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DREAM THEATER

Progressive Metal • United States


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Dream Theater biography
Founded in Boston, USA in 1985 (as Majesty) - Changed name in 1988 - Still active as of 2018

I. Introduction

II. History
    A. Formation and Early Years (1985-1990)
    B. A New Singer and Success (1990-1993)
    C. The Middle Period and Band Turbulence (1994-1998)
    D. Jordan Rudess and the New Millennium (1999-2006)
    E. The Roadrunner Years and the Departure of Mike Portnoy (2007- )

III. Style, Live reputation, Bootleg Culture, and Conclusion



DREAM THEATER is a progressive metal band formed in 1985 in Boston, Massachusetts by guitarist John PETRUCCI , bassist John MYUNG, and drummer Mike PORTNOY. Since the band's conception, they have become one of the most influential post-1970s progressive rock bands as well as ranking as one of the early progenitors of the entire progressive metal genre.



II. History

A. Formation and Early Years (1985-1990)

Based in a love of the sophistication of YES, the virtuosity of RUSH, and the heaviness of IRON MAIDEN, DREAM THEATER had a desire to create complex, heavy, and progressive from the very beginning. Guitarist and bassist PETRUCCI and MYUNG grew up together on Long Island, New York. After high school, both received scholarships to the esteemed Berklee University of Music, where they met drummer PORTNOY, who, incidentally, grew up in a nearby area. The trio soon became friends and began making music together and settled upon the name MAJESTY. This name came about when PORTNOY described RUSH's song "Bastille Day" as "majestic" as they were waiting outside a Rush concert to open. As the band became more "serious," they went out looking for a keyboardist and vocalist. Eventually the band found PORTNOY's high schoolmate Kevin MOORE to play keys as well as schoolmate Chris COLLINS to sing in 1986. The new 5-piece recorded a 6 song demo titled simply "The Majesty Demos" in 1986 on PORTONY's analog 4-track cassette recorder, ma...
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DREAM THEATER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DREAM THEATER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.18 | 1289 ratings
When Dream and Day Unite
1989
4.29 | 2940 ratings
Images and Words
1992
4.13 | 2125 ratings
Awake
1994
3.32 | 1553 ratings
Falling into Infinity
1997
4.29 | 3007 ratings
Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes from a Memory
1999
4.13 | 1993 ratings
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
2002
3.59 | 1837 ratings
Train of Thought
2003
3.67 | 2034 ratings
Octavarium
2005
3.31 | 1746 ratings
Systematic Chaos
2007
3.45 | 1630 ratings
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
2009
3.84 | 1634 ratings
A Dramatic Turn of Events
2011
3.28 | 954 ratings
Dream Theater
2013
3.37 | 712 ratings
The Astonishing
2016
3.68 | 307 ratings
Distance over Time
2019

DREAM THEATER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.64 | 410 ratings
Live At The Marquee
1993
3.30 | 389 ratings
Once In A Livetime
1998
4.55 | 549 ratings
Live Scenes From New York
2001
4.24 | 485 ratings
Live At Budokan
2004
4.46 | 545 ratings
Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.53 | 90 ratings
Happy Holidays
2013
4.33 | 3 ratings
Distant Memories - Live in London
2020

DREAM THEATER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.19 | 198 ratings
Images And Words - Live In Tokyo
1993
4.37 | 420 ratings
Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York
2001
3.82 | 199 ratings
Live in Tokyo/5 Years in a Livetime
2004
4.03 | 121 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite [Official Bootleg]
2004
4.30 | 409 ratings
Live at Budokan
2004
3.56 | 57 ratings
A Walk Beside The Band
2005
4.40 | 432 ratings
Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.86 | 152 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
3.71 | 7 ratings
Romavarium
2006
4.00 | 81 ratings
Bucharest, Romania 7/4/02
2007
3.44 | 238 ratings
Chaos in Motion 2007/2008
2008
2.40 | 80 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 5 Other Pretty Cool Videos)
2008
3.60 | 55 ratings
Live at Tokyo Sun Plaza
2009
4.40 | 5 ratings
Official Bootleg: Santiago, Chile 12/6/05 (20th Anniversary Tour 2005/2006)
2009
4.12 | 148 ratings
Live at Luna Park
2013
4.37 | 126 ratings
Breaking The Fourth Wall (Live From The Boston Opera House)
2014

DREAM THEATER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 6 ratings
Systematic Chaos Special Edition
2007
2.18 | 186 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs)
2008
1.50 | 4 ratings
Take The Time (The Warner Years 1992-2005)
2009
3.50 | 6 ratings
Black Clouds & Silver Linings Box Set
2009
3.93 | 48 ratings
Original Album Series
2011
1.50 | 4 ratings
The Triple Album Collection
2012
3.14 | 7 ratings
The Studio Albums 1992-2011
2014

