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Dream Theater

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3.25 | 1101 ratings | 52 reviews | 14% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 2013

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. False Awakening Suite (2:42) :
- i. Sleep Paralysis
- ii. Night Terrors
- iii. Lucid Dream
2. The Enemy Inside (6:17)
3. The Looking Glass (4:53)
4. Enigma Machine (6:01)
5. The Bigger Picture (7:40)
6. Behind the Veil (6:52)
7. Surrender to Reason (6:34)
8. Along for the Ride (4:45)
9. Illumination Theory (22:17) :
- i. Paradoxe de la Lumière Noire
- ii. Live, Die, Kill
- iii. The Embracing Circle
- iv. The Pursuit of Truth
- v. Surrender, Trust & Passion

Total Time 68:01

Line-up / Musicians

- James LaBrie / lead vocals
- John Petrucci / guitars, backing vocals
- Jordan Rudess / keyboards, GeoSynth iPad app
- John Myung / bass
- Mike Mangini / drums

- Eren Başbuğ / strings arranger & conductor (1,9)

String Ensemble (1,9):
- Misha Gutenberg / violin, concert master
- Larisa Vollis / violin
- Yelena Khaimova / violin
- Yevgeniy Mansurov / violin
- Aleksandr Anisimov / viola
- Noah Vallace / viola
- Anastasia Golenisheva / cello
- Valeriya Sholokhova / cello
- Len Sluetsky / contrabass

Releases information

Artwork: Hugh Syme

2LP Roadrunner Records - 17604-1, 1686-176041 (2013, US)
2LP Roadrunner Records - RR7604-1, 1686-17604-1 (2013, Europe)

CD Roadrunner Records - 17604-2 (2013, US)
CD Warner Music Japan - WPCR-15194 (2013, Japan)
CD Roadrunner Records - RR7604-2 (2013, Europe)
CD+DVD-A Roadrunner Records - 17604-5, (2013, US) Bonus DVD-Audio w/ full album 5.1 Surround mix
CD+DVD-A Warner Music Japan - WPZR-30479 (2013, Japan) As above
CD+DVD-A Roadrunner Records - RR7604-5 (2013, Europe) As above

Thanks to darkshade for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy DREAM THEATER Dream Theater Music

DREAM THEATER Dream Theater ratings distribution

(1101 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(14%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(29%)
Good, but non-essential (34%)
Collectors/fans only (16%)
Poor. Only for completionists (8%)

DREAM THEATER Dream Theater reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by rdtprog
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Heavy, RPI, Symph, JR/F Canterbury Teams
3 stars After the last album that has left me on my appetite, the band is back with their first release with the new drummer present from the first stage of the recording to the last. Mike Mangini on drums is following the pace of the the band's music with ease and we don't miss the absence of Mr. Portnoy. The music is still characterized by the playing of John Petrucci on guitars who from the song "The Enemy Inside" show his talents with some exquisite guitars solo. In the "Looking Glass" song, if it wasn't for the nice bass and guitar solo break, the song would be a total miss with his simple chorus. Things gets better with "Enigma Machine" with some nice instrumental music, brighten up by some nice soloing of Jordan Rudess. "Behind the Veil" show a James Labrie playing the devil with his voice to capture the dark essence of some parts of the song, which is quickly getting back to a brighter mood. In this song the keyboards of Rudess are in the background just to create the atmosphere. "Surrender to Reason" has a nice acoustic intro followed by classical arrangements with some nice bass parts by Myung and a Petrucci who take a riff of the book of Rush's song "By Thor Thor and the Snow Dog".

The epic "Illumination Theory" start with a dark and very heavy intro and some typical but efficient instrumental parts for the band. Mike Mangani and Jordan Rudess are very active here with some fast and complex parts. Then the break that divide the song in two parts with a breather, where we can hear some nature and animal sounds (birds). Was it an inspiration from "Close to the Edge"? Then some movie soundtrack passage, a nice bass break and a James Labrie who is getting back with his heavy voice. You can also notice the short Keith Emerson keyboards parts from Jordan, who is on fire on this song. The end section of the song is the return to a more relax atmosphere after the storm with a slower pace where Labrie's vocals are very emotional. As with most epics Dream Theater's song, this is the highlight of this cd. After many spins of this cd , I don't think it's a better album than the well acclaimed "A Dramatic Turn of Events". So I am not sure that those who have enjoyed the latter, will love this one. Not essential, 3 stars

Review by Aussie-Byrd-Brother
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I think I'm in a pretty interesting position to review this new Dream Theater album! As much as I like the band and own all their albums, they are certainly not one of my favourite prog artists. I consistently purchase their albums knowing I'll get some technical and demanding progressive metal that needs plenty of replays to appreciate, but there's so many other progressive artists I spend a lot more time on. I find it fascinating the response in our circles the band brings - those who think they are almost pinnacle of the genre, and those who think they are embarrassing and overblown. I perfectly understand both reactions! So I kind of slot somewhere in between, able to appreciate what they do so well and the mastery of the progressive metal genre that has earned them such a deserved reputation, yet never so thrilled by them that I want to listen to them all the time.

So another Dream Theater album, and my usual sound-unheard purchase (like I do with most prog albums, now that I think about it), even though I was little bummed to see an uninspired cover and a `self titled' work at that. For a moment I was slightly curious - `Self-titled'? Perhaps the guys are going to go at us all guns blazing with a reinvigorating album that reshapes the prog metal genre that deserves the all defining self-titled tag. OK, I'm pouring it on a little thick, but with make or break time for new drummer Mike Mangini to really prove his worth, and the band rallying against the perceived opinion from some fans that they are finished and useless without founding member Mike Portnoy, I figured they were determined to make a real statement of reassurance and daring. Needless to say, it didn't turn out that way, instead we get a mostly textbook `Dream Theater' album that sees the band playing to all their already established skills and musicality, even if they do that damn well. It's kind of nice to know you're in safe hands, but also disappointing that the band didn't use this opportunity to make a really big statement and surprise everyone.

