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Dream Theater- Saviors of Prog Metal (A History)

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Topic: Dream Theater- Saviors of Prog Metal (A History)
Posted By: AtLossForWords
Subject: Dream Theater- Saviors of Prog Metal (A History)
Date Posted: July 31 2006 at 23:22

Dream Theater- Saviors of Progressive Metal (A History and Impact)


            Amongst the controversy surrounding one of Progressive Metal’s most successful bands, I believe some may sometimes forget just how important this band is to one of the most amazing genres of progression, Progressive Metal.

            Dream Theater’s roots trace back to the Berklee school of music in ’85 where drummer Mike Portnoy, bassist John Myung, and guitarist John Petrucci formed the amazing project.  Keyboardist Kevin Moore, a high school friend of John Petrucci’s, and vocalist Chris Collins (never released on a Dream Theater album) later joined the band.  The quintet decided on the name Majesty (the YTSE Jam piece and YTSE jammers organization are in reference to this).  The Majesty name was thought of by Mike Portnoy in reference to the outro of a Rush song “Bastille Day”.  With growing dedication and potential of the band, the three Berklee attendees dropped out in order to give their full attention to the progress of the band.  The band is casually referred to as “The Berklee Dropouts” by critics and fans alike.

            Due to creative differences, Chris Collins left the band in ‘86.  He was replaced by Charlie Dominici.  Dominici was considerably older than the band’s other members, and he later was fired due to creative differences after the release of “When Dream and Day Unite” the band’s debut album under their new name Dream Theater.  The reason being another band named Majesty threatened legal action.  Mike Portnoy’s father later suggested the band call themselves Dream Theater, the name of an old demolished theater in Monterey, California.

            The debut album “When Dream and Day Unite” was released on Mechanic (a division of MCA records) in ‘89.  This was the only release to feature Charlie Dominici as a vocalist.  This release was a clear synthesis of something new.  It wasn’t quite metal, even with the heavy guitar rhythms, but it wasn’t quite the brand of Progressive Rock showcased by one of the band’s biggest influences Rush.  Dream Theater was a band that was growing a new scene, together with Queensryche and Fates Warning, Dream Theater were the beginning of a new genre most accurately described as Progressive Metal. 

            After the release, Charlie Dominici’s time with the band was nearing an end.  Shortly after the band fired him, Marillion had asked Dream Theater to open for them at the Ritz in their home town of New York City.  This was Dominici’s final performance with the band.  Thus the search for a new voice began.

            During the time auditions were being held for a new vocalist, the band had begun writing material for their next album.  Many dignified vocalists including former Fates Warning vocalist John Arch were turned down.  The search became so unproductive, the band had considered continuing on only as an instrumental band.  The latest pieces “Metropolis”, “Take the Time”, and “Learning to Live” being strong reasons as to why a vocalist wasn’t’ necessary for the success of the band.  Then in ’91 a tape arrived from a Canadian band Winter Rose.  The band unanimously approved that this tape was the best fit for a new voice of the band.  The voice was that of Kevin James LaBrie, who was flown to New York, and after a short jam session with the band, was hired as the new vocalist.  LaBrie then became known as his middle name James to avoid confusion with keyboardist Kevin Moore.  The band already had two Johns and adding another Kevin was considered to just be too much hassle.

            After arranging vocal parts for the new material, the band resumed playing live, and signed a contract with Elektra for seven albums given solely on their reputation, debut album, and three song demo released only through it’s fan club! 

            The first album released on this label was ‘92’s “Images and Words”.  This was arguably the first true Progressive Metal album that sold considerably well being certified as a “gold” release reaching 61st on Billboards charts, which is great considering how difficult Progressive Metal is to market.  A case can be made for Queensryche’s “Operaration Mindcrime”, but experts consider such a release to fall more on the side of Heavy Metal than Progressive Metal.  What’s important how much of an impact both bands had made, becoming two of the best selling acts since the height of Progressive Rock almost twenty-two years ago.  The only other band in the genre which met with such success was Tool, who released their albums “Undertow” and “Aenima” at least one year after that of Dream Theater, and received considerably more magazine press including that from Rolling Stone.  Tool didn’t even receive the Progressive Metal tag until the release of “Lateralus”.  Tool makes a strong case, but the controversy regarding their genre makes it difficult recognize their achievements as a Progressive Metal band. 

            In ’94 Dream Theater released their second studio album.  The album “Awake” featured a darker and heavier side.  It sadly was the final release featuring keyboardist Kevin Moore, who was no longer amused by the lifestyle of a touring musician, and the brand of Progressive Metal Dream Theater played.  Moore made great contributions to the band both lyrically, and as a composer.  Without Moore, songs like “Wait For Sleep” and “Space Dye Vest” (featured on Awake) never would have come to be.  Moore went on to have a rewarding career with his solo project and Chroma Key.  Dream Theater, a band that had just two years of peace in a decade that had given them almost constant flux for eight years was now faced with another new challenge of finding a new member. 

