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


Dream Theater

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4 stars This is from a promo copy a friend lend me.

Well in spite of Mark Portnoy separation of the band (this drummer is not bad bat MP is in the essence of DT and insuperable drummer) this album is good. Very good.

I was a little worried since last 3 albums were so and so -average- and it seemed that DT decay was inevitable .

But with such inspired and excellent musicians this cannot happen.

Dream Theater is the monster founder of prog. as founder mas have the virtue of reinvent.

This album is the best since "6 degrees of Inner"....and is in the top 4 .Dreams and...Metropolis,6 Degrees and...A dramatic....

Many virtuous long songs with inspired Jordan Rudess and Petrucci and the permanent beautiful vocals of JLB.

So (nevertheless MP bye ) a resurrection and a return of hope with DT.

4 stars(4,5 really)

Report this review (#512712)
Posted Thursday, September 1, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars A Dramatic Turn of Events is the bleach that will remove Portnoy's stain off of Dream Theater forever. Sweet mother of god, is this album incredible. Not only is this the best Dream Theater album of the past 20 years, it may very well be the actual best album of the last 20 years. With the exception of Images and Words, A Dramatic Turn of Events blows every other DT album out of the water. (including Scenes from a memory)..

The last 6 years have been a rough time to be a DT fan. With Octavarium there came doubt. With Systematic Chaos there came disbelief, and with Black Clouds and Silver linings, I fully lost my faith in Dream Theater. Portnoy's Growling was the straw that broke the camel's back. After Black Clouds I swore I would never buy another DT album and that I was done this this band forever, but a miracle happened which I would never have expected in a million years. and that miracle, I can safely say, was for the best. Portnoy's absence is just what the Doctor ordered.

A Dramatic Turn of Events basically fixes every problem I have had with Dream Theater over the past 6 years. The Fake, Cheesy death metal vibe is gone. The excessive noodling is also gone. solos are now emotional and tasteful. The technical portions are well thought out and interesting, rather then just playing a million random notes. Convoluted song structures and unnecessary track lengths are also gone. And perhaps the greatest improvement would be the absence of Portnoy's voice. Labrie takes his rightful place as lead singer once more. The album actually feels balanced and truly amazing. As I listened to it, I felt captivated and there were some truly awe inspiring moments.

I'm not going to go track by track since, in my eyes, this album is flirting with perfection. And there's no way I can do a Track by Track review justice at this point, since this thing is so mammoth in what it offers, it will be weeks and maybe months to really digest this thing.

Once again I can feel proud to be a Dream Theater fan rather then be embarrassed. This album truly encompasses the five star rating as Dream Theater has risen from the ashes and proved once again that they are the greatest band in the world.

Report this review (#513333)
Posted Friday, September 2, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars It's sad that the creative process in DT was reduced to their own brilliant inventions from the past two decades. By this I mean that their albums start to sound more and more like Dream Theater cliches.

When i listened to albums like I&W, Awake or Scenes, there was a permanent state of amazement of how anyone could write this music, or write music in such a unique and expressive way.

What we have seen in recent years from DT is commonly referred to as writer's block. Now that Portnoy left, there are no more rap-metal and muse influences. However, the rest of the signature sounds are there. And they are exactly how one hardcore DT fan would expect them to be. That's pretty un-DT-ish.

Sure, many people will like the album cause it sounds exactly like Dream Theater should. Of course, they're right. "A Dramatic Turn of Events" sound exactly like Dream Theater, but nothing more. People who like their music done the same way again and again will like this.

Not sure Dream Theater can ever write a New Dream Theater album. And it's sad.

3 stars. Because they gave us pure wonders in the 90s.

Report this review (#514941)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
Conor Fynes
4 stars 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' - Dream Theater (8/10)

Love them or hate them, Dream Theater have been one of the most influential, and successful bands in modern progressive rock. On top of laying the groundwork style for every other progressive metal band out there today, this band has been the centre of constant debate between people that virtually worship them for their virtuosity as musicians and talent, and others that condemn them for what they perceive as needless showmanship at the sacrifice of real substance. Chances are that coming onto this review, you may already have a potentially strong opinion about Dream Theater, and what they are all about. For me, this was a band that- along with other legends like Rush and Led Zeppelin- got me big into music when I was first beginning to explore beyond what my parents showed me. Their classic albums 'Images & Words' and 'Scenes From A Memory' have had an indelible impact on my development as a musician and listener, and I've loved a fair bit of what they have done since then. Admittedly, I found myself a little weary of Dream Theater's indulgent style around the time that the band's 2011 single 'On The Backs Of Angels' was announced, but all the same I went into listening to it, and was immediately impressed. The appropriately titled 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' has been met with a great deal of anticipation from alot of people, first considering that it is a Dream Theater album, but also because this is the first album that their lifelong drummer Mike Portnoy does not appear on, after being given the boot by the rest of the band. With one of their founding members gone, it was natural to expect that his departure- and the arrival of Annihilator drummer and Dream Theater newbie Mike Mangini- to have an impact on the band's direction. Portnoy was the one that pushed for Dream Theater to have a heavier sound, so I had been expecting a more progressive edge this time around, and that is exactly what 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' is about; the same proggy excellence that first got me into them. While I can imagine the legions of detractors using the seemingly unchanged sound of the band against them, I for one have been greatly satisfied by this new batch of band material, and even with one of their vital organs missing, Dream Theater is far from dead.

As was the case with the past two albums of Dream Theater, sitting down to give my first listen to the material was a very important, almost somewhat spiritual experience, especially considering that I believed only a few months before that Dream Theater was all but dead. Both fans and haters should know that there is very little that will surprise them here necessarily, but the music here is easily distinguishable from other albums, especially what they have done more recently. While I did love 'Systematic Chaos' and 'Black Clouds & Silver Linings', the removal of the contrived heaviness and Gothic darkness that Dream Theater unsuccessfully tried to evoke on previous records is a refreshing change. Dream Theater are still definitely a progressive metal band, but of that formula, the emphasis here is on that of the 'progressive', rather than the thrashy Metallica, or pseudo-death metal that Mike Portnoy kept thinking was a pretty cool and hip thing for Dream Theater to do. Besides that, this is a Dream Theater album, complete with cheesy album artwork, epic songs, virtuosic musicianship, and the apparent effort to see how much of a CD's space can be used up without making it a double album.

After my first listen to 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events', I was silent for a few minutes, trying to figure out what I thought of it. This was Dream Theater alright, but I wasn't exactly sure whether I liked it or not. Although my general impression of the album has vastly increased since first listen to this album, some of the things I noticed on first listen have stuck with me. First off, the instrumental sections here no longer have the needless sense to them, and as far as the 'technical' elements of Dream Theater go, this may be the best I've ever heard them. With the handful of longer, ten minute plus tracks, each goes into some sort of departure from the regular songwriting in order to blow the listeners away with the talents of each member. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess really shines here, and I find myself replaying these instrumental parts. What I used to consider 'noodling' from these guys doesn't sound too different on first impression, but the band has put a much greater sense of complexity here into the instrumentals that I haven't quite heard from the band before. Suffice to say, haters of Dream Theater will probably still hate Dream Theater for these instrumental 'battles', but for someone who has loved them for almost a decade, the technical instrumentation here has never sounded more thoughtful. 'Bridges In The Sky', and the album's epic highlight 'Breaking All Illusions' both have the go-to elements of this.

The other aspect of this album is the melodic, songwriting side. I was never anything short of impressed by the familiar talent and skill exerted on the instrumental side of Dream Theater's material here, but as far as the songwriting went, 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' took a few listens to warm up to me. This is largely because half of these songs are quite long and complex. 'On The Backs Of Angels' is the most instantly memorable track here, although there is much better to hear on the album. 'This Is The Life' is a brilliant mid-tempo prog rocker in a somewhat mellow vein, with a gorgeous chorus to boot. 'Bridges In The Sky' (originally given the less promising title 'The Shaman's Trance') has a real 'Glass Prison' vibe to it, but the dark progressive metal moments are contrasted with vibrant melodies and feeling. 'Far From Heaven' is a gentle piano piece that may very well hit me harder than any of Dream Theater's ballads. Here, James LaBrie's vocals and the gorgeous violins make my heart bleed rainbows. The only song here I really do not care for much is 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down', which has a similar sound to 'Caught In A Web', from 1994's 'Awake' album. It is not a terrible track, but there's nothing about it that really jumps out at me; a single bump in an otherwise awesome experience.

The true highlight here is 'Breaking All Illusions', which I can see Dream Theater fans idolizing throughout the coming months. The song has every element of an 'epic' to it, except that it is only a relatively brief twelve minutes long, as opposed to well, you know, a 'true' long song. We have one of John Petrucci's greatest guitar solos towards the end, prog metal freakouts, slower, almost Floydian mellow segments, and some of their most memorable riffs to date. Also of great importance to note is James LaBrie's performance on this, and on all other tracks on the album. He- like much of Dream Theater's sound- is another point of contention that people will argue about until breakfast time, and while he has had his moments where even I question his abilities, his vocal performance here shows him in his element. He is definitely not the sort of singer that he used to be with 'Images & Words', but he is no longer trying to sound like he is in Metallica, in other words, being something he is not. Here, he is trying to sound like James LaBrie, and his voice here is warm and full of feeling, especially on the gorgeous 'Far From Heaven' and closing ballad 'Beneath The Surface'. I would have like to have hear him pull off a few more high notes throughout the album, but I'm not disappointed. Also- lest I forget to mention- is Mike Mangini's performance, another thing that Dream Theater fans will continue to debate 'til past noon. Sadly, as the newest member of Dream Theater, he seems to get the newbie's treatment in terms of mixing, and his drum performance is less audible to me than Portnoy's work; hell, even bassist John Myung can be heard playing on this album now finally. While the drum recording could have used a little more life to it, Mangini's performance fills in the shoes of Portnoy very well, although I would be hard pressed to say he does more than that. There are techniques here where I could have sworn it was Portnoy playing, and I do not think this is coincidence; maybe Dream Theater is trying to warm up their fans to a new drummer, but I think it will take until the next album to hear what this new drummer is truly capable of.

As with all Dream Theater albums, this is an album I have some strong opinions about, although I am positive there are others- even other fans of the band- that will see things in a completely different light. 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' took me a little longer to fully appreciate than much of the other more recent material that Dream Theater has churned out, but giving it the time it deserves, I've found it to be an incredibly strong, albeit flawed album. There is still some cheese to grate off the edges of the band's sound, and one less- than-satisfying track towards the beginning does tend to have me argue against this being labelled as a 'masterpiece', but does this stand its ground against other albums by the band? Yes, and more than that; it shows them taking some of their less tasteful aspects and injecting more thought into them, making the overall sound of Dream Theater all the more powerful. Agree with me or not, 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' has wowed me and impressed me more and more with each time I listen to it, and I can see myself giving it the same long-term appreciation as I do most of the band's material.

Report this review (#515034)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars First post an album of DT

To begin the progressive metal music was sad since many years. Only Symphony X stood out in recent years, taking over from our students to Berklee. (See Iconoclast Symphony X). I admit I always had my preference for DT, and confirms ADTOE me. This is a wonderful mix of Images and Words and Scenes From A Memory. Each track takes us to the next without interruption. The tracks are long and ... Progressive! It's been too long since the metal was taking too much space. The balance of the two styles is perfect. There are even a stint as Queen, Rhapsody, Yes.

The intro of Bridges in the Sky ... it shows the desire to renew and the result is there.

The Moog and Hammond organ wizard Rudess are there to give life to the progressive sound of the 70s.

A well-balanced division between the two soloists, Myung finally was able to mix his personal touch .. Mangini does the job as asked Petrucci. He could finally show the pattern of Under a Glass Moon and Learning To Live ... Portnoy must be trying to break his sticks on his head today. Labrie is back, offering up to the melodies of Petrucci solos.

Words And Music: 5.7 / 5

1. On The Backs Of Angels: 4.8 / 5 2. Build Me Up, Break Me Down: 5,1 / 5 3. Lost Not Forgotten: 5.8 / 5 4. This is the Life: 5.8 / 5 5. Bridges in the Sky: 6 / 5 6. Outcry: 5.8 / 5 7. Far From Heaven: 5.7 / 5 8. Breaking All Illusions: 6 / 5 9. Beneath The Surface: 5 / 5

This is only my notes on each of its tracks. I have no monopoly on criticism, only DT can have on what he does .

I hope you buy this album. In my case I ordered the limited boxset.

Thank you for reading =)

Report this review (#515037)
Posted Sunday, September 4, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've given this album 7 listens so far. I think that is enough to constitute a review. I must say, I was highly skeptical of where Dream Theater was headed after the departure of Mike Portnoy. I'm so glad to report that "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is easily one of their greatest achievments. Technically it is easily the most brilliant piece of musicianship I simply have ever heard. It's pure wizardry on every level. Now, that being said, there are a few tracks which don't hold up with the rest, but that can easily be said with any DT album. There are moments on this album that will instantly take you back to the good old Dream Theater days. Just wait till you hear the beginning of "Lost Not Forgotten" that is when the album really takes off. In between there's the peculiarity and heart palpatating "Bridges in the Sky" and tand beautifully written and edgy "Outcry." Than there's "Breaking All Illusions" which is nothing short of a masterpiece. Yes MASTERPIECE!!!!!!!! I can't believe after an already great album, they could actually top it off with this track. Lastly is "Beneath The Surface" which may or may not be a parting shot at Mike Portnoy. Kind of in the same vain as Space Dye Vest as a closing track. All in all, brilliant is the only word that can be used to describe this album. This makes the top 3 with Scenes and Images and Words. After 26 years of great Dream Theater music, I cannot believe I can actually say that, but I just did. This album is epic!!!!!!!!
Report this review (#516037)
Posted Monday, September 5, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars As a long-time Dream Theater fan who discovered them when Pull Me Under was getting radio airtime across the US, I was pretty anxious to hear the latest album from a band I have felt had been on a long artistic decline over the past 8 or so years. Upon hearing that Mike Portnoy had left the group, I was eager to hear how the band would change without his control over the creative process. My imagination ran somewhat wild now that there would be no more rap-metal and pseudo extreme metal influences in what was once my favorite band.

However, after getting my hands on an early copy of the disc, I was pretty disappointed. Perhaps this disappointment can only come from someone who has followed the band with every album and heard their peaks and valleys... along with the publicized drama that followed the departure of Portnoy. Yes, the more egregious Portnoy influences are absent from this album, which in itself is a major improvement--- but to say that an album is great just because of what is NOT there would be ludicrous.

What is here though-- is still just more of the same formula-- just heavier on the melodic side of things. The basis for much of the album simply seems to be the band's own back catalog. On the first listen through with headphones and a pen and piece of paper, I noted melodic (including vocal), rhythmic, and structural references to all of the following songs from previous albums: Burning My Soul, Sacrificed Sons, Ministry of Lost Souls, Octavarium, The Best of Times, Nightmare to Remember, Peruvian Skies, Under A Glass Moon, Wither, The Answer Lies Within, Metropolis, Glass Prison, Root of all Evil, Caught in a Web, Losing Time, and Count of Tuscany.

This is not good. I already have all these songs. Petrucci hasn't faltered a beat with his technique and skills but is still falling prey to the metal guitar rhythmic cliches--- (does he really need to copy the triplet-feel chugs from Metropolis and The Glass Prison again? -- or include a verse section of a song that has the same vibe as Symphony of Destruction by Megadeth?). Jordan Rudess, as always, shines as the master that he is when let loose--- but the compositions, when taken as a whole, just seem to lack any real semblance of inspiration.

As for the drumming... I understand that Petrucci, not Mangini, wrote these drum parts using software. Replace one of the world's most popular drummers with someone who could arguably be considered one of the world's best--- but don't let him contribute any grooves...? I was completely underwhelmed by the drums... (and also the drum sound--- that gated, compressed snare--- ugh).

So, in short, if you're a huge Dream Theater fan and love their signature sound... it's definitely here in full force. While the overall product is an improvement over the last couple of albums, the band doesn't appear to really do anything.... well, progressive...

Report this review (#516290)
Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here Is new Dt,This is there best in there catalogue better then iw and awake I"ll explain why in second.We have new drummer Mangini what mighty drummer,You dont even know Portnoy is missing on drums.But you know he missing cuz ego maniac is gone,Compostions are much better I can hear Rudess keybords not sound like guitar.Myung bass playing I can hear Myung writes lyrics to song also.

Goes to show you Portnoy controlled all compostions,Who played this riff etc.No more Metallica thru whole darn cd or megadeth,That got boring since tot instead we have prog-rock-metal masterpiece.

my fave songs are: 2. Build Me Up, Break Me Down (6:59) 3. Lost Not Forgotten (10:11) 5. Bridges in the Sky (11:01) 7. Far From Heaven (3:56) 8. Breaking All Illusions (12:25) 9. Beneath The Surface (5:26)

The best dt cd of all times,cant put it down masterpiece.Many people will argue with me thats fine, This is one best prog cds in long time.Sum of no Evil was my last masterpiece I still dig till this day, This is nother highlight dont think anything can beat this quality this year.We will see if anything can beat this as alblum of year for me.

5 stars alblum of year contender hands down

Report this review (#516291)
Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Dream theater has been to me the start to begin to explore the progressive music.i was too much surprised with their music.i realized that prog must have been always in my heart but i should have come across dream theater in order to start exploring it .i was very disappointed with the departure of mike portnoy but that's life.i believe mangini will fulfill our expectations.i think he should have written some material for this album. i like very the rudess piano in this album.although this album does not have a tremendous hit like learning to live or pull me under it is a classic dream theater album.i think we will remember it for mant years to come .every time i listen it i love much more
Report this review (#516439)
Posted Tuesday, September 6, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars There are alot of great moments on this album and overall there is some great songwriting here, however the lyrics and the needless overindulgence and discontinuity in the instrumental sections bog the album down, keeping it from true greatness.

I feel like another month or so of editing and rewriting certain melodies, lyrics and instrumental breaks would have resulted in an album on par with Octavarium (still wouldn't match Awake, SFAM or IAW in my opinion). But sadly since they didn't self edit and really try to do something fresh and creative here this album is stuck in the same vein as the last few albums, still good, but not terribly inspiring or novel.

In order to put out a really great album I feel that they really do need an outside producer that will push them to break away from their normal mode of writing, the intro, verse, pre chorus, chorus, verse, pre chorus, chorus, instrumental noodling, solo, chorus, outro formula is dreadfully boring and predictable at this point and takes away from otherwise good song writing. Also the post production could make things more interesting like interesting panning or backdroppibg certain guitar parts. All the guitars on this album are very forward and dry in the mix making it somewhat stale in it's delivery ( aside from the solos they sound great as usual).

Track ratings: 1. 4 stars 2. 4.5 3. 3.5 4. 4 5. 3 6. 3.5 7. 2.5 8. 4 9. 3.75

Bottom line, this is a good album with catchy hooks and good melodies, but they seem to be trying too hard in the noodling department and don't serve the song well with much of those extended solo sections. The lyrics are rather cheesy in many parts and not deep and poignant as in past albums like Awake for example, instead they are trying to tell these stories rather matter of factly and not in an artful way. Because of these flaws I give the album a 3.75 star rating.

I am looking forward to the next album when Mangini can actually take part in the writing process and maybe the guys will let loose a bit more and be more's hoping.

Report this review (#516591)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
1 stars I have to start my review saying: WTF is that???? I am more than disappointed from this album for more that a few reasons... So, where to start... 1. Drums are there just to be there.. No personality what so ever.. I think Mangini is a very good drummer but in this album I think he had nothing to do with the drumming ideas.. I like Portnoy as a drummer and I agree with his decision to leave DT because as it seams they are out of ideas.. 2. Every riff is the same.. The first time I listened to the whole album I thought there was something wrong with my ipod, that it stuck in repeat! 3. What's up with all the choirs all the time?? Rudess found how great Omnisphere's choirs are and had to use them in every song? Gives the whole CD a very bad atmosphere.. And not only that but has no original keyboard ideas, anywhere.. 4. The piano ballads are like Scenes from a memory, riffs are like Labrie's projects, like Mullmuzzler or something, most prog parts are something like their old stuff and a combination of Symphony X, Kansas and Rush.. I am not over-graduating when I say that I find this album a waste of time and money.. I advise everyone that liked DT in their former glory to stay away from this (and pretty much everything after Scenes From A Memory)... I think that bands like these should know when to quit and should have stopped playing a long time ago.. I haven't missed a show in Greece from 1997 to 2005, but now they lost me as a fan...
Report this review (#516614)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars 9/10

I think I've heard this before ... but who cares if they are still phenomenal?

The news of the departure of Mike Portnoy's band in 2010 was the worst thing a fan could hear. After all, he was not (and still is, in my personal opinion) only the best drummer in the world, as was also the leader. But the rest of the group peodria not wasting time shedding tears (and I believe they did it - metalhead also cry, see?) And set out to find a new drummer. The result was that documentary The Spirits Carries On - a suggestive title, no? - Where seven of the best drummers in the world were pre - selected for the job, he was with Mike Mangini. I must say that, despite being fascinated by the performances of Mangini - the guy is a monster of speed on battery! - Not like the way he performed the songs from the DT in the documentary (especially A Nightmare to Remember, where he looked like a crazy exhibitionist).

So I was a little bit afraid about the new album, suggestively titled A Dramatic Turn of Events. Those fears increased with the release of first single, the opening track On the Back of Angels (what they would do on the backs of angels? Sorry, is that I understand little English). Like, the music was good, but sounded very cliche (or you did not notice that the structure it is identical to the classic Pull Me Under) . I also looked at the song list and said: WTF, no epic? This will be a disappointment, so I thought.

Luckily all sorts of fears have been removed after the full hearing ADTE. This album will be the subject of controversy for a long time, but I'll try to concentrate on music. By the way is great.

After the cliche, but very good opening track the band takes their energys with no less than excellent Build Me Up, Break Me Down, which adds new elements like an electronic beat. It is a great song in the style of Caught in the Web, but that misses the long and pointless end spooky. Next comes Lost Not Forgotten the first song with more than 10 minutes of the album and a monster in its own right. Although it is not one of my favorites on the album is an awesome piece of work - especially in its instrumental section.

Then comes This is the Life. Oh, what incredible music. It's a ballad? I do not know. But Labrie's vocals are a bit tearful - and the best of the disc. The next is the bizarre Bridges in the Sky, originally titled Shaman's Trance (a title less pleasant), which opens with a kind of shaman in trance (ohhh, really?) Before a Gothic choir prepare for that which is the third best track on the disc. Outcry is another powerful monster, and has the most complex instrumental section. The beautiful ballad Far From Heaven with its beautiful violin and piano prepares the listener for Breaking all the Illusions. The album ends with another ballad, Beneath Surface, which also features wonderful orchestrations, cool synthesizers and a great vocal work of Labrie.

Now let's talk about Breaking All The Illusions. Oh man, this is the song of the year and possibly one of the best of the band. You know that song that you find interesting on first listen, but will grow at Meida that you hear over and over? That's it. John Myung was more than 10 years without writing a song for the DT (the last time he did that was in Scenes from a Memory), but what a comeback! A song just perfect and magnanimous!

What about musicians? Gee dude, they are professionals! Corner Labrie remains strong (he is not the best singer in the world, everybody knows that, but without it would not be DT DT), still destroying Petrucci on guitar, delivering some of his best solos (in "Breaking All The Illusions") Rudess are still a master of keyboards and Myung, thank God, to have more space around the band after being eclipsed in the last album. As for Mangini (which is the main goal of the controversy of this album), I think he proved a suitable substitute for Portnoy and while he has not shown its full potential here (as all the songs on the album were ready before he joining the band), I believe that from the next album does not only show all his talent, the primer can even im a bit of style to the band.

For now this is the album of the year, and although not one of the best DT (apessoalmente and I think it's time some of them change their sound) through a 5-star luxury. Essential!

Report this review (#516975)
Posted Wednesday, September 7, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Oh, geez, well were do i begin with this one :/

Now i've been a dream theater fan longer than i've been a proggie (my first album was Octavarium) and they still remain #1 or #2 in my top 5 favorite bands but, this album has been one of the biggest disappointments to me, yes i got when it was leaked yes i was planning on buying it. this was before i listened to it. Afterwards i had a much different look on things.

So let's start on a positive note with the music, the mixing is exponentially better than it has been, at least in my opinion, Jordan's parts are just masterfully written as we've come to expect of him, the guitar is exceptional just the same as it's been many times before, Mangini's drumming is on par with some of Portnoy's best and La brie, well La brie love or hate him he is one hell of a singer and this album is no exception to that.

And now what's wrong with it, the music is boring and sounds uninspired technically it's brilliant as it's always been but this album offers nothing new, everything on this album they've done before and frankly done it better before. It really just sounds like this album was only special because they had a new drummer, it's nothing new and nothing exciting it's long repetitious and in part's a little silly. Such as Bridges in the Sky, with the terrible choir vocals, last time i checked i was listening to Dream Theater not a friggen doom metal band.

On the backs of angels is a arpeggio intro which we've heard similar before, the concept is old and overused in my opinion, and the drums sound programed like mangini wasn't even playing on this track. then again STUPID STUPID choir vocals.

Build me up, Break me down could of been the bands saving grace except t's not really a dream theater song it doesn't really sound like them and the vocals sound forced. the song really just sounds like a Periphery/Chimp Spanner mix with a boring uninspired chorus.

Lost not forgotten.

Oh, Ok, we're still making references to Portnoy, i thought that ship had sailed the piano on this one is really quite good and shows some of Jordan's finest Drumming however is just there to have drums,nothing even remotely exciting then comes a weird interlude solo part?, i'm not sure what they were trying to do but it didn't sound good, at all.

This is the life.

practically the same intro as on the backs of angels in the same style at least, BORING, lets move on

Now by this point in the album i was forcing,FORCING myself to listen to these songs because i wanted to give a proper review of this but it was just so dam boring

Outcry Long,same stuff as Bridges in the sky, some of the drum effects sound more like a sky eats airplane song then dream theater, not really what i expected but still good. then i sounds...cheesy, like your going into a battle or something similar, i could see it be used in a film like kingdom of heaven. then some of the drums effects are really quite good though.

Bridges In The Sky

i've said everything about this song already but, there was one nice touch the keith emersonesque organ solo

Far from heaven,

Dream Theater i thought we were done with the crappy popish songs like "Another Day",And "I Walk Beside You" absolute soulless crap

i'll be honest after the iron maidenesque intro i skipped the rest of the song i couldn't listen to it on the AWFUL,just plain AWFUL, synths in this one

Beneath The Surface

ahh some music concrete with the water effects but then into the [&*!#]ty sellout pop song :(

all in this album is nothing new nothing inspired, and honestly this could easily be passed off as a porcupine tree album especially with the way Steve Wilson is going these days with Blackfield. while it's very technically good it's really boring to listen to. i do not suggest buying it, i know i at least will because i'm fan but that's really the only reason (also i like physical copies of my albums)

i'm giving this album a 3/10 :/ sorry dream theater you really missed the mark on this one

Report this review (#517802)
Posted Thursday, September 8, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars after the epic and too-much-attention-given-to Portnoy departure from the band, here it comes the work of the four remaining members. They intended do it in this way, letting out Mangini's creativity and style, in order to prepare the fan-base for the real Mangini & new DT impact, which - luckily - we are hoping to hear in the next DT album. Of course, I hope that to be sooner than ever, maybe in the following year. Now, the album: a mix of Mullmuzzler, Liquid Tension Experiment, DT-classics, good old progressive rock, new tune from John Myung, and without heavy metal/gothic/rap/growls and Portnoy singing. The result is another classic Dream Theater, with a more proggressive rock approach, technically perfect, and so-so inspiration. At least two tracks could have been let out, some re-working, and maybe we would have had a masterpiece. Still, many moments to get stuck into, and many moments to skip. A safe drummer choice (Mangini), a safe song-writing. 7-7.5 stars, out of 10. 'Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence' is still their best.
Report this review (#518066)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars Everyone knows Dream Theater's astonishing history. Coming out of nowhere (kind of, if you skip their largely ignored first album) with Images and Words and blowing everyone away. Well those days are long gone, and the creative spark that once burned so brightly has long since faded and gone out altogether.

