The Astonishing

The Astonishing

is the thirteenth studio album and second story based concept album by Dream Theater. It was released on January 29, 2016 through Roadrunner Records. The album is markedly different both in conception and execution. For the first time for Dream Theater, the story of the album was written before any music was concieved. The story was fully fleshed out by John Petrucci before he presented it to the band. The complexity of the composition necessitated a different approach in how the album was to be written, and the band agreed that all music and lyrics were to be written by John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess before recording the album. This is markedly different from any previous Dream Theater album, where the collaborative approach was always more or less ever present in the creation of the albums.

The album was written as a rock opera in the vein of Tommy (by The Who) or Jesus Christ Superstar (by Andrew Lloyd Weber and Tim Rice), and was fully orchestrated by the legendary composer and arranger David Campbell. Recording was completed throughout 2015 at Cove City Sound Studios in Long Island, New York, with the exception of vocals, which were recorded in Canada. Mixing and sound engineering were performed by the band’s longtime collaborator, Richard Chycki, with Petrucci producing.


Dream Theater

  • James LaBrie – lead vocals
  • John Petrucci – guitar, production, story and concept
  • Jordan Rudess – keyboards
  • John Myung – bass
  • Mike Mangini – drums, percussion

Additional musicians

  • Eric Rigler – bagpipes on “The X Aspect”
  • City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra


  • Richard Chycki – engineering, mixing
  • Jie Ma – cover art, art direction
  • David Campbell – orchestral and choir arrangements, conducting
  • Mike Schuppan – engineering
  • Travis Warner – engineering


  1. Descent Of The NOMACS (1:11)
  2. Dystopian Overture (4:51)
  3. The Gift Of Music (4:00)
  4. The Answer (1:53)
  5. A Better Life (4:39)
  6. Lord Nafaryus (3:28)
  7. A Savior In The Square (4:14)
  8. When Your Time Has Come (4:19)
  9. Act Of Faythe (5:01)
  10. Three Days (3:44)
  11. The Hovering Sojourn (0:28)
  12. Brother, Can You Hear Me (5:11)
  13. A Life Left Behind (5:49)
  14. Ravenskill (6:01)
  15. Chosen (4:32)
  16. A Tempting Offer (4:20)
  17. Digital Discord (0:48)
  18. The X Aspect (4:13)
  19. A New Beginning (7:41)
  20. The Road To Revolution (3:35)
  21. 2285 Entr’acte (2:20)
  22. Moment Of Betrayal (6:12)
  23. Heaven’s Cove (4:20)
  24. Begin Again (3:54)
  25. The Path That Divides (5:10)
  26. Machine Chatter (1:03)
  27. The Walking Shadow (2:58)
  28. My Last Farewell (3:44)
  29. Losing Faythe (4:13)
  30. Whispers On The Wind (1:37)
  31. Hymn Of A Thousand Voices (3:39)
  32. Our New World (4:12)
  33. Power Down (1:25)
  34. Astonishing (5:51)

About the Album

The Astonishing is a concept album set in a dystopian future in our own world. The setting is north-eastern United States, and follows the battle between the Ravenskill Rebel Militia and the Great Northern Empire of the Americas.

The inspiration from the story was drawn from fantasy and science fiction stories like Hunger Games, Game of Thrones and Star Wars, as well as John Petruccis observations of how the consumption of media has changed in just a few years and the way it seems like everything in society is getting automated. “I was thinking of all of the things now that people used to do that they don’t do anymore because they’re automated or done by robots: lots of jobs, self-driving cars coming right around the corner,” he explains. “My thought was, ‘What would happen if with all the advances in technology in music that music [became] all artificial?’ ”, John Petrucci said to Billboard in an interview connected to the release of the track “Moment Of Betrayal”.

Music has been replaced by automatic noise generated by these huge floating orbs called “NOMACS”, shortened from Noise Machines. The distinct socio-econmic difference between the high class city dwellers in the empire and the lower class suburbanites has caused a rebellious uprising to occur, led by the protagonist of the story Arhys and his brother Gabriel. Gabriel has been given “The Gift of Music”, which awakens feelings in whomever listens to his singing that many have forgotten. The empire is scared of this power, and has decided to deal with this rebellion once and for all.

To tie into the whole concept, a teaser website was released, first only showing some distorted images of Dream Theater, then revealing the NOMAC itself before slowly revealing the artwork and the song titles of the album, as well as the key characters of the story. A full website detailing the entire story was released as the album was made available to the generic public in january 2016.

There is also a video game and a book tied into the release of the album and the concept.

David Campbell, a famous composer and arranger (and the father of the artist Beck) said this was the biggest piece of work he’d ever worked on. Famous for arranging string and orchstra backing for many big names in the music business (like Adele, Taylor Swift, Muse, Avenged Sevenfold, Ghost, Rush, U2, Bon Jovi and hundreds more), as well as a movie score composer, he was the perfect fit for Dream Theater. Rudess explained in an interview for KeyboardMag: “Our initial thought was, let’s do it all on rock instruments and let David arrange it, but that wasn’t really thinking ahead in terms of who we are. When we go into the studio, we tend to work on things until they’re pretty polished. So we got into what we called pre-orchestrating. I’d use any sound at my disposal to place strings where we wanted to hear strings, choir where we wanted choir, and so forth—but without getting overly specific about a certain patch or instrument library being the one, because we knew it was all going to be replaced with real players.”

The album was recorded at Cove City Sound Studios in Long Island, New York, where also the previous few Dream Theater albums have been recorded. Richard Chycki once again provided his skill to engineer and mix the album, with John Petrucci serving as the albums producer. They considered bringing in guest vocalists to sing the different characters, but James LaBrie insisted on having a go at singing the entire album himself. Able to create personas for each of the character, James LaBrie went above and beyond all expectations, embodying both female and male characters and differring emotional states.

Upon its release, The Astonishing debuted on many album charts, including top ten placements in Norway, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Portugal, the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Canada. In the United States, it entered and peaked on the Billboard 200 at number eleven overall and became Dream Theater’s first ever number one debut on the Billboard Rock Chart.

The Astonishing has received generally favorable reviews. At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream publications, the album holds an average score of 80, based on six reviews. Critics were especially complimentary of the band’s willingness to write a long, unconventional album, with AllMusic commenting, “Dream Theater have invested in the ‘album’ concept (and in listeners’ attention spans) even as the music biz doubles down on the notion that long-players are merely envelopes to hold singles.” Rolling Stone echoed these sentiments, concluding, “The results won’t please every Dream Theater partisan, nor will they convert the skeptical. But it would take a hard heart to deny Petrucci, co-composer and keyboardist Jordan Rudess and their mates credit for the boldness of their aspirations and the assurance with which they achieve them.” Loudwire was also supportive of the band’s unique approach, but warned that it might make the album polarizing for fans.[20]

Some reviewers were critical of The Astonishing’s concept, including Consequence of Sound, who described it as “very silly”, but ultimately gave the album an overall positive review. By contrast, Record Collector described the storytelling as “seamless”. In their write-up, RTÉ.ie advised, “park the snootiness before pressing the play button because while The Astonishing makes Iron Maiden’s recent 92-minute double The Book of Souls look like a Ramones record, it’s great fun … Mental elbow grease is required, and the quintet wouldn’t have it any other way.”

LaBrie’s vocals on The Astonishing were singled out by many critics as being particularly strong. In their review, Loudwire elaborated, “A concept album with different characters puts a lot of pressure on the vocalist, and James LaBrie lives up to the challenge. From mellow crooning to Broadway belting to edgier singing, he utilizes every style in his arsenal and delivers a first-class performance.” The band as a whole were also praised, although AllMusic observed that Mangini and bassist John Myung weren’t featured as prominently as usual.

The album was supported by a full year of touring, with almost all venues being exclusively theater settings instead of traditional concert halls. This meant the band would be playing for smaller audiences, in a seated setting, but this allowed for a much more elaborate stage presentation, with a lot of specially created moving images for display on special video screens. This presentation was so important that they band decided to ban the use of recording devices like phones completely, with the security personell at the venues being extra alert. This was a decision based on the fact that tons of phone screens lighting up in the audience would detract from the presentation on the stage.




Ravenskill – The peaceful and unassuming village situated on Endless Isleland’s beautiful northeast coast. It is the home of Gabriel, Arhys and Xander and is where Gabriel establishes his reputation amongst the townspeople as ‘The Chosen One’. Ravenskill also houses the secret military base where the training grounds of the Ravenskill Rebel Militia are located.

The Emperor’s Palace – The home of Emperor Nafaryus and the Imperial Family. Situated in the heart of cosmopolitan New Maineland, this opulent and imposing building also serves as the central command headquarters of the Great Northern Empire.

Heaven’s Cove – The quiet, abandoned amphitheater located on the north shore of Endless Isleland. This is where Gabriel and Faythe arrange to meet Lord Nafaryus in hopes of convincing him to end the conflict between his empirical forces and the rebel uprising which threatens the people of Ravenskill. It is the iconic arena where the dramatic and climactic events of The Astonishing take place.