After the first track, I was almost convinced Dream Theater were playing a bit of a sly joke on us! Upon seeing the track listing on the back CD cover for the three part `False Awakening Suite' that opens the disc, I thought `Beauty, open with a long multi-part epic!' Sure enough, it's a snapping keyboard-orchestrated instrumental call-to-arms, with Jorden Ruddess (like over many of the pieces that follow) clearly having overdosed on the symphonic grandiosity of Emerson, Lake and Palmer during the sessions for the album! But turns out this so called three part `suite' runs a total of two and a half minutes! Then it's on to the first single `The Enemy Inside', kind of a very typical shorter Dream Theater piece, and everything you'd expect to hear when you think of the band. Initially quite unengaging, but repeated plays reveals a compact punchy piece with a lot of momentum, a catchy vocal melody, a number of battering-ram styled drumming variations from Mike and a winning quick band run-through of choppy time changes near the finale. `The Looking Glass' mixes 80's hard rock with joyful AOR/Journey styled melodies, some nice lyrics about the fame game, and just listen for John Myung's snarling bass at the three minute mark! If only he sounded so upfront and full-on all the time (once again, as has become a bit of a DT trademark, his bass is frequently mixed way too low). Sadly the finale is a total bust, after a repeat of the chorus the track finishes five seconds later in truly lazy and uninspired fashion.

`Enigma Machine' is the first sign of greatness on the disc, a tricky, aggressive, and dynamic instrumental of proggy technicality. Heavy and cinematic one second, playful and groovy the next, it's pretty much the sound of a band having a great time! I have to say, though, to my ears the main twisting guitar melody sounds a little too close to the theme tune of `Inspector Gadget'! Surely it's not just me that picks up on this! Then onto another DT regular - the `breathy James Labrie track'. Unfortunately, I usually find these really schmaltzy and a little embarrassing. However, `The Bigger Picture' is a sophisticated arrangement, thoughtful in the opening, gutsy in the heavier middle and joyful AOR for the finale. James, never a favourite vocalist of mine, is admittedly sounding better than ever these days, thankfully having learned a lot more restraint over their last several albums. I still don't feel even the slightest trace of emotion or genuine feeling from him, but on a surface level, he's a lot more pleasant to hear these days, and he's definitely experimenting with his arrangements.

The album then hits a run of tracks that successfully mesh commercial directness and progressive sophistication. The opening and closing sections of `Behind The Veil' features some very intimidating spacey synths ala Riverside, while the chugging repeated riffs are very much in the Metallica vein. Add in some pumped up bass power and a very catchy chorus for good measure in this strong uptempo track. `Surrender To Reason' features stirring synth-orchestral backing, Steven Wilson/P.Tree styled jangling acoustic verses and biting staccato heavy riffs throughout with yet another sing-along chorus. `Along For The Ride' is all classy power ballad territory for the chorus (get those cigarette lighters out for this one live, people!), plenty of nice tricky proggy fills throughout and a very E.L.P/`Lucky Man' inspired Moog solo in the middle!

The five part 19 minute `Illumination Theory' is certainly Dream Theater at their most ambitious. Although they've done numerous long pieces before, the use of a proper live orchestra implemented in quite a surprising way for them is fresh and new. A grand theme to open with, full of groovy heavy foot-tapping rock with scorching thick Hammond runs and maniacal gothic cabaret piano/synths. The verses of the first vocal section that follow are a little try-hard with some forced aggression from James trying his best with some awkwardly messy lyrics (the chorus works better though). The band then tears through a brief heavy, almost whimsical medieval run before fading out into sonic ambience, phasing effects and far away bird calls very much like Yes' `Close To The Edge' and finally giving way to a stirring and pompous orchestral overture. This section is impossibly moving and unlike anything the band has tried before, lasting several minutes in which we don't hear any of the band members - quite a risk, but one that pays off. Then the band re- enters in noisy E.L.P-styled form, whether it's the growling chunky bass, the dazzling unhinged piano or the pummeling drumwork. The wailing vocals from James here sound the closest to his original screeching 80's style (urgh, not my thing at all!), and John Petrucci lets rip with some scorching and exhausting lead guitar soloing. All in all, a very successful epic that shows the band at their strongest while also open to experimentation.

The band then finishes properly on a two minute hidden track, a simple piano and guitar piece that is very refreshing and restrained, and they should seriously consider working in this style more often. I wonder if they think by toning down the technical overkill they'll be robbed of their defining identity, but this far into their career they really shouldn't let such doubts hold them back. It's by far one of the best moments on the album, and certainly the most simple and heartfelt.

As good as this all is, it's definitely time for Dream Theater to try something different. Do a more acoustic based album, or a concept album with a bunch of smaller pieces that weave together. I don't think we need any more albums like this that are just simply `more of the same', even if that same is still good. I'd rather the band try a new direction or type of writing and fail than lazily rehashing the same pieces like they do here, even if I do enjoy it. When an established band gets to enjoy a long discography of numerous releases, it's the more experimental, risky or different albums that will ensure that reputation remains. I would rather look back and say `That was the album where they tried `x' style, etc' instead of `Wow, look at that, five albums in a row of the exact same thing' (I'm exaggerating the case here, but you know what I mean!).

Fact is, whether you personally like them or not (and lets face it, not many prog bands divide opinion so strongly like these guys!), there is no denying the status Dream Theater hold in progressive circles. The band are legends of the genre, and this alone means they shouldn't be so scared to experiment more, shake up the formula and challenge not only their fans but themselves. Seriously, even just one `different' album from them won't scare off the entire fanbase, so I still hope for a real surprise from them in the future...maybe next time.