If you rate this album against all of Dream Theater's others, it's a 2 star effort at best. It only doesn't merit 1 star because it isn't offensively bad like Systematic Chaos, it's just incredibly bland and boring. I was really hoping that Portnoy's departure would finally reverse the trend they've been following of becoming more and more of a regular metal band who occasionally plays random notes very fast. Sadly, this is still here in full force. Certain things have been improved with Portnoy leaving in some areas (he doesn't sing/growl anymore, for a start), but astonishingly I'd go so far as to say this is worse without him.

When Mangini was brought in I think a lot of people who had grown tired of the bland formula Dream Theater appear to have settled in hoped we'd see a return to form. Unfortunately, the chances of this happening were dealt a blow when we discovered that the entire album had already been written and - amazingly - Mangini wouldn't even be allowed to write his own drum parts. Instead, Petrucci, a guitarist, wrote them for him. This is completely inexcusable to me, and it really shows on the record. The drums are barely there, the weakest they've probably ever been on a Dream Theater album. It also spoke volumes about how inflexible they've become, especially for a band that once blazed a trail of originality and variation.

The closest thing I can compare it to in their catalogue is Octavarium, itself an incredibly boring album, except without the fantastic title track to elevate it above tedium. There isn't a single song on here that I'd consider to be "good" in any sense of the word, and none of them even begin to approach being great. There's one 3 or 4 minute section in the second half of Breaking All Illusions that's worth a listen, and that's it for the entire album, it's quite remarkable. The people saying things like "it's one of their three best, along with Images & Words and Scenes"... I really don't even know what to say. How anyone can love an album like Images & Words and somehow compare it to A Dramatic Turn of Events is beyond me.

If it wasn't for Systematic Chaos (which I consider one of the worst albums ever made - by any band) this would be the weakest album in the band's history. Sadly Portnoy's replacement hasn't made a tiny bit of difference. One can only hope that next time around Mangini will have some input, and Dream Theater will go back to doing something they were once great at - being original - but I've long since lost interest.

It honestly makes me sad, once upon a time Dream Theater were my favourite band, a powerhouse in their genre. But something happened after Six Degrees, and everything they've done since then - with the exception of a handful of great songs - has been bland/boring/uninteresting/tedious/repetitious, or just plain bad.

Bonus Game: Listen for all the melodies and other elements they've ripped from past albums for this one, there's a lot.

Report this review (#518140)
Posted Friday, September 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Over the course of the year leading up to their eleventh full-length studio album, American progressive metal legends Dream Theater have withstood a dramatic turn of events indeed. With the departure of longtime drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy, the band went on a long search for a replacement behind the kit, and after auditioning seven of the most talented drummers on the scene, Dream Theater eventually agreed upon seasoned veteran Mike Mangini, best known for his work with Annihilator, Extreme, James LaBrie, and Steve Vai. Although Dream Theater's fanbase may be split on whether or not Portnoy is a replaceable element of the band, Mike Mangini does an excellent job on this album, and rest of the quintet shines as brightly as ever. A Dramatic Turn of Events features some of the best songwriting in Dream Theater's catalog, some of the most impressive instrumental runs you're likely to ever hear, and a more light-hearted sound that has been missed on their last handful of albums. This may not shatter your perception of Dream Theater's distinct progressive metal style (in a positive or negative way), but it's a refreshing change of pace after the darker atmosphere of their previous few outings. I'd confidently regard this as one of the best Dream Theater efforts since Scenes From a Memory, as well as one of the year's most impressive progressive albums.

Whereas albums like Black Clouds & Silver Linings and Systematic Chaos focused on a heavier, darker, and edgier metal sound, A Dramatic Turn of Events shows Dream Theater returning to the lush, progressive rock soundscapes of albums like Images & Words and Scenes From a Memory. Despite my immense enjoyment of both styles of Dream Theater, it is nice to see them focusing on lighter atmospheres with progressive arrangements and integral keyboards. Although this is jam- packed with heavy riffs and hard-hitting instrumental sections, Dramatic Turn rarely strikes me as a dark album, largely due to the wide array of keyboard tones. Jordan Rudess has taken a bit of a backseat on the last few Dream Theater albums, but the keyboards on A Dramatic Turn of Events are just as dominate and tasteful as they were when Kevin Moore was still in the group. Jordan Rudess's thoroughly integrated keyboards don't come at the expense of the other musicians, though - John Petrucci delivers plenty of hard-hitting riffs and blinding leads, Mike Mangini show his expressive drumming abilities, James LaBrie delivers helpings of memorable vocal melodies, and John Myung's bass playing has more personality than ever before.

Prior to hearing this observation, I was openly skeptical about Dream Theater's songwriting abilities without Mike Portnoy - although I have never had any doubt about the members' abilities as songwriters, Portnoy was obviously responsible for a big chunk of the band's compositions, lyrically and musically. It appears that my initial predictions were entirely incorrect, though, and A Dramatic Turn of Events showcases some of the strongest songwriting in Dream Theater's large catalog. Like most Dream Theater albums, this misses the 80 minute CD time limit by just a hair, and somehow the entire disc is filled to the brim with some of the best songwriting you're bound to hear all year. "On the Backs of Angels" tends to be the most instantly enjoyable track, with its hard-hitting riffs and progressive instrumental portions kicking the album off in high gear. The rest of the album strikes me as a bit more of a "grower", so to speak, than previous Dream Theater albums - whereas I was humming tracks from Black Clouds & Silver Linings after just one spin, it takes a bit longer until all of A Dramatic Turn of Events puts its hooks in the listener. This shouldn't at all be interpreted as a bad thing, though, and I tend to think that it's a sign of Dream Theater turning their compositional depth and finesse up an extra notch.

A Dramatic Turn of Events is without any weak tracks, but a few stand out a bit more than others. "Breaking All Illusions" should be the one that really makes every prog fan's mouth water - this twelve minute opus seamlessly blends relentless technicality with a sense of melody and soul, very much similar to what the band did nearly 20 years ago with "Learning to Live". A Dramatic Turn of Events also contains something that has been noticeably missing from some of their post-new millennium albums - soft, semi-acoustic ballads. Before all of the metalheads shake their head in disgust, let me say that both of the drum-free ballads here are some of the finest I've ever heard, and easily rank up there with the masterpiece "Wait for Sleep". "Far From Heaven" is a touching song with just piano and strings accompanied by James Labrie's soft vocals. "Beneath the Surface" is a slightly more uplifting track, featuring gentle acoustic guitars and James Labrie's powerful vocals. Jordan Rudess's synth solo is also truly spectacular.

There are a few other tracks that should also appeal greatly to fans of progressive rock, particularly "Bridges In the Sky" and "Outcry", both of which are fantastic ten-plus minute epics with some of the best vocal melodies ever put in Dream Theater's music. "Lost Not Forgotten" has a slightly power metal-influenced vibe that brings Symphony X to mind, and "This is the Life" is a gentle track with some excellent acoustic guitar harmonies reminiscent of Pink Floyd. "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" is probably the most unremarkable and conventional song on the album, but it still has a memorable enough chorus to keep it from being anything mediocre.

A Dramatic Turn of Events was produced by John Petrucci and mixed by Andy Wallace (known for his work with Slayer, Faith No More, Nirvana, Avenged Sevenfold, Guns N' Roses, and many others), so of course the sound is professional and well-done. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the way the drums are mixed, but that's been a small issue of mine with every Dream Theater album from Scenes From a Memory onward. It's worth noting that this is the first album in quite a bit of time where John Myung's bass is actually audible at a reasonable level without being drowned out by the other instruments - definitely a plus in my book.

Regardless of your opinion about Dream Theater, they are an unstoppable and unignorable force in the progressive metal world, and their ability to constantly churn out top-notch albums is the reason why I've remained a huge fan since I first began listening to them. Even though A Dramatic Turn of Events was made under unusual circumstances, the band sounds as inspired as ever and it'll be very interesting to hear where they head in the coming years. My faith in Dream Theater has not only been renewed by this album, but it has also been increased to a higher point than ever before. A near-flawless masterpiece, this stunning observation deserves to be cherished by every progressive metal fan who gives it a spin. This is definitely among my favorite Dream Theater albums, and an easy 5 star recommendation from this humble reviewer. One of 2011's best albums? You bet!

Report this review (#520298)
Posted Sunday, September 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Ever since I first heard Octavarium, my first Dream Theater album, I was hooked on them. Since then I've come to own every single one of their albums. So when I heard that they would be releasing an album this year I couldn't wait until it was released. Then the news came that Mike Portnoy, their drummer since the beginning, was leaving the band. As a fan, I really didn't know what to think. Who would be their new drummer; could they replace who I think was irreplaceable? As time went on I was that, yes Dream Theater can still go on without their fabled drummer. When it was announced that Mike Mangini was to be their new drummer I was ecstatic. Since they filmed the auditions and made them into a mini series titled "The Spirit Carries On" I was able to see who the drummers were that tried out, and out of all of them Mangini was definitely my favorite. This album, the first album without the line-up that made the legendary Scenes From a Memory, returns to the sound leading up to and including Octavarium, which is my second favorite Dream Theater album, so that in itself is a huge plus. The song writing has also taken up a lighter sound that is also reminiscent of the Octavarium and before era. Unlike Black Clouds and Silver Linings, which was very dark, and depressing in spots, this album is very cheery and definitely reverts back to Dream Theater's distinct progressive metal sound that many fans have loved for the past 25 years.

This album tells a story, maybe of them losing Portnoy and getting Mangini as the title suggests, and as John Petrucci states, "When you listen to it your whole experience will be more of a rollercoaster ride". This roller coaster ride is definitely a light one, so if you enjoyed Black Clouds a lot, then this album will definitely be a whole different world. I tend to like Dream Theater's lighter passages on their past albums, so with this album being mostly lighter progressive metal it adds a lot more enjoyment when I listening to it. A good thing with this album being lighter is that Jordan Rudess is spotlighted much more often. With the last couple of albums, DT has focused more on John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy, and now with Portnoy gone and there needed to be someone else to take the front seat, and thankfully that was Jordan Rudess. A lot of the keyboard and synth sections on this album also remind me a lot of his awesome synth lines on Octavarium, which were some of my favorite. Another thing about this album is that the drumming isn't the main focus as it sometimes was during the Portnoy-era. Since Mike Mangini wasn't there for the writing of the album, Petrucci, I believe, wrote most of the drum lines, so they are a bit toned down compared to past efforts. Also, up until this album I never really noticed John Myung's bass playing that much. I always knew he was good, but I never expected this much personality from him, and this is definitely one of his best efforts on bass.

Right from the start this album is extremely melodic, especially the opening lines of "On the Backs of Angels". This song, which was released as the only single off of A Dramatic Turn of Events, is definitely a signature Dream Theater song with very nice rock oriented rhythms and great choruses. "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" is really the weakest song on the album but it's still a pretty good song. The catchy chorus makes it really good, but there are some industrial metal sections in it that make it a little weird. I don't really know why they put those sections in it, but overall it's not that bad. James Labrie's voice on this song and all the other's is absolutely superb, and probably the best it's been since Octavarium. I never really got the people who didn't like his singing, I think it's very good and can never find much wrong with it. This album also features four epics, which are all quite amazing. "Lost Not Forgotten" starts with a great keyboard and drum intro the segments very well into some of the darker moments on the album. The guitar solos on this track are also very well done and mix perfectly with Labrie's great vocals. "Bridges in the Sky" is yet another very riff driven track that excels in every way possible and features great bass parts by John Myung. The best epic on the album is definitely "Breaking all Illusions" because it returns to Dream Theater's roots, or more specifically "Learning to Live". This song features many of the melodies from the song before it, "Far From Heaven" so it adds very nice flow to the album. The technicality of the song is amazing, and each band member is at their greatest on "Breaking all Illusions".

A lot of people have complained in the past about the production of Dream Theater albums, mainly because the band produced them, and they really didn't like the tone of the albums, or something like that. I, for one, have loved the production on all Dream Theater releases, except When Dream And Day Unite. This album is no exception. The drums aren't nearly as prominent as before, but that is to be expected with the absence of Portnoy. The bass, as I mentioned earlier, is finally noticeable and Myung's talent shines through, for the first time in a long time.

This was definitely my most anticipated album of 2011 and it did not disappoint at all. Though this album might take time to grow on some people, though not on me, it is well worth the purchase. My love of Dram Theater has resurfaced after a brief decline since Black Clouds and Silver Linings. This album has jumped to the top of my 2011 charts, which I expected, and probably will stay there for the rest of the year. I really didn't want it to be so easy to put it there because I'm such a big fanboy and I didn't want to put it there just based on my fanboyism, but this album was so good that, fanboy or no, it is the easiest 5 star album I've given out in a long time.

Report this review (#522554)
Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is a brand new place......but I've been here before.

Although I should never contradict my previous opinions, hearing "On The Backs Of Angels" didn't remind me of "A Rite Of Passage" anymore. It felt newer, cleaner, clearer, yet, something was bothering me. It still felt like there was something lingering there from years past.

Like "Images & Words".

The entire band, like myself, will state that this is definitely one of their more melodic progressive albums. Less metal, but more rock (if you know what I mean). Now, I can't compare this to "Images & Words", but I hear a lot of it in here. Yes, LaBrie still is singing lower, but like in "Images & Words" the virtuosity is still present, but subdued, allowing the song to develop by itself, and then there's Rudess bookending the song. Damm, if he doesn't sound like Kevin Moore there and that haunting atmosphere, I don't know what the hell that is.


"Build Me Up, Break Me Down" instantly starts off to be a failure. Synthesized drums. Never a good idea when you're breaking in a new drummer. Yet, I'm going to believe that we're receiving more prog than metal in general.

So much for that theory.

After the cheesy rap beat comes a tidal wave of face-smashing metal, but not just face- smashing metal. Mangini isn't busting out a blastbeat or immediately using the double- bass out of the gate, so this isn't comparable to "Train Of Thought" or "Systematic Chaos" or "Black Clouds & Silver Linings". In fact, this song reminds me of no other but "The Mirror". "Awake" instantly comes to mind, even though there still is that haunting feeling, that ghostly synth from "Systematic Chaos". It seems like deja vu at first, but it still reminds me of "Awake", that old-school metal that Dream Theater began a revolution with. Yes it's still new, synthy, heavy, creepy (do I hear a black metal-ish scream from LaBrie?), oddly catchy, but I still feel like it's a salute to Kevin Moore and a salute to "Awake".

It's a strange combination of the heaviness from ToT and "Chaos", but still has that haunting atmosphere of "Awake". It's also an interesting segue to "Lost Not Forgotten", the change from minor to major as if nothing happened before. The intro reminds me of "The Best Of Times", while the steady riff harkens back to "Train Of Thought" and the atonal solo sections echo "The Dark Eternal Night" over and over again. Old but new. The intensity of the rapid fire riffs repeat the frantic-ness of "Systematic Chaos" but there's more attention to detail, to the music in general. This entire album is literally a summary of every single DT album every made rolled into one. The multiple sections and interludes throughout this track interchange with major and minor keys (similar, I believe to "The Glass Prison"), and of course the solo sections are pretty sweet as well ("Endless Sacrifice).

While "This Is The Life" starts out louder than most ballads (and in similar fashion to most songs from "Systematic Chaos" and BC&SL), the group keeps the verses mainly on the low-down in a typical ballad fashion ("The Answers Lie Within"). Yet Petrucci's solo almost creates a blues-y feeling towards the end, as the song is in 3/4, yet it's a ballad that ends in stunning fashion, as DT usually do with their softer songs (except "Wither").

As if this comglomeration of notable DT elements from previous albums wasn't enough, "Bridges In The Sky" adds another element to this talented ensemble; tribal music. Now it is a bit creepy to hear that weird droning sound from what sounds like a human bullfrog, but it's another atmosphere that this band creates that excels above everything else, and it continues with chanting (including a snippet of "Morte Et Dabo" for fans of chant, and "Asking Alexandra"). Yet, just as it's all ready to set in, Petrucci tears through a new one with Mangini laying down some decent beats (much like the Portnoy of olden days). Even though the core of this team is getting older, the music doesn't slow down, not a beat is lost and the metal is still prevalent in their music. The chorus is wonderful as always and the melody is simply superb. Definitely one of my favorites off this album. The ability to change gears so suddenly from a happy melody to chugging downbeats is a stark contrast to many mainstream groups, and many music enthusiasts don't like it, as it prevents them from grasping onto a certain melody, but progressive metal fans will tell the opposite, because change is good and everything else is boring! It's another crucial fact as to why Dream Theater is still one of the most beloved prog metal bands and one of the most popular metal bands today.

The heaviness from their recent discs is still very much alive, while there are traces of some funk and heavy prog (like in "Blind Faith") and the ever popular elements of Middle Eastern music (like "Home"). Unlike "Home", however, I wish those tribal drums and elements were repeated at least a few times in the piece, like the middle, instrumental section, but it's still a fantastic piece of music. Everything I love about this band combined into one seamless piece of magic.

"Outcry" continues a great song in stunning fashion as well with a great intro and, as usual, the loud, symphonic 4/4 beats (although some may tire of it throughout this album, I personally love it.) are still here. The presence of synthetic drums are a bit annoying at first, but once again, Petrucci, Rudess and Myung build around it to make it fit within the song's context. It seems like a heavy and constant track throughout, but it really seems more like a prolonged ballad, to my ears. I hear a little bit of "Trail Of Tears" in here, as well as "The Ministry Of Lost Souls", and Rudess' consistent symphonic playing reminds me of the power metal outfit Divinefire. Once again, the Middle Eastern influences are there (especially those note progressions. if you are a musician or have a piano, the note progression G, Gb, Eb, D, for example, should be familiar [as it's the main theme in "Rock Lobster] as that spacing between those four notes can be used with any four notes and be familiar to having that "Middle Eastern sound". try it at home!) and are still wonderful. The solo sections are phenomenal as always {you can never question the talent of these musicians (well maybe Mangini) as they're better than any of us}.

The solos are fantastic though. "Outcry" literally just screams "Metropolis, Pt. 3", as those solo sections (Yay, Myung gets a solo for once! All's right in the world again!) are so familiar to "Metropolis, Pt. 1" and "Images & Words" in general. Even "Octavarium" comes to mind towards the end, and the subtle soft section highlighting Rudess only intensifies the emotion pouring out of this album. This song actually is an "Outcry" to everything that is good in music. Absolutely wonderful.

"Far From Heaven" just screams "The Answer Lies Within", "Vacant" and "Wither" all in one. If I wasn't a manly man, I would be crying profusely over these last two songs, because both are amazing, yet they're both in typical Dream Theater style. Is this what we as fans expected? Most likely not. It's a fantastic ballad that rivals any that Dream Theater has ever made. Along with "The Answer Lies Within", "Far From Heaven" is one of the few DT ballads that anyone can listen to, prog metal fan or not.

Then we get the final piece of the puzzle comes together with "Breaking All Illusions". The intro is a two-step beat familiar to "Falling Into Infinity" fans, but also has that sort of humorous, jolly side seen in "The Count Of Tuscany". The soft prelude to the first verse is eerily similar to "Honor Thy Father". Finally, those soundbites are back! The one element that made "Awake" a truly special album returns with a vengeance. Many stop and start elements from songs like "Endless Sacrifice" and "Blind Faith" returns, as well as the many different voices Rudess uses (piano, organ, synth, etc). Petrucci rips, as usual, and the instrumental sections are fantastic. Once again, DT are going back to their roots, where LaBrie had his time to shine, and now it's time for the kids to play with their toys and destroy numerous houses (aka Petrucci and Rudess soloing up a storm [note: Mangini doesn't get a piece of the spotlight here]). Another fantastic song off this disc.

Finally, the album concludes with "Beneath The Surface". Truly no better way to end the album. It's very interesting that beat one always starts in unison with the falling water roplet for the first few seconds. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, did I say that "Far From Heaven" and "The Answer Lies Within" were the best ballads ever? I meant "Far From Heaven" and "Beneath The Surface". Not even "The Spirit Carries On", one of the few DT tracks ever that (i'll admit) brought one single tear from my eye at one point, can match up to these two songs.

And thus concludes the best Dream Theater album ever made.

Yes. I did say it. And I'll say it again. This is the best album Dream Theater has ever made.

Positives: Just about everything. Every single DT album (except their first and worst) is echoed at some point throughout this record. It's literally every single album (and THEN some) merged all into one sophisticated and elegant work of art. LaBrie's soaring falsetto even makes a return at the very end of "Beneath The Surface"! Everything we all know and love throughout DT's entire history is here in one phenomenal package!

Negatives: Mangini. I hate to say it, but in replacing my beloved drum idol Mike Portnoy, I feel he's taken a part in some sort of "rookie hazing". Meaning, no drum solo, no spotlight. No attention of anything, really. He hasn't deserved this spot yet, but he'll need time. If (and when) DT releases another new album (god, I'm already thinking about a new DT album), Mangini will slowly be acclimated to the DT way of life, and attention will slowly be paid to him, much like more and more people paid attention to Tom Brady when he began throw perfect passes to any human being with the gift of hands, or like the slow process of giving a teenager more and more privileges (in less in some cases).

Verdict: This is the best Dream Theater album I've ever heard. It has all the elements we've heard in every DT album to date. Metal? Check. Prog rock? Check. Epic symphonics? Check. Haunting synths? Check. Blistering guitar solos? Check. Wonderful ballads any girl (especially the hot ones) will listen to? Yep. Natural evolution of prog metal? Of course. Technical musicianship only capable by God himself? Sure. Atonal chords and note progressions only capable of being theorized by German twelve-tone composer Arnold Schoenberg? Yes. The extremely rare scream? Got it. Tribal drums, tambourines and the human bullfrog's vocal didgeridoo impersonation? Creepy, but yes. Medieval era chanting? Got that too.

Everything you could ever want in a Dream Theater album ever? Absolutely. Yes. This is the definition of excellence. (And of course it helped that I, even for a diehard Dream Theater fan had low expectations, only the be blessed with the best prog metal album in the world.)

Beat that, Europe.

Report this review (#522713)
Posted Tuesday, September 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Sometimes "A dramatic turn of events" has to happen for something good to come out of it and that's exactly the case with this CD . DT had to pull together to come up with their best effort since t6doit. They to prove to themselves and the fans that they were not just Mike's band.

Everybody constribute in his own way . Jordan brings the keyboards back to the forefront with the chant the sample the effect the piano and the Hammond . John P gets the acoustic guitar out of the closet with magificent result. James sings is best since six degrees and is more involved then ever in the sound . Mike M does what is had to do bring the drum to the background supporting the music not overwelming it and last but not leat John M comes back to life on this one he hasn't played this good for ages and he even contributes on the lyrics side of things something he hasn't done since 1999 .

This CD grows on you each time you listen to it hats off to Dt for proving to us and themselves that there was a life after Mike.... well done.

Report this review (#523353)
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars OK, Now that all the Portnoy Pontification is over, and those drum worshipers have dragged this rating down, with the Mangini aint this aint that negativity, since Buddy Rich was the greatest drummer of all time, and said more with a single snare drum as "Traps the Drum Wonder" Than most rock drummers could ever say, Peart included, This is easily the best D.T. album in the last 10 years. 5 listens now, and it gets better, Take that for what it's worth, The last album I got hooked on with listen after listen, was Guns n' Roses Chinese Democracy no less, Still underrated in my opinion. Rudess stands out the most to me, I feel he has really stepped to the front. Labrie ? well, I like him, Like many, Geddy Lee always got on my nerves, But Labrie does a nice job, even if he sounds like every hair metal singer there ever was. and Yes John still shreds up a storm, I hear a more pronounced King Crimson Influence on this Album. Even The Ballads are nice, But remind me of Octavarium. But The music taken in it's entirety is rather good and Worth the 8.99 download, But is it 5 stars? maybe 4 1/2, It is not their best, This is not 6 degrees or Scenes, I won't over hype it, but it is better than the last 3 albums, and those weren't that bad, Lastly, What the hell is that Bull Frog fog horn sound at the beginning of "Bridges in the sky" I chucked at that the first few times, But really it makes since now, I guess my mind has fully conformed to this music. a solid 4 stars. I must be getting Old.
Report this review (#523587)
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2011 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
5 stars The spirit carries on with passionate lyrics and virtuoso musicianship.

New Dream Theater! Normally I would be excited. I will be the first to admit that although I have all of Dream Theater's albums and love their output overall, I did not have high hopes for this album at all. I guess the infighting of the band and the headlined shock loss of one Mr. Mike Portnoy had put a damper over the release of this album for many listeners, including myself. I wondered if it would sound too different and would it be too commercial, or worse, would the songs be medicore. Would it feature Rudess and Petrucci trading off incredible solos, with LaBrie crying out from his soul amazing vocals, and Myong hammering out pulsating basslines? Well, that is what Dream Theater usually do so it is an expectation they must always live up to if they do not want to alienate their huge fanbase. Finally would Mangini actually be able to live up to the high standard perpetrated by Portnoy. In this case I have to say a resounding no, in fact Mangini is quite pedestrian in his approach, though it is good enough the percussion does not shine through.

So it was with a degree of trepidation that I ventured into the unchartered waters of a Portnoy-less Dream Theater album. The first thing I noticed about the drums is that I did not notice the drums. This in fact shows what a great drummer Portnoy is as his rhythms and wild metrical shifts were one of the key features of the band. It took me a while to get used to it as it will for many listeners. On my initial listen to the album I was disappointed with the first 2 songs. There was nothing new on offer and it was a rather lacklustre feeling. By the time I reached the incredible Bridges in the Sky I was relieved that the DT magic was well and truly engrained on this album. Then after hearing Breaking All Illusions I knew I had experienced one of the most mindblowing tracks of the band's repertoire. This is a very personalised album with a lot of heart and it is also replete with a plethora of astonishing musicianship and instrumental virtuosity. So here are the tracks as I heard them.

On The Backs of Angels begins the album with a quiet interlude of acoustics setting the scene for the sombre textures and thematic content of the album which centres on loss of self and broken relationships, searching for direction and finding it. The tranquillity is soon followed by a blast of metal guitars, it is loud and layered with Rudess relentless keys. The lyrics are forcefully sung by LaBrie, evoking a sense of anger and remorse: "we spiral towards disaster, bleeding us to death the new American dream, you're blinded by your hunger beware your days are numbered" . The music is quite aggressive with Petrucci riffing solidly over a layer of keyboards and bass. After the words are heard "Leading me like a lamb to the slaughter" there is a lovely piano solo, followed by a lead break showcasing the skills of Petrucci. This song was the first one leaked online and it is fairly typical Dream Theater. Strong melodies and skilful musicianship with LaBrie sounding exactly as he does on the more recent albums. A good song for sure but there is nothing here that is outstanding.

The next track is Build me Up, Break me Down with a spacey effect intro then very dirty distorted guitars riffing. LaBrie's vocals are underplayed at first sounding phased. The build up to the chorus is melodic and sounds typical of what the band churns out regularly. It sounds dark with some pain ridden lyrics about falling apart, "I crash and burn, I never learn, I know more than obsession"; perhaps it is talking about a recent member who left? I particularly like the keyboard break on this, which is well executed. Overall this one grew on me, especially the vibe of dark emotional trauma provided by blasts of chilling keyboard and sustained pads, sounding almost electro industrial.

