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Dream Theater

Dream Theater

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Album Review

Though Dream Theater recruited drummer Mike Mangini to replace Mike Portnoy on 2011's A Dramatic Turn of Events, his drum parts had all been scripted before the change, leading to the rather stilted feeling of the album. This self-titled offering, the band's 12th album overall, marks the first time Mangini was involved in the writing and creative decision making from the jump and it shows. Produced by guitarist John Petrucci and recorded and mixed by Richard Chycki, this is one of the more dynamic, far-reaching albums in DT's catalog. Opener "False Awakening Suite" is a brief but cinematic near-instrumental with twinned guitars and keyboards riffs from Petrucci and keyboardist Jordan Rudess, all underscored by a string section and layered choral vocals by James LaBrie. The band's harder edges are displayed immediately after in "The Enemy Inside," with Mangini's fast, syncopated tom-tom and heavy drumming charging through the labyrinthine changes, as prog and death metal join in an unholy alliance; LaBrie is in command, atop it all. "The Looking Glass" is an obvious tribute to Rush, particularly the big arena anthems like "Spirit of Radio" and "Free Will" in its crunchy intro. It moves beyond that into something darker and more intricate with numerous time changes and interludes, yet always returns to the hook. These three tracks make for a fantastic opening trifecta, but the rest doesn't disappoint either. The driving, labyrinthine instrumental "Enigma Machine" features some of Petrucci's finest playing on the album, while "Behind the Veil" reveals itself slowly, emerging from lithe, whispering keyboard lines to engage explosive drumming and punishing guitar riffs and varied, thrumming bass parts from John Myung. All efforts lead to the five-part, 22-minute closer "Illumination Theory." Though it borrows a riff from "The Enemy Inside," inspiring its first instrumental section, it moves afield quickly. This is Dream Theater at its most creative. Rudess' keyboard playing comes right out of Frank Zappa in several sections, but particularly in "Live, Die Kill." There is an atmospheric interlude in the second instrumental part "The Embracing Circle." In the fourth section, "The Pursuit of Truth," Rudess, Petrucci, and Myung exchange fours, sixes, and eights in syncopated time signatures as Mangini prods them with explosive fills and elephantine rolls between verses. To finish, the music becomes positively majestic (à la Queen) in the final section "The Pursuit of Truth," whispering to a close with acoustic piano, strings, and a single-line guitar melody. Dream Theater is one of the quintet's big ones; it holds inside it everything a fan could want, yet also expands the reach of American prog metal.

Customer Reviews

Brilliant

Amazing album! Great to hear the new drumming style and really enjoed the orchestral elements, especially in the last track which blew me away!

The Masters of Prog return.

Well, what can one say? This is an excellent album. Powerful, well-written songs married with superb musicianship. Also, James LaBrie's singing is stellar. Mike Mangini is now well and truly esconsed into the line-up and sounds like he belongs there.

The band sound really tight (as always) and the production is much better than on the last album. All in all, a fine release from a band who, quite frankly, should be absolutely massive. Maybe this album will help out here.

To any long-time Dream Theater fans harbouring any doubts, please cast them aside and buy this album. You'll love it!

Back on track

Great album. Heavier and more powerful than ADTOE, with a much better emphasis on sections that groove, rather than just being prog for prog's sake. Some big choruses and bridges in here especially The Bigger Picture. Just wish they would break up the 22min song into separate parts. Other than that, good job!

Biography

Formed: 1986 in New York, NY

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The technically proficient guitar playing of John Petrucci elevated Dream Theater to the upper echelons of contemporary heavy metal. While its lineup has continuously evolved, the Long Island-based quintet has consistently delivered sharp-edged music. Dream Theater is known for its high-energy concert performances. While they've released several live albums — Live at the Marquee, recorded at the London club; Live in Japan, recorded during the...
Full Bio

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