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Dream Theater A Dramatic Turn of Events album cover
3.84 | 1776 ratings | 85 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2011

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. On the Backs of Angels (8:46)
2. Build Me Up, Break Me Down (6:59)
3. Lost Not Forgotten (10:11)
4. This Is the Life (6:57)
5. Bridges in the Sky (11:01)
6. Outcry (11:24)
7. Far from Heaven (3:56)
8. Breaking All Illusions (12:25)
9. Beneath the Surface (5:26)

Total Time 77:05

Line-up / Musicians

- James LaBrie / lead vocals
- John Petrucci / guitars, backing vocals, producer
- Jordan Rudess / keyboards, Continuum, iPad apps MorphWiz & SampleWiz
- John Myung / bass
- Mike Mangini / drums, percussion

- Paul Northfield / narrator (8), engineer

Releases information

Artwork: Hugh Syme

2LP Roadrunner Records - 1686-177651 (2011, US)
2LP Roadrunner Records - RRCAR 7765-1 (2011, Europe)

CD Roadrunner Records - RR7765-2 (2011, Europe)
CD Roadrunner Records - 1686-177652 (2011, US)
2CD+2LP+DVDv+Box Roadrunner Records - 1686-177654 (2011, Europe) Full album both on CD & double LP, bonus CD including 9-track instrumental mixes of entire album plus bonus DVD w/ "The Spirit Carries On", a 60-minute movie documenting DREAM THEATER's drummer auditions.

Thanks to DTman for the addition
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DREAM THEATER A Dramatic Turn of Events ratings distribution

(1776 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(37%)
Good, but non-essential (23%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (5%)

DREAM THEATER A Dramatic Turn of Events reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Conor Fynes
4 stars 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' - Dream Theater (8/10)

Love them or hate them, Dream Theater have been one of the most influential, and successful bands in modern progressive rock. On top of laying the groundwork style for every other progressive metal band out there today, this band has been the centre of constant debate between people that virtually worship them for their virtuosity as musicians and talent, and others that condemn them for what they perceive as needless showmanship at the sacrifice of real substance. Chances are that coming onto this review, you may already have a potentially strong opinion about Dream Theater, and what they are all about. For me, this was a band that- along with other legends like Rush and Led Zeppelin- got me big into music when I was first beginning to explore beyond what my parents showed me. Their classic albums 'Images & Words' and 'Scenes From A Memory' have had an indelible impact on my development as a musician and listener, and I've loved a fair bit of what they have done since then. Admittedly, I found myself a little weary of Dream Theater's indulgent style around the time that the band's 2011 single 'On The Backs Of Angels' was announced, but all the same I went into listening to it, and was immediately impressed. The appropriately titled 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' has been met with a great deal of anticipation from alot of people, first considering that it is a Dream Theater album, but also because this is the first album that their lifelong drummer Mike Portnoy does not appear on, after being given the boot by the rest of the band. With one of their founding members gone, it was natural to expect that his departure- and the arrival of Annihilator drummer and Dream Theater newbie Mike Mangini- to have an impact on the band's direction. Portnoy was the one that pushed for Dream Theater to have a heavier sound, so I had been expecting a more progressive edge this time around, and that is exactly what 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' is about; the same proggy excellence that first got me into them. While I can imagine the legions of detractors using the seemingly unchanged sound of the band against them, I for one have been greatly satisfied by this new batch of band material, and even with one of their vital organs missing, Dream Theater is far from dead.

As was the case with the past two albums of Dream Theater, sitting down to give my first listen to the material was a very important, almost somewhat spiritual experience, especially considering that I believed only a few months before that Dream Theater was all but dead. Both fans and haters should know that there is very little that will surprise them here necessarily, but the music here is easily distinguishable from other albums, especially what they have done more recently. While I did love 'Systematic Chaos' and 'Black Clouds & Silver Linings', the removal of the contrived heaviness and Gothic darkness that Dream Theater unsuccessfully tried to evoke on previous records is a refreshing change. Dream Theater are still definitely a progressive metal band, but of that formula, the emphasis here is on that of the 'progressive', rather than the thrashy Metallica, or pseudo-death metal that Mike Portnoy kept thinking was a pretty cool and hip thing for Dream Theater to do. Besides that, this is a Dream Theater album, complete with cheesy album artwork, epic songs, virtuosic musicianship, and the apparent effort to see how much of a CD's space can be used up without making it a double album.

After my first listen to 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events', I was silent for a few minutes, trying to figure out what I thought of it. This was Dream Theater alright, but I wasn't exactly sure whether I liked it or not. Although my general impression of the album has vastly increased since first listen to this album, some of the things I noticed on first listen have stuck with me. First off, the instrumental sections here no longer have the needless sense to them, and as far as the 'technical' elements of Dream Theater go, this may be the best I've ever heard them. With the handful of longer, ten minute plus tracks, each goes into some sort of departure from the regular songwriting in order to blow the listeners away with the talents of each member. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess really shines here, and I find myself replaying these instrumental parts. What I used to consider 'noodling' from these guys doesn't sound too different on first impression, but the band has put a much greater sense of complexity here into the instrumentals that I haven't quite heard from the band before. Suffice to say, haters of Dream Theater will probably still hate Dream Theater for these instrumental 'battles', but for someone who has loved them for almost a decade, the technical instrumentation here has never sounded more thoughtful. 'Bridges In The Sky', and the album's epic highlight 'Breaking All Illusions' both have the go-to elements of this.

The other aspect of this album is the melodic, songwriting side. I was never anything short of impressed by the familiar talent and skill exerted on the instrumental side of Dream Theater's material here, but as far as the songwriting went, 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' took a few listens to warm up to me. This is largely because half of these songs are quite long and complex. 'On The Backs Of Angels' is the most instantly memorable track here, although there is much better to hear on the album. 'This Is The Life' is a brilliant mid-tempo prog rocker in a somewhat mellow vein, with a gorgeous chorus to boot. 'Bridges In The Sky' (originally given the less promising title 'The Shaman's Trance') has a real 'Glass Prison' vibe to it, but the dark progressive metal moments are contrasted with vibrant melodies and feeling. 'Far From Heaven' is a gentle piano piece that may very well hit me harder than any of Dream Theater's ballads. Here, James LaBrie's vocals and the gorgeous violins make my heart bleed rainbows. The only song here I really do not care for much is 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down', which has a similar sound to 'Caught In A Web', from 1994's 'Awake' album. It is not a terrible track, but there's nothing about it that really jumps out at me; a single bump in an otherwise awesome experience.

The true highlight here is 'Breaking All Illusions', which I can see Dream Theater fans idolizing throughout the coming months. The song has every element of an 'epic' to it, except that it is only a relatively brief twelve minutes long, as opposed to well, you know, a 'true' long song. We have one of John Petrucci's greatest guitar solos towards the end, prog metal freakouts, slower, almost Floydian mellow segments, and some of their most memorable riffs to date. Also of great importance to note is James LaBrie's performance on this, and on all other tracks on the album. He- like much of Dream Theater's sound- is another point of contention that people will argue about until breakfast time, and while he has had his moments where even I question his abilities, his vocal performance here shows him in his element. He is definitely not the sort of singer that he used to be with 'Images & Words', but he is no longer trying to sound like he is in Metallica, in other words, being something he is not. Here, he is trying to sound like James LaBrie, and his voice here is warm and full of feeling, especially on the gorgeous 'Far From Heaven' and closing ballad 'Beneath The Surface'. I would have like to have hear him pull off a few more high notes throughout the album, but I'm not disappointed. Also- lest I forget to mention- is Mike Mangini's performance, another thing that Dream Theater fans will continue to debate 'til past noon. Sadly, as the newest member of Dream Theater, he seems to get the newbie's treatment in terms of mixing, and his drum performance is less audible to me than Portnoy's work; hell, even bassist John Myung can be heard playing on this album now finally. While the drum recording could have used a little more life to it, Mangini's performance fills in the shoes of Portnoy very well, although I would be hard pressed to say he does more than that. There are techniques here where I could have sworn it was Portnoy playing, and I do not think this is coincidence; maybe Dream Theater is trying to warm up their fans to a new drummer, but I think it will take until the next album to hear what this new drummer is truly capable of.

As with all Dream Theater albums, this is an album I have some strong opinions about, although I am positive there are others- even other fans of the band- that will see things in a completely different light. 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' took me a little longer to fully appreciate than much of the other more recent material that Dream Theater has churned out, but giving it the time it deserves, I've found it to be an incredibly strong, albeit flawed album. There is still some cheese to grate off the edges of the band's sound, and one less- than-satisfying track towards the beginning does tend to have me argue against this being labelled as a 'masterpiece', but does this stand its ground against other albums by the band? Yes, and more than that; it shows them taking some of their less tasteful aspects and injecting more thought into them, making the overall sound of Dream Theater all the more powerful. Agree with me or not, 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' has wowed me and impressed me more and more with each time I listen to it, and I can see myself giving it the same long-term appreciation as I do most of the band's material.

Review by J-Man
5 stars Over the course of the year leading up to their eleventh full-length studio album, American progressive metal legends Dream Theater have withstood a dramatic turn of events indeed. With the departure of longtime drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy, the band went on a long search for a replacement behind the kit, and after auditioning seven of the most talented drummers on the scene, Dream Theater eventually agreed upon seasoned veteran Mike Mangini, best known for his work with Annihilator, Extreme, James LaBrie, and Steve Vai. Although Dream Theater's fanbase may be split on whether or not Portnoy is a replaceable element of the band, Mike Mangini does an excellent job on this album, and rest of the quintet shines as brightly as ever. A Dramatic Turn of Events features some of the best songwriting in Dream Theater's catalog, some of the most impressive instrumental runs you're likely to ever hear, and a more light-hearted sound that has been missed on their last handful of albums. This may not shatter your perception of Dream Theater's distinct progressive metal style (in a positive or negative way), but it's a refreshing change of pace after the darker atmosphere of their previous few outings. I'd confidently regard this as one of the best Dream Theater efforts since Scenes From a Memory, as well as one of the year's most impressive progressive albums.

Whereas albums like Black Clouds & Silver Linings and Systematic Chaos focused on a heavier, darker, and edgier metal sound, A Dramatic Turn of Events shows Dream Theater returning to the lush, progressive rock soundscapes of albums like Images & Words and Scenes From a Memory. Despite my immense enjoyment of both styles of Dream Theater, it is nice to see them focusing on lighter atmospheres with progressive arrangements and integral keyboards. Although this is jam- packed with heavy riffs and hard-hitting instrumental sections, Dramatic Turn rarely strikes me as a dark album, largely due to the wide array of keyboard tones. Jordan Rudess has taken a bit of a backseat on the last few Dream Theater albums, but the keyboards on A Dramatic Turn of Events are just as dominate and tasteful as they were when Kevin Moore was still in the group. Jordan Rudess's thoroughly integrated keyboards don't come at the expense of the other musicians, though - John Petrucci delivers plenty of hard-hitting riffs and blinding leads, Mike Mangini show his expressive drumming abilities, James LaBrie delivers helpings of memorable vocal melodies, and John Myung's bass playing has more personality than ever before.

Prior to hearing this observation, I was openly skeptical about Dream Theater's songwriting abilities without Mike Portnoy - although I have never had any doubt about the members' abilities as songwriters, Portnoy was obviously responsible for a big chunk of the band's compositions, lyrically and musically. It appears that my initial predictions were entirely incorrect, though, and A Dramatic Turn of Events showcases some of the strongest songwriting in Dream Theater's large catalog. Like most Dream Theater albums, this misses the 80 minute CD time limit by just a hair, and somehow the entire disc is filled to the brim with some of the best songwriting you're bound to hear all year. "On the Backs of Angels" tends to be the most instantly enjoyable track, with its hard-hitting riffs and progressive instrumental portions kicking the album off in high gear. The rest of the album strikes me as a bit more of a "grower", so to speak, than previous Dream Theater albums - whereas I was humming tracks from Black Clouds & Silver Linings after just one spin, it takes a bit longer until all of A Dramatic Turn of Events puts its hooks in the listener. This shouldn't at all be interpreted as a bad thing, though, and I tend to think that it's a sign of Dream Theater turning their compositional depth and finesse up an extra notch.

A Dramatic Turn of Events is without any weak tracks, but a few stand out a bit more than others. "Breaking All Illusions" should be the one that really makes every prog fan's mouth water - this twelve minute opus seamlessly blends relentless technicality with a sense of melody and soul, very much similar to what the band did nearly 20 years ago with "Learning to Live". A Dramatic Turn of Events also contains something that has been noticeably missing from some of their post-new millennium albums - soft, semi-acoustic ballads. Before all of the metalheads shake their head in disgust, let me say that both of the drum-free ballads here are some of the finest I've ever heard, and easily rank up there with the masterpiece "Wait for Sleep". "Far From Heaven" is a touching song with just piano and strings accompanied by James Labrie's soft vocals. "Beneath the Surface" is a slightly more uplifting track, featuring gentle acoustic guitars and James Labrie's powerful vocals. Jordan Rudess's synth solo is also truly spectacular.

There are a few other tracks that should also appeal greatly to fans of progressive rock, particularly "Bridges In the Sky" and "Outcry", both of which are fantastic ten-plus minute epics with some of the best vocal melodies ever put in Dream Theater's music. "Lost Not Forgotten" has a slightly power metal-influenced vibe that brings Symphony X to mind, and "This is the Life" is a gentle track with some excellent acoustic guitar harmonies reminiscent of Pink Floyd. "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" is probably the most unremarkable and conventional song on the album, but it still has a memorable enough chorus to keep it from being anything mediocre.

A Dramatic Turn of Events was produced by John Petrucci and mixed by Andy Wallace (known for his work with Slayer, Faith No More, Nirvana, Avenged Sevenfold, Guns N' Roses, and many others), so of course the sound is professional and well-done. I can't say I'm a huge fan of the way the drums are mixed, but that's been a small issue of mine with every Dream Theater album from Scenes From a Memory onward. It's worth noting that this is the first album in quite a bit of time where John Myung's bass is actually audible at a reasonable level without being drowned out by the other instruments - definitely a plus in my book.