Lost Not Forgotten begins with rain falling, a storm that is interjected by very peaceful piano strains. Guitars crash in over the choral voice effects, the majestic feel is unmistakeable. The drums get faster building up pace to the verse. A metal chopping riff blocks everything out until Rudess is heard playing speed motifs on two keyboards. Eventually LaBrie sings phrases such as "I am not immortal, men have come to fear me, known across the desert I am known as the one who will not die, feared and respected living among the gods, leading the empire, spirit as black as coal, lost not forgotten king of the deathly soul." The riffs are excellent on this track and it is the most progressive song to this point on the album, though nothing like some tracks to follow. It sounded to me like an outtake from Black Clouds and Silver Linings, which is not a bad thing. Although I wanted to hear on this album something more adventurous for a band who has traversed this territory many times on previous albums. Eventually the band detour onto an adventure of soloing finesse. Admittedly this track features some of the best musicianship of the album but the song itself, verses and chorus, are rather forgettable and tuneless. The real drawcard is the structure with its detours and time sig shifts. As usual the band are incredible when allowed to release their talents into lengthy instrumental breaks where band members take turns almost out classing each other. Rudess and Petrucci trade off in true DT style and the overall effect is breathtaking. It is just a pity the actual song melody does not back up the amazing passages of guitar and keyboard.

This is the Life is a power ballad with tones of sadness that may be reflecting the sombre mood of losing Mike Portnoy over the past year, which must have affected the band deeply. It is the first of many times that LaBrie will sing in quiet reflection on the album. The pianos and acoustics are beautiful. The lyrics are about the hurt of losing someone who has lost their way: "When your souls turned inside out, have you questioned all the madness you invite what your life is all about, some of us choose to live gracefully, some can get caught in the maze, and lose their way home." This really sounds like it is sung about Portnoy although it is hidden as afar as actual meaning; "have you ever wished that you were someone else, trading places, what will they say after you've gone." The song will grow on you as all DT ballads tend to do. The feeling of dejection is also felt in the lead break, one of DT's most heartfelt songs no doubt. There are no death growls on this album, be assured of that.

Bridges in the Sky is the first track on the album that made me sit up and take notice as something truly outstanding. It features an unsettling Gothic chanting intro sounding like something from the cult scene in Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut'; very weird and off kilter. The time sig of the metal ferocity to follow is great, falling in and out of sync with the drums. This has one of the more interesting structures on the album. The riffs continue to chop with complex rhythmic meters. LaBrie sounds excellent with some of the more tantalising lyrics "whisper a word of truth, I trusted you, sun, come shine my way, make healing waters bury my pain, wind carry me home, the fabric of reality is tearing apart the piece of me that died, will return to live again, I will not go in the light until I pass thru the darkest caverns of my heart, dance with fire, spirit guiding the world outside, messenger of truth I trust in you transform me now". Some excellent instrumental finesse on display especially the Rudess keyboard solo trading off mith Petrucci's relentless guitar fingering patterns. He uses wah wah later and high screaming string bends that are exhilarating. The crunching staccato keyboards are classic Emerson like sounds. The trade offs even sound like the mystical Egyptian style at times reflecting the mystique of the lyrics, about the journey to the sky, calling on an ancient deity to take the hand of the protagonist. This one truly is a showpiece of the album and one of Dream Theater's best.

Outcry features very strong riffing with Rudess' keyboard flourishes. It begins with piano and weird echo effects reminding me of the industrial dark sounds on Gary Numan's "Pure". There is an ambience layered underneath and emotive power in the vocal performance of LaBrie "I hear the battlecry, bullets fall like water raining from the sky, my freedom has a price, the cost is buried in the ground". The music feels decidedly Middle Eastern, and the song maybe about the war on terrorism.

The really fractured time sig in the instrumental break is astonishing, with powerful breaks in the riffs and Rudess has an insane finger melting solo. Once again the music is incredibly skilful and complex, and this is where Dream Theater never let themselves down in their music. They are now stalwart genius musicians, and it seems they attempt to outdo past triumphs with these moments on this album. The break on this track is certainly as good as it gets for Dream Theater, and one can easily imagine how incredible this will sound in a live performance. The lengthy solo throws everything in with a passion that I wish other bands would adopt who go under the banner of prog metal. The chaos ceases for a moment here with a beautiful piano motif and LaBrie chimes in softly "you can walk the other way or you can face the light, although it seems so far away freedom is worth the fight". There is a kind of uprising against injustice injected in the lyrics with strong phrases such as "wait for the outcry, resistance is calling tonight" and "stand strong and unite, the world watches on while we risk our lives, as our children die". This is not the first time DT have used the lyrics to inflict some kind of anti-war message against political infraction or resolute determinism against the mistreatment of the innocence in war; Sacrificed Sons from "Octavarium" blatantly focussed on the 9/11 crisis.

Far From Heaven begins with gentle piano and softly crooned vocals. The lyrics may be telling the tale of losing Portnoy, either way there is melancholy at its deepest point here: no one truly has the answers, everyday I struggle through it once more, keep things bottled up never speaking words, messing up but I am doing just fine, every day I put a brave face on, I have done what you asked of me, coming undone way too high a price I should pay, you keep your pride while I die inside, everyday, no I can't lie anymore, won't pretend I've done all I can, you can't imagine the hell I'm going through." The song really exudes a sombreness I have rarely heard with DT, but it is nice to hear the soul and passion of the band. The melody is soul stirring and will perhaps be a fan favourite on the live stage to wave lighters to over the next years to come.

Breaking All Illusions has a killer riff that shifts in and out of rhythm and takes over the song, with sporadic drum patterns and very melodic keyboards. This is one of the more progressive tracks and it settles into Myung's quiet bass driven passage before LaBrie begins to sing quietly; "with the sun in place, new realities, singularities, breaking all illusions, changing my direction, live in the moment, breathe in a new beginning, wisdom revealed, as I unlock the key, life's biggest battles, my strength leads me home". Once again the lyrics are heartfelt and full of angst of changes and directions, perhaps the changes and direction of the band are being channelled. LaBrie has a bitter tone in his voice in places. There is a voice over narrative heard further augmenting the seriousness of the song content. The song changes direction too, with a very infectious little keyboard hook before it returns to the choppy chord structure. There is a Jethro Tull flute sound at one point, and some blues riffs, ELP Hammond sounds, then a power metal distorted riff locks in. The organic instrumental is fantastic and once again one of the best moments on the album. Petrucci launches into a scorching lead solo, with beautiful harmonies and arpeggios. The clean guitar sound balances perfectly afterwards, creating a dreamy ambient tranquil soundscape. The lead guitar solo then drifts into a peaceful beauty, followed with accomplished fret melting finger work and sweep picking. The melody is enhanced then by powerful guitar tones. Eventually the faster pace returns with a driving drum and bass under Rudess' and Petrucci's virtuoso playing. The band launch into full flight here and it is a joy to listen to it. This is why DT have become one of the most popular metal bands over recent years; they simply create mesmirising, brilliant music. When LaBrie returns with "Searching out, reaching in" the tracks has become so momentous that I am convinced that this is one of the high achievements of the band. The finale is bombastic but so powerful in its progressive execution that it is the fitting way to end this triumph. This 12 minute mini epic is astonishing and I would go as far as to suggest it is one of the top 10 DT songs of all time.

Beneath the Surface begins with a tap dripping, seamlessly from the previous masterpiece. There is a slow acoustic feel allowing room to breathe after the previous bedlam and LaBrie quietly sings about the sad subject of losing a loved one; "A shell of what could have been, sad to think I never knew you were searching for the words for the moment to emerge, yet the moment never came, you couldn't risk my fragile frame, until one day you stopped caring, and began to forget why I longed to be so close, I disappear into the darkness and the darkness turned to pain and never went away, until all that remained was buried deep beneath the surface". I like the moderate feel of the song, and it's melancholia enhanced by uplifting surges of keyboard and minimalism of acoustic. The balance of tension and release in the music is as emotionally charged as the lyrics. A nice ending to the album and one that may ring true for many listeners.

So at the end of the album I can comfortably rate this the full 5 stars. There is a certain degree of sadness and reflection in the lyrics and it may be the most emotionally charged album for the band in a very emotional year for them. The album delivers excellent prog metal by any standard and it does have some adventurous moments, with at least 4 tracks that are DT at their most outstanding. The album almost reaches the full 80 minutes and there is not a moment where it is not captivating. It grows on you like osmosis and after hearing it I am compelled to play it again and again. It is better than "Systematic Chaos", and although it is not as consistently heavy as "Black Clouds and Silver Linings", it is a pleasure to hear DT without death metal growls and malevolent lyrics so I actually prefer this new album. The lyrics are absolutely amazing in their honesty and really struck a chord with me, and I could hear in the album a certain thread of starting a new chapter, saying goodbye to the old and welcoming in the new era. There is a saying in the rock industry that you are only as good as your last album, and Dream Theater have proved with "A Dramatic Turn of Events" that the magic definitely remains; the spirit carries on.

Report this review (#523765)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Honestly, I didn't have very high expectations for this album. With Portnoy leaving and the sub-par quality of their previous album (along with the awful album art), I bought the album expecting it to be passable at best. How wrong I was... After a few listens, like complex music tends to do, the album began to grow on me immensely. A Dramatic Turn of Events shows Dream Theater at a career high in terms of musical complexity and songwriting. The album is certainly metal, but it's less heavy than their previous two albums, focusing instead on (what is this??) emotion in the music again! Not "Another Day" or "Hollow" emotion, but genuine progressive metal emotion more along the lines of Six Degrees. Anyways, A Dramatic Turn of events shows Dream Theater making a strong comeback. The music is top-notch, catchy, complex, progressive metal with plenty of eclectic influences. The music isn't overly worried about being heavy, just being top-tier progressive metal. A Dramatic Turn of Events is on the same level as Dream Theater's classic albums like Metropolis and Six Degrees, and is a welcome return to form from the masters despite losing one of the greatest metal drummers of all time.

Rating: 8/10

Report this review (#524239)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars So this is the new Dream Theater. I must say, I like. I like a lot. Dream Theater has been stuck is a rut for the past two albums (Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds and Silver Linings). Thought the previous albums showed Dream Theaters talent as musicians and their mastery of their instruments but, the passion and feeling was obviously gone. They needed something new, a change. and that change was Mike Portnoy's departure. Mike Mangini was hired to replace Portnoy as drummer. Portnoy used to be one of the main writers and him leaving opened up the writing process to others in the group to take a larger role. The sound of this new album is fresh and full of passion. It is more progressive than any other of their past works since 6 degrees of inner turbulence. Jordan Rudess Keyboards and John Myungs Bass are more pronounced. Its no longer just bass and keyboards following the guitar riffs but each musician has something to add.There are a couple great ballads on this CD but most of the songs are still metal, and some of the best Prog Metal I have heard in years.
Report this review (#524263)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Credit where credit is due. DT's new album, for mine, is their best since Metropolis Pt 2. It is all tried and true, yes, but it represents what they do best. The fact that they've removed the cliched cringey 'metal' aspects makes for a mature progressive metal sound that should be able to be appreciated by everyone. The only track that is slightly weak is the last one.

I originally gave it a 4, but on repeat listenings this album has all the components that I personally like about DT. Interesting riffs, technical drumming, excellent keyboards, mind boggling noodling sessions, strong melodies and James LaBrie singing in a comfortable range. It's what I look for when I listen to DT and because of the consistently high quality throughout, I'm impressed.

Probably only a 4.5 due to the last track, but rounded up to 5 because it is probably more accessible to the modern prog world than any of their back catalogue and represents the older school of prog metal as well as any other album.

Report this review (#524274)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars As probably the most anticipated album of 2011, along with Heritage, A Dramatic Turn Of Events was in a very tough position to impress the audience. The prejudice against Dream Theater was overgrowing. Since the last four albums of Dream Theater were nothing short of a disappointment for many people, this album had to prove a point. And it did.

A Dramatic Turn Of Events finally let John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess to unleash their talent, without the interference of Mike Portnoy's weird musical taste. The far-fetched sections and weird vocals are gone. It's really hard to not review this album as a whole, almost every single song is a gem, from On The Backs Of Angels to Beneath The Surface, and they fit each other perfectly. It could easily be a concept album if the lyrics told a story together. It can still be considered as one though. Every track carries a "dramatic turn of event" concept, and tells a story about it, but mildly.

The thing that impressed me was, Petrucci and Rudess changed their way of writing songs. I'm listening to Dream Theater for more than 10 years, they are in the middle of my life, but this doesn't change the fact that DT was writing the same song with different names for the last 6 years. Atmospheric intro starts, killer riff comes in, Opethian part begins, killer riff for the second time, atonal instrumental section begins and lasts for 5 minutes, killer riff for the last time, complex outro. Change the order and you have new Dream Theater songs. I started to miss the songs like Trial of Tears, Caught in a Web, Scarred, even The Answer Lies Within. I'm not trying to blame anyone, but this decrease in quality struck Dream Theater because of Mike Portnoy's derangement. He wanted to be the Lars Ulrich of DT, he was dealing with all the commercing business, promoting the albums, producing the albums, making deals with record labels, selling bootlegs, post-production of DVD's... He still had his mighty playing ability, he used his drumsticks like Mjölnir, but turned into a band manager eventually. Anyway, Petrucci and Rudess returned to their instinctive way of writing, which created a potential legend like A Dramatic Turn Of Events.

Like I said, it's really hard to review this album song by song, it's a complete masterpiece. I wouldn't say "Chord Change is a great song from Moonmadness", because every song of Moonmadness is amazing. The same situation occurs in A Dramatic Turn Of Events too. Of course songs like Bridges In The Sky, Outcry and Breaking All Illusions step forward, since they are epic pieces, but there is a unity that must be felt throughout the album. Lots of other reasons to fall for A Dramatic Turn Of Events, probably the best album of 2011, and 5 stars without question.

Just a suggestion: Listen to this with the best earphone/headphone you can find, it's an extraordinarily detailed album, and average earphones will make it impossible for you to comprehend those moments.

Report this review (#524292)
Posted Thursday, September 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars DT has been recycling older material for quite a while, but this album makes one wonder: how stupid can Dream Theater fans be, after all? the songs are a re-hash of "Images & Words" with stuff from "Scenes from a Memory", both masterpieces, both very old.

It seems that DT has lost its inspiration. The melodies are the same as the ones from the past. The band only knows how to develop 2 types of songs: 12-minute epics or 6-minute ballads. There's nothing in between. It's always the same: grand opening, James Labrie doing his verse, short chorus, then solo guitar (made by a machine), solo keyboards (made by an iPad freak), back to verse, chorus and grand ending.

If people have short memories, and they can't find the resemblance to stuff from 1992-1999, that's very sad. My conclusion is that DT should be placed in the "heroes of the past" drawer of the Prog Archives. Sad, maybe even very sad, but true none the less.

Report this review (#525169)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
The Truth
Post/Math Rock Team
5 stars The more than welcome return of good Dream Theater.

After a series of albums that seemed to be focusing too much on the wrong things (except Octavarium) Dream Theater comes out with an album that does not rely on the metal side of things as much as the previous releases and really is more well thought out and progressive. The band sounds like they were having a lot fun recording this album and it shows in the final product.

This drastic shift in the DT sound is likely due to Mike Portnoy's leave (who was forcing too much metal into the music of the last two albums IMO) which as sad as it is, actually benefited the band. They are exploring much more territory and include better instrumentation (lots of piano, yay!) than they did on Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds & Silver Linings and this creates a much more intense and interesting listen.

For me, the album recalls old nostalgic thoughts of being addicted to DT's Images & Words, a feeling that had been long since faded but with this album, a little spark was given.

Welcome back, DT, welcome back.

4.5 stars, rounded up.

Report this review (#525409)
Posted Saturday, September 17, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Must admit guys that i was a bit nervous receiving the new album this week, been a massive fan since 92 and have rated all 10 albums [ Ist album good and rest excellent] Mike leaving was a big deal for me because he was DT and brought so much to the DT table [coproduced the last 6 brilliant albums for one] ive now come to my conclusion on the new album, LOVE IT, different from any other album but as always quality from the 1st second to the last, melody is my number 1 priority and while EVERY other band have let me down DT deliver now every time, stand out tracks are Lost not forgotton, Bridges in the sky and the best of all BREAKING ALL ILLUSIONS [Song of the year] of course this is my album of the year and i shouldn't have doubted that DT wouldn't deliver another quality album.
Report this review (#526195)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I'll freely admit to my bias as a long-time die-hard fan of Dream Theater. There's little else I could ask of a progressive band than to make me think, make me smile, make me gasp in wonder at their sheer musicianship, make me cry, make me feel. Dream Theater has always accomplished that. Even their flawed efforts of recent years still carry with it that since of grandeur and significance that only the giants of prog can achieve. Still I've felt the band was slowly slipping away from what made them great, and their misguided efforts to be taken seriously as some sort of weird death-metal/prog hybrid were, frankly, laughable and cringe-worthy.

Change was needed. And change has come. And the results are stunning.

A Dramatic Turn of Events must surely be one of the crowning moments of their long career. From the chaos and abrupt loss of Mike Portnoy's departure, the remaining members have reinvented themselves, moving the signature DT sound in surprising and amazing new directions. Even as an ardent fan, I'll be the first to admit that over the years their music has become somewhat formulaic. Not so on this one. The album is packed with sudden, subtle, unexpected moments of musical and lyrical brilliance that quite literally took my breath away. There are melodic, harmonic, and vocal phrasings, found particularly in Lost Not Forgotten, This Is The Life, Bridges In The Sky and Breaking All Illusions, that reveal a depth of emotion, maturity and self-awareness that I've never heard on a Dream Theater release before.

For me Dream Theater has always been about those little 'Wow!' moments, and there are tons of them on this 77-minute masterpiece. Bombast has been replaced by lush melodic soundscapes, anchored by the thundering rhythmic bass-lines of a clearly rejuvenated John Myung. Endless shredding by John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess has been replaced by concise well-structured instrumental sections that feel integral to the composition rather than thrown in to simply make a given song reach a certain predetermined length. The painfully embarrassing death metal growls from the previous two albums have been replaced by actual progressive lead vocals by James LaBrie, who turns in what is surely one of the finest performances of his career, and even manages to get some song-writing credits. Newcomer Mangini does take a back seat here, as others have pointed out, but given the circumstance of this album's development, that should really come as no surprise, and his drumming, if low in the mix, is energetic, artful and at times even delicate.

I will not rate each song individually, as for me the Dream Theater experience has always been about the album as a whole and the journey on which it takes you. A Dramatic Turn of Events is oddly accessible (for a DT album) and yet contains some of their most complex compositional structures ever. How they've managed to achieve these two polar opposites on one album is beyond me, but it is amazing. The journey is emotional, powerful in the way only DT can be, and entirely satisfying.

Portnoy's departure got ugly, but the fact is the band and its fans owe him a debt of gratitude. First for all his years of tireless energy and effort on behalf of the band, and then for having the courage to walk away when he knew his musical direction had fallen out of step with the rest of his bandmates. DT could not have made this album had things not changed. Hopefully they can all move forward now to bigger and greater heights.

I may conceivably be giving this one 5 stars because it is such an amazing improvement from their previous two albums, but in time, I think I will still consider this an essential part of my prog collection. This one is not to be missed. A new Dream Theater. A dramatic change. Truly a dramatic turn of events.

Report this review (#526376)
Posted Sunday, September 18, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have to admit that I have not been a big fan of Dream Theater in the past. I'm a bit of a symphonic melodic proggy kind of guy and DT was decidedly too heavy and dark for me to really appreciate! The only DT album I could listen to all the way through without getting a headache was Octovarium which was a contrasting album in many ways.

BUT, I have listened to this album three or four times now and it just gets better every time I listen to it. It is a great album and, for once, I can really appreciate DT. The track 'Bridges in the Sky' is simply superb. I would buy the album just for that track alone.

Don't get me wrong. DT haven't come over all 'artsy-fartsy'. They are still heavy and they are still loud. But underneath the great weight of guitar riffs, blistering keyboards and cavernous drums there is a melody there and in this album, for the first time in ages, the melody is released. It's great. If this is the direction that DT is heading in from now I will be listening a lot more carefully in the future, I promise you that! Easily four stars.

Report this review (#526920)
Posted Monday, September 19, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The Curious Case of the Prog in the Night-time...

As one of the few Dream Theater fans that really considers Black Clouds and Silver Linings to be one of their best albums to date, I was slightly disappointed with the first single from this album, and the various other track previews did little to impress. But after reading the glowing early reviews enjoyed by A Dramatic Turn of Events I felt slightly more optimistic and was looking forward to hearing it.

After the first listen...

Overall it is a decent effort with some nice moments, although few which entice me into revisiting any time soon. The best songs are the shorter ballads, which is somewhat unusual as I'm normally underwhelmed by these efforts, but James Labrie sounds surprisingly good.

Whilst the production of the album sounds a bit 'shallow', and you can tell that the drum parts were not written by a drummer, the keyboards are what ruin it for me. I had initially been excited to see what direction the band would take with the absence of Portnoy, but it just seems like Rudess had a sugar rush and absolutely plastered the release with weird and 'cartoon-esque' sounds. Whilst his quirky fills and interludes had always been a favourite of mine in the past, they are far too frequent to be enjoyed here. Imagine the "Beyond this Life" breakdown from Live at Budokan, but lasting well over an hour. And when he isn't dredging the archives of his solo projects, he's flooding the mix with layer upon layer of pseudo-strings and gothic choirs. It's all slightly ironic considering I congratulated his use of alternative sounds and samples in my review of their previous album, but the 'water feature' which opens "Beneath the Surface" take an idea similar to maudlin of the Well's "The Ferryman" and then falls flat on its face by utilising it in a totally alien context. Pointless. Another example is the 'shaman's wail' from "Bridges in the Sky" which should have sounded something like the intro to Spock's Beard's "The Great Nothing", but instead conjures up images of a paranormal fart.

In addition, the album artwork designed by Hugh Syme is his least impressive contribution to the band. I can appreciate the metaphorical imagery, but the love-child of Ronald McDonald and Tin Tin? Seriously?!

For me A Dramatic Turn of Events is a step backwards for Dream Theater.

After the third listen...

At just over 77 minutes the band's latest effort pushes the CD to its limits. Whilst most Dream Theater songs tend to be fairly lengthy, A Dramatic Turn of Events lacks the holding linchpin found on each of their most recent releases, namely "The Count of Tuscany", "In the Presence of Enemies" and "Octavarium". Instead we find no fewer than four tracks clocking in at over ten minutes which gives the album a structure more akin to Train of Thought. For me "Breaking All Illusions" is the strongest, closely followed by "Lost Not Forgotten" then "Bridges in the Sky" and last but not least "Outcry". All are excellent compositions but also sound quite similar, and lack the characteristic individuality of Black Clouds and Silver Linings.

Nestled in amongst these behemoths is "This is the Life", a thoughtful little piece with lyrics that remind me of latter day Rush.

The album closes with another ballad, "Beneath the Surface", which has drawn comparisons to the final track on Awake, "Space Dye Vest ". Whilst I appreciate that "Beneath the Surface" shows a slightly different approach when compared to the rest of A Dramatic Turn of Events, it still feels very much at home where "Space Dye Vest" sticks out like a ginger cousin on crack cocaine.The second ballad "Far from Heaven", is not quite as memorable at the other two but still betters the likes of "Vacant" and "Disappear". Similarly the album's lead single, "On the Backs of Angels", and the radio friendly "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" are slightly weaker than the rest of the tracks, but still stand above their recent counterparts such as "The Root of All Evil" and "Constant Motion".

Another strong release from the godfathers of progressive metal.

After the tenth listen...

Many have compared this to Images & Words, but for me A Dramatic Turn of Events is more akin to Octavarium in sound, albeit with compositions of increased complexity, and ballads that are genuinely emotive.

The albums opens with "On the Backs of Angels" and hits a low point straight away. It was originally conceived as a sort of welcoming doormat which showcases the aggregate Dream Theater sound, and whilst it certainly achieves that, the resulting average is, well, average! It's not particularly bad and has a few cool moments, but instead of saying 'here is a diluted sample of what to expect' they should have just skipped it altogether and got on with the main event!

The second track is "Build Me Up, Break Me Down", a catchy song with vocals reminiscent of "Burning My Soul", and an electro-industrial twist. I think this would have served the album better as its lead single, not only is it shorter than "On the Backs of Angels", but also more memorable.

"Lost Not Forgotten" is for me where the album really gets started. A modern tribute to the now mythical Achaemenid empire, it's the home of incredible guitar, incredible keyboards, and an opening bass-line that makes you feel like you're actually riding a horse through the deserts of ancient Babylonia!

"This is the Life" is equivalent to the likes of "I Walk Beside You" or "Anna Lee", with the main difference being that it's actually a really good song!

"Bridges in the Sky" had a working title The Shaman's Trance and describes exactly that!. Complete with throaty gurgling and avian samples, this is the album's second longer track, and its world music influences make some parts of it sound like Orphaned Land, which is no bad thing. This is followed immediately by the similarly lengthy "Outcry". It's an incredibly technical piece, maybe too much so as the intensity sacrifices some of its musicality, but a strong finale makes it live long in the memory.

"Breaking All Illusions" is special for two reasons. Firstly its the final epic of a Dream Theater album, and I haven't been disappointed by one of these since "In the Name of God". Secondly, it's the first Dream Theater song to feature lyrical contributions from John Myung for over ten years! This format of a shorter piano driven track ("Far from Heaven") which preludes a sprawling counterpart, draws parallels with "Wait for Sleep"/"Learning to Live" from Images & Words, another John Myung classic! Overall its probably the best composition of the album, I just wish that amazingly funky guitar breakdown would last a bit longer.

"Beneath the Surface" was written entirely by John Petrucci then suggested to the band later. An excellent piece with pensive lyrics and haunting synth work. Excluding the irritating high pitched vocals near the end, I could not imagine a more fitting closing to A Dramatic Turn of Events.

Jordan Rudess has an absolute field day on this album and utilises just about every piece of tech he owns. The overall effect is both grandiose and engaging, but i'm not a huge fan of the recycled sounds from Rudess/Morgenstein Project.

Whilst the album's longer tracks are far from unique, their incredible intricacy more than make up for this. Unfortunately the sound engineering isn't amazing, I wouldn't be sad if Andy Wallace didn't produce the next one, but it's still nice to hear John Myung's bass guitar get more of a look in.

The vocals from James Labrie sit amongst his most accomplished studio performances. Sure his voice might never return to its former glory, but the tracks laid down here seem warmer and less nasal than in recent outings. In addition the lyrics penned by Petrucci, Labrie and Myung are the band's best since Awake, that is something I certainly won't be missing Portnoy for!

Overall this is a more than worthy successor to Black Clouds and Silver Linings, and paves the way nicely for Mike Mangini's first real contribution on their next album.

The Verdict...

By documenting my thoughts and impressions at different stages of my experience with this album, I think it has become clear how essential it is to give A Dramatic Turn of Events plenty of time before passing judgement.

Report this review (#527381)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars OK, it's time for this old time fan to pledge again his allegiance and give this the 5 stars review it deserves. I knew it in my heart it was good, I resisted and didn't download it and patiently expected my preorder. For a week now it is the only CD in my car.

In receiving it, I remembered the old ritual of lyrics+music first hearing. Only one word, magnificent. Someone said something about old sparks from Images & Words. I couldn't agree more. With the exception of Build me up, Break me Down (which is actually a grower) the rest songs are an incredible experience. Clear distinctive DT sound, full of inspiration, influences that didn't fit are finally thrown away. Don't take me wrong, I had no problem when DT tried to add new elements but trial and error means you throw away the erratic. Finally done!

So first of all the lyrics, you can tell the emotional state the band (especially JP, since he is the main lyricist) is/was due to the overwritten and overspoken event. Apart from this you get a political statement about the current state of the world generally (more clear in the video of On the Backs of Angels). Being a Greek I could agree more about this storm of bad events that surround us, all that numbness but with a hidden positiveness. I think this is the soundtrack of today.

As for the music, we had a first glimpse with the Count of Tuscany that something good was on the way. We have epical orchestrations, with a clear image that everyone plays and does what he actually likes. And quite a playing. Although I think that the production is a bit blurry, it leaves quite a space for every instrument to shine: FINALLY clear and wonderful bass lines, masterful drumming that adds to the mix (although a bit in the back, it is clear that MM is up to the task), more fusion in keyboards (something like JR personal works). As for the guitar, it is again from another planet. JP always amazes me, quite an inspiration for me. I 'd like also to mention the magnificent work of LaBrie. His voice here takes you someplace else. It's clear that he decided to give a different approach in some vocal parts and he succeeded in giving something quite beautiful.

