Author Topic: - " The Astonishing " - One Year -- er, TWO YEARS On.  (Read 39817 times)

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Offline Samsara

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #245 on: February 23, 2017, 02:54:17 PM »
So I just re-listened to TA in its entirety, as mentioned above. My observations:

1. I think I would have really enjoyed the overall production they did. I wouldn't have traveled on a work night to go see it (which means I would have missed it anyway), but I think it probably came across better in the live setting.

2. The standalone tracks I liked from my first two listens to it remain. I can't name them, except for a few -- Moment of Betrayal, Our New World, Gift of Music -- but there are more than those three, for sure.

3. the story line (as much as I can focus on it while working and listening to it in the background, which isn't much) isn't very deep, but I'm wondering if the novel will actually help me appreciate it a bit more...if TA was actually the soundtrack to a larger story, rather than the story itself, if that makes sense.

4. James' performance is woefully underrated on the record.

Overall, I like it a lot more than I did when I first checked it out, for sure. The problem I have, is that it has to be such an engaged listen. I couple of times I did look over to see just where I was in terms of getting through it, which tells me some of it could have been cut. But hey, I'm just the listener, not the artist.

In comparison to legendary works like The Wall, Tommy, Mindcrime, etc., TA falls a bit short of those. I actually think SFAM is a better overall conceptual record. But TA also stands apart a bit, because it's not just a concept album. It's a broadway production in audio form. A unique piece of DT history that has rankled the fan base some, but I think over time will become much more appreciated.
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Offline Herrick

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #246 on: February 23, 2017, 03:48:35 PM »
4. James' performance is woefully underrated on the record.

Yeah LaBrie is one of the highlights for sure. It's interesting how he recorded the vocals without the band around. I wonder how much direction he was given by Petrucci?
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Offline rumborak

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #247 on: February 23, 2017, 03:53:43 PM »
James' performance on TA is a mixed bag for me. Not by his own fault, but simply by the fact that he was asked to do stuff like singing feminine, or doing evil laughter. He does the best one could imagine in those circumstances, but I can't rank his singing all too high because of it.
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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #248 on: February 23, 2017, 03:57:21 PM »
4. James' performance is woefully underrated on the record.

Yeah LaBrie is one of the highlights for sure. It's interesting how he recorded the vocals without the band around. I wonder how much direction he was given by Petrucci?

Didn't he do that for the self-titled record, and possibly ADToE as well? Either way, I like that. It gives Labrie some "ownership" (not literally) of the songs, and artistic input. I'm sure John always has input, but if James has asserted more control over the ways the vocals are done, I am all for that.
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Offline Kotowboy

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #249 on: February 23, 2017, 04:09:48 PM »
LaBrie recorded vocals in Canada with Richard Chycki producing I think ??

Offline cramx3

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #250 on: February 23, 2017, 06:54:39 PM »
I think JLB sounds great on TA.  I think the parts of Nefarius were pretty rough for him, but on album he sounds pretty good although different form.  Live I think he struggled a bit here, but still think overall, he was great on the album and live. 

2. The standalone tracks I liked from my first two listens to it remain. I can't name them, except for a few -- Moment of Betrayal, Our New World, Gift of Music -- but there are more than those three, for sure.

I do wonder if this is an effect of those being the three singles for the album

Offline DarkLord_Lalinc

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #251 on: February 23, 2017, 08:17:56 PM »
JLB is probably the best thing in that album.
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Offline gzarruk

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #252 on: February 24, 2017, 05:32:32 AM »
James' performance on TA is a mixed bag for me. Not by his own fault, but simply by the fact that he was asked to do stuff like singing feminine, or doing evil laughter. He does the best one could imagine in those circumstances, but I can't rank his singing all too high because of it.

I think James did a fantastic job overrall, he's one of the members who shines the most on TA. Having said that, I still wish they got a female singer, just one (and not Lzzy Hale), and had her record all the female parts, with James singing all the male parts. They could've toured with her and that would've made the experience much more unique. Anneke Van Giersbergen would've been perfect for that.
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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #253 on: February 24, 2017, 05:55:34 AM »
He wasn't asked to perform all roles. He insisted. JP originally considered hiring other vocalists for the female parts.

As for LaBrie recording stuff alone - most of the vocals are pre-recorded guides by JP anyhow. And the internet is wonderful since you can just send files back and forth and give notes wherever needed. So JP would just tell JLB to adjust something and they'd rerecord.
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Offline mikeyd23

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #254 on: February 24, 2017, 06:30:56 AM »
I think James vocals on the last three records have been great, so I'm all for him continuing to record separate from the band if those are the results.

Offline goo-goo

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #255 on: February 24, 2017, 07:08:28 AM »
He wasn't asked to perform all roles. He insisted. JP originally considered hiring other vocalists for the female parts.