Four stars all the same.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
3 stars The one thing I come away with after listening to this album repeatedly for the last week is that James Labrie seems to be the weak link of this band. Sure, he has a powerful voice, that can sometimes sound as sweet as Freddie Mercury, and at other times as rough and raw as any metal singer. But since every song with vocals list LaBrie as one of the writers (never as a lyricist), I can only assume that he comes up with the vocal melodies.

As good as his voice sounds, the melodies are far too predictable. Even in the good tracks, two of which have vocals, LaBrie sings notes that sound the same from song to song. On the lesser tracks, the highlights all come when John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess, and even sometimes John Myung, take over with some outstanding solos.

So let's look at the good stuff. The album starts with a very short piece False Awakening Suite, where Rudess blends his keyboards with a string ensemble, to come up with an outstanding orchestral sound. If the entire album expanded on this style, it could have been a masterpiece. The second track, The Enemy Inside is a good, but not great power piece, which is elevated by an amazing break in the middle. Enigma Machine is yet another fantastic instrumental. And the final listed track, Illumination Theory starts as a hard driving rock piece, with another string ensemble break in the center, that sounds like an homage to Tchaikovsky. At about 18 minutes it ends the album in breathtaking style.

Unfortunately, the rest of the tracks all consist of those LaBrie vocals, that we have to sit through to get to the better sections of the songs.

And finally, can we stop with "hidden tracks"? I for one am annoyed when I have to edit a file before I add it to my MP3 player. This way of adding a bonus track may have been clever in 1985, but it's a nuicance now.

So in summary, I rate this album 3.5 stars, that, alas, I must round down.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Dream Theater' - Dream Theater (6/10)

For a band that has uncompromisingly stuck to a single sound and style for over two decades, it's surprising that Dream Theater continue to polarize audiences and spark heated debates. Perhaps it's an essential part of Prog culture to be opinionated and contrary, but I don't think I've seen an album so fiercely contested this year. While some continue to stick to praise of the band's undeniable technical skill, nostalgic style and relative consistency, others have condemned them for precisely the same reasons. While I would certainly argue that the band over a decade past their prime, Dream Theater haven't shown any signs of stopping or even slowing down. Even this, their fifteenth and latest record to date has been enjoying exposure and popularity that most self-exclaimed Prog bands wouldn't dream of having. If it hadn't been painfully clear already on albums past, "Dream Theater" is a sign of a band that have become too comfortable with themselves. With such success and an unquestioningly loyal fanbase, Dream Theater have lost the incentive to innovate and reinvent themselves. Considering they yet retain the legendary musicianship and tightness that first made them famous, it's really disappointing to hear such a talented band so content to play inside the box. Even so, as familiar and predictable as Dream Theater's self-titled might be, it's no doubt a work of some depth and tender care. It won't go down in history as one of the band's shining moments, but it should be enough to satisfy the majority of their fanbase, if not convert newcomers to the fold.

Dream Theater has fulfilled a pretty major role in my life and musical upbringing, and as such, it's difficult to write about them without some sort of nostalgia. I was struck with awe when I first heard them over half a lifetime ago, and since then, I've followed them eagerly. Although my recent attention's largely been usurped by newer bands making more interesting music- Haken and Leprous both come to mind- Dream Theater will always hold a special place in my heart. I'm sure Dream Theater themselves would attest to the fact that newer bands have taken progressive metal to greater heights and excesses, but even now, they continue to breathe life into a genre they helped innovate. There are few bands that have been so influential to the birth of a style, and as far as I'm concerned, that's enough to at least give them a partial pardon for sticking so closely to their original sound. Like "A Dramatic Turn of Events", "Dream Theater" capitalizes on the proggy end of the band's oeuvre. Although I may have been fooled by the fiercely aggressive single "The Enemy Inside", most of the album places a greater emphasis on melodic songwriting and well- rounded arrangements. Fans of their 1992 classic "Images & Words" should rejoice. Much like the two albums that preceded it, Dream Theater's self-titled sounds like a cross- section of their career. The aforementioned "The Enemy Inside" has a biting edge and technicality to it that sympathizes most with 2007's "Systematic Chaos". "The Looking Glass" has an upbeat vibe to it that recalls "Images & Words", and the mandatory instrumental "Enigma Machine" is quite a bit like "Ytse Jam" from the 1989 debut. Even the band's weak link "Falling into Infinity" gets a representation here with the cheesy ballad track "Along for the Ride". When Dream Theater aren't revisiting their older incarnations, they take after Rush; "The Looking Glass" is a stone's throw from Rush's "Limelight", the opening of "Surrender to Reason" is an obvious homage to "Xanadu", and the twenty-two minute epic "Illumination Theory" has plenty of moments that sport the Rush influence proudly.

When speaking of the self-titled's place in the overall scheme of the band's catalogue, "Dream Theater" might be found somewhere between the melodic sensibility of "Falling into Infinity" and proggy throwback of "A Dramatic Turn of Events". Although Dream Theater remain as flashy and technical as ever, the songwriting places a greater emphasis on melody than what's been heard from them in recent years. Those who might balk at the prospect of a second "Falling into Infinity" need fear not, however; in the case of "Dream Theater", the melodic focus has come at no cost to the proggy edge or musical complexity. "Behind the Veil" and "Surrender to Reason" each offer some pretty memorable melodies built around tasty progressive arrangements. "Surrender to Reason" in particular has one of the best choruses the band has ever done. Sadly, there are many passages which feel the brunt of James LaBrie's fading voice, which is really starting to feel the weight of age. I've been a longstanding fan of LaBrie for his usually rich and distinctive mid-range, but with some of the more stressful passages he attempts here, even I can begin to see why some people have always singled him out as the band's weak link. Particularly on "Illumination Theory", LaBrie tries to convey aggression and range that he may have been able to make sound wonderful in younger days, but it sounds like he's trying to push himself past his limits. Even so, there are plenty of moments here where his voice sounds as great as ever- "Surrender to Reason" once again makes for an excellent example.