The Astonishing
Act I

Descent of the NOMACS

In the year 2285, The NOMACS (Noise Machines) appear over the Emperor’s palace on New Maineland. A small ‘army’ of the drone-like machines is seen with one main NOMAC hovering in the foreground scanning the city in a display of control and supremacy. NOMACS were initially conceived by people in their quest to create the world’s most perfect music, but instead turned into something much more insidious. Born out of the vacuum created as a result of the suffocation of human expression, along with exponential advances in technology over time, they stand as the only semblance of entertainment remaining in the world. NOMACS music is now the only music anyone knows or listens to, and the only music that still exists. The very soul of what was once real music is now lost in a digital quagmire of emotionless sonic madness.

Dystopian Overture

An instrumental overture that contains all of the major reoccurring musical themes used throughout the album. Themes are associated with specific story settings and character appearances. This piece sets the mood for ACT 1 and introduces us to the newly redefined landscape of the former American Northeast now known as The Great Northern Empire Of The Americas.

The Gift of Music


Far in the distant future
Beyond the pages of our time
Cold-blooded wicked tyrants
Threaten the freedom of mankind
Corruption, lust and greed
Define the new nobility
Changing the course of history
Across the vast North Empire
Most people struggle to survive
Living a meek existence
While their secluded leader thrives
We are living day to day
Forced to bear the lion’s share
People just don’t have the time for music anymore
And no one seems to care
My friends I’ve seen the chosen one
Our quest for freedom has begun
He will be the answer to our prayers
There walks a God among us Who’s
seen the writing on the wall He is the revolution
He’ll be the one to save us all
My brother Gabriel is all the hope we need
Shining like a beacon in the night
Shepherd of Ravenskill
A reason to believe
Music is the gift he brings
The songbird stops to listen when he sings

Over the course of nearly three hundred years, ever dwindling natural resources coupled with the excessive abuse of presidential power and extreme government-wide corruption has led to the return of a feudal society throughout the country. This is not necessarily the gleaming, space-exploring future we’ve grown accustomed to imagine. yet instead a dystopian world to come which in many ways resembles more of a time and place back in mankind’s harsh history. The margin between rich and poor has widened to a point beyond recovery where ruthless dictators once again rule over vast empires. Along with their families and nobility, they now possess all of the land, wealth, power and control over whatever spoils remain on Earth. Meanwhile, the general population lives in scattered townships across the region, struggling to exist amidst a climate of extreme economic and social oppression. The resulting dichotomy between the magnificence and splendor of the big cities and the modesty and simplicity of the decaying rural villages contributes greatly to the division between classes. In this dramatically redefined landscape, what was formerly known as the Northeast region of the United States is now a new super kingdom called G.N.E.A. or The Great Northern Empire Of The Americas. It is in this new land where we find the ominous Lord Nafaryus thriving in his tyrannical role as Emperor and Head of the Realm. From the comfort of his opulent palatial residence on metropolitan New Maineland, he is able to keep a watchful eye on all that transpires throughout the Empire.

Since working class families are now consumed with the day-to-day challenges of survival, forced to bear the lion’s share of taxes needed to support the Empire, any dedication, investment or interest in the arts has all but been abandoned. People just don’t have the time or the desire to participate in any of the creative forms of human expression that art, dance and especially music have to offer anymore. And, why should they? Life may closely resemble that of more ancient times in most ways, but now the only music to be heard is electronically manufactured and performed by the NOMACS.

This brings us to the village of Ravenskill; a small, somewhat isolated town on Endless Isleland located far from the Emperor’s palace and the frantic pace of metropolitan living. Ravenskill is a close knit community whose inhabitants enjoy a renewed sense of family due to the simplicity of current times, yet who struggle and toil under the harshness of life’s reality under Nafaryus’ rule. It is here where we find our unsuspecting hero Gabriel, increasingly being looked upon as ‘The Chosen One’ who will liberate the people and lead them in a victorious revolution against Lord Nafaryus and his advocates. He is seen as a shining beacon of light in this seemingly dark and hopeless situation because of a very unique and magical talent that has been neither heard nor nurtured in many, many years…the divine gift of music.

Gabriel was born and blessed with the natural ability to sing and to make music on a level that is simply… astonishing.

Mindlessly programmed to withstand the cold and passionless cacophony of the NOMACS, people are transfixed by Gabriel and transported back to a time where true art created by human beings was celebrated and consumed as the ultimate nourishment for the soul. It is mesmerizing to all who hear him perform and the sound of his voice is as cathartic to those around him as the most advanced medicines available. So much so that the spirit of hope and enlightenment has overtaken and inspired not only this small township, but also many others in the region. As word spreads of this newly discovered savior, plans for an uprising are brewing and people everywhere are talking about Gabriel’s magical power.

The Answer

I don’t pretend to have the answer
Never said I held the key
But somehow they see a light inside of me
Am I not the man who I was meant to be?
As the people gather round me
I never felt so all alone
Is this the chance to be someone?
My moment in the sun
Why am I afraid of facing the unknown?
They are finding faith in me and they believe I’m the one to set
them free

Ever so humble and not exactly viewing himself as a natural born leader, all of the attention showered upon him and the tremendous expectations placed on him have made Gabriel very uncomfortable and confused. While blessed with a captivating charm and presence, Gabriel is often puzzled by his uniqueness and largely seen by folks as a bit of an enigma. Although adored by many, he questions his purpose in life and the meaning of his gift, ultimately leaving him to feel very alone and isolated. He spends most of his time by himself and is conflicted…why was he The Chosen One? This was not something he asked for but it is obviously something that was meant to happen to him. He embodies the very essence of promise and hope that the inhabitants of Ravenskill cling to and it is he whom they wholly place their belief in. They see something extraordinary in Gabriel and are depending on him to rescue them from hardship and oppression and deliver them their freedom. As he ponders his role in all of this, he yearns for meaning in his life and searches for a path to his destiny, which…he will soon find.

A Better Life

As fearless leader of the Ravenskill militia
The blood of warriors
Flows throughout my veins
My brother’s gift remains my secret ammunition
It is our hope, our pride
A catalyst for change
Still the fires of revolution burn within my eyes
On this perilous road to freedom
He’s our one and only guide
For many years I’ve seen our people starve and suffer
How many more will die
Before we stand and fight
They ask me Arhys,
“Could things be any tougher?”
The answer’s no surprise,
“Yes, you bet your life!”
Now the fires of revolution won’t burn for evermore
I see liberty in our future
And it’s one worth fighting for
We all long for a better life
Like a dream that can’t be denied
This is the moment
Now is the time
Freedom if we live or if we die
I shall give him a better life
I swore this vow to my dying wife
Sure she would not survive
She slipped away
The meaning in my life
Was born that day
And so I found the strength to carry on with this crusade
It is my fate
You lived a life of misery and pain
I’ll never let your memory die in vain
My heavy heart still bleeds
I dedicate my life to set him free
And I will carry on to plant the seeds
I promise in the name of our new son
This battle won’t be over until it’s won

It is Gabriel’s older brother Arhys who is his biggest supporter. As Commander of the Ravenskill Rebel Militia, it is his strong belief in Gabriel that fuels the fires of revolution in his eyes. He sees Gabriel as a catalyst for change and the people’s one and only appointed guide on the road to freedom. He is convinced it is Gabriel’s destiny. Arhys also has another reason to want to be free of this life of adversity… his eight year old son Xander whom he affectionately calls ‘X’. His love for Xander and longing for a better life and secure future for him is what keeps him motivated and willing to push forward with the crusade through these increasingly difficult times. As a single father he carries the memory of X’s mother and his only love, Evangeline, with a heavy heart and with deep dedication. Knowing that she would not survive the birth of their son and recounting the life of misery and misfortune she endured, he promises her on her deathbed that he will see to a better future for X and devote the rest of his life to their son’s safety, prosperity and ultimately, his freedom. Arhys proceeds to further educate the townspeople of Gabriel’s powers and plant the seeds for an uprising amongst them.