So what do you get here? A true DT record that has everything you like about them. It is a bright step forward with an eye in the past. It is a statement that if anything is changed, it is for the good. A dramatic turn of events? A beautiful turn of events. Love it, Album of the Year!

Report this review (#527390)
Posted Tuesday, September 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Originality is so passé

A year has passed since that fateful day when Mike Portnoy announced that he had quit Dream Theater. Now, with drummer Mike Mangini on board, the band have struck out with a new album, ready to prove that Dream Theater minus Portnoy is just as good, if not better.

When I first heard the title of this album, I had to stifle a groan. While the band deny it, the title seems to clearly reference Portnoy's decision to leave the group. The album art seemed awfully similar to that of Supertramp's '...Famous Last Words...', one of the bands' ill-appreciated albums. With song titles like 'On the Backs of Angels', 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down' and 'This is the Life', I was preparing myself for tripe.

However, I am quite shocked and relieved to say that tripe it is not! Indeed, Dream Theater seem to have got their heads in the right place to make this album. In fact, I can safely say that every song on this album is enjoyable and interesting; a remarkable feat, given that there are nine tracks.

However, there is one detail about this album that boosts the enjoyment factor, especially for DT fans: more than a few songs here share an uncanny likeness to songs from the band's 1992 album 'Images and Words'. This opinion was immortalised when Thiago Campos made a post outlining some of the ways in which the two albums were similar on Portnoy's forum. In many fans' eyes, 'Images and Words' was the bands' breakthrough masterpiece, featuring classic song after classic song. If the band were indeed trying to 'rip off' one of their old albums, they couldn't have chosen better!

You see, whilst this apparent dearth in creativity may seem like a negative aspect, it actually works wonders! When listening to a new album, it can be a struggle to try and keep the songs in your head. However, being able to match the songs up and compare the structures makes listening to and learning this album an easy, entertaining experience. Also, the only thing the band have 'ripped off' are the structures of the songs rather than the melodies or themes, meaning that the influences are all quite subtle and clever.

The nine songs on the album can easily be categorised into A-tracks and B-tracks. The A-tracks are the heavier, epic songs, and the B-tracks are the shorter, more commercial sounding songs. Simply put, the A-tracks are longer than 10 minutes, and the B tracks are shorter. Strangely enough, this was the format of the band's last album! Since each track is quite unique, it's only fair if I comment on each one.

The album kicks off with the On The Backs Of Angels. This track seems to have the same function on this album as A Rite Of Passage did on the previous album, and Constant Motion on the album before that. This function is to be a typical Dream Theater song, with three choruses and a kickass instrumental, and is to be used as a single for the album. However, this song is a lot better than it's predecessors, because it is a lot less predictable and has a more diverse feel. I say it's less predictable, but when you compare it to Pull Me Under from 'Images and Words', the structure of the song becomes crystal clear. The guitar-based intro with keyboards on top, the quiet part after the second chorus - everything feels just like the bands' so-called 'Greatest Hit'. This is a really cool song, with a lot to offer.

Build Me Up, Break Me Down has to be one of the band's oddest songs. Beginning with a sampled beat that is reminiscent of Wheatus's Teenage Dirtbag, this is a track for the less progressively inclined. Although I would normally skip over a track like this, the bands use of chugging riffs and power chords is nothing less than exquisite. The production of this track makes for a very pleasant listen. The best part of the song is either the anthemic chorus or the unison solo that reminds me of the guitar solo towards the end of The Best of Times.

Lost Not Forgotten is the album's first epic track. This song has a 'Prince of Persia'-esque theme, and the first few guitar notes in the intro really reflect this. There are many allusions to other Dream Theater tracks: the heavy chugging notes that are similar to those in The Dark Eternal Night, the short bass solo at 4:44 that sounds very much like the one heard in The Mirror and the quirkiness of the instrumental offshoots during the chorus that remind me of The Darkest Of Winters. However, the strongest allusion is to Under A Glass Moon, because the structures of the two songs are very similar. To me, this is one of the best tracks on the album, because it has it all: brilliant verses, charismatic choruses and indulgent instrumentals. This track will not be lost or forgotten any time soon.

This Is The Life is this album's Another Day. Right down to the cymbal-play at the end, these two songs could not be more similar. The saxophone solos have been replaced with guitar parts, and the track has been lengthened somewhat, but the similarity can almost be tasted. Fortunately, the ballad-like nature of this song is still appealing, and makes for some good easy listening.

Bridges In The Sky is an 11-minute metal powerhouse. The track begins with a very strange effect that sounds like a person with a very deep voice, followed by an atmospheric choral section. Afterwards, the band pick up their instruments and play what turns out to be quite a standard Dream Theater song. As usual, the instrumental is quite extraordinary, with ubiquitous time signature changes and various solos.

There are certainly some similarities between Outcry and Metropolis Pt. 1, like the anthemic intro and the extensive instrumental, but none quite as profound as we have seen previously. This is a 'protest song': a song that seems to be protesting against something, but the subject is kept quite vague. The instrumental is definitely the highlight of this track, being very diverse in nature and, at over 4 minutes, quite a workout! The verses and choruses are very good too.

Far From Heaven is a strange song for Dream Theater. This is a sombre acoustic track in the style of Vacant. LaBrie's voice is wonderful here, which is not surprising given that these are his lyrics. A moving, thoughtful piece.

The simplest way to describe Breaking All Illusions is by saying that it plays out pretty much like Learning To Live (except without the outro). The lyrics cut out at 5 minutes, and we are left to wonder: will the band be able to cope for the next 7 minutes? Surprisingly, they do! The instrumental this time is 5˝ minutes long, and is the most diverse of all the instrumentals of this album. This instrumental ranges from complex time signatures on the keyboards to a beautiful guitar solo and finally to a dramatic build up leading us to the final chorus. What the band have created is absolutely wonderful: a perfectly realised piece of prog rock.

Music is surely the best when it makes you feel happy. The last song, Beneath The Surface is a feelgood song that really will cheer you up. The melody of the chorus is simply irresistable. There's an allusion to ELP's Lucky Man with the keyboard solo in the centre of the track. LaBrie raises his voice for the last chorus for added impact. This is a lovely end to what has been quite an eye-opening album.

As someone who knows the band very well, I could not have been happier with this album. Rather than sounding tired and out of ideas, the band sound full of life and passion! Alongside Symphony X's 'Iconoclast' (the other big prog metal album of the year), it's easy to see why most people agree that Dream Theater are the best band of the genre. It's a bit sad to know that Portnoy isn't there on the recordings, but Mangini handles the drumming skillfully, and I cannot wait to hear what this new Dream Theater will come up with next! Allusions to 'Images and Words' aside, 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' is an astonishing album that will keep Dream Theater fans happy for years to come.

Report this review (#528649)
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars This long anticipated album is certainly not a disappointment even if the sense of something "déja vu" is really strong. The problem may probably be me, who I'm always expecting something new and amazing from this band, but all tracks remain on a good but rather standard level and far from being unique or memorable. Anyway there are two major exceptions that raise the general level from good to excellent: the powerful "Bridges in the Sky" and the wonderful "Breaking All Illusions": here we can find Dream Theater at their best, and surely if all the tracks had been held on this level now we'd be talking about an absolute masterpiece. In any case the good news is that DT are still alive and kicking and still capable of giving great emotions to their fans. My final rating is 4 stars.

Report this review (#528780)
Posted Wednesday, September 21, 2011 | Review Permalink
Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Dream Theater-Mike Portnoy=Dream Theater

Sometimes it seems as though the prog world is divided into Dream Theater lovers and Dream Theater haters. Every time an album is announced, arguments begin, and the album receives both glowing and panning reviews long before it is released. This one was no different, although this time the discussions were more about Portnoy's absence than the band's merits themselves.

I, for one, enjoy Dream Theater's music. On CD, I find they have a good blend of bombastic and unbelievably technical music. And Portnoy was a big part of it. In concert I found they lacked dynamics, everything played at full speed and full volume. And Portnoy's constant mugging on the big screen behind the band was goofy at best, annoying at worst.

New drummer Mike Mangini proves to be up to task of playing with John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess and John Myung. I hear that Petrucci wrote out his parts, and that is probably so, as he often seems to be imitating the guitar on his drums. And there are less fills than Portnoy would have played. Nonetheless, this turned out to be a very good Dream Theater album.

At times, some of the songs settle into metal cliches, but every time it gets to the point where I notice this, there is a sharp turn into a break where Petrucci, Rudess and Myung just amaze me. Rudess in particular sounds rejuvenated on this album. His keyboard work is as good here as I've ever heard him. And Myung benefits greatly from finally being brought up to an audible level in the mix.

As for James LaBrie, he sounds good here. I don't know whether it was a conscious decision, or just his voice mellowing with age, but he doesn't go into that shrill area that sometimes makes him hard to listen to.

This is another great album for Dream Theater. I just hope that they can patch things up with Portnoy. Not necessarily so he can rejoin the band. Just so the distracting melodrama can end on both sides. They all deserve better.

Report this review (#529099)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Consider this musical lease renewed.

For Dream Theater, there's a lot riding on their first album without Mike Portnoy. The leading up to the release, the questions loomed large: Can they hold to a cohesive vision? Will the production quality be up to snuff? Can Mike Mangini handle the material - let alone offer his own contributions?

When I finally was able to listen to the album for myself, the answer was an enthusiastic "YES" on all accounts! Any worries that the band would follow in the footsteps of the post-Neal Morse Spock's Beard are completely assuaged.

The band certainly has stepped it up in this release, with material that reflects the reality that their careers are riding on its success. The clear creative forces behind the music are John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess, who have a long history together of weaving complex and compelling musical storytelling. Both also offer a strong ear for great production value, which is evident from the very first listen.

Of course, the wild card was Mike Mangini. In this reviewer's opinion, that card turns out to be an ace. He does way more than mimic Mike Portnoy's meticulous and frenetic drumming, bringing a sound that he owns. His chops don't just keep up, but blaze new territory with some of the most original and intricate drumming we've ever heard from Dream Theater.

Every song on the album is strong, with my personal favorite being the anthemic Outcry. All the music is at once accessible and deeply complex, offering something for every level of prog-appreciation.

Dream Theater has turned over a new leaf. Is it because Portnoy left, or just because they had to renew themselves in his absence? Whatever the answer, the result speaks for itself--and bodes well for the future of the band.

Report this review (#529123)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Wow, what a positive surprise this album is! Seriously when Mike Portnoy left the band i felt it's all over for Dream Theater. Because although DT is, and always was, made up of 5 people, i always felt that it was Portnoy and Petrucci who always 'ran' the band, in terms of writing and managing. I wondered how will they be able still to create valuable music without Portnoy's contribution, not only as a great drummer (which was probably not such big problem to replace his in that aspect) but mainly as a composer and songwriter. Fortunately, it turned out that Petrucci and Rudess (and to lesser extent Myung) still have enough talent left to write great riffs, melodies and instrumental section, as well as pen not so bad lyrics...

In a way there is one positive thing about Portnoy's departure. Lately, he was pushing the band in a more 'heavy' direction, constantly contributing ideas such as growling vocals, blistering drumming and almost death-metal passages. It never was my favorite aspect of DT's music, i always preferred the softer side of their music and there is plenty of this on the latest record. The album is very melodically driven with a lot of piano and acoustic guitar, some string arrangements and haunting vocals by James LaBrie. Hard riffs and speed metal sections are also there. but even these moments have somewhat softer feel to them, mainly because of the production, in which the drums are much more buried in the mix, they are still highly technical but not 'in your face' kind of way anymore...

Back to songwriting... it seems that band consciously decided to go 'back to basics' while recording this new album and many of the songs pay homage to some of the band's classics from their groundbreaking album "Images and Words" as well as some other acclaimed songs from different records.... I guess its already been pointed out hundreds of times in previous reviews, but lets just make it clear once again. The following songs are similar in structure to these old 'classics':

"One The Backs of Angels" - "Pull Me Under" "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" - "Caught in a Web" / "Burning my Soul" "Lost Not Forgotten" - "Under a Glass Moon" "This is The Life" - "Another Day" / "The Spirit Carries On" "Far from Heaven" - "Wait for Sleep" "Breaking All Illusions" - "Learning To Live" / "Lines in the Sand"

I can understand those who accuse the band of 'self-plagiarism' or rehashing old ideas, but let's make one thing clear - we're living in the second decade of 21st century, how can 25 year old band come up with something that is entirely new and fresh and not similar to anything that has been done by this band before? Its impossible, and even if it is possible, i highly doubt its the thing the fans would ever accept - they love this band for what they've are and always been in the past.

I guess that in every band's history there is a point, in which after years of experimenting, pushing forward and trying to keep up with the fashion, the band decided that the best thing to do is just to get back to basics and start doing just that, what made them famous in the first place. That was the case with most of the bands which have been together for 20 years and more, Rolling Stones, Queen, Rush, Pink Floyd... Hell, even The Beatles got back to basics with "Let It Be" (though it was only 7 years after bands debut, but notice that in the 60's rock music developed twice or thrice as fast as nowadays). I think that Dream Theater reached that stage just now. With Mike Portnoy no longer on the board they had no pressure to try to remain hip and modern by all costs and simply returned to sound like classic DT. And they did in the best style possible!

Report this review (#529559)
Posted Thursday, September 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I just entering the Dream Theater site of Prog Archives and as I headed down to the reviews noticed the song 'Home' in the listen samples. Thinking it's been awhile I hit play and it hit me how vastly different and superior Dream Theater were to the way they are now. The sound on home is fresh, original, and ballsy. James Labries vocals sound fabulous without sounding like he's trying. The musicianship is at it's best and most original.

I've listened multiple times to Dramatic Turn of Events but just can't get excited. Is it of a high quality - of course, is it progressive and technically brilliant - sure, but quite frankly it's just not that exciting bar a brief moment here or there.

A lot of people have rated this highly but to me it's very much like Windows 7. Is it better than the past 3 albums - sure, hell yea, but that doesn't mean it's good it just a welcome step in the right direction. Those albums (especially the last 2) were so appalling it's obvious why Portnoy left like rats fleeing the sinking ship - because the truth is Dream Theater has become stale and are simply trying desperately to recapture their past unsuccessfully.

Fans of the past 2-3 albums shouldn't be disappointed. Fans looking for a return to Images, Scenes, Train of Thought or other past masterpieces are in for a let down. Sadly I think Portnoy was right to beg for a deserved longer break to rejuvenate the creative juices, it's definitely needed for longevity.

Compared to other bands Dramatic Turn of Events deserves to stand proud and still sets an example - at least in technical terms. Compared to the bands back catalog this album really only outdoes the past 2 albums which really wasn't hard.

Just listening to 'Honour Thy Father' now... oh such a shame...

Report this review (#530073)
Posted Friday, September 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I purchased the new DT album and had the chance during this week to listen to it many and many times while driving my car...What to say? I can't get enough of it! All songs are excellent (probably the weakest one is Beneath The Surface, a slow ballad which frankly leaves me indifferent) and show a new vein from this band which has lost part of the Heavy side of their music. DT remains a Heavy Progressive band without any doubt, but this album show much more the presence of Keyboards (making it more symphonic). New drummer Mike Mangini has made an excellent job showing MP departure has not been a big loss (except live on stage where we all miss him). Even James Labrie shows an improvement in his voice which is now less heavy than ever, with a more harmonic sound. What to say about John Petrucci? All words have been already spent! Is this all due to a regeneration of the band after MP departure? Don't know but I am afraid this is the reason (sorry Mike we love you anyway!). This is an excellent album which will be probably disliked by heavy metal prog fans of Dream Theater, but will probably be welcome by symphonic prog fans like me .
Report this review (#530094)
Posted Friday, September 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#530191)
Posted Friday, September 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Well... the new Dream Theater album is out. I don't think there had ever been more expectation for a new release by these prog veterans. At least not from me. The shocking news of Mike Portnoy's departure from his 20+-year-old baby left us fans with a myriad of questions. One of them, for me was: How strong was Portnoy's musical and compositional influence within the band? Will the eternal DT fan notice him not being a part of the creative process? Will this "dramatic turn of events" become a milestone in the band's career?

Now don´t get me wrong. When the unexpected schism took place I felt as if my "fan loyalty" (if such a thing exists) was, too, split in two. I've had the opportunity to meet the DT members and all of them are really good guys. I admire Mike for taking the tremendously difficult decision he took but at the same time I remained a big Dream Theater fan. I was eagerly expecting both DT's new album and MP's Adrenaline Mob mostly because I figured such a game changer would definitely have major impact in the outcome of both projects.

When the adrenaline Mob EP came out part of my expectation subsided; it was one of those WTF moments that rather than pissing you off makes you say "oh, well... things have definitely changed". Then DT (after shooting and releasing a reality show called "The Spirit Carries On") uploaded their first single "On the backs of angels" to YouTube followed by some snippets of the other songs. When I heard them I couldn't help to feel a somewhat bitter sip of "same old, same old" run down my throat; expectations went down again.

However, when it comes to Dream Theater (as well as with a couple of other bands) I have to admit I am a true fan. I will keep buying DT albums for as long as they keep doing them and the same happens with Mike Portnoy. This is because I feel as if I had a musical connection with these guys; a musical friendship if you will...

Having said that I will give my review after listening to the complete album for roughly 13-15 times. I also have to mention that I am NOT reviewing this album from the prog rock perspective but from the PROG METAL one. This genre has become so tremendously broad that I don't really see objectivity in listening and judging a 2011 Dream Theater album with the same aesthetic standards you would use to listen and judge a 1971 King Crimson album.

This album turned out to be a very pleasant surprise. The first time through the feeling I had was curiosity which was a good thing since that meant I was interested in listening it again. (Not at all what happened with Black Clouds and Silver Linings). After my 3rd or 4th time of listening through it I was having a lot of fun with what the album has to offer: really progressive sections in some of the songs, a couple of beautiful guitar solos, a more mature an sensible voice composition, fluid transitions and really good, musical, strong choruses. It is clearly reminiscent of several past albums but mostly in a good way.

"On the backs of angels" is track 1 and the first single. Not much innovation here. Metal riffs, sociopolitical topic in the lyrics, catchy chorus. The verses sound as if they should continue for a bit more. They probably wanted to keep it short for publicity purposes. You get a first taste of Mike Mangini's drum set and how different it sounds from Portnoy's. 3/5

Next yo have "Build me up, break me down". I think this song talks about Jesus or some kind of representation of God. It is a weaker song than the first track. It starts off with a tacky electronic beat courtesy of Jordan "TheWizard" Rudess' toys followed by a somewhat- prog guitar riff. This song reminds me a lot the sound of Falling into Infinity. James Labrie does some unfortunate octave doubling in the post chorus sections. The chorus itself is also catchy but not as good as the ones in other songs. 2/5

I like what they did in most of the songs choruses; Jordan Rudess plays some melodies with his synth strings that double or counterpoint the voice melodies. The result is very epic and musical.

Lost not forgotten is track 3. For me, this is where things start to get better in the album. I really like the harmonic progression for the intro. This is a very prog song. Right before the first verse there is a super fast, harmonically crazy guitar-synth unison section the likes of what they gave us in Liquid Tension Experiment. In the first and second choruses they add some obligatos that at first were kind of annoying for me but after listening the song for a few times they sound ok. The second verse sounds so much like "Images and words"! I loved that section! It is almost like a self-tribute. There is an excellent guitar solo in this song. It reminds me a lot to the one in "Under a glass moon". Not too shreddy but virtuosistic and musical; kind of like jazz-fusionesque at the end. Mangini's drumming is spot-on! Good arrangements. Good energy. Good prog! 4/5

Track 4 is This is the life. Man! Where do I begin! I LOVE this track. I think this is the best mellow track they've done since The spirit carries on. Everything in this song works. The arrangements are tasteful, it is not too long but not too short, and there are no obscure sections that apparently have nothing to do with the rest of it. The 5/4 time signature in the verse gives it a nice twist. Lyrics have a positive message which is always nice. The guitar solo is amazing! Mature, sensible, musical. Definitely the best non-prog song in the album. 5/5

Next is track 5 Bridges in the sky. Originally titled "The shaman's trance". It narrates some kind of astral travel or something like that. This song is a straight forward prog-metal-ŕ- la-Dream-Theater epic. It features some very cool choral arrangements in the intro preceded by some tuvan throat singing. (Rudess is one hell of a musician!) The chorus is the best part of the song. Epic and extremely melodic. I can't wait to sing along to this chorus when I see them live. The instrumental section is very progressive. Very nice. Cool keyboard solo, as well. Good song. 4/5

Outcry (I swear I can hear Labrie saying "oatcry" in the first verse) is the sixth track. This track to me sums up everything Dream Theater is all about: epic, long songs, virtuosity, seamless transitions, very progressive rock. With its great obligatos, blazing unisons, superb arrangements and a kick-ass non-distorted section that serves as abridge between the instrumental part and the last chorus (which is also great) it is one of the highlights of the album. It is the song where they say "We are not done yet". Excellent. 5/5

Then we have Far from heaven. Track 7 is a beautiful, slow song. No guitars. The vocal work is very good. Strings and piano arrangements are subtle and tasteful (although the synth strings sound a little shoddy at times). I don't quite understand what the lyrics are talking about but they have an interesting, sonnet-like form. A great short, mellow song. 4/5

Breaking all illusions is track 8. This, in my opinion is the best piece of music in this album. It is also the best piece of music that I've heard from DT since Six Degrees. What they achieved in that album by means of orchestral composition they repeated in this magnificent progressive rock song. It's refreshing, bold and well-crafted. There are so many sections that intertwine. So many different moods. Definitely a statement. A statement that proves that these guys can really still make the music we love them to make. The music we expect from them. 5/5

Beneath the surface is the final track. This album should have ended with "Breaking all illusions". This final track lacks everything track 8 has. It is boring, the sound is terrible, the lyrics are SO lame, Labrie's vocals at the end are not in good taste and the arrangements fail to yield a moving effect (which I suppose was the purpose of the song) 1/5

To conclude, I have some comments on two topics. First, the production. I'm not saying it sounds bad (because it really doesn't). There's just something that I think needs some improvement. It's like some of the songs sound very different from what the whole sonic concept of the album seems. Maybe Petrucci worked better alongside Portnoy as a producer...

The other thing I wanted to address is Mangini's drumming. Mangini is a monster and I think he did a fantastic job on this album. His technical expertise is definitely comparable to the one that each of the other DT members possess. I kinda' miss Portnoy's sound, though. I can't help to feel that Mangini's drum set sounds a little "thin" in some parts. Also, the fact that everything he played was written by Petrucci (great musician but NOT a drummer) is really noticeable. I'm really looking forward to listening the second Mangini-period album and see how he participates in the compositional process.

I think this is a great album. I would call it the best modern-era DT album. I could never compare it with Awake or IaW because they definitely took a new direction with Scenes From a Memory. It hurts a bit to say this but, as an answer to the question I mentioned earlier, it seems that things had gotten a bit stale with Portnoy. He always bragged about how he "always got his way in Dream Theater" and the last albums had been displaying a gradual tendency towards a very disappointing place. I think that, for now, Dream Theater had a fresh start. This album is proof of it.

Report this review (#530521)
Posted Friday, September 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars 7/10

"A Dramatic Turn Of Events" is the best Dream Theater album since "Six Degrees".

I wonder how many people thought this was going to be awful. After the departure of drummer Mike Portnoy, who was the spinal cord of the band, many didn't know what to expect with new drummer Mike Mangini (Annihilator), and with the naturally different direction, since the former musician always led DT to a heavy sound, thus the sound would perhaps be or more rockish/straight-forward (my biggest fear), or more experimental. I must admit I was one of those people who wasn't excited, even if I liked "On The Backs Of Angels", the single to drop out the album, and I probably wasn't even going to bother getting the album immediately. But I did, and I got surprised big time. "A Dramatic Turn Of Events" could be the best DT album since "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence", released nine years earlier. This to me was a relief, and I was glad.

Luckily, the band opted with the more experimental approach, so the ambition of this album is immense. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most rich and ambitious albums the band has ever done. So many textures and layers of sound can be heard, and you hear new ones you've missed the previous listens every new listen. aDToE is a much more keyboard- driven, progressive LP, tons of effects, samples, and very interesting ambient moments, especially in many intros here. It can be heavy too, thanks to Petrucci's amazing guitar playing. His riffs here are mostly very well written and almost always pretty mind-blowing. But the two shining stars of the album for me are Jordan Rudess, who gives some of the most impressive performances I've ever heard by a keybordist, and Mike Mangini, who does an awesome job in my opinion and is a more than decent substitute of Portnoy.

But the thing that bothers me about this album is something that is present in all Dream Theater albums but here it is magnified to the extreme: technical musicianship, and the solos. On this album they are pushed to the very extreme, and end up sounding cold and, after a while, a little boring too. The musicians have written "Oh look how good I am" all over them, and I'm sorry to say that. It is almost too complex, too ambitious, or at least for my taste.

There are however moments that blew me away completely starting from the opening track "On The Backs Of Angels", that builds up epically and has good hooks. But my two favorite tracks here are the following "Build Me up, Break Me Down", which looks like it is becoming subject of controversy because of it's apparent cheesiness and really straight-forwardness, and "Bridges In The Sky", that has an awesome intro and aggressive feel overall. Other moments here are quite good: "This Is The Life" is one of the most beautiful ballads Dream Theater has written in a while, and "Beneath The Surface" is another calm and likeable tune. I always am satisfied when I like a DT ballad, because usually I don't enjoy them. "Outcry" is fun to listen to, but it does incarnate the excessive technical nature that this LP has; do I really want to hear almost ten minutes of crazy keyboards? "Breaking All Illusions" is another track I enjoyed a lot, it has a sort of layered down feel, and it's a good thing after more than an hour of Dream Theater madness.

"A Dramatic Turn Of Events" is so much better than I thought; It might not be as good as other releases this year, but 2011, as we can all see, is a year where music blossoms very well. If you like extremely technical music, you'll have a blast with Petrucci & company's last effort.

Report this review (#531303)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars Believe it or not, this is Dream Theater's BEST ALBUM in a very long time. I've been a fan for quite some time, and always look forward to each new release. That said, while every album since "Scenes From a Memory" has been at least OK, there have been a few hit and misses. The last record ("Dark Clouds...") is a good example of this. Complex music played with precision, but a purposely harder sound that seemed dominated by Portnoy's influence, James' tendency to over-sing, death metal vocals, and a vast quantity of pure prog wankery.

Having said that, the past is the past. Great bands can come back-to-basics and put out great stuff. Dream Theater did just that with "A Dramatic Turn of Events". First and foremost, this album is all about songs and melodies. The music is still extremely complex and there's not deviation from DT's brand of prog. There's just an obvious emphasis on song structure here. John P's guitar is somewhat restrained this time as well, and I happen to think that he's at his best when he's not in pure shred mode. Other things to note is that Jordan seems to be mixing up more too, James is singing at the range that best fits him, and you can actually here John M most of the time.

The last big change is in the drums department. First of all, Mike Mangini is a spectacular musician. He's a different drummer than Portnoy, for sure. But he can do it all. It's hard to tell whether or not his influence or style made that much of an impact here. However, I don't think it matters. His performance is superb, and I can actually envision the look on his face playing as I listen to the songs. The guy plays with heart, and it shows here in spades.

Whether you agree that DT lost it's way over the past few albums or not, I hope that you all give this album a listen. I think you'l be quite surprise by it. Amazing record....highly recommended!

