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DREAM THEATER

Progressive Metal • United States


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Dream Theater biography
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, making an initial run of 1,000 tapes. The tapes, to the band's surprise sold out relatively quickly, which was aided also by the band's distribution of the tapes to friends, family, local rock and metal magazines.

Only a few months after the release...
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Buy DREAM THEATER Music


Dream TheaterDream Theater
Roadrunner Records 2013
Audio CD$12.99
$10.44 (used)
Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a MemoryMetropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory
Elektra 1999
Audio CD$2.90
$1.57 (used)
The Studio Albums 1992-2011The Studio Albums 1992-2011
Box set
Roadrunner 2014
Audio CD$42.27
$43.96 (used)
OctavariumOctavarium
Atlantic 2005
Audio CD$2.31
$0.14 (used)
Images & WordsImages & Words
Atlantic 1992
Audio CD$2.97
$0.10 (used)
Six Degrees of Inner TurbulenceSix Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Wea/Elektra Entertainment 2002
Audio CD$3.90
$2.37 (used)
Change of SeasonsChange of Seasons
Atlantic 1995
Audio CD$2.84
$1.53 (used)
AwakeAwake
Atlantic 1994
Audio CD$2.97
$0.24 (used)
Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium OrchestraDream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
Multiple Formats
Rhino 2006
DVD$6.39
$3.84 (used)
Train of ThoughtTrain of Thought
Elektra 2003
Audio CD$2.40
$0.84 (used)
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Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From A Memory - CD 1999 US $4.81 [0 bids]
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Dream Theater - Falling Into Infinity - CD (1997) US $4.81 [0 bids]
14h 16m
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14h 16m
A Change of Seasons [EP] by Dream Theater (Cassette, Sep-1995, Elektra (Label)) US $4.99 [0 bids]
14h 19m
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14h 54m
Dream Theater "Once In A Livetime" 2CD Live 1998 EastWest Records Mike Portnoy US $3.00 [0 bids]
14h 56m
Dream Theater "Octavarium" CD 2005 Atlantic James LaBrie John Petrucci US $1.50 [0 bids]
14h 57m
Dream Theater - Images And Words NEW CD US $7.65 Buy It Now 15h 9m
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15h 36m
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1 day
Awake by Dream Theater (CD, Oct-1994, Elektra (Label)) US $1.50 [0 bids]
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Falling into Infinity by Dream Theater (CD, Sep-1997, Elektra (Label)) US $1.50 [0 bids]
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Dream Theater A Dramatic Turn of Events 12" Double LP US $20.00 [0 bids]
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More places to buy DREAM THEATER music online Buy DREAM THEATER & Prog Rock Digital Music online:
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DREAM THEATER shows & tickets


  • an Evening with Dream Theater, Along for The Ride Tour 2014 on 26 Oct 2014
  • Dream Theater at Palais Theatre, St Kilda on 29 Oct 2014
  • An Evening with Dream Theater on 30 Oct 2014

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)

3.22 | 931 ratings
When Dream And Day Unite
1989
4.29 | 2090 ratings
Images And Words
1992
4.11 | 1539 ratings
Awake
1994
3.33 | 1132 ratings
Falling Into Infinity
1997
4.28 | 2159 ratings
Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory
1999
4.13 | 1463 ratings
Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence
2002
3.58 | 1384 ratings
Train Of Thought
2003
3.65 | 1557 ratings
Octavarium
2005
3.32 | 1321 ratings
Systematic Chaos
2007
3.44 | 1231 ratings
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
2009
3.90 | 1241 ratings
A Dramatic Turn Of Events
2011
3.42 | 505 ratings
Dream Theater
2013

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

3.60 | 292 ratings
Live At The Marquee
1993
3.24 | 283 ratings
Once In A Livetime
1998
4.57 | 403 ratings
Live Scenes From New York
2001
4.24 | 352 ratings
Live At Budokan
2004
4.46 | 403 ratings
Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.80 | 30 ratings
Happy Holidays
2013