Lord Nafaryus

How the rumors are spreading like vines
Of a man who has been glorified
News finds its way
To The Empire one day
Where the envious ruler resides
Should I fall for the stories I hear?
Is he really a threat I should fear?
Such a foolish young man
Doesn’t seem to understand
So let me be perfectly clear
He may have them inspired
Eating out of his hand
But he’ll never be ruler of this land
For myself I must see
What the hype is about
I admit I’m intrigued
I’ve heard the whispering of revolution
I know the aim of your plan
You think insurgency is your solution
And put your faith in one man
His decision is made
So his journey begins
Off to the edge of the realm
To meet the savior
In the coming days They’ll announce his grace And he’ll ask to be amazed
As a symbol of power and might
It will make for a breathtaking sight
In a massive display
With his family and guards by his side
Arabelle who means the world to me
Our loyal son, my heir, your future king
And Faythe I treasure more than all the diamonds in my crown
It isn’t hard to see
I couldn’t be more proud
Into the far off reaches of the land
To witness this great spectacle first hand
Is Gabriel the God he claims to be?
I guess we’ll see
Yes we shall see

Like vines racing across the landscape, news quickly travels throughout the region and talk of Gabriel’s increasing popularity and the mysterious gift he possesses eventually reaches Lord Nafaryus himself. The ruler, both intrigued as well as envious of the apparent influence Gabriel has over the people, decides to pay the residents of Ravenskill a visit. Concerned, he wants to see what all the hype is about and whether or not Gabriel truly presents a threat to the Empire. He is also aware of the rumblings of a revolution beginning to surface throughout G.N.E.A. and in order to quell any foolish talk of mass rebellion, is prepared to make an example of Gabriel if necessary. Along with his exquisite wife Empress Arabelle, his loyal son Crown Prince Daryus and his daughter, the beautiful Princess Faythe whom he treasures more than life itself, they embark upon their journey to the far-off reaches of The Realm in order to witness first hand what has becomeknown as ‘Gabriel’s Gift’.

Traveling across Eden’s Way and over the Emperor’s Bridge to Brother’s Crossing, they’ll ultimately arrive in Ravenskill where they will undoubtedly get to meet this mysterious savior face to face.

A Savior in the Square

We have come to hear him sing
To see this gift your savior brings
A crowd has grown
And all are mesmerized
But silence quickly falls
As Lord Nafaryus arrives
Please don’t stop on my account
Show us what we’ve heard so much about
In peace
We gather here today
Don’t make him ask again
Do as my father says
Brother, worry not today
I will share my music
And they will soon be on their way
They only know the noise machines
So I’ll treat them all to sonic ecstasy
Never in my dreams could I deserve
To ever see a vision quite like her
Then unexpectedly
I’m taken by surprise
An angel just appeared before my eyes

In Ravenskill a large crowd has assembled in the town square, as it often does, around Gabriel, whom we find playing an old, beat-up relic of an acoustic guitar and singing an uplifting song ironically about believing in who you are and knowing that when your time has come, you will answer the call as it is your destiny. Not only are Arhys, X and all in attendance amazed by the remarkably strange and magnificent instrument he is playing (as they are not used to music coming from anything but machines) but at the same time their souls are lifted up and wonderfully transported by his angelic voice to the point of aural ecstasy. Gabriel’s divinely inspired music has a mystical way of penetrating even the most guarded individuals and transcends all generations while reawakening the dormant feelings of passion, power and self worth in anyone who hears it. It is at that moment that Nafaryus and his entourage arrive in the square, startling and alarming the townspeople. Gabriel stops singing and a thick silence falls upon the gathering. Everyone is very aware that they are in the presence of the Emperor and the Imperial Family and the danger associated with that very scenario. Flanked by his guards, Nafaryus addresses Gabriel saying,

“So, this is Gabriel The Astonishing. Please, do not stop on my account.

Continue as you were.”

Arhys responds to him, “We are gathered here in peace my Lord and want no trouble” to which Nafaryus replies, “We are only here to witness for ourselves what we have all heard so much about. Gabriel’s remarkable gift.”
After an uncomfortable pause, Prince Daryus looks at Gabriel and with a threatening tone says, “Do as my father says…savior!”

Gabriel knows he has no choice and as he starts to lay his fingers on the guitar, he spots Princess Faythe standing next to the Empress and is absolutely mesmerized.

She is…astonishing.

When Your Time Has Come

When your time has come
And you’re looking toward the light
All that really matters
Is what you leave behind
So let your heart be free Keep
your spirit burning bright Set
down the stones you carry Take
the weight off your mind
When you’re facing the path that divides
Know that I will be there by your side
Find your strength in the sound of my voice
And you’ll know
Which choice is right
In this fleeting life
We can sometimes lose our way
But night is always darkest
Just before the new day
When you’re facing the path that divides
Know that I will be there by your side
Find your strength in the sound of my voice
And you’ll know
Which choice is right
This very moment
Was always meant to be
I never noticed
But all at once I see
On the worst of days when I felt most alone
With no one to share the secret that I hide
I grew numb to all the emptiness inside
But now I’ve found my home
Gabriel commences playing and starts to sing the words of a deeply moving song. At first sheepishly and then with confidence and passion he sings the lines…

When you’re facing the path that divides
Know that I will be there by your side
Find your strength in the sound of my voice
And you’ll know
Which choice is right

In an instant, the words strike a very deep chord within Faythe and, as if awoken from a spell, the Princess’ eyes lock with Gabriel’s. Like a lightning bolt from the heavens and without hesitation, they immediately know that they are meant to be together and that this encounter was no accident. It is clear that somehow this moment marked the first step on the path to each other’s destiny. Up until now there had only been one thing that she truly connected with which comforted her and gave her hope on the days when she felt most alone. It happened to come from
a secret she’d been hiding for many years…

Act of Faythe

I never knew they spent their days in rags
While I enjoy the life they’ll never have
Yet deep within their eyes
Hope still survives
And they don’t seem to think this world’s so bad
Even as they gather in the square They know a better life exists out there With
unity and pride
Faith stays alive
How can I pretend that I don’t care?
I have always felt alone
Living like a stranger inside of my own home
Maybe now’s the time to greet the winds of change
Could my destiny
Be right in front of me?
As a child behind the palace walls
Often times I’d search its secret halls
And hoping I would find
A treasure cast aside
I came upon the greatest gift of all
My music player
My private paradise
My music player
A refuge I must hide
Been lost at sea forever
Adrift and far away
Now finally for the first time
I know I found my way

A vision of delightfulness with a look both enchantingly provocative and innocently demure at the same time, he has never before laid eyes upon anyone quite like her and her inescapable beauty pierces his soul. Gabriel however has not quite captured the princess’ attention yet, as she is distracted by the scope of her surroundings and completely in awe of the number of people peacefully gathered in the square that afternoon. She is moved by the sense of togetherness and community being displayed before them, all amidst dreadful and practically unbearable living conditions. As a sheltered princess accustomed to the excesses of her palatial life, she is certainly not used to seeing any of this. Her heart immediately goes out to them and she is touched by their collective innocence and flickering sense of hope that a better life does exist somewhere out there. Although possessing her father’s tenacity and stubbornness, she is very much not aligned with his way of thinking or harsh methods of ruling. In many ways she, like Gabriel, shares the same feelings of isolation, often feeling like an outsider in her own home. She is alone, shielded from the bleak world by an over protective father, and longing for a purpose. And also like Gabriel, yearning for meaning in her life and searching for the path to her own destiny.

As a young girl growing up on New Maineland, she was a very curious child and used to keep herself entertained by going on adventures throughout the palace. One day while on one of these journeys she stumbled upon the Great Hall of Artifacts buried deep within its underground corridors. It is here that she found something remarkable; an antique digital music player very common during decades past but now deemed obsolete. It was filled with thousands of songs from all sorts of talented artists from a distant time when music was still created and performed by humans. It had a strange engraving on the back that simply said, “To BUG”. She didn’t know what it meant but that never mattered to her. She carried it with her wherever she went, always being careful to conceal it from those around her, especially her father. Relishing any private opportunity she could get to escape the realities of her cold and shielded imperial life, with her ear phones carefully hidden beneath her hair and her hood, she’d lose herself in the beautiful sounds of long ago. Still, as a young woman, there is not a day that goes by without her stealing a moment to listen to her prized secret device, the magical vessel that carries her spirit throughout the endless adventures of her imagination. Hearing Gabriel play the guitar and sing with an almost indescribable air of grace and beauty that day is the first time she ever feels such an overwhelming sense of safety and belonging outside of her private rendezvous with her music player.

Three Days

The admiration
The applause and the cheers
I am impressed
You’ve brought us all to tears
To think I didn’t notice
The way you looked at her
Now step down from your throne
And let me bring you back to earth
Need I remind you? I am the ruler here
Don’t overlook that fact
Swearing allegiance
To anyone but me
No, I won’t put up with that
Hide and protect him
Send him away
I’ll never play this game
Stand by your savior
One thing remains
I’ll find him just the same
Brace yourself
Bow down to Nafaryus
Pray for help
Kneel before Nafaryus
He’ll surrender on his own
If not, there’ll be hell to pay
I’ll tear down this city stone by stone
You only have three days
Send home the rebels
Call off the fight
In no uncertain terms
Should you refuse me
Fear for your lives
Ravenskill shall burn
Brace yourself
Bow down to Nafaryus
Pray for help
Kneel before Nafaryus
With this frightening decree
Nafaryus departs
They’re left to weigh the gravity
Of his threatening remarks
Judgment day will soon arrive
In only three days time
Will Gabriel get out of this alive? This
remains the question on their minds

When the song is finished, the crowd erupts in glorious applause and even Nafaryus, notably moved by Gabriel’s song, is momentarily caught up in the contagious atmosphere of elation surrounding him. He is quickly brought back to reality, however, when he notices how Gabriel and the Princess are gazing at each other and immediately shouts out, “Enough!” Empress Arabelle also catches the two locked in an infatuating stare, and a quick glance from Faythe to her mother ensures that she knows the Empress is aware. Sensing that things are quickly about to go very wrong, Arhys has Gabriel obscured from view by his soldiers and swiftly whisked away and out of Nafaryus’ sight.

