Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Progarchives, the progressive rock ultimate discography
Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment CD (album) cover


Liquid Tension Experiment

Progressive Metal

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Bookmark and Share
4 stars Think of it this way......wrap DREAM THEATER in with KING CRIMSON and add just a pinch of the DIXIE DREGS and you have the LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT. Loads of great guitar (John Petrucci) with electrifying solos and strong incredible guitar riffs, Superb Bass (Tony Levin), Heavy duty keys (Jordan Rudess) and deadly and accurate drumming (Mike Portnoy). This is an all instrumental release from the Magna Carta label and is perhaps their best yet. This album offers a wide range of moods, but generally is progressive driving prog at its finest. It is far more progressive and less Metal-prog as DREAM THEATER so don't will be amazed. The best part of the CD is the last 23 min epic track "3 Minute Warning". This is pure inprov and has not been overdubbed in any is pure magic and pure prog. Hold onto your seats you are in for a wild ride. At times this recording reminds me of the louder aspects of the OZRIC TENTACLES in a big way.
Report this review (#4466)
Posted Saturday, March 13, 2004 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars I have never seen such a masterpiece since the early 90's. Masterpieces are rare these days, or maybe they are harder to find. The DREAM THEATER fan should absolutely get this CD. More instrumental, it gives all the room to fast drums and guitars of the 2 artists. There are a good keyboardist who is able to follow the complex and fast patterns without any problem and the great Tony Levin on bass to complete the oeuvre. This is prog hard rock, even metal.

The great complexity of the music satisfies me totally. Probably i'll have to review my top lists....... HAPPY THE MAN!

Report this review (#4467)
Posted Sunday, April 11, 2004 | Review Permalink
4 stars A great, solid, heavy, naive and fast record. From start to end, the record exposes the need of the members of Dream Theater to play faster and heavier. They has a great back- up pack with Levin and Rudess (that eventually became part of DT). The first part of the record is pure fast prog with a stylish middle tempo in every song, however the great part reches the end with the "duos", first Levin and Portnoy plays and excellent piece "chris & kevin excellent adventure", followed by the mellow but impressive "state of grace" played by Petrucci and Rudess. For the experienced listener, the last song is a looooong jam featuring the technical capabilities of the players at it's best. A very important record for the porg-metal community, and a very impressive album for the music scene.
Report this review (#4475)
Posted Thursday, June 24, 2004 | Review Permalink
5 stars I don't have words to describe this masterpiece!!!Out of this world!!You won't see something similar in anywhere!Something so original and complex must be considered the salvation of music ahead this garbage wave we're listening these days! John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy show all their quality,that it's not little,and Jordan Rudess decress why he is one of the best ones musicians on keyboard!!!! It's essential have this record in your colletion!
Report this review (#4478)
Posted Friday, October 8, 2004 | Review Permalink
2 stars Overrated Album, no doubts about it.

What's with this technical demonstration, as if Dream Theater was not Technical enough...

The guitars parts are really poors, no matter how you look at it, and I wont even speak about the pathetic piano parts...

It's till a mystery to me ... how can a supergroup like that make such low level compositions...

All these Instrumentists have made tremendously better before, and that's why we cant allow to be kind with them. The compositions are basic and dont bring us even the slightest piece of a surprise ...

As a great fan of Dream Theater, I was extremly disappointed with this album.

Report this review (#4485)
Posted Monday, February 14, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars LTE is hands down the best instrumental prog group in existence. They cover more ground with more diversity than any other band could posibly do. The balance and crisp tightness between Rudess, Portnoy, and Petrucci is breathtakingly amazing.
Report this review (#4487)
Posted Monday, March 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars I really like this album, but i wouldn't say it's a "masterpiece", and so, reluctantly, I give it 4 Stars. It's still a great album, though. Some assorted things I have to say about this album...

Just to clarify, this is NOT a Dream Theater album. I have been criticised by my friends for saying that isn't purely because LTE has three of the members of the current Dream Theater line-up, but I assure you, is very very different from Dream Theater, in my opinion. I think there are three reasons for this. 1. Tony Levin. His impact on the music is massive and I feel he brings that more melodic element to it. 2. The fact it was recorded so quickly. To me, the music sounds spontaneous, improvised and quirky, and that means it's definately not Dream Theater. DT is so though-out, and even the solos have a "worked out" nature to them. 3. The fact there are no vocals. A lot of Dream Theater instrumental music either sounds like vocal songs arranged for instruments (Stream Of Conciousness, Hell's Kitchen), or is pure complexity (Erotomania, The Dance of Eternity). But I think the music of LTE does not fall into those catagories. I think Mike, Tony, Jordan and John have created a unique style between them, which is more melodic, and less metal. And although it has Dream Theater- esque qualities about it, it's not a Dream Theater album.

I love this album, but i feel awfully biased when I comment about it because I'm both a drummer and keyboardist. I think it's definately a musician's album. I don't mean to say that all musicians will like it, but I feel musicians will get more out of the music than non- musicians. Of course I can't speak for everybody. But when I listen to it I do get the sense it was written to appeal to all those playing these specific instruments. I suppose that's why Portnoy went away afterwards and did a DVD explaining all about the drum parts in the two LTE albums. But maybe that's the point of this album, to appeal to musicians. I don't know. It may well be just the way these guys play.

My favourite track on this CD by far has got to be Three Minute Warning. It's been attacked so much because of this track, that interestingly, on the back of the album they put a disclaimer! For those who haven't got this album, it reads... Caution: "Three Minute Warning" is not for the musically faint-hearted, impatient, or critics of self indulgence. If you fall into any of these catagories, please hit the stop button on your CD player afer track #8. Personally, I think this pretty much sums up the album for me, especially the bit about self- indulgence. But what the heck, I like it anyway.

Enjoy, and buy at your own risk!

Report this review (#4488)
Posted Friday, April 1, 2005 | Review Permalink
Cygnus X-2
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars As a very big Dream Theater fan, I was interested when I first heard about this album. I went to the store and picked it up immediately. When I got home, I put on my headphones and listened to an incredible work of music. As most of you know, LTE contains some of the best musicians in the prog rock world: John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy, Jordan Rudess, and Tony Levin. This album is a stage for the musicians to participate in what some people call 'technical masturbation', this is not the case. Yes, there are many filler tracks (The Stretch, Osmosis, etc.).

The opening track "Paradigm Shift" is a powerhouse track, with an incredible Petrucci opening, and nothing less that excellent playing by the rest of the group. Other tracks worth mentioning are "Univeral Mind", "State of Grace", "Kindred Spirits", and the 25 minute improvisation "3 Minute Warning" (This track is not for the faint of heart, it even mentions on the CD case).

Overall, this album is a stellar work that no DT fan should be without. Each musician shows that they are virtuosos at their instruments, with excellent performances from everyone. I highly recommend it to anyone looking for powerhouse metal that has softer and more melodic tendencies.

Report this review (#4490)
Posted Friday, April 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars If you like Dream Theater, you will love LTE. Levin and Petrucci are already legends, Portnoy and Rudess are almost there... I believe the last 4 tracks (10-13) are incredibly perfect, as equations, following carefully a beautiful pattern. Music equals poetry. Poetry equals math. Math equals madness. Madness equals beauty. Beauty equals this...
Report this review (#4494)
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars I could call this a masterpiece...As one of the ultimate DT fans,I could say that there's still a shadow of DT influence here.Although,LTE's main purpose is also to sound as a fusion band,still there are parts of being a prog-metal band.Most of all,they really sound greater than GREAT.I'm really impressed when I heard Paradigm Shift and Universal Mind.Liquid Tension Experiment one could go down as one of prog-metal/fusion's best albums of all- time.I'd recommend to a DT fan to buy this rather than DT's Falling to Infinity(because LTE was far greater than Falling into Infinity..)

Rock on LTE!

Report this review (#38747)
Posted Thursday, July 7, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars Many DREAM THEATER side projects have surfaced in the past few years but arguably LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT may well be one of the most interesting of the lot. Featuring nothing but complete virtuosos of their own instruments, this first venture (of two) is an highly experimental album made not only of full band compositions but also of duets and jams, showing all the musicianship of these four guys. And these are none other than Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess (nowadays comprising more than half of DREAM THEATER) aswell as bass demigod Tony Levin (of KING CRIMSON and PETER GABRIEL fame).

LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT is the result of one insane week back in the summer of 1997, when Magna Carta decided it'd be a good thing to form a supergroup and that Mike Portnoy would be the right guy to bring it to life. Originally meant to have Jens Johansson (of STRATOVARIUS) on keyboards instead of Rudess and Billy Sheehan (DAVID LEE ROTH, MR.BIG) instead of Levin, that lineup turned out to be a no-go. Fans of DREAM THEATER probably thank the heavens for that considering the realization of this project was probably one of the main reasons why Jordan Rudess turned out to become a full-time member of DREAM THEATER.

As I said before, this is an album of experimentation, the perfect instrumental showcase for the virtuostic element among these four musicians, with whom a simple jam or the discovery of a cool "groove" or bass line can spark an entire song. Except for a few very sparse vocal overdubs in one track, this is entirely an instrumental record. Some cuts on here are full band compositions while others are simply live jamming and improvisations which eventually got developed into fully fledged songs.

So, LTE can range from very technical, fast and assaulting ("Paradigm Shift", "Universal Mind"), to soothing ("Osmosis", "The Stretch"), to rocking ("Kindred Spirits"), to highly improvised and experimental of which "Three Minute Warning", an over 28-minute piece broken down into five parts is clearly the ultimate example. The fact that the band jammed for so long on this one that the master tape ran out and the last minute and twenty seconds were only captured on a 2-track DAT thankfully running in parallel is a testament to how insane these sessions really were. The difference in sound quality is actually very noticeable towards the end of the track and it shows how spontaneous this project was meant to be.

If you're a big fan of DREAM THEATER, not enjoying this album is kind of an impossibility given all the surrounding and inner factors. If you simply enjoy exploring new musical directions, different sounds and great musicianship, then this album is also for you. If however, the uncoventional makes you pull your hair, then be sure to stay well away from this. Of course you'd be missing quite an experience, though.