DREAM THEATER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.02 | 39 ratings
Afterlife
1989
3.29 | 37 ratings
Status Seeker
1989
2.92 | 30 ratings
The ATCO Demos
1991
2.92 | 64 ratings
Another Day
1992
3.68 | 57 ratings
Pull Me Under
1992
4.00 | 8 ratings
Take the Time
1992
4.67 | 3 ratings
Live
1993
3.56 | 63 ratings
The Silent Man
1994
2.92 | 48 ratings
Caught In A Web
1994
3.07 | 62 ratings
Lie
1994
3.68 | 673 ratings
A Change Of Seasons
1995
3.00 | 7 ratings
International Fan Club Christmas CD
1996
2.17 | 6 ratings
You Not Me
1997
2.50 | 6 ratings
Burning My Soul
1997
3.08 | 66 ratings
Hollow Years
1997
4.50 | 4 ratings
Live Bonus Tracks
1998
3.80 | 37 ratings
Once In A LIVEtime Outtakes (International Fan Club CD 1998)
1998
3.11 | 66 ratings
Cleaning Out The Closet
1999
3.15 | 74 ratings
Through Her Eyes
2000
2.11 | 39 ratings
Christmas 2000 Fan Club CD
2000
1.98 | 39 ratings
4 degrees of Radio edits
2002
3.25 | 24 ratings
When Demos and Singles Unite
2002
2.83 | 6 ratings
Selections from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
2002
3.04 | 47 ratings
Taste The Memories
2003
2.95 | 40 ratings
Graspop Festival 2002 (International Fanclub CD 2003)
2003
3.08 | 50 ratings
The Making Of Scenes From A Memory
2003
2.82 | 111 ratings
The Number of the Beast
2003
2.02 | 117 ratings
Master of Puppets
2003
2.71 | 42 ratings
Los Angeles, California 5/18/98
2003
3.33 | 43 ratings
Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95
2003
2.91 | 52 ratings
The Majesty Demos 1985 - 1986 [Official bootleg]
2003
3.72 | 36 ratings
A Sort Of Homecoming
2004
3.31 | 42 ratings
Images and Words: Demos 1989 - 1991 [Official Bootleg]
2004
3.82 | 73 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite
2004
2.79 | 33 ratings
When Dream And Day Unite Demos 1987-1989
2004
3.36 | 134 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
2.52 | 42 ratings
Awake Demos
2006
3.20 | 38 ratings
Old Bridge, New JERSEY - 12/14/96
2006
3.39 | 71 ratings
Made in Japan [Official Bootleg]
2006
3.48 | 41 ratings
Images and Words - 15th Anniversary Performance (Fan Club CD 2007)
2007
4.07 | 77 ratings
Falling Into Infinity: Demos 1996-1997 [Official Bootleg]
2007
3.12 | 48 ratings
Constant Motion
2007
3.58 | 46 ratings
New York City 3/4/93
2007
3.00 | 6 ratings
Lifting Shadows Companion CD
2007
2.67 | 3 ratings
Road to Wembley
2007
2.67 | 9 ratings
Forsaken
2007
3.75 | 20 ratings
Progressive Nation 2008 - The International Fan Clubs CD 2008
2008
2.52 | 63 ratings
Forsaken
2008
2.61 | 79 ratings
A Rite of Passage
2009
3.12 | 79 ratings
Stargazer
2009
3.40 | 74 ratings
Tenement Funster/Flick Of The Wrist/Lily Of The Valley
2009
3.67 | 59 ratings
Odyssey
2009
3.52 | 54 ratings
Take Your Fingers From My Hair
2009
3.24 | 73 ratings
Larks Tongues In Aspic, Pt. 2
2009
3.20 | 86 ratings
Wither
2009
3.14 | 49 ratings
Uncovered 2003-2005
2009
2.29 | 33 ratings
The Making of Falling into Infinity
2009
2.93 | 32 ratings
Train of Thought Instrumental Demos 2003
2009
3.58 | 124 ratings
On the Backs of Angels
2011
3.27 | 11 ratings
Build Me Up, Break Me Down
2011
3.30 | 10 ratings
Along for the Ride
2013
4.50 | 2 ratings
The Looking Glass
2013
3.21 | 83 ratings
The Enemy Inside
2013
4.04 | 39 ratings
Illumination Theory
2014
3.31 | 13 ratings
Our New World
2016
3.06 | 23 ratings
Untethered Angel
2018
3.62 | 21 ratings
Falling Into The Light
2019
3.73 | 11 ratings
Paralyzed
2019

DREAM THEATER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 A Dramatic Turn of Events by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2011
3.84 | 1634 ratings

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A Dramatic Turn of Events
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by dougmcauliffe

4 stars This is an album that by all means, I did not have very high expectations for as I worked through the Dream Theater discography. After two of my least favorite Dream Theater albums "Systematic Chaos" and "Black Clouds and Silver Linings," I pretty much had one foot out the door. But man, this album pulled me back in and blew away all my expectations. I think there is a 5 star album within the 77 minute runtime of this LP, but a couple shorter tracks in between the real meat of the album bring it down to a very strong 4 stars for me. This album really just exemplifies everything I want Dream Theater to be doing at this stage in their career and i've found myself just defaulting to this album countless times over the last couple months without it ever getting old. They stop clinging onto some of the dated elements of 2000s metal that brought them success on Train of Thought, but really hindered some of the following albums. On Dramatic Turn of Events they embrace the progressive elements of their sound with brilliantly developed instrumentals as well as one of James Labries strongest vocal performances front to back. I do wish the drums were turned up just a little bit in the mix, but I think Mike Mangini comes in with a fantastic studio debut boasting memorable and tight parts. I'm gonna be honest, I don't miss Portnoy on this album. I want to make note of the cover, my initial impressions were along the lines of: "What is this microsoft word clip-art collage doing on a Dream Theater album?" But after getting familiar with the music, it actually does fit the vibe and tone of the songs, especially Bridges in the Sky.

Kicking things off is "On the Backs of Angels" which is sick. It opens with this very atmospheric and airy acoustic guitar that brings us smoothly into a exciting landing when the whole band explosively comes in. We are guided though these stunning and tasteful instrumental tradeoffs before James Labrie comes in with some sweet and hard hitting vocals. I just think from a structure standpoint this track is super strong and along with the other tracks, I hear something new every time I listen. The chorus just gets me pumped, and I also want to highlight the sections where John Petrucci is playing these chugging downtuned chords while Jordan Rudess plays these fast, subtle and winding keyboard parts underneath him.