Lord Nafaryus will not tolerate the adoration and allegiance of his people to anyone other than himself and his jealousy of Gabriel’s power over them as well as his insecurities about the future of The Empire makes him feel the need to demonstrate his superiority. He immediately sees Gabriel as a threat to The Realm. The Emperor very smugly addresses Arhys and the townspeople saying that they can hide and protect Gabriel all they want but that he will not stoop to their level and take part of some sort of foolish cat and mouse game in order to find their ‘Savior’. He ensures them that ‘Gabriel The Astonishing’ will come to him willingly and surrender himself in person to his highness or suffer dire consequences. Nafaryus then declares that Gabriel has three days to give himself up and guarantee the disbanding and surrender of the Rebel Militia and cease all talk of revolution. Staring maliciously at X who is attempting to cower behind his father’s back, he continues to state that if ‘The Savior’ refuses to comply within that time, he will return with his forces, and he will hunt Gabriel down destroying every home one by one and killing every inhabitant until he is captured. And with that terrifying decree, Lord Nafaryus and his entourage depart Ravenskill leaving the stunned villagers to process the gravity of their newfound situation. As they head back to the palace, Princess Faythe is consumed with the vision of Gabriel and their obviously magnetic connection. Still intoxicated by his music, she is obsessed with the overwhelming notion that she must see him again.


The Hovering Sojourn

Brother, Can You Hear Me?

Brother can you hear me? Your life is in my hands
I will not surrender
Never yield to his demands
If we stand together
We will never fall
Brother we’re the answer to your call
Brother can you hear me?
You must not be afraid
I will march beside you
Have no fear
Be strong
Be brave
We sing the song of freedom
Our voices will resound
Brother we will never let you down
On the road to revolution
We’re bound to make mistakes
There’s a price that we must pay
For every choice we make
Freedom is a reason To
stand up or give in But
someone has to lose And
someone has to win
Brother can you hear me?
I am not afraid
I will not forsake you
I’ll be strong and I’ll be brave
I sing the song of freedom
My courage knows no bounds
Brother now I stand on solid ground
Brother I will never let you down
Never let you down

Back in Ravenskill, Gabriel has gone into hiding and is being protected by Arhys’ men. Commander Arhys is convinced that his civilian army, combined with the bordering rebel forces in the region is strong enough to protect the town, and that there should be no talk of Gabriel’s surrender under any circumstances. Gabriel however is severely traumatized by all of this and is questioning the possession of his so called ‘gift’ now, more than ever. His surrender will clearly mark the end of any possible chance of peace and freedom for his people and will also most likely ensure his own demise. How can he abandon all that they’ve worked for, all that they stand for and all they have sacrificed for? On the other hand, how can he be so selfish as to make his own life worth more than all of the innocent inhabitants of his town? In the midst of all of this, he cannot shake the vision of Princess Faythe from his memory. He is completely absorbed with the thought of her and entranced by her inescapable beauty. Gabriel has come to a major crossroads in his life and knows that a turning point is imminent.

A Life Left Behind

I never knew
Someone was out there
A long way from nowhere
Who could open my eyes?
All of this time
While I was sleeping
The world changed around me
Now I’ve never felt more alive
I’m waking up
From a life left behind
To see what lies ahead
I’m waking up
Fate found a way
To bring them together
Once and forever
And won’t let them go
Nothing I say
Can keep her from leaving
Her life has new meaning
I lost her a long time ago
I’m waking up
From a life left behind
To see what lies ahead
I’m waking up
I’m waking up
Now that yesterday’s gone
Won’t close my eyes again
I’m waking up
I’ll plan to return well disguised
Make sure that I’m not recognized
Tomorrow a new sun will rise
And somehow I’ll find you
Nothing will stand in my way
Soon I will see you again
I’m waking up
From a life left behind
To see what lies ahead
I’m waking up
I’m waking up
Now that yesterday’s gone
I will never look back
I’m waking up
You’ll be her shadow as she moves my son
But she can never know you’re there
She is alone and rebel guards are everywhere
I’ll keep her safe from all danger
Won’t let her out of my sight
Did I fail to mention my honest intentions?
This is the chance I deserve
Heed my words justice will be served

After returning home to the palace, Princess Faythe realizes that her desire to see Gabriel again is not waning and that she is desperate to be with him no matter what the cost. It is simply something that she can most certainly feel yet cannot explain. She knows instinctually that fate has brought them together and that they both have a higher purpose to fulfill by their union, so she makes a plan to return to Ravenskill the next morning. As to not alert the rebels or alarm the locals who may recognize her and think her a threat, she decides it is best to conceal her true identity while traveling outside of the palace. Empress Arabelle, ever in tune with the princess’ intentions, sees that she is planning this trip and confronts her about it. After seeing the spark of joy and passion in her daughter’s eyes as she talks about her feelings for Gabriel; eyes that have been cold and empty for so long, now ablaze with excitement and hope, she knows that the right thing to do is to let her go. She could not possibly deprive Faythe of pursuing her true love. Always the protective mother, the Empress has Prince Daryus secretly follow his sister in order to ensure her safety. Daryus willingly complies but has evil intentions of his own, which he is all too eager to carry out.



Morning breaks beyond the night
And she’s a world away
Through crowded streets
This quiet hooded stranger makes her way
Please, excuse me
Sir can you help me? Where
can I find this man?
Sorry, can’t speak
Someone is waiting
Yes, I understand
As her will
Starts to fade
And all but disappears
Like a ghost
Suddenly a boy is standing there
And all is clear
I’m your friend
Trust me don’t be scared
I am looking for your father and I promise
I can help
Now take my hand
We haven’t time to spare
Hopeful and innocent
Sensing no danger
He sees humanity
Behind the stranger’s eyes
Her true identity
Will be revealed when she sheds her disguise

Upon arriving in Ravenskill on the morning of the second day, the disguised princess asks if anyone knows where she could find Arhys, knowing that no one will voluntarily offer up Gabriel’s whereabouts and will certainly think of anyone asking as suspicious. Frustrated and exhausted, not really getting anywhere due to high levels of anxiety and vigilance amongst the townspeople, she eventually catches a break. She sees a young boy playing in front of a fountain and recognizes him as Arhys’ son Xander. Faythe’s gentle nature and sensitively alluring eyes win over the boy’s trust almost instantly. She convinces him that she has a way that she can help his father as well as Gabriel if she can just speak to him. Of course, all the while her brother Daryus has been watching her from afar and is now equally equipped with the information required to set his plan in motion.

X innocently leads the princess to the military camp where Arhys is preparing the rebel forces. Faythe takes the Commander aside and very bravely reveals her true identity to him. At first he is immediately tempted to arrest her and hold her as leverage against Nafaryus, but she assures him that her intentions are true and that she has a way to end the conflict and restore peace, but that she will only share it with Gabriel. Reluctantly, Arhys eventually agrees and leads her to where Gabriel is being hidden. Upon seeing each other they embrace and promise never to be separated again. First though, the conflict with Lord Nafaryus needs to be resolved before the three days expire. She tells Gabriel that she is certain she can convince her father to spare him as well as all of Ravenskill, and that she has seen a gentle and forgiving side of him before that need only be reignited. Although there is not much time left, she is convinced that through their unity her father will see a way to restore peace to the land and give up his preposterous witch-hunt.


Her words ring true
Her message clear
How can he hear
Through all the noise and dissonance?
I’ve seen a sign
That he can change
If given just a chance
Against all hope
We found a way
And it is all because she trusts in me
Why have a gift
You can’t embrace
When all you need is faith
And there’s a reason now I see
The reason I’ve been chosen
She sees the light inside of me
A reason to believe
But I can’t climb this mountain without you
No I can’t face this on my own
With you by my side we will open his eyes
And the truth will deliver us home
And there’s a reason now I see
The path that he has chosen
He fears the light inside of me
In the absence of song
He’s forgotten right from wrong
Our voices will release him
He’s refused to listen far too long
I’m convinced beyond a doubt
There can be no other way He
just has to hear me out
There’s so much I need to say
But I can’t climb this mountain without you
No I can’t face this on my own
With you by my side we will open his eyes
And the truth will deliver us home

The Princess’s words resonate with Gabriel and he remembers how his song in the square temporarily moved Nafaryus the day before. Gabriel is convinced that the absence of art and music and the incessant drivel being spewed out by the NOMACS has caused a sort of emotional hibernation amongst Lord Nafaryus and his supporters, ultimately leading to the deadening of his soul and the lack of any compassion in his heart. If Gabriel could just meet with the Emperor and Empress, he knows that through the power of his magical gift of music, especially with their daughter by his side, he could reawaken their spirits and bring harmony back to The Realm. Nafaryus need only agree to ignore the NOMACS for a moment and just listen. Excited to share this encouraging plan with her father, she returns to the palace to speak to him and convince him to meet with Gabriel.