Report this review (#44675)
Posted Monday, August 29, 2005 | Review Permalink
3 stars Frenetic mad beginning reminiscent of intro to a cut scene from the corny original Batman TV series - I kid you not. Quickly settles into heavy duty drum action and guitar virtuosity. Sounds like a group of Ritalin -deprived ADHD sufferers has been unleashed in a music store. 'Paradigm Shift' is the first track and and after all that excitement it slows right down before finally rediscovering the accelerator right at the end. 'Osmosis' ,the second track, has an African sounding opening and develops slowly,building layer upon layer,into a nice relaxing instrumental but nothing special to my mind. 'Kindred Spirits' is better,a more focused instrumental which is satisfying without being too memorable. 'The Stretch' is funkier and has excellent playing evident throughout. These guys can play their chosen weapons thats for sure. 'Freedom of Speech' sounds like Satriani in places and has excellent keyboard,guitar and drum parts. 'Chris and Kevins excellent adventure' is pretty tongue in cheek and not much more. 'State of Grace' has a nice piano intro with subtle electric guitar phrasing,it could have been lifted from the movie 'Local Hero',I can see the beautiful Scottish landscape now. 'Universal Mind' has more focus,superlative musicianship and it sounds as though the band are having fun with this one,hell they might even be in the same room as each other! A jokey big-top circus ending does'nt even ruin it. 'Three minute warning' predictably runs to over four minutes and draws the album to a close. More excellent playing without being a winner. This album has a collection of extremely talented people playing together. I think it took a second album for them to harness their collective prowess.
Report this review (#55871)
Posted Thursday, November 10, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars A masterpiece in it's own way!

It's beautiful, touching, amazing, unbeliavable... Dream Theater's head-members' mind blowing solo-project. This album shows one of the best sides of these Dream Theater players' skills, that what they really can do... And can you imagine; most of these fantastic instrumentals and sections in them, were totally improvised!??! If this is what they can do when they improvise, what can they do when the music is carefully planned? The answer is: Dream Theater, of course. But this is also a bit better than Dream Theater, especially because these guys, who are unbelievable virtuoses with their instruments, can do this kind of music in just a couple of weeks!! They made something that Dream Theater can't do in a year...! And where did I get this ''improvising in two weeks'' information? Just watch Mike Portnoy's (the drummer's) Liquid Drum Theater DVD ;)

Let me say this shortly, once more; This is The best improvised instumental jazzy progressive rock-metal-music ever made!!!

Report this review (#60534)
Posted Friday, December 16, 2005 | Review Permalink
4 stars First off, this is NOT a Dream Theater album, and some DT fans have been disappointed in this one; personally, I love this album. Instead of the usual bombastic prog-overload material which, to my mind, mars every DT album I've ever heard, this is a group of fast-paced, high-octane instrumentals by four musicians who are enjoying challenging themselves and each other to see just how fast and intricately they can play. The word is that everything on this album is improvised -- I can't believe that is 100% true, because of the sheer complexity and fast shifts that take place within the songs. "Worked up from improvisations" is probably a better description. As someone in an earlier review pointed out, the idea of LTE began as a "supergroup" put together by the Magna Carta label; after several different musicians cycled through the project without actually performing together, the lineup solidified with drummer Mike Portnoy and guitarist John Petrucci of Dream Theater, keyboardist Jordan Rudess of Rod Morgenstern's band, and King Crimson's Tony Levin on bass and stick.

I first listened to this material as a King Crimson fan interested in a side project of Tony Levin's, and was surprised, and initially disappointed, to find that Levin tends to take a back seat to the other musicians throughout the album. As I listened to it more, I began to understand the album: three young, cocky musicians full of piss and vinegar stretching themselves to their musical limits, anchored by Levin's bass/stick. Levin's role is to keep the music hanging together, almost like a musical mentor laying back and letting his students shine while keeping everything tight. Petrucci shows his chops as a flamethrower of a guitarist in the Steve Vai-Joe Satriani school of shredding, Portnoy shines as a drummer equal to, and similar to, Rush's Neal Peart, and Levin, though rarely taking the limelight, holds everything together. The (at the time) lesser-known Rudess is a fine addition, adding lovely, and at times frenzied, keyboards, probably best compared to "Relayer"-era Patrick Moraz. The songs themselves work the gray area between jazz and progressive rock, with a metallic edge.

The songs vary, from lightspeed romps like "Paradigm Shift" and "Universal Mind," to more thoughtful, melodic pieces like "Kindred Spirits" and "Osmosis." Even in the slower, more moody pieces, the musicians' exuberance often breaks through, as one or the other finds it impossible to hold back any longer. The centerpiece of the album is the 28-minute improv "Three Minute Warning," inexplicably divided up into five chunks. Everyone gets a chance to rip their instruments to pieces in this one. Critics have slammed "TMW," and the album as a whole, as "technical masturbation" and "technical excess with no heart," but I don't hear it that way. These are four tremendously talented musicians enjoying themselves, making music that they want to play, and tossing solos back and forth from each other -- you can almost hear, say, Petrucci ripping off a fiery solo and then throwing it over to Rudess, saying "Beat THAT!" Yes, there are moments of derivative "prog cheese," particularly on Rudess's part, and some of Petrucci's solos seem somewhat pointless, but that's all part of the with it! The album is sheer musical exuberance. If you're a fan of musical improvisation, warp-speed guitars, thunderous precision drumming, jazz-rock exposition, or just want to hear what four musicians who absolutely enjoy their craft and enjoy challenging themselves and each other, this album will become an essential for your collection.

Report this review (#61424)
Posted Friday, December 23, 2005 | Review Permalink
5 stars Here we can find a masterpiece of prog rock, why? Because Portnoy and Co. played to have fun, so there're no need to fulfill contracts, they just played freely, and that's essential to make a good music. The sound is great: a lot of new ideas, great improvisation. Levin played like gods, Portnoy surplus of rhythms, Petrucci just showed us his genius, and Rudess did his best work!!
Report this review (#70700)
Posted Monday, February 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Hey! This album is really amazing! Done by three members of Dream Theater( Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess) and bassist Tony Levin from King Crimson and many other bands. Well, the whole album is a tremendous piece of work. Everything is just perfect! The guitars by John Petrucci are sublime! Every solo, every note! simply majestic! Keyboards by Jordan Rudess are tremendouslly cool: The harmonies and solos. Fantastic! Drums by Mike Portnoy keep the cool rythm in the band, and they are amazing. The bass by Tony Levin is really cool, it keeps the greatness of the sound of the band, and shines with some rocking solos. Every track here is great. Some of them are continuous progressive heavy metal (Paradigm Shift) with very fast drum-work, cool bass, buckup and sometimes lead keyboards and the amazingly rocking guitars, while others(Osmosis) are softer and more relaxing with soft percussion and keyboards, good bass lines and guitars. If I had to recommend you only 2 tracks, then those would be: Universal mind, and the maravellous epic: Three minute warning( 3 minutes?¿?¿? really lasts 28!!!!) Well, highly recommended to Dream Theater fans, Progressive rock fans and heavy metal ones, too! MASTERPIECE of instrumental progressive metal!
Report this review (#72736)
Posted Thursday, March 23, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars Revenge of the Nerds.

The Super Bands or Super Friendz? They're obviously talented and for the next 70 minutes you'll get it good. But, if you're familiar with Dream Theater, Steve Vai or Joe Satriani, this won't be a super surprise.

I'd say the most surprising thing about the LTE project is the amount of time tooked to write, perform and record the album. This is like a month or so! Wheew. I guess this is where all the experience pays off. These guys can play whatever they want, and by the creative aspect ear impact, we could suggest they can read each others mind. This fits perfectly. Not totally improv nor prefabricated. Think of the best G3 jam you could imagine, with Portnoy on drums.

Many hyperactive songs could give you the impression of going 160 mph on a futuristic highway a la Minority Report so go easy and don't play it to granny.

Report this review (#73280)
Posted Monday, March 27, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars This band comes close to being one of my favorite Dream Theater side projects (my other favorites are of course Transatlantic and OSI) But anyway i've been this album for a while and luckily i finally got it as i was more than impressed of the great musicianship of this band. Basically all it is is Dream Theater with no vocalist and different bassist but still much like Dream Theater these guys can deliver. First off you hear a grand blend of prog rock and metal with a nice blend of jazz and improvisation. In fact i would consider this a fusion band than prog metal but hey its not my job to change genres so anyway. First off the band starts with the very aggresive Paradigm Shift with its fast riffs and drums and melodic Bass and Keys, then to the very soft, tribal Osmosis, followed by a very prog rock but melodic Kindred Spirits (guitar and key solos are all awesome one of my favorite tracks) then it goes to the very jazzy The Stretch with Jordan really pulling some weight with the keyboards, going into the very melodic but very rock Freedom of Speech, then into a very cool mike and tony song deut called Chirs and Kevin's Excellent Adventure very tight between the two which is important if you only have just bass and drums plus the voice in the song is neat too, then in my opinion the pretty boring State of Grace so its not really my favorite track so occasionally i skip this one, but the boringness is over as the aggressiveness comes back with the oh so awesome universal mind with the fast riffs oh heck everybody does well in this song gah i love the change when the bass and drums are just so tight. Then comes to my mind 30 minutes of pure mayhem with 3 minute warning which is not bad in fact i love some good improvisation but there are some parts when make me feel uneasy i mean it has some magic moments but still i kinda which they didn't add they whining keyboard in the back ground for the second part of 3MW it always makes me feel uneasy. So anyway if your a huge fan of Dream Theater, or Tony Levin or the other players get this album as it displays each musician at its finest.
Report this review (#75158)
Posted Sunday, April 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars 'Liquid Tension Experiment' is an instrumental project, combining the awesome talents Tony Levin, John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess and Mike Portnoy. The album sees the synthesis of a masterpiece of music from a combination of progressive metal, fusion and a variety of other influences (not to mention sheer artistic flair and virtuoso musicianship!)

The opener, 'Paradigm Shift' really gets the adrenalin going. The incredible force of Portnoy is revealed in his accompaniment of the initial figure, his drumming equally incredible throughout the rest of the track. Jordan Ruddess does a lot of decoration behind the presence of Petrucci, who lays down the rhythmic backbone to the track before the "shift". Petrucci's use of "wah" pedal two and a half minutes into the track is awesome, soaring out over the accompaniment and powering us towards an altogether higher paradigm. The music here is incredibly intense, until a respite ensues, in which Tony Levin lays down a more relaxed bass groove. The music picks up one more, and we are taken to another musical paradigm played (I think) on a Mohammedan scale and creating opportunity for a Ruddess keyboard solo. The closing statement to the song is incredible, seeing a re-instatement of the original theme, and we leave the track on a high note in both awe and admiration.

'Osmosis' is grounded in a really effective riff on fret-less bass, onto which are built layers of rich poly-rhythms. The track is reflective in atmosphere, an oasis of calm amid the frantic excitement of the rest of the album.

'Kindred Spirits' sees a return to the style of 'Paradigm Shift', though less breath taking or dramatic. Virtuoso guitar and keyboard take centre stage, and the music flows and abates to create a complex and altogether pleasant arrangement. It's really quite melodic, and a joy to listen to.

