Random album reviews

Looking forward to your review of Drama and Talk.

I don't own Talk, however Drama will be done at some point. I have all their albums up to Big Generator currently although I do think I'll be picking up the rest of the discography at some point. I have a few other bands I'm going to try to finish off... work just has been in the way for album listening.
I don't own Talk, however Drama will be done at some point. I have all their albums up to Big Generator currently although I do think I'll be picking up the rest of the discography at some point. I have a few other bands I'm going to try to finish off... work just has been in the way for album listening.
Drama is my personal favorite. (strange choice maybe but it is what it is)

The Astonishing - Dream Theater
Format: CD/Digital

I've been putting this off for months, Dream Theater's thirteenth album, The Astonishing, a concept record 2 hours in length of a dystopian future. It begins with two instrumentals which the first of does a decent job setting the stage while the 2nd is a more traditional Dream Theater sounding instrumental although more orchestral than their previous overture tracks on their earlier albums. It is a fairly promising sounding start to the album off, well at least to be a decent album not as promising as the start to their other massive concept records. The Gift Of Music is the first sounds like the most recent Dream Theater a bit polished and somewhat flat in spaces. James sings in his mid range without a ton of variation, the track doesn't feel individual in that it feels like it is part of a greater story but that would reduce the ability for it to be enjoyed fully on its own. That being said it is a prett decent track. The Answer comes in with piano work, it is a calm ballad and introduces another character, I think it would have been better with guest singers on each different character, that could have added a cool dynamic to the album. I like it, and it could have been a cool track on its own if it had been worked on into such. A Better Life opens with some millitary instructions, it has a bit of a heavier undertone to it, but it is starting to become clear why this album is so disliked... it feels like it has to be listened to as a whole thus far due to how invested they are in the theme, that combined with the band not being as young as they once were it leaves a fair bit to be desired and seeing as this is the case 15 minutes in, I can only imagine where it goes from here. It needs more aggression and less of these mellow set up tracks. Thus far the last two tracks both feel like they could have been strong tracks if they were worked outside of the theme of the album but are pulled down by it. Lord Nafaryus opens with the narration, which just seems odd that a song has a narrator, James does a good job trying to differentiate the different characters but that is probably the only truly good thing thus far.

A Saviour In The Square has a pleasent opening solo from John Pretrucci who sounds pretty solid throughout the album thus far just not in the spotlight as much as he should be. The different characters are less differentiated here, and the story is starting to feel like it should have been a play instead of an album. These tracks are running into each other and it is starting to get a little hard to tell them apart, it is half decent background music but not something I will be actively listening to again. Act of Faythe has an awful pun in the name, and furthermore takes too long to actually get started, none of these tracks have been great so extended intros at this point is not something that is going to benefit a track unless it is of amazing quality... Three Days has your typical angry dad in a theatrical performance storyline, it reminds me a bit of Prince Of Egypt in terms of the villains themes which isn't what you want in your metal. The Hovering Sojourn is a waste of 30 seconds. Brother, Can You Hear Me? has more millitant drumming and the sound of marching, yea it continues the trend of being okay but not good. We are at the 1/3rd of the album mark and thus far there has been 2 tracks I'd be okay hearing live and several which should have been reworked and put on a non-concept record. This is not as bad as I expected but it is a waste of time. A Life Left Behind opens with something different! Acoustic guitar before picking up a little in tempo, I really want to know which members of the band brought up the idea of playing this from start to finish because they only played Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence in full once, so why would they play this in full 75 times!?! This track started decent and it didn't stay there... and now the tracks are getting longer which could have been promising on a normal Dream Theater album. I love ballads, but this album needs less slower tracks and more rockers. Ravenskill continues on this slow trend, James sounds good but the track isn't good. It tries to be a mini epic..