Build Me Up Break Me Down is the second track and this is one that i'm just a little mixed on. Truth be told, I like it, but I feel like I have to look over my shoulder while listening to it because I almost feel like there are very light elements of Nu Metal in the mix, primarily in the first minute. There's lots to like here though, the riff is super heavy, the chorus is really catchy and the solo section at 4:20 is pretty darn sweet. If I were to make this 5-star version of this album this would probably be cut, but I got not big gripe with it here.

Lost Not Forgotten is one of the highlights for me. Like On The Backs of Angels, it's really just a great progressive metal song and to me it's the first song on the album that really says: "yeah, we still got it." Opening with a classical piano version of the main intro theme, it properly builds into a sweet pumping passage that just pulls you in with it's crisp double kick and counter melody on the keys underneath the chugging guitars and rhythm section. The instrumental passage starting at 1:54 is just ridiculous, watch the Live at Luna Park version of this song to really see what I mean. This kind of technical virtuosity should just be illegal, for my money. This is another strong and dynamic track with more super solid vocals and memorable lyrics. Even down to the little crazy fills they include between vocal parts on the chorus, there's a great attention to detail and it's stuff like this that makes me love this band. I can't get enough of the groove it kicks into at 4:43 seamlessly progressing the song into a filthy extended solo passage. I have to highlight highlight the super groovy guitar solo eventually pulling everything back together to create one simply (but not simple!) great song.

This is the Life has been a grower for me. It's on the softer side of things perhaps giving the album some breathing room rather than throwing three 10+ minute tracks in a row at you. I think it's a very pleasant and highly melodic song that manages to sound pretty sincere on all fronts. It ends with a pretty good and powerful peak. Would this get the cut on my proposed 5 star version of this album? Well, I would have said no at one point, but now I'm not so sure....

Bridges in the Sky might just be my favorite Dream Theater song. I love me some Glass Prison, Under a Glass Moon, Strange Deja Vu, 6:00, Blind Faith, but I really truly believe this is their greatest achievement. Every single note they play is just so interesting and straight up badass to me. It opens with this atmospheric little section with Mongolian Throat Singing (how else are you supposed to open a prog metal epic?!?!), and straight out the gate it just comes swinging with an absolute headbanger of a riff. The vocals come in and they just sound nasty (in a good way!), of course underneath this is another riff that is just so damn cool. The first time I heard this first 10 seconds of the verse I had to rewind 30 seconds just to make sure my ears weren't deceiving me. The chorus just transcends into orbit instantly boasting memorable vocal melody after memorable vocal melody. On this track however, the chorus actually builds with each successive repeat, as do the verses. So after this first chorus another incredible set of riffs bring us into the second verse with yet again another ungodly groove underneath it. The second chorus brings us even higher into the stratosphere with a new addition to the end of it with "...and tonight the time has come" following this is a absolutely stunning musical rise as James Labrie sings higher and higher while the guitar just flawlessly builds and builds up the fretboard before dropping the listener into a fiery instrumental. The main riff here has this intense middle eastern tinged vibe to it that I just love. It all ties back into the 3rd chorus, and by the time this song ends I'm just at complete peace with the world, because I just can't fathom how this song could possibly be any better.

Outcry is another fantastic and powerful song that really manages to keep the momentum going from the previous track. The little eclectic drum thing it kicks into before the first verse is sweet and it shows the band experimenting in tasteful fashion. Once again we're treated to a showcase of ridiculously interesting instrumentals and song structure. With this track it's really the instrumental in the second half that steals the show kicking off with Jordan Rudess just flexing his technical ability and wide variety of keyboard tones that at this point are very unique to him. At 5:21 JP and JR are playing these super fast lines in unison before JP goes "alright let me take this one" at 5:33, and man, it's absolutely face melting. The entire band is just throwing everything they got at you and its just brooding, menacing, and really full of that creative spark that made me love the band on some of their earlier albums. This all comes to a climax before doing a bit of a 180 releasing you into this very subtle softer piano and drum passage. In the final 2 minutes James Labrie and the rest of the band deliver a truly soaring peak almost reaching the heights of the finale of Bridges in the Sky.

Far From Heaven... this one doesn't make the cut for me. I think this is a very strong vocal performance by James Labrie, but the lyrics just aren't there. And when the only instrument playing for the majority of the song is piano, it's hard not to pay attention to the words. This one feels kinda like they were sitting around and James was like "Cmooonn guyyyyssss.... let me write a song.... pleeeeaaaaseee" and with a collective sigh, everyone else begrudgingly gave him the nod... welp, onto the next thing.

Breaking All Illusions is the last big 10+ minute song and I'm struggling to find the words to describe this track that I haven't already used to describe some of the other goliaths of this album. I find this one to be the most emotional of the songs we get here. I really love the motif first introduced at 0:49 as well as the very light playing in the verse accompanied by some really nice vocals with some tasteful effects thrown on top of them. There's a very uplifting feel to the chorus, that is before we're tossed into a more intense and blazing spin on the first verse. That motif I mentioned before comes back, now with James blissfully singing on top of it. On this track John Petrucci really steals the show with a jaw dropping extended guitar solo while the rest of the band takes a small step back and plays around JP really setting the stage for him to drop an epic solo and he certainly delivers. Everyone comes back together towards the end to deliver one last great classic Dream Theater instrumental before JL steps back in to give this track a fantastic conclusion.

