Continuing from Part 1, welcome back to this review of The Astonishing, a rock opera created by Dream Theater.
|Not sure if they modeled Gabriel after what LaBrie|
looked like when he joined the band in 1992...
|He looks straight out of a PS4 game.|
Or XBox One? Not sure. I'm a Nintendo
guy, I can't tell the quality of CGI
graphics apart on the other consoles.
“A Savior in the Square” opens on the calm life of Ravenskill, before a show Gabriel puts together for the citizens. Nafaryus and his family show up and take place among the people to hear the Savior’s gift. Gabriel found an old guitar, a relic of ancient times, and already discovered how to play it. Is that a secondary superpower of The Gift? He instantly learns to play any instrument? People, we gotta test this, bring a Theremin! Then Gabriel sees Faythe and is speechless at her beauty. Love at first sight? Can’t believe they went there. I’m gonna have to keep a cliché counter or something. The song continues into “When Your Time Has Come”, where for the first 2/3rds Gabriel sings a song that is absolutely beautiful, and also oddly prophetic (read the lyrics with the plot of the rock opera in mind, and you’ll probably see what I mean). Before checking the booklet, I also thought the last part was sung by Gabriel, though it’s actually sung by Faythe, who was so moved by his song that she falls in love with him – and turns to the side of the rebels.
Gabriel’s song has ended. “Three Days” starts as Lord Nafaryus admits he was touched by the song… but also that his fears have been confirmed: Gabriel is a menace to his throne and must be arrested! The sovereign is still nice enough to give them a three day ultimatum; if Gabriel is not brought to him before them, Ravenskill will be in flames and in ruins. Wow, harsh much. This song contains a more jazz- or swing-sounding tone in the middle and at the end, it’s really nice. And it meshes surprisingly well with the prog metal that surrounds it. And so fun to sing, too! On this, Lord Nafaryus and his family leave, probably off to a residence closer to Ravenskill (because they will be moving a lot between Ravenskill and said residence, and if the royal family lived too far, it would cause a whole other bunch of continuity problems… I’ll get to that later). As if to indicate the end of this scene – or the beginning of the next – we then get a NOMAC track. I still think those are meant to separate the album in four “acts” in case they make a play out of it. Admit it, “Three Days” would be a perfect way to end Act 1.
Moving on to the next part of the album. Arhys puts some courage into Gabriel by showing him that the entirety of the Ravenskill Militia is behind him, ready to protect him, in “Brother Can You Hear Me”. This is a really nice track with great importance, showing the strength of the bond between these two brothers. It also ends as Gabriel, now filled with determination, choosing to keep up the fight despite Lord Nafaryus’ desire to capture him.
However, Daryus stayed behind and saw not only where the rebel camp is, he also found where Arhys lives. In “A Tempting Offer”, Daryus follows Arhys’ son home and takes little Xander hostage. When Arhys arrives, both men confront each other, and Daryus makes an offer to Arhys; if he surrenders his brother to the royal family, Xander will have a happy future, live in abundance, and poverty will be a past long gone. At the same time, Daryus will get the recognition he wants, and will no longer be the ignored child of the royal family. Daryus leaves on those words, leaving Arhys with a very cruel dilemma: Either he sacrifices his brother for his son’s future, or he doesn’t and the fight continues against the order, with possibly more casualties on the way. Even as the song ends, the violins repeat the melody of the confrontation, as if Arhys still had it in mind and started thinking. Come to think of it, this IS a story about all the forms of love; love between brothers, love of a parent for a child, and of course the love Gabriel and Faythe share. One of my favorite themes of the album, really; and this also happens to be one of my favorite tracks on it.
Disc 2 will be reviewed next Friday!