Said the band in a statement: "'The Astonishing' has been released to rave reviews across the world. Now the first week's numbers are in, and they are… well, astonishing! 'The Astonishing' lands at #1 in the United States on the Billboard Rock Albums chart. Thanks to our loyal fans in Norway, 'The Astonishing' made its chart debut at #2, the all-time top position for DREAM THEATER in that country. In Sweden, the band just made its highest-ever chart debut at #3. DREAM THEATER's first-ever top 10 debut in Australia came in at #10, and in the U.K., 'The Astonishing' just entered the charts at #11, the band’s highest chart debut there, as well."
"The Astonishing" was released on January 29 via Roadrunner. The CD was made available in a wide range of distinctive versions, including standard 2-CD set, 4-LP vinyl box set and a limited-edition deluxe box set.
Recorded at Cove City Sound Studios in Glen Cove, New York, with John Petrucci producing, studio luminary Richard Chycki (AEROSMITH, RUSH) engineering/mixing and legendary arranger, composer and conductor David Campbell orchestrating, "The Astonishing" paints a tale of a retro-futurist post-apocalyptic dystopia ruled by medieval style feudalism. It's a place aching for a Chosen One to rise above the noise and defeat an Empire defined by the endless drone of noise machines and the illusion of safety in bland conformity.
Asked what prompted the idea to make "The Astonishing" a rock-opera concept album so elaborate, with a full, detailed storyline, DREAM THEATER guitarist John Petrucci told RollingStone.com: "The idea to do a concept album as a band felt right. The last one we did [1999's 'Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory'] was about 15 years ago, and it really felt like we were in a good place to do this. I knew that what needed to happen, first and foremost, is that we had to have a story to base this on, because the idea of basing an album off of a loose concept or something that was sort of arbitrary, that didn't interest me at all. I wanted this not only to be a concept album, but really to write a full show. And to have all the elements in place, the story needs to drive that. We needed to have the storyline, a plot, places, characters, maps — you name it. So that started about two and a half years ago; it took about a year for me to get that story done and ready to present to the guys. And I wanted to write from a place that was familiar to me, so I knew that music had to play a role in the story somehow. I'm a huge fan of the sci-fi and fantasy genres, so I had a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go. But it was a matter of really diving into it and working on it, revising and revising again, and working on it every day until I had something solid."
Petrucci also talked in more detail about the songwriting process for "The Atonishing". He said: "Because of the sheer volume of music — you're talking, when all's said and done, probably two hours, 10 minutes' worth of music — every step of this has been a huge process. I don't think I've had time to do anything else over the last year or so [laughs]! In order to do this right, I had to be really, really organized about it. Jordan [Rudess, keyboards] and I wrote the music as really a prog-metal score to the story. We didn't sit down and say, 'Let's write a song, here's the first chorus, whatever.' We would go through the story and say, "What's happening here, where is it taking place?" We had to make sure the mythology was right, the timeline was right. And that carried through on every level. When it came to presenting the orchestration to [veteran conductor and orchestrator] David Campbell and getting him involved; when it came to writing the lyrics, and then me having to go through it song by song, character by character; even things like the artwork, creating the map and all those different towns and cities and roads — every sort of level and layer took a lot of organization and focus."
"The Astonishing" track listing:
01. Descent Of The NOMACS 02. Dystopian Overture 03. The Gift Of Music 04. The Answer 05. A Better Life 06. Lord Nafaryus 07. A Savior In The Square 08. When Your Time Has Come 09. Act Of Faythe 10. Three Days 11. The Hovering Sojourn 12. Brother, Can You Hear Me? 13. A Life Left Behind 14. Ravenskill 15. Chosen 16. A Tempting Offer 17. Digital Discord 18. The X Aspect 19. A New Beginning 20. The Road To Revolution
01. 2285 Entr'acte 02. Moment Of Betrayal 03. Heaven’s Cove 04. Begin Again 05. The Path That Divides 06. Machine Chatter 07. The Walking Shadow 08. My Last Farewell 09. Losing Faythe 10. Whispers In The Wind 11. Hymn Of A Thousand Voices 12. Our New World 13. Power Down 14. Astonishing
DREAM THEATER has announced its first North American tour of 2016, which will see the pioneering group performing a historic set in immersive and interactive settings for a unique and unparalleled live experience.
Set to kick off April 14 at Quebec City’s Theatre Du Capitole, the spring trek will see the prog virtuosos delivering a one-of-a-kind show in which they will perform their forthcoming double concept album, "The Astonishing", live in its entirety. The momentous tour will continue through May with the band making stops at prestigious theaters throughout North America including New York's Radio City Music Hall, Los Angeles's The Wiltern, and Boston's Orpheum Theatre.