The Astonishing Pile of Crap from Dream Theater

Calling all prog fans of the solar federation: steer clear of this stinker of an album.

WARNING: It is not a prog album.

Sure, there’s about 1 minute and 30 seconds of prog at the end of “The Gift of Music” (the last 30 seconds being the best), and a smattering of tiny prog tidbits on about a half dozen other songs (with only “A New Beginning” [7:41] having any claim to being a prog song). But more than anything else what we have on this putrid, bloated failure is: wall-to-wall cheesy ballads.

The whole thing is tied together by a ludicrous story, poorly written, with moronic characters nobody could ever care about. The heavy-handed lyrics are among the worst lyrics ever written. Ever. I lost count of how many times I heard LaBrie singing about “the light inside of me,” and other such nauseating cliches.

When the histrionic crying started on “Losing Faythe,” after one and a half hours of listening to this wretched album, I simply had to laugh out loud. I pictured Dream Theater fans similarly weeping over their purchase of this colossal pile of crap.

How do I arrive at these judgments? Easy. I simply compare The Astonishing to all the accomplished works in the same genre that DT has chosen for this album. And sorry, this album just doesn’t stack up. Nobody, and I mean nobody, is going to be singing show tunes from this album at the local Glee club. The songs are so bad, no one ever would.

Go listen to Wicked, or The Last Five Years, or Hamilton, if you want to see what DT, in its hubris, has recklessly invited comparison to. Compare the wit and songwriting skill on such efforts to the total absence of any such merits on this. Heck, go compare The Astonishing to High School Musical and Frozen. Guess what? DT absolutely sucks in comparison. Are you really surprised? No, I’m not. They should have stuck with prog. Because if you want to take on the likes of Idina Menzel, you better bring it. And DT simply fails to deliver. The songs suck. I don’t care how good they are as musicians. They are total songwriting failures by Broadway’s standards. Not even “Hymn of a Thousand Voices” succeeds.

Maybe you think my comparisons are unfair. Okay, go compare this album to Chess, written by the dudes from ABBA. Chess totally works as awesome music theater; this album, however, is a stinkingly bad failure of epic proportions.

Don’t waste your time listening to this album. I did, and every time I wasted those two hours, I thought afterwards: that was time I could have better used to listen to the great new albums by Headspace and The Mute Gods. (Headspace especially. Now there’s a prog album that generously rewards every second of your time!)

Here’s all you need to do if you doubt my thesis: go listen to the closing track, “The Astonishing.” DT packs everything that sucks about this album into one track: the terrible, cheesy lyrics; the sappy, crappy ballad songwriting; and the total failure to deliver any kind of hummable, memorable musical experience. Barf! This stinkaroo of a song is soooo bad!

It sure ain’t no “Grand Finale” of 2112, which their dopey sci-fi scenario immediately invites us to conjure up in comparison. Beginning, middle, end: DT’s blown all of it. We couldn’t even edit this album down to 21:12 minutes of good stuff. Not even then would it stack up favorably to Rush.

What good is being in a band if no one will speak up and say, “Hey guys, this is a really bad idea”? Apparently, no one did. So it’s up to us: let’s make like Mike Portnoy and run the hell away from Dream Theater’s bad choices. Their stinking deuce of an attempt at writing a musical on The Astonishing is nothing short of a musical nightmare.

17 thoughts on “The Astonishing Pile of Crap from Dream Theater

  1. LOL> LOVED your extremely “Frank” review of this one Time-Lord!!! I highly ADMIRE YOU for typing all this out!!! For it strongly SHOWS ME,regardless of the “opinions” expressed in each review,whether Favorable or NOT………..the TRUTH of the writer,is shown!!! Bravo my Friend!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bryan Morey

    This might be the most entertaining music review I’ve ever read, and I wholeheartedly agree with you! I’m dying to know what Mike Portnoy thinks of this album. With him on board, I’d bet that this whole “story” wouldn’t have been more than just a long song on an album, like “Count of Tuscany.” This story is just so impersonal. With Scenes, the listener is drawn in – you feel what Nicholas feels, you get to know Victoria. In The Astonishing, you are left wanting your money and time back.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I am curious what your opinion of “prog” is? The reasons you state that this is not a “prog” album seem to back up the fact that it is? Either way, I found this to be one of the best CDs DT has put out since Scenes From a Memory. I love every minute of it. And if ballads do not make a prog album, what do you call “The Wall”?


  4. eedude

    I totally agree and unfortunately I bought tickets for the show before listing to the album. DT has a long record of writing shitty lyrics.. JP just should not f—ing write lyrics, would someone in the band please tell him. CoT is another big pile of lyrical poo. I don’t understand how someone with 1/2 brain would share lyrics which are so trite….