Chosen continues on the mediocrity, how could they have played this all in a row live, there is no way this would be more interesting. A Tempting Offer starts heavier but then goes back to a piano ballad and there is some theatrics being added onto it with an attack in the night occuring. Another NOMAC instrumental occurs, and it almost as useless as the previous one. The X Aspect has one third of its lenght dedicated to a slow piano introduction, the track has a bit more energy to it, and it is pleasent but wow this is far too late to save the album. A New Beginning has the longest runtime of the first act, it comes in with a low and thunderous riff, it is a quicker and upbeat track, it continues the story quite well and has some different dynamics as it shifts in the characters moods. The 4 I've given is mainly for the instrumental components, although it is easily the best track in a long while. Closing out the first Act is The Road To Revolution takes a step back down in quality it is a nice way to close a boring act.

Act 1:
Descent Of The NOMACS/Dystopian Overture - 3/5
The Gift Of Music - 3/5
The Answer - 4/5
A Better Life -3.5/5
Lord Nafaryus - 3/5
A Savior In The Square - 3/5
When Your Time Has Come - 3/5
Act Of Faythe - 2.5/5
Three Days -3/5
The Hovering Sojourn - 0/5
Brother, Can You Hear Me? -2.5/5
A Life Left Behind - 3/5
Ravenskill - 3/5
Chosen - 3/5
A Tempting Offer - 2.5/5
Digital Discord - 1/5
The X Aspect - 3.5
A New Beginning - 4/5
The Road To Revolution - 3/5

Weighted Act 1 - 61%

Act 2 thankfully is shorter than Act 1, 2285 Entr'acte is another instrumental piece which while it is clear the band was going to use this for an introduction to the second set if played live. It really serves no purpose on the album as a whole, why add another 2 and a half minutes to the album? That being said it isn't a bad piece of music, it just serves to pad the runtime. Moment Of Betrayal is where the storyline picks back up again, with the brother of our hero deciding to betray him in order to save his son from the prince. It starts decent but then begins to decrease in my overall enjoyment. Heaven's Cove has another overly long introduction for the length, taking nearly half the songs length before the story is continued in any way. Begin Again is similar, The Path That Divides starts like one of the instrumentals but thats the track after it, the track shows hints of erupting into a furious rocker... it does increase but not to the extent that this album needs. Machine Chatter is more wasted time. The Walking Shadow features a pretty darn good wail from James it has a heavier approach and should really be a longer and drawn out track. My Last Farewell doesn't need much description, the album is very even in terms of proper track quality with some misteps and a couple better ones here and there. Losing Faythe begins with some crying from the Emperor and his empress upon realising his daughter is now dying at the hands of their son. One of the better performances of the album, it has some call backs to Another Day which I quite liked. Whispers On the Wind is an incredibly short track which just serves as an outro to the previous track. It isn't much. Hymm Of A Thousand Voices is the moment in the storyline where the hero completes the impossible task from moments before and saves the day, a stripped back and upbeat beginning for an upbeat track as a whole. Our New World is one of the albums singles, the single version features Lzzy Hale and is a better rendition, however the album version is also pretty good, it is one of if not the most upbeat track on the album. Good choice of single based on what the album is like, but it wouldn't be a notable track on many other albums. Power Down is the final instrumental track, it just serves the storyline but it isn't worth anything. Astonishing closes off the album, it comes in quite orchestral sounding like most of the album before hand. It closes off the whole album wrapping up the issues which popped up throughout. Wow... so bloated.

Act 2:

2285 Entr'acte - 3/5
Moment Of Betrayal - 2.5/5
Heaven's Cove - 2/5
Begin Again - 3/5
The Path That Divides - 3.5/5
Machine Chatter - 0/5
The Walking Shadow - 3.5/5
My Last Farewell - 3/5
Losing Faythe - 4/5
Whispers On the Wind - 2.5/5
Hymm Of A Thousand Voices - 3/5
Our New World - 4/5
Power Down - 1/5
Astonishing - 3/5

Weighted Act 2 - 59%

Adjusted 60%
Overall 60%
1 Star

Yes I listened to it in one sitting although there was a break between the acts. Wow what a pointless album.

