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


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.84 | 1584 ratings

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4 stars Another two years - another Dream Theater release...

It has pretty much been a tradition for almost a decade that Dream Theater would release an album every other year and then follow it up with a world tour. But unlike most other fans, I never considered this endeavor to keep going for as long as it has so far without there being consequences of one type or another.

My all time favorite performance by the band was during their Train Of Thought tour which was labeled as An Evening With Dream Theater. That meant that the band would get on stage without any supposing acts and do a 3+ hour long show filled with pretty much every composition that we, the fanboys, could ever wish for. Since 2004, things have clearly been going down in terms of scale and magnitude related to the band's approach to music making and touring. The 2009 performance at their own Prog Nation Festival, where they had three supporting acts and less than 90 minutes of stage time, left me longing for those good but not so old years. One thing that I was especially worried for was Mike Portnoy's health since he clearly looked exhausted at that particular show, even thought that didn't reflect in any way with his spectacular performance. So it actually didn't come as much of a surprise when Mike announced his departure from the band and you will not hear me criticizing him for this decision or any of his later schemes. The man is clearly in a dark place right now and is steered by bad judgment. What I'm more interested in is whether Mike's original plea for a Dream Theater hiatus was a sound one or not. Before the release of A Dramatic Turn Of Events, I was clearly for it, but would 10+ spins of this new release change my mind?

The 2011 release has clearly been met with a lot of praise from the fans and critics, calling it a clear departure from the commercialized approach that has been taking over the better part of the last three Dream Theater releases. Some went as far as calling this a return to the Images And Words frame of mind for the collective. Even if I agree that the band has released their best album in many years, there is clearly a reason to wave a finger of warning to all the fans who are praising the album to skies. A Dramatic Turn Of Events is not a return to form, nor is it a fresh and new take on the worn out Dream Theater formula. The band have made and effort to deviate themselves from their approach of the last couple of years and return to the creative peak of 1999-2004. This is what fans are actually praising about the new release and this fact kind of makes me sad. Not only is this change of direction feel very artificial but it also lacks any deeper bearing to it. Dream Theater are just not in the same frame of mind as they were back when they released their classic material. The band sounds a bit tired and directionless with this collection of nine tracks even if this is easily some of their best work in years. What I'm saying is that this release might seem adequate for now but I honestly don't see this as a sign of a new renaissance in the band's history. But that enough about that; let's talk about the actual album!

The opening track and also the first single from the album is On The Backs Of Angels and it's pretty much a mishmash of many familiar sounds that we're so used to from the band. The only real surprise here is the acoustic guitar intro which is a divination from the traditional Dream Theater album openers. It's almost as if John Petrucci is saying that he's now seized the control of the band, but that's merely my subjective interpretation of it all. The opening number is merely adequate for my tastes but it's clearly superior to Build Me Up, Break Me Down, which sounds like a very poor stab at sounding commercial but without the cheap stabs at other artists. This is just a commercial Dream Theater song and a potential next single.

Lost Not Forgotten is the real album opener for me since it marks the point where this release finally begins to engage me and it does this very well. Basically these remaining seven tracks are some of the best released by the band. My personal favorites are the emotionally charged ballad This Is The Life, epic Bridges In The Sky (minus the somewhat annoying Shaman shouts) and the magnum opus Breaking All Illusions. All of the band members are clearly on top of their game and deliver some of the most engaging work. This can of course be said about most of Dream Theater's releases, hence the reason behind their acclaim as a band with serious chops.

The lyrics are surprisingly engaging on ballads Far From Heaven and Beneath The Surface, which is a huge step up from all the so called personal experiences that were covered on Black Clouds & Silver Linings. The song writing itself hasn't actually improved too much since we do get our regular dosage of epics, instrumental interludes and progressive metal in general. Unfortunately there are no real signs of progression towards any new ideas or themes here that would make me interested in the future direction of Dream Theater. The band plays it way too safe for my taste, but I'm sure that this opinion will be in the minority since Dream Theater fans aren't exactly known for being open-minded about any of the changes that the band have done over the years.

I definitely recommend A Dramatic Turn Of Events to fans of progressive metal music but this recommendation comes with a disclaimer and a word of warning. Unfortunately I don't think that Dream Theater will get any better than this. Interpret it however you feel like.

***** star songs: This is the Life (6:57) Bridges in the Sky (11:01) Breaking All Illusions (12:25)

**** star songs: On The Backs Of Angels (8:46) Lost Not Forgotten (10:11) Outcry (11:24) Far From Heaven (3:56) Beneath The Surface (5:26)

*** star songs: Build Me Up, Break Me Down (6:59)

Rune2000 | 4/5 |


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