It comes as absolutely no surprise coming from a band that has built its career around musical virtuosity and stellar performance standards, but Dream Theater can still play circles around other bands. On this time around, John Petrucci earns all special commendations. Although Jordan Rudess still gets some room to solo on the keyboard, all of my favourite moments on "Dream Theater" are Petrucci moments. People often take Dream Theater's technical excellence for granted, but hearing a fresh album reminds me why I was so drawn to this band in the first place. Although Petrucci is most often known for his speed and technical wizardry (both of which are featured on the album), he also delivers some of the most beautiful leads he's ever recorded here. "The Bigger Picture" and "Illumination Theory" each have solos that could easily rival the beauty of those featured on "Goodnight Kiss" or "The Best of Times". Seriously, even if his work with Dream Theater doesn't always give room to show it, John Petrucci is one of the best and well-rounded guitarists out there. Petrucci explores a wide variety of rhythms and leads harsh and lush on "Dream Theater", and the excellence of his performance is more than enough to compensate for some of the album's weaker suits.

Speaking of weakness, "Dream Theater" was meant to be the album where new drummer Mike Mangini (previously of Annihilator) was really meant to prove himself, and his performance is undoubtedly the most disappointing aspect of the album. Seeing Dream Theater with Mangini a couple of years ago, I was able to see him effortlessly recreate Portnoy's drumwork firsthand. By all accounts, he is a fantastic drummer. It's that fact that makes his performance here all the more disenchanting. Although Mangini performed the drum parts on "A Dramatic Turn of Events", he was playing parts written by Portnoy. "Dream Theater" was therefore his chance to prove to fans what he had to offer the band's dynamic. Although his performance is more than functional, it doesn't impress me nearly as much as I was hoping for. Although it's possible that Mike Portnoy is rivalled only by Geoff Tate in terms of prog metal douchery, his drum performances had plenty of attitude and identity. Mangini's drumwork is steady, but never feels particularly inspired or inventive. Whenever he disengages from a steady beat, his fills usually sound the same. Although Mangini certainly has the technical skills worthy of playing with Dream Theater, I'm convinced that there could have been far better choices; for my money, he hasn't brought the performance here I was hoping for, and frankly expecting.

Lyrically speaking, Dream Theater have been dreadfully inconsistent over the course of their career. Although "Scenes from a Memory" is possibly the best-written and thoughtful concept album I've ever heard, and "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" had plenty of intelligent lyrical ideas, I wasn't expecting good lyrics with this album. "The Count of Tuscany" from 2009's "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" had some of the most laughably awful lyrics in prog history- suffice to say, a stories about spooky homoerotic vampires are best left for the bookshelves of impressionable teenage girls. The lyrics on "Dream Theater" are filled with the same clichés and half-baked philosophy that I would come to expect from a Prog band who didn't put much consideration into their lyrics. At its worst, it's as if the basic lyrical content was derived from the jaded conversations of conspiracy theorists and New Age philosophers, and filtered through a Censorship Board of Kindergarten teachers and pregnant Christian mothers.

In what is something of a longstanding tradition for the band, Dream Theater close the album off with an epic. At twenty-two minutes in length, "Illumination Theory" was the track I was most anxious to finally hear, especially after being so impressed by the album's first single. Although Dream Theater complete a checklist of many things I may have been looking for in such an ambitious piece, this marks the first time where a DT epic isn't a highlight on its respective album. Regardless what I may have felt about the band's stylistic stagnation, I was expecting something major from the last track. Although there are some very engaging ideas on the epic, "Illumination Theory" ultimately fails to come together as a whole. In addition to their solid themes and ingredients, what made past epics like "A Change of Seasons" or "In the Presence of Enemies" so powerful was their ability to go full circle, to order and arrange their ideas in such a way that it felt like a full-fledged journey within the course of one track. The piece starts off on a good enough note, but by the time LaBrie's contrived vocals enter the mix, the composition starts losing focus quickly. Even after several listens, no part of the epic really stands out, and the only indicator anywhere during the composition that it is indeed an 'epic' is a section in the middle where the band breaks away from the rock and metal for a period of extended ambiance, like they did with "The Count of Tuscany". The grand finale could have been enough to add some life and colour to the piece, but LaBrie's vocals continue to really irk me here- perhaps he recorded his parts for the epic on a particularly bad day? Especially considering many of the songs on the album are pretty impressive and enjoyable, it's a real disappointment to see Dream Theater's skill and tact with epics fall apart so much. There's always the chance that I'll feel differently about it a year from now, but I doubt it.