A Tempting Offer

Trustful boy
Unaware who’s watching
Open the door
I am right behind you


Don’t resist me child
There’s no use in fighting
We’ll be here a while
Do you recognize me?
Look into my eyes
I’m the face of freedom
When Daddy does arrive
He’s in for a surprise
How dare you step inside my home!
His life is in my hands
You monster leave my son alone!
You do know who I am
Your love for him is strong
He’s just a boy
He’s done no wrong
This fight’s not his to lose
I have everything you want
Your next decision
Will decide his fate
So listen to the words I have to say
Give up the chosen one
And you will guarantee your son
Lives the life you never had
Wealth and prosperity
Beyond what you have ever seen
And best of all Xander will be free
He’ll never want again
It’s such an easy choice
Just think about your son
And I won’t have to stand
In Faythe’s dark shadow anymore
I am through with being pushed aside
Tired of fighting for my father’s pride
Take the evening to decide

Meanwhile, still in Ravenskill, Prince Daryus follows Xander on his way home that evening. As X is about to enter his house, Daryus overpowers him and forces his way inside where the devious prince holds the boy hostage and waits for his father to return. Arhys eventually comes home only to find that Daryus has broken in and is now holding X’s life in his hands. Recognizing his son’s captor to be Prince Daryus and keeping X’s safety in mind, he immediately withdraws any efforts to apprehend the prince and instead asks him what he wants. Daryus makes him an offer that will put Arhys in an extremely complicated and life altering position…If Arhys delivers Gabriel to him, Prince Daryus will in return guarantee the safety, protection and prosperity of Xander for the rest of his life. He will enjoy all of the riches The Empire has to offer, the best education and a privileged life equal to that of Nafaryus’ own son. He will be in want of nothing for the rest of his life. As he sees it, the choice is easy because either way, they will capture Gabriel in the end. This way, he will be his son’s hero. Why is this so important to Daryus? He has lived in the shadow of his father’s outward love and adoration of Faythe his entire life. He has been unfairly pushed aside and expected to just ‘be a man’, ‘suck it up’ and relinquish any need of parental approval or praise. He could never quite measure up to the Emperor’s expectations and is deeply jealous of his father’s favoritism shown towards the princess. Daryus sees the successful capture of Gabriel as his opportunity to win over his father’s respect and gain the admiration he deserves.

Digital Dischord

The X Aspect

Betray my blood
To save my son
A hopeless choice to make
But who am I
If not the one
Who’s meant to keep him safe?
Is trust and loyalty still justified
If I deny him of a better life?
Has always been
The strength I call upon
But nothing breaks
A father’s will
To do what must be done
Should I turn my back on him? Abandon
all our plans for revolution?
Will hope and freedom die by morning light?
I swore to you
To love and guide our son
Has shown his face
And now the time has come
Desperation blinds me
And through these bloodstained eyes I see the light
A better life is worth this sacrifice

Daryus remains in Ravenskill for the evening and gives Arhys the rest of the night to consider his offer, telling him that he expects an answer by morning or the deal
is off. Obviously Arhys has a seemingly insurmountable decision to make. How can he possibly turn his back on his own brother? How can he betray the trust of his soldiers and his fellow people altogether abandoning the plans for revolution they have been working so tirelessly on for years now? Then he remembers the promise he made to Evangeline before she breathed her last breath; to see to the protection and livelihood of their son and to the dedication of his life to X’s eventual freedom. After a mostly sleepless night, he concludes that he has no choice, and with Xander’s best interests in mind, contacts Prince Daryus agreeing to the terms of his offer. He vows to divulge the time and location to Daryus later that day, where the exchange of Gabriel’s freedom for the sake of X’s future will take place.

A New Beginning

Father I implore you
Don’t believe a word
He is not the enemy
That is just absurd
You may see his talent
As some kind of threat
But I knew we were meant to be
From the day we met
Give us both a chance
For a new beginning
Nothing would mean more to me
He is just a man
Can’t you show him mercy?
Sympathy and strength go hand in hand
This man’s a fraud and a hoax
He’ll only shatter your hopes
Saddest of all is to watch how you fall
For this person who you hardly know
Ignorant and stubborn You have no respect
Not just for your flesh and blood
But all who you protect
Listen without judgment
Keep an open mind
If you can not see the truth
You’re the one who’s blind
We don’t stand a chance
That is his opinion
Mother can you talk to him?
Try to understand
How they must be feeling
Misery’s to know what might have been
Why would I ever concede
To listen to this fool? How can you be so naive?
You must be living in a world of make believe
Do you really think this charlatan is who he claims to be?
Not long ago there was a time and place
You too possessed the same desires as Faythe
You knew how it felt to feel invisible
Music calmed your soul just like a drug
Remember Bug?
Father is it true
Bug was always you?
Finally I can reveal
How music makes me feel
Now you understand
Why I was hiding
This changes everything
I will grant the chance
For a new beginning
In the end the final word rests with me

That morning, Princess Faythe isn’t having quite the same luck convincing her father to meet with Gabriel, and the unwelcome news of her being in love with ‘the enemy’ further compounds his unwillingness to cooperate. Nafaryus finds the notion of a meeting both absurd and fruitless, since by the start of the next day his forces will be bearing down upon Ravenskill with all their wrath and fury if her boyfriend, ‘The Savior’ does not surrender himself as the impostor he truly is. Princess Faythe pleas with him that they only ask for a chance to be listened to without judgment, and if the Emperor is not convinced upon the conclusion of Gabriel’s message, then he will agree to surrender himself fully and with honor as per Nafaryus’ wishes. Perceiving any negotiation as a sign of weakness, however, Nafaryus shows no intention of even considering what he views to be his daughter’s foolish desires. Faythe is frustrated by her father’s ignorance, thick headedness and absence of compassion for the people of his Empire, as well as his lack of respect for her feelings. It is then that Empress Arabelle expresses that she’s seen enough of this stubbornness between the two of them and enlightens him to the fact that if he doesn’t agree to this meeting, his daughter will never forgive him and that he will lose her forever.

“I remember a time when you too possessed Faythe’s romantic innocence and passion for life’s unexplored mysteries…BUG.” says Arabelle to her husband.
It is then that Faythe realizes that the word “BUG” inscribed on the back of her music player was referring to her father and that it once belonged to him!
It had been given to him as a gift by his own father who shared the same secret affinity for music made by humans as Faythe eventually would. As a very young boy, Nafaryus was always zipping in and out of the palace halls and buzzing around his father’s feet trying to get the busy Emperor’s attention (hence the nickname ‘BUG’). The rare times when he wasn’t consumed with balancing the many affairs of The Realm, his father would privately submit to the therapeutic bliss of his own secretly kept digital music player, oftentimes inviting young Nafaryus to indulge in these undisclosed soul-soothing escapes. His gift of the music player to his son was his way of letting Nafaryus know that they would always have that special connection no matter how complicated life may eventually get. As time passed, however, Nafaryus grew into adulthood and his father the Emperor grew old and tired. The allure of the imminent passing of the crown to the ambitious prince and all of the power and control associated with it far out-shadowed the indulgences of some silly music player. In the course of time his father fell ill, eventually passing away and with the rise of the NOMACS drowning out his memory, the music player was discarded by the newly crowned Emperor Nafaryus and ultimately forgotten.

For the first time Princess Faythe reveals the secret music player she’d been both relishing and concealing almost her entire life to the Emperor, saying,“See father, you also once enjoyed the beauty of real music and not just the garbage of those dreadful NOMACS.”

“Where did you get that, child?” Shouts Nafaryus, to which Faythe responds, “Never mind that.” “I am not a child anymore, father, I am a woman who doesn’t want to be told what to do or who I can or cannot see anymore!” “Now please reach inside your soul and show me that you are not just the heartless dictator you have come to be known as.”

Not able to contest the wisdom of neither his wife nor his daughter, Nafaryus concedes, knowing that if he persists, he risks losing the princess forever and so agrees to the meeting. If Gabriel truly is ‘The Chosen One’ and can sway him as his beloved daughter says he can, then he will cease all plans of attack on Ravenskill and award him his freedom. If not, then he will accept Gabriel’s surrender as promised, at which point it will be sure that she will never see him again.

The Road to Revolution

He only sees what he desires to see
It took a while but finally he agreed
Though everything may not turn out as planned
If love’s a risk
It’s worth the chance
I know where there is faith there’s always hope
We’ll meet beneath the stars at Heaven’s Cove
Where ghosts of yesterday
Once filled the lighted stage
Taking our first step down a new road


Arhys time is running out
What will your decision be?
If you still have any doubt
Think about Evangeline


On the road to revolution
Our salvation’s never free
There’s a price for liberation when you stand for your beliefs
When the man in the mirror
Takes a long hard look at me
Will the person staring back, be the man I want to be?


