*Official* The Astonishing discussion thread

Started by bosk1, January 28, 2016, 05:44:54 PM

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Tabs

Quote from: Zydar on January 28, 2016, 11:56:15 PM
Am I the one only who finds it hard to distinguish when James changes vocal style between the characters? After all the talk about him being brilliant in portraying serveral different characters throughout the album, I am glad to have the lyrics to see where he switches from character to character. It's probably just my hearing though :P

I actually think it's extremely well done - like compare Act of Faythe to A Tempting Offer - you can totally hear that Faythe has this more angelic head and falsetto voice versus Daryus with the more gruff male voice. James did an amazing job on this - I think it might be his best performance of any DT album.

Meatrose

Haven't listened to the album yet. Skimmed through some intros and segments on Spotify but I just bought the FLAC version on HDtracks so I'm going to wait until I get off work to take it for a spin.  :yarr

Pragmaticcircus

Quote from: BlobVanDam on January 28, 2016, 11:48:14 PM

And I've never listened to Muse, outside of the DT comparison songs.
[/quote]
Neither, but it stuck out to me.

BlobVanDam

Quote from: Zydar on January 28, 2016, 11:56:15 PM
Am I the one only who finds it hard to distinguish when James changes vocal style between the characters? After all the talk about him being brilliant in portraying serveral different characters throughout the album, I am glad to have the lyrics to see where he switches from character to character. It's probably just my hearing though :P

I can for some characters, not for others. Gabriel and Arhys sound exactly the same to me (although they are brothers, so it would make sense). Nafaryus usually sounds gruff, but that's not consistent. Faythe is most distinctive with the lighter tone. Overall though, I haven't noticed a lot of the changes.

TH1RT3EN

Didn't Daryus kidnap Xander? The lyrics for The Path That Divides say that Xander followed his father to Heaven's Cove, so that means he escaped Daryus' captivity? Or he was never even kidnaped to begin with? :huh:

YtseJamittaja


TempusVox


YtseJamittaja

Wonder when we have forum users named lordnafarus, arhys, xander, gabriel, daryus or whatever Astonishing related  :D

erwinrafael

Quote from: BlobVanDam on January 29, 2016, 12:05:03 AM
Quote from: Zydar on January 28, 2016, 11:56:15 PM
Am I the one only who finds it hard to distinguish when James changes vocal style between the characters? After all the talk about him being brilliant in portraying serveral different characters throughout the album, I am glad to have the lyrics to see where he switches from character to character. It's probably just my hearing though :P

I can for some characters, not for others. Gabriel and Arhys sound exactly the same to me (although they are brothers, so it would make sense). Nafaryus usually sounds gruff, but that's not consistent. Faythe is most distinctive with the lighter tone. Overall though, I haven't noticed a lot of the changes.

The change is more of a combo of instruments and voice. I hear it more like this:

March / Prog rock / soaring voice - Arhys
Distinct piano melody / soft voice - Faythe
Acoustic guitar / breathy gentle melodic male vocals (with exception of My Last Farewell) :lol - Gabriel
Tango and "older" music forms (mostly in a modified heavy style) - Nafaryus
Metal - Daryus (he even raps, so he's Mike Portnoy?  :lol )

TioJorge

Daryus

Portnoyus


COINCIDENCE
!?

I THINK NOT.


HALF LIFE 3 CONFIRMED.

YtseJamittaja

2:09 - The Path That Divides - strong Symphony X influence

alexofsweden

Negative:

I wish i could like the album, but i can´t...all i hear is ballads alá The Spirit Carries On. I´m going to give it a couple of spins before a completly give up, but for now i´m very dissapointed.
Mangini´s playing doesn´t do it for me, always the same machine gun snare fills. His double kicks sometimes seems out of place and makes no sense. He´s a very skilled drummer though, but it feels too mechanical and stiff!

Positive:

It sounds great
Very smooth playing and solos from Petrucci, as always
Labrie haven´t sounded better, very diverse singing
Jordan is Jordan


I really hope this album grows into me, cause i´ve never experienced wanting to turn of an Dream Theater album halfway through before...been listening to them since they released Awake.

My spontanious feeling right now: I want Portnoy back...i really do

lovethedrake

Just finished the entire album.   Definitely need to listen several more times but I will give my overall thoughts after the first listen:

I am going to get the bad stuff out of the way first:

There is a lot to love here but there are about 10 songs that sound like they could be straight out of the movie Pocahontas.  There are even some fantastic overall songs that still have parts  that seem to drift back into Pocahontas territory.  Imagine beginning of Along for the Ride and the entirety of Losing Time playing on repeat over and over.   My hope is that many of the melodies that didn't grab me on first listen start to grow on me and I certainly would not at all be surprised if that happened.  There are so many incredible ideas on this album but many of them seem underdeveloped in favor of quickly going back to sappy ballads.  Ok... thats the bad. 