'The Stretch' is a short deviation into I don't know what, but it sounds good anyway. Petrucci however, is absent on the track. 'Freedom of Speech' is introduced to us by a pleasant passage on piano keyboard, Petrucci subsequently taking over the melody. The song undergoes a welcome change - Petrucci's melody would otherwise become repetitive, and what could be considered loosely as a development of 'Osmosis' ensues. There is some very interesting fret-less bass here (tapping perhaps? - it's fast anyway) before a thorough exploration of the new theme is developed. I love the keyboard solo which grows out of here (somewhat reminiscent of, but better than that at the end of 'Paradigm Shift'), and the guitar solo which follows. A lot more of both elements are present before the close of the song, some beautiful piano keyboard and acoustic strumming taking the composition to its conclusion.

'Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure' is another deviation from the general feeling of the album, and contains an annoying voice over. The predominant drum figure is interesting though, and the song sees prominence of fret-less bass from Tony Levin.

'State of Grace' is a duet played by Rudess and Petrucci. I'm not sure how much I personally enjoy this track - it's a bit slow, and some of it (the keyboard accompaniment beneath the actual music for example) sounds slightly "naff". Others might disagree, and there is certainly nothing wrong with the structural make up of the song. Indeed, towards the middle, the song does improve (for example, there is a very nice neoclassical sounding passage after about two minutes.)

'Universal Mind' is the brother of Paradigm Shift, and again shoots up the adrenalin with a really great beginning (Petrucci professes the two his favourites to play live). Virtuoso guitar and keyboard are dominant, and there's a fine classical solo from Ruddess near the middle of the piece. The end sees a return to the precise melody played at the start, before a somewhat bizarre ragtime piano conclusion.

To do 'Three Minute Warning' justice with words alone is an impossibility. I will not attempt, other than to say that the twenty eight minute long improvisation is beyond anything I have ever experienced before. The musicianship of Tony Levin, John petrucci, Mike Portnoy and Jordan Rudess is shown to be beyond this world; to improvise for this long and so well is the divine right of Kings.

Anyone who enjoys some form of progressive music will find something on this album which they will enjoy. It is both essential, and a masterpiece of human creativity and ability. That the album has not achieved a universal five star rating leaves me at a loss.

Report this review (#77066)
Posted Wednesday, May 3, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars Liquid Tension Experiment

Liquid Tension Experiment is really a side project for most of the personnel inside this band, which is also called Liquid Tension Experiment, a truly super group. At that time (when LTE was made), Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci work together in Dream Theater, which for me is a super group as well. Toni Levin was working with Terry Bozzio Crimson. The other personnel was Jordan Rudess, which at that time was working with Rod Morgenstein. In the end, after the success of Liquid Tension Experiment 2, Jordan Rudess were invited to be a keyboardist in Dream Theater, replacing Derek Sherenian.

What makes this album is really amazing is the production of the songs, which you can read on the cover of the album (if you have the CD! so buy it now!!). Amazingly, the songs are produced in just less than a week, yes, less than one week, to be exact, 5 days. In 5 days, four virtuosos could create 13 tracks of songs, and each track is really a masterpiece.

Well let's look at each song.

Paradigm Shift A really progressive metal song, cool and heavy guitar riff at the beginning of the song, continued with metal intro. It is my favorite song in this album, combination of progressive metal, virtuosity and feeling of the notes. The guitar riff itself for me is almost the same as Joe Satriani's Crystal Planet, but both of the songs were made in the same year, 1997.

Osmosis A cool song after a metal song, Osmosis has very soft elements of music, just some simple riff from guitar, keyboard, bass and drum. But once again, still has a great feeling when we listen to it.

Kindred Spirits Another progressive metal song, with odd time signature and odd drum section. The best part for me is the guitar solo at exactly minute 2.35. I, personally, prefer a song that has deep meaning rather than has crazy shredding. However, it would be great if the song has both elements. The guitar solo is then continued with also a deep feeling keyboard solo, exactly at minute 3.44.

The Stretch A more fusion song for me and it is very short, just 2 minutes in length.

Freedom Of Speech The most beautiful song in the album, a true great combination of feeling and great technique. The keyboard part in the intro explains everything, that the song is very beautiful. This part is then continued with also nice tones from guitar, simple yet profound. Moreover, then the guitar hits the high notes, it is like feel in heaven for me. The song changes in the middle of the song, where it is truly a progressive metal song.

Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure The song has a very-amazing-great bass line from Tony Levin and also a great drum section from Mike Portnoy. Mike Portnoy himself wrote on the cover album, that this song is really a duet featuring Mike Pornoy and Tony Levin.

State Of Grace Another beautiful song in the album, the characteristic is pretty much the same with Freedom Of Speech, simple yet profound. The song is just consists of simple guitar and keyboard lines, but the selection of notes was really amazing that I cried when I listened to it for the first time.

Universal Mind The song is like Paradigm Shift, metal, heavy progressive song, with sick (positive sick!) arpeggios from John Petrucci in the beginning of the song. John Petrucci said on one interview that this song and Paradigm Shift are his favorite songs to play in a concert.

Three Minute Warning "Caution: "Three Minute Warning" is not for the musically faint-hearted, impatient, or critics of self-indulgence. If you fall into any of the above categories, please hit the stop button on yout CD player after track #8". These sentences were taken from the back cover of the CD. When I read that words, I jumped to my CD player and turned the volume up, rather than stop the player, because I want to know what it is all about. Actually, it is 28 minutes of crazy jamming from four of them, without any neither edited nor mastered tracks. And notice at 27.12 minute, the sound changes, it is not your CD player problem, because Mike Portnoy said it was because they were running out of tape!

I give 5 stars for this amazing CD because it is an essential addition to your collection and is truly a masterpiece. Also, I recommend, if you don't like progressive metal, don't buy this album, since it is very progressive.

Report this review (#78404)
Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2006 | Review Permalink
4 stars I understand why this musicians are so criticised. I feel the fanboys should give themselves a break in giving exaggerated ratings to the DT and LTE albums... I love them, they're excellent, but good music is not just about playing high speed solos, insane double bass drums, and that kind of stuff that makes the fanboys go crazy and numb about their idols. I personally think there are lots of better bands out there, but that doesn't make me stop appreciating the great musicianship that these guys demonstrate in their DT and LTE albums. I love this album because of its freshness, its great songs that don't seem to have been written in less than a month.. You can't take that fact out of the picture.. this album is very riff-driven and that is the kind of album that gets stuck on my head. The songs in here are all excellent in my opinion and petrucci does a better job here than in most of his DT albums... On the other hand, Jordan Rudess sometimes gets me sick with his fast playing, but I can't deny I do love it when he doesn't abuses of it.. And portnoy... wow he plays too damn good and NO ONE can't deny that... anyway.. Tony Levin plays an excellent part in filling those great riffs that end up 'making this album.. I think we all know these guys are good at what they do.. but the point is that they get to work together pretty good to accomplish some great music.

Back to my first point.. I understand that a lot of people gets sick of the fanboys praising these guys for not 100% valid reasons, but to all of you... C'mon! this is excellent stuff and the fanboys may be right on some of the stuff they say! peace out

Report this review (#82386)
Posted Saturday, July 1, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars A display of technical virtuosity, and a circus of sorts. Since the talent is obvious, I'll stick to what makes this album not excellent. The circus like atmosphere is not very appealing to me. For one, Spastic Ink is much better at the concept of having all musicians go haywire, so they don't even "win" in that regard.

This album is fun for a few spins, and after that, its tiresome. It doesn't hold itself. It's not something I can put on repeat over and over again and get any satisfaction out of. It's mainly a flurry of notes, and while those notes are usually placed well, it has no retaining value to it. It has some very fun and rocking moments, but lacks power, or what I consider musical power.

Some of the improvisation is great, while other parts are very dull and contain some really bad riffs. Most of the album will be hit or miss for you, and certainly the circus like effects will bring a laugh or two, however the tehnical prowess is top notch, and I give them credit for their improv abilities, as it's certainly better than mine. A good album for a few spins every now and then, but nothing you would want to keep on a deserted island as it would likely drive you insane.

2 and a half stars, up to 3 for the "x" factors in it.

Report this review (#84699)
Posted Monday, July 24, 2006 | Review Permalink
Mellotron Storm
4 stars Very melodic, accessible yet complex instrumental music. Basically we get DREAM THEATER without LaBrie and Myung, then add Tony Levin who takes on the bass duties. I can understand some being turned off by the seeming self indulgence here but man it's so good. Besides there are some laid back sections (and songs) on here to sort of balance it out a little.

To listen to the opening notes of this album, is like getting hit in the face with a board ! There is no build up, it's built ! And it explodes out of the speakers.That would be the intro to "Paradigm Shift" which is such a good song. It does slow down after about 3 minutes allowing us to breathe, it then settles even more after 4 1/2 minutes as synths come in. "Osmosis" has an atmosphere to it i really like. Percussion and an overall laid back vibe to this one. "Kindred Spirits" is another highlight, opening with some heavy riffs as Portnoy and Pertucci shine. It settles 2 1/2 minutes in and the guitar is gorgeous. Lots of synths follow. "The Stretch" is a short funky tune. Not a fan really.

"Freedom Of Speech" has some nice keyboards early followed by some beautiful guitar. It does get more aggressive as contrasts continue. "Chris And Kevin's Excellent Adventure" doesn't do anything for me but it's a short tune. "State Of Grace" is pretty much a guitar and piano driven balad. It's ok. "Universal Mind" is much better as it opens with a "take no prisoners" attitude. Love the guitar after 3 minutes as Portnoy pounds away. It does settle with piano only 4 minutes in before getting heavy again. A silly ending to this one. Good song though. "3 Minute Warning" is 28 1/2 minutes of music divided into 5 sections.The first section doesn't do a lot for me to be honest but the last four are brilliant ! Just a shred-fest and Pertucci's on fire ! They all impress big time though.

Not for everyone but for me this is a four star album. Far from perfect though.