Report this review (#531606)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars Breaking all illusions

Dream Theater is a band that needs to introduction. They are the single most popular progressive metal band in the industry, selling millions upon millions of records and playing shows to thousands of die-hard fans. They almost single-handedly forged the path of one of the most prosperous genres in modern progressive rock. They have some of the most dedicated fans of any band as well as some of the most dedicated haters of any band. They're signature sound can be heard from miles away and has been imitated by countless bands. Their mix of "melody, metal, and prog" has become the standard for near all prog metal bands in their echelon, and the band's incredible amount of virtuosity has made them gods among technical-loving musicians everywhere. However, the past year has been the most tumultuous time in the band's entire history. Dream Theater has had its share of "drama." In 1994-95, the band's first keyboardist Kevin Moore left the band, and lead singer James LaBrie ruptured his vocal chords due to a food poisoning incident, all right before the band's second world tour. In the band's 2010-11 season, however, something eternally more shocking occurred - DT's driving force and founding member Mike Portnoy announced his departure from the band. Of course, this created an upheaval of reactions from the band's legions of fans, and much discussion, bittering, and outright arguing occurred between the fans. The band had decided to continue on as a band, which was contrary to what Portnoy had wanted. So, the band stayed in secrecy about their new drummer, announcing they had gone back to the studio in January, and that their new album was to be titled A Dramatic Turn of Events (an aptly, but perhaps a bit too aptly, titled title), before announcing in April of 2011, near 6 months after Portnoy had left, that legendary drummer Mike Mangini, former holder of the fastest single stroke player (over 1200 hits in a minute) was the band's new drummer. They also announced in documentary form that they had auditioned 7 drummers: Mangini, Virgil Donati, Aquiles Prester, Marco Minnemann, Thomas Lang, Peter Wildoer, and Derek Roddy. In June, the band excitedly released their first single off the new album, "On the Backs of Angels," which displayed a less metal- dense and very typical progressive Dream Theater sound, which, for the most part, excited fans. The progressive world then patiently waited until September 13 (or, for some, a wee bit earlier due to some less than legal activities) for the release of the band's new album.

The 77 minute album was a treat for most. The band seemed, despite popular belief, to still be able to write music without Mike Portnoy. In some cases, it seems Portnoy's insistence on metal seems to have lightened a bit, as there are more ballads and more of a balance between the guitar, keys, and bass (I'll get to the drums later). Although the metal aspect of the music is still very much present, it seems the album has a heavier emphasis on progressiveness and melody, rather than simply riffs, riffs and more riffs. Rudess and Myung both seem to be much more present (Myung especially) on this album as well, giving a more dynamic approach then just Petrucci's constant dominance over the music. The entire album is brimming with signature Dream Theater songs - with Rudess' interesting use of silly keyboard voices, Petrucci's virtuoso riffing and soloing, and now Mangini's mechanical and precise drumming, it seems this is the band's true return to form, and easily the band's best since 2005's Octavarium.

Now I'm well known around these parts as a massive Dream Theater fanboy, and that really any opinion of a new Dream Theater album will be slightly skewed based on nearly every prog fan's natural bias towards the band, good or bad. However, despite my undying love of this band, my opinion of the album seems to have evened out after eleven or so listens. My first listen was skewed by an excitement-high that had me nearly writing a perfect 5 star review. I stopped myself, though. My second listen wasn't as grand. I seemed to think the album was just another Octavarium with a little Images and Words mixed in; good but nothing special. However, with the third, fourth, fifth, and so on listens, I began to hear the little bits of true greatness the band seemed to have baked into the album. The metal tracks were aggressive, epic, and progressive. The ballads were sincere, intimate, and well played. The longer tracks were arranged well, although not as well as they once were (arrangement was Portnoy's strong suit). The instrumentation was spot on, with Petrucci's solos as good as they've ever been. Myung's bass lines are masterful and also, amazingly, audible (at least with a subwoofer :-P). The lyrics weren't anything to write home about, but they were typical to Dream Theater - seemingly political, ambiguous, and with an overuse of the words "soul" or "life." Not every song is perfect, with the second track "Build me up, Break me Down" seeming like a cheesy James LaBrie solo career ripoff radio attempt, which seriously drags the album down. Mangini's drumming seems to have been forced to take the back seat in the mix, which is a daunting contrast to Portnoy's ever- present drumming in former mixes. LaBrie's singing, which is usually a sore spot amongst fans and haters alike, is wonderful on the album, and he does an excellent job especially on the album's 3 ballads.

Each track on the album seems to have a little something special to it, even the lesser ones of the album. The opener, "On the Backs of Angels" is the cozy song for fans, a kind of "hey, we're still Dream Theater!" that retains the band's classic sound in a very traditional and signature way. The track is a fantastic showcase of Rudess' skill, with a great keyboard part really shining in the song. "Build me Up, Break me Down" is easily the weakest song on the album, yet still has a distinct quality to it. It is the album's "radio friendly" song, although it's quite the traditional metal song; it is similar to Systematic Chaos's "Constant Motion" in its intent, methinks. "Lost not Forgotten" is the album's first "long song," clocking in at around 10 minutes. Lyrically, it is about the fallen kingdom of Persia, and musically, it's just as epic as that ancient kingdom. Vast, emotive, and powerful, it is certainly a high point on the album. It is followed by the first ballad on the album, the emotional and moving "This is the Life," which has a potent dynamic of near-AOR-esque guitar riffing and truly beautiful piano and vocal work. It is easily one of the band's better ballads in their discography, and it adds a really nice touch to the album. "Bridges in the Sky," originally titled The Shaman's Trance, is the second 11 minute epic of the album, which is full of interesting dynamics, intense riffs, and very strong instrumental and vocal performances. It features a classic Dream Theater instrumental section, with precision synchronization, Petrucci/Rudess switch off solos, and an overall incredible virtuoso show-off session. "Outcry" follows suit with "Bridges?," with an 11 minute length and an epic dynamic metal Dream Theater-fest. Much in the same way of "Bridges?," it features an epic instrumental section, full of technical mayhem and progressive epicness. "Far From Heaven" is by far the most melancholic song on the album. It features tender vocals by LaBrie, emotive piano work from Rudess, and a very well placed string quartet. "Breaking All Illusions" is the album's true epic, clocking in at over 12 minutes, and containing all that the album has been building up to. Epic riffing, intense instrumentation, powerful vocals, and even very well written lyrics by none other than John Myung make this easily the best song on the album and a treat for all progressive metal fans. The album finally ends with the guitar-led ballad "Beneath the Surface," which has a very similar approach to "Far From Heaven," except in a major key. The song is uplifting and calming, with the subtle strings and Petrucci's laid back guitar work meshing beautifully with LaBrie's vocals. It ends the joy ride of an album on a truly spectacular note, wrapping the entire album up in a pretty plush blanket that makes you feel all nice and fuzzy on the inside. Overall, the album has its ups and downs, but it certainly makes for a wonderfully enjoyable roller coaster.

Although this may seem like an over-long and verbose description of how I love this album, I think there's a little bit of reason behind my 1600+ word review. It has been established time and time again that Dream Theater seems to be in a slump in their creative careers. Needless to say the last few albums have simply been decent, average modern Dream Theater material, with nothing truly outstanding about it. Post-Scenes From a Memory, Dream Theater seemed to be going downhill, and downhill fast. However, it seems that perhaps they have turned their noses up slightly. The album is the band's true return to form in my opinion. Vast, dynamic progressive metal that's not drowning in metal riffs but rather floating on a sea of well-developed and carefully chosen riffs is truly what makes up this album. It's sad that it took a truly dramatic turn of events such as their drummer's departure for the band to wake up and produce such a masterful album such as A Dramatic Turn of Events. I believe this is the best thing Dream Theater has created in the past 6 years. 4+ stars.

Report this review (#531640)
Posted Saturday, September 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars What is there left to be said after such an extensive analysis by my fellow PA members? Everything has been said, from the departure of Mike Portnoy, the aquisition of Mike Mangini, Mangini not being involved in the writing and the two camps of Dream Theater listeners... the ones they can do no wrong to and the ones who can't stand a single not.

I personally think this is their best album since - one of my favourite Dream Theater albums - "Train of Thoughts". Gone is the dark metal atmosphere; The thirteen-in-a-dozen songs which all sound the same; The annoying backing vocals by Mike Portnoy.

In come melodies, musicianship for which they are known and a sound everyone can relate to. They're never going to rewrite progressive music like they did with "Images and Words", but they don't have too. They're the godfathers of progressive metal.

Report this review (#533162)
Posted Monday, September 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars It's that time of the year again.

I've been a regular fan of Dream Theater for quite some time now and like most of the fans out there I like the old Dream Theater better. Having that said, this album is, in my opinion, their best work since "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence". It's not that I didn't enjoy previous works such as "Black Clouds and Silver Linnings", it's just that this is the most consistent and solid album they've made in a while.

It seemed that with previous records there was one or a couple of mind-blowing tracks within an otherwise mediocre track-list. I am glad to say that ADTOE is the other way around completely. Depending on your musical taste you will find one or two mediocre tracks within an absolutely mind-blowing track-list. Its a sort of back-to-basics mixed with the modern metal edge that has defined DT as band over the past few years and it is sure to please both old and new fans.

The album kicks off with the single "On The Back of Angels" which I'm not so fond of. However it is a mayor improvement when compared when previous singles such as "A rite of Passage" and "Constant Motion". It has a similar structure to that of "Pull me Under" and it does work as the opening of the album. Still, this, along with "Build me up, Break me down" are without a doubt the two weak spots of the album, so if you found yourself in love with the released single than you should definetly buy the Album as the best is yet to come. On the other hand, if "On The Back of Angels" gave you a hard time and maybe dissapointment don't be discouraged and listen to other tracks as they will most likely make you end up purchasing the record.

A common discussion that has arised within the DT fan base and community is the similarity in the structures of the songs reminiscent to those in Images and Words and Awake. I have not done an extended detailed analysis of the musical structures to know if it true or not because I simply don't care. It is evident that there are musical similarities in tracks here with those of the past, just a after a first listen to "Build me up, Break me down" took me back to "Caught in a Web" and the solo in "Lost Not Forgotten" to "Under a Glass Moon"; but I couldn't care less if the structures are 100% similar because the sounds, emotions evoked and the soul of the songs and the entire album are noticeably different and unique, so my suggestion is that you don't lead your decision based on the structure rather than the actual musical composition and sound.

Epic tracks in this record involve the 3rd, 5th, 6th and 8th and are according to order: "Lost Not Forgotten", "Bridges in the Sky", "Outcry" and the amazing "Breaking all Illusions". The placement on the album of this epic tracks is perfect as they make the record move between heavy metal passages and crazy experimentation to soft melodic moments and beautiful soft ballads.

The musicianship here is top notch as usual, Petrucci, Rudess, Myung, Mangini really excel as one would hope they do. Even La Brie who has a love/hate situation with the fan base is absolutely amazing on this record, marking whats probably his best vocal effort in a long time and is sure to please even those, unfortunates, who cant stand his singing.

Another point of interest is the experimental sections of the record. In previous but recent ones (From, I would dare say, "A train of thought" forward) the band has had us used to listen to the crazy musical exchange between Rudess and Petrucci that sometimes...manytimes, sounded like a simple attempt to wow and maybe showoff their incredible abilities. This time however, the complex time signatures, the crazy note exchanges, the..."showing off" if you will, all serve the sole purpose of the music and song in general resulting in much more pleasant, amazing and even more complex instrumental sections that incorporate not only their modern metal edge but the classical quality that made them as a band back in the day. It seems that in this record they have achieved a true balance between their virtuosity and musical quality, a trademark that defined them back in days of I&W and Awake.

The ballads are also a high point in this album, having three of them spread out to bring us back to reality through out the record and give those who need a chance to catch their breaths a break.

I've tried through out the review of the album not to focus on the whole Portnoy situation and however I find my self in the need to do so in order to conclude it. Mike Portnoy was without a doubt a mayor influence in DT and I was, as every other fan out there, DEVASTATED by his departure. However, parts of the musical direction that previous records such as "Systematic Chaos" and "Black Clouds and Silver Linings" had adopted were at least questionable. With his departure from the band we can now forget about the growling and growing comercial trades that the band had started to exhibit. It's, as I said, a sort of back to basics and hopefully a simple taste of whats to come in the future.

In the fewest words possible:

The metal riffs are awesome, the instrumental sections are better than ever incorporating all of their influences (From ELP to Riverside to Rush to Classic DT), the solos and skills are better than ever aging the same way only the finest wines age, the vocals are spot on and the lyrics are the best in quite some time and last but not least we can finally hear Mr. Myung.

For all that and surely a lot of other things I've ommited and skipped this album deserves 4.5 stars; Lets just make it an even 5 shall we?

Report this review (#533865)
Posted Monday, September 26, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well who'd have thought it would ever happen, a Dream Theater album without Mike Portnoy. However, as everything's pretty much been said that can be on this subject I won't expand any further on it other than to simply say that Dream Theater have proved with A Dramatic Turn Of Events that not only can they exist without him but they have actually bettered anything they've done for years. How much of this is down to Portnoy's absence is difficult to say but my suspicion that his previous firm hold on the band, which included some mistakes like his attempts at death growls, wouldn't have allowed this album to happen the way it has.

A perusal at my reviews for the last couple of Dream Theater albums would reveal a rating of 4 stars for both, the same as this one. So how's this one better then? Well, I've made a deliberate effort to live with this one longer than the last two before committing myself as while Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds.... were both decent albums, I found their shine wearing off pretty quickly and my initial excitement being replaced by apathy. Despite some exciting musicianship, a lack of strong melodies affected their long term appeal. This is where A Dramatic Turn Of Events triumphs big time, the band replacing bludgeon with a more melodic sensibility more akin to Images and Words era. That's not to say that ADTOE lacks power, there's no shortage of metal riffing, but the more tuneful approach works far better than previous attempts to compete with the new metal kids on the block. This is immediately apparent from the off and whilst On The Backs Of Angels is not my favourite piece it's nevertheless a useful statement of intent of their return to more melodious days.

Of course a review of the new Dream Theater album would be incomplete without mentioning Portnoy's replacement Mike Mangini. The guy undoubtedly has the necessary chops and follows all the twists, turns and complexities with ease. Where he differs and whether you consider this a good thing or not are down to personal preferences, is in his less frenetic approach. Rhythmically he has all the double kick stuff down to a fine art but is content to ease back on the amount of fills. Where his predecessor rarely went a couple of bars without throwing something in, Mangini, whilst more restrained, nevertheless has plenty to offer in his more considered approach.

Getting back to things on a musical level, whilst this album may on the face of it appear to be stepping backwards, which in many respects it is, it nevertheless does offer some progression, at least for Dream Theater like on Build Me Up, Break me Down with a Porcupine Tree-esque verse before entering more traditional DT territory for the chorus. The slow pace and grinding riff that appears from time to time is a killer. Jordan Rudess seems to have benefited from the new approach, having more space to not only shine but heard more too, not least with some fine playing on Lost Not Forgotten, incidentally, one of the highlights for me mixing strong hooks with some fine instrumental work.

There's the obligatory ballads - Beneath The Surface, Far From Heaven and This Is The Life, which are fine but much better are the longer pieces such as Bridges In The Sky which after a beautiful choral intro has a killer John Petrucci riff and John Myung seems to even be heard to better effect too, not just here, but overall. I'll be the first to admit that James LaBrie has not been one of my favourite vocalists, but I can't say I've ever heard him better than on ADTOE, Bridges In The Sky being a particular high point for him. The cinematic feel of the intro to Outcry leads into more pedestrian Dream Theater territory, but on more recent outings would still be considered above average, but in more illustrious company doesn't quite hit the mark until moving into instrumental mode where it really takes off. Most of the best material here breaks the ten minute barrier, Breaking All Illusions being no exceptions, once again mixing memorable melodies with some strong instrumental work including one of Petrucci's best solo's on the album.

Whether Dream Theater and Mike Portnoy will ever make another album together or not remains to be seen. Without insulting the guy and I'm a great admirer of his playing, I believe he's done the band a favour by leaving which has appears to have given them a new found freedom and a good kick up the ass. A Dramtic Turn Of Events is undoubtedly their best album for years, since Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence in 2002.

Report this review (#537383)
Posted Thursday, September 29, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars the true mark of a band's ability is to stay focussed amid changing times (and personnel) and still come up with their own signature tunes. very few great bands have survived the loss of a key member/s:

- one of the best muisicians ever, Pink Floyd only managed 2 albums after Waters left the band and while there were great songs on them, they were not quite the stuff of the past.

- and while Deep Purple still play on without Blackmore and Lord, they are a pale shadow of the "real" Deep Purple. from having been a die-hard fan who owns all their albums since the 70s, i haven't heard a single new song of theirs since "The Battle Rages On..."

coming to Dream Theater. is Mike Portnoy the small crack that will cause a painful downward spiral? well, if A Dramatic Turn Of Events is anything to go by, HELL NO!

i had mixed feelings when the Portnoy story broke - but i am, and will always be, a supporter of the collective vs. the individual, so i looked forward to this album probably more eagerly than their previous ones, following the audition saga intently and cheering when the picked the new Mike...

the album itself is clearly fresh and full of DTisms. in the absence of the (probably) over-bearing MP, all the guys have stood up to be counted. Petrucci has always been a pillar not just with the guitar but also the songwriting and continues to be the dominant force but:

On The Backs Of Angels: everyone shines, include the new Mike (listen to the cymbals at 3:28)

Build Me Up, Break Me Down: has James LaBrie written all over it. if you haven't already, go listen to his latest - "Static Impulse" and you'll see what i mean...i like!

Bridges In The Sky, Outcry: is that John Myung's bass i can hear shining through?

Breaking All Illusions: everyone plays a part again but Rudess' keyboard playing is mindblowing

This Is The Life, Beneath The Surface: the booklet doesn't say so, but a lot of the melodies sound like LaBrie had something to do with them...

and the new Mike stays in the background for now, but does a super job playing everything the other guys throw at him and then some more. we know Mike M can do more (better, faster, more complex etc.) but i guess we'll have to wait for DT's next work of art...

till then, i think i'll still be enjoying A Dramatic Turn Of Events!

Report this review (#537673)
Posted Friday, September 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's to my surprise that the local pressing CD version of this new album by Dream Theater was available pretty soon right after the world wide release date of 13 September 2011. I am not sure when exactly the Indonesian pressing version was available but for sure only couple of days (less than 7 days) from official release date. I was lucky not to pre-order the CD because with local pressing I would have two benefits: first, it's cheaper even though there is no bonus DVD (it's OK, I can watch the blue ray version from my prog mates right here in my country) and second, help promote local pressing sales so that in the future many prog bands can be released locally and affordable to majority of people here. I am happy that there have been some prog bands already made local pressing like Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Dream Theater, Marillion and hopefully many more bands to be pressed locally. Let's make prog everyone's business, like pop music.

This album has been reviewed by many reviewers BEFORE its official release date and the Admin of this site promised that any reviews done before release date will be omitted. It has proved that this album had been leaking in the internet world weeks before its official release date - it's probably from the promotional CD issued by the label. I have seen many positive reviews about this album and in average it has been an excellent addition to any prog music collection. I like the headline put by colleague reviewer Evolver who put "DREAM THEATER - PORTNOY = DREAM THEATER". What a simple equation that really tells the truth. While in my case, let me put it this way:

Dream Theater without Portnoy tends to be PROG

I pre-ordered 'Systematic Chaos' and 'Black Cloud and Silver Linings' CDs and at the end I spun the album rarely despite my good review about the two albums. I maybe only have less then ten spins because I was sometime tired listening to DREAM SEVENFOLD music. Yeah, that two albums sound too metal with very some progressive touch. It's like inserting Avenged Sevenfold into DT . I have no issue with Avenged Sevenfold but I do not want Dream Theater ha too much metal. With the departure of Portnoy I am so relieved that the band is now moving back to its roots on progressive metal. As far as this album concern I have made long and positive review when the single On The Back of Angels was available for download in the label's website. My prediction about what would it be like in a full album not different at all because I find this album is excellent (having spun the album many times). This refers to the latest development where the band had undergone fundamental change in their line-up due to one of the founding fathers and drummer, Mike Portnoy, left the band to materialize his metal dream. People were skeptical on what it'd be like without him who had been very dominant in the music direction of DT. You may want to check on many reviews on the net about this new album and you would find out that this one is still kicking. Yes, it's not like 'Scene from a Memory' concept album but it's really an excellent one to be added in progressive music collection.

I am happy that 'On The Backs of Angels' has been assigned to open the album. This track proves the roots of DT music in progressive style. I consider this track as a masterpiece as it has well crafted composition: nice melody, balanced harmony, frequent style changes over the duration of the track, and solid structural integrity. Even though I already played this track many times before the full-length album was released, I still play this album from the beginning because I really love this track. There is a guy from Brazil who regularly play Dream Theater music claimed that this track is structurally similar with 'Pull Me Under' from Images and Words. He might be right but I do not really care. This song serves different emotional experience for me to enjoy entirely from segment to segment. It flows beautifully from atmospheric opening with guitar fills and moves its way in crescendo. In fact some parts of this track reminds me to 'Forsaken' of Systematic Chaos album ? in a different way, of course. The beauty of this track lies on the combined music styles where it has excellent mix of atmospheric, progressive (through the keyboard solo by Jordan Ruddess) and heavy riffs. Well, I really enjoy inventive keyboard solo by Ruddess followed with stunning guitar solo by Petrucci.

The second track "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" reminds me to 'Never Enough' (Octavarium) music style. This is basically a song orientated track and it sounds really well to my ears. This track proves that James LaBrie is the best singer well-suited to DT music. I like this track as it has good melody, easy to digest and it moves smoothly from start to end. Maybe the most distinctive thing from this track is its groove that moves us - the listeners. I like the opening part which has musical loop augmented with guitar work. I salute the band for putting together this catchy track without making the music sounds boring for relatively long duration, approx. 7 minutes.

Simple classical music played with piano solo opens up the third track "Lost Not Forgotten" with a nice ambient. It flows nicely with all instruments play altogether, repeating the same melody as opening piano. The good thing, even though it's a repetition in melody the band has creatively put together good textures and nuances that make the music sounds differently. Not only that ... Oh boy! The acrobatic segment involving mainly Petrucci's guitar and Ruddess' keyboard in staccato style backed with bassguitar as well as drums has created complex and great segments. WOW! My expectation of Fatal Tragedy's staccato style has been paid off satisfactorily by the band through this wonderful segment! The music flows beautifully with many style and tempo changes through an excellent vocal line of LaBrie. There are many acrobatic segments throughout this track with wonderful staccato style.

Let me STOP here. The first time I spun this album, I said to myself something like this: "Even if this album comprises only these first three tracks, I am already happy purchasing the CD. The first and third track have fulfilled my expectation already -- I do not expect further music offerings -- this is good enough for me.

The next track 'This is the Life' is actually a bonus for me. It's basically a ballad -- a very nice ballad that I don't think I need to elaborate as I believe most people would like it. There is basically no progressive elements in this track. But the next one 'Bridges in the Sky' brings us back to progressive world with music style that is really Dream Theater and NOT Dream Sevenfold or Avenged Theater. Of course there are heavy elements right here but there are more progressive syncopation performed by the band in this track. It opens with an ambient nuance followed with very nice guitar riffs and moves in crescendo with metal style followed with inventive keyboard work. Mangini plays his double pedal bass drums while Petrucci plays more riffs than solo during the opening part. The rest of the music is a great demonstration of music virtuosities in true progressive metal fashion.

The next track is basically a challenger of my previous best Dream Theater track of entire songs they have in their career 'Stream of Consciousness' from 'Train of Thought' album. 'Outcry' starts nicely with an atmospheric nuance and it follows with a very beautiful programmed musical loop with great guitar fills / riffs. I think the idea of inserting this loop is really wonderful and it helps set the stage of the track. The reason I select this track as challenger of 'Stream of Consciousness' is because its brilliant and well-crafted composition followed with masterpiece performance of the band members throughout all segments of this wonderful track. There are elements o traditional eastern music demonstrated by keyboard solo just before the acrobatic staccato style. Well yeah! Dream Theater has been the master of staccato at its best which originally was invented from UK debut album in the 70s through its track 'Presto Vivace and reprise' -- Dream Theater has taken it it extensively. There are many musical orgasm in this track and I think it's worth considering this track to replace 'Stream of Consciousness' dominance as the best Dream Theater track (my view). On of the peak the track has is the part where it suddenly turns into mellow and silent style with piano simple notes right after all members of the band demonstrate their virtuosities in complex and acrobatic musical arrangements. Long live Dream Theater!

'Far From Heaven' serves like a relaxation part after having been bombarded with the wonderful music of Outcry. It basically contains nice vocal of LaBrie backed with piano touches and string arrangements. Musically there is nothing prog that I can describe here except that this is a very nice mellow track for contemplation. Contemplation? Yeah! Well, I have to admit that the lyrics are so simple but they are so basic, so fundamental that serve the inner-self of me as a Moslem. Regardless what good deeds (I may still question this -- Have I done really good deeds -- I might have NOT!). I am still so far from heaven and there are lots of things to do to be a better human being that serves the people.

'Breaking All Illusions' is another really Dream Theater track where it has excellent melody, great harmonies, frequent style and tempo changes with heavy riffs and solid structural integrity. Well, I don't think I need to elaborate my view about this track as this one is really at par excellence with the opening track 'On The Backs...' as well as 'Lost Not Forgotten'. I love this track. The album concludes with a ballad 'Beneath The Surface' beautifully.

It makes me rethinking ...

...the way I have made reviews so far, really. Having listened to this latest album of Dream Theater in its entirety more than ten spins, I think I should question the reviews I have made for other albums by other bands. I think 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' has not matched the masterpiece of 'Scene from a Memory' concept album. But when I question why, I do not have the precise answer. It's probably this is not a concept album and each track stands at its own right while the Scene album was a continuous story from one part to another. This album is at the same level of excellence of Images and Words where I gave five star rating even though there was one track that too poppy for me. This album is as enjoyable as Octavarium and of course much much better than Sytematic Chaos and Black Clouds (the latter two albums were basically too metal for me). Then, my overall conclusion about this album is probably having a 4.5 star (9 of 10) rating. The only reservation for me for not giving five star rating is because there are many song orientated tracks and some of them are ballads like 'Build Me Up ..' 'This is The Life', 'Far From Heaven' and 'Beneath The Surface'. Of course all of them are nice tracks but not quite prog in style. So I put it as a very excellent addition of any prog music collection. I admire Dream Theater for its ability to return to form even though one of the founding members left the band. It proves that actually without Portnoy Dream Theater is STILL Dream Theater even better because it has lesser metal components and it tends to be more progressive.

As far as other bands, I think my three star rating for Yes 'Fly From Here' must be revised to two star as it lacks creativity (only take the roots of The Buggles music) and musically is not that excellent, overall, if it's compared to this album by Dream Theater. Keep on proggin'!

Peace on earth and mercy mild -- GW

Report this review (#546327)
Posted Sunday, October 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars While badly received by my Dutch forum "Musicmeter", this album brings to me a joy I have not felt listening to a Dream Theater album since (chronologically) "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence; the production and mixing are better than ever; the band never seems to get old, for they are as great virtuosos as they have ever been; the more chorus-based song structures, ambient intros and electronic drums definitely add a lot to their well-known style.

On the Backs of Angels, Bridges in the Sky and mostly Breaking all Illusions are my favourites, and Build Me Up, Break Me Down is the least to my opinion.

Report this review (#547054)
Posted Sunday, October 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars I've been a Dream Theater fan since 2003 when one of my guitar students told me that he had heard of this band that was "supposed to be really good". He bought Train of Thought, their brand new album at the time, and Awake, and burned them both for me.

My life changed forever.

Dream Theater is, by far, my favorite band. That makes me biased in some cases, but it also makes me harder on them in other cases. As each album comes out, I listen with excitement and awe as each song begins, and often that excitement grows as face-melting solos, haunting melodies, or killer riffs pound their way into my brain. Sometimes, though, the excitement wanes as a song loses its luster over a short period of time.

When Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater, I had two immediate reactions... The first was an intense sick feeling of grief, as Mike Portnoy is clearly one of the best drummers ever to grab a pair of sticks and has been the genius behind so many essential aspects of Dream Theater as a band. Portnoy's dedication to his fans is absolutely unparalleled in the music industry and he has my full respect for everything that he's done, though Adrenaline Mob's CD left me with raised eyebrows and many questions...