            Jordan Rudess, who was somewhat unknown at the time, was given the shot to play with the band in California.  After being offered the job full-time he declined it in order to play with the Dixie Dregs.  Dream Theater then turned to hired-gun Derek Sherinian for their next two releases.  Sherinian like Portnoy, Petrucci, and Myung attended Berklee, but unlike the three graduated. 

            From fan petitions to the Elektra, Dream Theater finally was allowed to treat their fans with a release of their first twenty minute epic “A Change of Seasons”.  The song was originally cut down by Elektra because they didn’t feel the public could digest a 140 minute double album.  The band returned to producer Dave Prator who produced the bands second album “Images and Words” to recreate the atmosphere they had originally intended for the piece back in ’92.  The result thrilled fans.  Sherinian’s schooling gave him more of a jazzy style, much different from Moore.  “A Change of Seasons” the epic was a much colder atmosphere than the band had ever recorded, but the EP also featured a live performance of cover songs played at Ronnie Scotts jazz club featuring medleys of Deep Purple, Rush, Genesis, Kansas, and even Elton John songs.

            Next was the release of “Falling Into Infinity” in ’97.  This was another time of Dream Theater getting the shaft.  Elektra forced pop lyricist Desmond Child on the band rewrite the lyrics to John Petrucci’s “You or Me” which became “You Not Me”, and barely resembled that of the original.  The album was poppier, and was not well received by Dream Theater’s sophisticated fanbase of Prog enthusiasts.  The album featured some very progressive compositions like “Trial of Tears”, “New Millennium”, and “Lines in the Sand”, but in the end Dream Theater just didn’t have control of the album and it showed.  Mike Portnoy has said that the band’s original plan was to do a twenty minute epic likely titled “Metropolis Part II”, but the record company refused to give him the go.  The album was a complete flop amongst most fans, but in a weird way it was good, because Dream Theater now had the power to create an album the way they wanted to.

            In ’99 Dream Theater released “Metropolis Part II: Scenes From a Memory”.  Jordan Rudess had joined as a full-time member adding an entirely new dimension to their sound with the cutting-edge synth technology he used to create unique sonic soundscapes (he talks about this in detail on the “Live at Budokan” DVD).  “Scenes” was an album that Dream had spent the whole later half of their career trying to create.  The album was a huge success amongst fans, and it even created some new ones.  Dream Theater had successfully reached out to their fans after the disappointment they were forced to give back in ’97.  They commemorated the album with a full live performance in their home town of New York City, featuring a gospel choir and an actor for the hypnotherapist all captured on DVD.  Where they finally released a live performance of “A Change of Seasons” in it’s entirety for the first time along with “A Mind Besides Itself” and “Learning to Live”.  The album is even the top ranking Progressive Metal album, and has received a perfect rating from over 70% of reviewers. 

            In ’02 Dream Theater released “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence” their first double album and the band’s most commercially successful album since “Awake” reaching forty-third on the charts.  The first disc contains the bands most experimental material they have recorded to date, and the second disc is a fan favorite forty-two minute epic.  The band followed up with “Train of Thought” and “Octavarium” in ’03 and ’05 respectively.  Octavarium is the bands most commercially successful album since “Images and Words” making it to thirty-sixth on charts.  The album featured a twenty-four minute title track with a small lyrical section giving tribute to the band’s influences and favorites such as Genesis, The Beatles, Spock’s Beard, King Crimson, ELP, and Yes on the eve of their twentieth anniversary.  The band has finished their twentieth anniversary tour with a performance in Radio City New York, featuring an orchestra for half of the show.  It’s to be released on DVD titled “Score” I for one cannot wait for this release of considerable hype. 

            Dream Theater is a band that is not only respectable because of the great musicians they are, but because they had overcome incredible odds for the first fifteen years of their career.  They’ve fought through numerous member changes, identity crisis, and record label tyranny.  These guys are workaholics too.  John Petrucci and John Myung have both been regular columnists for Guitar Player and Bass Player magazines respectively throughout their career, as has Mike Portnoy who has also been acknowledged by Modern Drummer magazine as a “Musician of the Year”.   They do this not just to reach out to fans, but to all musicians.  They keep their fans consistently pleased releasing official bootlegs, fan club releases, and live albums including unplugged shows, and full live performances of “Number of the Beast” and “Master of Puppets”.  They also have given guests appearances to the likes of Howe, Hogarth, Greenbaum, and Rothery with a touring parter resume of Deep Purple, Emerson Lake and Palmer, Iron Maiden, Joe Satriani, King's X, Marillion, Megadeth, In Flames, Pain of Salvation, Porcupine  Tree, Queensr˙che, Spock's Beard, Fear Factory, Enchant, Symphony X, and Yes.  The members also have put together numerous side projects like Transatlatnic, Liquid Tension Experiment, and The Jelly Jam.