Regardless of your opinion about Dream Theater, they are an unstoppable and unignorable force in the progressive metal world, and their ability to constantly churn out top-notch albums is the reason why I've remained a huge fan since I first began listening to them. Even though A Dramatic Turn of Events was made under unusual circumstances, the band sounds as inspired as ever and it'll be very interesting to hear where they head in the coming years. My faith in Dream Theater has not only been renewed by this album, but it has also been increased to a higher point than ever before. A near-flawless masterpiece, this stunning observation deserves to be cherished by every progressive metal fan who gives it a spin. This is definitely among my favorite Dream Theater albums, and an easy 5 star recommendation from this humble reviewer. One of 2011's best albums? You bet!

Review by Wicket
5 stars This is a brand new place......but I've been here before.

Although I should never contradict my previous opinions, hearing "On The Backs Of Angels" didn't remind me of "A Rite Of Passage" anymore. It felt newer, cleaner, clearer, yet, something was bothering me. It still felt like there was something lingering there from years past.

Like "Images & Words".

The entire band, like myself, will state that this is definitely one of their more melodic progressive albums. Less metal, but more rock (if you know what I mean). Now, I can't compare this to "Images & Words", but I hear a lot of it in here. Yes, LaBrie still is singing lower, but like in "Images & Words" the virtuosity is still present, but subdued, allowing the song to develop by itself, and then there's Rudess bookending the song. Damm, if he doesn't sound like Kevin Moore there and that haunting atmosphere, I don't know what the hell that is.


"Build Me Up, Break Me Down" instantly starts off to be a failure. Synthesized drums. Never a good idea when you're breaking in a new drummer. Yet, I'm going to believe that we're receiving more prog than metal in general.

So much for that theory.

After the cheesy rap beat comes a tidal wave of face-smashing metal, but not just face- smashing metal. Mangini isn't busting out a blastbeat or immediately using the double- bass out of the gate, so this isn't comparable to "Train Of Thought" or "Systematic Chaos" or "Black Clouds & Silver Linings". In fact, this song reminds me of no other but "The Mirror". "Awake" instantly comes to mind, even though there still is that haunting feeling, that ghostly synth from "Systematic Chaos". It seems like deja vu at first, but it still reminds me of "Awake", that old-school metal that Dream Theater began a revolution with. Yes it's still new, synthy, heavy, creepy (do I hear a black metal-ish scream from LaBrie?), oddly catchy, but I still feel like it's a salute to Kevin Moore and a salute to "Awake".

It's a strange combination of the heaviness from ToT and "Chaos", but still has that haunting atmosphere of "Awake". It's also an interesting segue to "Lost Not Forgotten", the change from minor to major as if nothing happened before. The intro reminds me of "The Best Of Times", while the steady riff harkens back to "Train Of Thought" and the atonal solo sections echo "The Dark Eternal Night" over and over again. Old but new. The intensity of the rapid fire riffs repeat the frantic-ness of "Systematic Chaos" but there's more attention to detail, to the music in general. This entire album is literally a summary of every single DT album every made rolled into one. The multiple sections and interludes throughout this track interchange with major and minor keys (similar, I believe to "The Glass Prison"), and of course the solo sections are pretty sweet as well ("Endless Sacrifice).

While "This Is The Life" starts out louder than most ballads (and in similar fashion to most songs from "Systematic Chaos" and BC&SL), the group keeps the verses mainly on the low-down in a typical ballad fashion ("The Answers Lie Within"). Yet Petrucci's solo almost creates a blues-y feeling towards the end, as the song is in 3/4, yet it's a ballad that ends in stunning fashion, as DT usually do with their softer songs (except "Wither").

As if this comglomeration of notable DT elements from previous albums wasn't enough, "Bridges In The Sky" adds another element to this talented ensemble; tribal music. Now it is a bit creepy to hear that weird droning sound from what sounds like a human bullfrog, but it's another atmosphere that this band creates that excels above everything else, and it continues with chanting (including a snippet of "Morte Et Dabo" for fans of chant, and "Asking Alexandra"). Yet, just as it's all ready to set in, Petrucci tears through a new one with Mangini laying down some decent beats (much like the Portnoy of olden days). Even though the core of this team is getting older, the music doesn't slow down, not a beat is lost and the metal is still prevalent in their music. The chorus is wonderful as always and the melody is simply superb. Definitely one of my favorites off this album. The ability to change gears so suddenly from a happy melody to chugging downbeats is a stark contrast to many mainstream groups, and many music enthusiasts don't like it, as it prevents them from grasping onto a certain melody, but progressive metal fans will tell the opposite, because change is good and everything else is boring! It's another crucial fact as to why Dream Theater is still one of the most beloved prog metal bands and one of the most popular metal bands today.

The heaviness from their recent discs is still very much alive, while there are traces of some funk and heavy prog (like in "Blind Faith") and the ever popular elements of Middle Eastern music (like "Home"). Unlike "Home", however, I wish those tribal drums and elements were repeated at least a few times in the piece, like the middle, instrumental section, but it's still a fantastic piece of music. Everything I love about this band combined into one seamless piece of magic.

"Outcry" continues a great song in stunning fashion as well with a great intro and, as usual, the loud, symphonic 4/4 beats (although some may tire of it throughout this album, I personally love it.) are still here. The presence of synthetic drums are a bit annoying at first, but once again, Petrucci, Rudess and Myung build around it to make it fit within the song's context. It seems like a heavy and constant track throughout, but it really seems more like a prolonged ballad, to my ears. I hear a little bit of "Trail Of Tears" in here, as well as "The Ministry Of Lost Souls", and Rudess' consistent symphonic playing reminds me of the power metal outfit Divinefire. Once again, the Middle Eastern influences are there (especially those note progressions. if you are a musician or have a piano, the note progression G, Gb, Eb, D, for example, should be familiar [as it's the main theme in "Rock Lobster] as that spacing between those four notes can be used with any four notes and be familiar to having that "Middle Eastern sound". try it at home!) and are still wonderful. The solo sections are phenomenal as always {you can never question the talent of these musicians (well maybe Mangini) as they're better than any of us}.

The solos are fantastic though. "Outcry" literally just screams "Metropolis, Pt. 3", as those solo sections (Yay, Myung gets a solo for once! All's right in the world again!) are so familiar to "Metropolis, Pt. 1" and "Images & Words" in general. Even "Octavarium" comes to mind towards the end, and the subtle soft section highlighting Rudess only intensifies the emotion pouring out of this album. This song actually is an "Outcry" to everything that is good in music. Absolutely wonderful.

"Far From Heaven" just screams "The Answer Lies Within", "Vacant" and "Wither" all in one. If I wasn't a manly man, I would be crying profusely over these last two songs, because both are amazing, yet they're both in typical Dream Theater style. Is this what we as fans expected? Most likely not. It's a fantastic ballad that rivals any that Dream Theater has ever made. Along with "The Answer Lies Within", "Far From Heaven" is one of the few DT ballads that anyone can listen to, prog metal fan or not.

Then we get the final piece of the puzzle comes together with "Breaking All Illusions". The intro is a two-step beat familiar to "Falling Into Infinity" fans, but also has that sort of humorous, jolly side seen in "The Count Of Tuscany". The soft prelude to the first verse is eerily similar to "Honor Thy Father". Finally, those soundbites are back! The one element that made "Awake" a truly special album returns with a vengeance. Many stop and start elements from songs like "Endless Sacrifice" and "Blind Faith" returns, as well as the many different voices Rudess uses (piano, organ, synth, etc). Petrucci rips, as usual, and the instrumental sections are fantastic. Once again, DT are going back to their roots, where LaBrie had his time to shine, and now it's time for the kids to play with their toys and destroy numerous houses (aka Petrucci and Rudess soloing up a storm [note: Mangini doesn't get a piece of the spotlight here]). Another fantastic song off this disc.

Finally, the album concludes with "Beneath The Surface". Truly no better way to end the album. It's very interesting that beat one always starts in unison with the falling water roplet for the first few seconds. Oh, wait, I'm sorry, did I say that "Far From Heaven" and "The Answer Lies Within" were the best ballads ever? I meant "Far From Heaven" and "Beneath The Surface". Not even "The Spirit Carries On", one of the few DT tracks ever that (i'll admit) brought one single tear from my eye at one point, can match up to these two songs.

And thus concludes the best Dream Theater album ever made.

Yes. I did say it. And I'll say it again. This is the best album Dream Theater has ever made.

Positives: Just about everything. Every single DT album (except their first and worst) is echoed at some point throughout this record. It's literally every single album (and THEN some) merged all into one sophisticated and elegant work of art. LaBrie's soaring falsetto even makes a return at the very end of "Beneath The Surface"! Everything we all know and love throughout DT's entire history is here in one phenomenal package!

Negatives: Mangini. I hate to say it, but in replacing my beloved drum idol Mike Portnoy, I feel he's taken a part in some sort of "rookie hazing". Meaning, no drum solo, no spotlight. No attention of anything, really. He hasn't deserved this spot yet, but he'll need time. If (and when) DT releases another new album (god, I'm already thinking about a new DT album), Mangini will slowly be acclimated to the DT way of life, and attention will slowly be paid to him, much like more and more people paid attention to Tom Brady when he began throw perfect passes to any human being with the gift of hands, or like the slow process of giving a teenager more and more privileges (in less in some cases).

Verdict: This is the best Dream Theater album I've ever heard. It has all the elements we've heard in every DT album to date. Metal? Check. Prog rock? Check. Epic symphonics? Check. Haunting synths? Check. Blistering guitar solos? Check. Wonderful ballads any girl (especially the hot ones) will listen to? Yep. Natural evolution of prog metal? Of course. Technical musicianship only capable by God himself? Sure. Atonal chords and note progressions only capable of being theorized by German twelve-tone composer Arnold Schoenberg? Yes. The extremely rare scream? Got it. Tribal drums, tambourines and the human bullfrog's vocal didgeridoo impersonation? Creepy, but yes. Medieval era chanting? Got that too.

Everything you could ever want in a Dream Theater album ever? Absolutely. Yes. This is the definition of excellence. (And of course it helped that I, even for a diehard Dream Theater fan had low expectations, only the be blessed with the best prog metal album in the world.)

Beat that, Europe.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The spirit carries on with passionate lyrics and virtuoso musicianship.

New Dream Theater! Normally I would be excited. I will be the first to admit that although I have all of Dream Theater's albums and love their output overall, I did not have high hopes for this album at all. I guess the infighting of the band and the headlined shock loss of one Mr. Mike Portnoy had put a damper over the release of this album for many listeners, including myself. I wondered if it would sound too different and would it be too commercial, or worse, would the songs be medicore. Would it feature Rudess and Petrucci trading off incredible solos, with LaBrie crying out from his soul amazing vocals, and Myong hammering out pulsating basslines? Well, that is what Dream Theater usually do so it is an expectation they must always live up to if they do not want to alienate their huge fanbase. Finally would Mangini actually be able to live up to the high standard perpetrated by Portnoy. In this case I have to say a resounding no, in fact Mangini is quite pedestrian in his approach, though it is good enough the percussion does not shine through.

So it was with a degree of trepidation that I ventured into the unchartered waters of a Portnoy-less Dream Theater album. The first thing I noticed about the drums is that I did not notice the drums. This in fact shows what a great drummer Portnoy is as his rhythms and wild metrical shifts were one of the key features of the band. It took me a while to get used to it as it will for many listeners. On my initial listen to the album I was disappointed with the first 2 songs. There was nothing new on offer and it was a rather lacklustre feeling. By the time I reached the incredible Bridges in the Sky I was relieved that the DT magic was well and truly engrained on this album. Then after hearing Breaking All Illusions I knew I had experienced one of the most mindblowing tracks of the band's repertoire. This is a very personalised album with a lot of heart and it is also replete with a plethora of astonishing musicianship and instrumental virtuosity. So here are the tracks as I heard them.

On The Backs of Angels begins the album with a quiet interlude of acoustics setting the scene for the sombre textures and thematic content of the album which centres on loss of self and broken relationships, searching for direction and finding it. The tranquillity is soon followed by a blast of metal guitars, it is loud and layered with Rudess relentless keys. The lyrics are forcefully sung by LaBrie, evoking a sense of anger and remorse: "we spiral towards disaster, bleeding us to death the new American dream, you're blinded by your hunger beware your days are numbered" . The music is quite aggressive with Petrucci riffing solidly over a layer of keyboards and bass. After the words are heard "Leading me like a lamb to the slaughter" there is a lovely piano solo, followed by a lead break showcasing the skills of Petrucci. This song was the first one leaked online and it is fairly typical Dream Theater. Strong melodies and skilful musicianship with LaBrie sounding exactly as he does on the more recent albums. A good song for sure but there is nothing here that is outstanding.

The next track is Build me Up, Break me Down with a spacey effect intro then very dirty distorted guitars riffing. LaBrie's vocals are underplayed at first sounding phased. The build up to the chorus is melodic and sounds typical of what the band churns out regularly. It sounds dark with some pain ridden lyrics about falling apart, "I crash and burn, I never learn, I know more than obsession"; perhaps it is talking about a recent member who left? I particularly like the keyboard break on this, which is well executed. Overall this one grew on me, especially the vibe of dark emotional trauma provided by blasts of chilling keyboard and sustained pads, sounding almost electro industrial.

Lost Not Forgotten begins with rain falling, a storm that is interjected by very peaceful piano strains. Guitars crash in over the choral voice effects, the majestic feel is unmistakeable. The drums get faster building up pace to the verse. A metal chopping riff blocks everything out until Rudess is heard playing speed motifs on two keyboards. Eventually LaBrie sings phrases such as "I am not immortal, men have come to fear me, known across the desert I am known as the one who will not die, feared and respected living among the gods, leading the empire, spirit as black as coal, lost not forgotten king of the deathly soul." The riffs are excellent on this track and it is the most progressive song to this point on the album, though nothing like some tracks to follow. It sounded to me like an outtake from Black Clouds and Silver Linings, which is not a bad thing. Although I wanted to hear on this album something more adventurous for a band who has traversed this territory many times on previous albums. Eventually the band detour onto an adventure of soloing finesse. Admittedly this track features some of the best musicianship of the album but the song itself, verses and chorus, are rather forgettable and tuneless. The real drawcard is the structure with its detours and time sig shifts. As usual the band are incredible when allowed to release their talents into lengthy instrumental breaks where band members take turns almost out classing each other. Rudess and Petrucci trade off in true DT style and the overall effect is breathtaking. It is just a pity the actual song melody does not back up the amazing passages of guitar and keyboard.

This is the Life is a power ballad with tones of sadness that may be reflecting the sombre mood of losing Mike Portnoy over the past year, which must have affected the band deeply. It is the first of many times that LaBrie will sing in quiet reflection on the album. The pianos and acoustics are beautiful. The lyrics are about the hurt of losing someone who has lost their way: "When your souls turned inside out, have you questioned all the madness you invite what your life is all about, some of us choose to live gracefully, some can get caught in the maze, and lose their way home." This really sounds like it is sung about Portnoy although it is hidden as afar as actual meaning; "have you ever wished that you were someone else, trading places, what will they say after you've gone." The song will grow on you as all DT ballads tend to do. The feeling of dejection is also felt in the lead break, one of DT's most heartfelt songs no doubt. There are no death growls on this album, be assured of that.

Bridges in the Sky is the first track on the album that made me sit up and take notice as something truly outstanding. It features an unsettling Gothic chanting intro sounding like something from the cult scene in Kubrick's 'Eyes Wide Shut'; very weird and off kilter. The time sig of the metal ferocity to follow is great, falling in and out of sync with the drums. This has one of the more interesting structures on the album. The riffs continue to chop with complex rhythmic meters. LaBrie sounds excellent with some of the more tantalising lyrics "whisper a word of truth, I trusted you, sun, come shine my way, make healing waters bury my pain, wind carry me home, the fabric of reality is tearing apart the piece of me that died, will return to live again, I will not go in the light until I pass thru the darkest caverns of my heart, dance with fire, spirit guiding the world outside, messenger of truth I trust in you transform me now". Some excellent instrumental finesse on display especially the Rudess keyboard solo trading off mith Petrucci's relentless guitar fingering patterns. He uses wah wah later and high screaming string bends that are exhilarating. The crunching staccato keyboards are classic Emerson like sounds. The trade offs even sound like the mystical Egyptian style at times reflecting the mystique of the lyrics, about the journey to the sky, calling on an ancient deity to take the hand of the protagonist. This one truly is a showpiece of the album and one of Dream Theater's best.

Outcry features very strong riffing with Rudess' keyboard flourishes. It begins with piano and weird echo effects reminding me of the industrial dark sounds on Gary Numan's "Pure". There is an ambience layered underneath and emotive power in the vocal performance of LaBrie "I hear the battlecry, bullets fall like water raining from the sky, my freedom has a price, the cost is buried in the ground". The music feels decidedly Middle Eastern, and the song maybe about the war on terrorism.

The really fractured time sig in the instrumental break is astonishing, with powerful breaks in the riffs and Rudess has an insane finger melting solo. Once again the music is incredibly skilful and complex, and this is where Dream Theater never let themselves down in their music. They are now stalwart genius musicians, and it seems they attempt to outdo past triumphs with these moments on this album. The break on this track is certainly as good as it gets for Dream Theater, and one can easily imagine how incredible this will sound in a live performance. The lengthy solo throws everything in with a passion that I wish other bands would adopt who go under the banner of prog metal. The chaos ceases for a moment here with a beautiful piano motif and LaBrie chimes in softly "you can walk the other way or you can face the light, although it seems so far away freedom is worth the fight". There is a kind of uprising against injustice injected in the lyrics with strong phrases such as "wait for the outcry, resistance is calling tonight" and "stand strong and unite, the world watches on while we risk our lives, as our children die". This is not the first time DT have used the lyrics to inflict some kind of anti-war message against political infraction or resolute determinism against the mistreatment of the innocence in war; Sacrificed Sons from "Octavarium" blatantly focussed on the 9/11 crisis.

Far From Heaven begins with gentle piano and softly crooned vocals. The lyrics may be telling the tale of losing Portnoy, either way there is melancholy at its deepest point here: no one truly has the answers, everyday I struggle through it once more, keep things bottled up never speaking words, messing up but I am doing just fine, every day I put a brave face on, I have done what you asked of me, coming undone way too high a price I should pay, you keep your pride while I die inside, everyday, no I can't lie anymore, won't pretend I've done all I can, you can't imagine the hell I'm going through." The song really exudes a sombreness I have rarely heard with DT, but it is nice to hear the soul and passion of the band. The melody is soul stirring and will perhaps be a fan favourite on the live stage to wave lighters to over the next years to come.

Breaking All Illusions has a killer riff that shifts in and out of rhythm and takes over the song, with sporadic drum patterns and very melodic keyboards. This is one of the more progressive tracks and it settles into Myung's quiet bass driven passage before LaBrie begins to sing quietly; "with the sun in place, new realities, singularities, breaking all illusions, changing my direction, live in the moment, breathe in a new beginning, wisdom revealed, as I unlock the key, life's biggest battles, my strength leads me home". Once again the lyrics are heartfelt and full of angst of changes and directions, perhaps the changes and direction of the band are being channelled. LaBrie has a bitter tone in his voice in places. There is a voice over narrative heard further augmenting the seriousness of the song content. The song changes direction too, with a very infectious little keyboard hook before it returns to the choppy chord structure. There is a Jethro Tull flute sound at one point, and some blues riffs, ELP Hammond sounds, then a power metal distorted riff locks in. The organic instrumental is fantastic and once again one of the best moments on the album. Petrucci launches into a scorching lead solo, with beautiful harmonies and arpeggios. The clean guitar sound balances perfectly afterwards, creating a dreamy ambient tranquil soundscape. The lead guitar solo then drifts into a peaceful beauty, followed with accomplished fret melting finger work and sweep picking. The melody is enhanced then by powerful guitar tones. Eventually the faster pace returns with a driving drum and bass under Rudess' and Petrucci's virtuoso playing. The band launch into full flight here and it is a joy to listen to it. This is why DT have become one of the most popular metal bands over recent years; they simply create mesmirising, brilliant music. When LaBrie returns with "Searching out, reaching in" the tracks has become so momentous that I am convinced that this is one of the high achievements of the band. The finale is bombastic but so powerful in its progressive execution that it is the fitting way to end this triumph. This 12 minute mini epic is astonishing and I would go as far as to suggest it is one of the top 10 DT songs of all time.

Beneath the Surface begins with a tap dripping, seamlessly from the previous masterpiece. There is a slow acoustic feel allowing room to breathe after the previous bedlam and LaBrie quietly sings about the sad subject of losing a loved one; "A shell of what could have been, sad to think I never knew you were searching for the words for the moment to emerge, yet the moment never came, you couldn't risk my fragile frame, until one day you stopped caring, and began to forget why I longed to be so close, I disappear into the darkness and the darkness turned to pain and never went away, until all that remained was buried deep beneath the surface". I like the moderate feel of the song, and it's melancholia enhanced by uplifting surges of keyboard and minimalism of acoustic. The balance of tension and release in the music is as emotionally charged as the lyrics. A nice ending to the album and one that may ring true for many listeners.

So at the end of the album I can comfortably rate this the full 5 stars. There is a certain degree of sadness and reflection in the lyrics and it may be the most emotionally charged album for the band in a very emotional year for them. The album delivers excellent prog metal by any standard and it does have some adventurous moments, with at least 4 tracks that are DT at their most outstanding. The album almost reaches the full 80 minutes and there is not a moment where it is not captivating. It grows on you like osmosis and after hearing it I am compelled to play it again and again. It is better than "Systematic Chaos", and although it is not as consistently heavy as "Black Clouds and Silver Linings", it is a pleasure to hear DT without death metal growls and malevolent lyrics so I actually prefer this new album. The lyrics are absolutely amazing in their honesty and really struck a chord with me, and I could hear in the album a certain thread of starting a new chapter, saying goodbye to the old and welcoming in the new era. There is a saying in the rock industry that you are only as good as your last album, and Dream Theater have proved with "A Dramatic Turn of Events" that the magic definitely remains; the spirit carries on.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The more than welcome return of good Dream Theater.

After a series of albums that seemed to be focusing too much on the wrong things (except Octavarium) Dream Theater comes out with an album that does not rely on the metal side of things as much as the previous releases and really is more well thought out and progressive. The band sounds like they were having a lot fun recording this album and it shows in the final product.

This drastic shift in the DT sound is likely due to Mike Portnoy's leave (who was forcing too much metal into the music of the last two albums IMO) which as sad as it is, actually benefited the band. They are exploring much more territory and include better instrumentation (lots of piano, yay!) than they did on Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds & Silver Linings and this creates a much more intense and interesting listen.

For me, the album recalls old nostalgic thoughts of being addicted to DT's Images & Words, a feeling that had been long since faded but with this album, a little spark was given.

Welcome back, DT, welcome back.

4.5 stars, rounded up.

Review by baz91
5 stars Originality is so passé

A year has passed since that fateful day when Mike Portnoy announced that he had quit Dream Theater. Now, with drummer Mike Mangini on board, the band have struck out with a new album, ready to prove that Dream Theater minus Portnoy is just as good, if not better.

When I first heard the title of this album, I had to stifle a groan. While the band deny it, the title seems to clearly reference Portnoy's decision to leave the group. The album art seemed awfully similar to that of Supertramp's '...Famous Last Words...', one of the bands' ill-appreciated albums. With song titles like 'On the Backs of Angels', 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down' and 'This is the Life', I was preparing myself for tripe.

However, I am quite shocked and relieved to say that tripe it is not! Indeed, Dream Theater seem to have got their heads in the right place to make this album. In fact, I can safely say that every song on this album is enjoyable and interesting; a remarkable feat, given that there are nine tracks.

However, there is one detail about this album that boosts the enjoyment factor, especially for DT fans: more than a few songs here share an uncanny likeness to songs from the band's 1992 album 'Images and Words'. This opinion was immortalised when Thiago Campos made a post outlining some of the ways in which the two albums were similar on Portnoy's forum. In many fans' eyes, 'Images and Words' was the bands' breakthrough masterpiece, featuring classic song after classic song. If the band were indeed trying to 'rip off' one of their old albums, they couldn't have chosen better!

You see, whilst this apparent dearth in creativity may seem like a negative aspect, it actually works wonders! When listening to a new album, it can be a struggle to try and keep the songs in your head. However, being able to match the songs up and compare the structures makes listening to and learning this album an easy, entertaining experience. Also, the only thing the band have 'ripped off' are the structures of the songs rather than the melodies or themes, meaning that the influences are all quite subtle and clever.

The nine songs on the album can easily be categorised into A-tracks and B-tracks. The A-tracks are the heavier, epic songs, and the B-tracks are the shorter, more commercial sounding songs. Simply put, the A-tracks are longer than 10 minutes, and the B tracks are shorter. Strangely enough, this was the format of the band's last album! Since each track is quite unique, it's only fair if I comment on each one.

The album kicks off with the On The Backs Of Angels. This track seems to have the same function on this album as A Rite Of Passage did on the previous album, and Constant Motion on the album before that. This function is to be a typical Dream Theater song, with three choruses and a kickass instrumental, and is to be used as a single for the album. However, this song is a lot better than it's predecessors, because it is a lot less predictable and has a more diverse feel. I say it's less predictable, but when you compare it to Pull Me Under from 'Images and Words', the structure of the song becomes crystal clear. The guitar-based intro with keyboards on top, the quiet part after the second chorus - everything feels just like the bands' so-called 'Greatest Hit'. This is a really cool song, with a lot to offer.

Build Me Up, Break Me Down has to be one of the band's oddest songs. Beginning with a sampled beat that is reminiscent of Wheatus's Teenage Dirtbag, this is a track for the less progressively inclined. Although I would normally skip over a track like this, the bands use of chugging riffs and power chords is nothing less than exquisite. The production of this track makes for a very pleasant listen. The best part of the song is either the anthemic chorus or the unison solo that reminds me of the guitar solo towards the end of The Best of Times.

Lost Not Forgotten is the album's first epic track. This song has a 'Prince of Persia'-esque theme, and the first few guitar notes in the intro really reflect this. There are many allusions to other Dream Theater tracks: the heavy chugging notes that are similar to those in The Dark Eternal Night, the short bass solo at 4:44 that sounds very much like the one heard in The Mirror and the quirkiness of the instrumental offshoots during the chorus that remind me of The Darkest Of Winters. However, the strongest allusion is to Under A Glass Moon, because the structures of the two songs are very similar. To me, this is one of the best tracks on the album, because it has it all: brilliant verses, charismatic choruses and indulgent instrumentals. This track will not be lost or forgotten any time soon.

This Is The Life is this album's Another Day. Right down to the cymbal-play at the end, these two songs could not be more similar. The saxophone solos have been replaced with guitar parts, and the track has been lengthened somewhat, but the similarity can almost be tasted. Fortunately, the ballad-like nature of this song is still appealing, and makes for some good easy listening.

Bridges In The Sky is an 11-minute metal powerhouse. The track begins with a very strange effect that sounds like a person with a very deep voice, followed by an atmospheric choral section. Afterwards, the band pick up their instruments and play what turns out to be quite a standard Dream Theater song. As usual, the instrumental is quite extraordinary, with ubiquitous time signature changes and various solos.

There are certainly some similarities between Outcry and Metropolis Pt. 1, like the anthemic intro and the extensive instrumental, but none quite as profound as we have seen previously. This is a 'protest song': a song that seems to be protesting against something, but the subject is kept quite vague. The instrumental is definitely the highlight of this track, being very diverse in nature and, at over 4 minutes, quite a workout! The verses and choruses are very good too.

Far From Heaven is a strange song for Dream Theater. This is a sombre acoustic track in the style of Vacant. LaBrie's voice is wonderful here, which is not surprising given that these are his lyrics. A moving, thoughtful piece.

The simplest way to describe Breaking All Illusions is by saying that it plays out pretty much like Learning To Live (except without the outro). The lyrics cut out at 5 minutes, and we are left to wonder: will the band be able to cope for the next 7 minutes? Surprisingly, they do! The instrumental this time is 5½ minutes long, and is the most diverse of all the instrumentals of this album. This instrumental ranges from complex time signatures on the keyboards to a beautiful guitar solo and finally to a dramatic build up leading us to the final chorus. What the band have created is absolutely wonderful: a perfectly realised piece of prog rock.

Music is surely the best when it makes you feel happy. The last song, Beneath The Surface is a feelgood song that really will cheer you up. The melody of the chorus is simply irresistable. There's an allusion to ELP's Lucky Man with the keyboard solo in the centre of the track. LaBrie raises his voice for the last chorus for added impact. This is a lovely end to what has been quite an eye-opening album.

As someone who knows the band very well, I could not have been happier with this album. Rather than sounding tired and out of ideas, the band sound full of life and passion! Alongside Symphony X's 'Iconoclast' (the other big prog metal album of the year), it's easy to see why most people agree that Dream Theater are the best band of the genre. It's a bit sad to know that Portnoy isn't there on the recordings, but Mangini handles the drumming skillfully, and I cannot wait to hear what this new Dream Theater will come up with next! Allusions to 'Images and Words' aside, 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' is an astonishing album that will keep Dream Theater fans happy for years to come.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars Dream Theater-Mike Portnoy=Dream Theater

Sometimes it seems as though the prog world is divided into Dream Theater lovers and Dream Theater haters. Every time an album is announced, arguments begin, and the album receives both glowing and panning reviews long before it is released. This one was no different, although this time the discussions were more about Portnoy's absence than the band's merits themselves.

I, for one, enjoy Dream Theater's music. On CD, I find they have a good blend of bombastic and unbelievably technical music. And Portnoy was a big part of it. In concert I found they lacked dynamics, everything played at full speed and full volume. And Portnoy's constant mugging on the big screen behind the band was goofy at best, annoying at worst.

New drummer Mike Mangini proves to be up to task of playing with John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess and John Myung. I hear that Petrucci wrote out his parts, and that is probably so, as he often seems to be imitating the guitar on his drums. And there are less fills than Portnoy would have played. Nonetheless, this turned out to be a very good Dream Theater album.

At times, some of the songs settle into metal cliches, but every time it gets to the point where I notice this, there is a sharp turn into a break where Petrucci, Rudess and Myung just amaze me. Rudess in particular sounds rejuvenated on this album. His keyboard work is as good here as I've ever heard him. And Myung benefits greatly from finally being brought up to an audible level in the mix.

As for James LaBrie, he sounds good here. I don't know whether it was a conscious decision, or just his voice mellowing with age, but he doesn't go into that shrill area that sometimes makes him hard to listen to.

This is another great album for Dream Theater. I just hope that they can patch things up with Portnoy. Not necessarily so he can rejoin the band. Just so the distracting melodrama can end on both sides. They all deserve better.

Review by Negoba
3 stars Drama Fuels More Energetic Offering from the Veterans

Fans of Dream Theater were first horrified and lately baffled by the exit of legendary drummer and de factor bandleader Mike Portnoy. While Portnoy wanted a "break" to explore other projects, the rest of the band wanted to keep on doing their thing, thank you very much. After enlisting Mike Mangini, the band has returned with one of their strongest offering in years. A DRAMATIC TURN OF EVENTS has some nods to my favorite of their catalog, AWAKE, but also incorporates some of the new tricks the band has picked up over the last 15 years.

Live, one of the highlights of a DT show is the interplay of shredmeister guitarist John Petrucci and note regurgitator Jordan Rudess. Showing off fleet-fingered prowess is simply part of the DT package, and hopefully anyone who doesn't at least enjoy some of this has gotten off the train long ago. In the past, the pair have done alot of the trading shred pioneered by Yngwie Malmsteen with Jens Johansson 20 years ago. On ADTOE, however, we get some genuine composed intertwining and harmonic lines that truly impress and do a bit more justice to the spots fans had seen on tour. "Lost Not Forgotten" has some especially drop dropping spots, but the speed sections all seem better thought out on this album than in the past. This makes the album seem more prog and less shred to me.

In addition, James Labrie sounds better than I've heard him, maybe ever. The cheese metal is almost gone (not completely though). The loss of his upper register has made Labrie work on the quality of his basic range, and there are plenty of solid harmonies to support his voice. The 80's over-vibrato is mostly gone as well, and the result is one of the most listenable set of DT vocals yet. The lyrics still aren't going to blow anyone away, but they are much better than Portnoy's increasingly annoying drek. The pen seemed to pass among the members, and though I'm never wowed, I also never cringe (which I've done plenty of in the past.)

Mangini, I believe, actually focuses the band. His playing is much more straightforward than Portnoy's, but he keeps up with no problem. He serves mainly as a session drummer here, without putting much of his own mark anywhere. Importantly, though, like any good session man, he always puts the song first and really never overplays (imagine someone in DT not overplaying.) Rudess has picked key sounds much more to my taste on this album, and actually keeps the shredding focused better than in the past.

While I am very happy with this album, there is nothing here you haven't heard before other than maybe the section of "Lost Not Forgotten" I mentioned. There are the requisite ballads which fill up space adequately but leave no mark in my memory. The closer "Beneath the Surface" is especially boring, but we've seen worse DT ballads in the past. "This is the Life" is a bit better, with Rudess adding come classic prog interludes that grab my attention.

Overall, this is a 3.5 star album for me, Good but non-essential for the general prog community but probably 4 stars for prog metal fans. For those that worried that the band was done, I'd say "not yet." I definitely enjoy this album much more than their previous offering, and blasphemously I actually like it better than the overwrough SCENES FROM A MEMORY, which just never set well with me.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
4 stars 7/10

"A Dramatic Turn Of Events" is the best Dream Theater album since "Six Degrees".

I wonder how many people thought this was going to be awful. After the departure of drummer Mike Portnoy, who was the spinal cord of the band, many didn't know what to expect with new drummer Mike Mangini (Annihilator), and with the naturally different direction, since the former musician always led DT to a heavy sound, thus the sound would perhaps be or more rockish/straight-forward (my biggest fear), or more experimental. I must admit I was one of those people who wasn't excited, even if I liked "On The Backs Of Angels", the single to drop out the album, and I probably wasn't even going to bother getting the album immediately. But I did, and I got surprised big time. "A Dramatic Turn Of Events" could be the best DT album since "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence", released nine years earlier. This to me was a relief, and I was glad.

Luckily, the band opted with the more experimental approach, so the ambition of this album is immense. As a matter of fact, it is one of the most rich and ambitious albums the band has ever done. So many textures and layers of sound can be heard, and you hear new ones you've missed the previous listens every new listen. aDToE is a much more keyboard- driven, progressive LP, tons of effects, samples, and very interesting ambient moments, especially in many intros here. It can be heavy too, thanks to Petrucci's amazing guitar playing. His riffs here are mostly very well written and almost always pretty mind-blowing. But the two shining stars of the album for me are Jordan Rudess, who gives some of the most impressive performances I've ever heard by a keybordist, and Mike Mangini, who does an awesome job in my opinion and is a more than decent substitute of Portnoy.

But the thing that bothers me about this album is something that is present in all Dream Theater albums but here it is magnified to the extreme: technical musicianship, and the solos. On this album they are pushed to the very extreme, and end up sounding cold and, after a while, a little boring too. The musicians have written "Oh look how good I am" all over them, and I'm sorry to say that. It is almost too complex, too ambitious, or at least for my taste.

There are however moments that blew me away completely starting from the opening track "On The Backs Of Angels", that builds up epically and has good hooks. But my two favorite tracks here are the following "Build Me up, Break Me Down", which looks like it is becoming subject of controversy because of it's apparent cheesiness and really straight-forwardness, and "Bridges In The Sky", that has an awesome intro and aggressive feel overall. Other moments here are quite good: "This Is The Life" is one of the most beautiful ballads Dream Theater has written in a while, and "Beneath The Surface" is another calm and likeable tune. I always am satisfied when I like a DT ballad, because usually I don't enjoy them. "Outcry" is fun to listen to, but it does incarnate the excessive technical nature that this LP has; do I really want to hear almost ten minutes of crazy keyboards? "Breaking All Illusions" is another track I enjoyed a lot, it has a sort of layered down feel, and it's a good thing after more than an hour of Dream Theater madness.

"A Dramatic Turn Of Events" is so much better than I thought; It might not be as good as other releases this year, but 2011, as we can all see, is a year where music blossoms very well. If you like extremely technical music, you'll have a blast with Petrucci & company's last effort.

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars Breaking all illusions

Dream Theater is a band that needs to introduction. They are the single most popular progressive metal band in the industry, selling millions upon millions of records and playing shows to thousands of die-hard fans. They almost single-handedly forged the path of one of the most prosperous genres in modern progressive rock. They have some of the most dedicated fans of any band as well as some of the most dedicated haters of any band. They're signature sound can be heard from miles away and has been imitated by countless bands. Their mix of "melody, metal, and prog" has become the standard for near all prog metal bands in their echelon, and the band's incredible amount of virtuosity has made them gods among technical-loving musicians everywhere. However, the past year has been the most tumultuous time in the band's entire history. Dream Theater has had its share of "drama." In 1994-95, the band's first keyboardist Kevin Moore left the band, and lead singer James LaBrie ruptured his vocal chords due to a food poisoning incident, all right before the band's second world tour. In the band's 2010-11 season, however, something eternally more shocking occurred - DT's driving force and founding member Mike Portnoy announced his departure from the band. Of course, this created an upheaval of reactions from the band's legions of fans, and much discussion, bittering, and outright arguing occurred between the fans. The band had decided to continue on as a band, which was contrary to what Portnoy had wanted. So, the band stayed in secrecy about their new drummer, announcing they had gone back to the studio in January, and that their new album was to be titled A Dramatic Turn of Events (an aptly, but perhaps a bit too aptly, titled title), before announcing in April of 2011, near 6 months after Portnoy had left, that legendary drummer Mike Mangini, former holder of the fastest single stroke player (over 1200 hits in a minute) was the band's new drummer. They also announced in documentary form that they had auditioned 7 drummers: Mangini, Virgil Donati, Aquiles Prester, Marco Minnemann, Thomas Lang, Peter Wildoer, and Derek Roddy. In June, the band excitedly released their first single off the new album, "On the Backs of Angels," which displayed a less metal- dense and very typical progressive Dream Theater sound, which, for the most part, excited fans. The progressive world then patiently waited until September 13 (or, for some, a wee bit earlier due to some less than legal activities) for the release of the band's new album.

The 77 minute album was a treat for most. The band seemed, despite popular belief, to still be able to write music without Mike Portnoy. In some cases, it seems Portnoy's insistence on metal seems to have lightened a bit, as there are more ballads and more of a balance between the guitar, keys, and bass (I'll get to the drums later). Although the metal aspect of the music is still very much present, it seems the album has a heavier emphasis on progressiveness and melody, rather than simply riffs, riffs and more riffs. Rudess and Myung both seem to be much more present (Myung especially) on this album as well, giving a more dynamic approach then just Petrucci's constant dominance over the music. The entire album is brimming with signature Dream Theater songs - with Rudess' interesting use of silly keyboard voices, Petrucci's virtuoso riffing and soloing, and now Mangini's mechanical and precise drumming, it seems this is the band's true return to form, and easily the band's best since 2005's Octavarium.

Now I'm well known around these parts as a massive Dream Theater fanboy, and that really any opinion of a new Dream Theater album will be slightly skewed based on nearly every prog fan's natural bias towards the band, good or bad. However, despite my undying love of this band, my opinion of the album seems to have evened out after eleven or so listens. My first listen was skewed by an excitement-high that had me nearly writing a perfect 5 star review. I stopped myself, though. My second listen wasn't as grand. I seemed to think the album was just another Octavarium with a little Images and Words mixed in; good but nothing special. However, with the third, fourth, fifth, and so on listens, I began to hear the little bits of true greatness the band seemed to have baked into the album. The metal tracks were aggressive, epic, and progressive. The ballads were sincere, intimate, and well played. The longer tracks were arranged well, although not as well as they once were (arrangement was Portnoy's strong suit). The instrumentation was spot on, with Petrucci's solos as good as they've ever been. Myung's bass lines are masterful and also, amazingly, audible (at least with a subwoofer :-P). The lyrics weren't anything to write home about, but they were typical to Dream Theater - seemingly political, ambiguous, and with an overuse of the words "soul" or "life." Not every song is perfect, with the second track "Build me up, Break me Down" seeming like a cheesy James LaBrie solo career ripoff radio attempt, which seriously drags the album down. Mangini's drumming seems to have been forced to take the back seat in the mix, which is a daunting contrast to Portnoy's ever- present drumming in former mixes. LaBrie's singing, which is usually a sore spot amongst fans and haters alike, is wonderful on the album, and he does an excellent job especially on the album's 3 ballads.