Change my mind? A
waste of time
For soon he will be mine
Open eyes
Help me see which choice is right

Elated, Princess Faythe immediately shares the news with Gabriel, who is still in hiding back at Ravenskill. He tells her that he knows of the perfect neutral location for this summit and that the only way this is ensured to work is if the meeting takes place that evening, under the dance of the stars and the glow of the midnight moon at a once magnificent but since abandoned amphitheater on the edge of town called Heaven’s Cove. It is against the dramatic backdrop of a place where music once poured from the lighted stage where Gabriel will best be able to showcase his miraculous musical gift and is sure that once enlightened, there is no way the Emperor will be able to follow through with his plans. As a symbolic gesture of peace, Faythe agrees to sing together along with Gabriel so that when her father hears the purity and innocence of love and unity in their combined voices, the fate of their future will be sealed. Aware there is always the chance that the outcome of tonight’s events may not turn out as they both desire, Gabriel and Faythe decide it best to meet at Heaven’s Cove ahead of time in order to relish what may possibly be their final moments alone together and to rehearse for their performance that evening. Faythe shares the location with her father and later that day Nafaryus and Arabelle begin to make their way to the amphitheater at Heaven’s Cove on Endless Isleland; the Emperor outwardly pessimistic and with guards in tow prepared for what he predicts will be Gabriel’s surrender.


2285 Entr’acte

An instrumental which recaps the musical themes used thus far. It is meant to reacquaint the listener with the music and set the mood for Act 2.

Moment of Betrayal

Brace yourself my brother
I have breaking news
The Noise Machines lie still tonight
There’s no time to lose
No more threats of bloodshed
No more pain and fear
Ravenskill will brave the storm
Our victory is near
You are acting very strange
Nervous and on edge
I will be a voice for change
Brother give me strength
Burning rose
Secrets sold
Moment of betrayal
Kiss of death
Blood revenge
Moment of betrayal
I have sworn to live and die
By the warrior’s code
Never leave a man behind
May God redeem my soul
I will give you what you need
My brother for my son
Guilt and shame will burden me
Until my days are done
Meet me tonight where the stars touch the sky
He’ll be alone there with nowhere to hide
Burning rose
Secrets sold
Moment of betrayal
Kiss of death
Blood revenge
Moment of betrayal
He will be defenseless
I’ll look on
Say I put up a fight
There will be no witness
They will call you a hero tonight
Burning rose
Secrets sold
Moment of betrayal
Kiss of death
Blood revenge
Moment of betrayal
Threats and Lies
Changing sides
Moment of betrayal
Risking all
Saviors fall
Moment of betrayal

Gabriel immediately tells Arhys the news about his meeting with Nafaryus at the abandoned amphitheater and his plans to rehearse with the Princess beforehand. He is convinced that this is the opportunity he’s been waiting for…a chance to use his gift as a conduit of peace and the means for preventing any further bloodshed
of their people and the destruction of Ravenskill. Gabriel is of course unaware of the plans of betrayal made between his brother and Prince Daryus and he notices that Arhys is acting strange and seems uncharacteristically nervous and uncomfortable. He suspects that it is the safety of his younger brother and the looming threat of attack on their village that he must be concerned about. Regardless, Gabriel leaves to prepare for the big night and Arhys, upon now receiving the information necessary to entrap his brother, contacts Daryus and tells him that he will deliver Gabriel to him that night at Heaven’s Cove. Still struggling with his conscience, and not fully trusting the prince’s intentions, he tells Daryus that he is secretly meeting his brother there to discuss the final plans for the uprising but does not reveal the information about Gabriel’s intended encounter with Lord Nafaryus, or his plans to rehearse with the princess. He assures the prince that with only the three of them there, Gabriel will have no chance and that he promises to stand by and let his brother be captured. Afterwards he will tell everyone that he put up a fight to protect him, but to no avail. The prince will be able to present the captured ‘Savior’ to his father and finally for once, be seen as the hero.

Heaven’s Cove

Under the glow of the midnight moon
Where the stars touch the sky
Stand the long forgotten remains of a time gone by
Heaven’s Cove was a wondrous site
Once a beautiful place
Now an empty shell like a memory that time erased
As the pivotal moment draws closer
Every shadow and whisper ignite
Music will rise like a phoenix from the ashes on this night

As the pivotal moment approaches on the evening of the third day, the night sky above Heaven’s Cove is dark and still, with the only light provided being that found in-between the shadows created by the decaying structure under the pale glow of the moonlit sky.

Begin Again

I gave up hope
Was dead inside
Stayed lost within a world I chose to hide
Then I found my faith in him
And now I can
Begin again
I once believed
Our fate was sealed
But now at last the truth has been revealed
In an instant life could change
And now and then
Begin again
I know that I am meant for something more
That life beyond these walls
Has greater things in store
When I heard his voice I realized
I’d never be the same
Instantly I knew my life had changed
I dream of peace
Above all else
To share a world where we could be ourselves
We must learn to rise above the past
Before we can at last
Begin again

Faythe realizes that her life has now taken a new turn and that through her destined relationship with Gabriel, she has been given the opportunity to start anew. She feels that there must be more to life than what she has come to know and that she is somehow meant to fulfill a higher purpose. She dreams of a peaceful world where everyone is given a chance to prosper and where all citizens could be free to follow their desires and express their creativity. She is resolved to use the power of her royal status to champion the changes necessary to realize this vision, and to be the voice of the people as they journey towards justice and equality.

The Path That Divides

The evening stars shine brightly
Over Heaven’s Cove
As night descends in silence
The fated scene unfolds
Consumed with trepidation
Arhys hears his brother’s voice
As you’re facing the path that divides
I will always be here by your side
I feel my pulse begin to race
Beads of sweat drip down my face
I have made a grave mistake
What have I done?
My blood for my son?
It’s not too late
I won’t betray him
I knew the day had come
And you could be tempted
To give up the chosen one
And finally end this
Do anything for your son
A terminal weakness
But now you’re as good as done
I didn’t have a choice
And I was defenseless
I didn’t believe his voice
And fighting was senseless
But now I can see the truth
I’ve come to my senses
I shouldn’t have trusted you
Arhys was never aware
His son had followed him there
Confused and deathly afraid
X watched his hero be brave
On the path that divides
You were there by my side
There will be no betrayal tonight
I found courage and strength
In the words you once you sang
Tore the truth from the lies
On the path that divides
You dare defy your prince?
Well you just threw your life away
Along with Xander’s dreams
You chose the wrong man to betray
Two hungry warriors
Clash in the shadows of the night
But there’s a cost with every fight
And Arhys’ fight for hope
Cost him his very life

Arhys nervously awaits Prince Daryus and Gabriel at the barren amphitheater for the moment of betrayal that will ultimately lead to his brother’s capture. He is completely unaware, however, that X followed him there and is hiding behind a tree watching with curiously as his father awaits the Prince. Miraculously though, Arhys bravely decides that alas there will be no betrayal tonight…As Prince Daryus comes into view eager to reap the rewards of his crafty plan, Arhys recognizes the same malicious look in his eyes that his father Nafaryus had in the square as he leered at Xander and threatened the people of Ravenskill. It is at that moment that Arhys summons a well of courage and integrity deep within his soul and recalling the message in the words of the song sung by Gabriel in the square only a few days ago…

When you’re facing the path that divides
Know that I will be there by your side
Find your strength in the sound of my voice
And you’ll know
Which choice is right

He declares to Daryus that Gabriel is his blood and he would rather die than betray his brother or his people to which the prince resounds, “Then, tonight you die!” A fight ensues and although Xander can only make out the twisted shapes in the shadows as the struggle goes on, it is apparent after a final grunt from his father that Daryus has stolen Arhys’ last breath and with that he was gone.

Machine Chatter

The Walking Shadow

What have you done?
You murderer
My father’s dead
Your day will come
Don’t hold your breath
The night’s still young
Confront your death
Like father, like son
Who’s this I see?
Approaching me
The Chosen One
Drawing closer pace by pace
The walking shadow hides its face
Never aware of the looming attack
Like stepping right into a trap
As his weapon
Finds its victim
Mortified, he’s shocked to find the shadow is Faythe

X comes running out of the dark, crying and clinging to his father’s lifeless body, startling Daryus who was unaware that he was present. The prince would have ended the young boy’s life right then and there but is suddenly distracted by a dark figure approaching him through the theater’s corridor. “Of course! It has to be Gabriel arriving for the meeting with his brother,” he mutters to himself. He’s thinking that now not only will he be the one to capture The Savior, but also to deliver the dead Commander of the Rebel Militia in the same night! As the cloaked figure quickly approaches, Prince Daryus, hiding in the shadows, prepares to attack. When the figure is just about upon him he leaps out of the darkness and unleashes a seemingly deadly strike sure enough to take Gabriel down permanently. However, as if in slow motion, just as his weapon is about to make contact, he comes face to face with the figure and looking into its eyes realizes that it is not Gabriel. It is his sister, Princess Faythe who was on her way into the amphitheater to meet with him! Faythe was unaware of any imminent danger since she was listening to her music player, earphones hidden beneath her hair and hood as usual.