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

4.16 | 140 ratings
Images And Words - Live In Tokyo
1993
4.35 | 325 ratings
Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York
2001
3.72 | 152 ratings
Live in Tokyo/5 Years in a Livetime
2004
3.98 | 95 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite [Official Bootleg]
2004
4.30 | 324 ratings
Live at Budokan
2004
3.50 | 38 ratings
A Walk Beside The Band
2005
4.40 | 344 ratings
Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.96 | 106 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
3.79 | 67 ratings
Bucharest, Romania 7/4/02
2007
3.45 | 181 ratings
Chaos In Motion 2007/2008
2008
2.28 | 56 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 5 Other Pretty Cool Videos)
2008
3.56 | 34 ratings
Live at Tokyo Sun Plaza
2009
3.94 | 62 ratings
Live at Luna Park
2013
4.13 | 13 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)

2.07 | 151 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 21 other pretty cool songs)
2008
3.97 | 22 ratings
Original Album Series
2011

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

2.84 | 26 ratings
Afterlife
1989
3.22 | 26 ratings
Status Seeker
1989
2.77 | 20 ratings
The ATCO Demos
1991
2.86 | 48 ratings
Another Day
1992
3.62 | 41 ratings
Pull Me Under
1992
2.85 | 37 ratings
Caught In A Web
1994
3.75 | 48 ratings
The Silent Man
1994
2.94 | 43 ratings
Lie
1994
3.64 | 525 ratings
A Change Of Seasons
1995
3.05 | 52 ratings
Hollow Years
1997
3.74 | 23 ratings
Once In A LIVEtime Outtakes (International Fan Club CD 1998)
1998
3.02 | 48 ratings
Cleaning Out The Closet
1999
3.14 | 49 ratings
Through Her Eyes
2000
1.94 | 25 ratings
Christmas 2000 Fan Club CD
2000
1.87 | 25 ratings
4 degrees of Radio edits
2002
3.13 | 15 ratings
When Demos and Singles Unite
2002
2.94 | 31 ratings
Taste The Memories
2003
2.91 | 27 ratings
Graspop Festival 2002 (International Fanclub CD 2003)
2003
3.12 | 37 ratings
The Making Of Scenes From A Memory
2003
2.77 | 80 ratings
The Number Of The Beast
2003
1.91 | 90 ratings
Master Of Puppets
2003
2.65 | 27 ratings
Los Angeles, California 5/18/98
2003
3.22 | 27 ratings
Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95
2003
2.86 | 39 ratings
The Majesty Demos 1985 - 1986 [Official bootleg]
2003
3.64 | 27 ratings
A Sort Of Homecoming
2004
3.27 | 26 ratings
Images and Words: Demos 1989 - 1991 [Official Bootleg]
2004
3.77 | 55 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite
2004
2.67 | 18 ratings
When Dream And Day Unite Demos 1987-1989
2004
3.32 | 104 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
2.26 | 27 ratings
Awake Demos
2006
3.02 | 25 ratings
Old Bridge, New JERSEY - 12/14/96
2006
3.62 | 49 ratings
Made in Japan [Official Bootleg]
2006
3.47 | 27 ratings
Images and Words - 15th Anniversary Performance (Fan Club CD 2007)
2007
4.11 | 57 ratings
Falling Into Infinity: Demos 1996-1997 [Official Bootleg]
2007
3.15 | 34 ratings
Constant Motion
2007
3.57 | 29 ratings
New York City 3/4/93
2007
3.38 | 8 ratings
Progressive Nation 2008 - The International Fan Clubs CD 2008
2008
2.46 | 51 ratings
Forsaken
2008
2.55 | 62 ratings
A Rite of Passage
2009
3.07 | 68 ratings
Stargazer
2009
3.36 | 65 ratings
Tenement Funster/Flick Of The Wrist/Lily Of The Valley
2009
3.63 | 49 ratings
Odyssey
2009
3.43 | 44 ratings
Take Your Fingers From My Hair
2009
3.16 | 62 ratings
Larks Tongues In Aspic, Pt. 2
2009
3.20 | 66 ratings
Wither
2009
3.00 | 36 ratings
Uncovered 2003-2005
2009
2.45 | 22 ratings
The Making of Falling Into Infinity
2009
2.72 | 23 ratings
Train of Thought Instrumental Demos 2003
2009
3.56 | 109 ratings
On the Backs of Angels
2011
3.15 | 59 ratings
The Enemy Inside
2013
4.27 | 11 ratings
Illumination Theory
2014

DREAM THEATER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.28 | 2159 ratings

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Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by gavharr

2 stars DT were, according to history some kind of pioneers in this genre. And they can play their respective instruments. Still I think this band and, especially this album, is seriously overrated. That does not mean I find it completely uninteresting. I just think that there are many albums in this genre that shows better songwriting, more tasteful soloing and musicianship in general.