Bent Out Of Shape - Rainbow
Format: CD/Digital

Bent Out Of Shape the final in the original run of Rainbow albums with Ritchie disbanding the group to reunite with Deep Purple Mark II the following year, in which he would spend the next 12 years or so working with them. The final album from the mighty band which I will be reviewing unless Blackmore decides to release a full length album with his current rendition of the band. Stranded kicks off this album fading in, and sounding full blown pop rock right from the start, Joe Lynn Turner has officially performed on as many studio albums as Ronnie for the band with this release. This track screams radio play, it is an accessible tune with some nice longer drawn out wails from Turner, although it could have used a bit more of the pop oriented production or some more keyboards if that was the angle they were heading towards. A solid track, although the ended is drawn out a bit longer than needed. Can't Let You Go features a church organ for the introduction, this track has a bit of a Perfect Strangers feel to its tone. The delivery by Joe is commanding and well done, he has a very strong mid range. One of the better pop oriented tracks I've heard from the band on any album they have released. Stellar chorus and great performance throughout. Fool For The Night is an upbeat rocker, not on par with the previous track, it continues the commerically acceptable rock and radio friendly approach which has worked quite well, I'm surprised this era of Rainbow isn't feature more on 80s radio stations it might be because the blurred the lines towards pop a lot more than most bands. Or maybe it is the radio stations writing them off due to their earlier work with Dio. Fire Dance has a cool sci fi keyboard intro and takes on a Kill The King vibe as it picks up in tempo becoming a blazing rocker, yes pun intended, the chorus could use stronger vocals but this is a strong track, this is the only track in which bassist and producer Roger Glover has writing credits on, definetely a strong track which would have been pretty amazing with a more metallic approach. Anybody There is the first instrumental which closes off the first half of the album. It is pretty calm and really doesn't need to be on the album, without both instrumentals the album still is 35 minutes in length which while short, at least thus far has packed a pretty good quality into the package. Overall it is nice but not amazing.

Desparate Heart opens the second half and this track sounds very similar to the next track on the album, but more on that one in a little bit. This one is another uptempo track which has a nice beat to it and good rythmn. While I wish Rainbow had stuck with the hard rock approach of their earlier albums, I cannot deny that their later work is still high quality for what it is, they morphed from one of the most impressive 70s metal titans into a great pop rock band for the 80s. Although I feel like both versions don't get the radio play they should. Street Of Dreams continues on the trend of great pop rockers, while I prefer the Blackmore' Night duet version, the original version is a super catchy pop rocker. Infectious and well crafted. Drinking With The Devil comes in with a ferocity the I didn't expect to hear on this album, Rainbow went back to hard rock with this track right from the start. Driving and catchy, with a great solo from Ritchie I'm glad they didn't open the album with this (it could have been a great opener) because it is such a different track from the others that it would have been a major bait and switch. Snowman is another instrumental, this one is a cover, and it really isn't well placed, following such a high energy track with a really mellow and frankly pointless instrumental piece isn't smart on Blackmore's part. It does get better once Ritchie comes in towards the end but the track is too long and not interesting enough to warrant being on the album. Make Your Move closes it all out, coming in high energy and speedy this track seems like a natural follow up to Drinking With The Devil, high energy and punchy a strong album closer and a good track throughout.

Stranded - 4/5
Can't Let You Go - 5/5
Fool For The Night - 4/5
Fire Dance - 4.5/5
Anybody There - 3.5/5
Desparate Heart - 4.5/5
Street Of Dreams - 5/5
Drinking With The Devil - 5/5
Snowman - 2/5
Make Your Move - 4/5

Adjusted 83%
Overall 83%
3.5 Stars

And with that another discography is closed.