My second immediate reaction was "Now we get to see what Petrucci, Rudess, and Myung can do without restrictions!". I love Mike Portnoy. He's unbeatable in the progressive metal drumming scene. But I feel like it was, to quote "Prophets of War", time! for! change! Things were getting TOO heavy metal, TOO in your face, TOO extreme. While I love heavy metal, I missed greatly some of the lighter aspects of Dream Theater found in Images & Words through Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. So while I was sad to see Portnoy gone, I was excited to hear what the guys could do without their forceful leader.

The first time I listened to Systematic Chaos, I thoroughly enjoyed it. I thought it was going to be a pretty awesome album... A few weeks later I changed my mind about that. Because of that, I refrained from reviewing this album for a month because I wanted to see how much staying power it had and how much it could truly catch my interest.

Overall, this album is a really solid effort. It's not Dream Theater's best album. The "classics" are still better. It's not even Dream Theater's best album in the last decade. I loved Black Clouds and Silver Linings. It is, however, a very good album worth buying, listening to, and enjoying.

On the Backs of Angels


This is a pretty good opening song. As people have mentioned, it is nearly identical structurally to Pull Me Under, but it's most certainly not a rip of of Pull Me Under. It has a nice heavy riff that drives the verses and the chorus is pretty catchy. The first thing that jumped out to me, though, is Jordan Rudess's playing on this song. The keyboard synths and leads fit the music really well, and add to it rather than being thrown in as pure shredding. The piano parts really bring a lot to the song as well. Petrucci's solo is short but of course really fast and really good. It falls in line with the types of solos on Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds.

Build Me Up, Break Me Down


The very first thing I thought when I heard this song, like many others, was "James LaBrie solo album!?!?". It has a VERY similar vibe to James Labrie's Elements of Persuasion album, due mostly to the effects on the vocals, but the music is similar, too. Think "Oblivious" or "Alone". With that being said, there's a big difference between Marco Stfogli on guitar and John Petrucci on guitar, despite what Stfogli, who is a very good guitarist in his own right, might want to believe. This song is really well-done, and though you may not like the in-your-face style of metal that it brings, it's still a very listenable song. The chorus is one of my two favorite choruses on the whole album, if that means anything to you, which it probably doesn't, but whatever. The slow heavy type riff with the eerie keyboards in the instrumental is absolutely phenomenal. The solo is tastefully done, though, not one of Petrucci's best in terms of technicality or catchiness.

One thing that would have been amusing would have been a traditional break down in the middle of a chorus... "You build meee up, you break me doooowwwn,..... dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah dah. Dah dah dah dah, dah dah dah dah wooo". It would have been completely terrible and completely amazing at the same time. I can hear LaBrie trying some metalcore screams now...

Lost Not Forgotten


Piano riff intros can be awesome. Here's a good example. The melody is beautiful enough to be calming and soothing, but then Rudess throws in that one dissonant note to throw you off for a second. As the guitars kick in slowly, the song begins to build up (But it doesn't break down of course).

Then the madness begins.

The shredding insanity that commences will blow your mind and make you want to quit your job and listen only to it for the rest of your life. This is honestly one of the best instrumental breaks I've heard before, and it's not even all that long and it's definitely not drawn out at all. It's perfect.

Anyway, the verse is really well-done with a riff that would be at home on Train of Thought. The lyrics, in my opinion, are interesting and add to the song. The chorus is going to make a great live anthem when I see Dream Theater in Atlanta next week.

What comes after the second chorus is a really really cool sounding section that I assume would be called a refrain... The guitars kind of remind me of the verses in "Surrounded" off of Images & Words. I love it. Then it heads back into another chorus before hitting another instrumental section that is extremely good and very memorable. It's the kind of progressive metal instrumental that makes you want to dance, but you can't because you'd look like a fool dancing to the rhythm of the music. The solo is fantastic, containing enough elements of jazz fusion while shredding your face in half at the same time... One of Petrucci's best solos to date, and you know that's saying a lot.

This Is The Life


The 5/4 timing of this song makes it a lot more interesting than it would otherwise be... The intro is soft and relaxing, builds up into a quick melodic lead, and then fades into just piano and vocals for the verse. The verse is thought-provoking as Petrucci throws some really light lead fills far in the background. John Myung's bass can actually be HEARD on this song and it's very tasty.

Petrucci has a very tamed fusion sound on this entire song... Lots of lead lines but not over the top at all. They all fit perfectly... Rudess follows in suit with Moore-like keyboard melodic solos. The chorus, IMO, is not very strong on this song at all, but the rest of the song saves it. The refrain is dramatic and builds tension into a wonderful jazzy Petrucci solo. Again, this is one of Petrucci's better solos of his career... Think a mix between "The Spirit Carries On" and "Lost Without You" off of his solo album Suspended Animation.

Bridges in the Sky


The intro raised my eyebrows at first with the guttural droning, but that apprehension was quickly erased by the awesomeness that followed. Honestly I could've done without the first minute and a half of the song, but whatever. The opening riff is very intense and pounding. This song is very riff-driven and because it produces some very awesome riffs, it's an awesome song. The verses are killer on this song... The pre-chorus makes me immediately think of "Awake" the way the vocal melody is placed on top of the music behind it... The 12/8 chorus is enjoyable though not amazing. It has a hard time competing with the greatness of the verses and the pre-choruses.

The "Until I pass through the darKEST caverns.." part in the second verse sounds really cool. I'm really just throwing that out there out of nowhere, but it's true. The instrumental section reminds me of "Sacrificed Sons" at times and the entire "Scenes From a Memory" album at others. Not a bad combination. It's a pretty solid instrumental section, though not the best on the album.



This song starts slowly with a soft, lullaby-type keyboard melody. The guitars then slap you in the face with a slow, driving, melodic riff that employs chords and melody lines interspersed with one another. The keyboard synths in the background fit this perfectly. The drums are a little "Eh" as they sound like something meant for a gangsta rap song, but the guitar riffs on this song are absolutely top notch. I'm not sure why, but I really love the guitars on the entire song. The verse is awesome... Then everything gets quiet and reflective for a second. James Labrie declares that "We will not be ignored anymore, any longer..." and then BOOM! the chorus hits hard, with those searing guitar lines in the background. Resistance is calling tonight! But you won't be resisting this song. Resistance is futile. The instrumental section is VERY middle eastern but mind-blowing. I was going to make a 9/11 joke here, but then I realized that doing so would probably be in bad taste, so instead I'm just going to say that the instrumental section is varied in terms of the drum feel and is excellent. The quiet, bass-driven section after the shredfest is very easy-going and very good... Myung doesn't have to do much to completely dominate the mood here, and Rudess's piano accompaniment fits perfectly as well.

This song is structurally more complex than most of DT's songs have been in recent years and it's well-put-together all the way around. One of my favorites on the CD.

Far From Heaven


Very soft, very melodramatic, and very awesome. This is a song that I, as a teacher, can use in my 9th grade Literature class because it goes pretty well with the novel "Tears of a Tiger" by Sharon Draper. The lyrics are something that teenagers in general could quickly relate to, dealing with depression, inability to be understood or express ones feelings, and feeling alone, like nobody can help or save you. While the subject of the lyrics may seem cliche, it's done maturely, and the somber mood of the lyrics is reflected in the music.

Metal heads probably won't enjoy it, and the song isn't impressive in terms of its technicality, but it's a good song.

Breaking All Illusions


What? An upbeat Dream Theater song?? A driving beat opens the song up, followed by a TAH tah tah TAH tah tah TAH tah TAH tah (That's the best I could do to describe it!?!?) 5/4 transition into a masterfully crafted first verse... The first verse alternates in timing from 7/4 to 6/4 to 5/4 to 7/4 over and over again, lead mostly by a cool bass riff but accompanied lightly by keyboards and then in the second half some electric guitar leads. The song then goes into a chorus part that is melodic and catchy before heading into a really cool aggressive second verse that is mostly guitar-driven. Then one of the opening riffs is revisited before going back to the chorus.

After that, it's time for instrumental insanity! The instrumental starts off with some electric organ doodling before shredding in harmony for a bit. Then things slow way down and John Petrucci rips a tame jazzy and pleasant electric guitar solo. After that, things feel like they've slowed down more while Petrucci plays a few acoustic arpeggios before giving way to a soulful bass line beneath a pure jazz-fusion electric guitar solo. This is honestly my favorite minute or so on the entire CD. Every note is just exactly where it's supposed to be, with exactly the right inflection and tone. The solo then continues as a building melody, dropping some of the jazz feel and changing over into another proggy riff.

Oh, did you think that the instrumental section was over? Sorry, it's not! From here the bass and keyboard take over for a good minute before going into more riffage between the guitar and keyboard.

Finally, the chorus comes back in and the song closes dramatically with a dramatically slowed-down tempo.

Beneath the Surface


This is not a bad song, despite only getting a 3/5. It's just that the first 3/4ths of the song aren't really all that special. It's mostly layered acoustic guitar with either a cello or violin in the background (Maybe both?). The verses are very mellow and the way they lead into the chorus builds pretty nicely. After the second chorus, keyboards come in for a synth lead, the tone of which reminds me vaguely of "Solitary Shell". The refrain that follows slowly builds up tension before going completely quiet for a moment, and then... LABRIE!! He hits the high notes of yesteryear. It's all... "Until ooone day I stopped caariing... AAANNND BEGAAAAAN TO FORGEETT". I had a huge grin on my face the first time I heard this song and it got to that part because it was unexpected and yet somehow such a perfect way to end not only the song, but the entire album... Throughout the whole song I kept thinking that Far From Heaven or Breaking All Illusions would have been a better album closer, but those thoughts were annihilated. This song broke that illusion and I felt so far from Heaven for being so wrong about it. Lame pontificating and time-wasting aside, while the song itself didn't completely wow me, the way it ended was definitely a 5/5, and the PERFECT closing to the album.

So why does the album get 4 stars as a whole? It's an excellent addition to any prog rock music collection. Can't you read the description of what the stars mean? Kidding, of course. Actually I'm not kidding about it being an excellent addition, though. It's a very solid, good album. It's much more melodic than most of Dream Theaters albums are, especially the more recent ones which have been mostly riff-driven. None of the songs are irritating or disappointing to listen to, and several of them are an absolute delight every time I hear them.

So why not 5 stars? It doesn't quite deserve them. After a month I've already found myself skipping a song here and there as I listen... I still listen to all of the songs, but sometimes I'm impatient and want to get on to a new one a little early. This happened after a few weeks with Systematic Chaos, too, and we all know how well-received that album was...

Comparing it to recent efforts, I think it's a good two steps above Systematic Chaos and a step below Black Clouds and Silver Linings. It has elements you'll recognize from Images & Words, Scenes From a Memory, Train of Thought, Awake, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, and there's even a part of Build Me Up, Break Me Down at the end of the chorus that reminds me of Falling Into Infinity.

If you like Dream Theater, buy this album. If you like progressive metal, buy this album. If you like good music, buy this album.

Report this review (#548589)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars When Mike Portnoy left, there was a debate on how much this would change things. Some thought that they'd keep chugging along in the same direction, which tired most. Others thought they'd go back to the good old days. While most take this as the latter, I find it to be a mixture of both, which is actually what I was predicting. And it works very, very well.

Picture the DT you've been hearing lately, only with a brighter sound, stellar lyrics, and the lovingly constructed songs we got back in their heyday. You'll find something like that on this album. Heavier than the older DT, but it still has that nice proggy touch. They have two songs here that are better than anything they've released since their 24 minute epic, "Octavarium". "Bridges in the Sky" being one, a great song full of amazing heavy riffs and some of the best vocal melodies we've gotten in quite a long time. "Breaking All Illusions" is the other, and is likely a top 5 DT song. It has a very catchy yet oddly timed intro, and is full of great melodies and has an instrumental section that features DT breaking new ground. They even incorporate a medieval flute-like section! It also has one of John Petrucci's very best guitar solos.

Another thing to find here is something we haven't seen in a while: ballads with true emotional effect. I'll admit, DTs ballads of late have gotten pretty cheesy and were difficult to take seriously. But the ballads found here are just gorgeous. "Far From Heaven" may only be a lead-in to "Breaking All Illusions", but it has a big emotional impact on me. "Beneath the Surface" does a fantastic job of closing the album, with more beautiful and emotional writing. "This is the Life" features another fantastic solo and is another touching ballad.

On Mangini's performance? He fills Portnoy's shoes nicely. His style here is similar to Portnoy's, but I prefer Mangini a tad as he uses his fills when it's necessary, whilst Portnoy got a little show-offey at times. No disprespect to Portnoy as he's still an amazing drummer. Also on drums, we have a few brief moments of electronic drums here. A few might find them out of place, but I thought it was a nice experiment.

So yes, this is really a step up for DT. I think all the Portnoy drama really rejuvenated them and now they're back as good as ever. Congrats DT, for showing that the magic has not left! 5 stars.

Report this review (#548599)
Posted Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars It was unquestionably A Dramatic Turn of Events when the co-founder and drummer of Dream Theater, Mike Portnoy, decided to call it a day. I have no doubt the title of this album was inspired by that one life changing event for the band. James LaBrie (vocals), John Petrucci (guitars), John Myung (bass), Jordan Rudess (keyboards) and Mike Mangini (drums) are one of the biggest names in music now as they once again set the standard for the genre after the release of their most recent classic slice of epic progressive metal. The well documented story of the drummer replacement sessions that eventually landed Mike Mangini behind the kit even sparked a parody on the internet by the band Solstice Coil. Good to know that people were at least paying attention.

For the first time I decided to pre order the special limited edition boxed set. I dropped $105.00, which is probably fair considering the cost of 180 gram vinyl alone. You get 2 LPs, 2 CDs with one featuring instrumental mixes of each track, 1 DVD chronicling the drummer try out sessions, a frame worthy lithograph of the album cover, a monogramed turntable mat, two high quality picture sleeves with lyrics that you can place the LPs in?and a few lucky recipients will get a lifetime pass to Dream Theater concerts. In case you were wondering, I was not one of the lucky ones. So was it worth it? I would say yes. Would I do it again? I would be tempted to do so, yes.

The big question would be just how much the band would miss Portnoy. Judging by the creative process in recording the album and how it sounds I would have to say that most listeners are not going to be able to tell the difference. Mangini was known by the band and he played on James LaBrie's solo albums. In fact I recall seeing him play side by side with Portnoy back in 2001 at a show at the Orpheum in Boston. So let's face it, there was already a relationship established with the potential drummer and everyone in the band agreed he stood out the most at the try outs. Even though writing the music is a collaborative effort, the band created all the drum parts and sent them to Mangini for this recording. This is understandable considering the situation at the time. Certainly the next time DT goes into the studio it will be more of a collaborative effort from the drummer's point of view. There is no mistake that Petrucci is the driving force behind the band now and with the removal of such a strong personality as Portnoy I think the other members were given more creative room to breathe and felt they were more of a band. In fact LaBrie even mentioned that very fact during the sessions earlier this year.

A Dramatic Turn of Events is a very strong album and a victory in many ways for Dream Theater. I commend them for not folding after losing one of their founding members and grabbing the bull by the horns and pushing onward. That very energy and power is felt on this album. It is very heavy, harkening back to albums like Train of Thought and bits and pieces like Octavarium. However, that is for these ears - everyone will get something different from this album and that is the beauty of the Dream Theater experience. The album art sure indicates how delicate life is and how at times we are on a tight rope and at any moment can fall off into oblivion. I believe the point here is that this is a choice we all make. Do we let ourselves free fall to a crashing end or regain our balance and carry on? This is exactly what Dream Theater did after they got the news about Portnoy.

A Dramatic Turn of Events has 9 excellent prog-metal songs that focus on all the strengths that this incredible band has to offer. Thought provoking lyrics, exceptional musicianship, and of course epic tracks that change direction at a moment's notice. The dramatic opener "On The Backs of Angels" is a fruitful entry into the DT catalog of recordings. The accompanying video creates equally compelling images to match the music and lyrics. "Breaking All Illusions" clocks in at 12:25 minutes, while "Bridges In The Sky" is 11:01 and "Lost Not Forgotten" comes in at 10:11. The shortest track is "Far From Heaven" which is only 3:56 minutes long. The best track for musical variety and crazy good changes is "Breaking All Illusions". James LaBrie's vocals on this track are magical; I was feeling the chills listening to it. And I have listened several times now with the same result. The opening of the track sounds like something from an Iron Maiden album (one of their acknowledged influences). Those facts speak loudly for the type of music that this band can create for its listeners. DT is masterful at creating images and making them real for their audience and with this release there is no exception to that rule.

At every turn Dream Theater delivers on this album. Is it their best? That is a tough call when you love everything they have ever done but I have to say it is one of their best to date. Mike Mangini does a fine job filling the shoes of a legend and it looks as though they made the right choice selecting him as their newest member.

Key Tracks: Breaking All Illusions, On The Backs of Angels

Keith "MuzikMan" Founder

For Questions Or Comments About This Review Send An Email To [email protected]

Report this review (#550543)
Posted Saturday, October 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars The Prog Metal Masters are back!!!!

Was the general reaction when the pubic first heard this album, and while I think they never left since their last offerings were really good records, the band had once again reached a level of excellence lost when keyboardist Kevin Moore left the band after the Awake album. Some of the reviewers on several sites emphasized the fact that this album resembles in sound and structure the good old Images and Words record, and in some aspects I agree with that statement. However, this is far from saying this album is an I&W carbon copy. The opener "On the Backs of Angels" starts with an acoustic guitar and drum beat that reminds their "Greatest Hit" Pull me Under , then developing into a mid tempo metal song with a powerful chorus. A wise choice for a hit single since this tune is DT in a nutshell, offering all (good) the band has to deliver: Hard riffs & soloing, intricate drumming patterns and fine singing by a restrained James La Brie. "Build me up, Break me down" is the more radio friendly song of the album, but that does not mean is a bad song or lacks progressive elements. Finally, on the third track of the record we get to hear the first epic of the album called "Lost not Forgotten" this song starts with a mellow piano but then develops into a grand epic with oriental feel. There are some jaw dropping instrumental tradeoffs between guitar and keys as usual but also magnificent drumming from Mike Mangini. I am pretty sure that this song will be played a lot in their upcoming concerts. The fourth song of the record called "This is the life" is an uplifting ballad with meaningful lyrics remisent of James La Brie solo work. In my opinion this track is not among the strongest of the record but is correctly placed to cut the tension between 3 long metal - oriented tracks. I think that the fifth song here is the spotlight of the album "Bridges in the sky " is just an incredible track , ranking among the best epics DT has done: Featuring a powerful chorus , a soaring guitar solo in the middle and incredible drumming , here I am sure we have another highlight on their concerts. The next epic on the album "Outcry" is not as strong as the previous track but includes an amazing instrumental section. "Far from Heaven" is a short ballad featuring only James la Brie and piano, this song reminds me of "Vacant" or "Wait for sleep". The last epic of the album is by many, the most impressive song on the record and one of the finest songs of the year. This song has moving lyrics and all members of the band shine here. The JLB stops singing at minute 5 and then the song becomes a massive instrumental. Finally, the last song of the album is another ballad, though not as strong as the previous ones. Features a synth solo remiscent of ELP's "Lucky Man". I think DT should have closed the record with "Breaking all illusions" and it would have been perfect. But Selling England has "More fool me" on it and it's still a landmark of progressive rock, so I don't see how this little song can diminish this record's rating. Truly an incredible comeback for Dreamtheather and one of the best prog rock albums of the year. Ranking among their finest works. After listening to this record several times, only one thing is for sure: MP won't be missed.

Report this review (#554672)
Posted Saturday, October 22, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars At this point, the band's shtick is really getting old. At what point can we admit that the band has finally gone past the point where adding notes to the music doesn't make it better? Personally, It would have been anything after Six Degrees, for me. It's just gotten worse since Train of Thought. After listening to A Dramatic Turn of Events a few times, whatever whiff of a "return to form" album I got from pre-release hype has shattered. Most of the album seems like riff after riff with out-of-place (presumably) iPad app synth lines, though I'll grant that they could simply be terrible-sounding patches from an expensive workstation. (Which is worse?). And when the band happens to stumble on a good melody that actually elicits an emotional response other than old-hat boredom, they quickly forget it and go back to chugging and headbanging. Roadrunner Records execs must be proud. I think there are only so many ridiculous guitar- synth solo interludes that actually sound interesting, and the band used them up somewhere around Scenes from a Memory. A lot of the songs here have neat choruses (Bridges in the Sky, Breaking All Illusions, On the Backs of Angels) but almost without exception that's all they really offer. I do think Beneath the Surface is a somewhat commendable attempt at tastefulness and holding back. It's a shame I don't really like it, though. I will say one thing: the lyrics are miles better here than their last few albums. I'm not exactly sure who buys progressive rock/metal for the lyrics, though...
Report this review (#558578)
Posted Friday, October 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Agreed: This is the most accessible (to a non-metal head) DT album in 10-15 years, and, yes, these are polished musicians who seem to have a fresh spark inspiring them again, but, this is not, IMHO, a masterpiece. There is so little here that is truly new or fresh or (sorry folks!) 'progressive'--though, given, they are prog rockers. The music I feel deserve masterpiece status are those that are pushing the boundaries of familarity--the Yugens, Skes, After Cryings, Toby Drivers, Omar Rodriguez-Lopezes, Karda Estras, North Sea Radio Orchestra, etc., etc. "Far From Heaven" is my fave here (strings over double-kick bass drum pedals any day!) 3.5 stars rated down cuz this kind of music is a dime a dozen and not for my collection.
Report this review (#558753)
Posted Friday, October 28, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
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)

Report this review (#559654)
Posted Sunday, October 30, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars A Dramatic Turn of Events. ok, it doesn't feature Mike Portnoy. a lot of people thought that this album would suck. it's actually not that bad of an album. all I am saying is: Mike Mangini, turn the drums up. your drums are awesome but it just needs volume up a couple notches. like their previous album, Black Clouds and Silver Linings, I actually enjoyed listening to that album. a lot of people said this album would be terrible cuz it didnt have Mike Portnoy. nope, that wasnt the case. A Dramatic Turn of Events, it's Dream Theater, they are magicians. it was the dream that this album would blow. nope, cuz Dream Theater are magicians, they gave some magic on this album and it turned into a good album. Mike Mangini, if youre with them for their next album, if they make one, just collaborate with the band more often and then you'll be the real deal. but on this album, it was like John Petrucci passing the guitar to Jordan, and Jordan passing the keyboard to John Myung, then back to John Petrucci, just pretty much jamming 77 minutes non stop and like Mike Mangini is like, whatever, just let em go with it.. I actually liked listening to this album... Track Listing On the Backs of Angels - start off this album. yeah, way to start off the album. I actually like this one. heard the song when it got released as a single. Build Me Up, Break Me Down - now I love this song. it has a hella cool guitar to this one. a heavy riff like A Rite of Passage, off Black Clouds and Silver Linings. the chorus is just very awesome. goosebumps when I hear it. Lost Not Forgotten - the 3rd song. cool song as well as Build Me Up, Break Me Down. it has a hella long instrumental section, from the beginning to like 2:30 minutes into the song. then theres this kinda cool guitar. the chorus is decent. This is the Life - I don't really like this song that much either. it's kinda a lot like Far From Heaven. Bridges in the Sky - idk what that is at the intro to this song. it sounds weird. it starts off weird and then John Petrucci just blows away with a riff. the chorus is amazing like a lot of Dream Theater choruses. then that solo is sick. hell yeah! Outcry - I love this song. that guitar riff, then theres this guitar riff before the 1st verse. I love that. I gotta love that chorus by the almight y James LaBrie.... Far From Heaven - ahh, dont really like this song. its kinda a lot like Vacant, off Train of Thought Breaking All Illusions - the 8th track. I'd say this is like Lines in the Sand, from Falling Into Infinity. it is a cool song. I love the solo to this song. CRAZY!!!!! Beneath the Surface - ok the final track, close this album out. ahh, don't really care for it. I'd have to hear it more to see if I can get into it. overall, I actually kinda liked listening to this album. a lot of people said that this album would blow cuz it didnt have Mike Portnoy. nope, this is what I gotta say: A Dramatic Turn of Events, it doesn't have Mike Portnoy. it doesn't mean the album is gonna suck. so this is what I'm saying: don't say this album sucks if you haven't even heard it. they actually came with something on this. I'm a true Dream Theater fan. if Dream Theater albums were to get [&*!#] on by the critics, I actually might like that album. but they're masterpieces, they never disappoint. I'm with Dream Theater no matter what...matter of fact, I'd rate this album a 9/10.
Report this review (#566353)
Posted Friday, November 11, 2011 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
3 stars A new Dream Theater and one surrounded with much ado about a certain line-up change. It also followed a string of albums that weren't exactly received with universal praise. So obviously this album was much anticipated and luckily for DT this album has been met with much enthusiasm. Well, after 20 years with this band I think it's safe to say I will never fully like them, their shredding tendencies as well as their average vocals and sticky pop vanilla are a too dominant feature in their sound. Too bad as there is plenty of good stuff here, some of it easily reaching a Prog Metal master degree.

After the strong opener, also 'Build Me Up' starts excellently, but the cheesy chorus reminds us Dream Theater apparently can't do without bringing down their own songs with lame pop melodies. And it gets worse further down in the album: 'This is Life', 'Far From Heaven' and ' Beneath The Surface' are dreadful sugar-sticky ballads, exactly the kind of stale fake-emotion pop you can hear on any commercial TV during prime-time. Good, enough nagging, I hope the fans are into this for the lavish 10+ minute metal epics on this album and not for the pop ballads.

Dream Theater filled the 76 minutes of this CD to the brim and I'd wish they hadn't. I'm too lazy and obnoxious to go through all the trouble of skipping all these questionable ballads to come to real treats. I expect bands to have enough self-scrutiny to do that selection themselves. A potential 4 star album leaving me with a foul after-taste. One for the fans.

Report this review (#574796)
Posted Friday, November 25, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars I saw recently that this album has been nominated for a Grammy award. Where it is great to see that A Progressive Rock band has been nominated, I can't see it with A Dramatic Turn Of Events. My two favourote DT albums are Images And Words and Octavarium. IAW is a five star album for me, Octavarium is four star. For me Dramatic Turn Of Events doesn't have the same impact on me as both the above mentioned albums. That doesn't mean that I think bands should always stick to a fomula. I like my progressive rock bands to "progress". After the band spilt recently DT have done a great job in finding an excellent replacement drummer but for me there isn't enough great music on here to warrant giving it above a three star rating.
Report this review (#581107)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
Jazz Rock/Fusion Team
5 stars So, I bought this album on release day, and have listened to it close to 40 times as of this review. Why did I take so long to review this album, being such a big fan of the band as I am?

Well, for one, I almost always give new Dream Theater albums 5 stars when they come out. Ive since adjusted my ratings for their older albums. This album, I wanted to take my time, and see if this one was truly 5 stars worth, considering the back story surrounding this album; what with Mike Portnoy's unexpected departure and new drummer Mike Mangini coming on board. I think Portnoy's departure may have been the most upsetting and controversial lineup shift of a drummer since... well.... Bill Bruford leaving Yes. Most people aren't too concerned when a drummer leaves a band, as much as they are when a guitarist or singer leaves. Portnoy left much of his musical stamp on much of Dream Theater's music, so it was going to be interesting to see how the band's sound would change without him.

Another reason I took so long to write this review, is that I could not wrap my head around all the music in 4-5 listens. It literally took over 10 or so listens to really get an idea of what this album was all about. The music is some of the most complex and technical stuff Dream Theater has ever written, but also some of the most thought-provoking. Some of the passages are really deep, and contain many subtleties.

What I like most about the album, is the flow. Dream Theater's albums in the past decade have more or less suffered from album flow, NOT the quality of the songs themselves. This album however, goes by in a breeze. It may take up most of the CD it's on, but it flows so well, that I'm not looking at my watch every couple of songs.

