand piano and Hammond organ. Writing the music as a duo, Petrucci and Rudess venture into unexplored corners of their sound without sacrificing their musical identity.

Few bands could have conceived of, let alone pulled off, the exercise in excess that Dream Theater have with The Astonishing. In a vast catalog that includes several album-length conceptual statements – Metropolis, Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence – this is so extreme that it pushes at what their fans (a fanatical lot) may accept. Guitarist John Petrucci has written a double-disc sci-fi rock opera, set in a dystopian future in an invented country (the package contains maps). In it, music created and/or performed by humans has been outlawed by the state. Only government-sanctioned and programmed machines are entrusted with those functions. A small band of rebels cling to and fight for the vision (and redemption) of human music. Petrucci consciously sought to create as grand a statement as Tommy, The Wall, and Operation: Mindcrime. Whether or not he and the band have succeeded will likely be debated for some time. Well over two hours long, The Astonishing contains 34 tracks. Dream Theater are accompanied by the Prague Symphony Orchestra and three choirs, all conducted by maestro David Campbell (Beck’s dad). Petrucci entrusted the character voices to vocalist James LaBrie, who executes them authoritatively with his vast range and remarkable control. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess is the wheel all this music turns upon. In addition to his grand pianos, organs, and beautifully wrought synth sounds setting up melodies and harmonies, he handled the choral arrangements, and provided orchestral direction for Campbell. Petrucci’s guitar playing is, as usual, breathtaking (check “A Better Life”), though he doesn’t solo as much. Bassist John Myung and drummer Mike Mangini aren’t used as prominently as they usually are, but a musical narrative of this scope demands rhythmic flow and consistency. There are a couple attempts at singles – the excellent melodic prog rock of “The Spirit of Music” and the more metallic “Moment of Betrayal” – but singles aren’t the point. Several other individual selections do stand out: “Dystopian Overture” (which deliberately pays momentary homage to the “Overture” from Tommy); “A Life Left Behind” (whose intro reflects Yes’ influence); “Three Days” (Mangini’s shining moment, which commences as a ballad but transforms into a prog metal anthem); “Chosen” (a power ballad sure to become a concert fave); and “The Path That Divides” (an angular metal powerhouse overdriven by Rudess’ manic organ). But these tracks serve almost as “arias” in classical opera; they are connected by much more “recitative” (a narrative device to move the plot along). Though it may be grandiose to say, like opera, The Astonishing shouldn’t be disassembled, but judged holistically. It was planned as an immersive, one-sitting listening experience. As demanding as it is, the story and music are worth the effort. Dream Theater have invested in the “album” concept (and in listeners’ attention spans) even as the music biz doubles down on the notion that long-players are merely envelopes to hold singles.

01 – Descent of the Nomacs
02 – Dystopian Overture
03 – The Gift of Music
04 – The Answer
05 – A Better Life
06 – Lord Nafaryus
07 – A Savior In the Square
08 – When Your Time Has Come
09 – Act of Faythe
10 – Three Days
11 – The Hovering Sojourn
12 – Brother, Can You Hear Me?
13 – A Life Left Behind
14 – Ravenskill
15 – Chosen
16 – A Tempting Offer
17 – Digital Discord
18 – The X Aspect
19 – A New Beginning
20 – The Road to Revolution
21 – 2285 Entr’acte
22 – Moment of Betrayal
23 – Heaven’s Cove
24 – Begin Again
25 – The Path That Divides
26 – Machine Chatter
27 – The Walking Shadow
28 – My Last Farewell
29 – Losing Faythe
30 – Whispers On the Wind
31 – Hymn of a Thousand Voices
32 – Our New World
33 – Power Down
34 – Astonishing


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