As was my experience with "A Dramatic Turn of Events", I'm a little disappointed that "Dream Theater" doesn't have its own identity relative to the band's existing oeuvre. Unlike "A Dramatic Turn of Events" however, I don't get the impression that this album is going to be remembered so fondly by fans a decade from now. Then again, it took "Systematic Chaos" over a year to finally hit me; the same may be true for this album. By any standard of mine, Dream Theater have delivered a worthy addition to their catalogue. All of the things listeners have come to love or hate about them are represented here in full. Slick musicianship and bombastic songwriting both have a home here, but the ultimate impression is one of stifling comfort and familiarity. At this point in their career, Dream Theater give the impression of a President who has been in office for thirty years and has grown complacent, no longer feeling the need to prove himself to the voters with particularly inspired policies or edicts. Dream Theater's self-titled hits all of the marks that a DT album should, but they have left more than enough room for a more determined up-and-comer to approach and knock them off their throne.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Dream Theater are still an Enigma Machine

"Dream Theater" opens with a very dramatic classical orchestration with heavy dark foreboding strains 'False Awakening Suite'; that lasts just under 3 minutes, yet inexplicably is in 3 parts, but it is a grand start to this latest Dream Theater project. The metal speed licks really take off on 'The Enemy Inside' and there is that familiar DT sound with Labrie's vocals, and the precision riffing of Petrucci along with the power of Rudess keys and the rhythm machine of Myung and Mangini. They really are a force to be reckoned with, blending heavy duty power metal riffs with melodic orchestrations on this release. The violins and cellos certainly are a blast of fresh air not found on other albums of recent years, not counting the one off "Score" concert. The music in the opening song greets me like a long lost friend and is as great as any other DT I have heard. I looked forward to hearing new original instrumental breaks and the band certainly pour out their passion on this track; an incredible start to the album.

Next up is 'The Looking Glass' with a melodic guitar riff and some odd time sigs mixed in the structure. Sounds like they are channelling Rush; is that a bad thing? Even the lyrics are about the pitfalls of fame sounding like Neal Peart's ideologies in his composition 'Limelight'. It has a great lead break over a pulsating bassline, but overall this is not one of the best songs I have heard from the band, a bit drawn out and too reliant on a basic melody.

'Enigma Machine' runs for 6 minutes, beginning with chiming keys that are chilling and ethereal. The deep metal distortion crashes through beautifully. It locks into a weird time sig, reminiscent of the Inspector Gadget theme, but it has a compelling atmosphere. This track is one of the reasons to get hold of this album. The lead break goes into overdrive with twin powering on the speed licks and trade offs with the keyboards. Then it goes up a few gears with staccato Hammond flourishes, and double kick drums at a frenetic pace. Rudess chops out some amazing keyboard phrases and then there is an astonishing lead break with hyper speed fret melting Petrucci who is blindingly brilliant. The pace slows into a shuffling crawl, till a new section takes over with more fractured signatures and gob smacking riffing, then a drum solo and more melodic motifs. What a masterpiece instrumental!

'The Bigger Picture' is a long song at 7:40, and features LaBrie in a melancholy mood, softly singing to a gentle piano. The tranquil atmosphere is a standard for DT who always include a soft ballad at some point. After the blitzkrieg attack of the previous track it is not such a bad thing in context. The chorus builds into a heavier vibe and very catchy melody. The song actually gets quite heavy with choppy riffs and a string orchestra cascading over like warm honey. The lead break is glorious, empowered with twin harmonics and simplistic string bends and sustain. This song grew on me as a genuine highlight due to the powerful melodies.

'Behind the Veil' opens with ominous horns and atmospherics, a cinematic soundscape, and very eerie keyboard shrieks. Suddenly the peace is punctured like a balloon with a flurry of thrashing metal riffs, and it locks into a rocking rhythm with very dirty guitar distortion. LaBrie moves into his nasty mood with spiteful lyrics and it is apparent this has a dark edge about the evil that men do. The instrumental break is terrific with Rudess and Petrucci having way too much fun trying to outdo each other in technical finesse. This is an aggressive song and certainly a thrashing prog fest by any standard.

'Surrender to Reason' is layered with synth strings, opens with an Alex Lifeson guitar sound and transcends into Porcupine Tree territory with acoustic guitars in the verses, then builds into tricky distortion riffs and grandiose organ flourishes. Not a highlight of the album but it has the power to grow on you.

'Along for the Ride' is the obligatory ballad of the album, LaBrie revels in these and of course it breaks up the incessant complex riffs and instrumental workouts. The acoustics are crystal clear, and LaBrie is an accomplished balladeer. The problem is this sounds the same as other DT songs and sticks to formula. The band could do with a revamp and try something different as it's getting very similar from album to album. Having said that, there is a section where Keith Emerson walks in and begins to play a ditty on the Moog, actually it's Rudess at his rudest mimicking 'Lucky Man's sound, but of course a Moog moment can never go astray for the prog afficianado.

'Illumination Theory' is the huge momentous epic, a 22:17 pomp romp of prog excess as only Dream Theater can perform. It is in 5 sections in classic prog style, a multi movement suite in the classical tradition; I Paradoxe de la Lumière Noire, II Live, Die, Kill, III The Embracing Circle, IV The Pursuit of Truth and V Surrender, Trust & Passion. It segues together like all great epics almost seamlessly and I can only shake my head in awe at the end of this mammoth track. It opens with stirring string ensemble and then plunges into a rhythmic distorted metal outbreak. So far so good. Then a riff that is lifted from "Images and Words" locks into place and LaBrie decides it's time to sing. The musicianship is awesome and saves this from getting dull even after 6 minutes of kanoodling and spouting off New Age influenced conspiracy theories about the Illuminati; "we seek to understand." A lovely keyboard workout follows and then a lead guitar domination, certainly driving the point home that the band are virtuosos. The music settles into an ambient scape with ghostly reverberations and strange chimes. There are even bird sounds as the orchestra movement begins to play; an extended violin and cello arrangement that stirs the soul. This piece stands out as it is a genuine classical symphony sound that is generated. It sounds like someone switched channels and we are hearing the ending of some old classic romance movie. This would make a beautiful concerto on the live stage and it took me by surprise after all the rock.