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Bryan Morey

      I’ve enjoyed some of his lyrics, like on Black Clouds and Silver Linings, but he definitely has some duds, like everything on Astonishing. Portnoy and Myung were definitely the best lyricists in the band, and I think Portnoy was the only one with the balls to stand up to JP when he wrote crap.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: The Astonishing Failure – The Album Nobody Asked for from Dream Theater | Progarchy

  6. Tony

    I have been a DT fan from the beginning. This review is spot on. Astonishing was the biggest pile of crap I ever heard. I too got tickets to the show before listening and trusting my fav band would deliver. I was so wrong. They played the entire pile of crap for hours. I was looking around and everyone in audience was trying so hard to get into but just couldn’t. Fan’s faces looked so confused. All the applause was sympathy in my opinion. I think the only way to save this train wreck is for Portnoy to come back and grab the steering wheel!


  7. You know, I have tried to like Dream Theater. I have really tried. I’ve listened to all their albums and tried to give it a chance for me. But, I just cannot. Made me think of what the liner notes of a Genesis box set said. “Art for some, pretentious crap for others.” I love everything Steven Wilson has ever done. Marillion is perfection. But Dream Theater? Maybe they’re just too good? I had a glimpse of hope when I heard the opening to an album. Sounded like a foghorn or that thing from the Australian outback. I thought…huh, this sounds cool! But then, I just heard the same stuff like the other stuff I had just heard. The blowhorn thing was just in there because they could put it there. Please tell me, what am I not getting about this band?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Craig Smith

      Because it is Prog Metal and not Prog Rock. Two different but related beasts. Not to mention DT has very talented musicians.


  8. Jeff Williams

    I saw the show, first night in LA. Sheesh….there was actually one annoying dude shouting out “Pull me Under” at every break between tunes. At the time I just though “rude much?” but you know, in retrospect, I think he had a point. They sold the tix before the album came out and the album is a long hard listen. There are moments that it’s simply painful in its ridiculousness. I love DT and have since I first saw them all the way back on the Images and Words Tour. They have energized and exhausted me all along the way. You just never know for sure what your going to get. Though they are amazing musicians, with or without Portnoy, they were hit and miss all along. To me, the last 2 DT albums were simply rubbish. There has been nothing that I could connect with unfortunately. In fact, the last time I was able to truly connect with a DT album in its entirety would be Scenes From a Memory. After that it was song here song there for me. I love them…seriously, but whew….this last album was simply impossible for me to take seriously and connect with on any level.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Randy

    I think I would rather stab myself in the head than ever go see them again. The worst thing I ever heard I had to suffer through this crap because I felt obligated to my brother in law who likes this shit. They have one good song (pull me under) and a great drum solo but the other 2 hrs and 45 minute is pure garbage. They seem to have talent but don’t know how to sinc it. Sounds like total crap. It was so painful to sit through.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I love the flack The Astonishing has gotten on this site, and it’s also nice to see real, honest stories about how bad DT was when people saw them live – in contrast to the fake “LaBrie was amazing when I saw Dream Theater in my town” wishful thinking stories I’m used to seeing.

    It was a rude awakening for me when I saw the band in 2016, only to be rubbed the wrong way by LaBrie’s caterwauling, the boring, cheesy songs from The Astonishing, the cringeworthy animations of Astonishing characters that looked they were done by amateur art students, and how the band played really, really loud when most of The Astonishing material is so soft. To add insult to injury, Jordan Rudess has made multiple statements that The Astonishing Live was the best tour the band ever put on.

    I am probably Dream Theater’s most significant discontent, unless one counts Mike Portnoy. I had a highly successful YouTube channel with over 10,000 subscribers, and ended up closing it due to a series of awful events involving appalling behavior from Jordan Rudess and James LaBrie which I discuss here:

    Dream Theater has a lot of “True Believing” fans who JUST DO NOT GET why people would hate The Astonishing. To those of us naysayers, they say we dislike it because it’s “not metal,” because it’s a departure from the band’s normal fair, or they say we are Mike Portnoy fanboys who only dislike it because Portnoy didn’t play on it. Well, most of the music I listen to is not metal, I’d be fine with the band splitting off in a different direction *if the execution was successful*, and I liked A Dramatic Turn Of Events which had Mangini on it. People mainly hate The Astonishing because it’s cheesy, and too many of the songs are undistinguished or “samey.” It’s just that simple. It also doesn’t help that the band tried shoehorning Medieval and classical elements into a totally incongruous time period (“far in the distant future”), resulting in cognitive dissonance.

    I have even seen DT fans saying that Rate Your Music “shouldn’t be taken seriously” as a website just because their cherished band made an album that got a low aggregate rating. What a joke. Maybe it’s Dream Theater Forums that shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    Liked by 1 person


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