Interesting tidbit. More power to him. Glad he did all the parts.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #256 on: February 24, 2017, 07:18:11 AM »
I think James did a fantastic job overrall, he's one of the members who shines the most on TA. Having said that, I still wish they got a female singer, just one (and not Lzzy Hale), and had her record all the female parts, with James singing all the male parts. They could've toured with her and that would've made the experience much more unique. Anneke Van Giersbergen would've been perfect for that.

It was a massive lost opportunity. It would have added separation in dialogues (unless you read the lyrics, who can actually keep track who is saying what when?), and it could have added duet style stuff, I.e. both singing at the same time.
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Offline TAC

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #257 on: February 24, 2017, 07:45:28 AM »
I think James vocals on the last three records have been great, so I'm all for him continuing to record separate from the band if those are the results.

I thought James' vocals were great on SC and BC&SL as well. They didn't seem to ask as much range wise as TA but I thought he sung those albums impeccably.
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Offline mikeyd23

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #258 on: February 24, 2017, 08:10:45 AM »
I think James vocals on the last three records have been great, so I'm all for him continuing to record separate from the band if those are the results.

I thought James' vocals were great on SC and BC&SL as well. They didn't seem to ask as much range wise as TA but I thought he sung those albums impeccably.

I think James' studio performances are all really good. It usually comes down to my opinion of the material he's given to work with. For me personally, I like the last three albums more than SC and BC&SL in terms of melodies, so for me, his vocals are more enjoyable.

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #259 on: February 24, 2017, 08:15:24 AM »

I do wonder if this is an effect of those being the three singles for the album

They were? See, I had NO idea that they were the singles. I don't pay attention as closely to DT as many here do. I just liked the tunes.
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Offline cramx3

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #260 on: February 24, 2017, 08:26:43 AM »

I do wonder if this is an effect of those being the three singles for the album

They were? See, I had NO idea that they were the singles. I don't pay attention as closely to DT as many here do. I just liked the tunes.

They are also three of the more, I guess I would say, "complete" songs in the aspect that they can stand on their own.  A lot of the songs work better in context of the album, but specifically Our New World and Moment of Betrayal are very much typical DT single type songs that can be listened to without the context of the album and be pretty enjoyable.

Offline bosk1

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #261 on: February 24, 2017, 08:37:12 AM »
There weren't really "singles" from this album.  Yes, the band released those three as album teasers.  But none of them were meant to be "singles" in the traditional sense.  But then again, for all intents and purposes, it doesn't really matter and is largely a distinction without a difference for purposes of this discussion. 

But I think you are right, Cram, about them being able to function as standalone songs more than some of the material on the album.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #262 on: February 24, 2017, 08:44:13 AM »
Those songs definitely have a standalone feel to them. They are very distinct from the surrounding sound, and wrap up neatly by the end. That may have been intentional or not, but it certainly predestined them to be used as singles.
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Offline MirrorMask

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #263 on: February 24, 2017, 09:02:57 AM »
Also Chosen could stand as a lone balladish piece.
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Offline Chino

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #264 on: February 24, 2017, 09:12:34 AM »
Chosen was the best track on TA, IMO.

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #265 on: February 24, 2017, 10:45:50 AM »
Chosen was the best track on TA, IMO.

Yup

Also Chosen could stand as a lone balladish piece.

and yea, I think this song works as well by itself. 

Offline bosk1

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #266 on: February 24, 2017, 10:52:59 AM »
Chosen is great.  I wouldn't put it up there as the best track on the album, but I certainly consider it one of the standouts.  I'm not going to rank them, but some of my favorites from the album are:

The Gift of Music
A Better Life
Lord Nefaryus
A Savior in the Square
Ravenskill
Chosen
A Tempting Offer
The X Aspect
2285 Entr'acte
Moment of Betrayal
Our New World

Yeah, that is VERY heavy on Act I.  And yeah, I left off Three Days.  If I had to do my next tier of songs that I like, but don't love, it would be in there.  That tier would probably be something like:
When Your Time Has Come
Three Days
A Life Left Behind
A New Beginning
Heaven's Cove
The Astonishing
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Offline Architeuthis

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #267 on: February 24, 2017, 10:59:09 AM »
Chosen should be all over the radio. If it got that kind of exposure, alot of people would love it! It's alot better than most songs that are staple on mainstream radio. DT has alot of songs that would be radio friendly. I wonder why they don't get more exposure??  I know, record company contracts with radio stations blah blah blah..
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Offline MirrorMask

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #268 on: February 24, 2017, 11:56:31 AM »
Chosen should be all over the radio. If it got that kind of exposure, alot of people would love it! It's alot better than most songs that are staple on mainstream radio. DT has alot of songs that would be radio friendly. I wonder why they don't get more exposure??  I know, record company contracts with radio stations blah blah blah..

Also the stigma of being metal-ish.

