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Dream Theater - A Change Of Seasons CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.68 | 677 ratings

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The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars More than half of this EP is made of rather boring, pointless covers. Nevertheless, I think it's an essential release, if only for the title track alone. It's one of my favorite songs of all time, and being more objective, is DT at its best.

The song starts with chords in electro acoustic guitar, giving the idea of birth, of beginning. After this slow, classy introduction, the whole band kicks off with a powerful prog-metal answer to the intro's quiet mood; Portnoy seems to be hitting his drum heads harder than usual here. The intro continues to develop and grow in strength (but not in loudness) until the complex patterns kind of explode and collapse making way for the song's second section. A double-bass drum-supported riff in guitar marks the beginning of the first vocal part. La Brie sings in his usual melodic, musical voice, without raising the tone too much until the chorus of this chapter arrives, its music the same riff heard at the start of the verse. After a repetition, a new section begins, this one atmospheric, cold, quiet, icy; here we have LaBrie at his best: melodic singing, beautiful; this section reeks of lost hope, of remembrance of the past, of feeling of the past being better than the present. Suddenly the mood gets stormier, LaBrie gets somewhat angry, there's no more apathy, there's confrontation. The longest instrumental section in the song now unfolds, and it's truly one of DT's best: lots of changes, odd time riffs and time signatures, keyboards leading the pack, a tension that gets bigger and bigger until a fast solo of bass, guitar and keys together playing the same scales in unison gives the signal that we are aproaching the limit. A few great drum fills by Portnoy with his trademark splash-cymbal-hit-when-everything-else-abruptly-stops and, like air coming to the lungs of a drowning person, the new part starts: this is really the most wonderful section in this song. It's so releasing, it relieves us so much; after all that tension, we don't get happiness, we get sadness, resignation, coming to senses. The music in itself is pretty simple here, but melodic, beautiful. Then, a moment of ambivalence, doubt, ambiguity; we don't know if the despair we just heard is final. Then, as in magic, everything suddenly changes: somebody turned a switch, for the most triumphant section begins. But this is not a heroic triumph, not a war victory, it is more a victory for finally understanding that everything has a reason, that the storm shall pass, that is necessary to suffer in order to grow up. Maturing, but always keeping the inner child alive. As the songs nears its end, the character sits with his son to watch the crimson sunset, and finally, the return of the acoustic chords of the beginning, the cycle complete, structural unity.

Not only is the song great, but the lyrics are very good too. If I have always found a flaw in DT's art is in their lyrics, which sometimes are not up to par, but here Portnoy did it, he managed to support the music with a meaningful narrative, an intelligent story told in first person. He gave LaBrie's instrument a good canvas for him to paint upon.

The rest of the disc? Covers. I don't like covers. I won't discuss here why I don't, but I must explain why I ignore the rest of this EP.

A fair rating would be: 5/5 for the first half, 1/5 for the second one. In average, that would be 3/5, but I have to emphasize the obligation every metal (and prog-metal) fan has to get this album. Thus, I'll be awarding the maximum rating as an essential masterpiece of prog-metal.

And believe me, "A Change of Seasons," the song, deserves it.

Get it. Now.

The T | 5/5 |


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