I actually really enjoy Beneath the Surface, even though it falls into the category or "short and soft song," which yields some mixed results on this album (in my opinion). I just really love this acoustic guitar melody and the general cadence to this track. There's almost a nostalgic feel to it, really nice chorus and little synth solo from Rudess. it's just a really beautiful way to bookend the album and I shamelessly love it.

Overall, I love this album. While I don't consider it my favorite Dream Theater album (at the moment, perhaps someday with time), if I had every Dream Theater album laid out in front of me right now this is the one I'm reaching for. There's something special here and I find this album to just get better and better every time I listen to it. Love this album and it's a shame some hardcore fans never gave it a fair shot just because it doesn't have the name "Portnoy" attached to it.

8/10 (But Bridges in the Sky is an 11/10)

 Black Clouds & Silver Linings by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.45 | 1630 ratings

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Black Clouds & Silver Linings
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by dougmcauliffe

2 stars If you go on any Dream Theater social media page you don't have to look very hard to find someone complaining and moaning about Portnoys absence from the band. However, his final two albums with the band to my ears just aren't good. I find on Black Clouds, his final album with the band, every single song has at least one quality or thing about it that just really bothers me. I find that any time Portnoy opens his mouth to contribute vocals it either sounds terribly cringe worthy or just dated, often a combo of the two. This is not an album devoid of any merit though, as I think from a production standpoint it's easily one of their best with a well developed sense of atmosphere as well as punchy and heavy tones all around. Plus, the bass is actually quite audible in the mix which is a good thing, as on some other albums you often really have to search for Myung. I think this album and even more so Systematic Chaos fall victim to embracing too many elements of 2000s metal that just come off as terribly dated today. While they did find some success with that on Train of Thought and Octavarium, it just really falls flat here.

A Nightmare to Remember opens the album up clocking in at 16 minutes. I think this one starts pretty well but overstays its welcome by at least 5 minutes and I really don't like where it goes in the latter half of the song. It opens with a heavy brooding instrumental passage with some really cool drumming. The vocals are also pretty strong and kick off in great fashion. The softer clean guitar section around the 5 minute mark is awesome, but for me the song peaks here and falls off a cliff following this. We go through some solos and it quickily develops into this very fast paced rhythm. Out of nowhere Mike Portnoy interjects with the most embarrassing attempt at harsh vocals I think i've ever heard. In an attempt to sound super heavy, he just ends up sounding like the cookie monster murmuring down your ear with a mouth full of food. As bad as this is, he really puts the nail in the coffin when he adds this laughable "UHHHHHH" as the grand finale of this dumpster fire. If I can manage to get through that however, the ridiculous blast beat he adds to the end of the track is usually enough to totally push it over the top for me. Though there are parts of this song I quite enjoy, I find it extremely difficult to sit through the whole thing and usually I hit skip part way through the Mike Portnoy "growl" section.

A Rite of Passage is just a very insignificant song. It apparently lasts for eight and a half minutes but all that sticks with me is the main riff and chorus. This isn't because either of those things are particularly special, but rather that i've sat through this album so many times hoping it would grow on me like some of their other albums have, but it's just not the case. Listening back now, its just a Dream Theater song, nothing that anybody is going to get overly excited about. It's got fast solos, its long.... alrighty...

Wither is in my humble opinion, is among the worst songs that Dream Theater has ever put out. The lyrics are about not knowing what to write a song about... real creative stuff, certainly hasn't been done before. There is music that lifts me off my feet, and there is music that makes me want to hide my face in embarrassment and the chorus of this song falls into the latter category. It breaks into this soft breathy piano section towards the end and I just hate every second of it.

The Shattered Fortress is kinda in the same boat as Rite of Passage, it's just very plain. Another issue I take with this song is that I feel like it's way too heavy on the reprises from other songs in the 12-Step-Suite while at the same time not offering very many exciting and fresh ideas of its own. In fact, it just makes me want to turn off the song and listen to Glass Prison, This Dying Soul or Root of all Evil (Repentance is in the same boat as Shattered Fortress unfortunately).

The Best of Times is one of the better songs on the album but my god, the lyrics are painfully corny. I understand they come from a very genuine and heartfelt place, but MP just needs to master the art of subtly with lines like: "Thank you for the smiles." From a melodic and instrumental standpoint I enjoy this song quite a bit with somewhat of a Rush tinge in places as well as some nice softer and more intimate instrumentation in the mix. Jordan Rudess shines here with some orchestral elements and lots of subtleties that give the song a somewhat nostalgic vibe and help to set the tone of the music to fit the general message of the song. A lot of people cite the guitar solo at the end of the song to be one of JPs best, and while I recognize that is is a very impressive solo from a technical standpoint, it doesn't move me all that much unfortunately.

The Count of Tuscany is actually an incredible song and easily the best on the album for me. I have one sole complaint however and it's a very big one: some of the worst lyrics Dream Theater has ever laid down. It's very frustrating, for me vocal melodies are far more important than lyrics, but when lyrics are so bad that they become a distraction from the music it's gonna generally leave a very grim impression on me. Also, we have another case of Portnoy vocals ending embarrassingly, I just burst out into laughter every time I hear the line "All the finest wines, improve with age" with MP trying to do those tough guy 2000s vocals. Some other lowlights include "Let me introduce, MY BRUDDA" and "A bitter gentlemen, historian, sucking on his pipe." Now with all that said, I will once again emphasize, the music here is excellent opening with this glorious and uplifting introduction that eventually forms into a sweet jam that just sounds like classic Dream Theater in full power. The verse has this cool chugging guitar motif and I actually enjoy the vocal melodies up until the chorus where it loses me just a bit. The jam it kicks into at around 8:48 is nasty and after a few satisfying minutes of that it strips down into this ethereal ear-candy keyboard passage that just melts time away with its beauty. The final 5 minutes of this track are very powerful starting quietly with just acoustic guitar and vocals before handedly building up into a soaring conclusion. The lyrics really suck, but the music makes up for it.