Savatage had a song named Christmas Eve / Sarajevo, nobody noticed.
The exact same song was done by "Trans Siberian Orchestra" and made millions.

There are so many DT songs that sold properly, could be huge hits, but since it's from "prog metal, what it is, heavy guitars and 10 minutes songs?", nobody cares.
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Offline Nachtmerrie

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #269 on: February 24, 2017, 12:43:34 PM »
I think James did a fantastic job overrall, he's one of the members who shines the most on TA. Having said that, I still wish they got a female singer, just one (and not Lzzy Hale), and had her record all the female parts, with James singing all the male parts. They could've toured with her and that would've made the experience much more unique. Anneke Van Giersbergen would've been perfect for that.

It was a massive lost opportunity. It would have added separation in dialogues (unless you read the lyrics, who can actually keep track who is saying what when?), and it could have added duet style stuff, I.e. both singing at the same time.

That is so true. It would have enhanced the whole experience and make it much more credible. James singing the female parts (which he stil does quite good) doesn't do anything for me. I can just imagine how it would sound with someone like Anneke or Simone Simons (Lizzy Hale would also be fine for me).

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #270 on: February 24, 2017, 01:02:59 PM »
Chalk up another vote to having multiple voices do the characters. James did a fine job, and from a practical standpoint of performing the album every night live, without the expense of more people having to be paid, I think it is fine. But from a purely artistic standpoint, A couple of legendary prog voices adding to the mix would have really gotten the record some more attention, and made it that much more dynamic.
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Offline MirrorMask

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #271 on: February 24, 2017, 01:15:49 PM »
I think there would have been endless complaints: It's not Dream Theater (which is already the opinion many have of the album), they went the Ayreon way, why bother with guest singers if James sings it all live anyway etc...

Also there are 8 characters, and James would have been lost in the shuffle. Which role would he keep? Nafaryus? Arhys, who dies 2/3 across the album meaning that you don't get to hear the DT singer on the climax of a DT album? the story has their protagonists but every one of them has a shining moment so it would be hard to rob James of some stellar vocal moments. For example, cast each character of SFAM, James would probably keep Nicholas, but that would mean he would miss almost entirely Home, the centerpiece of the album.

I would have welcomed additional singers, but probably it's best that this remained a DT album and not a DT-goes- Ayreon album.
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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #272 on: February 24, 2017, 01:19:29 PM »
Yeah, looking at it from that perspective, I agree.

However, in regard to the album itself, and what's best for the album, I wonder if having those singers, plus James, would have been the way to go, if this was released as a solo work from John, which, I am guessing, most of TA is? I honestly don't know the credits and whether JR was heavily involved in writing the tracks or not.
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Offline rumborak

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #273 on: February 24, 2017, 01:21:52 PM »
I don't think it would have needed a singer for each character tbh. A single female singer would have made a world of a difference, would have kept additional staff at bay etc, and lord knows, it would have given James time to rest.
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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #274 on: February 24, 2017, 01:22:40 PM »
I don't think it would have needed a singer for each character tbh. A single female singer would have made a world of a difference, would have kept additional staff at bay etc, and lord knows, it would have given James time to rest.

Yeah, like a split the difference scenario. Good point.
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Offline MirrorMask

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #275 on: February 24, 2017, 01:24:56 PM »
I don't think it would have needed a singer for each character tbh. A single female singer would have made a world of a difference, would have kept additional staff at bay etc, and lord knows, it would have given James time to rest.

Yeah, that could have been a good compromise between keeping it still DT and giving more depth to the range of characters.
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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #276 on: February 24, 2017, 02:18:33 PM »
p.s. bosk let me know a bit ago that TA was written musically by Jordan AND John, so my thought regarding John releasing it as his own work obviously is ridiculous. Nevermind!  :lol
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Offline Evai

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #277 on: February 24, 2017, 02:24:17 PM »
I dunno about Chosen being the best ballad... it's great but the 'I can't climb this mountain without you' feels a bit generic to me (https://youtu.be/Rkkw8RhH9ck?t=110)
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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #278 on: February 24, 2017, 02:50:02 PM »
"Chosen" is awesome. Is it cheesy as hell? Sure, but what power ballads aren't? :lol

For what it's worth, my wife loves that song to death, and she couldn't care less about DT or their kind of music in general. Catchy songs are catchy songs.
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Offline gzarruk

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Re: - " The Astonishing " - One Year On.
« Reply #279 on: February 24, 2017, 03:06:04 PM »
I don't think it would have needed a singer for each character tbh. A single female singer would have made a world of a difference, would have kept additional staff at bay etc, and lord knows, it would have given James time to rest.

Yeah, that could have been a good compromise between keeping it still DT and giving more depth to the range of characters.

Indeed, that would've been the perfect balance.
It sounds like, "ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk." Instead of the more pleasing kick drum sound of, "gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk."