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Dream Theater - Dream Theater CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.26 | 1015 ratings

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3 stars "Dream Theater" is the self-titled 12th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in September 2013. Releasing a self-titled album this late in your career, often signals a change in musical direction or maybe more often a return to the roots. In Dream Theater's case that's not really true though, and while I'm not sure about this, I assume that in this case the title is meant to signal that the band are now a more harmonic and tight nit unit, than the case was when Mike Portnoy was with the band. That's a wild guess though and maybe they just couldn't come up with a better title.

The music on the album pretty much continue down the same path as on the last couple of releases. In other words this is Dream Theater as we know them and love(hate) them. The musicianship is outstanding as ever. Challenging guitar and keyboard work, intricate and adventurous rythms, progressive song structures and James Labrie's strong and distinct sounding vocals in front. The most significant change from their previous releases is on the drum post. Mike Mangini did play the drums and was a permanent member of the lineup on "A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)", but at the time he was hired, the drum parts for the album were already written, and he basically played as a session musician on that album. So this is the first time, he is allowed to put his own mark on the music, and it is heard. While his drumming style fits Dream Theater's music well there are notable differences between his playing and the playing of his predecessor. And that's a great positive in my opinion, as it was something I missed on "A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)".

The material on the 9 track, 68:01 minutes long album primarily consist of tracks between 2 and 7 minutes in length and it's only the 22:17 minutes long closing track "Illumination Theory", that is really long on this album. Heavier tracks like "The Enemy Within" and "Behind the Veil" stand pretty strong in the picture, but there are generally too many "by the numbers" tracks, that don't really make a lasting impression. Tracks like "Along For The Ride", "The Bigger Picture" and "Surrender to Reason" are examples of this. They are competently written and all feature enjoyable sections, but they don't add anything new to Dream Theater's sound and Dream Theater have simply produced better material in this style before. Even the instrumental "Enigma Machine", which is occasionally brilliant, isn't that memorable. "Illumination Theory" is not surprisingly one of the highlights of the album, featuring structural twists and turns and several intriguing sections. It's interesting how they incorporate classical soundtrack type sections both on "Illumination Theory" but also on the opening track "False Awakening Suite" (oh well the use of classical orchestration is more bombastic on this track and kind of reminds me of Symphony X).

Dream Theater are as always a distinct sounding band, even though their influences occasionally surface. Take a listen to the very obvious Rush influence on "The Looking Glass" and on the opening section of "Surrender to Reason" for an example of that. With this self-titled release they've created yet another quality progressive metal release to add to their already sizable discography. Although the sound production (which features the sharpest drum production since "Awake (1994)"), the musicianship and the songwriting are all on a high level, it's still not an album in the better end of their output, but still a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

UMUR | 3/5 |


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