Black Clouds and Silver Linings is one of my least favorite Dream Theater albums and it's an album where I think almost every single song is just a failure and it stings worse when most the songs on this album are very very long. The Count of Tuscany is worthwhile, but every other song has some fatal flaw (to be fair Count of Tuscany does as well) that I just can't fully get behind. This was the end of a chapter for Dream Theater, but I think the follow up to this album is excellent and among their greatest works, but perhaps that's a tale for another review ;)

3/10

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.37 | 712 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by iluvmarillion

4 stars The prog folk at Sea of Tranquility did a ranking of the 14 studio albums of Dream Theater, from their worst to best and named this one the worst. It's easy to understand why. Even by Dream Theater standards this is a very long album of over 2 hours of music. And like Metropolis Part 2, Scenes from a Memory, it's a concept album, but moreover it's also a rock musical which marks it differently from the rest of their discography. Based on a fantasy/science fiction story of a dystopian futuristic North American empire where music is banned, replaced by noise machines, as an oppressive means of thought control, a rebel militia from the village of Ravenskill challenges the authority of the empire through the power of music. This is similar in concept to Rush's 2112 album, but whereas the Rush album piece runs for only 20 minutes, this Dream Theater is a marathon journey where the musical themes criss cross and a lush melodic orchestration of strings and choirs from David Campbell combine with the guitars, largely Jordan Rudess's piano and Mangini's drums. To stay the journey you need to be able to visualize the plot, having no reference of a staged production or cinematic film, or at very least have the lyrics in front of you as you listen to the music. If you don't want to do that there's enough to like by concentrating on the guitar tracks like Gift of Music, Savior in the Sphere, Chosen and New Beginning and skipping the largely orchestral tracks. As song writers Dream Theater, in this case John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess, who wrote it together, are more skilled at arranging and building a music score than composing catchy tunes like Andrew Lloyd Weber.

The cover art of The Astonishing sets the scene with the flying spheres of the noise machines suspended over a futuristic city. The lyrics are attached in the lift out inside making it easy to read. The opening instrumental track, Dystopian Overture, introduces the main musical ideas with orchestra, choirs, guitars, drums and piano, then we go into the first vocal track, "the gift of music" with James LaBrie displaying his extraordinary vocal range. "The Answer" is another good acoustic track. "A Savior in the Sphere" is the first time we get to enjoy Petrucci's Gilmour like guitar playing before he's cut short by the orchestra and choir. We need to keep reminding ourselves here that this is a rock musical unlike any other Dream Theater. The songs are very poppy, like in Octavarium. At times they get a little too bland and sappy, as in "When your Time has Come". At times there is too much orchestra, stretching the songs out, as in "Act of Faythe" (that and the next three songs I advise you to avoid). Then at other times you are thinking, do we really need the ubiquitous choirs? The two stand out performers on the album are James LaBrie and Mike Mangini. LaBrie does a magnificent job but maybe the album would have benefited from having other singers playing different characters. Mangini's drums are turned up full on in the mix, unlike on, A Dramatic Turn Of Events, where you can hardly hear him. The title of a Deep Purple song best describes Mike Mangini, "Speed King". He's a better progressive metal drummer than Mike Portnoy who has a more, jazzy style of drumming.

Most of the prog action occurs in the last third of the first CD. The intro of "A Life left Behind" begins with acoustic guitar then goes into a fast piano pattern which is joined on electric guitar before James LaBrie sings the first verse of the best melody on the album, then into a full on chorus where the drums carry the beat and the guitars bring it home. A soulful ballad piece in "Ravenskill" follows and then we come to another great song in "Chosen" which begins slowly on piano, enters another great vocal passage from James LaBrie, before John Petrucci plays one of his best guitar solos. Having come alive on "Chosen" Petrucci unleashes more electric guitar on "A Tempting Offer" before the orchestra finishes off the song. Next, we get a nice little mainly instrumental track in "The X Aspect", where I think Rudess piano playing is inspired by Rick Wakeman, before LaBrie sings the vocals. Then we come to the longest and best track on the first CD, "A New Beginning". Plenty of time changes to keep everybody happy, orchestra, choirs and the rock instrumentation come together in a fast, funky cacophony wall of sound where Dream Theater are in their element. One of the band's best, ever songs.

The second CD is thankfully a bit shorter than the first and has a bit harder edge to the music. If you're not exhausted from the first CD there's a few treasures on the second. "Moment of Betrayal" has a neat piano introduction and being the most metal track on the album. "Heaven's Cove" has a beautiful classical acoustic introduction, something Steve Hackett might have done, then goes into a really heavy groove. A nice little ballad in "Begin Again" follows which is basically a piano piece with acoustic and electric guitar (and orchestra) playing above the piano. After a change in pace with "The Path that Divides" there's a great short heavy piece called "The Walking Shadow" which reprises the main musical theme in the middle. "My Last farewell" has a slow build, then breaks out into fast hammer thrusts of guitar and drums before LaBrie brings it home in hymn like fashion. Ignore the sappiness of "Losing Faythe" and "Whispers in the Wind" there's a nice folksy violin piece in "Hymn of a Thousand Voices" which should have ended the album.