Now onto the good stuff.   Although there are several indistinguishable ballads (on first listen) there are also several incredible moments on this album.  The sound quality is excellent and the album really does feel like a more bombastic version of SDOIT.   While I don't think it has the focus and tightness of SDOIT, there are several moments that would fit right into that album.

Everybody in the band kills it as usual although I wish Myung had more distinguishable parts.   I think Mangini does a fine job here. 

This is album as a whole is undoubtedly their best since TOT and maybe even SDOIT due to the improved style, sound, and sheer grandiosity of it. With that said the jury is still out as to whether the song writing holds up and whether the many "filler" tracks start to reveal their qualities.

I basically went through the entire first listen ignoring the lyrics also so I have yet to immerse myself in this Dystopian storyline.  That will likely come on listen 4 or 5 for me. 

Overall I am super stoked to have this album now and plan on listening to it many times.   

Early stand outs if I can recall for me are :   Dystopian Overture, Three Days, Our New World.   

GasparXR

Did anyone else get a Celestial Elixir vibe as soon as Astonishing started?

MrBoom_shack-a-lack

Just a few highlights so far:

JR has some really beautiful piano moments, I love his intro to A Tempting Offer.
I think this is MMs best drum orchestration yet, the thought of having to memorize all his parts on the album live haunts me.
I'm so glad I can say that for once i'm really really impressed with JLB, will be cool hearing this live with parts that suits his voice.
JP in beast mode on this album atleast in term of solos.
I can definitely hear the theatrical in this album which makes me all giddy seeing this behemoth performed live, can't wait!

Favourites so far:

Three Days
Ravenskill
A Life Left Behind (Awesome intro)



TioJorge

Quote from: lovethedrake on January 29, 2016, 12:34:58 AM

There is a lot to love here but there are about 10 songs that sound like they could be straight out of the movie Pocahontas.  There are even some fantastic overall songs that still have parts  that seem to drift back into Pocahontas territory.     

Wait...




WAIT.

:lol :lol :rollin :rollin This is awesome. I am not nearly familiar enough with the movie but bless you sweet child. Bless you.

undertower

#191
I've been a huge DT fan for about 12 years. And this is the first album I totally dislike after the first listen. Utter disappointment.
The story's been used for I don't know how many times. I always liked to believe that DT have a kind of esoteric vibe about them, but with this album we got a metal DISNEY drama. And it's so overpolished and uninspired that the only human element bringing something sonically new and showing some sort of experimentation in stagnating DT-machine are the freaking tracks "written" by NOMACs.

Don't want to be a party ruiner, but we're all entitled to our opinion here, right? :)

lovethedrake

If I recall the intro to A Life Left Behind was so fantastic and I was so excited for the upbeatness of the song and it drifted right back into ballady territory.   This album can be frustrating to listen to despite its many qualities.   Again, this is just one listen through so next time I'm sure I will be more mentally prepared for the constant balladry.

erwinrafael

"always the same machine gun snare fills"

OK, to confirm this, I listened to Our New World and there is not one machine gun snare fill.

Listened to A New Beginning, max of at least two that can be interpreted as a machine gun snare fill.

Those are just two songs. I'm betting if you go through the other songs, you would find that the machine gun snare fills are not all over the place.

Mangini's drumming is really not focused on fills anyway. It's in orchestration, highlighting what the other instruments are doing.

jakepriest

Quote from: undertower on January 29, 2016, 12:38:07 AM
I've been a huge DT fan for about 12 years. And this is the first album I totally dislike after the first listen. Utter disappointment.
The story's been used for I don't know how many times. I always liked to believe that DT have a kind of esoteric vibe about them, but with this album we got a metal DISNEY drama. And it's so overpolished and uninspired that the only human element bringing something sonically new and showing some sort of experimentation is stagnating DT-machine are the freaking tracks "written" by NOMACs.

Don't want to be a party ruiner, but we're all entitled to our opinion here, right? :)

I'm not sure how you can ever pair this album up with "not experimental". Compare it to the last 4 DT albums and say it's less experimental than those. Get out of here.  :lol
I can totally get why someone would not be into this album and can see the Disney thing, but god I can't respect the opinion that this isn't inspired or experimental.