Each track on the album seems to have a little something special to it, even the lesser ones of the album. The opener, "On the Backs of Angels" is the cozy song for fans, a kind of "hey, we're still Dream Theater!" that retains the band's classic sound in a very traditional and signature way. The track is a fantastic showcase of Rudess' skill, with a great keyboard part really shining in the song. "Build me Up, Break me Down" is easily the weakest song on the album, yet still has a distinct quality to it. It is the album's "radio friendly" song, although it's quite the traditional metal song; it is similar to Systematic Chaos's "Constant Motion" in its intent, methinks. "Lost not Forgotten" is the album's first "long song," clocking in at around 10 minutes. Lyrically, it is about the fallen kingdom of Persia, and musically, it's just as epic as that ancient kingdom. Vast, emotive, and powerful, it is certainly a high point on the album. It is followed by the first ballad on the album, the emotional and moving "This is the Life," which has a potent dynamic of near-AOR-esque guitar riffing and truly beautiful piano and vocal work. It is easily one of the band's better ballads in their discography, and it adds a really nice touch to the album. "Bridges in the Sky," originally titled The Shaman's Trance, is the second 11 minute epic of the album, which is full of interesting dynamics, intense riffs, and very strong instrumental and vocal performances. It features a classic Dream Theater instrumental section, with precision synchronization, Petrucci/Rudess switch off solos, and an overall incredible virtuoso show-off session. "Outcry" follows suit with "Bridges?," with an 11 minute length and an epic dynamic metal Dream Theater-fest. Much in the same way of "Bridges?," it features an epic instrumental section, full of technical mayhem and progressive epicness. "Far From Heaven" is by far the most melancholic song on the album. It features tender vocals by LaBrie, emotive piano work from Rudess, and a very well placed string quartet. "Breaking All Illusions" is the album's true epic, clocking in at over 12 minutes, and containing all that the album has been building up to. Epic riffing, intense instrumentation, powerful vocals, and even very well written lyrics by none other than John Myung make this easily the best song on the album and a treat for all progressive metal fans. The album finally ends with the guitar-led ballad "Beneath the Surface," which has a very similar approach to "Far From Heaven," except in a major key. The song is uplifting and calming, with the subtle strings and Petrucci's laid back guitar work meshing beautifully with LaBrie's vocals. It ends the joy ride of an album on a truly spectacular note, wrapping the entire album up in a pretty plush blanket that makes you feel all nice and fuzzy on the inside. Overall, the album has its ups and downs, but it certainly makes for a wonderfully enjoyable roller coaster.

Although this may seem like an over-long and verbose description of how I love this album, I think there's a little bit of reason behind my 1600+ word review. It has been established time and time again that Dream Theater seems to be in a slump in their creative careers. Needless to say the last few albums have simply been decent, average modern Dream Theater material, with nothing truly outstanding about it. Post-Scenes From a Memory, Dream Theater seemed to be going downhill, and downhill fast. However, it seems that perhaps they have turned their noses up slightly. The album is the band's true return to form in my opinion. Vast, dynamic progressive metal that's not drowning in metal riffs but rather floating on a sea of well-developed and carefully chosen riffs is truly what makes up this album. It's sad that it took a truly dramatic turn of events such as their drummer's departure for the band to wake up and produce such a masterful album such as A Dramatic Turn of Events. I believe this is the best thing Dream Theater has created in the past 6 years. 4+ stars.

Review by Nightfly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Well who'd have thought it would ever happen, a Dream Theater album without Mike Portnoy. However, as everything's pretty much been said that can be on this subject I won't expand any further on it other than to simply say that Dream Theater have proved with A Dramatic Turn Of Events that not only can they exist without him but they have actually bettered anything they've done for years. How much of this is down to Portnoy's absence is difficult to say but my suspicion that his previous firm hold on the band, which included some mistakes like his attempts at death growls, wouldn't have allowed this album to happen the way it has.

A perusal at my reviews for the last couple of Dream Theater albums would reveal a rating of 4 stars for both, the same as this one. So how's this one better then? Well, I've made a deliberate effort to live with this one longer than the last two before committing myself as while Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds.... were both decent albums, I found their shine wearing off pretty quickly and my initial excitement being replaced by apathy. Despite some exciting musicianship, a lack of strong melodies affected their long term appeal. This is where A Dramatic Turn Of Events triumphs big time, the band replacing bludgeon with a more melodic sensibility more akin to Images and Words era. That's not to say that ADTOE lacks power, there's no shortage of metal riffing, but the more tuneful approach works far better than previous attempts to compete with the new metal kids on the block. This is immediately apparent from the off and whilst On The Backs Of Angels is not my favourite piece it's nevertheless a useful statement of intent of their return to more melodious days.

Of course a review of the new Dream Theater album would be incomplete without mentioning Portnoy's replacement Mike Mangini. The guy undoubtedly has the necessary chops and follows all the twists, turns and complexities with ease. Where he differs and whether you consider this a good thing or not are down to personal preferences, is in his less frenetic approach. Rhythmically he has all the double kick stuff down to a fine art but is content to ease back on the amount of fills. Where his predecessor rarely went a couple of bars without throwing something in, Mangini, whilst more restrained, nevertheless has plenty to offer in his more considered approach.

Getting back to things on a musical level, whilst this album may on the face of it appear to be stepping backwards, which in many respects it is, it nevertheless does offer some progression, at least for Dream Theater like on Build Me Up, Break me Down with a Porcupine Tree-esque verse before entering more traditional DT territory for the chorus. The slow pace and grinding riff that appears from time to time is a killer. Jordan Rudess seems to have benefited from the new approach, having more space to not only shine but heard more too, not least with some fine playing on Lost Not Forgotten, incidentally, one of the highlights for me mixing strong hooks with some fine instrumental work.

There's the obligatory ballads - Beneath The Surface, Far From Heaven and This Is The Life, which are fine but much better are the longer pieces such as Bridges In The Sky which after a beautiful choral intro has a killer John Petrucci riff and John Myung seems to even be heard to better effect too, not just here, but overall. I'll be the first to admit that James LaBrie has not been one of my favourite vocalists, but I can't say I've ever heard him better than on ADTOE, Bridges In The Sky being a particular high point for him. The cinematic feel of the intro to Outcry leads into more pedestrian Dream Theater territory, but on more recent outings would still be considered above average, but in more illustrious company doesn't quite hit the mark until moving into instrumental mode where it really takes off. Most of the best material here breaks the ten minute barrier, Breaking All Illusions being no exceptions, once again mixing memorable melodies with some strong instrumental work including one of Petrucci's best solo's on the album.

Whether Dream Theater and Mike Portnoy will ever make another album together or not remains to be seen. Without insulting the guy and I'm a great admirer of his playing, I believe he's done the band a favour by leaving which has appears to have given them a new found freedom and a good kick up the ass. A Dramtic Turn Of Events is undoubtedly their best album for years, since Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence in 2002.

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars It's to my surprise that the local pressing CD version of this new album by Dream Theater was available pretty soon right after the world wide release date of 13 September 2011. I am not sure when exactly the Indonesian pressing version was available but for sure only couple of days (less than 7 days) from official release date. I was lucky not to pre-order the CD because with local pressing I would have two benefits: first, it's cheaper even though there is no bonus DVD (it's OK, I can watch the blue ray version from my prog mates right here in my country) and second, help promote local pressing sales so that in the future many prog bands can be released locally and affordable to majority of people here. I am happy that there have been some prog bands already made local pressing like Porcupine Tree, Opeth, Dream Theater, Marillion and hopefully many more bands to be pressed locally. Let's make prog everyone's business, like pop music.

This album has been reviewed by many reviewers BEFORE its official release date and the Admin of this site promised that any reviews done before release date will be omitted. It has proved that this album had been leaking in the internet world weeks before its official release date - it's probably from the promotional CD issued by the label. I have seen many positive reviews about this album and in average it has been an excellent addition to any prog music collection. I like the headline put by colleague reviewer Evolver who put "DREAM THEATER - PORTNOY = DREAM THEATER". What a simple equation that really tells the truth. While in my case, let me put it this way:

Dream Theater without Portnoy tends to be PROG

I pre-ordered 'Systematic Chaos' and 'Black Cloud and Silver Linings' CDs and at the end I spun the album rarely despite my good review about the two albums. I maybe only have less then ten spins because I was sometime tired listening to DREAM SEVENFOLD music. Yeah, that two albums sound too metal with very some progressive touch. It's like inserting Avenged Sevenfold into DT . I have no issue with Avenged Sevenfold but I do not want Dream Theater ha too much metal. With the departure of Portnoy I am so relieved that the band is now moving back to its roots on progressive metal. As far as this album concern I have made long and positive review when the single On The Back of Angels was available for download in the label's website. My prediction about what would it be like in a full album not different at all because I find this album is excellent (having spun the album many times). This refers to the latest development where the band had undergone fundamental change in their line-up due to one of the founding fathers and drummer, Mike Portnoy, left the band to materialize his metal dream. People were skeptical on what it'd be like without him who had been very dominant in the music direction of DT. You may want to check on many reviews on the net about this new album and you would find out that this one is still kicking. Yes, it's not like 'Scene from a Memory' concept album but it's really an excellent one to be added in progressive music collection.

I am happy that 'On The Backs of Angels' has been assigned to open the album. This track proves the roots of DT music in progressive style. I consider this track as a masterpiece as it has well crafted composition: nice melody, balanced harmony, frequent style changes over the duration of the track, and solid structural integrity. Even though I already played this track many times before the full-length album was released, I still play this album from the beginning because I really love this track. There is a guy from Brazil who regularly play Dream Theater music claimed that this track is structurally similar with 'Pull Me Under' from Images and Words. He might be right but I do not really care. This song serves different emotional experience for me to enjoy entirely from segment to segment. It flows beautifully from atmospheric opening with guitar fills and moves its way in crescendo. In fact some parts of this track reminds me to 'Forsaken' of Systematic Chaos album ? in a different way, of course. The beauty of this track lies on the combined music styles where it has excellent mix of atmospheric, progressive (through the keyboard solo by Jordan Ruddess) and heavy riffs. Well, I really enjoy inventive keyboard solo by Ruddess followed with stunning guitar solo by Petrucci.

The second track "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" reminds me to 'Never Enough' (Octavarium) music style. This is basically a song orientated track and it sounds really well to my ears. This track proves that James LaBrie is the best singer well-suited to DT music. I like this track as it has good melody, easy to digest and it moves smoothly from start to end. Maybe the most distinctive thing from this track is its groove that moves us - the listeners. I like the opening part which has musical loop augmented with guitar work. I salute the band for putting together this catchy track without making the music sounds boring for relatively long duration, approx. 7 minutes.

Simple classical music played with piano solo opens up the third track "Lost Not Forgotten" with a nice ambient. It flows nicely with all instruments play altogether, repeating the same melody as opening piano. The good thing, even though it's a repetition in melody the band has creatively put together good textures and nuances that make the music sounds differently. Not only that ... Oh boy! The acrobatic segment involving mainly Petrucci's guitar and Ruddess' keyboard in staccato style backed with bassguitar as well as drums has created complex and great segments. WOW! My expectation of Fatal Tragedy's staccato style has been paid off satisfactorily by the band through this wonderful segment! The music flows beautifully with many style and tempo changes through an excellent vocal line of LaBrie. There are many acrobatic segments throughout this track with wonderful staccato style.

Let me STOP here. The first time I spun this album, I said to myself something like this: "Even if this album comprises only these first three tracks, I am already happy purchasing the CD. The first and third track have fulfilled my expectation already -- I do not expect further music offerings -- this is good enough for me.

The next track 'This is the Life' is actually a bonus for me. It's basically a ballad -- a very nice ballad that I don't think I need to elaborate as I believe most people would like it. There is basically no progressive elements in this track. But the next one 'Bridges in the Sky' brings us back to progressive world with music style that is really Dream Theater and NOT Dream Sevenfold or Avenged Theater. Of course there are heavy elements right here but there are more progressive syncopation performed by the band in this track. It opens with an ambient nuance followed with very nice guitar riffs and moves in crescendo with metal style followed with inventive keyboard work. Mangini plays his double pedal bass drums while Petrucci plays more riffs than solo during the opening part. The rest of the music is a great demonstration of music virtuosities in true progressive metal fashion.

The next track is basically a challenger of my previous best Dream Theater track of entire songs they have in their career 'Stream of Consciousness' from 'Train of Thought' album. 'Outcry' starts nicely with an atmospheric nuance and it follows with a very beautiful programmed musical loop with great guitar fills / riffs. I think the idea of inserting this loop is really wonderful and it helps set the stage of the track. The reason I select this track as challenger of 'Stream of Consciousness' is because its brilliant and well-crafted composition followed with masterpiece performance of the band members throughout all segments of this wonderful track. There are elements o traditional eastern music demonstrated by keyboard solo just before the acrobatic staccato style. Well yeah! Dream Theater has been the master of staccato at its best which originally was invented from UK debut album in the 70s through its track 'Presto Vivace and reprise' -- Dream Theater has taken it it extensively. There are many musical orgasm in this track and I think it's worth considering this track to replace 'Stream of Consciousness' dominance as the best Dream Theater track (my view). On of the peak the track has is the part where it suddenly turns into mellow and silent style with piano simple notes right after all members of the band demonstrate their virtuosities in complex and acrobatic musical arrangements. Long live Dream Theater!

'Far From Heaven' serves like a relaxation part after having been bombarded with the wonderful music of Outcry. It basically contains nice vocal of LaBrie backed with piano touches and string arrangements. Musically there is nothing prog that I can describe here except that this is a very nice mellow track for contemplation. Contemplation? Yeah! Well, I have to admit that the lyrics are so simple but they are so basic, so fundamental that serve the inner-self of me as a Moslem. Regardless what good deeds (I may still question this -- Have I done really good deeds -- I might have NOT!). I am still so far from heaven and there are lots of things to do to be a better human being that serves the people.

'Breaking All Illusions' is another really Dream Theater track where it has excellent melody, great harmonies, frequent style and tempo changes with heavy riffs and solid structural integrity. Well, I don't think I need to elaborate my view about this track as this one is really at par excellence with the opening track 'On The Backs...' as well as 'Lost Not Forgotten'. I love this track. The album concludes with a ballad 'Beneath The Surface' beautifully.

It makes me rethinking ...

...the way I have made reviews so far, really. Having listened to this latest album of Dream Theater in its entirety more than ten spins, I think I should question the reviews I have made for other albums by other bands. I think 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' has not matched the masterpiece of 'Scene from a Memory' concept album. But when I question why, I do not have the precise answer. It's probably this is not a concept album and each track stands at its own right while the Scene album was a continuous story from one part to another. This album is at the same level of excellence of Images and Words where I gave five star rating even though there was one track that too poppy for me. This album is as enjoyable as Octavarium and of course much much better than Sytematic Chaos and Black Clouds (the latter two albums were basically too metal for me). Then, my overall conclusion about this album is probably having a 4.5 star (9 of 10) rating. The only reservation for me for not giving five star rating is because there are many song orientated tracks and some of them are ballads like 'Build Me Up ..' 'This is The Life', 'Far From Heaven' and 'Beneath The Surface'. Of course all of them are nice tracks but not quite prog in style. So I put it as a very excellent addition of any prog music collection. I admire Dream Theater for its ability to return to form even though one of the founding members left the band. It proves that actually without Portnoy Dream Theater is STILL Dream Theater even better because it has lesser metal components and it tends to be more progressive.