Here is my updated listening list, some are on order and some are higher priority than others and I know I've left off a few that are on order.
  • AC/DC - Blow Up Your Video
  • AC/DC - Ballbreaker
  • AC/DC - Stiff Upper Lip
  • Aerosmith - Get A Grip
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Blue Oyster Cult
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Tyranny And Mutation
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Agents Of Fortune
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Mirrors
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Fires Of Unknown Orgin
  • Blue Oyster Cult - The Revolution By Night
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Club Ninja
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Imaginos
  • Bruce Dickinson - Tattooed Millionaire
  • Bruce Dickinson - Skunkworks
  • Bruce Dickinson - Tyranny Of Souls
  • Deep Purple - Slaves & Masters
  • Deep Purple - The Battle Rages On
  • Deep Purple - Purpendicular
  • Dio - Angry Machines
  • Dio - Magica
  • Dokken - Under Lock And Key
  • Dokken - Back For The Attack
  • Europe - Europe
  • Europe - Wings Of Tomorrow
  • Europe - The Final Countdown
  • Europe - Out Of This World
  • Europe - Prisoners In Paradise
  • The Ferrymen - The Ferrymen
  • The Ferrymen - A New Evil
  • Heart - Bad Animals
  • Heart - Brigade
  • Heart - Desire Walks On
  • Heart - Beautiful Broken
  • Helloween - Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part I
  • Helloween - Keeper Of The Seven Keys Part II
  • Kansas - Kansas
  • Kansas - Song For America
  • Kansas - Point Of Know Return
  • Kansas - Leftoverture
  • Kansas - Masque
  • Metallica - Load
  • Metallica - ReLoad
  • Metallica - St. Anger
  • Metallica - Death Magnetic
  • Metallica - Hardwired To Self Destruct
  • Queen - Made In Heaven
  • Ratt - Invasion Of Your Privacy
  • Ratt - Dancing Undercover
  • Ratt - Reach For The Sky
  • Ratt - Detonator
  • The Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street
  • The Rolling Stones - Goats Head Soup
  • The Rolling Stones - Emotional Rescue
  • Velvet Revolver -Libritad
  • W.A.S.P. - Double Live Assassins
  • Whitesnake - Good To Be Bad
  • The Who - WHO
  • Yes - Yes
  • Yes - Time And A Word
  • Yes - Tales From Topographic Oceans
  • Yes - Going For One
  • Yes - Tormato
  • Yes - Drama
  • Yes - Big Generator
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there are a few other great ones too
I haven't heard the entire album yet (what did you expect? I nominated BC&SL for the GMAC and I've only ever heard its first three songs), but I really like Three Days. It's fun, bouncy, villainous, and James has a high-quality evil laugh. He sounds like he's actually having fun doing it! It's up there with the best of Disney's work.
Every time I listen to The Astonishing it grows on me and I'm afraid if I listen to it more than it might become my favorite DT album. That being said it's still the second worst ahead of WDADU.
I haven't heard the entire album yet (what did you expect? I nominated BC&SL for the GMAC and I've only ever heard its first three songs), but I really like Three Days. It's fun, bouncy, villainous, and James has a high-quality evil laugh. He sounds like he's actually having fun doing it! It's up there with the best of Disney's work.

BC&SL is pretty great, I'm not a fan of The Count Of Tuscany but the rest of it is pretty amazing. Scenes From A Memory is also my favourite, although I need to spend some more time with Awake and Images and Words since I haven't listened to about half of each of those albums since I listened to them initially.
The Astonishing is not a bad album but the length is a tough point. And then we have the many characters and using only voice for them which didn´t work out very well. Too ambitious and pretentious too. Maybe it would've been better if they used several guest vocalists like on the albums of Avantasia and Ayreon.
The instrumental version is awesome (the riffing is king).

The song's lyrics and vocal delivery tho, are straight out of cable TV cartoon channel. I'm not bashing LaBrie here particularly, but the combo of these lyrics and epic singing just cringes me hard.