Report this review (#94919)
Posted Wednesday, October 18, 2006 | Review Permalink
5 stars I've been searching a long time to get this album, that is so hard to find original in Argentina (at reasonable price), and I finally had the opportunity to buy this, 3 months ago, and I've been listening to this almost compulsory, because it's BRILLANT !! The musicianship is brillant: the legend Tony Levin with his great stick and NS electric upright bass, one of the best actual guitar players, John Petrucci, that NEVER fails to disappoint me, the beast of the drums Mike Portnoy, who is who started this project, and a new talent (in that time) Jordan Rudess, in keys. This is another way to say, a virtuoso group, a super group !! It seems that these guys formed this band in the right time: they're SO good that they compused this entire album in hmmm... 6 DAYS !! It's brillant too how this incredible musicians could creat such an incredible instrumental music in just that time. Even, the production is so clean and fresh (and the art cover too) !! I'm so happy I've discovered this project (because of Dream Theater), one of the most enjoyable bands I've recently discovered. Here goes a description track by track of this tremendous masterpiece:

"Paradigm Shift" starts with a 200 km/h melodic line between guitar, keys and drums (hey, virtuosos !!). Then Petrucci introduces a very cool riff, and the adrenalin starts, with magnificient use of 'wah wah', some wild drummnig and another killing riff (not metal riffs). In the middle of the song, it slows down with another great bass line followed by a veery emotive Petrucci solo with a lot of feeling, a big demostration for those who say he's just technique ... IMO he's the perfect combination of feeling and technique in the guitar, a genius ! Then goes the first keyboard solo, crazy and great solo, going back then to the main theme and finalising with a remake of the first melodic on the intro at very high speed. Adrenalin ! After this song I was very surprised, I wished the disc could be all like this, finally it is !

"Osmosis" is the most experimental moment. The characteristic thing about it is the creative bass line, backed with atmospheric keys and slow notes with the guitar. A calm and relax moment to anticipate the rocker follower.

A very rocker riff introduces "Kindred Spirits", in the style of the first song. Is very enjoyable the middle part, when the music turns more dramatic, with incredible guitar and keyboard solos, to go back to the main riff and melody, which has a very symphonic feeling. Another great track.

"The Stretch" is the first really crazy track here. A funky bass line carries the whole song and then goes a crazy, mind blowing keyboard solo (we've no Petrucci here), very 'fusiony'.

Then goes the mid-tempo "Freedom Of Speech", which starts with a nice piano melody, and then all the instruments join and goes a fantastic and emotive guitar solo that really gives me shivers, it's incredible how music can drive you. After that the song slows down into a more experimental ambient, with a lot of piano, and goes going heavier and heavier, slowly until a nice riff explodes (oh what a moment!!) and after some passages a tremendous rocker keys solo goes, which in some moments reminds me of John Lord's Hammond, and another rocker guitar solo, to go back finally to the main melody. Nice song !

"Chris And Kevin's Excellent Adventure" is the other crazy piece which features only drums, another nice line with the stick and some whistling, that really gives a crazy feeling to it. This song really made me laugh the first times I listened to it.

The most melodic and quietest moment is "States Of Grace", a fantastic duel between Rudess and Petrucci. The guitar makes all the beautiful melody, backed with the keys. In some way it reminds me of a himn and I enjoy it a lot because it has an incredible feeling on it. On the booklet (where Mike tells us how the band formed and how it all was recorded) says that 'in the coming weeks, John and Jordan laid down various guitar and keyboard overdubs when they had some available time ... and the rest is history (or at least someday might be!)'

The last composed song is "Universal Mind", which is the first song I listened from LTE and the one that made me frenetically search for this album, yeah, and this song itself is a masterpiece, IMO. It starts with a complex, fast and nice guitar melody, which is repeated through the track. It features again tremendous guitar solos until a rocker riff (and the most rocker moment) comes up with an excellent keys-guitar duel, oh yeah, so good ! Then is a neo-classical transition with nice piano, to go to some complex riffs and the main melody. To finish, we've a melody I've heard before, in a cartoon program, yeah, and at 220 km/h speed !!

To finish the album, "Three Minute Warning" is a 28 minutes free improvisation. This is totally spontaneous and I wanted to hear how these guys improvise, and as expected, they didn't disappoint me. They can create some nice atmospheres and spontaneous riffs and solos that give me a very fusion feeling, improvising like gods ...

Overall, this is a masterpiece of (modern) Prog music, anyone should get this, amazing musicians making music out of this world, you'll realise Prog's NOT dead, not at all !! Very, veeery recommended (even to the DT bashers) !! Keep on rocking LTE !!

Rating: 4.7/5

Report this review (#98359)
Posted Saturday, November 11, 2006 | Review Permalink
3 stars The definition of musical wankery.

Having said that, it's not a bad album by any means, particularly if you are a musician or fan of Dream Theater (though preferably both). As a guitar player, I was of course initially impressed by Petrucci's guitar work. But Rudess is also excellent and Portnoy is, well, Portnoy. Levin is obviously excellent, though as usual with DT, it's hard to tell what he is playing much of the time (a damn shame too, being he is such an outstanding stick and bass player). On repeat listening however, this album becomes tiresome. I can only take so much showing off before I get bored. And while the 28 minute improvisation "Three Minute Warning" seems promising in concept, it really only displays how poor Petrucci is at improvisation. Whenever the others seem to be getting into an interesting groove, Petrucci comes along and ruins it with his aimless noodling. He is a great guitar player, but it is obvious to me he really has no concept of improvisation. That is okay, since what he does with DT and on other tracks here he does quite well. But he shouldn't improvise.

All in all, worth hearing if you like prog metal, DT, or virtuostic displays of musical skill. If you are looking for emotion and music you want to hear again and again, look elsewhere.

Report this review (#112328)
Posted Friday, February 16, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Okay, modern prog fans, try this on for size: we take the guitarist and drummer from Dream Theater, Dregs keyboardist and future DT member Jordan Rudess, and bass legend Tony Levin and throw them together for an instrumental album. LTE is the most high profile of DT's various side projects, and there's a good reason. Recorded over a few days, this fearsome foursome displays a level of instrumental wankery and precision that could inspire a man to burn his guitars. "Paradigm Shift" launches the album with tremendous force before slowing down to allow actual feeling. The rest of the album follows a similar path, with quiet and peacful melody giving way to hard-rocking technical wizardry.

The highlights are the aforementioned Paradigm Shift, the rockin' "Kindred Spirits," the weird stick and drums of "chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure," the frantic "Universal Mind," and the final improv "Three Minute Warning." The end jam however, loses focus in its 28 minutes and a killer piece could have been culled from a trimmed version.

Rudess is the breakout star here, having plugged away in relative obscurity. He more than holds his own with his legendary bandmates. Tony's bass and stick are a little buried in the mix, which is a sin; however, he overcomes most of it through the sheer power with which he plays here. Newcomers can start here, but shuld probably begin with the vastly better sequel, which stands as one of the greatest prog releases of the 90s. Fans of DT and Tony should really own this.

Grade: C+

Report this review (#112932)
Posted Tuesday, February 20, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Very good. Great, in fact, to listen to. However, as it's been said a million times, it's extremely wanky on both Petrucci and Rudess's part. Mike Portnoy and Tony Levin are solid as always, but their next album shows more diversity, style, and musicality. Go for that one first and, if you can't get enough, come back for this one.
Report this review (#119496)
Posted Monday, April 23, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I first got this album after being a Dream Theater fan for a long time. I first heard of this band after I purchased Live Scenes From New York by Dream Theater and saw in the liner notes that the song Acid Rain was originally performed by Liquid Tension Experiment. I got this album, since I couldn't find Liquid Tension Experiment 2, the album which had Acid Rain. I later heard that album. This one is more based on improvisation, and has more jazz influences than the other LTE album or Dream Theater. I highly recommend it for any fan of Dream Theater but wouldn't recommend going into listening to it expecting a Dream Theater clone. The virtuoso performances of Dream Theater are still there, but in a different, jazzier vein. I feel that the members are given a better chance to show off their skills on this album. Favourite tracks of mine are Paradigm Shift and Universal Mind, along with the epic Three Minute Warning, a 28 minute jam session.
Report this review (#122252)
Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars Call it useless soloing, overextended riffing, or just plain wanking if you want, but I love every second of it. Take 4 of the best musicians in the world and stick them together in a band and you get the most amazing sounding album you could imagine.

The best way to describe this album would be to say that it is the musical equivilent to driving in a really flashy, brand new sports car convertable with the top down. Its a thrill ride for your ears.

If your not a fan of metal, I would still recommend this album. Anyone who listens to this album suddenly plays Air Guitar, Air Drums, Air Keyboards, and Air Bass all at the same time. You would never imagine such a flashing of fingers and hands! Most of the songs are quite catchy, and all of them are excellent.

Every song on this debut album is wonderful, but I have to say that Universal Mind is the best instrumental song ever written. There is alot of energy and intensity behind the songs, with the exception of 7. State of Grace, which is a beautifully composed soft song.

This is the one of the best albums in the entire Prog Metal Genre. I highly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a nice thril ride every once in a while.

Report this review (#124294)
Posted Friday, June 1, 2007 | Review Permalink
1 stars The musician lineup got off to a good start with Tony Levin and Jordan Rudess, but then the rest is hopeless. The musicianship of Portnoy and Petrucci is not even on the same planet, never mind league with Levin. Levin's exquisite bass playing gets lost or never gets many real opportunities in the din. This mess was thrown together in six days, and it sounds like it. It's just an overly self-indulgent jam session. Thank goodness there are only a few studio sessions recorded for LTE.

Paradigm Shift: Oh I get it, we're in B&B's 3-ring circus. Definitely an unplanned pregnancy. Osmosis: Congratulations, there was a real plan...and it wasn't bad. Kindred Spirits: Just aimless rambling. The Stretch: I strongly suspect Tony should have saved this for a better day with better musicians. Freedom of Speech: Just moments of interesting possibilities over powered with hammering. Chris and Kevin's.....: impotent. State of Grace: I guess I'd like this stuff if I was hearing, even the hearing impaired can make distinctions between racket and a composition. Universal Mind: Guitar bombardment with a limited sense of direction. Sounds like "Bad Dream Theater". Portnoy and Petrucci are enormously overwhelming and dull. Three Minute Warning: It has moments of coherent craftsmanship, then the guitar or drums just kills any sensible music theme......right out of the blue. If Al DiMeola was really an influence for Petrucci, he should have listened more carefully. I hear Allan Holdsworth gives private lessons. Meanwhile, Portnoy really should have taken some time to take lessons from Bill Bruford or Pat Mastelotto. You can get this kind of noise form any garage band.

Silly Rabbit! Liquid Tension Experiment I is for kids!

Report this review (#124931)
Posted Wednesday, June 6, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Sweet but unsatisfying candy floss.

Hey, what's wrong with music to entertain? Nothing. But there needs to be a hook, assuring us there's something substantial to return to, to dig for and discover on subsequent listenings. Not here. LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT is all taste and no food.

Many of these tracks are front-loaded: that is, they come out with their theme immediately, then offer variations on it for the remainder of their duration. Apart from the glorious 'Paradigm Shift' - the title should tell us there are changes coming - these tracks advertise themselves in the first few seconds. Just like candy floss, the first taste is the best. Yes, 'Paradigm Shift' is wonderful, and could easily grace any DREAM THEATER album. But I can't imagine myself remembering any of the subsequent tracks. 'Three Minute Warning', in particular, is almost unlistenable. I know it was practically extemporaneous, but that doesn't make it sound any better.

