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Dream Theater - On the Backs of Angels CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.56 | 118 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Andy Webb
Special Collaborator
Retired Admin
4 stars Take me away...

The past two years have probably been the most tumultuous in Dream Theater's history, surpassing even the hectic 1994-95, where beloved keyboardist Kevin Moore departed the band and then LaBrie ruptured his vocal chords in a horrid food poisoning event when he was vacationing in Cuba - all right before the "Waking Up the World" tour. 2010-11 will be forever remembered by Dream Theater fans as the year when Mike Portnoy - a founding member and influential drummer of the band, departed from his 25-year old love child on September 10 of that year. This shocked essentially everyone in the progressive world; I myself was in denial for a few days (/end fanboyism #1). The band proceeded to conduct auditions in October, and then proceeded to keep their choice a secret until April of 2011, keeping the pressure at boiling point. When they finally announced it, we learned that Dream Theater had chosen Mike Mangini, the famed drummer most well known as the fastest drummer on the planet and as a professor at the band's (would be) Alma Mater, Berklee University. In the studio, he had worked with the band's very own James LaBrie, Steve Vai, Extreme, and various other acts. Other than that, no one had truly seen the drummer full potential.

The band went into the studio in January of 2011 to begin work on their 11th studio album. No one had any true information on it until around late May 2011, when Roadrunner Records announced the name of the album, A Dramatic Turn of Events, and the tracklisting. To be honest, I was scared for my favorite band of all time (/end fanboysim #2). The title sounded pathetic and the tracklisting stupid. However, I couldn't contain my enthusiasm when the label announced the release of a new single, the opener of the album "On the Backs of Angels," the day before its release, June 29, 2011. I patiently awaited until 11 AM, when the label released the 8 minute song onto their youtube channel. I had no reason to be scared.

The track is opened in a very traditional Dream Theater way, with ambient keys work by Jordan Rudess which slowly transitions into some really awesome guitar work from Petrucci. Some progressive synth work build the song into the metallic wonderland that Dream Theater is known for, accompanied by crunching riffs, glorious string/choral work, and some truly wonderful drumming by the new guy. The song, which may seem long for a single, progresses beautifully along in what seems like no time. The vocals come in after a 2 minute long instrumental section, introducing some great subtle harmony and traditional late-Dream Theater era lyrics (slightly dark, but not as deep as early DT lyrics). The song displays some really intimate composition while still possessing the verbose musical style of Dream Theater's music. The song has a beautiful Classical-esque virtuoso piano breakdown, which introduces the typical Dream Theater solo section. The song continues in a very progressively metal way, with more chugging and virtuoso keys work. Overall, the song presents itself as a very strong Dream Theater offering, making me quite excited for the new album! 4 stars.

Andy Webb | 4/5 |


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