As far as other bands, I think my three star rating for Yes 'Fly From Here' must be revised to two star as it lacks creativity (only take the roots of The Buggles music) and musically is not that excellent, overall, if it's compared to this album by Dream Theater. Keep on proggin'!

Peace on earth and mercy mild -- GW

Review by Muzikman
5 stars It was unquestionably A Dramatic Turn of Events when the co-founder and drummer of Dream Theater, Mike Portnoy, decided to call it a day. I have no doubt the title of this album was inspired by that one life changing event for the band. James LaBrie (vocals), John Petrucci (guitars), John Myung (bass), Jordan Rudess (keyboards) and Mike Mangini (drums) are one of the biggest names in music now as they once again set the standard for the genre after the release of their most recent classic slice of epic progressive metal. The well documented story of the drummer replacement sessions that eventually landed Mike Mangini behind the kit even sparked a parody on the internet by the band Solstice Coil. Good to know that people were at least paying attention.

For the first time I decided to pre order the special limited edition boxed set. I dropped $105.00, which is probably fair considering the cost of 180 gram vinyl alone. You get 2 LPs, 2 CDs with one featuring instrumental mixes of each track, 1 DVD chronicling the drummer try out sessions, a frame worthy lithograph of the album cover, a monogramed turntable mat, two high quality picture sleeves with lyrics that you can place the LPs in?and a few lucky recipients will get a lifetime pass to Dream Theater concerts. In case you were wondering, I was not one of the lucky ones. So was it worth it? I would say yes. Would I do it again? I would be tempted to do so, yes.

The big question would be just how much the band would miss Portnoy. Judging by the creative process in recording the album and how it sounds I would have to say that most listeners are not going to be able to tell the difference. Mangini was known by the band and he played on James LaBrie's solo albums. In fact I recall seeing him play side by side with Portnoy back in 2001 at a show at the Orpheum in Boston. So let's face it, there was already a relationship established with the potential drummer and everyone in the band agreed he stood out the most at the try outs. Even though writing the music is a collaborative effort, the band created all the drum parts and sent them to Mangini for this recording. This is understandable considering the situation at the time. Certainly the next time DT goes into the studio it will be more of a collaborative effort from the drummer's point of view. There is no mistake that Petrucci is the driving force behind the band now and with the removal of such a strong personality as Portnoy I think the other members were given more creative room to breathe and felt they were more of a band. In fact LaBrie even mentioned that very fact during the sessions earlier this year.

A Dramatic Turn of Events is a very strong album and a victory in many ways for Dream Theater. I commend them for not folding after losing one of their founding members and grabbing the bull by the horns and pushing onward. That very energy and power is felt on this album. It is very heavy, harkening back to albums like Train of Thought and bits and pieces like Octavarium. However, that is for these ears - everyone will get something different from this album and that is the beauty of the Dream Theater experience. The album art sure indicates how delicate life is and how at times we are on a tight rope and at any moment can fall off into oblivion. I believe the point here is that this is a choice we all make. Do we let ourselves free fall to a crashing end or regain our balance and carry on? This is exactly what Dream Theater did after they got the news about Portnoy.

A Dramatic Turn of Events has 9 excellent prog-metal songs that focus on all the strengths that this incredible band has to offer. Thought provoking lyrics, exceptional musicianship, and of course epic tracks that change direction at a moment's notice. The dramatic opener "On The Backs of Angels" is a fruitful entry into the DT catalog of recordings. The accompanying video creates equally compelling images to match the music and lyrics. "Breaking All Illusions" clocks in at 12:25 minutes, while "Bridges In The Sky" is 11:01 and "Lost Not Forgotten" comes in at 10:11. The shortest track is "Far From Heaven" which is only 3:56 minutes long. The best track for musical variety and crazy good changes is "Breaking All Illusions". James LaBrie's vocals on this track are magical; I was feeling the chills listening to it. And I have listened several times now with the same result. The opening of the track sounds like something from an Iron Maiden album (one of their acknowledged influences). Those facts speak loudly for the type of music that this band can create for its listeners. DT is masterful at creating images and making them real for their audience and with this release there is no exception to that rule.

At every turn Dream Theater delivers on this album. Is it their best? That is a tough call when you love everything they have ever done but I have to say it is one of their best to date. Mike Mangini does a fine job filling the shoes of a legend and it looks as though they made the right choice selecting him as their newest member.

Key Tracks: Breaking All Illusions, On The Backs of Angels

Keith "MuzikMan" Founder

For Questions Or Comments About This Review Send An Email To [email protected]

Review by crimson87
5 stars The Prog Metal Masters are back!!!!

Was the general reaction when the pubic first heard this album, and while I think they never left since their last offerings were really good records, the band had once again reached a level of excellence lost when keyboardist Kevin Moore left the band after the Awake album. Some of the reviewers on several sites emphasized the fact that this album resembles in sound and structure the good old Images and Words record, and in some aspects I agree with that statement. However, this is far from saying this album is an I&W carbon copy. The opener "On the Backs of Angels" starts with an acoustic guitar and drum beat that reminds their "Greatest Hit" Pull me Under , then developing into a mid tempo metal song with a powerful chorus. A wise choice for a hit single since this tune is DT in a nutshell, offering all (good) the band has to deliver: Hard riffs & soloing, intricate drumming patterns and fine singing by a restrained James La Brie. "Build me up, Break me down" is the more radio friendly song of the album, but that does not mean is a bad song or lacks progressive elements. Finally, on the third track of the record we get to hear the first epic of the album called "Lost not Forgotten" this song starts with a mellow piano but then develops into a grand epic with oriental feel. There are some jaw dropping instrumental tradeoffs between guitar and keys as usual but also magnificent drumming from Mike Mangini. I am pretty sure that this song will be played a lot in their upcoming concerts. The fourth song of the record called "This is the life" is an uplifting ballad with meaningful lyrics remisent of James La Brie solo work. In my opinion this track is not among the strongest of the record but is correctly placed to cut the tension between 3 long metal - oriented tracks. I think that the fifth song here is the spotlight of the album "Bridges in the sky " is just an incredible track , ranking among the best epics DT has done: Featuring a powerful chorus , a soaring guitar solo in the middle and incredible drumming , here I am sure we have another highlight on their concerts. The next epic on the album "Outcry" is not as strong as the previous track but includes an amazing instrumental section. "Far from Heaven" is a short ballad featuring only James la Brie and piano, this song reminds me of "Vacant" or "Wait for sleep". The last epic of the album is by many, the most impressive song on the record and one of the finest songs of the year. This song has moving lyrics and all members of the band shine here. The JLB stops singing at minute 5 and then the song becomes a massive instrumental. Finally, the last song of the album is another ballad, though not as strong as the previous ones. Features a synth solo remiscent of ELP's "Lucky Man". I think DT should have closed the record with "Breaking all illusions" and it would have been perfect. But Selling England has "More fool me" on it and it's still a landmark of progressive rock, so I don't see how this little song can diminish this record's rating. Truly an incredible comeback for Dreamtheather and one of the best prog rock albums of the year. Ranking among their finest works. After listening to this record several times, only one thing is for sure: MP won't be missed.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Agreed: This is the most accessible (to a non-metal head) DT album in 10-15 years, and, yes, these are polished musicians who seem to have a fresh spark inspiring them again, but, this is not, IMHO, a masterpiece. There is so little here that is truly new or fresh or (sorry folks!) 'progressive'--though, given, they are prog rockers. The music I feel deserve masterpiece status are those that are pushing the boundaries of familarity--the Yugens, Skes, After Cryings, Toby Drivers, Omar Rodriguez-Lopezes, Karda Estras, North Sea Radio Orchestra, etc., etc. "Far From Heaven" is my fave here (strings over double-kick bass drum pedals any day!) 3.5 stars rated down cuz this kind of music is a dime a dozen and not for my collection.
Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Another two years - another Dream Theater release...

It has pretty much been a tradition for almost a decade that Dream Theater would release an album every other year and then follow it up with a world tour. But unlike most other fans, I never considered this endeavor to keep going for as long as it has so far without there being consequences of one type or another.

My all time favorite performance by the band was during their Train Of Thought tour which was labeled as An Evening With Dream Theater. That meant that the band would get on stage without any supposing acts and do a 3+ hour long show filled with pretty much every composition that we, the fanboys, could ever wish for. Since 2004, things have clearly been going down in terms of scale and magnitude related to the band's approach to music making and touring. The 2009 performance at their own Prog Nation Festival, where they had three supporting acts and less than 90 minutes of stage time, left me longing for those good but not so old years. One thing that I was especially worried for was Mike Portnoy's health since he clearly looked exhausted at that particular show, even thought that didn't reflect in any way with his spectacular performance. So it actually didn't come as much of a surprise when Mike announced his departure from the band and you will not hear me criticizing him for this decision or any of his later schemes. The man is clearly in a dark place right now and is steered by bad judgment. What I'm more interested in is whether Mike's original plea for a Dream Theater hiatus was a sound one or not. Before the release of A Dramatic Turn Of Events, I was clearly for it, but would 10+ spins of this new release change my mind?

The 2011 release has clearly been met with a lot of praise from the fans and critics, calling it a clear departure from the commercialized approach that has been taking over the better part of the last three Dream Theater releases. Some went as far as calling this a return to the Images And Words frame of mind for the collective. Even if I agree that the band has released their best album in many years, there is clearly a reason to wave a finger of warning to all the fans who are praising the album to skies. A Dramatic Turn Of Events is not a return to form, nor is it a fresh and new take on the worn out Dream Theater formula. The band have made and effort to deviate themselves from their approach of the last couple of years and return to the creative peak of 1999-2004. This is what fans are actually praising about the new release and this fact kind of makes me sad. Not only is this change of direction feel very artificial but it also lacks any deeper bearing to it. Dream Theater are just not in the same frame of mind as they were back when they released their classic material. The band sounds a bit tired and directionless with this collection of nine tracks even if this is easily some of their best work in years. What I'm saying is that this release might seem adequate for now but I honestly don't see this as a sign of a new renaissance in the band's history. But that enough about that; let's talk about the actual album!

The opening track and also the first single from the album is On The Backs Of Angels and it's pretty much a mishmash of many familiar sounds that we're so used to from the band. The only real surprise here is the acoustic guitar intro which is a divination from the traditional Dream Theater album openers. It's almost as if John Petrucci is saying that he's now seized the control of the band, but that's merely my subjective interpretation of it all. The opening number is merely adequate for my tastes but it's clearly superior to Build Me Up, Break Me Down, which sounds like a very poor stab at sounding commercial but without the cheap stabs at other artists. This is just a commercial Dream Theater song and a potential next single.

Lost Not Forgotten is the real album opener for me since it marks the point where this release finally begins to engage me and it does this very well. Basically these remaining seven tracks are some of the best released by the band. My personal favorites are the emotionally charged ballad This Is The Life, epic Bridges In The Sky (minus the somewhat annoying Shaman shouts) and the magnum opus Breaking All Illusions. All of the band members are clearly on top of their game and deliver some of the most engaging work. This can of course be said about most of Dream Theater's releases, hence the reason behind their acclaim as a band with serious chops.

The lyrics are surprisingly engaging on ballads Far From Heaven and Beneath The Surface, which is a huge step up from all the so called personal experiences that were covered on Black Clouds & Silver Linings. The song writing itself hasn't actually improved too much since we do get our regular dosage of epics, instrumental interludes and progressive metal in general. Unfortunately there are no real signs of progression towards any new ideas or themes here that would make me interested in the future direction of Dream Theater. The band plays it way too safe for my taste, but I'm sure that this opinion will be in the minority since Dream Theater fans aren't exactly known for being open-minded about any of the changes that the band have done over the years.

I definitely recommend A Dramatic Turn Of Events to fans of progressive metal music but this recommendation comes with a disclaimer and a word of warning. Unfortunately I don't think that Dream Theater will get any better than this. Interpret it however you feel like.

***** star songs: This is the Life (6:57) Bridges in the Sky (11:01) Breaking All Illusions (12:25)

**** star songs: On The Backs Of Angels (8:46) Lost Not Forgotten (10:11) Outcry (11:24) Far From Heaven (3:56) Beneath The Surface (5:26)

*** star songs: Build Me Up, Break Me Down (6:59)

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars A new Dream Theater and one surrounded with much ado about a certain line-up change. It also followed a string of albums that weren't exactly received with universal praise. So obviously this album was much anticipated and luckily for DT this album has been met with much enthusiasm. Well, after 20 years with this band I think it's safe to say I will never fully like them, their shredding tendencies as well as their average vocals and sticky pop vanilla are a too dominant feature in their sound. Too bad as there is plenty of good stuff here, some of it easily reaching a Prog Metal master degree.

After the strong opener, also 'Build Me Up' starts excellently, but the cheesy chorus reminds us Dream Theater apparently can't do without bringing down their own songs with lame pop melodies. And it gets worse further down in the album: 'This is Life', 'Far From Heaven' and ' Beneath The Surface' are dreadful sugar-sticky ballads, exactly the kind of stale fake-emotion pop you can hear on any commercial TV during prime-time. Good, enough nagging, I hope the fans are into this for the lavish 10+ minute metal epics on this album and not for the pop ballads.

Dream Theater filled the 76 minutes of this CD to the brim and I'd wish they hadn't. I'm too lazy and obnoxious to go through all the trouble of skipping all these questionable ballads to come to real treats. I expect bands to have enough self-scrutiny to do that selection themselves. A potential 4 star album leaving me with a foul after-taste. One for the fans.

Review by darkshade
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars So, I bought this album on release day, and have listened to it close to 40 times as of this review. Why did I take so long to review this album, being such a big fan of the band as I am?