Dream Theater deserve credit for an ambitious project in The Astonishing, unfortunately unlikely ever to achieve a deserved cinematic filmed production of the music which would truly showcase the nature of the work. It maybe fails by being too ambitious, drags in several places by the over orchestration and unnecessary choirs, bit too melodious and sappy in parts, but draws you back in whenever John Petrucci picks up his electric guitar and plays it. Andrew Lloyd Weber, it's not, but when you think about it, Andrew Lloyd Weber constructed his most beautiful musical score in Sunset Boulevard and that was a musical flop, so why should Dream Theater be like Andrew Lloyd Weber.

 Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes from a Memory by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.29 | 3007 ratings

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Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes from a Memory
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Hector Enrique

5 stars The masterpiece by definition of Dream Theater, and which defines the settlement of progressive metal as a genre that opened its way within the boundaries of the progressive with its influences from metal. Separated into two great acts, this conceptual album has no wells or low moments, it captures us from beginning to end, from the beginning with Nicholas's session in his hypnotic therapy (Regression), where the visions of a previous life come by constantly that do not leave him alone and his need to find answers, until the tragic final outcome (Finally Free).

The instrumental display and showcasing of virtuosity on John Petrucci's guitar, managing to harmoniously combine heavy riffs with well-assembled moments of serenity, Mike Portnoy's drums with a lot of energy and precision, and the musical contribution on the keyboards of Jordan Rudess, complement each other. and they manage to generate a solid wall of sound that is sustained throughout the musical journey, with the support on the bass of the always correct John Myung, and a very good vocal performance by James LaBrie, one of his best throughout his career.

Although all the compositions have a very high level, we could highlight as the peaks in terms of their compositional and instrumental quality Overture1928, Fatal Tragedy and Home with its almost 13 minutes, in which all the influences of the DT come together to generate a piece that it is undoubtedly among the greatest songs of progressive metal.

When I was able to attend their tour for the launch of Distance Over Time in Omaha, Nebraska in November 2019, they also played the entire Metropolis Part 2 ... commemorating their 20 years of release. And in my opinion the album has not aged anything, on the contrary, it continues to sound as vital, powerful and timeless as when I first heard it years ago.

Undoubtedly, one of the flags of progressive metal, and of the progressive genre in general.

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.37 | 712 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Zoltanxvamos

1 stars Turns out John Petrucci's passion project known as Dream Theater goes one step further from Prog Metal to bland Rock Opera. Of course what can I say about this album? Its astonishingly bad... ok I really just wanted the pun.

But in all seriousness, this album, as good as... well... one song is, the rest of fairly boring, overblown, and way over the top. I've been a fan of the bands double albums for a while, Metropolis Part 2 and Six Degrees, but this is completely over the top and way too long (and that's coming from a Flower Kings fan). Unlike TFK, this album has barely any good songwriting and just comes off bland and uninspiring. The instrumentation is still good but Mike's drums here just don't sound right. I do like the large concept idea of this album, and there are a few songs on this album that I can say "hey, that wasn't too bad", but for the most part this is just way too much. Petrucci should've listened to Mike Portnoy, they should've went on a hiatus and come back with new ideas. Unfortunately for the band, Petrucci works like a machine (which is a blessing and a curse), he likes to keep pushing out albums whether the albums are not of top quality.

Without Portnoy, this band has gone from great to merely mediocre. This is one example as to why the band should've went on a hiatus, to avoid something like this. If you want hard hitting Dream Theater of the now, go elsewhere, give this album a shot in case you like it though. I wasn't a fan of this album but give it a shot either way, but I would suggest 'Distance Over Time', it is much better than this album, and it has a more retro Dream Theater writing style. Unfortunately, this wasn't my thing, the rock opera elements just don't work for me, if I want to listen to Rock opera I'll listen to Queen.

Either way, my final words are: This could've been better, but overall, this just didn't have anything that intrigued me. The only song I enjoyed was 'A New Beginning', but even that song was a bit of a pill. Anyways, if you want Dream Theater at their best, I'd go elsewhere, because this album is just really long and it can be hard to get through.

 When Dream and Day Unite by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.18 | 1289 ratings

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When Dream and Day Unite
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by ssmarcus

1 stars What is it with progressive rock groups' affinity for naked men on their album covers? At least Yes' Going for the One and Rush's Hemispheres spared us the sight of armpit hair, a courtesy not granted to us by Dream Theater's When Dream and Day Unite. The music on this record, much like the album cover, is fairly dated. A mix of Rush-like progressive rock and 80's arena hard rock, When Dream and Day Unite contrasts starkly with the group's thoroughly modern sound from the turn of the century and onward. Although a hard swallow for the group's turn of the century Golden Age fans like myself, fans of 80's music generally are likely to view this record more favorably.
 Octavarium by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.67 | 2034 ratings

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Octavarium
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars Dream Theater are a band that are in a constant state of inconsistency, the changes in sound that they try often falling flat, and for every landmark album in their discography, you'll usually find a dud not too far ahead of behind. Unfortunately, they also have a similar problems with the consistency of songs within many of their albums, although often to a lesser extent. With this said, I feel as if Octavarium is the album to epitomise these issues, despite having some of the band's best work within it. The issue of an extremely clinical, emotionless feel within every element of it further exacerbates these issues by frequently derailing concepts through the band's infamous tendency to drag out a solo to its absolute limit, all without adding anything interesting to it, ultimately making this album a very mixed listening experience.