My Last Farewell

Angels above
Have you deceived my eyes?
Be still my love
I won’t leave your side
All my life
I have walked alone
Now I’ve found my home in you
Only I’m too late
Have I wandered into someone’s nightmare?
This is more than any heart can bare
You stole my brother’s life
How many more have to die
Before you will open your eyes?
Don’t leave me now
Hold on for one more breath
Stay strong somehow
This can’t be the end
All your life
You have walked alone
Now I am your home
So take my hand and don’t let go
Crushing pain and crippling grief
Nothing like I’ve ever felt
God above and souls beneath
Hear my last farewell

Unfortunately, it is too late. His weapon meets its target and her limp body falls to the ground, leaving Daryus standing there utterly in shock and completely horrified over what he has just done. Only seconds too late, Gabriel arrives to see the stunned prince perched over his cherished Faythe who is lying on the ground and left gasping for her final breaths. He stumbles towards her in disbelief, almost simultaneously noticing his brother Arhys lying lifeless only feet away with X crying over his father’s dead body. At that moment the overwhelming, soul crushing feeling of grief and pain become more than any man could be expected to handle, and while covering X’s ears, Gabriel unleashes a blood curdling scream straight from the darkest depths of the abyss at a level unsustainable to the human ear. Faythe is unaffected due to the protection of her earphones but Daryus is not so lucky. The scream shatters the prince’s eardrums causing irreversible nerve damage and rendering him hearing-less. He is now doomed to live inside of his own soundless prison with the rest of his lifetime left to lament in a barren wasteland of silence over his despicable actions.

Losing Faythe

My foolish pride
My selfish heart
Lost in the dark
Blinded by my arrogance
And now you beg for one last breath
And I’m the one to blame
There’s a reason now I see
The reason you have chosen
To find the light inside of me
If only I believed
Here I am
Don’t be afraid
I will never let you slip away
Look my way
You must be brave
Find the strength to live for one more day
I will keep from losing Faythe
I will ask for grace
And hope will find a way
Like a candle’s dying flame
With forgiving eyes
She starts to drift away
Gabriel my son
I see the tide is turning
Can the chosen one
Keep her fire burning?
I would trade my life
Just for one last moment
Use your gift I beg
May life begin again?
May life begin again?

At this point Lord Nafaryus and the Empress, only a short distance away, having heard Gabriel’s outcry and wondering who or what could produce such a sound, begin to descend upon the amphitheater along with the Emperor’s guards. They cannot believe their eyes when they arrive to see the gruesome scene that just took place…their only daughter, Lord Nafaryus’ angelic jewel of his crown, the Princess of G.N.E.A., lying motionless in Gabriel’s arms. Their son the prince, blood stained and still clutching at his head, hands over his ears. They both run over to the princess sobbing and pleading God not to take their precious daughter from them. During this time, also curious as to the loud sound that came out of the night and the commotion coming from the usually silent Heaven’s Cove, residents from the surrounding area start to gather around Gabriel and Faythe. One, two, three at a time until the entire amphitheater is filled with people both bewildered and traumatized by the events unfolding under the moonlight that night. Lord Nafaryus takes his daughter’s body from Gabriel and, stroking her hair, begins to confess his regrets to her. Through burning tears and a weary voice he apologizes for his stubborn pride and his foolish ego. He concedes that this is entirely his fault and that none of this would have happened if he weren’t so envious of Gabriel and the powers he possesses. She smiles at him as she starts to fade away, offering forgiveness with her eyes, but her flame is flickering so very faintly at this point and will quickly be extinguished for good. Suddenly, Nafaryus has an epiphany…If Gabriel truly is The Savior as it has been said, then the miraculous healing power of his gift could be used to save the princess’ life!

Whispers on the Wind

If I still had something left
I’d surely use my gift
To give her one more breath
To see her smile again
And yet my gift is gone
Along with all her dreams
It vanished with a scream
My fragile voice has all but disappeared
I’ve nothing left to give
The words I wish I’d said
Just whispers on the wind
And now all hope is dead

He humbly pleads with Gabriel to sing. Sing until the heavens open up and the grace of God shines down upon his daughter and releases her from the clutches of death. But Gabriel cannot sing. The scream which he bellowed forth upon seeing his dead brother and the fallen princess, the scream which deafened Prince Daryus and alerted everyone in the region of this terrible nightmare they all were experiencing, had rendered his voice useless. He wanted to sing. He tried but was only capable of producing a few scratchy whispers.

Hymn of a Thousand Voices

Out of the shadows
One by one they came
To shed their light upon his moment of doubt and pain
A thousand voices
Rang out through the night
A symphony of mercy for their savior
Too tired to fight
And as the chorus grew
A thousand hearts beat true
Then like a glowing beacon in the dark
Hope came shining through
Amazingly the savior found his voice
And all together they rejoiced…
Glorious sound
Guide her tonight
Out of the darkness
Into the light
Merciful song
Set her soul free
Unbind the chains of endless sleep
Choirs on high
Grant her new life
Make me a vessel of thy boundless grace
Music has shown her the way
She lives today!

All seemed hopeless and futile at that moment, but just as Gabriel had predicted that everyone would know what to do when they are called upon, a choir of voices begins to rise from the people gathered in the amphitheater under the moonlight and together they answer the call. They had listened to Gabriel’s message and truly taken it to heart and now it was they who were providing the hope and strength needed for him in this grim and seemingly desperate situation. They were the collective beacons of light in the darkness guiding him through the night. As their singing voices grow louder and louder, it is discovered that they themselves are the true revolution. They have given Gabriel the strength and belief he needed to be able to find his voice. And he does indeed! Music flies out of his vocal chords like beaming rays of light from the sun and it sounds like a chorus of a thousand angels. Nafaryus was right. The beautiful Princess Faythe does, as it happens, open her eyes and is freed from the chains of eternal sleep. At this moment, Gabriel finally knows why he has been given this remarkable gift and why he truly is The Chosen One…Gabriel The Astonishing.

Our New World

Like your father once said
Life is not what you’re given
It is how you decide to live
On the path you have chosen
So together we’ll build a new world
A better world
We’ll build a new world
Our new world
I know you’re scared and alone
But we will face this together
Through the innocence in your eyes
They will live on forever
In their memory we’ll build a new world
A better world
We’ll build a new world
Our new world
We’ll build a new world
A better world
We’ll build a new world
Our new world
We’ll build a new world
A wondrous world
We’ll build a new world
A bold new world

Everyone rejoices, but there is one very sad and unresolved piece to this complicated puzzle…Gabriel has lost his brother and Xander his father. X is now alone in the world without the loving guidance of his father to protect and nurture him. But this story has always been about fulfilling one’s destiny… It is now clear that together as a new family, Gabriel and Faythe shall be the ones to raise X, and he will not be left to walk through this harsh world alone. Arhys’ death was not in vain. He kept his promise to Evangeline of their son one day being a free man and enjoying a prosperous life.

Power Down

Eternally grateful, Lord Nafaryus immediately puts an end to the crusade against Gabriel and the people of Ravenskill and orders his guards to silence the NOMACS for good.


Brother can you hear me
His life is in your hands
He is just a child and still too young to understand
Show him love and courage
That freedom knows no bounds
Tell him he could never let me down
I will make you proud
Rest in peace
I always had the answer
All this time I held the key
And now that I see
The reason to believe
I can be the man who I am meant to be
Because of you I live again
Now I can be a voice for change
And help to build a world that’s fair and true
So they can live the life they never knew
On the road to revolution
There are lessons to be learned
All the things you thought that mattered
Are lost at every turn
When the light of my existence
Was slipping through my hands
Pride and ignorance receded
To reveal a humbled man
My prince, my son
You got lost along the way
In light of this new burden that you face
You are forgiven on this day
People, can you hear us?
Peace has been restored
The silence has been broken
Music reigns for evermore
We sing a song of freedom
Together we are bound
People, we shall never hold you down
We will build our world on common ground
And we’ll live once more
In harmony
Our lives will be

The Emperor has listened to the collective voice of his people and promises to govern The Realm as a fair and just leader. Together with the insightful guidance of his beloved Empress Arabelle, they will lift the restrictions holding back his people and promote free will so that all inhabitants of G.N.E.A. will be given the opportunity to seek a better life for themselves and their families. Aware of the new struggles that Prince Daryus will now face, Gabriel and the Princess agree to offer him their full forgiveness and accept him into their newly united family. He is pardoned by Lord Nafaryus for his crimes, who also vows his commitment to the care and protection of his son who will need his father’s help as he navigates the hardships of his new handicap. Prince Daryus finally has the love and attention he so desperately yearned for from his father.