            I just can’t believe this band, the guests they’ve had, the stages they’ve shared, the adversity they have overcome just to remian a band, and most importantly the music they make.  Petrucci and Portnoy even run their own forums and will occasionally find time to chat it up with fans.  Few bands can reach out to their fans they way Dream Theater can.  The work that these guys do is amazing, not just in quality, but sheer numbers.  Maybe the band’s music may not appeal to you, but the impact they have had on Progressive Metal and musicians is undeniable.  Everytime a musician picks up his intrument and learns the music, everytime a fan listeners to their albums, and everytime a reviwer reviews an album or performance is evidence of the lasting impact of this band.  The amount of creativity and variation they put into every album can represent the full of their fanbase and the tides of their career.

You can easily make a case for how Queensryche or Tool are the savoirs of Progressive Metal, but they just haven't had the impact on the genre the way Dream Theater has.  I've commented on both bands earlier, but I want to comment just a little more on Dream Theater now.  Dream Theater was the first band that actually combined Progressive Rock and Heavy Metal influences in a more progressive way.  Queensryche effectively innovated off of the Heavy Metal influence, and Tool was able to combine unique progressive atmospheres with metal, but they didn't do so until the halfway point of their current careeer.  Dream Theater did what none of those bands did, they ushered in a genre.  Queensryche and Tool can't make quite the same claim.  Dream Theaer is responsible for all of the technique oriented metal albums out there that break the stereotype of metal being all about riffs.  They were the first metal band to effectively use keyboards in a progressive way, and the bands in the scene today are a confirmation of that influence being spread.  See Zero Hour, Clockwork, Andromeda, and Symphony X for proof.


"Mastodon sucks giant monkey balls."

Posted By: KoS
Date Posted: July 31 2006 at 23:29
Nice historyClap
of course ever DT already knows this
heres  a drink or two

Posted By: The Miracle
Date Posted: July 31 2006 at 23:32
Niiiice TlossyThumbs Up

Kinda obvious, but nicely written nonethelessHug

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Posted By: Bj-1
Date Posted: August 01 2006 at 09:40

Excellent work! Approve

RIO/AVANT/ZEUHL - The best thing you can get with yer pants on!" rel="nofollow - EXERIOR Experimental tech/death/progmetal from Norway!

Posted By: Dalezilla
Date Posted: August 01 2006 at 12:09
Well written!! Clap

Posted By: Barla
Date Posted: August 01 2006 at 12:29

Well done !! Seems like you spent a lot of time and effort writing this !! Clap

Posted By: MajesterX
Date Posted: August 07 2006 at 10:15
Good....but it seemed to be just about the exact same thing as the wikepedia article +/- a couple of things. 


Posted By: DarkMoMo
Date Posted: May 19 2007 at 19:50
well, not all forget the relevance of this band.

Posted By: Drew
Date Posted: May 19 2007 at 20:04
What made you write this?


Posted By: el böthy
Date Posted: June 30 2007 at 17:16
so.. you like Dream Theater, eh?

"You want me to play what, Robert?"

Posted By: SoundsofSeasons
Date Posted: August 02 2007 at 19:05

" of the most amazing genres of progression, Progressive Metal." Well obviously you seem to think so, lol Tongue. But, ya good job. Seems if anyone can become a professional musician it would be a band straight out of a prestigous school like the Berkley School of Music. Geez, I wonder how they got in Confused.

1 Chronicles 13:7-9

Then David and all Israel played music before God with all their might, with singing, on harps, on stringed instruments, on tambourines, on cymbals, and with trumpets.

Posted By: activetopics
Date Posted: September 23 2007 at 11:03
Very nice. Buy Score and watch the documentary and you'd discover that you wasted your time reading that :P just kidding good stuff! 

Posted By: Angelo
Date Posted: September 23 2007 at 11:18
Nicely written! I lost track of DT after Images & Words (bought the albums, hardly ever listened Shocked), but this may just get me into listening again some time.

(I only hope that MajesterX is mistaken in implying plagiarism from Wikipedia here... Confused)

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Posted By: Petrovsk Mizinski
Date Posted: January 12 2008 at 00:09
Good Job on the blogThumbs%20Up
Originally posted by el b�thy el b�thy wrote:

so.. you like Dream Theater, eh?
I think you might just be on the money thereTongue


Posted By: The T
Date Posted: January 12 2008 at 22:45


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