As seems to be quite common whenever I begin going into detail about why I don't like an album in my opening paragraph, the opening song here manages to avoid the majority of the issues I've just mentioned, and easily be one of the album's greatest tracks. As is standard with any part of the 12 step suite, The Root Of All Evil goes for a far more oppressive, dark tone to most of the band's work, complete with an extremely solid riff and a powerful feeling of helplessness. I love how the song is able to nicely blend aspects of The Glass Prison and This Dying Soul without taking away from its own individual identity, creating an extremely good song that shows that Dream Theater can definitely make songs full of power and emotion when they put their minds to it, even if the guitar solo wasn't really needed here, kinda doesn't properly fit in and takes away from the tone of the song, but at least it's reasonable in length, so it doesn't really bother me. The next worthwhile song to any degree is These Walls, although it's not very good regardless. This song is just straight up goofy in basically all the worst ways, with the overdramatic vocal performance by James being especially hard to stomach, especially since the vocal melody wouldn't sound good even with a more subdued vocalist. The instrumentation in general manages to be quite good however, nothing too flashy or long winded, which genuinely benefits the track immensely, as it doesn't keep trying to distract you from the core elements of the song, but genuinely works as a nice complement to the core of the song, shame that that aspect of it isn't anything special.

Panic Attack is the other song that I feel genuinely has some merit to it, outside the obvious song, as it attempts to establish a compellingly claustrophobic, frantic atmosphere that goes all out on the heavier side of the band that occasionally rears its head. First things first, that intro is absolutely amazing, for once, you can actually briefly hear the bass, before it's buried under the guitar. While the transition to the chorus is a bit forced, it overall works quite well and perpetuates the desperation that the track revels in. The constant changing of the vocal melody also works extremely well here, providing some freshness throughout, even if the chorus is frankly tedious after a single listen. Where this song fails is having Petrucci decide that he ought to play another solo which consists of more or less nothing but shredding over some downright awful riffs, and then once it seems as if the song's about to jump back into the main meat of the song, it just carries on, twice. This completely derails the tension that was building up within the song, substituting It with pointless wankery that goes on far too long and contributes nothing.

The second track is really what perfectly demonstrates the flaws in this album, because my god, The Answer Lies Within, just like most Dream Theater ballads, just straight up sucks, same with I Walk Beside You. These both are absolutely nothing other than saccharine drivel that are painful to listen to at the best of times, and if you're in the wrong mood, then these become downright frustrating to listen to. While Never Enough isn't too bad, it's hard to ignore the extreme influence from Muse's Stockholm Syndrome, especially the main riff. Now, I know that things like the chorus are different from it, but frankly, this is one of the weakest in the album, and definitely doesn't help a song that was already bordering on mediocre. Sacrificed Sons is able to be described with the sentence 'Hey, remember when DT turned a heartfelt ballad about 9/11 into an absolute wankfest?'. In actuality, this is a case where I really enjoy a ballad by Dream Theater, the other prominent example being Space Dye Vest. What I like about it is how it sounds almost apocalyptic in nature, but then with sweeping orchestral instrumentation being able to create moments of beauty within, making for a truly haunting piece. And then the instrumentation took centre stage and everything was ruined.

Fortunately, the album stops itself for being more or less entirely comprised of heavily flawed tracks (Root of All Evil excepted) with the 20 minute title track that definitely redeems the album by quite a bit, as this is what I consider to be far and away the band's best song, with each section of it perfectly fitting in with one another and escalating in a way that keeps raising the tension and intensity to the point where It impresses me so much even after listening to it countless times. The first 2 sections perfectly set the song up, with a long period of ambience that escalates into an explosion of one of the most grandiose moments in music I've heard, all before settling down to set the stage with an all around mysterious tone. This breaks into a more conventional part where the highlight is easily, once again, the bass (almost as if the bass should be a more integral part to Dream Theater overall), which is groovy and just really fun on the whole, along with establishing the gradual progression of the song through holding to a very steady beat with some more bite to it, compared to the first section, which utilised acoustic guitars and flutes. It's the third section where things begin to really pick up however, now with a more chaotic sound to it as an incredibly compelling performance from Labrie steals the show as he seems to be crying out in desperation while spouting utter nonsense in the form of various music references, definitely making for an extremely fun, interesting listen. This chaos becomes far more grounded in the 4th section, as the intensity rises, background vocals subtly counting up as a spoken word part is building up over the crescendos of each and every part of the band until it absolutely explodes with some screaming, before settling back down into a more melodic, beautiful way to end what is the greatest song Dream Theater have written.

While the album does extremely well to ensure that the listener will end the album thinking fondly, due to how amazing this final track is, it still doesn't change the fact that 6 tracks on this 8 track album are heavily flawed or just outright bad. Almost every song could have benefitted from either just not existing in the case of the couple of egregiously bad ballads, or not letting the sterile, bland guitar solos take up any time at all, because they almost all take away from the songs, rather than adding anything meaningful, since they often just devolve into shredding. What could have been something great ended up being marred by just how many aspects of it were as botched as they were here, which is a shame, considering how good the good stuff is.

Best tracks: The Root of All Evil, Octavarium

Weakest tracks: The Answer Lies Within, I Walk Beside You, Never Enough, Sacrificed Sons

Verdict: A heavily flawed album with traits of pure greatness found throughout. If the band were just able to comprehend restraint to any degree, this could have easily been amazing, since it's constantly this unbearable need to stretch out almost every song out with bland instrumentation that completely kills the album in a lot of respects, to the point where half of it being good just doesn't excuse how poorly composed most of this is. This is an album with a couple of great songs on it, but it's far from a good album.