And what of the music itself? It is classic Dream Theater, but really let loose, and not in the Train of Thought-type of let loose without regard for musicality. I mean, they took all the best elements of 2000s Dream Theater, and mixed it with a few aspects of their older, 90s sound, and added some more modern twists (such as some electronic beats on "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" and "Outcry"). James LaBrie has been given more free reign, and a noticeable difference on this album is that he multi-tracked some of his vocals, giving them a slightly different depth than before.

Everyone else in the band is very audible (Yes even John Myung on bass), though the drums could have been mixed a tad louder, but it's ok. This is the most clear Ive heard the band since Scenes From A Memory, maybe Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Speaking of Six Degrees... this is easily the best album since that 2002 masterpiece. Every song is good, and is very powerful.

For the casual Dream Theater fan, this album IS a must. If you're favorite albums are Images & Words, Scenes From A Memory, or Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, you will want this album badly. Dream Theater have (yet again) returned. Really looking forward to the next album to see what they'll come up with with Mike Mangini hopefully contributing to the music.

Report this review (#581331)
Posted Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars The bromance ends.. looks like they just needed some breathing room

I have not enjoyed a DT album in this way since the 1994 album Awake. This is somewhat blasphemous for me to say, because Mike Portnoy has been one of my biggest drumming influences since my teen years, but the guy's one dynamic style was getting old! I feel as if their more recent music has been shaped by Portnoy alone, always trying to be WAY more metal than Dream Theater should ever hope to be. This isn't death metal guys, no more trying to be something you aren't.. (especially with LaBrie's voice.. a hard metal approach is just laughable with that cutsie soft timbre) But this album brings them back to making symphonic prog, with metal guitar riffs and double-bass drums. Beautiful ballads and melodies are abound.. finally DT doing what they do best. And the keys have never sounded this good! I am usually very turned off by the wacky-annoying (at best) sounds that come from the keys in DT songs.. not here though. Everything sound coming from the keys sound modern and epic, much more like the keys coming from Porcupine Tree or Riverside.. less emphasis on speedy solos, more on effects and tastefully filling in empty space.

DT has won my heart again. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#588864)
Posted Thursday, December 15, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars To say that Dream Theater saved 2011 for me might be a bit of an overstatement, but they certainly renewed my enthusiasm for prog in the last quarter of this year. Being a fan of the band in only the most casual of senses, I was only looking forward to A Dramatic Turn of Events as much as any other album. However, after a lot of nursing and casual spins, I've come to really love it, and it's become one of my favorites of the year.

While other reviews will probably make big notes about the lineup change and how this affects the overall sound of the album, I will not pretend to be well versed enough with Dream Theater to be able to tell a difference. I did somewhat follow the departure of Mike Portnoy and the arrival of Mike Mangini, though who they picked as their new drummer would never really have been of much importance to me. I cannot speak to how the drumming on this album is different, but I can say that it is fine from the perspective of somebody who knows very little about it.

Now then, on to things I know a little more about. I find A Dramatic Turn of Events to be a very enthralling album. It's loud, fast, and the long guitar and keyboard runs in between vocal passages are some of the best I've ever heard. The album is made up of nine songs, five of which hover around the 10 minute mark. These songs contain the best of what the band can offer, with particular praise going to "Lost Not Forgotten" and "Breaking All Illusions," both of which are very dynamic and contain great instrumental breaks. The shorter songs are generally not as good, but serve their purpose to give a brief break between the longer ones. However, while the final song is only just over five minutes, it offers a wonderfully peaceful and uplifting end to a very long and tiring album.

The instrumental breaks are not particularly surprising, but are excellently done. Tradeoffs between guitar and keyboard solos can be expected, and of course very fast and complex unison runs with the two. While there are a fair number of times when the two play in unison like they are known to, there are far more where the keyboard does its own thing above or under the guitar, which creates some really interesting harmonies, and even more reasons to go back and listen more closely.

While the instrumental passages are my main reason for liking the album so much, I unfortunately can't say the same about the vocals. There are times when I genuinely enjoy James Labrie's voice (such as "Beneath the Surface"), but most of the times it's just OK. It doesn't help that the lyrics he's singing are constantly cliché and rarely carry any meaning. The semi-politically charged "On the Backs of Angels" is the closest A Dramatic Turn of Events comes to hitting home on any lyrical themes, but even then the metaphors are almost laughable.

Another fault I find with the album is its "always on" mentality it holds for 80% of the album. It's not just that the album is long at 77 minutes, it's that so many of those minutes are packed full of so much loud and intricate music that it gets taxing to listen to in one sitting. The shorter songs do offer the ears and mind a break, but they don't stand well enough on their own to be anything other than that.

Of course, while most albums that fill out a CD could do with some trimming, that doesn't stop the music contained within them from being amazing. Even though I would love for A Dramatic Turn of Events to be under an hour, I can't stop myself from playing my favorite songs over and over again. Those longer songs are good enough reason to make a purchase worthwhile, and even enough to push Dream Theater's latest to the top of the charts this year.

Report this review (#592264)
Posted Tuesday, December 20, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars I have been a long time Dream Theater fan,as my username might suggest. Dream Theater,for me,is the band that expanded my way of thinking about music,caused the Progressive Rock addiction in me,and made me realize I was no longer interested in pop music. For over 10 years,my favorite Dream Theater album was Metropolis Part 2: Scene From A Memory. While I loved their albums that came after,nothing came close to the quality of this album,in my mind. During this time,I also believed that Images and Words was a very,very close 2 nd place. I say this to show you that it is not a fickle statement for me to say that A Dramatic Turn of Events is now my favorite Dream Theater album. While I immediately,upon first listen,knew the album was amazing,I had to listen to the album,and the other two I have mentioned,repeatedly (and over the period of 8 months) to come to this decision. I truly believe this to be a necessary part in the collection of a Progressive Rock fan.
Report this review (#594978)
Posted Friday, December 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
2 stars I'm going to keep this review as brief as possible, as it does not deserve more than the minimum word requirement.

The bottom line is that everyone hailing this album as a "return to form" is full of it. This is exactly what Dream Theater has been playing since 1999. Mangini is the same as Portnoy. The bag of tricks has been exhausted and has not changed.

ProgArchives usually has quite a level head - even when I disagree with an album's rating, I can usually see the rationale behind others' opinions. But the praise for this mediocre album bewilders me.

Also, the ballads are horrible. I mean, really, really awful. Jesus.

Report this review (#595541)
Posted Saturday, December 24, 2011 | Review Permalink
5 stars When in 2010 the prog scene found out about Mike Portnoy leaving Dream Theater, considering the band's fan base, a compromise solution would not be an option for the band. It was clear that only two things could happen. Either the band would fall apart or they would find a killer drummer that would propel them to even higher levels. The aptly titled A Dramatic Turn of Events gives the answer to that conundrum.


The first task was to find the right drummer, and after watching the documentary depicting that, no one could argue that Mike Mangini would be the perfect fit. Not only he looked the most technically capable musician but he had the right flow and feel that seemed right in line with the remaining musicians.

The album was written prior to the band signing-in Mike Mangini, so he's not credited on any composing, nevertheless I bet that a lot of cool rhythms and breaks were suggested and composed by him. I just think that the band tried to protect the drummer from the fans, so if there are some moments that the fans don't like drum-wise, they can just blame John Petrucci (assumingly the one compose the drum parts), who has the resilience of dealing with all the criticism.

Regarding Mangini's performance, it is absolutely spot-on. Never going over-the-top and always keeping the groove with some touches of virtuoso playing. There are some moments you would swear it's Portnoy playing and sometimes you just think: "oh, I didn't expect that". That gives the album a good balance of old and new, in terms of drumming. He tries to take full advantage of his crazy drum setup and wildly succeeds, but to be honest you will only find that out when you see him live. He plays the simplest parts with such gusto that actually makes it look demanding, and the hardest parts so effortlessly and in a fun way that you can't help yourself but laugh when you see it. He's 48 years old and apparently he still practices on a daily basis, so that's an example to all aspiring musicians out there, and that just matches the kind of commitment that each and every member of Dream Theater has.


The album begins with the single On The Backs of Angels, and it's a great starting point. Very close to the sound of the last albums, this certainly served as a statement, proving that they are still capable of creating a good song based on their usual guidelines. Long intro, great riffs, catchy bridges and chorus, nice piano interlude and godly guitar solo. The keyboards are a standout, very upfront, layered and creative. It looks like Jordan Rudess now has more space for creating complementing melodies instead of just doubling the guitars like he did so many times on the last albums. The lyrics talk about greed and politics, so it's a very present-time theme. This song has been nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best Rock/Metal Performance category, and that's quite a feat for a progressive band.

Next is Build Me Up, Break Me Down. A very different track, with some drum loops and industrial sound, but at its heart it's still a typical Dream Theater short song (for progressive standards) a la Lie (from Awake) or Forsaken (from Systematic Chaos). It's a very concise track, with a likable chorus and without many other highlights. A great live song though. The lyrics are bit vague but certainly refer to the way that general people relate to celebrities and vice-versa.

Lost Not Forgotten it's where the real dramatic events start turning (pun intended). The in- your-face crazy instrumental intro sets the tone for the song. Overall it's a very syncopated song with lots of breaks and pace changes. Riffs reminiscent of some old Megadeth ones compose the verses. Haunting keyboard textures gives the song an eerie feel. A great guitar solo (7:07) over some very cool accented bass lines it's one of the many highlights. The last chorus of the song (9:22) always gives me the chills, with the insane one-hand 16th notes on the ride cymbal by Mike Mangini. Lost Not Forgotten talks about an ancient Persian empire and the way they fought and eventually disappeared. A metal-like theme, but not very proggy.

This Is The Life is more of a lighthearted piano-driven tune. This song seamlessly transitions between 5/8 and 6/8 as it evolves from a simple and subtle melody to a strong ending, with some touching chord changes and the epic guitar solo you would expect from John Petrucci in a song like this (The Spirit Carries On from Scenes From a Memory comes to mind). Mangini really sounds like Portnoy on this one, but that's not a bad thing at all.

The 11+ minute long Bridges In The Sky continues the ride and starts with some tribal sounds and a shaman-like chant (that's actually the ancient sound of Tuvan throat singing from Siberia, if that sounds familiar to you that's maybe because Bela Fleck used to have an amazing guest throat singer in his shows). The aural experience continues with textured landscapes, but quickly comes down to a low-end heavy riff. Almost every riff note is doubled with the bass-drums, this gives a very punchy and heavy sound to the all song. Heavy verses lead to the most memorable chorus on the whole album with inspired lyrics. James Labrie sounds as good as ever on this one. The "fabric of reality is tearing apart" part is really awe-inspiring. At 7:15 the crazy instrumental section starts. The interplay between all the instruments sound very connected and composed. To my dislike, the song fails to have the grand ending that it should, instead it ends on a dark feel. Apart from that, Bridges In The Sky is a superb progressive masterpiece.

Talking about masterpieces, Outcry may very well be it. This is definitely the grower song of the album. It took a lot of spins until I totally understood how good this is. This song defines everything that Dream Theater still has to offer and it has this fresh appeal throughout. The song boasts inspired riffs, infinite mood changes and a memorable chorus that every fan will sing live. The highlight though is the 4 minute instrumental madness starting at 4:44. Admittedly the most challenging piece of music ever written by the band, it's a breathtaking rollercoaster ride through all the instruments. The impossible-to-play piano solo (6:25) and neat bass solo (6:56) are just examples of the craziness of this section. The song then eases the pace with a soft bridge leading to the chorus and it ends with a majestic theme that always reminds me of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Lyrically the song talks about the uprising in middle-east countries, very strong and dramatic theme.

Far From Heaven is a short piano and strings piece that serves as the intro to Breaking All Illusions (much like Wait for Sleep is for Learning to Live on Images & Words). As usual, James Labrie resonates feeling and expression.

Breaking All Illusions is another contender for best track in the album. The awesome intro guitar-riff (later doubled by the bass) is a prog-fan wet dream. Complex and hard to decode, even after several listening. At 1:35 the song descends into a spacy vibe based on a mesmerizing ostinato bass line by John Myung and guitar a piano background textures and appointments. Another outstanding bridges and choruses give the song the "easy-listening" edge that balances all the mad interludes and technical bits. The Pink Floydish guitar solo starting at 7:11 it's one of the finest moments in Petrucci's career (I really think that this solo stands head-to-head with Falling Into Infinity's Lines In The Sand and Awake's Voices). It slowly builds up from bluesy licks to epic phrases that will be cherished forever by any fan. The lyrics written by John Myung (who has kept away from the lyrics department for quite a long time) are very emotional and uplifting and talk about how to become a better person and learning how to live (does that sound familiar?).

Beneath The Surface is maybe the biggest surprise on the album. A music totally composed by John Petrucci, it shows the subtle and intimate side of the band. A really strong melody and touching keyboard solo (actually is an iPad solo) gives the listener a fantastic closing chapter, posing like a relaxing tune after an extremely demanding album (like every good prog release should be). The acoustic guitars sound so clear and unproduced (in a good way). The song builds-up to a dramatic finish with James Labrie singing the same theme one octave higher. The lyrics revolve around relationships, the way we lived them and how they (eventually) end. Almost a cliché theme, but absolutely the best lyrics written by the band in many years.


The production is a few notches above the last couple of releases. All the instruments have more space to breathe and shine when they have to. Only the drums seem to be too far back in the mix, but that's maybe because I was so used to the presence of Mike Portnoy's sound. Vocals are as bright as ever. Some people complained about everything sounding a bit too compressed, but I beg to differ, just play the CD on a nice stereo system or through some fine headphones and you will notice the sonic quality of it. There is a noticeable cinematic approach to some of the sonic landscapes, mostly in the intros and outros of some songs.


My first complete listening of this album was on a plane, so the cover seemed so convenient. And the funniest thing is that I started writing this review on a plane again three months later. So I'll always associate the cover with this particular personal experience. In any case, the booklet and cover are typical Hugh Syme, with clever interpretations of words by the means of photos and composition. Not his best work but very pleasant still.


Based on the events that led to this album, I couldn't imagine Dream Theater pulling a better record that this one. Everything about it sounds focused, committed and most of all FRESH. Bridges In The Sky, Outcry and Breaking All Illusions stand out as the pinnacles of the album. There are some people around that found out that most of the songs are structured exactly like most of the Images & Words album (On The Backs Of Angles ? Pull Me Under; Breaking All Illusions ? Learning to Live and Outcry ? Metropolis are the best examples) After analyzing myself, I really think that's true. I imagine that Dream Theater did that just for fun, and not because of any shortage of ideas. The concept of creating a totally new song based on a given structure is a very good challenge, and in the end I don't think that 80% of the listeners will even notice the similarities. In any case, if this proves to be true, it would pose as a great argument for the band in case the fans started saying: "oh, the songs in this album are so lame and badly structured", the band could just answer: "Oh is that so? Then you should go to rethink your opinion about our magnum opus Images & Words".

The current world tour supporting the album is being a success and I encourage everyone to catch one of the shows if possible. You'll see a band with a quarter-of-a-century career in their pocket and still creating and playing songs that are challenging for them and rewarding for the audience. You'll have the pleasure of seeing the great relationship between the band and the "new guy" on stage. It's touching just to see the very-kept-to-himself John Myung judiciously giving little cues, during a song, to Mangini to make sure that he's on the same page as the rest of the band.

A Dramatic Turn of Events is certainly one of my top picks of this year and, unlike the last four albums, I bet I will be revisiting this CD very often just like I do with the band's classical albums such as Images & Words and Scenes From a Memory. The bottom line is that the response to Mike Portnoy's departure was given with flair. 4.5/5

Report this review (#601686)
Posted Monday, January 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars For me, the highest point of Dream Theater is their concert DVD, Score: 20th Anniversary. When I saw that, I became a fan of Dream Theater.

But a lot happened between that DVD and this album. With each album, I slowly lost my interest in their music.

I was the king of pessimists when it came to Dream Theater and their newest album. I didn't find any of albums artistically successful since Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.

The news was, Portnoy leaving the band. I was not hating the band enough, then they announced that they will make a reality show out of their drummer auditions. Even if you have a fanbase of average age of 16, it's totally lame for a prog band to do such a thing. Then you're not different from those MTV celebrities. Prog should be more about music than entertainment.

You should guess why I'm reviewing this album after everyone stopped talking about it. I couldn't even give a proper chance to like this, because for me they were just loving to be popular at some point. But as we can easily hear it from this album, these guys are not just popular, but very talented musicians. At a point, they are still in it for the music itself.

This album is full of energy, jamming and inspiring chord progressions. Compositions are just fine. The tempo is never down. That's why I love it. The thing that I won't give this a five star rating is, I'm never really into Dream Theater lyrics. They're just too simple to be interesting. And the music is not really for the lyrics, the connection between them is not strong.

This will keep me pleased for a while, I'm sure most of you will find it interesting too.

Report this review (#606382)
Posted Monday, January 9, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Crucial question for me after listening to this album is whether DT's formula is holding up with this 11th release. I had this feeling after BC&SL already but gave them the benefit of the doubt because the band is so close to my for perfection longing taste. Besides that I witnessed them live about 7 times so I kinda know what the band is about and how good they really are.

Their perfectionism is shown best on their live gigs I do believe. They prove the band's true potential. And this also causes that I will never be able to hammer DT down with a one or two star rating. Unless of course they would produce something truly weak. But somehow that seems impossible to me. Even the "dramatic" departure of Portnoy doesn't really weaken the bands quality. Mangini does add something different to the band of course (it would be a miracle if it hadn't) but it's just minor because he drums partly in the same style.

What I'm trying to say is that ADTOE is still the same DT with some slight innovation here and there (Breaking all Illusions f.i.) and the question is how long they can keep it up. The formula is wearing a little bit thin on me by now, something that was already the case with the predecessor. But like I said: it's still good enough somehow. Hardly any weak(ish) songs on this latest so how could I go lower than four stars ? Don't know so I will have to give four again.

Report this review (#612414)
Posted Wednesday, January 18, 2012 | Review Permalink
3 stars Dream Theater's "weakest" since 1997

Another speedy released album by pregressive metal's kings. It's called A Dramatic Turn of Events. And why not? When all these news around the band has flourished. The founder and leader of the band Mike Portnoy left in September 2010 and soon after Mike Mangini was bought in. There was a passionate reality in three part about the audition for new drummer. All these events was very exciting.

First of all I would notice Mike Mangini is wonderful talent, who replaces Mike Portnoy in such a great manner. But this album just doesn't come up to my expectations. This album is too long, without avoiding anoyance with requisite precise songwriting and structural essence. A definite step backward to band's previous works. The ambience is quite sterile and undeviating (in negative sense of the term), typical for band's early career. All the songs, except Outcry are too predictable and contain some jejune structural decisions.

The musicianship, as always, is of high quality and long song are the positive and distinctive Dream Theater. That's the salvation of this interesting, but quite disappointing release. 3+ stars by me.

Report this review (#625188)
Posted Thursday, February 2, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars I am an old prog guy (70s Genesis, Yes, Kansas, Camel, ELP, etc.). So when I first bought Images and Words, I thought the keyboard playing was so plastic - and I returned the album (I lived in Phoenix, AZ, at the time, and Zia Records is the BEST place for any genre of rock - and other - music). Then, I bought Awake and I said, "Well, what have we here?" I thought the artistry was fantastic - right up there with the best of ELP or Genesis, especially. I thought Portnoy definitely had chops, but nothing to glue me to the band. Then, I got the DVD of G3 Live in Tokyo (2005) and it featured John Petrucci (and Mike Portnoy) of Dream Theatre. And, again I said, "Well - that is some really good music." I lived in the southern Philippines at the time, with no access to recent music. By the time we came home to the States in late 2010, there was a buzz about a shake-up in Dream Theatre. When I heard later in 2011 that Mike Mangini replaced Portnoy, I said I have got to check them out again, because I have tried to follow Mangini especially since his stints with Extreme and Vai (on G3 in 1996). My son got me A Dramatic Turn of Events for Christmas 2011 and - wow - I have a new appreciation for the band that is Dream Theatre. They capture a lot of what I loved about 70s prog - nice melodic sections mixed with virtuostic guitar playing (both lead and bass) and excellent drumming. Since I haven't really followed the band throughout their career, I will have to give this album a 4.75. Because it is an "excellent addition to any prog rock music collection" and it aspires to be "essential" be "a masterpiece of progressive rock music." As one with a palette for the choice 70s prog, I would rank this right up there with one of the best I have ever heard...
Report this review (#647191)
Posted Monday, March 5, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars It's very hard for me to write about my favorite bands objectively, and Dream Theater certainly falls into that category. For that reason, I've waited what some would probably consider an inappropriately long time to review their latest-but I'm glad I did. On the day this album was released I mentally pronounced it a masterpiece: a glorious return to form for a band that had stuttered a bit on previous releases. And while it certainly is the best DT album in a while, the more I've listened to it the less it's seemed like a 5 star album to me.

To be perfectly clear, I do think that this is the band's best release since Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. A Dramatic Turn of Events is more consistent than either Train of Thought or Octavarium, less cheesy than Black Clouds and Silver Linings and just straight-up better than Systematic Chaos (though to be fair that's among my least favorite DT albums). That said, it's not perfect; there are moments that feel rehashed or overdramatic (no pun intended), but overall it's a pretty solid release from this legendary band.

"On the Backs of Angels" is the first track on the album, and I don't think it was an accident that this was the preview track for the album. With a 9 minute running time, it's clearly a signal that the band's prog-influence is still going strong, with multiple instrumental breaks and the kind of extended structure that Dream Theater is known for. However, it's also among the most accessible tracks on the album, with a big melodic chorus that recalls tracks like "A Rite of Passage." "On the Backs of Angels" is a good opener, but it's far from my favorite track, with a sound that's far less organic and far more "let's intentionally make some prog music" than most of the album.

"Build Me Up, Break Me Down" catches a lot of flak, but I really, really like it. True, it's far more straightforward than some of the knotty compositions Dream Theater has put out there but so was "Pull Me Under." Speaking of which, that's a pretty good reference point for the sound of this track, with a huge, anthemic chorus that simply screams for radio play. I don't say that as a negative, either (if they played this on the radio I'd listen to more radio), but this is definitely not a prog epic. If you can appreciate a simpler song among the slew of epics on the disc than you will probably really like this one, if not, well, there's plenty of long songs ahead.

Unfortunately, the first over-ten-minute song isn't one to write home about. I don't want to sound like I'm judging too harshly; "Lost Not Forgotten" is a good song, but not a great one. It's biggest problem, I think, is that there's nothing that really makes it stick out from the pack with regards to Dream Theater's other work: it lacks the pounding intensity of "The Glass Prison," or "In The Name of God;" it doesn't have the hooks of "Home" or the emotional "take your breath away" instrumentals like "The Ministry of Lost Souls." In short, it's a bit forgettable, and while I can forgive that in a short track, it's a bit harder to swallow in a song this long. Again, it's not bad, but if I want to spend ten minutes listening to Dream Theater I can think of better ways to do that. Still, I don't think anyone will find himself or herself skipping it if they're listening through the album. "This is the Life" luckily picks up again on a high note. I suppose you could label this as a "ballad," though with a seven minute run-time and definite prog metal leanings that's a bit of a hard label to apply. Nonetheless, it definitely fits into the "softer" side of Dream Theater, with James Labrie delivering remarkably restrained vocals for much of the track until the intensity finally bursts through in the climax of the song. This results in yet another John Petrucci solo to add to the archive of great guitar moments in Dream Theater history, with emotional playing that should be more than enough to dispel criticisms that Dream Theater is nothing but technicality. "This is the Life" is a great song that proves the band can still write softer songs and make them come out amazingly.

Our second 10+ minute song comes next, and it's far better than "This Is The Life." "Bridges in the Sky" starts with a sound that's either throat-singing or a didgeridoo before transitioning into a dramatic, atmospheric section that's a bit reminiscent of Gregorian chant. After this little introduction, pounding riffs come in and the song hits its stride. Another track with a great central hook and solos aplenty, it's also has some of the heavier moments on the album, and most of the song probably wouldn't have sounded out of place on Train of Thought. That said, the chorus opens up a little bit, creating a nice "heavy/light" contrast that keeps the track from being too crushingly heavy, if that's not your thing. Great, varied songwriting and always impressive playing makes this an excellent entry in the Dream Theater canon.

And speaking of great entries in the canon, the next track is "Outcry." This song, more than anything else, made me incredibly disappointed I couldn't see DT live this year, because I can't imagine the live performance of this one is anything less than spectacular. Beginning with a simple piano part, the track quickly launches into a galloping, full fledged anthem, with orchestral synth parts and one of the best vocal lines in recent memory. The lyrics, while perhaps a bit cheesy ("do we look the other way/or do we face the light/though it seems so far away/freedom's worth the fight") are nonetheless heartfelt, and as a result "Outcry" comes across as one of the catchiest, most uplifting Dream Theater tracks in years. I would love to be in the audience for this because I can see everyone there screaming along with the vocals. Probably my favorite track on the album.

"Far From Heaven" is next, coming in as the only track on the album under 5 minutes. Primarily consisting of simply piano and voice (there are some other keyboards as well, but they're pretty minimal), "Far From Heaven" is one of the most stripped down Dream Theater songs ever, and after the double whammy of 11 minute songs that just happened it's a welcome break. Additionally, I think it's one of James Labrie's best vocal performances, with the vocalist singing remarkably tenderly and emotionally and not going for any super-high, super-dramatic lines. It's a very effective, if simple, track, and a welcome breather on an album that doesn't give the listener much time to rest.

"Breaking All Illusions" is often cited as the best track on the album, and, while it loses out in my personal opinion to "Outcry," I'm forced to admit that this one is pretty darn good. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly it is, but something about the composition just has an air of subtlety and sophistication to it that can sometimes get lost under the barrage of solos that appear on the average Dream Theater song. Labrie delivers another great, subtle performance here as well, a great delivery from a singer who's not necessarily known for his subtlety. The instrumentalists are great here as well, with Rudess and Petrucci performing excellently as always and a surprisingly pronounced bass part courtesy of Mr. Myung. Of course, if subtlety isn't your thing there's plenty of virtuosic performances as well-but thankfully it never seems like the players are noodling or anything like that. Though the track eschews any super-big hooks in favor of a more holistic vocal melody, but it certainly doesn't lose anything for it and definitely ends up being one of the best tracks on the album.

After three straight albums ending with gigantic epics, you might expect the album to end there. However, the group decided (wisely, I think) to end this album on a different not. To that end, the five minute "Beneath the Surface" is the concluding track here. Another "ballad" of sorts, the track carries an incredibly hopeful feel and is a great, optimistic note to end the album on. My one complaint with the track is that after nearly a whole song of singing in a low, calming register, James Labrie shoots for the stars on nearly the last line and bafflingly goes up to metal belting range in a song backed only by acoustic guitar and some soothing synth. I understand that they were probably trying to give the end of the track a sweeping sense of drama, but in my opinion it really doesn't work, instead clashing with the music and marring what would otherwise be a perfect ending for the album. This is a minor complaint, however, and except for a strangely corny synth texture used for the solo I have no complaints with the track.

So, while not a perfect album, A Dramatic Turn of Events is still a great release and a hopeful note for the future of a band already well into its 3rd decade of existence. Though one could feasibly complain that the album sounds too much like the group's earlier work, when the songwriting is this consistently high-quality, I really don't have too many complaints. This is a no-brainer for fans of the group (though I suspect most fans probably have it already) and I'd certainly recommend it for other prog-metal fans as well.


Report this review (#648300)
Posted Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars As someone encounters multiple situations in life he feels to be hard to handle, this is one. Reading quite a few reviews around the net, I gasp at the herd mentality of reviews. Dream Theater's "Dramatic turn of events" is one of those situations...

First off, I'm not a fan or admirer of any band or style, to me every band has to prove itself once again. I do, as being a passionate musician, am a fan of musicians, Mike Mangini to name a relevant one.

