Classic Songs to Be Discovered, Derivative Works, Music, My Stories, Unsung Heroes

The Astonishing

9 songs would be a perfect album.

  1. Dystopian Overture
  2. Moment Of Betrayal
  3. Our New World
  4. The Gift Of Music
  5. A Savior In The Square
  6. A Life Left Behind
  7. When Your Time Has Come
  8. A Better Life
  9. A New Beginning

45 minutes all up. Sequence your playlists and you will see how beautifully it flows. I have been playing it all day. Because at 2 hours and 10 minutes, so many good songs are lost because only the hardcore fans would stay the course to hear the full album.

This is a review of the best songs on the album in my opinion.

“Moment Of Betrayal”

It’s a cross between “Forsaken” and “Metropolis Part 1”. Especially in the Intro and first verse. So if you like the feel and groove of those songs, you’ll like this one.

I have sworn to live and die
By the warrior’s code
Never leave a man behind
May God redeem my soul
I will give you what you need
My brother for my son
Guilt and shame will burden me
Until my days are done

The things we do for our children far outweigh what we would do for our brothers. Here is a person, who is conflicted by the situation he is in. But the path forward is clear for him. Betray the “Chosen One” and his son will be returned.

“Our New World”

It has one of the best Petrucci riffs ever. Petrucci always makes major music riffs sound heavy. Plus the vocal melodies of the verses are hypnotic. By far one of the best compositions from Dream Theater. You actually hear the main riff at the start of “A Savior In The Square” however it is restructured to maximum effect right here. In relation to the story, this song comes in close to the end, but man, it’s a knockout song.

So together we’ll build a new world
A better world

That’s all we are asking for today. A new and better world, free of the corruption and betrayals of our Governments and the Corporations that bank roll their campaigns.

“The Gift Of Music”

Again, a riff in a major key and it sounds fantastic. I also dig the interlude section from “The Gift Of Music” that sounds like a section from “Erotomania”. The whole song, musically is spot on.

We are living day to day
Forced to bear the lion’s share
People just don’t have the time for music any more.
And no one seems to care

Is this John Petrucci bringing modern-day issues into a dystopian society. The truth is, people don’t have time for music like they did before. There are so many distractions. Music is competing with so many different forms of entertainment, it’s not funny any more. Gone are the days of three TV stations and expensive computers.

And you know what, we can skip tracks. Back when we had vinyl records, we would drop the needle and after hearing our favorite track, we waited to hear what came next because we couldn’t be bothered to get up and move the needle back!

And then the playlist is geared up so that “The Gift Of Music” flows into “A Savior In The Square” and that brilliant riff from “Our New World” is heard again for the first minute and a half. This time it is in clean tone and Petrucci breaks out a brilliant lead. If you like how “The Count Of Tuscany” starts off, then you will love how this song start offs.

Then from 1.50 it goes into this regal “here comes the King and Queen” like musical rhythm.

We have come to hear him sing
To see this gift your savior brings

There is nothing more pleasurable than watching live music. I love it and when bands do their live shows as events, it’s even more special and memorable.

“A Life Left Behind”

I love the street busk feel of the guitar riff that kicks the song off. And once the drums and keys come in, the groove feels very progressive.

All this time while I’m sleeping
The world changed around me
Now I’ve never felt more alive

I’m waking up
From a life left behind

For a concept album set in the future, the sounds of the songs are set in the past. And it is in those sounds, that I feel alive.

“When Your Time Has Come”

The piano intro that morphs into the synth, is brilliant. For feel, the song reminds me of the verse riff of “Finally Free” when James sings “I ran into Julian and he said we should get together soon”.

The Chorus is a great piece of pop songwriting. Very memorable.

When you’re facing the path that divides
Know that I will be there by your side
Find your strength in the sound of my voice
And you’ll know which choice is right

That’s it. The freedom to let your mind drift and allow the music to lift you into new skies and new destinies.

“A Better Life”

The verses are heavy. I like it.

For many years, I’ve seen
Our people starve and suffer
How many more will die before we stand and fight?

“A New Beginning”

Love the palm muted intro and when the keys and drums come in, it’s prog and roll, baby. But the best part is the 4/4 drum beat at the 5.20 mark and Petrucci just goes to town. Not in a shred way, but in a groovy and melodic way, with some blues attitude.

Listen without judgement
Keep an open mind
If you cannot see the truth
You’re the one who’s blind

The guys in Dream Theater love to play. Even when they go into pop rock territory, there are still no three-minute cuts with safe moves. The pre-chorus can be a 10 second prog interlude. Creativity is all about risk. And sometimes artists fail or succeed wildly, but if they will never know until they try.

In Dream Theater’s case, they do what they want, because they have a loyal fan base that generates a significant part of their revenue. That is why their super deluxe editions sell out. That is why their concert tickets have gone up exponentially over the last 10 years. There’s a demand for them.

Now that music is free, people will still buy it, if the artist gives them a reason to.

That’s one of the movers behind vinyl and deluxe editions/packs. They make great souvenirs for the hard-core fan. Let this be a note to all musicians. Stop crying about the theft of MP3s or the streaming rates your label pays you. Wrap your music up in something that your hard-core fans want.

Coheed and Cambria have been using this business model since 2003 and they have built a successful career from it. Because in the end, every artist  has  to have fans to survive. And those fans are led from one thing to the other. We didn’t know that we wanted to use Napster but as soon as we acquired music via the Internet, at home, and so easily, we were hooked. Especially when those hard to find rare albums surfaced and those expensive imports.

Dream Theater and Portnoy during this period were at the forefront of the bootlegging culture, releasing their bootleg recordings via their various fan websites and their own Ytse Jam Records. All of their music was free and we still purchased it and more. I suppose that is the gift of music.



2 thoughts on “The Astonishing

  1. Your right about listening more with vinyl. 45 minutes is still a decent length album though. I’ve been waiting for this review… Like how u slice and diced it down to 9 tracks

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