Oh yes. A special mention of the DREAM THEATER gratuitous humour, which destroys the album at the end of 'Universal Mind'. Part of the trick of creating something listeners want to immerse themselves in is NOT to jerk them back into the real world. Tacking silly tunes on to the end of a serious piece is the musical equivalent of Tolkien giving the orcs machine guns. This is an old DT trick and I cringe every time they do it. 'The Simpsons Theme' in the middle of 'A Change of Seasons' anyone?

I know I won't return to a book if, at the end of first reading it, I find myself thinking more about the writing techniques than the characters and story. In the same way LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT impresses me with the technical skill of its members, but provides me with nothing worth returning for. Definitely in the 'haul out occasionally to impress my friends' category.

Contemporary musicians will love it, but progressive music listeners will, like me, wonder what the fuss is about.

Report this review (#135250)
Posted Tuesday, August 28, 2007 | Review Permalink
Prog Leviathan
4 stars "LTE" is a splendid example of everything classic prog purists hate about modern proggish metal-- it's dry, cold, technical noise devoid of meaning and soul, so filled with masturbatory extended soloing and meaningless jams that listening to it in its entirety is analogous to sitting under the dentist drill.

Of course, "LTE" is absolutely everything fans of contemporary prog-metal salivate over: dazzling technical proficiency coupled with soaring melodies, savage riffing, and an eclectic flair that dwarfs most anything any group in the '70's could hope to pull off.

I fall into the second group, and heartily recommend "LTE" to fans of Dream Theater (obviously), but also to anyone who enjoys melodic hooks and dynamic instrumental music-- of which this is one of the better ones out there. The musicianship is off the charts and the lengthy jams are half the fun!

Songwriting: 3 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: NA Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Report this review (#140377)
Posted Monday, September 24, 2007 | Review Permalink
5 stars I recently visited a forum topic of this site about LTE and the question was: is there more music like this ? There were a few answers but I'm afraid nothing really fits the bill here. LTE is unique, LTE is fantastic, LTE is near perfect, absolutely amazing. A pity, no, a shame really these guys stopped after two albums. This stuff is so great, mouthwatering really. This is top notch amongst progressive music at least of progressive metal and given that progressive metal is my favourite musicstyle of all, it means that it's the best there is. Just jamming about and then this as a result, can you believe it ? I love DT but this is ten times better. I don't understand why intelligent guys like Portnoy and Petrucci don't realize that and give more attention to this project. I experienced that I'm not the only one who believes this. LTE have a lot of fans so I'd say: come on give us some more !!!
Report this review (#141933)
Posted Thursday, October 4, 2007 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT are a fantatic instrumental supergroup formed in 1997 following an idea of DREAM THETER's drummer Mike Portnoy.Adding Tony Levin on bass and Jordan Rudess on keys but failing to include his initial choice of Jim Matheos on guitar,Portnoy turned to his DREAM THEATER fellow John Petrucci for the position of the guitarist.The intense rehearsals led the band to the release of their debut in 1998...and what a debut it was...just imagine a more technical and refined (what a combination)and less heavy version of instrumental DREAM THEATER.The album is a definition of top-notch fusion musicianship,satturated in changing tempos,moods and styles.The interplays between the instruments are numerous and absolutely fantastic,the styles cover the whole prog scale (from blues and jazz to classical and melodic) and every minute of this work flows nice and easily.A thrilling release heading to serious music lovers!
Report this review (#149958)
Posted Saturday, November 10, 2007 | Review Permalink
2 stars Possibly the result of their label suppressing the rock on Falling into Infinity, Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci teamed up with Tony Levin and Jordan Rudess to make an album of all-out instrumental fusion jam power. While the material on Liquid Tension Experiment's debut borders on cheesy sometimes and borders on useless other times, it borders on brilliance the rest of the time and it makes sure that everyone knows that the boiz hadn't lost their sense of technicality all together (though it does also let everyone know that the inconsistency was at least partly their own fault). On the back insert of the CD, it says "CAUTION: "Three Minute Warning" is not for the musically faint-hearted, impatient, or critics of extreme self-indulgence. If you fall into any of the above categories, please hit the stop button on your CD player after track # 8." The same statement could probably be made about the whole album, though. No doubt, however, that "Three Minute Warning" is the most difficult thing to get into on this disc. It takes some serious rock balls to record a near-30-minute improvisation in the studio and release it, and really, I think that's the only redeeming quality about the track. There are obviously some good moments, but as a whole it's not worth anyone's time. At least the rest of the album is worth a few people's time.

Here are the good things that resulted from Liquid Tension Experiment:

1. "Paradigm Shift" and "Universal Mind," then "Acid Rain," "Another Dimension and "When the Water Breaks"

2. After rejecting the band in the past, Jordan Rudess finally realized that Dream Theater was right for him, which as we all know leads to a slew of fantastic songs, albums and live performances.

The performance value of this album is of course ridiculously high, but while Dream Theater uses their musical abilities to write diverse, complex and ultimately meaningful songs, Liquid Tension Experiment is more for fun and is therefore less captivating and memorable. The production is poor and often makes the stuff sound cheesy (certainly some of the riffs are cheesy in nature, though). It's a good album for fun, for driving or whatever, but it's not going to be one you attach yourself to in any way. Also, a lot of these riffs make for great jam riffs; any players might want to take a look at these tracks for some fun riffs to learn and jam to. Those who are strictly listeners I would advist to skip this one (save for maybe "Paradigm Shift" and "Universal Mind") and listen to the follow-up. Though it does run into the same problems as this one, it's much more consistent.

Report this review (#150894)
Posted Thursday, November 15, 2007 | Review Permalink
3 stars Liquid Tension Experiment - Liquid Tension Experiment 3.9 Stars

A very good progressive rock album

In just five days this was written and recorded.. I don't want to believe that. Knowing that, it is safe to say that each member is extremely in tune with their respective instrument and work together very well for complete strangers (except for Petrucci and Portnoy). Why couldn't they spend maybe seven or eight days and make a perfect album?

Speaking of which, we have just four members for this instrumental album. Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci from Dream Theater on the drums and guitar respectively. Jordan Rudess who came from the Dixie Dregs and the Rod Morgenstein project on keyboards and the legend, Tony Levin (King Crimson, Peter Gabriel, just about everything else), on chapman stick.

If you have members from Dream Theater, you can expect to have technically demanded riffs and solo's, which is exactly what will happen. Although on this project, there will be more influences, like classical and jazz, which would never come from the Dream Theater side of the band. We also get some improve, thanks to Tony Levin, especially in the track 'Three Minute Warning'

There are some tracks on here that are undeniably classic like 'Paradigm Shift' and 'Universal Mind', that are mostly guitar driven, but just great pieces within themselves. There is a very jazzy piece called 'Osmosis', but the highlight of the track is the percussion which is done all too well by Portnoy. Other then that there is nothing truly excellent on this album. You will hear to utterly horrible tracks like 'The Stretch' and 'Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure' that are only two minutes a piece.leading me to suspect they were filler. The only other track that I don't quite agree with is the +28 minute track 'Three Minute Warning'. It's really not bad for an improve piece, but can I listen to it twice a day? Never. A Week? Never. A month? Possible. I just has high and lows, something that doesn't click if you're aiming for a lengthy piece. The other tracks on the album 'Kindred Spirits', 'Freedom of Speech' and 'State of Grace' are all pretty good tracks. Lots of great guitar/keyboard interludes and duets like in 'State of Grace', which was even done on the Petrucci and Rudess 'An Evening With.' album.

If you are a Dream Theater fan like me, you will like this one. For just about anyone wanting complex instrumental can find a few tracks on here you can applaud. It's a very good album, just not excellent enough. Again, why five days?

Report this review (#157596)
Posted Thursday, January 3, 2008 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Wow how did this one escape me for so long? I love this kind of music prog/jazz/improv/jam band live feel to it. This stuff rocks! Great musicianship of course how could you miss but the intensity and mood swings are the best. My favorite songs are in no particular order Paradigm Shift, Kindred Spirits and Universal Mind and also unlike many other reviews I absolutely love Three minute Warning. It has a concert feel to it and I could just see this being played live. Some of the other stuff isn't so much filler but changes of pace and all are welcomed when listening to this as one whole package. Petrucci sounds like Al Dimenola in parts and Rudess runs the whole gambit of prog keyboardists from Corea to Emerson and a huge dose of himself. Tony Levin is as amazing as always and Portnoy shows he can do so much more than just the metal drummer that pays his way.

As to the style I hear many styles here and I can't say it is one over the other yes, fusion, metal and just some great hard rock all blend to make this a very enjoyable experience. Reminds me of the Fromuz as another great instrumental group on the scene.

I can't wait to hear the next one. I was very happy to hear the reunited for a tour this year and am hoping maybe a new album will come of it possibly even a live one. I hope they continue to keep reserrecting this project every so often. 4.5 stars.

Report this review (#170260)
Posted Thursday, May 8, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This sounds like a cross between DREAM THEATER, third gen KING CRIMSON, and something else I guess. What I am saying, is that it isn't really all that original, and does not impress me as much as DT or KC at their best. At first, when this album was hot off the shelf, I thought it was really awesome; but over time my tastes developed in such a way that this type of ego stroking soloing just lost its appeal; not that I don't like soloing, but composition is so much more important, and THESE GUYS WAY OVER DO IT!!!
Report this review (#170890)
Posted Tuesday, May 13, 2008 | Review Permalink
4 stars This review relates to the 180 Gram Colored Vinyl (Ltd Edition, 1000 copies)

This Liquid Tension Experiment album holds a lot of meaning for many people, particularly the artists. For me it was the beginning of my days as a reviewer and the launching pad into years of enjoyment of discovering progressive rock and fusion music. I do believe it was second review that I ever wrote, Black Light Syndrome being the first. I have no record of those reviews, thank god. I know that I could not have done this music justice then, so now, I get a second chance.

This is the 10th anniversary of this instrumental classic release and I am celebrating my 10th anniversary in the music industry in October. In honor of this landmark recording and significance of the passing of a decade, Magna Carta has re-released this in 180 gram colored vinyl format. Disc one is green and two is purple to match the colorful cover. The band went on an abbreviated tour this month to play select live dates. Now that the tour is over, we can take in this issue to the album in all its rich and warm vinyl glory. As Kevin Godley of 10cc fondly remembers vinyl in an interview I had with him last year- "Ah sweet vinyl, like the rings of Saturn." That comment was beautiful, it made the world of vinyl seem so magical to me. It really is true, vinyl does sound better, and all along, we were lead to believe the CDs and all their predecessors were going to be pristine perfection, bah! It is all digitized, compressed, and lacking in warmth and richness, everything that vinyl still is today.