The power metal returns as though lurking round the corner ready to strike, with loud LaBrie languishing eloquently about mothers, children, wives and fighting for your life, teachers and students, crimes and freedom; whatever he is on about LaBrie is giving the microphone a real pasting. The epic shifts up a few gears as the pace quickens, with frenetic piano spasms and a schizo staccato riff, along with hyperactive percussive rhythms. The brilliance of all this chaos is answered with a swift lead guitar speed picking passage until Rudess says shove over it's my turn. Rudess' keyboard break is insane here with some of his best arpeggios and he is answered by Petrucci's wah wah workout; okay, we know you can play, genius! After this indulgence where is there to go but to move back to conventional melodies, a reprise of the string ensemble and LaBrie singing uplifting lines such as "you must suffer through the pain, when you surrender to the light you can face the darkest days." We believe his conviction and a huge crescendo climaxes. It is all so majestic and uplifting that you can't help but be mesmirised by the sheer spectacle of it all. The band go into full flight as the finale nears, with Petrucci's soaring lead guitar licks and Mellotron sounds emanating beneath. The darkness has lifted and all is well with the world again. Oh, just time for a ghost track with stirring symphonic prog nuances and a piano to boot. No complaints from me; this is bombastic prog at its proudest, with DT waving the prog metal flag triumphantly.

This latest Dream Theater album is a real mixed inconsistent affair; moments of brilliance with moments of familiar territory that demands some kind of diversity. The band are getting too familiar to be honest, and could do with a real shake up to try something different. Each album is sounding the same and some of the material on this latest album leaves a lot to be desired especially the middle section. Also Mangini's drums sound a bit synthetic lacking Portnoy's punchy style. The creative department also needs a shake up as there is not a lot of lyrical punch and Mangini had input into the songwriting but it has not affected the band that much at all; they still opt for the safe approach revisiting what has worked on previous albums.

Of course the opening tracks, and instrumental are brilliant, along with the epic final track, so this could be enough to warrant a 4 star rating and I have to consider whether this measures up to other 4 star albums of DT. And what is with that dull album cover and uninspired title? Not exactly as if there was a lot of effort put into it. One has to ask, if this does not measure up to the masterpiece releases whether this is as even as good as "Awake", "Six degrees?" and "Black clouds and silver linings", all of which I awarded 4 star reviews. Really it is not as good as these, so is it then better than the middle of the road 3 star albums "Systematic Chaos", "Train of Thought" or even "Falling into Infinity"? Well, it definitely had more impact on me than those which leads me to believe a marginal 3.5 star rating is warranted. I will settle for 4 stars but only due to the astonishing symphony intro, the awesome instrumental and colossal epic that I really enjoyed, especially all the symphonic elements, and guitar and keyboard freakouts. Dream Theater still hold the attention and even though this is no masterpiece it is well worth a listen and as always is going to divide the prog fanbase, which has become an essential part of the band's appeal. Love 'em or loathe 'em, Dream Theater still has the power to make the prog community wake up and take notice.

Review by Second Life Syndrome
3 stars It's time. It's time for me to give up trying to fight my urge to write a review for this new Dream Theater album. Anyone that follows me will know that I am no fan of the "mighty" DT, though I have a healthy respect for them as I feel they kept the prog fire burning through the 90s, kinda. I also respect their technical ability, especially that of Petrucci and his nine arms.

However, none of that changes the fact that this album is pompous, overblown, and stilted. Just as with all of their albums after "Awake", their tracks seem like nothing more than stitched-together pieces of instrumental fireworks, and then they ask Labrie to caterwaul over them. I use the term "instrumental fireworks" in the worst sense, as these shows of skill seem more suited for high school seniors trying to impress girls. Yet, Petrucci and his crew (as he seems to be in charge this time) can play mind-bending instrumental passages, but can they just make a darn song already? All I ask is for a cohesive and mature attempt at art, but DT continually leans toward attempting to fit as many notes as possible into one minute.

Honestly, I was surprised at first. "False Awakening Suite" is actually quite good, even though it IS a 3 minute song that is divided into three parts. Cliche much? Anyways, it is quite epic (as expected) and good overall. I liked it. Then, "The Enemy Inside" appears, and the album goes to hell. Not only does the over-production pretty much hurt my ears, but Labrie sounds worse than ever. This guy CANNOT SING. Sheesh. Each track, then, sounds exactly like the previous one. Wailing from Labrie, guitar solos from Petrucci, and not much else. The keys from Rudess are buried in the over-saturation of the mix, and they don't do much anyhow. I also heard that Myung's bass guitar was finally going to be audible! Yippee! It only took them a career as long as I am old to figure that out. And guess what? I can still barely hear it, and it is basically unremarkable.

So, after an album full of blah songs, "Illumination Theory" arrives. This track is meant to be the grand epic of the album, and I think it's okay. It's nothing special and it really drags in the middle, but it's pretty good for what it is. One plus is that Labrie is gone for large amounts of time, which would make any song better.

Overall, then, this is just another DT album. It's complex. It's epic. It's heavy. But, it's also meaningless, immature, and downright annoying at times. When the final epic began, I glanced to see that it has a run time of over twenty minutes. My first reaction? "Do I have to?" I made myself listen to this album; and, surprise, it sounds like all their other albums. But, I guess when you are selling albums like hotcakes, that's all you really care about anyways.

Review by Menswear
5 stars Reconciliation Album

Yes, this album lubricated my long-time feud with the band. I was frankly tired of the same old clichés, and since Octavarium, my listening capabilities were someplace else. Is it the fresh blood of Mike Mangini? (we love you Mike!!) The symphony hired for the album? The simple (but tasty) artwork? Or simply the return to the formula of Octavarium?

Well, the opening track is a sure winner: explosive choir with a theme that could fit a swashbuckling movie! Also, the multiple winks and nudges to Rush across the album is charming. Since Dream and Day Unite, the Rush factor has not been that present; and it's a good thing. I first started to listen to the band because they were all Rush fans and I happily grab here and there wiffs of the Holy Triumvirat.