"Regression" is not musically of interest, but is important because of the concept.

"Overture 1928" Has the very memorable intro with Portnoy hitting the snare accompanied by a cheesy synth theme. The guitars enter and we are in for some wankery, adding nothing of interest.

"Strange Deja Vu" Is partially good, and would have been even better if this band had a good vocalist. That said it's a track with some good riffage and not too much wankery. I really don't think it contains very memorable melodies, but it has a nice flow, and an interesting structure.

"Through My Words" Nice little piece with piano and vocals. Good in context, but it isn't a track you would play by itself.

"Fatal Tragedy" This track is significantly insignificant. No memorable melodies, and unconvincing wanking. In fact half of the songs 7 minutes are wankery. Not my kind of prog...

"Beyond This Life" This track is mean in a good way! Tha starting riff makes me want to (Head)bang. Not a big fan of the synth sounds, but the guitar playing makes up for it. I don't like LaBrie's voice, but in this track I think he conveys the lyrics in a convincing and good manner. Thumbs up. I also think the soloing in this song(for the most part) is good. It fits the sinister vibe of the song. STILL, I wonder how good this song would be if these guys knew how to restrain themselves. They could have cut it down 4 minutes, and end up with a better track.

"Through Her Eyes" WARNING: This song contains memorable melodies! And I quite like that. Also I like the piano and the fretless bass. Still, I wonder how this would have sounded with a guy like Daniel Gildenlöw behind the mic. Easy on the ears this one, which is great after the last one.

"Home" Nice intro with some eastern influences and a Tool-like bass riff. Then along comes Portnoy with a comical take on drumrolls. This guy could'nt play a decent drumroll if his life depended on it. That said, he is a very creative and powerful drummer. Overall an OK track.

"The Dance of Eternity" HORRENDOUS! Is this actually music. It holds no value to me. It's like a bad version of Toto's "Dave's Gone Skiing" on speed. Still I know people which I like and respect who loves this piece of S**T.

"One Last Time" LaBrie's best performance on the record. I can in fact hear every word he is singing. Also this song is short, which in this case is just fine...

"The Spirit Carries On" This song is alright. It has guitar soloing that actually resembles melody and is kind of soothing to listen to. I know many people have a problem with the gospel. I don't. I like it. This is probably one of the best songs on this record. It showcases songwriting more than skill. No "Take The Time", but still quite enjoyable.

"Finally Free" This title kind of sums up my feelings at the end of this listening experience. This track is not too bad though. But overall this album is not up to par even with the best from this band, and miles away from records like Symphony X's "V" or "Pagan's Mind's "Celestial Entrance"

That said it is ok. Not good though, so I'll give it 2 stars.

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 Breaking The Fourth Wall (Live From The Boston Opera House) by DREAM THEATER album cover DVD/Video, 2014
4.13 | 13 ratings

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Breaking The Fourth Wall (Live From The Boston Opera House)
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by rdtprog
Special Collaborator Heavy Prog Team

4 stars It seems like it was just yesterday that the Luna Park DVD was released. Now it's another one from the Boston Opera House less than a year later. The show is divided in three acts. The first act is tracks from the last two albums and the song "A Trial of Tears" from "Falling to Infinity". The second act is 5 songs from the "Awake" album to celebrate his 20th anniversary and the third act is the encore celebrating again "Scene from a Memory" with his 15th anniversary. On those 2 albums, the band use the same pattern by starting to play the technical, fast and heavy songs like "The Mirror", "Lie", "Overture 1928" and "Strange Déjà Vu" and finishing with the slower and emotional songs like "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream", "Space Dye Vest" and "Finally Free".

"The Illumination Theory", the most progressive and the epic song of the last album is played with an orchestra in the second act which is the perfect fit with this song that contains an irresistible classical break in the middle. The picture is crystal clear and the camera work more satisfying than the "Luna Park" DVD. As for the sound, I had to crank up the volume very high to get the full sound. Again, I wish we could hear John Myung louder, but that's what happens on live recording, it rarely match the sound quality of a studio release. James Labrie's voice is in nice shape as well as all others members. It's another nice addition to your Dream Theater collection. 3. 8 stars.

