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Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn Of Events CD (album) cover

A DRAMATIC TURN OF EVENTS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.91 | 1236 ratings

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Negoba
Prog Reviewer
3 stars Drama Fuels More Energetic Offering from the Veterans

Fans of Dream Theater were first horrified and lately baffled by the exit of legendary drummer and de factor bandleader Mike Portnoy. While Portnoy wanted a "break" to explore other projects, the rest of the band wanted to keep on doing their thing, thank you very much. After enlisting Mike Mangini, the band has returned with one of their strongest offering in years. A DRAMATIC TURN OF EVENTS has some nods to my favorite of their catalog, AWAKE, but also incorporates some of the new tricks the band has picked up over the last 15 years.

Live, one of the highlights of a DT show is the interplay of shredmeister guitarist John Petrucci and note regurgitator Jordan Rudess. Showing off fleet-fingered prowess is simply part of the DT package, and hopefully anyone who doesn't at least enjoy some of this has gotten off the train long ago. In the past, the pair have done alot of the trading shred pioneered by Yngwie Malmsteen with Jens Johansson 20 years ago. On ADTOE, however, we get some genuine composed intertwining and harmonic lines that truly impress and do a bit more justice to the spots fans had seen on tour. "Lost Not Forgotten" has some especially drop dropping spots, but the speed sections all seem better thought out on this album than in the past. This makes the album seem more prog and less shred to me.

In addition, James Labrie sounds better than I've heard him, maybe ever. The cheese metal is almost gone (not completely though). The loss of his upper register has made Labrie work on the quality of his basic range, and there are plenty of solid harmonies to support his voice. The 80's over-vibrato is mostly gone as well, and the result is one of the most listenable set of DT vocals yet. The lyrics still aren't going to blow anyone away, but they are much better than Portnoy's increasingly annoying drek. The pen seemed to pass among the members, and though I'm never wowed, I also never cringe (which I've done plenty of in the past.)

Mangini, I believe, actually focuses the band. His playing is much more straightforward than Portnoy's, but he keeps up with no problem. He serves mainly as a session drummer here, without putting much of his own mark anywhere. Importantly, though, like any good session man, he always puts the song first and really never overplays (imagine someone in DT not overplaying.) Rudess has picked key sounds much more to my taste on this album, and actually keeps the shredding focused better than in the past.

While I am very happy with this album, there is nothing here you haven't heard before other than maybe the section of "Lost Not Forgotten" I mentioned. There are the requisite ballads which fill up space adequately but leave no mark in my memory. The closer "Beneath the Surface" is especially boring, but we've seen worse DT ballads in the past. "This is the Life" is a bit better, with Rudess adding come classic prog interludes that grab my attention.

Overall, this is a 3.5 star album for me, Good but non-essential for the general prog community but probably 4 stars for prog metal fans. For those that worried that the band was done, I'd say "not yet." I definitely enjoy this album much more than their previous offering, and blasphemously I actually like it better than the overwrough SCENES FROM A MEMORY, which just never set well with me.

Negoba | 3/5 |

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