The greatest tease to be released this year, we all have been given the first taste of Dream Theater’s extravagant upcoming album “The Astonishing.” I’ve been nerding over this over my social media pages because of the sheer amount of information and detail going into this album. With a steady release of characters, maps, track titles, and more, “The Astonishing” is starting to piece together. Although the album will not be released until early next year, Dream Theater has released the first official single for the album, titled “The Gift Of Music.”
“The Gift Of Music” portrays the differing eras and sounds of Dream Theater in a four minute track. With glimpses of their previous self-titled album, I love the lightheartedness of the guitar rhythms and keyboards, provided by John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess respectively. Imagining tracks like “The Looking Glass” and “Behind The Veil,” the phased out sound of the rhythm section grabs the listeners attention. Another layer is added with the forceful drum beats reminiscent of Dream Theater’s earlier material. Songs like “Erotomania” and “Lie” off their album “Awake” jump up in my mind, something that has been lacking in their last couple albums. Finally, the vocal approach by singer James Labrie reminds me of the second part of the album “Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence,” an album which also utilizes different vocal deliveries depending on the themes of each song. If the quality of “The Astonishing” matches “The Gift Of Music,” the sky is the limit for what could potentially be one of the most sophisticated albums in their discography, better yet the progressive metal genre.
After reading over John Petrucci’s interview with Rolling Stone magazine, I become more aware of the choral presence in the song. Learning that Dream Theater has recruited Beck’s father to conduct choirs and symphonies in this album, I audibly gasped. Recalling the fantastic and original performance of their live album “Score,” which too used the help of conductor Jamshied Sharifi and the “Octavarium Orchstra” to provide symphonic touches to reimaginations of their most popular songs at the time, I could only imagine their usage in this album. I am now most interested in hearing not only their incorporation in this album, but also their inclusion in a live setting. Dream Theater will be performing “The Astonishing” over several dates in Europe using these same orchestral musicians, something I only hope they will recreate in the United States.
So without further wait, enjoy “The Gift Of Music” by Dream Theater. It truly is a gift.