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Dream Theater - Dream Theater CD (album) cover

DREAM THEATER

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.28 | 952 ratings

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Progulator
Prog Reviewer
2 stars Dream Theater: perhaps one of the most hated and loved bands in the prog community. A new release from this band that has arguably had the biggest influence on the prog metal community is always up for discussion. Finding myself to be a mild fan, and often a harsh critic of the band, I certainly was intrigued to see what all the post-Portnoy drama would conclude with, what type of album they would make with Mangini fully behind the drum-kit from day one of songwriting.

Well, in the end, I must say I was pretty underwhelmed by the album, which certainly has all the old Dream Theater trademarks, but doesn't seem to really tread any new ground and is often plagued with bad transitions. The album kicks it off with "False Awakening Suite," a decent intro which comes off as a sort of heavier version of the 6 Degrees Overture crossed over with a bit of Symphony X. The single, "The Enemy Inside" shows an aggressive and metal approach with a bit more orchestral bombast than the band traditionally employs, while "Looking Glass" is clearly a Rush fanboy track, although it is decently well done; I admit that Petrucci's solo on this track is brilliant?incorporating dynamic phrasing through a variety of techniques and pairing them with enjoyable melodies. "The Enigma Machine" ends up being a bit of a bland instrumental that incorporates a few redeeming heavy/melodic moments, while "The Bigger Picture" comes off as mostly sappy. "Behind the Veil" starts off with a subtle but powerful intro that uses lots of great synths and a glorious choir sound, but when the guitars come in it feels like they randomly slapped a new song that didn't mesh with the intro. If you're into the classic fast, doubled classic DT instrumental madness, there is a bit of that awesomeness on this track though. "Along for the Ride" is perhaps the best arranged piece on the album, but the level of corny ballad on this one is so extreme that I'll certainly skip it in the future. Finally, the epic, "Illumination Theory" closes off the album. In comparison to other epics it is a bit weak, featuring the good (fun rhythms, majestic symphonic sections), the bad (the transitions between sections often break down), and the ugly (Labrie's vocals are an absolute nightmare on this one and he nearly ruins it). If you're into classic pieces like "The Dance of Eternity" though, you'll certainly be blown away by the insanely technical awesome instrumental section after the ambient middle section; Mangini absolutely kills it on drums, followed by some great soloing from JP, and then there's even a bit of vocal redemption by Labrie that is most uplifting.

Clearly the last paragraph didn't have a lot of positive things to say about the album. But like I said, what we get is about usual from DT with just a little more mess, a little less cohesion between sections, and the same generic ol' same ol' DT sound. Bonus though: if you're a bass player you'll finally get to hear John Myung in the mix, which is quite fun indeed.

Progulator | 2/5 |

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