Like I said, the Octavarium recipe was a very thing and they re-visited the pattern this time again: catchy riffs (Lifeson inspired), audible bass (finalIy!) and well mixed vocals (not too loud). I am satisfied with the fact that the Nightwish approach is less there, but I do honestly miss the Portnoy vocals that gave the band an additionnal edge.

I'd say go with this eye closed, it's a good year for them!

Review by Andy Webb
3 stars And so Goliath fell...

Almost to the day it has been one year since I have posted a review on ProgArchives. Why, I can't say, perhaps a degree of ennui, a lack of free time, or just other priorities around the site. But with the release of a new Dream Theater album, I, as a well-known Dream Theater fanboy, feel the obligation to share my thoughts on my once favorite band of all time's latest work. And the sad fact is, this album heavily contributed to my word choice of my 'once' favorite band. Dream Theater, as anyone who has read my biography for them may agree, have been one of the most influential and powerful progressive metal bands of all time. With simple non-repeatable opuses such as Images and Words, Awake, Scenes from a Memory, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, and Octavarium, these behemoths of the prog metal world were kings. In the past 6 years, however, they have experienced a truly disheartening fall from grace. I embraced Systematic Chaos as a new look at a classic sound with heavier, darker, grittier, and perhaps more 'mainstream metal' sounding tones. Black Clouds and Silver Linings, the band's darkest album to date, had its moments, with songs such as The Count of Tuscany listing among my favorites, but alas, it was the last album to feature key member and founder Mike Portnoy.

But have no fear! Dream Theater had not been making music for 25 years to give up at a little bit of a setback. With a cheesy reality television program and all, they announced the legend (among drummers, at least) Mike Mangini would be filling in at the throne. The world record holder for fastest drumming was a professor of percussion at Berklee, for heaven's sake. The man knew how to pound them skins! With the release of the aptly named A Dramatic Turn of Events, I saw a miniscule glimmer of hope for my beloved Dream Theater. The tone had softened, the creativity knob was turned up maybe 3 notches, and by golly, I could hear John Myung for the first time in ten years. While Dream Theater had done better in the past, this album gave the classic die hards hope, myself included. And this album had not even included Mangini as a composer!

So when the band announced, in another dramatic turn of events, that their 12th studio offering would be a self-titled album, I expected heavenly greatness. Soaring guitar lines, gorgeous keyboard lines, thumping bass lines, mathematical drums, and angelic vocals were sure to greet me as, in a typical way of a DT fanboy, unnecessarily ordered the Special Edition (I don't even own a 5.1 surround sound system, why did I need a DVD of it?). The single The Enemy Inside left much to be desired, however, but I felt confident. For years Dream Theater had released their most commercially satiable song first ' Constant Motion, Rite of Passage, On the Backs of Angels (well maybe not that one). When my preorder came in a day before the release date, I scurried back to my stereo and inserted this new offering from the prog metal gods.

And oh did they deliver. At first. The False Awakening Suite was just that ' a terrible false awakening to sub-par Dream Theater. The introductory track is phenomenal. Crushing riffs, epic instrumentation, and a righteous display of Dream Theater's raw power opened their new album showing this group of mid-40s metal heads can still kill it. The short fragments of powerful prog metal actually flow into each other beautifully, which is something that was severely lacking on their last album. I was ecstatic. When the Enemy Inside followed, I got nervous, but another tactic of Dream Theater is to plop a popular song second on an album (e.g. The Answer Lies Within, Constant Motion, A Rite of Passage, Build Me Up, Break Me Down). I forged on. The Looking Glass wasn't terrible, but it was not what I was expecting. The cheesy major scaled riffs, much in a key of Rush, mixed with James Labrie's terribly predictable vocal melodies, was not the hottest combination for the band. With one out of three satisfying me, my worry began to grow.

The Enigma Machine is where I realized this album would not be what I thought it would be. The song was advertised as Dream Theater's return to crushing instrumental tracks ' their first bona fide instrumental track since Train of Thought's killer Stream of Consciousness. This song, however, truly proved to be an enigma to me, a humble Dream Theater enthusiast. The introduction, a horrible over-synthesized riff written by our good wizard Jordan Rudess, called to mind the beauty that is Erotomania from Awake, a delicate showing of the band's instrumental prowess but keeping the showmanship to a respectable level. This song, however, was a showing of how the band does not know how to responsibly mix cool riffs, instrumental ferocity, and transitions. Awkward key changes, immature section transitions, and far too many childish instrumental flourishes. While impressive four bar solos have their place and are impressive under certain circumstances, when they are awkwardly juxtaposed within an already awkward song, they show that the band is trying way too hard.

After my turbulent journey was complete with The Enigma Machine, the first predictable Dream Theater power ballad showed its face. In the bigger picture, The Bigger Picture is not a bad song. In general, I am not a huge fan of Dream Theater's incessant dedication to forcing these songs into their albums, but in general this how the band can pull them off. Delicate, whilst cheesy vocal melodies actually blended will with John Petrucci's predictable power riffing. While fairly textbook Dream Theater, it was a nice slice of home pie. To increase my serving of nostalgia with typical Dream Theater plays, Behind the Veil, while perhaps being one of the freshest and most exciting tracks on the album, filled a slot that every Dream Theater album needs ' the moody, dynamically expressive, somber metal song. We see this in the form of Outcry, The Shattered Fortress, The Dark Eternal Night, Sacrificed Songs, etc ad naseum. A welcome sight, and I was pleased to see that Dream Theater effectively pulled it off.