Peace has at last been restored to The Empire and the people now pledge their allegiance to a new way of life; A better life where art and creative individualism are celebrated and the astonishing power of music made by humans is treasured and enjoyed by all once again, and so it shall be forever.

Rolling Stone had a great article regarding The Astonishing (reprinted here in case it gets removed in the future):

Inside Dream Theater’s Wildly Ambitious New Concept LP

Even for a group that has blazed new trails consistently, there’s never been anything to compare to The Astonishing, the full-blown rock-opera, jumbo-size concept album that pioneering prog-metal band Dream Theater is set to release on January 29th. Put simply, the new release lives up to its title in every way imaginable.

Familiar elements are all in place: extraordinary flights of technical prowess, instantly memorable melodies, James LaBrie’s heroic vocals, John Petrucci’s daredevil guitar feats, Jordan Rudess’ elaborate keyboards, John Myung’s agile bass and Mike Mangini’s fiercely precise drumming. But this time, Petrucci deployed his estimable compositional and lyrical skills in service to a fantasy-oriented plotline in which a determined band of rebels defies the might of an oppressive empire — and the power of music plays a central role. Rather than simply stringing songs together, Petrucci and Rudess fashioned sounds to suit disparate settings and situations, and devised recurring themes to signify characters in the story.

Heightening the drama, Dream Theater bolstered its sound on The Astonishing with a full orchestra, multiple choirs and a clutch of unorthodox instruments. Enlisted to muster those forces was David Campbell, a veteran conductor and orchestrator whose extensive credits include work for film, Broadway, and more than 450 gold and platinum albums by the likes of Paul McCartney, Rush, My Chemical Romance and Campbell’s son, Beck.

“They knew what they were doing,” Campbell says by phone from Los Angeles of the music he was given to expand from ambitious demos into full-fledged orchestral scores. “From whatever they were thinking about, or whatever they’d been listening to over the years, when all was said and done and we’d rendered all of this for real people to play, the music that they wrote was really valid.”

“With all of his experience, all the movies he’s done and all the bands he’s done, he said this was the biggest project he’s ever done,” Petrucci says of Campbell by phone from London. “I was like, ‘Wow, what are we getting ourselves into?'” Easing into the grueling cycle of what likely will be an unusually probing press cycle, Petrucci elaborated on what gave rise to The Astonishing, and where he hopes to see it go.

What prompted The Astonishing — not just the idea of creating a rock-opera concept album this elaborate, but also inventing a full, detailed storyline?

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.

I’m sure you’re bracing yourself for the kind of Hemispheres-meets–Hunger Games media shorthand that’s going appear, but is it completely off base to sense a reflection of your feelings about the commercial music industry in this record?
Besides the main storyline, there is an underlying sort of theme that’s going on. Thinking about how today robotics are taking over a lot of jobs that were once done by humans, and a lot of jobs are becoming obsolete, and that possibly as technology advances and electronic music becomes more advanced — the way people can record, the portability of music, how digital technology is developing — if that was to exponentially grow and develop, what would happen if music actually wasn’t made by humans anymore? If there were no need for humans to make it, because some sort of artificial intelligence made it, what would be missing in our souls as a society? And that is an underlying theme; there’s kind of a juxtaposition throughout the album of this sort of noise music, this music made by the Noise Machines, this artificial intelligence, and how that compares to the music that Dream Theater is playing as our musical score, which has real piano, real organ, real orchestra, real choir, real instruments.

Were there specific albums by other performers or bands that emboldened you to tackle a project this big?

My thought was that this could be taken as far as our imaginations could take it. Not as an album, not only as a standalone show, but it could be novelized, it could be a movie, it could be a musical — it could be all these different things. The one instance that kept speaking to me — where a band had this presentation where it wasn’t only about the album, but there was a movie connected to it, there were animations, and there was a show that was immersive — was when Pink Floyd did The Wall. At the same time, I purposely didn’t want to really think too much about other concept albums or rock operas, and come from more of a storytelling perspective, take my love for everything — whether it be Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games, Game of Thrones, Les [Miserables], Jesus Christ Superstar, Disney movies — and come from the perspective of the elements that make those things so special, and such a big part of our lives.

So, when you presented this to the band and to the label, did anyone look at you like you’d finally lost it?

[Laughs] Well, they might have thought that. But I have to say, as far as the band, you know, when I had this idea, I put it together in a very detailed proposal, because it really is asking a lot for everybody to come on board with. And the guys were just totally into it, right on board, thinking that the time was perfect for this. Everybody had the “go for it” mentality. And from the very first meeting that we had with Dave Rath at Roadrunner, when I presented this and even just said the title, he was 100 percent on board. The involvement of everybody at Roadrunner has been absolutely unbelievable, so supportive. It kind of ignited the secret nerd in all of us that loves this sort of stuff [laughs], because it’s fun, it’s different. Creatively, there’s so much that can be done.

What was it like to construct something this elaborate — not just the music and playing, but the sound design, story, and presentation — in practical terms?

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 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 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.

What was the collaborative process like?

When Jordan and I were writing the music, we would demo the songs in a very basic way — click track, piano, guitar and some orchestration that Jordan would do using his sample library and synths to put down string lines, choirs, things like that. By the time we were done with all the music, we had these fairly elaborate demos that had sound-library orchestrations and MIDI information that David could work on. It wasn’t the ideal situation, because there were no vocals, there were no drums, the lyrics weren’t written yet. He had the story, the demos, and the orchestration that we did. In some cases, he wrote out basically what we did and adjusted it according to what he thought would be right for orchestra, for choir. A lot of times he changed things. He used his expertise to really make the songs grow, and in a lot of occasions wrote his own orchestrations for songs where we maybe had a minimal part — “The Answer” is a good example of that.

How much did you work with James on portraying a range of different characters? Did you essentially direct him?

I’ve honestly said this, and I’ll say it again: I don’t think there’s any other singer but James who could have really pulled this off the way that he did. He’s going to need some serious therapy — I think there’s only one character that doesn’t have a singing part, and he played all of them [laughs]. Basically, I had given him descriptions of the characters and the way that I felt he should approach them. I would say things like, “For Gabriel, I want you to sound like you’re 25-year-old James LaBrie.” Faythe is a female, so I wanted him to sound female. Arabelle is an older female, so: “I want you to sound wise. Nefaryas, give him some attitude and wrath, be a little snarky with him — he can have a little bit of an attitude.” But then he took that information and basically came up with that stuff on his own. In fact, the vocals were recorded up in Canada at Rich Chycki’s studio; it was just James and Rich. I had the ability to listen in to the sessions via stream, but James didn’t want that; he wanted the privacy to experiment and explore those characters. Every once in a while he’d be singing … maybe he sang something from Arhys, who’s a rebel commander, and I would say, “James, if that’s coming from him, I think you should sing it with a little bit more strength, because he’s supposed to be a commander.” He was just so open to doing all that, and I think the end result, not having any other guest vocalists, the way that he pulled that off on this album to me is just so impressive. I’m so thankful to him for believing in this, and for putting his best artistic foot forward.

You’ll be playing The Astonishing complete on tour in 2016. Thinking less about The Wall than when Iron Maiden irked fans in 2006 by playing A Matter of Life and Death from start to finish, are you concerned about the reception?

I’m not concerned about it, because we’re being very transparent about what we’re doing. By very clearly billing this as The Astonishing Live, and letting people know that we’re playing in very special seated theaters and symphony concert halls, and we’re presenting this show as a stand-alone show — that’s how we wrote it, that’s how we intended it — it’s its own special event. Dream Theater has been touring forever; we’ve played the different stadiums and arenas, ice halls, gymnasiums and whatever. We wanted to make this different — we wanted to make this special. And so as long as people know that going into it, I don’t think anybody is going to show up in a Dream Theater shirt, saying, “Why didn’t they play ‘Pull Me Under?'” They’re going to totally understand what we’re doing.

Will you be augmenting the band at all when you play The Astonishing live?

We’re not going to be augmenting the band as far as other performers — if we were to film this for a DVD or do a really special location, that would be the instance where we’d have a live orchestra and choir. But we decided to take a lot of time and a lot of care to enlist a company that could create the visuals, so that this is as much of a visual show as it is an aural experience. Because this is character-driven and there are locations, we’re going to try to make the stage almost like a transformative stage, an immersive stage, where the settings come to life, and a lot of the artwork is going to be animated. We wanted it to be the closest thing to watching a movie while the band is playing a live score, basically.

But right this minute, no plans to open The Astonishing on Broadway with a full cast, sets, and all next year?

Next year might be too soon, but I’ll tell you, in coming up with this plan, we have thought about all of the possibilities. The Who did it with Tommy and Green Day with American Idiot, so it’s not out of the question. It’s something that would be fantastic — I would love it to happen. All of the elements and ingredients are in place. Hey, it could be the next Disney movie musical [laughs]! Everything is geared up, and the sky’s the limit.