Yesterday, we found out that Dream Theater would be debuting their new album live on tour in Europe. That’s good news for European Dream Theater fans, but for the rest of us, more news came from the band. Show promoters leaked images from the some of the shows like the one to your right suggesting that the new record, titled The Astonishing, would be a rock opera. Dream Theater wrote a Facebook post confirming it later that day, directing fans to their website.
Once there, fans could sign up for two newsletters, as we’re sure most did. Titled “The Great Northern Empire” and “The Ravenskill Rebel Militia,” each sign-up got delivered an email related to the side of the story. That suggests that, as rumored, the release might be a double album, and it certainly seems like this will be a concept album, the band’s first since 2002’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. The concept appears to be about warring clans in the future. Here’s what “The Great Northern Empire” newsletter said:
IT IS WITH THE GREAT STRENGTH born from the blood of Our Most Noble ancestral heritage, and otherworldly comfort forged by millennia of custom and tradition, in which We extend warmest of well wishes and greetings to you, Our Most Loyal Subjects, Our Beloved Citizens, O’ ye the divinely appointed tributaries flooding the lake of prosperity manifested as Our thriving metropolis, Our beacon of freedom from struggle through freedom to struggle that is The Great Northern Empire Of The Americas. It is I, Lord Nafaryus, Emperor and Head of the Realm, Heir to the Mantle of Makers, Supplier of sustenance, Giver of purpose and reason, who hereby directly addresses you, Our blessed engines of productivity, you keepers of harmony, and collective responsibility, with the loving guidance We enduringly provide through the firm hand of Royal might.
As the NOMACS who tirelessly serve and protect you transmit Our message ever so wondrously across the Realm, utilizing the arcane technology embedded deeply into the flesh during the Forbidden Ages memorialized in the electronic tablets protected by Our Grace in Our Palatial Residence, We command you to exercise the utmost caution. From the perch of protective power of New Maineland, which freed you from the terror and tyranny of surrounding barbarism so many generations ago, We have learned there are those among you harvesting seeds of dissent, designed to undermine your very way of life. Do you not stride with confidence, secure in your collaboration toward the greater good defined in your servitude to the collective? Are you not given purpose by your powerlessness, freed from the burdens of choice and reason, blessed by Our decrees?
Do not be deceived by those who speak of new wonders born of “sound,” as this is the work of devilish malcontents whose search for wisdom will result only in ignorance. The NOMACS have secured you just as your daily work has defined you. FEAR and BEWARE the destabilization of our most hallowed traditions that have kept you safe and serene.
Rest assured, in Our ceaseless task of providing for your happiness as you provide for Our sustenance, Our subjects of this Realm, and the dominions thereunto belonging, are bound by law to observe and report all traitorous conspiracies against Our crown, as aiding and abetting sedition will result in the swift and severe punishment any such threat to Our gracious rule demands. We command you to free your mind, unburden your spirit through the meditative emptiness of work. The Empire toils for you so that you may toil for the Empire.
THE EMPIRE IS OBEDIENT TO YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE OBEDIENT TO THE EMPIRE.
The Empire protects you because you protect the Empire.
This Noble Proclamation of G.N.E.A. Given at Our Court at the Palatial Residence of New Maineland, Great Northern Empire of The Americas, in this, the twenty-seventh year of the reign of your Sovereign, Lord Nafaryus, Emperor and Head of the Realm, two hundredth fifty seven A.C., two thousandth two hundredth eighty-five, A.D.
And here’s what “The Ravenskill Rebel Militia” newsletter says:
TAKE HEED! People of the Great Northern Empire of the Americas, all of the Realm, as far as this message will be carried! I am Arhys, Son of Marhys, one of three remaining heirs to the displaced, forgotten, and forbidden Legion Of Sorrowful Song. I contact you from the fair and just village of Ravenskill, far from the Emperor’s Palace, in the outer edges of the Realm, nestled on Endless Isleland. By means almost indescribable, we have biohacked the receivers implanted into the flesh so many generations ago, jamming the cacophonous lull of the NOMACS for however much longer our primitive tech will abide.
We are a simple people, like most of you. Our hearts beat, our skin cracks, our bones grow tired, like all of you, even the nobility, even those who set themselves above us behind the tallest of walls and heaviest of armaments, as they are as empty as us. BUT LO, of late, Ravenskill is energized by talk of a Chosen One, possessed of a forbidden sound, a stirring melody almost impossible to comprehend. You must’ve heard tale of this Chosen One, a humble servant with the innate ability to break the shackles of the mind and heart we must’ve forgotten how to perceive. This Chosen One’s very existence portends not the doom of which our Emperor warns, but rather, is a harbinger of untold possibilities. Could you dream of finding power beyond powerlessness? Could it be that very idea is a lie, sold to us by those who benefit most from our endless struggle?
My brothers and sisters across the Realm, I send this message to spread word that a Rebellion is rising in Ravenskill, to bring glad tidings that even as the Chosen One has been drafted by the fates, I have been drafted by the people to be your Commander. I am here to tell you that not only is this Chosen One real, and not a fiction as the Emperor’s messengers insist, but this Chosen One is, in fact, my blood, and my brother. Seek the Songs for yourselves. There is true freedom beyond what we’ve been taught. There is more than the endless drone of the NOMACS. I have seen and moreover, I have heard. I am but a messenger of the Chosen, a soldier of his light, a commander of rebellion. He, the Chosen One, is the conductor, of a force once thought lost, a force unrivaled by swords, steel, or even fire, wind, and water. TAKE HEED and PREPARE!
So, are you team Northern Empire or team Ravenskill? There are probably people debating that as we speak on a message board. It certainly sounds like The Astonishing will be the most ambitious thing that Dream Theater have pulled off in a while, and while there’s no release date yet, it will presumably be out somewhere in between February 18th and March 18th, which is when the band’s seven European tour dates will take place.