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Dream Theater: The Astonishing

US prog metallers go conceptual on 13th LP.

Opinion on Dream Theater’s music tends to be divided roughly equally between those who absolutely adore every last virtuoso second, and those who would rather be boiled in their own arse-syrup than sit through one of the band’s wilfully intricate epics.

As a result, this wildly cinematic and complex two-hour conceptual extravaganza seems unlikely to convert the sceptical, but the diehards can expect to be swept away on rolling waves of their own excited froth.

Not just vast in musical scope, The Astonishing offers an entire Dystopian world of its own, not to mention exhibiting the potential to be an overblown Broadway rock opera, eye-frazzling sci-fi movie and nerd-delighting video game into the bargain.

The story – society collapses, a new age of feudalism begins, music becomes the sole preserve of faceless automatons – is no more ridiculous than Game Of Thrones or Star Wars, and the supporting soundtrack brims with imagination, innovation, melodies the size of Darth Vader’s ego and a new-found gift for subtlety that could yet enable Dream Theater to ambush the mainstream. Astonishing is about right.

Dom Lawson has been writing for Hammer and Prog for 14 intermittently enjoyable years and is extremely fond of heavy metal, progressive rock, coffee and snooker. He listens to more music than you. And then writes about it.