Well, for one, I almost always give new Dream Theater albums 5 stars when they come out. Ive since adjusted my ratings for their older albums. This album, I wanted to take my time, and see if this one was truly 5 stars worth, considering the back story surrounding this album; what with Mike Portnoy's unexpected departure and new drummer Mike Mangini coming on board. I think Portnoy's departure may have been the most upsetting and controversial lineup shift of a drummer since... well.... Bill Bruford leaving Yes. Most people aren't too concerned when a drummer leaves a band, as much as they are when a guitarist or singer leaves. Portnoy left much of his musical stamp on much of Dream Theater's music, so it was going to be interesting to see how the band's sound would change without him.

Another reason I took so long to write this review, is that I could not wrap my head around all the music in 4-5 listens. It literally took over 10 or so listens to really get an idea of what this album was all about. The music is some of the most complex and technical stuff Dream Theater has ever written, but also some of the most thought-provoking. Some of the passages are really deep, and contain many subtleties.

What I like most about the album, is the flow. Dream Theater's albums in the past decade have more or less suffered from album flow, NOT the quality of the songs themselves. This album however, goes by in a breeze. It may take up most of the CD it's on, but it flows so well, that I'm not looking at my watch every couple of songs.

And what of the music itself? It is classic Dream Theater, but really let loose, and not in the Train of Thought-type of let loose without regard for musicality. I mean, they took all the best elements of 2000s Dream Theater, and mixed it with a few aspects of their older, 90s sound, and added some more modern twists (such as some electronic beats on "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" and "Outcry"). James LaBrie has been given more free reign, and a noticeable difference on this album is that he multi-tracked some of his vocals, giving them a slightly different depth than before.

Everyone else in the band is very audible (Yes even John Myung on bass), though the drums could have been mixed a tad louder, but it's ok. This is the most clear Ive heard the band since Scenes From A Memory, maybe Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Speaking of Six Degrees... this is easily the best album since that 2002 masterpiece. Every song is good, and is very powerful.

For the casual Dream Theater fan, this album IS a must. If you're favorite albums are Images & Words, Scenes From A Memory, or Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, you will want this album badly. Dream Theater have (yet again) returned. Really looking forward to the next album to see what they'll come up with with Mike Mangini hopefully contributing to the music.

Review by m2thek
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.

Review by progrules
4 stars Crucial question for me after listening to this album is whether DT's formula is holding up with this 11th release. I had this feeling after BC&SL already but gave them the benefit of the doubt because the band is so close to my for perfection longing taste. Besides that I witnessed them live about 7 times so I kinda know what the band is about and how good they really are.

Their perfectionism is shown best on their live gigs I do believe. They prove the band's true potential. And this also causes that I will never be able to hammer DT down with a one or two star rating. Unless of course they would produce something truly weak. But somehow that seems impossible to me. Even the "dramatic" departure of Portnoy doesn't really weaken the bands quality. Mangini does add something different to the band of course (it would be a miracle if it hadn't) but it's just minor because he drums partly in the same style.

What I'm trying to say is that ADTOE is still the same DT with some slight innovation here and there (Breaking all Illusions f.i.) and the question is how long they can keep it up. The formula is wearing a little bit thin on me by now, something that was already the case with the predecessor. But like I said: it's still good enough somehow. Hardly any weak(ish) songs on this latest so how could I go lower than four stars ? Don't know so I will have to give four again.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
3 stars Dream Theater's "weakest" since 1997

Another speedy released album by pregressive metal's kings. It's called A Dramatic Turn of Events. And why not? When all these news around the band has flourished. The founder and leader of the band Mike Portnoy left in September 2010 and soon after Mike Mangini was bought in. There was a passionate reality in three part about the audition for new drummer. All these events was very exciting.

First of all I would notice Mike Mangini is wonderful talent, who replaces Mike Portnoy in such a great manner. But this album just doesn't come up to my expectations. This album is too long, without avoiding anoyance with requisite precise songwriting and structural essence. A definite step backward to band's previous works. The ambience is quite sterile and undeviating (in negative sense of the term), typical for band's early career. All the songs, except Outcry are too predictable and contain some jejune structural decisions.

The musicianship, as always, is of high quality and long song are the positive and distinctive Dream Theater. That's the salvation of this interesting, but quite disappointing release. 3+ stars by me.

Review by VanVanVan
4 stars It's very hard for me to write about my favorite bands objectively, and Dream Theater certainly falls into that category. For that reason, I've waited what some would probably consider an inappropriately long time to review their latest-but I'm glad I did. On the day this album was released I mentally pronounced it a masterpiece: a glorious return to form for a band that had stuttered a bit on previous releases. And while it certainly is the best DT album in a while, the more I've listened to it the less it's seemed like a 5 star album to me.

To be perfectly clear, I do think that this is the band's best release since Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. A Dramatic Turn of Events is more consistent than either Train of Thought or Octavarium, less cheesy than Black Clouds and Silver Linings and just straight-up better than Systematic Chaos (though to be fair that's among my least favorite DT albums). That said, it's not perfect; there are moments that feel rehashed or overdramatic (no pun intended), but overall it's a pretty solid release from this legendary band.

"On the Backs of Angels" is the first track on the album, and I don't think it was an accident that this was the preview track for the album. With a 9 minute running time, it's clearly a signal that the band's prog-influence is still going strong, with multiple instrumental breaks and the kind of extended structure that Dream Theater is known for. However, it's also among the most accessible tracks on the album, with a big melodic chorus that recalls tracks like "A Rite of Passage." "On the Backs of Angels" is a good opener, but it's far from my favorite track, with a sound that's far less organic and far more "let's intentionally make some prog music" than most of the album.

"Build Me Up, Break Me Down" catches a lot of flak, but I really, really like it. True, it's far more straightforward than some of the knotty compositions Dream Theater has put out there but so was "Pull Me Under." Speaking of which, that's a pretty good reference point for the sound of this track, with a huge, anthemic chorus that simply screams for radio play. I don't say that as a negative, either (if they played this on the radio I'd listen to more radio), but this is definitely not a prog epic. If you can appreciate a simpler song among the slew of epics on the disc than you will probably really like this one, if not, well, there's plenty of long songs ahead.

Unfortunately, the first over-ten-minute song isn't one to write home about. I don't want to sound like I'm judging too harshly; "Lost Not Forgotten" is a good song, but not a great one. It's biggest problem, I think, is that there's nothing that really makes it stick out from the pack with regards to Dream Theater's other work: it lacks the pounding intensity of "The Glass Prison," or "In The Name of God;" it doesn't have the hooks of "Home" or the emotional "take your breath away" instrumentals like "The Ministry of Lost Souls." In short, it's a bit forgettable, and while I can forgive that in a short track, it's a bit harder to swallow in a song this long. Again, it's not bad, but if I want to spend ten minutes listening to Dream Theater I can think of better ways to do that. Still, I don't think anyone will find himself or herself skipping it if they're listening through the album. "This is the Life" luckily picks up again on a high note. I suppose you could label this as a "ballad," though with a seven minute run-time and definite prog metal leanings that's a bit of a hard label to apply. Nonetheless, it definitely fits into the "softer" side of Dream Theater, with James Labrie delivering remarkably restrained vocals for much of the track until the intensity finally bursts through in the climax of the song. This results in yet another John Petrucci solo to add to the archive of great guitar moments in Dream Theater history, with emotional playing that should be more than enough to dispel criticisms that Dream Theater is nothing but technicality. "This is the Life" is a great song that proves the band can still write softer songs and make them come out amazingly.

Our second 10+ minute song comes next, and it's far better than "This Is The Life." "Bridges in the Sky" starts with a sound that's either throat-singing or a didgeridoo before transitioning into a dramatic, atmospheric section that's a bit reminiscent of Gregorian chant. After this little introduction, pounding riffs come in and the song hits its stride. Another track with a great central hook and solos aplenty, it's also has some of the heavier moments on the album, and most of the song probably wouldn't have sounded out of place on Train of Thought. That said, the chorus opens up a little bit, creating a nice "heavy/light" contrast that keeps the track from being too crushingly heavy, if that's not your thing. Great, varied songwriting and always impressive playing makes this an excellent entry in the Dream Theater canon.

And speaking of great entries in the canon, the next track is "Outcry." This song, more than anything else, made me incredibly disappointed I couldn't see DT live this year, because I can't imagine the live performance of this one is anything less than spectacular. Beginning with a simple piano part, the track quickly launches into a galloping, full fledged anthem, with orchestral synth parts and one of the best vocal lines in recent memory. The lyrics, while perhaps a bit cheesy ("do we look the other way/or do we face the light/though it seems so far away/freedom's worth the fight") are nonetheless heartfelt, and as a result "Outcry" comes across as one of the catchiest, most uplifting Dream Theater tracks in years. I would love to be in the audience for this because I can see everyone there screaming along with the vocals. Probably my favorite track on the album.

"Far From Heaven" is next, coming in as the only track on the album under 5 minutes. Primarily consisting of simply piano and voice (there are some other keyboards as well, but they're pretty minimal), "Far From Heaven" is one of the most stripped down Dream Theater songs ever, and after the double whammy of 11 minute songs that just happened it's a welcome break. Additionally, I think it's one of James Labrie's best vocal performances, with the vocalist singing remarkably tenderly and emotionally and not going for any super-high, super-dramatic lines. It's a very effective, if simple, track, and a welcome breather on an album that doesn't give the listener much time to rest.

"Breaking All Illusions" is often cited as the best track on the album, and, while it loses out in my personal opinion to "Outcry," I'm forced to admit that this one is pretty darn good. I can't quite put my finger on what exactly it is, but something about the composition just has an air of subtlety and sophistication to it that can sometimes get lost under the barrage of solos that appear on the average Dream Theater song. Labrie delivers another great, subtle performance here as well, a great delivery from a singer who's not necessarily known for his subtlety. The instrumentalists are great here as well, with Rudess and Petrucci performing excellently as always and a surprisingly pronounced bass part courtesy of Mr. Myung. Of course, if subtlety isn't your thing there's plenty of virtuosic performances as well-but thankfully it never seems like the players are noodling or anything like that. Though the track eschews any super-big hooks in favor of a more holistic vocal melody, but it certainly doesn't lose anything for it and definitely ends up being one of the best tracks on the album.

After three straight albums ending with gigantic epics, you might expect the album to end there. However, the group decided (wisely, I think) to end this album on a different not. To that end, the five minute "Beneath the Surface" is the concluding track here. Another "ballad" of sorts, the track carries an incredibly hopeful feel and is a great, optimistic note to end the album on. My one complaint with the track is that after nearly a whole song of singing in a low, calming register, James Labrie shoots for the stars on nearly the last line and bafflingly goes up to metal belting range in a song backed only by acoustic guitar and some soothing synth. I understand that they were probably trying to give the end of the track a sweeping sense of drama, but in my opinion it really doesn't work, instead clashing with the music and marring what would otherwise be a perfect ending for the album. This is a minor complaint, however, and except for a strangely corny synth texture used for the solo I have no complaints with the track.

So, while not a perfect album, A Dramatic Turn of Events is still a great release and a hopeful note for the future of a band already well into its 3rd decade of existence. Though one could feasibly complain that the album sounds too much like the group's earlier work, when the songwriting is this consistently high-quality, I really don't have too many complaints. This is a no-brainer for fans of the group (though I suspect most fans probably have it already) and I'd certainly recommend it for other prog-metal fans as well.


Review by jampa17
5 stars Well, there's no too much left to say about it. More than six month has been through since we have the new Dream Theater album, and the first one without Mike Portnoy on the process. The words that I have to describe it are: inspiring and refreshing. Seems like the new chemistry fitted well for the composition and the lyrics. There's more creative presence from the keyboards and interesting bass lines. Petrucci remains as usual bringing great harmonies, melodic solos, powerful riffs and his lyrics are way more focussed than in the last three or four albums. Labrie keeps growing and bringing a wonderful job. It's simply their best studio album in the last 11 years.

The highlights of the album are FAR FROM HEAVEN and BREAKING ALL ILLUSIONS. Both inspired and reaching the finest moments in DT back catalogue, the first one a wonderful piano ballad, very close to WAIT FOR SLEEP and SPACE DYE VEST but with a more dramatic twist. It's not an imitation, but it brings an interesting feeling. The second, a complex epic song, maybe the best DT song in more than a decade. The finest and the best phrases from guitars, bass and keyboards by far.

But there's still a lot for everyone. Epic but not too much "proggy", heavy but not too much "metalish", soft but not too much mellow. Particulary, the epic ones will satisfied the usual DT fans: Lost not Forgotten, Bridges in the Sky and Outcry has everything you can wish for.

The mix is a bit strange, maybe the drums has no too much presence, but it's understandable since Mike Mangini didn't play a composition roll in the album. He is great and accurate at best, but was just a hired gun for this album.

Satisfied by the grow of the album in the last few months, I can assure you'll find a wonderful album to listen to.

Since is one of the best albums in the last few years, I think it deserves a Masterpiece rank. Even the weak points makes the album more realistic, more close to the listener. I do hope haters could see above their prejudges and find that great feeling that I've been enjoying.


Review by JJLehto
2 stars I try to avoid hype, (whether it's music, movies, video games anything) to keep a clear mind and form honest opinions, and do so by avoiding said item for a while. So I really waited a good bit to listen to DT's "A Dramatic Turn of Events" but have finally gotten around to it. After giving the album some listens and fully digesting it, I can safely say while it's not a bad album at all, it's not anything great either. Like all their albums since "Octavarium" I was left a bit underwhelmed. It was a bit disappointing since I heard this album was a turn back to their progressive, melodic days.

The band does accomplish just that: the keyboards are way up, the heaviness is a bit down, and while still present the famed DT shreddery and technical w**kery are reduced. These are of course part of DT's appeal, but you have to change it up sometimes. I applaud the change, just the music itself left some to be desired overall.

The opener "On the Backs of Angels" I actually quite enjoy. A good blend of riff based and melodic based prog. It has a good flow and strong songwriting. It has a bit of all and is just very well done.

"Build Me Up, Break Me Down" has a cool spidery riff, and some nice heavy moments. The power chord chorus is a bit eh, but what can you do? Not a bad song.

"Lost Not Forgotten" is more "standard" DT filled with more technicality, w**kery, and riffing. I'm a fan of this, especially when put in a nice 10 minute prog metal song so this is probably my favorite on the album. Again, another well done song and not just a "by the numbers" which tends to be my issue with DT.