Sir Walrus Cauliflower

It's almost 3 in the morning, and I'm just now on losing Faythe. First impressions are very positive, but I have a few gripes. I'm not even going to try to say what I think until the morning because there's so much to digest  :lol

lovethedrake

This is the first time since TOT that I felt like true inspiration went into the making of the album.  Although 34 songs sounds like an amazingly exciting idea, I think the album would be getting a better reception had they edited it down to about 15 songs.

There is a brilliant focus and tightness of an album like SFAM and I fear this one suffers from a lack of editing.  Sometimes less is more. 

With that said, I don't really have an issue with some filler tracks with beautiful piano and nice vocals from Labrie but it may end up detracting from the overall ranking of the album.   

Time will tell as I have only had one full listen and I may be off base proclaiming these songs as filler.

undertower

Quote from: jakepriest on January 29, 2016, 12:42:18 AM
I'm not sure how you can ever pair this album up with "not experimental". Compare it to the last 4 DT albums and say it's less experimental than those. Get out of here.  :lol
I can totally get why someone would not be into this album and can see the Disney thing, but god I can't respect the opinion that this isn't inspired or experimental.

It may be an experiment in terms of form (storyline etc.), but musically.. I honestly don't see signs of further development. "we've heard it all before." And it's the only DT album that sounds exactly as the previous one.

erwinrafael

Quote from: lovethedrake on January 29, 2016, 12:50:11 AM
This is the first time since TOT that I felt like true inspiration went into the making of the album.  Although 34 songs sounds like an amazingly exciting idea, I think the album would be getting a better reception had they edited it down to about 15 songs.

There is a brilliant focus and tightness of an album like SFAM and I fear this one suffers from a lack of editing.  Sometimes less is more. 

With that said, I don't really have an issue with some filler tracks with beautiful piano and nice vocals from Labrie but it may end up detracting from the overall ranking of the album.   

Time will tell as I have only had one full listen and I may be off base proclaiming these songs as filler.

If you listen to it as a musical, not as the usual music album, you would see that there really are no fillers in this album. The narrative in itself is not that straightforward, with about three subplots going by the middle of the album.

Lucien

Less is absolutely not more for this album. There is no filler here.

Quote from: undertower on January 29, 2016, 12:53:44 AM
And it's the only DT album that sounds exactly as the previous one.

what

like





what

erwinrafael

Quote from: undertower on January 29, 2016, 12:53:44 AM
Quote from: jakepriest on January 29, 2016, 12:42:18 AM
I'm not sure how you can ever pair this album up with "not experimental". Compare it to the last 4 DT albums and say it's less experimental than those. Get out of here.  :lol
I can totally get why someone would not be into this album and can see the Disney thing, but god I can't respect the opinion that this isn't inspired or experimental.

It may be an experiment in terms of form (storyline etc.), but musically.. I honestly don't see signs of further development. "we've heard it all before." And it's the only DT album that sounds exactly as the previous one.

So...what song in the Dream Theater album sounds exactly like Our New World, Lord Nafaryus, A Life Left Behind, Hymn of a Thousand Voices and Three Days?

lovethedrake

This album sounds NOTHING like any DT album post SDOIT... not sure how anyone would come to that conclusion.  I think melodically is has some similarities to some of their albums post TOT, however, the sonic quality and production is COMPLETELY different.

Dellers

Quote from: BlobVanDam on January 28, 2016, 09:08:20 PM
Quote from: Grizz on January 28, 2016, 09:05:57 PM
$34 for HDTracks?!?
Someone please tell me that the $15 CD was mastered with competence...

The CD of The Astonishing has better mastering than the HDTracks version of DT12.

I have no idea how the HDTracks version of The Astonishing compares to the CD though. Hopefully when someone here buys it, they can do a comparison.
Really? I don't have the album yet, so I don't know if this is accurate, but I found this:
https://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/46804
https://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/102647

CD version for me then, although I'd pay more for a better master. 24 bit/96 kHz doesn't matter after the mixing is done.


BlobVanDam

There are obviously some similarities between DT12 and TA (and older albums), since it's a progression of sound, but how anyone could think they sound exactly the same, I'm at a loss.

Lyrically, every track has a purpose, but musically there is a decent amount of redundancy and sameyness they could have maybe cut down on. The problem with a concept album / rock opera is that it's sort of an all or nothing deal to me. It's hard to just enjoy a few tracks out of context, because it's just a segment of it. That wasn't a problem on SFAM, since that is as close to musical perfection as it gets, but it's harder when you only dig 1/3 of a rock opera.

The Presence of Frenemies

There actually is more sonic overlap with DT12 than you might think at first blush. If you gave stuff like TLG, TBP, and the last five minutes of IT (non-easter egg) this production (and rewrote the lyrics so they fit some part of the story), I think they'd fit well on the album.