LTE was a short-lived super group made up of three quarters of Dream Theater: Jordan Rudess (keyboards), John Petrucci (guitars), the incredible Mike Portnoy (drums), and Mr. Bass himself Tony Levin. What makes this an incredible achievement is the fact that these four amazing musicians were able to come together in between projects and pull this together in one week! There was a lot of insanity behind that one week but somehow it came together and now we have one of the more significant progressive rock achievements on vinyl to relive again, minus all the digital interference.

Every song is a slice of prog-rock-jazz-fusion improvisation. I found myself stunned by the clarity and outright beauty and paralleled sadness of the closing track on the first LP (side one) "Kindred Spirits." I never noticed all of the emotion of that song like this before. Of course, I attribute that to the vinyl format. Every track was noticeably different, as if I was listening to an entirely new album. Interesting enough I had been revisiting this music on CD for the last few weeks, hearing with different ears and appreciating it more than ever.

As prog-rock enthusiast know Liquid Tension Experiment 2 was released the following year and more recently downsized version of the band titled Liquid Trio Experiment and the CD Spontaneous Combustion, which turns out to be a real dandy of a free form jazz-rock-fusion session without Petrucci on guitar and Mr. Rudess running wild on keyboards. The tracks were actually outtakes of the initial LTE sessions in 1998.

Recently I got my iPod connected to my stereo system in my vehicle and I put it on shuffle. I have LTE 1 and 2 on the device and when a certain songs play, I swear its Dream Theater, for obvious reasons. "State of Grace" is one track that really grabs me as being something DT would perform. Petrucci's guitar work is magnificent, it bites hard and his six-string sounds like it is crying out for help. Musical tears of sadness come pouring out then when "Universal Mind" follows it, and the mood switches to a joyous outbreak of energy and a fast-paced trip down an entirely different road begins. These two songs together sound like a DT jam from the word go. It is like the range of human emotions expressed all in two songs. The tracks are the strongest and most diverse of the entire session. This recording turns into a stage for each individual musician and the band simultaneously, proving an unlikely collaborative effort could actually happen and work.

This epic album deserves to return reborn again in the vinyl format. With only 1,000 copies in existence, it is sure to disappear quickly. Interesting enough, the age group that snags up vinyl are the children of the digital age, the 20 something music freaks that are download happy with iPods, MP3 players and their mobile do anything iPhones. They love vinyl because of the superior sound and the originality of holding something tangible and real in your hands. The fold out gatefold sleeves and all the artwork are a real attraction, it is something that you can actually see and it has a mass, this is not something that is invisible and is stored on hard drive. Get real-get vinyl.and while you are at it pick up this album.

Report this review (#178072)
Posted Thursday, July 24, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars This album and its sequel were my prog gateways.

I was just a lowly classic rock fan mucking about, listening for some high quality guitar work. Well, I found it here, and from there I rapidly watched myself become even more nerdy. I'm sure plenty of you can relate with that feeling.

Anyways, the instrumentation on this album is brilliant. Being (accidentally, if I remember right) mostly composed of Dream Theater, this supergroup--more like a tangent for Dream Theater, really--is entirely focused on powerful playing. John Petrucci, the man who first caught my ear, saved some of his best shreds and most interesting melodic bits for Liquid Tension Experiment. Jordan Rudess keeps up and more on the keyboards, hurling out some of rock's most prodigious synth noodling to date. The venerable Tony Levin, who is perhaps the easiest man in prog (seeing as how he's on about every other project, har har), flings his traditional Chapman mastery all over the place, with the added bonus of some sections on a standard five string bass. Mike Portnoy holds them all together, and occasionally tops them all with wild fills.

Clearly, Liquid Tension Experiment is a musician's band, playing really tricky stuff like it's not a problem at all.

The music does suffer from this, though. There are a lot, and I mean a whole heck of a lot, of shredding solos throughout. While this is a nice project for the members to blow of some steam, too much noodling, no matter the style of music, gets old after a while. And just when things are starting to go kind of stale, the thirty minute freeform jam noodle fest kicks in. In fact, if the band had just left it off, we would have a solid LP-length album that might jump up a couple of stars in my book.

The highlight tracks are the blistering opener (Paradigm Shift), the melodic rocker (Kindred Spirits), the progressive rock/metal hybrid (Freedom of Speech), and the blistering pseudo-closer (Universal Mind). These four songs still stand as some of my favorite instrumental tracks ever. Little aimless tracks like Osmosis, The Stretch, and Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure are fun for a while, but age pretty quickly. State of Grace is a pretty song, but nothing overall remarkable.

So, if high-flying and fantastic musical ability really interest you, this release and its sibling LTE 2 are absolutely indispensable. Any fan of Dream Theater or Symphony X or similar bands will almost undoubtedly enjoy some, if not most, of this album. If noodling or lack of structure bother you, you might have problems with Liquid Tension Experiment. You do need to give this a chance, though.

Report this review (#184298)
Posted Wednesday, October 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
Prog Metal Team
2 stars My friends have recommended me listening to Liquid Tension Experiment because, according to them, it's basically everything that is good about Dream Theater. To me, that sounded like a definite stab at the bands vocal section. But since I never actually had a problem with James LaBrie's vocals to begin with I don't really find anything new or different compared with what each member have done previously in their careers.

What I did find lacking were the compositions themselves because what this album offers is pure skill without any real substance to it. Of course it's fun listening to skilled musicians playing some of the most technical jams of their careers which could probably work for a 40+ minute album but it really gets old here. This problem becomes even more apparent on the 28-minute composition Three Minute Warning that in my opinion feels a lot longer and less interesting than the rest of the material combined.

I guess that if you're a fan of technical instrumental music then it's worth listening to Liquid Tension Experiment albums but personally I tend to prefer a combination of great compositions with excellent instrumental performances. Isn't that what music should be?

**** star songs: Paradigm Shift (8:54) Osmosis (3:26) Kindred Spirits (6:29) Chris And Kevin's Excellent Adventure (2:21) State Of Grace (5:01) Universal Mind (7:53)

*** star songs: The Stretch (2:00) Freedom Of Speech (9:19) Three Minute Warning (28:31)

Report this review (#259792)
Posted Thursday, January 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Possibly, it could be named as debut album of Dream Theatre's side-project, whenever you can find there bigger part of DT musicians ( plus great Tony Levin). But in sense of music it is a bit different.

For sure, it is progressive metal. Full of energy and with long guitar soloing. But without LaBrie vocals (first big plus) and in fact a bit different in structure and construction (second plus). First of all, even being metal rock , the music has strong accent on improvs, what shows it's strong relation with metal fusion. Technically music is more difficult (in comparance with DT music) as well, so for serious listener this work is really more interesting than usual DT albums.

Another thing, that there occurred some similar problems, which can annoy in DT music: huge amount of soloing is reasonable only in it's smaller part. Too often axe-man feels as he is demonstrating his guitar attacking abilities without big connection with musical concept. Loud aggressive playing too often isn't a confirmation of musician's mastership. But I believe it could attract more metalheadz, so let say it is a question of taste.

Generally, interesting in places album, better, than many DT works, but still not good enough to be between genre's masterpieces. Around 3,5.

Report this review (#260298)
Posted Monday, January 11, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Jazzy, energetic, heavy, proggy, melodic - what more could you want!

This side project is the missing bit of extra punch that was lost from the Dream Theater discography in its period of difficulties surrounding the release of "Falling into Infinity".

Tracks like "Paradigm shift", and "Universal mind" are highlights, probably my favourite tracks out of the two LTE releases.

Certainly each of the performers are masters of their instruments.

"3 minute warning" is an awesome jam =D. I absolutely love every second of it! What a rush! I found out that it was recorded in one sitting ? wow..

Great record! Go buy it!!

Report this review (#266801)
Posted Wednesday, February 17, 2010 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Despite the breakthroughs of artists as Steve Morse, Vai, Malmsteen and a few others, nothing quite like this had been attempted. At least not on record. Perhaps the time was right by 1998 for such an indulgent set of instrumental rock, fostered by a new era of self-production, small and willing record labels, and a hungry young audience wanting its heroes. Consequently, Liquid Tension Experiment made a real impact, particularly on musicians. An impact cousin band Dream Theater was unlikely to replicate and which allowed Portnoy, Petrucci, Rudess and Levin a special opportunity not afforded by the hugeness of these men's other bands.

That said, the album has problems mainly in the content of the material rather than the fine playing and clean sound. As the musicianship is so impressive, it is upon multiple listenings these issues become more apparent and reveal an oddly unfulfilling, sometimes even commercial tone hidden among the fireworks, one that is entirely unnecessary and utterly unwanted. It makes this debut both a landmark release and an inflated birthday cake with pretty frosting but not a lot of flavor. To be fair, LTE is indeed an experiment involving liquid tension, and that's exactly what we get: a brilliantly executed but markedly flawed escapade with four of the finest instrumentalists the world has even seen. An exhibition of the highest caliber, showing the uncanny mastery of these Berklee and Juilliard alum to improvise their way through an established but open framework. It is a remarkable demonstration. It is also only partly successful. Blister-inducing 'Paradigm Shift' certainly gets things moving in the right direction with nine minutes of twirling heavy prog rock, full of power and esurient joy showing the huge potential here. Pleasant and smooth is 'Osmosis' as it plinks along to Jordan Rudess's keyboard samples though would seem more at home on an Al DiMeola record . 'Kindred Spirits' shows promise with multiple changes but is so polished it verges on instrumental AOR, and 'Freedom of Speech' opens on a piano phrase that could be mistaken for Van Halen circa 1986 and despite some furious shredding from John Petrucci, only partly satisfies (though we're spared the horrid vocal that it surely would've accompanied from almost any other band). Maudlin 'State of Grace' doesn't exactly lift spirits but 'Universal Mind' picks things up and showcases each player nicely, and the record is capped-off by Goliath 'Three Minute Warning', a full half hour of planned spontaneity-- and a successful one too, giving fans a hearty adieu.

A rite of passage for most prog metal enthusiasts, Liquid Tension Experiment was literally a work in progress and the caution on the back regarding the last track says it all about this project; "Not for the musically faint-hearted, impatient, or critics of extreme self-indulgence." Quite right.

Report this review (#289442)
Posted Tuesday, July 6, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Liquid Tension Experiment is an instrumental progressive metal project composed by John Petrucci on guitar, Mike Portnoy on drums, Tony Levin on bass and Jordan Rudess in keyboards.This is his first album, and still amazes me after all this time listening to him-but he no longer wakes me in my feelings before.