"This is the Life" is a nice light song. Keyboard driven, light guitar and drumming that builds to a melodic and powerful part. Nice to get some feeling, which despite liking the previous songs felt a bit absent of it. Pretty good song, though for the first time LaBrie's vocals get on my nerves, especially in soaring parts.

"Bridges in the Sky" starts with a quiet intro, featuring an attempt at throat singing which works semi well in my opinion. The song kicks into a heavy riff, and like the opener has a bit of everything. Good song.

"Outcry" is more of the same though I really like the middle section. A bit sluggish at times, it's not bad overall.

"Far From Heaven" a very light, keyboard and vocal driven song.

"Breaking All Illusions" I'm running out of different words to describe "more of the same" but this is actually one of the better songs on the album. Another straightforward though well done prog metal song.

The album ends with an acoustic guitar, keyboard and vocal song. Light and melodic, it's quite nice.

So I've used a lot of "good" and "a lot of the same" but that's the best way to describe "A Dramatic Turn of Events". It's a good album. Not great, but not bad, no real weak songs but none jump out at you either. It is generally well done prog metal. Good but not great, textbook definition of 3 stars in my book.

DT fans should like this, haters will find nothing to turn them on to it, and moderate/casual fans like myself will probably find it decent, and it's worth a listen.

Three Stars

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is the 11th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in September 2011. This is the first Dream Theater album not to feature drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy who left the band in September 2010. He is replaced here by Mike Mangini (Annihilator, Extreme, Steve Vai).

Despite the quite significant lineup change (In addition to his drumming duties Mike Portnoy was active in the band's songwriting as well as co-producing several of the group's albums) not much have actually changed since "Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009"). Dream Theater still produce top notch progressive metal involving outstanding musicianship and well written material. What they fail to do on this album and actually haven't done for a while is challenge their audience. "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is more or less Dream Theater by the numbers and at this point I really wish they would break out of the stylistic monotony they've been in for now too long. There are literally no surprises on this album and frankly I expect more from the world's leading progressive metal act. After all the word "progressive" (in this context) means that you push boundaries and create something new/unheard of.

With that out of the way "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is of course still a high quality release on almost every other parameter and as such the album opens pretty strong with the trio of tracks "On the Backs of Angels", "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" and "Lost Not Forgotten". But from "This is the Life" and onwards my attention begins to wander. Especially some of the longer tracks like "Bridges in the Sky" and "Outcry" are rather tedious to my ears, but of course things aren't helped along either with the inclusion of the saccarine and forgettable ballad "Far From Heaven". I don't know why they keep insisting on including tracks like that on their albums ("This is the Life" also falls under that catagory).

The sound production is decent but the drums have an odd sound. Maybe they are not high enough in the mix or something like that. I can't put my finger on it, but there is some kind of issue with them. Regarding the drums it's interesting to note that Mike Mangini more or less completely imitates the playing of Mike Portnoy. I've read somewhere that the drum parts for the tracks were already written when Mangini entered the lineup, so maybe it's not so strange. It'll be interesting to see if he can bring his own style to the table on the next release if he decides to stay with the band.

Now I can understand that hardcore fans of Dream Theater find "A Dramatic Turn of Events" to be a great release but I simply have to point out what I see as weaknesses and potential signs of a band that have given up developing their music. To me "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is a kinda "middle of the road" album by Dream Theater and it's far from the best output by the band. Sometime in the future when talking about Dream Theater's discography this album will not be mentioned. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.

Review by Prog Leviathan
3 stars Years after the hype, years after the heartache, I've finally spent sometime with Dream Theater's comeback hopeful, and can say that A Dramatic Turn of Events is an enjoyable release, and that's about it. The album doesn't break new ground, doesn't make me cringe with terrible lyrics and bad song writing, and doesn't spark with the same creativity and energy from the band's peak output more than a decade ago.

So if that's what this album doesn't do, what does A Dramatic Turn of Events accomplish?

It gives us more than an hour of good songs written, performed, and produced in the usual Dream Theater style; complex instrumental playing hidden behind the veneer of simple song writing. There is a good mix of rockers, ballads, and epics here, including four songs that clock in at over 10 minutes. The band's playing is characteristically good, and occasionally excellent, and it really does feel like they put some thought into the variety on the album. The ballads are thoughtful, if not especially creative. There are a few songs that fall short, such as the bland "Build Me Up, Break Me Down," and the cartoonish middle-eastern pastiche that shows up for the instrumental section of "Outcry", but these moments are in the minority. "Bridges in the Sky" is easily the most creative track of the group, and "Breaking All Illusions" may actually make the DT highlight reel.

It took me a long time, and many listens of this album for me to decide what I thought about it. It didn't make a very good first impression, but I decided that this was probably due to my disgust over the previous two albums. A Dramatic Turn of Events didn't grab me, and with the exception of "Breaking All Illusions," it still doesn't. There's just nothing here that makes me melt with metal awesomeness like the band could years ago. With that being said, I still enjoy the serviceable songs and occasional standout moment or thoughtful lyric. Maybe its me, and I'm not the impressionable 20-something that fell in love with Scenes from a Memory and Images and Words. Maybe its the band, and they're so completely sick of making what is mostly the same music that their enthusiasm has all but evaporated. Either way, A Dramatic Turn of Events will please fans of the band who are expecting to hear more of their prog-metal champions keep at it, but it won't win anyone new. You've got to respect DT for their legacy and persistence, but there are other bands that are making more interesting versions of this music.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 3 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by Warthur
4 stars Let it not be said that Dream Theater lack self-awareness: calling their first album without Mike Portnoy "A Dramatic Turn of Events" suggests that the band were well aware that the loss of such a key member of the group would be difficult to adjust to. Indeed, not only had Portnoy been onboard from the beginning, but this would mark the first lineup change the band had endured since the Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory lineup had coalesced.

New drummer Mike Mangini doesn't exactly turn the Dream Theater sound on its head here, but frankly he was never likely to - nobody joins a band which is 11 albums deep into its career and generally considered a leader of its subgenre and seriously expects to change the chemistry of the group rapidly. Indeed, the album opener - On the Backs of Angels - is an almost calculatedly "business as usual" Dream Theater number, a piece you could imagine Portnoy drumming on just as much as Mangini.

Perhaps part of this is a by-product of the way the album was developed - with the rest of the group writing it and developing demos with programmed drums in parallel with finishing off their search for a new drummer. As a result, whilst Mangini has some scope here to add a little personal touch here and there, he doesn't make any substantial songwriting contributions at all - which means that on the composition side of things you don't have a fresh perspective coming in, you just have the well-oiled Dream Theater machine minus Mike Portnoy.

So it's business as usual, then - but fortunately, for Dream Theater "business as usual" is still pretty good. I wouldn't put it in the absolute top rank of the band's albums, but it's far from an embarrassment either - it needed to prove the band could still recognisably be Dream Theater without their co-founder, it succeeded and did so better than expected.

Review by The Crow
4 stars In September 2010, Dream Theater found themselves in a difficult position to replace drummer legend Mike Portnoy. Fortunately Mike Mangini took over and listening to the result in this "A Dramatic Turn of Events", the election was a success!

And I don't know if it was precisely because of the challenge that this change entailed or simply because of the effort invested in the songs, this album turned out to be his best work since "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence", taking up the structure of songs of more than 10 minutes mixed with some shorter ones typical of albums like "Images and Words" and "Octavarium", which is also somewhat reminiscent of the sound of this "A Dramatic turn of Events".

It is true that the compositional exhaustion is still present, as well as LaBrie's tired voice, but given the brilliance of some passages on the album, this time they are even forgivable defects.

Well done guys!

Best Tracks: Lost Not Forgotten (good chorus, powerful riffs and an absolutely overwhelming instrumental bridge), Bridges in the Sky (another authentic instrumental tour de force, which even dares with choral sections and ethnic influences), Outcry (I like the touches oriental in the melodies and the power of the instrumental base) and Breaking all Illusions (another long, dense theme that takes us back to the time of "Images and Words")

My Rating: ****

Latest members reviews

5 stars Dream Theater's "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is a masterpiece of progressive metal that is sure to delight fans of the genre. With its intricate compositions, powerful vocals, and stunning instrumental performances, this album is a testament to the band's impressive musicianship and songwriting skill ... (read more)

Report this review (#2906165) | Posted by VanDerProg | Monday, April 10, 2023 | Review Permanlink

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 al ... (read more)

Report this review (#2453128) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Thursday, October 1, 2020 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 25 years after their inception, 2010's aptly titled 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' ushers in an era Dream Theater fans thought they'd never see, for this was the first release after the departure of drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy. With the prog world eagerly anticipating who would hav ... (read more)

Report this review (#1781950) | Posted by martindavey87 | Thursday, September 14, 2017 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This album has a bit of history behind it. After the dramatic departure of drummer Mike Portnoy (I remember a similar reaction whenever the last pope died), the metal world was split. You either now loved Dream Theater or hated Dream Theater due to the decision of one band member. Personally I co ... (read more)

Report this review (#1196959) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Sunday, June 22, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First off I will say that I have never rated and doubtfully will ever rate a DT release, aside from the first one, with less than five stars. The reason for that is that I love hearing a band that knows exactly what they're doing, doing it well. I've watched live concerts on DVD from various b ... (read more)

Report this review (#1015042) | Posted by sukmytoe | Friday, August 9, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Feels like a transition album for DT. Their last albums with drummer and band creative co-leader Mike Portnoy were, as always, technically impeccable and still quite catchy, but had songs vastly overstaying their welcome or stitched together, and terrible lyrics. Seemed like a creative roadblock ... (read more)

Report this review (#1010978) | Posted by Progrussia | Sunday, August 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Dream Theater's 11th studio offering, A Dramatic Turn of Events, marks the first album by the band after drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy left the band. Many people view it as a return to form, after the heaviness of their last two albums, Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds & Silver Linings. ... (read more)

Report this review (#823851) | Posted by zeqexes | Wednesday, September 19, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Only two years after the amazing last release "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" Dream Theater are back with a bang. They got a lot of media attention because of their split with founding member and drum workaholic Mike Portnoy who now tries to sue the band and doesn't only scrap his professional car ... (read more)

Report this review (#808890) | Posted by kluseba | Thursday, August 23, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A tremendous comeback for the reigning kings of prog metal! And I say "comeback" because while DT had still been releasing good music, they hadn't really done anything special since 2002's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, before giving us A Dramatic Turn of Events last year. I think the depa ... (read more)

Report this review (#790730) | Posted by Biff Tannen | Thursday, July 19, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars If I needed a single example of an album that's really grown on me I would have to choose this one. I had skewed expectations what with the departure of Mike Portnoy. My initial view was that this was just another Dream Theater album with out of this world technical compositions lasting 10 min ... (read more)

Report this review (#769943) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Wednesday, June 13, 2012 | Review Permanlink

2 stars As someone encounters multiple situations in life he feels to be hard to handle, this is one. Reading quite a few reviews around the net, I gasp at the herd mentality of reviews. Dream Theater's "Dramatic turn of events" is one of those situations... First off, I'm not a fan or admirer of any b ... (read more)

Report this review (#672727) | Posted by be_art | Wednesday, March 21, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I am an old prog guy (70s Genesis, Yes, Kansas, Camel, ELP, etc.). So when I first bought Images and Words, I thought the keyboard playing was so plastic - and I returned the album (I lived in Phoenix, AZ, at the time, and Zia Records is the BEST place for any genre of rock - and other - musi ... (read more)

Report this review (#647191) | Posted by prog4evr | Monday, March 5, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars For me, the highest point of Dream Theater is their concert DVD, Score: 20th Anniversary. When I saw that, I became a fan of Dream Theater. But a lot happened between that DVD and this album. With each album, I slowly lost my interest in their music. I was the king of pessimists when it ca ... (read more)

Report this review (#606382) | Posted by talha | Monday, January 9, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When in 2010 the prog scene found out about Mike Portnoy leaving Dream Theater, considering the band's fan base, a compromise solution would not be an option for the band. It was clear that only two things could happen. Either the band would fall apart or they would find a killer drummer that wo ... (read more)

Report this review (#601686) | Posted by Miguel Pereira | Monday, January 2, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have been a long time Dream Theater fan,as my username might suggest. Dream Theater,for me,is the band that expanded my way of thinking about music,caused the Progressive Rock addiction in me,and made me realize I was no longer interested in pop music. For over 10 years,my favorite Dream Theater a ... (read more)

Report this review (#594978) | Posted by dtguitarfan | Friday, December 23, 2011 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I saw recently that this album has been nominated for a Grammy award. Where it is great to see that A Progressive Rock band has been nominated, I can't see it with A Dramatic Turn Of Events. My two favourote DT albums are Images And Words and Octavarium. IAW is a five star album for me, Octava ... (read more)

Report this review (#581107) | Posted by Prog Panda | Saturday, December 3, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A Dramatic Turn of Events. ok, it doesn't feature Mike Portnoy. a lot of people thought that this album would suck. it's actually not that bad of an album. all I am saying is: Mike Mangini, turn the drums up. your drums are awesome but it just needs volume up a couple notches. like their prev ... (read more)

Report this review (#566353) | Posted by ILoveRush | Friday, November 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

2 stars At this point, the band's shtick is really getting old. At what point can we admit that the band has finally gone past the point where adding notes to the music doesn't make it better? Personally, It would have been anything after Six Degrees, for me. It's just gotten worse since Train of Thou ... (read more)

Report this review (#558578) | Posted by stonebeard | Friday, October 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars When Mike Portnoy left, there was a debate on how much this would change things. Some thought that they'd keep chugging along in the same direction, which tired most. Others thought they'd go back to the good old days. While most take this as the latter, I find it to be a mixture of both, whi ... (read more)

Report this review (#548599) | Posted by DisgruntledPorcupine | Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I've been a Dream Theater fan since 2003 when one of my guitar students told me that he had heard of this band that was "supposed to be really good". He bought Train of Thought, their brand new album at the time, and Awake, and burned them both for me. My life changed forever. Dream Theater i ... (read more)

Report this review (#548589) | Posted by TheMasterMofo | Tuesday, October 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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