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Dream Theater - Once in a Livetime CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.34 | 411 ratings

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Queen By-Tor
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars They'd have better livetimes

Following up their commercial flop, Falling Into Infinity, is one of the band's least beloved live albums. An unfortunate series, since this album does have some pretty fantastic moments. But let's face it, usually a commercial flop is not a good album to release your first (major) live album on, especially when a large amount of the material off the live album is from the studio album. Luckily for the fans, Dream Theater had already amassed a decent body of work going into this effort, so they were still able to fill two discs with quality material. A lot of fans may have wanted to see A Change of Seasons in it's entirety, being that it's often considered the band's masterpiece song in the progressive rock circles, but I think it's a case of ''happy with what you have to be happy with''. The album does suffer from a few things, but it's also got some pretty excellent moments, so let's dig right in.

A track by track analysis of a live album such as this would likely be one of the most redundant things I could do, so I'll spare the pain and get right into the good stuff, of which is plentiful on this album. There really are great moments on this album, which, if you're a fan, leave you thinking ''ooooh, coooool''. If you're not a fan you'd likely be saying ''oh, ho-hum'', but actually be thinking, ''okay, that was pretty cool''. Take for example the extended ending section of Take The Time where John Petrucci goes off on a long rock and roll rant with his guita - and was that Freebird mixed into the song?? Cool. Moving on. More tributes come in later on as well as the band opens Trial Of Tears with a very clear nod to Rush's Xanadu with Portnoy playing the opening percussion section, Petrucci bending his strings like Lerxt. More cool moments come in the form of the rendition of Peruvian Skies (arguably the best song from Falling into Infinity) when the already cool song becomes cooler as they manage to sneak seamlessly into Welcome To The Machine in the middle of the song, from there moving onto heavy riffs from Metallica's Enter Sandman, finally moving back into the original song. Prog fans be delighted!

More great moments come without the need to paying tribute. Sherinian's malicious Piano Solo is always a highlight, as is the blistering Petrucci Guitar Solo in which he even takes a crack at Flight Of The Bumblebee. Some may call them flashy or pretentious for doing stuff like that - but you gotta admit that it is pretty damn impressive. The band also offers up a great live version of one of their greatest compositions, Scarred, which flows seamlessly into section IV of A Change Of Seasons, and from there seamlessly again into the band's signature instrumental, The Yste Jam. Mike Portnoy gets to slam his drum solo right in the middle of ''The jam'' in a very Neal Peart-esque way, at the end of which the band concludes the song. More fan favorites appear like the MTV hit Pull Me Under and the always wonderful Caught In A Web and are delivered well.

But if there's one thing that really drags down this album - it's the sound quality. While it's certainly not in cohesive one can't help but think that the entire concert sounds a little bit... flat. And there are some moments where LaBrie either has trouble hitting his notes or just pulls into a Vince Neal ''just pretend to know the lyrics and shout out just the melody'' section, albeit not for very long periods of time. His voice on Voices (ironic, I know) is particularly ear jerking, whether it be the mix or who-knows-what, but it feels like the drums and the voice are competing with each other, and it makes for a painful experience, spoiling what should have been a standout song in the set.

Overall this is a very good effort. I wouldn't recommend it beyond fans, even if there are some really cool moments on it, because the band does have better live albums these days. Still, fans will certainly get a kick out of it, and it's a good place to go for people who have early material from the band and are hesitant about Falling Into Infinity, or fans of the later life of the band who want to check out the earlier material. This one is going to get 3 livetimes out of 5, a good disc, but don't feel bad about not buying it.

Queen By-Tor | 3/5 |


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