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Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.84 | 1779 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars To say that Dream Theater saved 2011 for me might be a bit of an overstatement, but they certainly renewed my enthusiasm for prog in the last quarter of this year. Being a fan of the band in only the most casual of senses, I was only looking forward to A Dramatic Turn of Events as much as any other album. However, after a lot of nursing and casual spins, I've come to really love it, and it's become one of my favorites of the year.

While other reviews will probably make big notes about the lineup change and how this affects the overall sound of the album, I will not pretend to be well versed enough with Dream Theater to be able to tell a difference. I did somewhat follow the departure of Mike Portnoy and the arrival of Mike Mangini, though who they picked as their new drummer would never really have been of much importance to me. I cannot speak to how the drumming on this album is different, but I can say that it is fine from the perspective of somebody who knows very little about it.

Now then, on to things I know a little more about. I find A Dramatic Turn of Events to be a very enthralling album. It's loud, fast, and the long guitar and keyboard runs in between vocal passages are some of the best I've ever heard. The album is made up of nine songs, five of which hover around the 10 minute mark. These songs contain the best of what the band can offer, with particular praise going to "Lost Not Forgotten" and "Breaking All Illusions," both of which are very dynamic and contain great instrumental breaks. The shorter songs are generally not as good, but serve their purpose to give a brief break between the longer ones. However, while the final song is only just over five minutes, it offers a wonderfully peaceful and uplifting end to a very long and tiring album.

The instrumental breaks are not particularly surprising, but are excellently done. Tradeoffs between guitar and keyboard solos can be expected, and of course very fast and complex unison runs with the two. While there are a fair number of times when the two play in unison like they are known to, there are far more where the keyboard does its own thing above or under the guitar, which creates some really interesting harmonies, and even more reasons to go back and listen more closely.

While the instrumental passages are my main reason for liking the album so much, I unfortunately can't say the same about the vocals. There are times when I genuinely enjoy James Labrie's voice (such as "Beneath the Surface"), but most of the times it's just OK. It doesn't help that the lyrics he's singing are constantly cliché and rarely carry any meaning. The semi-politically charged "On the Backs of Angels" is the closest A Dramatic Turn of Events comes to hitting home on any lyrical themes, but even then the metaphors are almost laughable.

Another fault I find with the album is its "always on" mentality it holds for 80% of the album. It's not just that the album is long at 77 minutes, it's that so many of those minutes are packed full of so much loud and intricate music that it gets taxing to listen to in one sitting. The shorter songs do offer the ears and mind a break, but they don't stand well enough on their own to be anything other than that.

Of course, while most albums that fill out a CD could do with some trimming, that doesn't stop the music contained within them from being amazing. Even though I would love for A Dramatic Turn of Events to be under an hour, I can't stop myself from playing my favorite songs over and over again. Those longer songs are good enough reason to make a purchase worthwhile, and even enough to push Dream Theater's latest to the top of the charts this year.

m2thek | 4/5 |


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