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 Dream Theater by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2013
3.42 | 505 ratings

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Dream Theater
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Progulator

2 stars Dream Theater: perhaps one of the most hated and loved bands in the prog community. A new release from this band that has arguably had the biggest influence on the prog metal community is always up for discussion. Finding myself to be a mild fan, and often a harsh critic of the band, I certainly was intrigued to see what all the post-Portnoy drama would conclude with, what type of album they would make with Mangini fully behind the drum-kit from day one of songwriting.

Well, in the end, I must say I was pretty underwhelmed by the album, which certainly has all the old Dream Theater trademarks, but doesn't seem to really tread any new ground and is often plagued with bad transitions. The album kicks it off with "False Awakening Suite," a decent intro which comes off as a sort of heavier version of the 6 Degrees Overture crossed over with a bit of Symphony X. The single, "The Enemy Inside" shows an aggressive and metal approach with a bit more orchestral bombast than the band traditionally employs, while "Looking Glass" is clearly a Rush fanboy track, although it is decently well done; I admit that Petrucci's solo on this track is brilliant?incorporating dynamic phrasing through a variety of techniques and pairing them with enjoyable melodies. "The Enigma Machine" ends up being a bit of a bland instrumental that incorporates a few redeeming heavy/melodic moments, while "The Bigger Picture" comes off as mostly sappy. "Behind the Veil" starts off with a subtle but powerful intro that uses lots of great synths and a glorious choir sound, but when the guitars come in it feels like they randomly slapped a new song that didn't mesh with the intro. If you're into the classic fast, doubled classic DT instrumental madness, there is a bit of that awesomeness on this track though. "Along for the Ride" is perhaps the best arranged piece on the album, but the level of corny ballad on this one is so extreme that I'll certainly skip it in the future. Finally, the epic, "Illumination Theory" closes off the album. In comparison to other epics it is a bit weak, featuring the good (fun rhythms, majestic symphonic sections), the bad (the transitions between sections often break down), and the ugly (Labrie's vocals are an absolute nightmare on this one and he nearly ruins it). If you're into classic pieces like "The Dance of Eternity" though, you'll certainly be blown away by the insanely technical awesome instrumental section after the ambient middle section; Mangini absolutely kills it on drums, followed by some great soloing from JP, and then there's even a bit of vocal redemption by Labrie that is most uplifting.

Clearly the last paragraph didn't have a lot of positive things to say about the album. But like I said, what we get is about usual from DT with just a little more mess, a little less cohesion between sections, and the same generic ol' same ol' DT sound. Bonus though: if you're a bass player you'll finally get to hear John Myung in the mix, which is quite fun indeed.

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 Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.28 | 2159 ratings

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Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Obsidian Pigeon

2 stars I was never the biggest Dream Theater fan. I do remember getting Images and Words and really enjoying that album for a time, and I still do like quite a lot of the songs on there, but all of their other work that I've heard has really underwhelmed me. This album, despite the hype that helped convince me to check it out, failed to really grab my attention.

I find that while the songwriting is not bad, I simply do not really like Dream Theater's new style that they adopted after Awake, which is another album by them that I do enjoy. I attempted several times to listen to this album, but to no avail. I know that many people really enjoy this album, and I was hoping to really enjoy it, as some even consider this album better than Images and Words. I remain fairly unconvinced.

Dream Theater made an album that many deem a classic here, and for that reason I really feel bad with the rating that I am awarding this. However, I personally could never enjoy this album nor really any of the music on here as much as their earlier works, and I feel compelled to rate this album based on how I feel it stacks up against their other releases.

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 Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.28 | 2159 ratings

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Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by JCDenton

5 stars Marvelous album. I absolutely love each track. The album finds a good balance between the faster heavier recordings and switches into laid-back tunes nearly flawlessly. The band doesn't just make a bunch of unrelated good prog songs. Even the songs that aren't Prog at all sound great and entirely relevant. It's hard to pick highlight songs because every track feels important. The ominous horror of "Finally Free" sticks out to me, as do the stunning showcase of talents on "Dance of Eternity", but "Fatal Tragedy" is my favorite. This is an album I could listen to every day.

I know most of this review wasn't so explanatory of the music here. In short, it's dynamic, and the high peaks in volume and technicality is accompanied by Jordan Ruddess. He's a great addition to this album. All the band plays an incredible performance in a excellently written, intricate album.

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 Awake by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.11 | 1539 ratings

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Awake
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by k3no444

4 stars This five-piece from Boston consists of some of the most influential musicians in their respective instruments. With twelve albums released, Dream Theater has sold millions of albums over their lifetime. Varying in styles from progressive rock, to progressive metal, to even glam rock, each album differs in some way from the rest, as you can hear many unique sounds from album to album. I believe of all the albums they have released, one of my favorites has to be their album "Awake."

