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Dream Theater

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3 stars Like "On the Backs of Angels," the single from Dream Theater's most recent album, "The Enemy Inside" is very much a typical Dream Theater song, understandably as both the band and the record company certainly want the album's lead single to be accessible and pleasing to fans. Unfortunately, however, "The Enemy Inside" is not as fresh, intense, or well-composed as the aforementioned single. "The Enemy Inside" begins with a thrashy intro that hearkens back to the heaviest of Dream Theater's material from the new millenium. Aflame with dexterous picking and tritone-based riffs, the introduction is well-composed and inventive, creating an expectation in the listener that the rest of the song will be similarly well-crafted and intense. Unfortunately, the main body of the song disappoints these expectations. Cliched metal chugging leads into a verse that features a boring, stagnant melody over an uninspired chord progression. It sounds like the band is trying to mimic past successes in musical intensity, an attempt that falls flat. The chorus carries on in a similar fashion, Labrie's voice uneventfully following Petrucci's similarly uneventful sequence of chords in a rather monotonous tandem of uneventfulness. At last the band emerges from this rut with the beginning of the interlude, structured in three parts: a guitar-led section followed by a keyboard-led one and concluding with a guitar solo. What the interlude lacks in melodic interest is offset by the its delightful guitar-keyboard interplay that matches the best of the material on which Petrucci and Rudess have coloborated. Asymmetric rhythms are exchanged between guitar and keys, twisting the mind of the listener this way and that, disorienting and overwhelming it, trapping it in the frantic emotion of the song. Aside from the introduction, this is the only part of the song that really accomplishes its emotional purpose. The ensuing solo is good, but nothing special as Petrucci has proved himself capable of better over the years. The song closes with a repetition of the chorus and a reprise of the introduction, capping off a rather standard song structure.

In light of the maturity that the members of Dream Theater have developed as composers over the years, I had hoped for a more intricate and well-thought-out composition than this. There's nothing wrong with standard song structures, but in this case, Dream Theater begins the song with something interesting only to leave the opening themes undeveloped throughout the rest of the song. Had the band developed the song around the opening riffs instead of introducing new, inferior material and not developing that either, the song could have been much more successful and compositionally interesting. Still, this is not a bad song by any means, and it is perhaps not fair to judge it yet; it is the lead single, after all, and was most likely chosen for accessibility rather than quality; it may fit better in the context of the album than it does as a standalone track. Overall, "The Enemy Inside" is good Dream Theater, but not as good as fans could hope for in light of the band's recent accomplishments.

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Posted Thursday, August 8, 2013 | Review Permalink

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