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.37 | 712 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by maani
Special Collaborator Founding Moderator

5 stars Wait...five stars? Considering how disappointed so many reviewers clearly are? Well, yes. Because I feel that many listeners simply may not have understood what they were listening to. True, it's not Metropolis, or even Six Degrees (or possibly even Systematic Chaos). But its' not supposed to be. Like Metropolis, it is a concept album. But that is where the similarity ends. Metropolis - one of the greatest concept albums in history - was "simply" an album built around an idea, a story, a theme. When Petrucci wrote The Astonishing, he was specifically writing a musical. And since I believe he succeeded in this - quite spectacularly - I am giving this five stars because of the success of his intent - which also assumes brilliant writing for the concept. A musical is a very specific form. Petrucci shows just how brilliant he is beyond being an amazing lyricist and guitarist, by writing the world's first (and highly successful) progressive rock musical. In fact, I cannot wait to see whether he attempts to have this staged AS a musical. Can you imagine? Progressive rock takes over the West End and Broadway? Can you imagine a voice like Idina Menzel's as Faythe? It send goosebumps up my spine. In fact, even if this were not a a successful musical concept, I would give it 4 stars; Act 2 (i.e., Disc 2) is among the best work Petrucci has done. The first three compositions alone are worth the price of admission. Again, it is true that this is not Metropolis, and so maybe I am being a TAD generous in giving it 5 stars. But i am so incredible impressed with the idea of a progressive rock musical, and the clear success that this one presents, that I felt it would be unkind of me to give it less. The lyrics are masterful in the context of a musical, and the music runs from the merely very good to the truly breath-taking. But all of it must be taken in the context of the project,- which is what I think many listeners may have missed. However, taken in context, and measuring the album by the success of which it was written and executed, this is absolutely a five-star effort. Bravo! I can't wait to buy a ticket to the first performance on Broadway. (But where are they going to find musicians who can play the score? LOL) That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
 Distance over Time by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.68 | 307 ratings

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Distance over Time
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A solid, though unspectacular, album. Possibly the best they've made in 16 years.

If this seems like an odd, or snarky, headline it's a reflection of DT's output for the past decade and a half. Dream Theater has been putting out inconsistent or mediocre albums since Train of Thought. They seem to have put this maddening trend to bed at least for this album. "Distance Over Time" is a fairly consistent album, and one that is largely solid to good. There is no track that really stands out or hits me with a "wow" but none are real clunkers either. Unlike some other albums that fit this mold (Systematic Chaos, ADTOE) that come off as uninspired or trying too hard, Distance Over Time does not. I suppose I wouldn't say this album feels inspired, it really doesn't, but the band certainly seems to have dropped their purposefully over the top mentality. Shorter songs, (not one over 10 minutes and 6 of the 9 clocking in at under 7 minutes!) less technical wankery, shorter solos, it could be called "Dream Theater abridged"

Some may lament this. Those very things are what make Dream Theater, often prog itself, and I am 100% A OK with all of it. Give me 10+ minute epics with all the showing off, every instrument getting a solo, and complex songcraft you can! That said, in the case of DT, (a talented band that I feel has been wheel spinning for a long time and suffered from "cant get out of their own way" even earlier on) I think this is a welcomed change.

It's undeniably Dream Theater. It's got absolutely everything you would expect, nothing is skipped. Unfortunately this includes passages of simple chords, with airy uplifting keys and soaring vocals that LaBrie struggles to nail... you know the song(s) that are contractually obligated to be on every DT album, (or that's what I wish was true, as it's frustrating they are unable/unwilling to break free). As for LaBrie there's nothing to say about his voice that hasn't been beaten to death, all I will say is I dislike them especially on this album. I find them particularly bad, shame because I found them quite fine on "Dream Theater" so not quite sure if some different recording/editing technique was done differently this time. That said there are of course some nasty riffs, solos, epic passages and progressions, and the best drumming I have yet heard from Mike Mangini. Since his entrance to this band his talent was clear but it never really stood out or impressed me in any real way. Seemed a good but generic drummer. This is not the case here, Mangini's drumming is quite human, passionate, and well...lively. The best output he's had yet with this band.

I won't go into song particulars except that it ends on a high note. "Pale Blue Dot" is the best song on the album by far. Though a close second is the bonus track "Viper King". I get why this is not on the official album, it's a far cry from a normal DT song: a 4 minute Deep Purple/Van Halen laden romp about the Dodge Viper. It's awesome. It's the most energetic, fun and human song on the album, and frankly more than most DT songs. Even LaBrie sounds really good! Sorry DT loyalists/"prog or it's not even music" believers. I would LOVE for the band to do a whole album in the vein of Viper King.

THREE AND A HALF STARS

 Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95 by DREAM THEATER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.33 | 43 ratings

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Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars 'Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95' is the second release in Dream Theater's live series of official bootlegs. Recorded in 1995 (the clue's in the title!), it shows a fairly young band who, while playing immaculately, are still polishing off and refining their live shows.

With only three studio albums and one EP under their belts at this point, the set list seems fairly limited by today's standards, especially as the band don't play anything from their debut, and miss two pretty important tracks from their seminal 'Images & Words' album. Still, it's a look back at the band in their early days, and the set is pretty solid nonetheless. There's a fair bit of "jamming" added in which does get a little tedious, especially as some of the placements of these sections seem a bit jarring, but again, this is something the band will refine over time.

The sound is okay. The band themselves sound great and everyone is perfectly balanced in the mix. Unfortunately the audience are barely audible, which, considering this is a live album, is a little bit of a shame. Vocalist James LaBrie trying to get the crowd to sing only for the listener to receive near-silence in response is a bit of a letdown.

But otherwise, this is a decent enough release. The performances from all involved are fantastic, including LaBrie, who struggled enough live as it was, even before his infamous food poisoning incident, and there are a few added in extras that make this worth having for fans, such as an acoustic guitar version of piano ballad 'Wait for Sleep'. While this pales in comparison to the bands later official live albums, it's still cool to hear them in their earlier days, making this a worthy addition to any fans collection.

Thanks to [email protected] for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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