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A Dramatic Turn of Events

Dream Theater

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iTunes Editors’ Notes

With the departure of original drummer Mike Portnoy, who gave DT much of their distinctive sound, and the introduction of veteran Mike Mangini, Dream Theater solider on as progressive metal warriors who manage to maintain their trademark sound. Guitarist John Petrucci keeps his virtuoso chops grinding out these intensely complex tunes and keyboardist Jordan Rudess adds an anthemic texture to the expansive beauty at the heart of “Build Me Up, Break Me Down.” Singer James LaBrie is notably more sedate, but still clearly on top of things. However, Dream Theater are primarily about instrumental prowess and the ability to bring the listener to an alternate reality. “Far from Heaven” and “Beneath the Surface” are the compact ballads here. But tracks such as the ten-minute “Lost Not Forgotten,” the eleven-minute “Bridges In the Sky” and “Outcry” and the twelve-minute “Breaking All Illusions” are the kind of monster opuses that allow the band to stretch out in that pure Dream Theater kind of way. Fans of the group’s stunning complexity will not be disappointed.

Customer Reviews

Dream Theater Comes Together Big Time

If there's one thing I'd have to pick about this album, one thing that I liked the most, is how well the group worked on it - there's a feeling of togetherness you haven't heard in a long time. Egos feel put aside - perhaps Petrucci finally realized that he no longer needs to prove anything. For the first time since Six Degrees you actually get to hear John Myung play, and boy does he play. The keyboards are back too, in a grand way - Scenes from a Memory type of grand, even though at times Rudess is going overboard with all kind of effects, it is all forgiven a few minutes later.

And more than that, there's a synergy between them, a pleasure to both play and play with music, a lack of fear to try and experiment, the kind of stuff you get to hear in their spontaneous live jams and crazy impromptu renditions of songs you know they love to play.

This is an album that'll often find you often reminiscent of Images and Words, from which "On the Back of Angels" seems pluck straightly out of, will find you with eyebrows raised wondering what-the-heck they're doing - intro to "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" or "Lost Not Forgotten" or "Outcry", only to find yourself completely hoodwinked in the middle of a musical track that is absolutely breathless.

The overall tone is much like "Scenes from a Memory" - operatic, large, yet without being pretentious; you'll find often thinking that parts of the tracks could very well belong in the melodic complexity of "Images and Words", in the technical "Six Degrees" (there's a few songs with more time signature changes that you can likely count), or even the aggressive but thoughtful vein of "Awake" (rather than the plain aggressiveness of "Train of Thought").
What's more, the lyrics are once again great. No more silly vampires, masons, pharaohs, or writer's block. Honestly, I'm willing to forgive Petrucci the lyric work on "Black Clouds"for what he's done here. Hey, even Myung was allowed to contribute a song.

There's only two tracks that feel not necessarily like feelers, but like the album could've done without: the keyboard ballad "Far from Heaven" (is this Rudess's "Space Died Vest" but without being awkwardly awesome?) and the somewhat clunky "Beneath the Surface". It's probably not a coincidence that they're also the shortest tracks on the album, at at uncommon for DT 4 minutes for former and a 5 for the latter.

I almost forgot - Mangini is awesome on drums (and more important, he doesn't try to "sing"). It feels maybe a tiny bit too clinical and precise at times (see how perfectly he nailed the audition), but everything in this album is about working together, and in that he succeeds greatly.

Maybe it took four albums for this to be birthed, and if so it was worth the wait.

This is the proof...

This IS exactly the album MP didn't want to make

I have been a DT fan for 20+ years as well as all the side projects and when MP left, I was really bummed. Don't get me wrong, this album is DT in every way but they have been slumping a little the last few albums. A few great songs here and there and a few filler songs. I think Mike knew this as well and wanted to take a break to start fresh and really work on the heart and soul of the music and band. This new album is soft, hard and technical like other DT albums but the soul is missing. I really admire all the musicians in DT but as a collective band, this album is lacking the underlying magic of previous albums. This album is also a little lighter than recent ones (more like Octavarium) as I think MP and JP drove the heaver stuff more. Also lacking on this album is MP's drive in the writing. MM is an amazing drummer and fills in well for MP but he isn't as type A as MP and you can hear it in the final product.

The DT machine will still churn out albums for a few years and this one will probably get a lot of good reviews since they had so much press around the MP departure...but I can say with 100% confidence, if this album contained the exact content it does now with MP on the drums, it would receive a lot more mixed reviews and hard core DT fans would be disappointed once again...Good for you Mike for not wanting to be part of the DT machine anymore.

Summary, if you liked the last few DT albums, you will like this one. If you are looking for SFAM or 6 Degrees caliber albums, this isn't your album.

boring without portnoy

dont get me wrong, i love dream theater and mike mangini but this album is a sleeper all the way through for me. its pretty evident that portnoy wanted things to be heavier and the rest of the band didnt so this is what they came up with. and i think mike mangini played it way too safe on this album. there is nothing that sticks out onn drums for me. portnoy was the master at spicing songs up. big disappointment for me. i would like to see mike get back with them or start something new thats heavy...just no more adrenaline mob please!


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...
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