-Paradigm Shift -Osmosis (this track seems to have come directly from the album "Discipline" from King Crimson-Levin is to blame!) -Kindred Spirits((the riff of introducing this band is like the "Carry on carryward son" of Kansas) -Freedom of speech -State of Grace -Universal Mind

4 stars-good, but the relaxed atmosphere and the improvisations take points from him, as his successor is much better.

Report this review (#358981)
Posted Monday, December 20, 2010 | Review Permalink
Andy Webb
Retired Admin
4 stars State of Grace

Liquid Tension Experiment is the brainchild of Mike Portnoy, drummer of Dream Theater, when asked if he wanted to form a supergroup by Magna Carta records. He assembled the expert team of new-and-upcoming keyboardist Jordan Ruddes, expert bassist Tony Levin (of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel fame), and he completed his lineup with friend and fellow DT bandmate John Petrucci to play guitar. The band formed in 1996 and they began to jam and piece together ideas until the epic self-titled debut album was released in 1998. The ensuing 70 minutes of joy, blasting forth with the uber-fast and uber-technical opener Paradigm Shift, is a joy ride most especially enjoyed by musicians who love speed and music lovers who like a good progressive jazz fusion/metal rush, with an extra jolt of adrenaline. Fueled by lengthy jam sessions and improvised riffing, the album is jam packed with a tasty blend of funk, metal, jazz, progression, and a host of other attributed conjured up in the minds of these four master musicians. It's certainly no stretch to say that nearly anything is possible when the will of a few talented musicians is let on a creative free-for-all by a willing record company, and Liquid Tension Experiment is certainly a fine example of this.

As I have said before, these four guys are no strangers to their instruments. All technical masters of their trade, none of them have any issues with shredding up and down the fretboard, keyboard, or tom set. Whether John is shredding at blinding speeds or Jordan is sweeping up and down the keyboard or Tony is slapping and tapping his bass or Mike is rotating around the kit with incredible grace, these guys have no trouble showing their skill, even if at times it comes off a bit pretentious. The balance between intensity and melancholy is sublime, matching blazing tracks like Paradigm Shift with mellow and almost spa-like tracks like the incredible Osmosis. Sadly this album is ridiculed as just a blatant expression of four guys' skill, when really these four guys truly have a gift of showing their true grace in a compositional and improvisational setting (and most of the album is constructed off improvisation). The melodies, although a bit cheesy in many of the songs, are great; they seem as if they just should exist, whether on an LTE album or not. Like I said, the album is often smashed for being an output for these guys' skill, but without their skill, there really would be no album, and the amazing atmosphere the meshing of all these guys' styles is truly amazing. I have to say, without their pretentious output, this album would not be the same.

I think I'll now dedicate this paragraph to explain the joyous expression of music that is found on the last, massive 28 minute jam session, titled Three Minute Warning. Now as a precursor to this, let me state that this song (or epic, I should say) is not a composition. This is a recording of these four guys letting out their raw creative energy onto their instruments, relaying this energy through the instruments into sound, into music, into joy, into pure chemistry through improvisation that goes without saying that this may be one of the best progressive metal jam sessions out there. Contained within these 28 minutes are a host of things, from mellow jazzy synth sections to heavier metallic section to avant-garde beauty to ambient almost post-rock-like atmospheres crafted through the state of grace these men are in during this recording. Slow to start, the song slowly builds into a grace and calm little track, and from here the track progresses through its countless phases. With no composition to stick by, the guys do what they feel, letting the juices flow as they just lay their genius right out for you. I really cannot expound on how much I love this song. Despite running a lengthy (for some) 28 minutes, the song is spectacular, encompassing the pure passion that these guys possess in their love of music. From the growling pits of Tony's often distorted and overdriven bass lines to the soaring heights of John's solo sweeping, the song itself could warrant a 5 star EP if it was released as such. In the end, I'll leave this short and sweet: Three Minute Warning is incredible.

But, the album isn't just that massive jam session. There is another 40 minutes of fantastic music to contend with, with the crushing glory of the metallic side with the mellow and heartfelt (and at times a bit cheesy and over-emphasized) 'ballad' side of the album, which really pulls in the Dream Theater influence in this music. I really have to say these guys are truly in some type of a State of Grace during this album, playing perfect chops and incredible riffs and improvised solos and so much more. This album truly is a gem in the realm of metal fusion and in progressive metal in general. 4 stars.

Report this review (#445017)
Posted Monday, May 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Liquid Tension Experiment" is the self-titled full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Liquid Tension Experiment. The album was released by Magna Carta in March 1998. Liquid Tension Experiment is an instrumental progressive metal/ fusion project by three members of Dream Theater and bassist Tony Levin (known for his work with among others Peter Gabriel and King Crimson).

The music on the album is intrumental progressive metal/ fusion. All musicians are extremely skilled and we´re treated to technical playing on a very high level. While the tracks feature re- occuring themes, much of the material sound like it was created while jamming. Tony Levin´s use of the chapman stick gives the bass part of the music a rather significant sound, but it´s mostly guitarist John Petrucci and keyboard player Jordan Rudess who leads the show with one blistering solo after another. There´s room for more mellow melodic work too though and the album balances between faster paced progressive metal/ fusion and mellower almost new age sounding sections. Drummer Mike Portnoy is as usual a powerhouse.

While the album is in many ways a both pleasant and solid effort, I generally think it´s too obvious that this is a side-project the members created to have fun. It´s not like the music reflect that they have anything important on heart or that they spent oodles of time writing and discussing how the music should sound. While such a loose approach to writing music works for some, I wouldn´t say I find this particular album a great artistic success. If you think you can enjoy light weight progressive metal/ fusion with a rather carefree approach to writing memorable tunes this might be something for you. For me personally the album passes by without many hooks or memorable moments to hold on to and I´m ultimately left a bit unimpressed with the songwriting and with the sterile sound production too. A 3 star rating is warranted.

Report this review (#458434)
Posted Thursday, June 9, 2011 | Review Permalink
3 stars Liquid Tension Experiment were a supergroup put together at the suggestion of the Magna Carta label, who thought it'd be cool to get Mick Portnoy and John Petrucci of Dream Theater together with Tony Levin and Jordan Rudess for some jamming. The end result is an interesting instrumental album which, when it really cooks, is actually pretty fascinating.

To a certain extent you're listening to Jordan Rudess' audition for Dream Theater here, because it was in these sessions that Portnoy and Petrucci decided that Jordan was what that band needed in the keyboardist's spot, but if you set that point of historical interest aside the album is pleasant but a bit unfocused. Some of the more metal-tinged pieces are good, but when the band go full-out jazz fusion my attention begins to drift. The half hour long improv session of Three Minute Warning might be a fascinating insight into the band's working, but I suspect most people will prefer the preceding eight tracks of compositions which emerged from jam sessions such as that one; even there, though, my attention begins to drift after the first four tracks or so.

Add another star if you are particularly keen on listening to prog superstars jamming for jamming's sake, but for my part I tend to prefer more direction and focus and cohesion in prog metal; if you're the same, approach with caution.

Report this review (#630274)
Posted Saturday, February 11, 2012 | Review Permalink
Symphonic Team
3 stars My affection for Dream Theater drew me to Liquid Tension Experiment and I expected something incredible with the likes of Tony Levin on bass, John Petrucci on guitar, Mike Portnoy on drums and Jordan Rudess on the keys. Instead the album comes across as a good diversion from the usual brilliance of Dream Theater. The album admittedly has some amazing musicianship but it is missing the magic that encompasses the Dream Theater albums. Labrie is missing of course and Myung is also absent. Without these members naturally it is far from Dream Theater, and I was underwhelmed overall.

The music dominates over every track and the highlights are definitely the amazing 'Universal Mind', that ends with a circus theme, and the massive epic 'Three Minute Warning' that runs for a whopping 28 minutes.

I enjoyed the weirdness of jazz infestation 'Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure' that brought back memories of that strange film, but the awful 'Osmosis' and 'The Stretch' really are filler songs to skip.

I would say that overall, the debut for Liquid Tension Experiment is a curio worth checking out but could have been so much better without all the filler tracks and with more brilliance and less experimentation.

Report this review (#762678)
Posted Sunday, June 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars Send it to Barney, as it is...

When this album was recorded it featured only two members of Dream Theater; John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy. Since then Jordan Rudess has joined the band and Mike Portnoy has quit, so a 50% DT contingent remains! The quartet is completed by bass and Chapman stick player, Tony Levin of King Crimson and Peter Gabriel fame.

It pretty much goes without saying that the level of musicianship is phenomenal, and whilst it lacks vocals, this is to my mind is a positive. The main events include three pieces of ultra melodic, action packed prog metal (Paradigm Shift, Kindred Spirits and Universal Mind) and the improv jam, Three Minute Warning. Whilst the latter actually lasts closer to 28 minutes, it gets its name from the ultimatum given to the band by Tony Levin, who was growing impatient with the other members' meticulous approach to song writing. Other highlights include Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure and Freedom of Speech.

If the tracks already mentioned were the only tracks on this album, then I would be quite tempted to give it five stars. However, Osmosis and The Stretch feel rushed and out of place, whilst State of Grace is downright boring.

The Verdict: Overall, a cracking debut.

Report this review (#763143)
Posted Sunday, June 3, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars With everything considered, Liquid Tension experiment is just Dream Theater with a bit of jazz fusion. After all, John Petrucci is the main force behind the compositions and the overall heavy sound they produce. This album is no different, but it does take a much different approach. It is obviously very jazzy, and has a lot of free-flowing jam elements as well. Like Dream Theater the musicianship is impeccable. Portnoy and Petrucci and Rudess do what they're best at while Tony Levin adds some melting bass lines.

'Paradigm Shift,' (9/10) 'Kindred Spirits,' (8/10) 'Freedom of Speech,' (9/10) and 'Universal Mind' (10/10) are all classic Dream Theater sounding songs.

The more experimental songs are 'Osmosis,' (5/10) the funky 'The Stretch' (6/10) and Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure.' (6/10)

Unfortunately they had to include 'Three Minute Warning' (3/10) which is really just a 30-minute jam session.

Other than that, this album is a lot of fun. The compositions are great and the jazziness is fine. Though I would say this effort is not as strong as their second, as they often lose focus especially in the last song.


Report this review (#771400)
Posted Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permalink
4 stars This would almost be a Dream Theater instrumental release, and a very good one too. However, when it was released, it wasn't so close to DT's sound at the time, but it did give a hint of things to come once Jordan Rudess joined the band (mainly faster and and crazier keyboards than before, and somewhat less atmospheric). I guess this album can be divided in three kind of songs:

The metal proggy songs, which are by far the ones I enjoy the most, being my very favourite one "Paradigm Shift", which would resume what I like best of this album. In this category also fit "Kindred Spirits", "Freedom of Speech", and "Universal Mind".