I noticed immediately that this album was a step in a different direction from their last album "Images and Words." Feeling more metal-oriented, songs like "Caught in a Web" and "The Mirror" are guitar-driven, featuring some of the bands heaviest riffs at the time. Guitarist John Petrucci is showcased in songs like "Erotomania" and "Lie," with his flawless execution of sweep and tremolo picking. Although Petrucci has sections of each song devoted to soloing, they are much more toned-down than previous albums, but are not over-technical, and when they do occur, it is more enjoyable for the listener. Besides such heavy riffs lies songs like "The Silent Man" and "Space-Dyed Vest," in which clean guitar is used and takes a back seat to other members of the band.

The vocals and lyrics are also fantastic in this album thanks to singer James LaBrie. LaBrie's voice is much more controlled in this album, and can be considered much more rugged than high- pitched. His voice is displayed beautifully in voices like "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream," "The Silent Man," and "Voices," which proves the range and quality of his voice.

Both the bass and keyboards help complement each song off the album. Bassist John Myung and keyboarder Kevin Moore have their own sections in this album dedicated specifically to their instrument, being "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream" and "Space-Dyed Vest" respectively. Coincidentally, these two songs happen to be my two favorite songs off this album, containing some of the best overall workmanship by the band as a whole. The darker and more melancholic themes that are so greatly expressed in this album are greatly increased with help from Myung and Moore.

As most of Dream Theater's other albums, I cannot help but focus on the drum track for every song Dream Theater releases. Mike Portnoy, the drummer during the time of this album's release, is magnificent. His flawless hits on the snare, the ease of his time signature changes, and the quality of sound off this album proves Portnoy to be one of the best drummers in progressive metal. His presence is known in songs like "6:00" and "Scarred," where Portnoy relies on other percussion.

I really enjoy listening to this album. I give it a solid 4 star rating.

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 Awake by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.11 | 1539 ratings

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Awake
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by thwok

4 stars I agree with the general population that Awake is one of Dream Theater's best efforts. It belongs in the top five, and deserves at least four stars. "Erotomania" is the first Dream Theater song I ever heard, and I was hooked. It was also the first video I watched on Prog Archives, shortly after I joyously discovered our favorite website! I live in central Illinois, and the FM radio situation here is pretty dire. If It wasn't for PA, I would never even have heard of Dream Theater!

Besides "Erotomania", I also love "Caught in a Web" and "Innocence Faded". In fact, I think the whole first half of the album is brilliant. There isn't a bad song on Awake. If Dream Theater weren't the fine songwriters that they are, I wouldn't care about them. The choice of Kevin Moore versus Jordan Rudess isn't really an issue for me, since neither of them has written much of the material. Awake contains some of DT's best songs IMO, and is worth at least four stars.

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 Systematic Chaos by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2007
3.32 | 1321 ratings

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Systematic Chaos
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by thwok

4 stars I don't understand the relative disdain that my fellow reviewers on PA show for Systematic Chaos. It has the lowest overall rating of Dream Theater's first 10 releases. For me, Systematic Chaos is one of DT's finest releases and deserves at least four stars. I would rather listen to Systematic Chaos than Metropolis 2, to pick one for comparison. Systematic Chaos isn't apparently a concept album, unlike M2. Maybe that makes Systematic Chaos less "prog". Being progressive in the superficial sense of that word isn't the ultimate goal in life. I think the songwriting on Systematic Chaos is generally much better.

The present album has, for me, a lot of DT's most attractive and memorable songs. My personal favorites are "Forsaken" through "Repentance", but I love almost all of it If it is Mike Portnoy singing "The Dark Eternal Night", I think he does a fine job. No, Portnoy can't sing like LaBrie. However, that's why you hire a lead singer. Systematic Chaos has some of LaBrie's finest work; I don't know if there's a DT album where he performs better. My primary complaint with Systematic Chaos is that "The Ministry of Lost Souls" and "In the Presence Pt. 2" are too long back-to-back. Together they make up almost half of the album. It's just too much epicness at once for my tastes. However, that's a minor issue for me. Systematic Chaos is better than some of DT's better-regarded releases IMHO, and fully deserves four stars.