I do love my moments with Dream Theater, but was absolutely disappointed with their new album. I absolutely adore Mike Mangini, would share my gf with him if that was necessary but I was poundered by some questions.

As I listened to the album, I wondered what has happened to Dream Theater, where's the energy, where is the flow where is the originality?

As I learned, after some browsing, it seems drums were written by John Petrucci. Why would you hire the one of the most creative drummers alive and let the guitar player (yesm JP is incredibly talented and even more hard working as a musician/guitar player) write the drum parts????

Listen to Alien Love Secrets and The Ultra Zone, by Steve Vai and the incredible piece of art "Fire Garden Suite" where Vai and Mangini chose cymbals to match pitch... Just to listen to this album and hear Mike Mangini pound some urban, primal rhythm.

You don't need a Ferrari to pick up your suit at the dry cleaners!!!! You need a Ferrari to give you the ultimate ride of your lifetime, unequalled by any other car.

Although I am disapointed by this abum, I hope DT put their minds together, let Mangini in the proces of writing and starts making music again.

Songs we have plenty, it's the music we are after!!!

Report this review (#672727)
Posted Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Well, there's no too much left to say about it. More than six month has been through since we have the new Dream Theater album, and the first one without Mike Portnoy on the process. The words that I have to describe it are: inspiring and refreshing. Seems like the new chemistry fitted well for the composition and the lyrics. There's more creative presence from the keyboards and interesting bass lines. Petrucci remains as usual bringing great harmonies, melodic solos, powerful riffs and his lyrics are way more focussed than in the last three or four albums. Labrie keeps growing and bringing a wonderful job. It's simply their best studio album in the last 11 years.

The highlights of the album are FAR FROM HEAVEN and BREAKING ALL ILLUSIONS. Both inspired and reaching the finest moments in DT back catalogue, the first one a wonderful piano ballad, very close to WAIT FOR SLEEP and SPACE DYE VEST but with a more dramatic twist. It's not an imitation, but it brings an interesting feeling. The second, a complex epic song, maybe the best DT song in more than a decade. The finest and the best phrases from guitars, bass and keyboards by far.

But there's still a lot for everyone. Epic but not too much "proggy", heavy but not too much "metalish", soft but not too much mellow. Particulary, the epic ones will satisfied the usual DT fans: Lost not Forgotten, Bridges in the Sky and Outcry has everything you can wish for.

The mix is a bit strange, maybe the drums has no too much presence, but it's understandable since Mike Mangini didn't play a composition roll in the album. He is great and accurate at best, but was just a hired gun for this album.

Satisfied by the grow of the album in the last few months, I can assure you'll find a wonderful album to listen to.

Since is one of the best albums in the last few years, I think it deserves a Masterpiece rank. Even the weak points makes the album more realistic, more close to the listener. I do hope haters could see above their prejudges and find that great feeling that I've been enjoying.


Report this review (#675979)
Posted Thursday, March 22, 2012 | Review Permalink
2 stars I try to avoid hype, (whether it's music, movies, video games anything) to keep a clear mind and form honest opinions, and do so by avoiding said item for a while. So I really waited a good bit to listen to DT's "A Dramatic Turn of Events" but have finally gotten around to it. After giving the album some listens and fully digesting it, I can safely say while it's not a bad album at all, it's not anything great either. Like all their albums since "Octavarium" I was left a bit underwhelmed. It was a bit disappointing since I heard this album was a turn back to their progressive, melodic days.

The band does accomplish just that: the keyboards are way up, the heaviness is a bit down, and while still present the famed DT shreddery and technical w**kery are reduced. These are of course part of DT's appeal, but you have to change it up sometimes. I applaud the change, just the music itself left some to be desired overall.

The opener "On the Backs of Angels" I actually quite enjoy. A good blend of riff based and melodic based prog. It has a good flow and strong songwriting. It has a bit of all and is just very well done.

"Build Me Up, Break Me Down" has a cool spidery riff, and some nice heavy moments. The power chord chorus is a bit eh, but what can you do? Not a bad song.

"Lost Not Forgotten" is more "standard" DT filled with more technicality, w**kery, and riffing. I'm a fan of this, especially when put in a nice 10 minute prog metal song so this is probably my favorite on the album. Again, another well done song and not just a "by the numbers" which tends to be my issue with DT.

"This is the Life" is a nice light song. Keyboard driven, light guitar and drumming that builds to a melodic and powerful part. Nice to get some feeling, which despite liking the previous songs felt a bit absent of it. Pretty good song, though for the first time LaBrie's vocals get on my nerves, especially in soaring parts.

"Bridges in the Sky" starts with a quiet intro, featuring an attempt at throat singing which works semi well in my opinion. The song kicks into a heavy riff, and like the opener has a bit of everything. Good song.

"Outcry" is more of the same though I really like the middle section. A bit sluggish at times, it's not bad overall.

"Far From Heaven" a very light, keyboard and vocal driven song.

"Breaking All Illusions" I'm running out of different words to describe "more of the same" but this is actually one of the better songs on the album. Another straightforward though well done prog metal song.

The album ends with an acoustic guitar, keyboard and vocal song. Light and melodic, it's quite nice.

So I've used a lot of "good" and "a lot of the same" but that's the best way to describe "A Dramatic Turn of Events". It's a good album. Not great, but not bad, no real weak songs but none jump out at you either. It is generally well done prog metal. Good but not great, textbook definition of 3 stars in my book.

DT fans should like this, haters will find nothing to turn them on to it, and moderate/casual fans like myself will probably find it decent, and it's worth a listen.

Three Stars

Report this review (#752565)
Posted Saturday, May 12, 2012 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is the 11th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in September 2011. This is the first Dream Theater album not to feature drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy who left the band in September 2010. He is replaced here by Mike Mangini (Annihilator, Extreme, Steve Vai).

Despite the quite significant lineup change (In addition to his drumming duties Mike Portnoy was active in the band's songwriting as well as co-producing several of the group's albums) not much have actually changed since "Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009"). Dream Theater still produce top notch progressive metal involving outstanding musicianship and well written material. What they fail to do on this album and actually haven't done for a while is challenge their audience. "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is more or less Dream Theater by the numbers and at this point I really wish they would break out of the stylistic monotony they've been in for now too long. There are literally no surprises on this album and frankly I expect more from the world's leading progressive metal act. After all the word "progressive" (in this context) means that you push boundaries and create something new/unheard of.

With that out of the way "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is of course still a high quality release on almost every other parameter and as such the album opens pretty strong with the trio of tracks "On the Backs of Angels", "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" and "Lost Not Forgotten". But from "This is the Life" and onwards my attention begins to wander. Especially some of the longer tracks like "Bridges in the Sky" and "Outcry" are rather tedious to my ears, but of course things aren't helped along either with the inclusion of the saccarine and forgettable ballad "Far From Heaven". I don't know why they keep insisting on including tracks like that on their albums ("This is the Life" also falls under that catagory).

The sound production is decent but the drums have an odd sound. Maybe they are not high enough in the mix or something like that. I can't put my finger on it, but there is some kind of issue with them. Regarding the drums it's interesting to note that Mike Mangini more or less completely imitates the playing of Mike Portnoy. I've read somewhere that the drum parts for the tracks were already written when Mangini entered the lineup, so maybe it's not so strange. It'll be interesting to see if he can bring his own style to the table on the next release if he decides to stay with the band.

Now I can understand that hardcore fans of Dream Theater find "A Dramatic Turn of Events" to be a great release but I simply have to point out what I see as weaknesses and potential signs of a band that have given up developing their music. To me "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is a kinda "middle of the road" album by Dream Theater and it's far from the best output by the band. Sometime in the future when talking about Dream Theater's discography this album will not be mentioned. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

Report this review (#758212)
Posted Friday, May 25, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars If I needed a single example of an album that's really grown on me I would have to choose this one. I had skewed expectations what with the departure of Mike Portnoy. My initial view was that this was just another Dream Theater album with out of this world technical compositions lasting 10 minutes. While this is still fairly true, after a few more listens, and after going through their discography a few more times, I discovered this album is more special than I thought.

The departure of MP represents a new period in DT sound. The past few albums struggled with a sound unlike their earlier albums like Images and awake. The band started moving into a territory more dominated by straight up metal, moving from the beautiful compositions that graced their earlier work. Therefore, this album, aptly named A Dramatic Turn of Events is just that; a change in style, mostly indicative of their roots. There is myriad of reasons for this change, the departure of Portnoy, who definitely had the most metal influence of all the members, is an obvious choice. It could also be that the album is built upon the structure of their classic Image and Words album. Regardless, the result is positive and a welcome.

Musically, their isn't much to be said. It sounds like Dream Theater. The songs are very similar, at least in structure, to that of Images and Words. There is an obvious drop in the metal and heaviness aspects regularly incorporated since Train of Thought, with more emphasis on keyboard and bass (yes, it is actually audible).The standout tracks are On the Backs of Angels, Lost Not Forgotten, Bridges in the Sky, Outcry, and Breaking All Illusions. The technicality is there, the progressive is there, the melody is there. Everything that makes a good DT album is here. The only reason this can not get a perfect score from me is because Images and Words, Awake, Scenes, and Six Degrees, are just THAT good. But this is a great album, a great refresher to remind others and myself of how great this band is.

Report this review (#769943)
Posted Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars A tremendous comeback for the reigning kings of prog metal! And I say "comeback" because while DT had still been releasing good music, they hadn't really done anything special since 2002's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, before giving us A Dramatic Turn of Events last year.

I think the departure of original drummer Mike Portnoy gave the band a renewed sense of purpose, and eager to prove themselves once again, they wrote an album with zero forgettable songs and mostly great tunes. Bridges in the Sky and Breaking All Illusions are destined to be talked-about DT classics for years, and Outcry, Beneath the Surface, This Is the Life and Lost Not Forgotten are damn good as well. Far from Heaven is a gorgeous piano/vocals only song, and the first two songs, On the Backs of Angels and Build Me Up..., are both very solid.

Overall, this is a great DT album - probably their 5th or 6th best album. It doesn't touch the brilliance of masterpieces like Awake, Images and Words and Scenes from a Memory, but it isn't that far behind. We fans long hoping for a return to form finally got our wish, and we couldn't be happier!

Report this review (#790730)
Posted Thursday, July 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
5 stars Only two years after the amazing last release "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" Dream Theater are back with a bang. They got a lot of media attention because of their split with founding member and drum workaholic Mike Portnoy who now tries to sue the band and doesn't only scrap his professional career but also his image, his friendship with the other members and finally his credibility. Thumbs down for Mike Portnoy but thumbs up for the other guys of Dream Theater who were able to write a very strong record even without the controling influence of Mike Portnoy. Most of the songs on here are written as a team. Jordann Rudess did an amazing job and sound stronger than ever on this record. Lets notice that he also wrote the drum patterns for the record that the new and very sympathetic drum monster Miek Mangini copied in his studio. He is the only new member who didn't have a writing credit on this record and I'm looking forward to see what this guy is able to play and write in a bright future with Dream Theater. Of course, John Petrucci is once again an important corner stone of this record and had many great ideas. James LaBrie gets some more credits on this record than before and his vocals sound more effortless and amazing than ever before. Even they shy guy John Myung got back on track and wrote a lot of music and also some lyrics on this album. Everything seems equilibrated on this album and Portnoy's departure seems to be a relief and released a lot of fresh creativity within the different band members. These are the reasons why this album turns out to be so strong.

Enter "A Dramatic Turn Of Events". I described the previous record as a great compilation and mixture of styles from albums such as "Six Degress Of Inner Turbulence", "Train Of Thoughts" or "Systematic Chaos" and this new record is the equivalent force to it. It touches calmer and more progressive sounds that made me adore records such as "Images And Words", "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory" or "Octavarium". The opener "On The Backs Of Angels" needs some time to grow but ultimately convinces with beautiful guitar harmonies and atmospheric keyboard section. Especially the calmest and most progressive tracks on this album are amazing like the catchy and yet epic anthem "Breaking All Illusions" or the touching and introspective ballad "Beneath The Surface".

But the band is even more diversified than this and has added some thrash orientated and modern sounds into a couple of songs that could come straight from "Train Of Thoughts" or "Systematic Chaos". The greatest example is the brilliant "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" that has many heavy and modern sounds but a catchy and beautiful chorus that contrasts the stunning beginning of the song. The great thing about this album is that it touches many different styles, ideas and genres but the choice of the track list still glues the nine songs coherently together. Every song has something different to show us even if we have heard bits and pieces of the diversified styles in many other Dream Theater albums before. This record presents us nothing new but it stagnates on a very strong level and is an important transitional album and new beginning after the departure of Mike Portnoy. This record should unite old and young fans and as I recognized, this album pleases as much to those who cite "Awake" as their favourite album as to those who would put "Train Of Thoughts" on the top of their list. That's a rare and stunning effort. With the last record, the band seems to have been able to develop away to catalyze their different styles into a well mixed melting pot of genius.

Every Dream Theater album has one song that truly stands out in my opinion and even though all songs are pretty great on this new effort, this is still the case on here. I talk about the amazing "Bridges In The Sky" that has almost made it as the title track of the album. The song mixes haunting shaman chants with atmospheric choirs, keyboards passages and even new age influences that lead to heavy and almost thrash orientated verses and beautiful choruses. Every instrument plus the vocals shine in this masterpiece that I would put slightly in front of the other stunning epics "Breaking All Illusions", followed by "Outcry" and finally "Lost Not Forgotten". This song contains everything Dream Theater is still about in 2011. I don't like stupid general comments but I would make an exception here and say that you don't like Dream Theater if you don't like this song.

In the end, the only reason why this record isn't my favourite one of the band and only placed second behind the previous "Black Clouds And Silver Linings" is that there are maybe one or two ballads too much on the record with "This Is The Life" and "Far From Heaven" and that the band doesn't try out something completely new yet. But I feel that the best is yet to come and that this album will also still grow on me. This album is definitely in my top ten of the best metal releases of the year and a must have for any fan of progressive music of any kind.

Originally published on on October 15th of the year 2011.

Report this review (#808890)
Posted Thursday, August 23, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Dream Theater's 11th studio offering, A Dramatic Turn of Events, marks the first album by the band after drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy left the band. Many people view it as a return to form, after the heaviness of their last two albums, Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Some see it as another album filled with songs that are too long with too much soloing and noodling. I see this album as both in a way. Let me explain.

There's no doubting the talent and skill of the members of Dream Theater. All 4 instrumentalists are virtuosos and have been known for this for a long time. We're certainly shown this on the album, in sections such as the first few minutes of "Lost Not Forgotten", which to my ears is just bland, pointless soloing that really does not need to be there at all, and it just takes away from the whole song in general. I'll go into that deeper later on.

The songwriting on this album is fairly good, but it won't blow you away. It's not really any better than any other albums, or any worse.

The concept and title of the album seems like a direct reference to the leaving of former member, Mike Portnoy, but the band insisted that this is not the case; instead they were inspired by several happenings around the world (such as the Libyan uprisings) to write about how people and communities cope with change. This theme isn't really that prominent in the lyrics on this album. Most of the lyrics are quite similar to other Dream Theater lyrics (meaning they're not that good). There's a lot of stuff that doesn't really mean anything. But then there are songs like Breaking All Illusions, whose lyrics were written by John Myung, which have quite intriguing lyrics. They don't really seem to mean too much, but the concepts thrown around are interesting.

The album is fairly consistent within itself, and also when compared to the rest of Dream Theater's discography. There's a lot of the instrumental noodling that I mentioned earlier, which quickly becomes irritating. These sections are mainly found in the long songs. Talking about length, this album goes for just over 77 minutes, which is consistent with their other albums. But the problem is, when you want to fill up a complete disc, it's hard to do it with shorter 'to-the-point' songs, so what Dream Theater usually end up doing is filling up the disc with the instrumental soloing. I wish they would just make an album that was less than an hour long and didn't have heaps of long songs that are slightly aimless.

While it might seem from this review that the album isn't that good, that isn't completely true. There are some truly wonderful moments, like the lush, Pink Floyd-esque opening to On the Backs of Angels, and the melancholic, emotional beauty of Far From Heaven.

Overall: This is a fairly good album by Dream Theater, but has its weak moments, and doesn't contain anything that we haven't heard before. 7/10 = 4/5 when rounded up

Report this review (#823851)
Posted Wednesday, September 19, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Feels like a transition album for DT. Their last albums with drummer and band creative co-leader Mike Portnoy were, as always, technically impeccable and still quite catchy, but had songs vastly overstaying their welcome or stitched together, and terrible lyrics. Seemed like a creative roadblock, maybe from such a huge workload. Attempts to stretch their sound by incorporating modern youth metal influences seemed, well, demeaning for DT.

On A dramatic turn of events they decided to play on their strengths. That means 10-minute plus epics, wild instrumental interplay (proving that nobody in prog metal has such a diverse sound palette as them), melodic and vocals hooks, and, yes, poppy ballads, but wisely choosing not to do a power ballad overkill, in case of Beneath the surface, but ending the song with tasteful orchestration. The only songs that don't do anything for me are the uninspired ballad Far from heaven, and power rocker Build me up, break me down, where they still try to sound modern (quasi techno beats, rapping vocal), but across kinda silly like old men trying to do a youth sound.

Why feels like a transition? Well, while playing to strenghts, they don't venture out anywhere new, just solidifying their long-held positions (appropriate, given their recent slide, but still, you come to expect something exciting from DT). The longer songs have a similar structure as if on a formula. But this is just grumbling. Casual fans of DT-style pompous, diverse and highly technical and at the same time pop-savvy metal should eat it up.

Report this review (#1010978)
Posted Sunday, August 4, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars First off I will say that I have never rated and doubtfully will ever rate a DT release, aside from the first one, with less than five stars. The reason for that is that I love hearing a band that knows exactly what they're doing, doing it well. I've watched live concerts on DVD from various bands that can bring a tear to the eye with a brilliant melody accompanied with brilliant lyrics however there is only one band that has left me sitting there open mouthed wondering how in hell they just played a certain piece as a band in a cohesive manner.

That total musician mastery of each member's seperate individual instruments is why I will always love the band. Hard jazz rock fusion, hard core metal riffing, rock jamming, gentle balladeering - whatever - they fuse it all together when they're called upon to do so. John Petrucci is probably the best and most skilled lead guitarist that I have ever had the pleasure of hearing and the thing is that he does it all so easily without having to pull stressed faces on stage like he was constipated or in the throes of orgasm. Some guitarists on stage pull faces which almost show that they're more suprised at the sound that they're producing than the audience is - with Petrucci you get none of that. You get the sense that there's very little he can't do with his instrument. I would say that he is probably part of the main reason that DT are my favorite musical act. Myung and Rudess are no slouches either - they do what they do incredibly well. James LaBrie is the perfect vocalist for the bands music - there was a time when he had a severe problem with his vocal chords but that seems to be past now. Mike Mangini is a bit of a vacant space for me right now as I don't know too much about him or his capabilities behind the drum kit. I do believe that if it hasn't already come that the day will come when Portnoy really rues leaving the band behind him. For me he was a core band member and I'm only really glad that the band could and did elect to continue without him.

I don't see a point in doing a track by track review of this album as there isn't a track on here which didn't impress me. The four epic (plus 10 minute) tracks are brilliantly put together and very well executed. The shortest track "Far from Heaven" is one of those magical emotional tracks that the band does so well - a cigarette lighter or cell-phone camera light moment that eases the pressure on the listener from the harder, rockier, more technical moments that fill the rest of the music for a while. The band understand ambiance and they use it perfectly throughout their music. It is a fact that the human brain can only concentrate on something for so long and they use lighter tracks and sections as a break to enable a listener to absorb more fully the rest of the music which is technical and sometimes quite heavy.

Any hesitation that I may have felt regarding a new drummer was quickly dispelled through this album as Mangini was more than up to the task of being a part of the band here. I am interested to hear how he will influence the next album.

A very solid five stars from me for a rollercoaster of an album that, as Dream Theater usually do, put me solidly in musical heaven for 77 minutes. Most importantly with DT they have never shocked me or their fan base by doing a total turnaround in the music that the fans love so well after the release of a good many albums thus far - they have remained loyal to their fans without the need to excite a money hunt from the huge base of casual listeners to what is essentially radio friendly commercial garbage.

Report this review (#1015042)
Posted Friday, August 9, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars This album has a bit of history behind it. After the dramatic departure of drummer Mike Portnoy (I remember a similar reaction whenever the last pope died), the metal world was split. You either now loved Dream Theater or hated Dream Theater due to the decision of one band member. Personally I couldn't really care. Mike Portnoy is a brilliant drummer and yes he did bring a certain flair to the band, but change is always good, for better or for worse. So with the dramatic change, the band started the hunt for a drummer, in an almost Simon Cowell manner with auditions and videos showing the audition. Bit cheesy, but it seemed to be beneficial for the band as they where able to hire drum genius Mike Mangini to join the band.

Personally I think this change has done them for the better. Their last album 'Black Clouds & Silver Linings' I personally saw as a bit of a mixed bag, and Portnoy's demanding influence seems to be the reason for some of the albums weakest moments. But now that his overt personality is not seen on this album, it is replaced with a more group effort. Sadly Mangini did not contribute any composition work on this album, but his drumming is still impressive nontheless

The only slight criticism I would have with this album is the production. I wasn't too fond of Portnoy's drum mixes on previous albums, but I fear that maybe the drums on this album have been turned down a tad too much. It is nice to hear the band become not so percussion heavy, but a slight turn up would be good. The guitar mixing I believe to be very muddy as well. There is something about Petrucci's tone on this album which I am not the biggest fan of. I would admit that this may be the best album to hear John Myung's bass, with some pretty impressive musical moments from the man himself. Jordan's keyboards have finally spruced up too, with less experimentation with new technology, approaching with a more classical approach on this album.

The opening track and Grammy nominated lead single 'On The Backs Of Angels' is a pretty great opener. With some pretty kick ass riffs, it starts off the album on a good note. I was surprised to see this song get a Grammy nomination, with it being an 8 minute track, but these guys do pull of a pretty great prog metal track, with a lot more prog rock than metal.

My least favorite track on the album would have to be 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down.' There are moments of the song I do like a lot, but at times it just sounds like a rip off of a Disturbed riff. The saving moment has to be James' crazy screams in the chorus.

'Lost Not Forgotten' starts off with a beautiful piano intro before exploding into one of the most technically efficient songs on the album. The instrumental section also has some pretty killer riffs too.

One of the album's ballads 'This Is The Life' has some pretty great instrumental moments and arrangements. James' vocals on the song are also pretty great, showing off some very diverse moments too.

'Bridges In The Sky' is probably the heaviest track on the album. Using his 7 string, Petrucci really shows off some pretty kick ass riffs on this track. The chorus is also one of the strongest on the album too. The intro is a bit odd and silly, but the real meat and bones of the track is where the song really takes shape.

One of the most oddest compositions on the album has to be 'Outcry.' Starting off as a rather anthemic rock track, the song moves into a rather eclectic instrumental section with a lot of experimentation with atonal and chromatic music moments. The song does take a while to get into, but it's impressive nontheless.

One of my personal favorite tracks has to be 'Far From Heaven.' A beautiful piano and string arrangement, the song deals with the topic of forceful parents who work their children to the bone. Brilliant lyrics and a brilliant vocal performance from James, the song is rather touching.

The albums longest track and definite strongest moment on the album is the 12 minute epic 'Breaking All Illusions.' Now I know that Dream Theater get a lot of abuse for showing too much virtuostic musical ability, but I think this song is an example of the band showing virtuostic talent, but still in a very musical and compositional manner.

The album's closing track 'Beneath The Surface' is another ballad that displays some beautiful melodies. I do like the rather minimalist approach behind this song and shows that the band can tone it down to make something rather special. Odd but good way to end the album.

In conclusion, this is probably up there with one of my favorite Dream Theater albums. After having gone through certain difficult circumstances, the band where able to prove that they are very much still relevant. Whether that still holds up today, I'm not sure. But this album definitely proves that the band have still got it in them to take the crown of Prog Metal kings.

Genres: Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Symphonic Rock, Symphonic Prog

Country of origin: USA

Year of release: 2011

Report this review (#1196959)
Posted Sunday, June 22, 2014 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
3 stars Years after the hype, years after the heartache, I've finally spent sometime with Dream Theater's comeback hopeful, and can say that A Dramatic Turn of Events is an enjoyable release, and that's about it. The album doesn't break new ground, doesn't make me cringe with terrible lyrics and bad song writing, and doesn't spark with the same creativity and energy from the band's peak output more than a decade ago.

So if that's what this album doesn't do, what does A Dramatic Turn of Events accomplish?

It gives us more than an hour of good songs written, performed, and produced in the usual Dream Theater style; complex instrumental playing hidden behind the veneer of simple song writing. There is a good mix of rockers, ballads, and epics here, including four songs that clock in at over 10 minutes. The band's playing is characteristically good, and occasionally excellent, and it really does feel like they put some thought into the variety on the album. The ballads are thoughtful, if not especially creative. There are a few songs that fall short, such as the bland "Build Me Up, Break Me Down," and the cartoonish middle-eastern pastiche that shows up for the instrumental section of "Outcry", but these moments are in the minority. "Bridges in the Sky" is easily the most creative track of the group, and "Breaking All Illusions" may actually make the DT highlight reel.

It took me a long time, and many listens of this album for me to decide what I thought about it. It didn't make a very good first impression, but I decided that this was probably due to my disgust over the previous two albums. A Dramatic Turn of Events didn't grab me, and with the exception of "Breaking All Illusions," it still doesn't. There's just nothing here that makes me melt with metal awesomeness like the band could years ago. With that being said, I still enjoy the serviceable songs and occasional standout moment or thoughtful lyric. Maybe its me, and I'm not the impressionable 20-something that fell in love with Scenes from a Memory and Images and Words. Maybe its the band, and they're so completely sick of making what is mostly the same music that their enthusiasm has all but evaporated. Either way, A Dramatic Turn of Events will please fans of the band who are expecting to hear more of their prog-metal champions keep at it, but it won't win anyone new. You've got to respect DT for their legacy and persistence, but there are other bands that are making more interesting versions of this music.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Report this review (#1446321)
Posted Tuesday, July 28, 2015 | Review Permalink
4 stars 25 years after their inception, 2010's aptly titled 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' ushers in an era Dream Theater fans thought they'd never see, for this was the first release after the departure of drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy.

With the prog world eagerly anticipating who would have the impossible task of replacing one of the greatest drummers in the world, the band announced a new album and, via an online documentary, unveiled that man to be none other than Mike Mangini, who's résumé includes the likes of Steve Vai, Annihilator and Dream Theater frontman Jame LaBrie's solo project, proving him to be a more than competent successor.

However, other than the inclusion of a new drummer, this is pretty much a by-the-numbers release. Big, epic songs, which display a vast array of heavy, crushing riffs, beautiful and haunting keyboard melodies, an unlimited supply of instrumental mastery and James LaBrie's powerful vocals. It's clear that the drama of the past year hasn't prevented the prog legends from doing what they do best.

I was saddened though, as I'm sure many others were, to hear that Mike Mangini didn't have any creative input in the compositions for 'Dramatic...', as they were written before he joined the group, leaving him to play session musician. It's not really a detriment to the album, but I was more than a little excited to see what musical differences Mangini would bring to the table.

Some of the highlights from 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' includes the single 'On the Backs of Angels', and the longer, more epic tracks 'Bridges in the Sky' and 'Outcry'. The shorter, "metal" tracks such as 'Lost Not Forgotten' and 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down' show that guitarist John Petrucci can always be relied upon to produce riffs that put most metal bands to shame, and ballads like 'This is the Life' and 'Far from Heaven' soften the mood to enable listeners to catch their breath.

With their eleventh studio outing comes a landmark release in Dream Theater's discography, which, while it's a remarkable piece of work in itself, will always be known as the first of the post-Portnoy era. It's a good sign that the band are ready to continue on, and can only leave one excited to see where they will go from here.

Report this review (#1781950)
Posted Thursday, September 14, 2017 | Review Permalink

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