That said, obviously there are many moments that have absolutely no precedent in the DT discography, like the Three Days outro or A Life Left Behind intro. And the songs really pack a ton of twists and turns into short runtimes, which is something DT hasn't really done since...The Killing Hand, really. And TKH is longer than anything on this album.

BlobVanDam

Quote from: Dellers on January 29, 2016, 12:57:52 AM
Quote from: BlobVanDam on January 28, 2016, 09:08:20 PM
Quote from: Grizz on January 28, 2016, 09:05:57 PM
$34 for HDTracks?!?
Someone please tell me that the $15 CD was mastered with competence...

The CD of The Astonishing has better mastering than the HDTracks version of DT12.

I have no idea how the HDTracks version of The Astonishing compares to the CD though. Hopefully when someone here buys it, they can do a comparison.
Really? I don't have the album yet, so I don't know if this is accurate, but I found this:
https://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/46804
https://dr.loudness-war.info/album/view/102647

CD version for me then, although I'd pay more for a better master. 24 bit/96 kHz doesn't matter after the mixing is done.

While it's a solid objective number, DR numbers alone aren't the be-all of comparison in this case. The HDTracks version of DT12 is essentially the same master as the CD, including compression, the only difference is the lack of limiter stage, so the HDTracks version has a lot of occasional huge volume spikes/peaks that got cut off on the CD so it could be louder, giving the impression of a lot more dynamic range to the DR meter, when in fact there's not as big a difference as it would appear. It becomes much more apparent if you compare the waveforms in an audio program.

Pax

Too bad I cannot read the whole thread, still haven't read the lyrics, so I don't want to get spoiled

Anyways:
I was listening it with friends, and they got bored by the act I, so I couldn't enjoy it as much as I would do if I listened to it alone. But I really felt that I will love those ballads in the future, I felt soul in them.

And act II, no comment, really mad sections I will surely love, just have to digest the whole thing.

The only thing I don't like is that they are not repetitive at all. They build up the tension, a mad part comes, I'm like :O but it lasts too short, and returns to a balladish part. I hope I will get used to those annoying plot twists

Also ,pleasantly surprised by nomac tracks, loved every one of them

erwinrafael

Quote from: BlobVanDam on January 29, 2016, 01:00:33 AM
There are obviously some similarities between DT12 and TA (and older albums), since it's a progression of sound, but how anyone could think they sound exactly the same, I'm at a loss.

Lyrically, every track has a purpose, but musically there is a decent amount of redundancy and sameyness they could have maybe cut down on. The problem with a concept album / rock opera is that it's sort of an all or nothing deal to me. It's hard to just enjoy a few tracks out of context, because it's just a segment of it. That wasn't a problem on SFAM, since that is as close to musical perfection as it gets, but it's harder when you only dig 1/3 of a rock opera.

I think it really is because of a difference in approach. SFAM is written as a music album. It is very enjoyable to listen to. But can you stage it as an actual musical without modifying the content? I think you can not, there are too many lengthy instrumental portions.

TA, on the other hand, really feels like it was written as a musical. I don't think any modification needs to be done and they can already stage this as an actual musical play.

BlobVanDam

Quote from: erwinrafael on January 29, 2016, 01:07:40 AM
Quote from: BlobVanDam on January 29, 2016, 01:00:33 AM
There are obviously some similarities between DT12 and TA (and older albums), since it's a progression of sound, but how anyone could think they sound exactly the same, I'm at a loss.

Lyrically, every track has a purpose, but musically there is a decent amount of redundancy and sameyness they could have maybe cut down on. The problem with a concept album / rock opera is that it's sort of an all or nothing deal to me. It's hard to just enjoy a few tracks out of context, because it's just a segment of it. That wasn't a problem on SFAM, since that is as close to musical perfection as it gets, but it's harder when you only dig 1/3 of a rock opera.

I think it really is because of a difference in approach. SFAM is written as a music album. It is very enjoyable to listen to. But can you stage it as an actual musical without modifying the content? I think you can not, there are too many lengthy instrumental portions.

TA, on the other hand, really feels like it was written as a musical. I don't think any modification needs to be done and they can already stage this as an actual musical play.

Absolutely. The only comparison I was drawing was that they're both written as a greater whole, but TA truly is a rock opera as opposed to SFAM's concept album. That unfortunately means it's even more difficult for me to enjoy a track here and there on TA, because that's not how it was written and designed to be listened to. SFAM still overall works well as individual tracks despite the story because it was still written to work that way.