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 Black Clouds & Silver Linings by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.44 | 1231 ratings

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Black Clouds & Silver Linings
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by arcane-beautiful

3 stars After the success of "Systematic Chaos" due to a popularity rise from their record deal with Roadrunner records, the band went back into the studio to record another. Now before it's release, Portnoy's mouth didn't stop running, saying that this album would be like "having "Octavarium", "Pull Me Under" and "A Change Of Seasons" all on the same album." Now this isn't true, basically there's an 8 minute song and 2 songs that are near 20 minutes. But what really is this album like...well to tell you the truth when this album came out...I was disappointed and to this day I'm not as disappointed...but I am still not loving this album.

Musically the band decided to go into a more darker direction. The band have been promising a darker album for ages, so this is what we get, with a lot more focus on minor chords and such. Now, tone wise this isn't too bad. In fact most of the problems lie with the material, which mostly is good. It's just fragments of the songs which really let the tracks down. Some are too long and some are quite weak. One big positive is that this may be the best I've heard James' voice in a very long time, with him pulling off some great vocal moments.

The special edition of this album would be worth getting a buy, because it does feature a bonus disc full of cover songs. Now, the band does do covers pretty well and I won't dwell upon them too much, but there are some interesting versions of these songs. The Queen melody for one is brilliant with a very interesting vocal performance from James LaBrie. "Stargazers" and "To Tame A Land" are also brilliantly crafted too.

The album opener "A Nightmare To Remember" is another song which could have been a brilliant and classic Dream Theater song. Starting off with a riff which is pretty much a slower version of Cradle Of Filths "The Promise Of Fever," showing off extreme metal and black metal influence. The main body has some great twists and turns but the real catcher of this track would have to be the slower part. A brilliantly crafted melody with some great vocal harmonies, this is one of the shining moments on the album. Sadly the track goes into some mediocre instrumental passages and then it happens. A section of the song which has a death metal influence...so the bands crazed drummer decides to take the mic and do one of the worst impersonations of death metal. This has to be one of the most embarrassing moments on the bands career. Luckily there is a live version the band did with Mikael from Opeth doing the growls, and it sounds way better. The song does close off pretty well with some surprising blast beats and luckily it doesn't drag too much. I do feel a lot of this song needed to be trimmed off, but there are moments on this song which are incredibly majestic.

The first single to be dropped from the album "A Rite Of Passage" is probably one of my least favorite Dream Theater songs. It starts off pretty well with a pretty good riff, but the first verse is terrible with stupid effects and reverb on the vocals. Luckily the chorus is pretty good and the second verse does pick up and become more enjoyable, but the instrumental section comes out of nowhere, but I did like the noisy and interesting keyboard solo from Jordan. The lyrics are also a bit poor due to a lack of knowledge about the song's topic (it's about Freemasons by the way). Probably the poorest song on the album.

The song which I would probably agree has no problems on it would be "Wither." The ballad for the album, the song is perfectly crafted and beautifully written. It does verge on cheese at times, but a bit of cheese never hurt anybody. The lyrics which deal with writers block are beautifully written and the wordplay is pretty good too.

"The Shattered Fortress" being the last of the 12 Steps Suite does seem to be a song which is supposed to tie loose ends. Now, after the release of this album, Portnoy did explain that this suite did almost seem like homework at times for the band. Some moments on this song do have some nice moments, but other than that it is basically a re hashing of old ideas from previous songs. I will let some riff slide, but it is very deja vu.

Trying to lay into the "The Best Of Times" is rather tough due to the nature and background of the track (with it being about Portnoy's dad who sadly passed away), but there are some minor flaws. The intro is absolutely beautiful, with some beautiful piano work from Jordan and a brilliant violin accompaniment. Then the song goes into ultra Rush mode. Now being heavily influenced by Rush and Rush being one of Portnoy's father's favorite band, I will let the obvious rip off fly. The lyrics are decent being very direct and personal to Portnoy, but I did prefer his lyricism on "A Change Of Seasons" (being about the death of his mother) to be better due to better crafted metaphors and word play. The song is one of the strongest on the album, but it still could have been handled way better.

