dream theatre the astonishingIt seems like a marriage made in heaven when progressive rock band Dream Theater announced that their next album would be concerned with the subject of Man vs. Machine. Of course, now that the album has been released we should have realized that a band like this was never going to go about this science fiction subject from your typical angle. The concept album is two hours long and is like a modern day rock opera along the lines of a Romeo & Juliet set two hundred years in the future. It uses juicy bits like love, infidelity and salvation as the plot devices that move the story along. The use of the word opera to describe The Astonishing is not hyperbole. Though it is comprised of tracks each one is related to the one before it and that which follows it. True storytelling through music. The sound of all this is very different from anything Dream Theater has done before. Solos and the like are kept to a minimum with a focus placed on creating the right atmosphere rather than demonstrate musicianship. Though do not mistake this for simple as a lot of the music is complex. This is not your usual prog metal like the band has done previously. There is plenty of usage of cinematic sound elements like sound effects to help tell the tale along with some choral and symphony elements.