Then there are the soft and light hearted songs, kind of included to give you a moment of breath after the other frenetic songs. I'm not really particularly fond of this songs, but they are still enjoyable.

And last is the "Three Minute Warning" songs, or song. This ones are mainly a long 30 + min improvisation jam. Now, I'm not really the biggest fan of improvs, mainly becaus it shows they could use a bit more work to polish them, and they hardly ever have strong melodies, and this one is not the exception, but it is still very enjoyable too, and anyone who is really fond of them should really give this one a listen.

I go with 4 stars with this, mainly because I find the metal songs really great, but the rest are just good, but not essential in my book.

Report this review (#995714)
Posted Wednesday, July 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
4 stars After the disappointment of finally hearing their long overdue but fatally compromised "Spontaneous Combustion" album (the blame for which goes to Magna Carta Records, and not the band itself), I felt compelled to re-visit the far stronger, self-titled Liquid Tension Experiment debut from 1998: an invigorating tonic following the massive let-down of the later album.

But first, a disclaimer: Progressive Metal isn't my favorite musical sub-genre. And the virile charms of Dream Theater in particular have always eluded me. The music here was cut from the same heavy cloth as DT: ear-catching dexterity; mile-a-minute guitar machismo; Gatling gun twin bass-drum abuse, etc. And no wonder: a full three-quarters of the Liquid Tension foursome were current or future members of Dream Theater, with session veteran Tony Levin the odd man out (but of course he fits easily into any line-up).

So what makes the close cousin of LTE an exception to the Prog Metal formula? The lack of a strident lead vocalist is a definite bonus, to these sensitive ears. As is the more impulsive nature of the music itself. The supergroup was allowed only a single week to conceive, rehearse, and record an album's worth of music, and the challenge seems to have triggered the best instincts in each player.

"Paradigm Shift" raises the curtain in a furious rush of adrenalin, setting the stage for the instrumental fireworks of "Kindred Spirits" and "Freedom of Speech", the latter with an evocative mid-section building into an air-riffer's dream come true, potent even to this reluctant headbanger. Separating the deliberate compositions are several shorter, more relaxed interludes: welcome tongue-in-cheek breaks between all the testosterone-driven fret and keyboard shredding.

But the album earns its gold-plated fourth star, and my abiding affection, for its accidental epilogue: a half-hour improvisation where "not a single note or beat was discussed beforehand" (quoting drummer Mike Portnoy's CD notes). Unplanned jams of this sort always run the risk of going nowhere in a hurry (as happened over most of the "Spontaneous Combustion" album), or failing in playback to re-capture the exhilaration of the actual performance. But the level of sustained energy and intuition displayed here is nothing short of extraordinary. Listen as the music slowly coalesces, kicks into gear, collapses and rebuilds itself, with killer grooves and telepathic focus, again and again over its 28 white-knuckle minutes.

Portnoy himself wrote afterward, "I think this jam really defines all four of us as musicians..." another reason I wish the sardonic disclaimer on the CD cover ("not for the musically faint-hearted", so forth) had been omitted. The entire exercise, randomly indexed into five separate tracks and comically titled "Three Minute Warning", isn't a self-indulgent afterthought. It's an expression of pure, unbridled creativity, and easily the centerpiece of the whole project.

Later LTE recordings, and especially the aborted Liquid Trio sessions, never attained the same high level of prolonged, unpremeditated synergy. Appropriately, for an ad-hoc group of Prog Metallurgists, they struck first while the iron of inspiration was still hot.

Report this review (#1518428)
Posted Saturday, January 23, 2016 | Review Permalink
4 stars Paradigm Shift - Energetic opening track that sets the tone for this virtuosic album of jazz-fusion inspired prog metal. Obvious similarities with Dream Theater are immediate but this already seems more "upbeat" and less weighed down with Dream Theater's dark subject matters and lyrics. This song just gives the band a chance to stretch out their muscles and writing skills. The song then slowly winds down in energy towards the middle section, giving a glimpse into the dynamic range of the album to follow. My one criticism comes at the very end which, to me, seems to be a very rushed and forced recapitulation of the opening theme. 9/10

Osmosis - Much more relaxed opening, this immediately shares a lot in common with the middle section of Paradigm shift in that it mostly consists of variations on a riff that continues throughout. Very nice use of percussion and percussive effects in this song. Although there is a clear progression through the song, I feel that it is incredibly subtle and due to this, the piece feels a bit stale. It doesn't seem to move as much as one would wish. 6/10

Kindred Spirits - The opening provides and immediate contrast with Osmosis and is really satisfying. The unisons between the keyboards, guitars, and bass, as well as the sounds chosen make this piece very similar to Paradigm shift. After a slightly rushed progression through the opening sections, the middle section that alternates solo sections throughout the performers seems to develop at a perfect pace. 8/10

The Stretch - Like Osmosis, this is a short piece that is mostly variations and solos over a theme. Much heavier jazz influence in this piece, almost resembles Casino Night Zone from Sonic The Hedgehog 2. I just wish this piece was fully extended, but like Osmosis, it feels like a short filler piece between two major works. 6/10

Freedom Of Speech - Now in the middle of the album we have a very relaxed opening, the frantic energy is gone and is instead replaced with, honestly, quite a cheesy progression and solo. Almost feels like a follow up to "Hollow Years" from Falling Into Infinity in places. That being said, looking at this piece through cheese-tinted glasses, it is still very nice to listen to. The cut to the solo section at around the 5:00 mark is great and was built towards brilliantly. The solo section lasts quite a long time as is to be expected with this lineup, and builds up towards the new section that opens just short of 8:00. This could have went smoother to be brutally honest, but at the same time I understand that the piece needs to wrap itself up at some time and does so with a nice recapitulation of a previous theme. 8/10

Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure - Another short track that seems to be filling a gap between songs. My criticism remains the same, that this feels like a really good idea and basis for a piece but ultimately doesn't amount to much more than a quick filler. This is really quite sad due to the quality of the bass riff. 6/10

State of Grace - Similar cheesy opening to Freedom of Speech, this time it really feels out of place following Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure. "Pretty" as though it may be, the opening of this track feels more suited to a song about a loved one coming home for Christmas. This track feels really like a preview for Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence in a lot of ways, interesting to hear the similarities in the orchestral keyboard sounds, and the chord progressions. I would guess that this piece was more written by JR and JP provided some of the solo touches over the top as variations on the theme. It's nice, I just don't feel it fits particularly well on this album and seems to be very static, compared to SDOIT which rapidly goes between styles. 6/10

Universal Mind - Frantic energy comes back towards the end with a throwback to Paradigm shift from the start. This is probably my favourite track off the album for how it deals with themes and how they develop. For instance the sudden changes between sections maintains the energy from the opening extremely well plus keeping the listener on their toes as far as what can and cannot be unexpected. The sudden cut back to solo piano after the extended solo section at 3:47 exemplifies this refusal to be predictable. As well as cutting off the previous extended section, this also smoothly leads in the next section of the piece which contrasts the high energy of the previous section whilst still remaining ever fresh. All the main themes then collide masterfully, this piece really deals with the material extremely efficiently. The subversive and playful ending can't help but make you smile. 9/10

Three Minute Warning - It's really quite hard to write about this one in a similar way to the rest of the album. A major criticism I often have on entirely improvised music is that it seems far too unstructured. This piece obviously does not have the precise structure that can be found in the previous tracks, but as a group improvisation, it is very well put together. Sections of the piece flow very nicely into each other and the group dynamic builds up and settles down very nicely throughout the piece. It is obvious that the chemistry was fully there for this track. It is far from perfect though, some parts just don't meld together properly and just due to the nature of group improvisation it feels quite rough in a lot of places. I also don't quite know why this was the ending track for the album, especially considering the ending to Universal Mind. I feel that this track may have been better suited as a middle point, the album leading towards, then away from this. It would have balanced it out very nicely. I also have to be honest here, it does feel like quite a long time to just be wildly improvising without a break. The piece does have many different sections but can be a bit tiring. 7/10

Overall - 8/10

The album really holds up over time and manages to remain fresh and new but still quite accessible to those from a "prog" background. It is a very raw album, but the charm from that is rarely matched in more precise and cleaner sounding modern prog metal. A strong recommendation.

Report this review (#1641825)
Posted Saturday, November 12, 2016 | Review Permalink
3 stars Liquid Tension Experiment was formed in 1997 by Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci of Dream Theater, Tony Levin, best known for his work with King Crimson, and keyboard virtuoso Jordan Rudess (who would go on to join Dream Theater after the evident chemistry displayed throughout this project). They play instrumental progressive metal, with musicianship of the very highest standard.

While there are some people out there who aren't fans of constant shredding and noodling away and who might be discouraged from getting this album, there is a lot more on offer here than merely a competition to see who can play the fastest. Some of the music is as experimental and as obscure as the band's name. Namely, 'Chris and Kevin's Excellent Adventure', 'Osmosis' and 'The Stretch' are all rather demanding tracks which serve to see just how "out of the box" the listener can go.

But of course, this is an album featuring some of prog metals most prominent figures, and there's no way we can leave out the breath-taking acrobatics, for which we have the two best songs on the album; 'Paradigm Shift' and 'Universal Mind'. Fans of Dream Theater will definitely enjoy these tracks!

As a whole though, this album is just a bit too disjointed for my tastes. There's some incredible playing and chemistry between the members, but I usually find myself only listening to the two songs I mentioned above. On top of that, there's that blasted 'Three Minute Warning'. A 28-minute improvised jam, which, while brimming with amazing technical ability, is otherwise considerably boring. It's fine though, the band themselves acknowledge it on the back of the CD cover, stating that this song is not for the musically faint-hearted, or critics of self-indulgence.

Overall this isn't a terrible album, in fact, it is pretty good in small doses, I find. Fans of Dream Theater will definitely want this in their collections, and most fans of progressive music in general will find something here to sink their teeth into.

Report this review (#1774773)
Posted Thursday, August 24, 2017 | Review Permalink

LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT Liquid Tension Experiment ratings only

chronological order | showing rating only

Post a review of LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT Liquid Tension Experiment

You must be a forum member to post a review, please register here if you are not.


As a registered member (register here if not), you can post rating/reviews (& edit later), comments reviews and submit new albums.

You are not logged, please complete authentication before continuing (use forum credentials).

Forum user
Forum password

Copyright Prog Archives, All rights reserved. | Legal Notice | Privacy Policy | Advertise | RSS + syndications

Other sites in the MAC network: — jazz music reviews and archives | — metal music reviews and archives