"The Count Of Tuscany" starts off with one of the most beautiful sections the band has ever composed with some amazing guitar work from John Petrucci. As the idea expands it then crashes into a metal riff that easily could be found in a Trivium song. Now, riff wise it's not too bad, with LaBrie doing a great delivery of Petrucci's lyrics about a man he met on holiday in Tuscany. The chorus is really what lets this down. While having a great melody, the chorus is ruined by Portnoy's failed attempts at death growls. As the song moves on the instrumental sections are enjoyable with some Zappa influenced synth sounds. Then the song slows down with a Pink Floyd interlude. Then the last 8-9 minutes is one of the best compositions Dream Theater has composed. Very simple in nature, it tells the rest of the story perfectly with some beautiful instrumental passages. Sadly this song could have been so good, a staple in the bands career, but it missed the mark just slightly.

In conclusion, this is probably my least favorite Dream Theater album. But...this album has some of the bands best moments in their whole career. In fact, I find that mostly every song would be a brilliant track, but due to arrangements is usually left feeling very flawed and uninspired. I do blame Portnoy's almost obsessive control over the bands music. Luckily after his departure the band re ignited their former passions. I would recommend this for certain moments, but other than that this album is the perfect example of so close but yet so far.

6.9/10

Genres: Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock, Extreme Metal, Heavy Metal, Hard Rock. Symphonic Metal, Symphonic Rock

Year of release: 2009

Country of origin: USA

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 Awake by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1994
4.11 | 1539 ratings

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Awake
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by arcane-beautiful

5 stars After the incredibly successful "Images & Words", the band where on a pedestal. The problem with releasing a masterpiece is that you have to follow it up with another masterpiece. Now, this album was met with a tiny bit of confusion when released, but I do believe that out of all their albums, this album is probably the one which has aged the best.

The album is definitely a lot more darker than any of Dream Theater's other releases, and I think the reason is because they were a band that got dicked about a lot by their record company. At around this period, metal was starting to go towards a heavier and groovier motion (with the birth of Nu Metal on the rise), so the band where convinced to go heavier. These guys could have really faked this notion and released a god awful Pantera rip off, but the band where able to adopt this style and meld it into their own very successfully.

Sadly this album was the last to feature Kevin Moore. Apparently he became very introverted during the making of this album, but there is something about his playing and sound that I really love on this album. James' vocals are also some of the best I've ever heard him. Sadly this album was made before his tragic vomiting food poisoning incident which damaged his vocal chords. But, for all we know, this album is the one which wrecked his voice.

The opening track "6:00" is a drummers wet dream. Opening off with a very noticeable drum intro the song turns into a pretty great pop metal tune. The rather comical lyrics and sound clips also add a lot of atmosphere to the track too.

"Caught In A Web" is probably one of the most aggressive and heaviest songs the band have released. With some pretty heavy riffs and a brilliant keyboard riff, the song is really propelled by James' incredibly rough and angry vocals.

The album's instrumental "Erotomania" is definitely up there with one of the bands best instrumental pieces. Technically proficient with some pretty great riffs, the song is pretty impressive.

One of my personal favorite tracks has to be "Voices." A brilliant composition with some brilliant arrangements, the song really is a surprising shining moment from the band. With incredibly poetic and cryptic lyrics that deal with mental health, the song is a beautiful and twisted tune with some very haunting moments.

A very weird choice for a single, "The Silent Man" is an acoustic ballad. With a very nice arrangement with some nice lyrics and a great performance from James, the song is very touching. I have had a great history with this song (having covered it a lot of times myself) and is up there with one of my favorite Dream Theater ballads.

A song that has started to grow on me would be "Lifting Shadows Off A Dream." I do think this is a bit of a rip off of U2's sound, but the poetic lyrics and great keyboard riffs do save this song. I know a lot of fans really like this song, but I do know when to call a bluff a a bluff, and this is a bit of a bluff.

The album's longest track "Scarred" is a very interesting tune. With some pretty cool riffs and a pretty mad vocal performance from James, the song really comes to a climax with an amazing instrumental section in the middle of the track.

The album closer "Space-Dye Vest" is a very different moment for the band. Being a solo composition from Kevin Moore, the song is a very minimalist composition with very simple keyboard riffs and a low pitched vocal performance from James. Brilliant ending to the album.

In conclusion, this album is pretty much a classic Dream Theater album. After making the album of their career in "Images & Words" and go through some serious turbulence, the band came back with a dark and brooding masterpiece. It may not be my favorite Dream Theater album, but it definitely is a milestone in the bands career.

8.9/10

Genres: Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock, Heavy Metal, Groove Metal, Hard Rock, Pop Rock

Country of origin: USA

Year of release: 1994

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