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Dream Theater - A Change Of Seasons CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.68 | 677 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars A Strange Package from the Transitional Sherinian Era

At the time that this package came out, I was probably at the peak of my admiration for Dream Theater. I was in a prog-tinged metal band myself at the time and my band mates were absolutely bonkers for DT. Awake had been my favorite album, an amazing blend of heaviness, virtuosity, and unlike most of the bands of the time, actual complexity. I had been a big fan of the guitar shredder scene, and while this band contained a axeslinger with the typical shred bag of tricks, it also contained an equally amazing drummer, keyboardist, and bassist. (The singer was a very typical 80's high-pitched yodeler. Even at the time, LaBrie's style was already a bit retro, but everyone into metal was very familiar and it was easy to tolerate in context.) The fact that the band produced music where the virtuosic talents complemented each other was really unseen in those days. Many of the shredders played over static grooves and drum machines. Not so DT.

At the time of Change of Seasons, the band itself was in significant transition. They had lost Kevin Moore, one of the creative forces behind the band. They were still learning the place of Derek Sherinian (Rudess apparently was their first choice and when became available Derek was promptly dropped). The nervous energy of that transition comes through in one of their best epics, the title track. Everything that is good about Dream Theater is here, and the weaknesses are in check. Pertucci's riffage is crushing, the complexity in composition abundant, and LaBrie showing his most mature range of emotional expression I've heard. Even the detractors here talk about the excitement of listening to the first minutes of this track. It is, in fact, perhaps the perfect definition of straight prog metal.

However, there is LaBrie's singing. As the focal point of the music, it is difficult to call anything he does true masterpiece. Though his technical skills are more than adequate, he's a standard, not particularly charismatic, cheese metal singer. By 1995, only the most phenomenal of this kind of singers were having any success (Geoff Tate and sadly Mark Slaughter come to mind). Listening to Labrie attempt Steve Perry on "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'" demonstrates the point clearly.

More importantly, this album is only half the colossal epic. The rest of the album is a collection of live covers that are fun enough, but not particularly well chosen. Why Elton John, an artist that has nothing in common with DT? Why such a late Deep Purple track? And to pick a Genesis track from the pop era???? The Zeppelin medley is fun, especially Achilles Last Stand, one of the few appropriate picks. The Big Medley contains mainly popish fun and games that would have great live but for an album, a little more edge would have been nice. (How about Orion, YYZ, or Highway Star?) DT would go on to do some covers that made more sense, but at the time, better choices could have made this album more than just an EP.

This is a good album, and belongs in any DT fan's library. The title epic is among their best single songs, and I think some of the development made there went into the opus Scenes from a Memory (which I actually like a little less.) It was well worth the half price I paid in the used rack.

Negoba | 3/5 |


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