Perhaps one of my favorites, Surrender to Reason is indeed a very nice and creative breath of fresh air on this drab album. While the tonality of the guitar and keyboard dynamic screams Rush, it serves as a nice salute to the band's main influence. The dynamics throughout the album are nicely represented, transitioned to, and elaborated on. The vocal melodies don't make my ears bleed with predictability, and there is a fair amount of fresh riffing. The solo section, as well, brings to mind many of Dream Theater's finest moments in the category.

And of course, before we arrive at the main attraction every Dream Theater fan was waiting for (Illumination Theory), we have to make the dreadful stop at James Labrie's favorite moment of the album ' the hopeful major scaled ballad. Another familiar play in the Dream Theater playbook, Along for the Ride pretty much explains my experience throughout the song. I listen and enjoy James Labrie's predictable melodies as much as I can and John Petrucci's emotive playing that is accented by Rudess' tasteful piano and string accompaniment (my favorite tone of his). While is not even in the same league as The Spirit Carries On or The Silent Man, it provides an adequate plug for this Dream Theater album requirement.

And finally, the 20 minute epic. A staple of many a successful Dream Theater album, the long form progressive metal epic is an ambitious undertaking by any band. The numerous sections, interludes, overtures, themes, riffs, instrumentation, arrangement, lyrical themes, and flow are difficult to master in order to make a tolerable epic. The classic band Yes was perhaps the most proficient at crafting epics of this type and even produced an album made solely of four of them. Seeing as Yes is one of Dream Theater's main influences, one can see why Dream Theater was also fairly good at creating memorable 20+ minute songs that were not painful to listen to all the way through.

Thank god for that influence, because Illumination Theory may have been the one song that saved this album from being a 2 star Dream Theater album, an unheard of concept in my book. While not matching to the epic beauty of A Change of Seasons or Octavarium, Illumination Theory is a powerful weapon in the Dream Theater arsenal. Perhaps one of the more metallic of their epics, the first half of the epic is a truly amazing display of Dream Theater's creative ability. If this type of compositional skill had been utilized throughout the album, the album would have been monumentally better. The organic riffs, wizardly keyboard work (despite the fact it screamed of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence), and actually creative vocal lines were a treat. Half way through, however, is where I was truly wowed. I knew Jordan Rudess had composed some string quartet work that was recorded by an actual ensemble, but the actual classical piece that shows off the man's Julliard education was incredible. A truly beautiful work, a string quartet works its beauty into a transitionary role by breaking the epic into two halves.

The second half, however, is so much better than the first. When the strings pull their final draw, Petrucci and Labrie soar in in perhaps one of their most emotive and expressive moments in years. Labrie has a new force behind his pipes that remind me of his 90s glory and the communication between the four instrumentalists is sublime. The actual instrumentation has every ounce of their 90s creativity mixed with their modern day sheen, which surprisingly makes for a nicely polished sound. Near the mid-19 minute mark the song fades and I almost went into an epic rage over Dream Theater tricking me out of 3 minutes, but have no fear, it is only a 30-second silence before Petrucci and Rudess duet in a way not seen since their duet album of 2000. A passion, emotion, and grace is felt in their motions that reminded me why I liked this band's music to begin with.

And I wish I could just use those last two paragraphs for this entire review. But alas, the album has so much more, which accounts for so much less, that I cannot. Immediately after listening to Illumination Theory the latest time, I respun the A Change of Seasons EP to see how their epic writing has changed over the last 18 years. I was sadly reminded that while Illumination Theory was in fact a gorgeous display of Dream Theaterian magic, I had lowered my standards while listening to the album in whole. While reviewing music requires the author to make a delicate balance between comparison and analysis, I could not help myself but compare the pure passion that was expressed through each instrumentalist in their 1995 23-minute epic, the very first the band had ever produced. The soul emitted by this song, compared to the almost plastic nature of their latest effort, is demoralizing to an avid fan of the band.

As a reviewer, however, I can't give an album negative one stars because I feel like they've become worse over two decades of composing. Analytically, this album is not technically bad. The album has many impressive moments that give me hope for the band. In general, however, Dream Theater has taken one step forward and two steps back with this album. They pushed their boundaries since their last effort, but they kept their creativity in such a formulaic, crowd-pleasing mold that I couldn't truly enjoy. Dream Theater has figured out the shape of their own musical cookie cutter and they used it excessively on this album.

The predictability not only of the structures and makeup of many of the songs but also of the actual riffs, instrumentation, and vocal melodies especially also made for a rather lackluster experience on the album. While of course there were exceptions in certain songs, overall I felt as though the band wasn't trying at all when it came to new vocal melodies. The lines felt cold and uncreative and they meshed with the music only on a surface level. The over produced sound to many of the songs, as is they were desperately trying to please their label, also made much of the album sound terribly plastic.

Overall, however, this album is not bad. Granted, as a former die hard Dream Theater fanatic, I'm hard wired to not hate anything the band does, but this album truly tested my dedication. The album has its high points in conjunction to its (very) low points. Given the fact that this review ranks as one of my very longest, I don't think I can say anything more without repeating myself. My only wish is that for their next album, Dream Theater takes a hard look at how they want to creatively represent themselves. Do they want to ferment into a cookie cutter metal band reproducing the same song or do they seriously want another shot at pushing the envelope of their genre? At this point in their career, every member of Dream Theater is financially safe enough to risk not making a Billboard top 10 album, so I dearly hope it is the latter. I can't give this album any more than under 3 stars. 3- stars.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Every new Dream Theater album there's a rain of reviews everywhere. 90% of them are separated into 2 categories: The Fanatics and The Haters. The first one forget everything else give it 5 stars and only focus on the fact this is their favorite band and this is their best album ever. The second will not listen the album with attention, give it 2 stars and call it the worst (once again).

I don't like fanatics and I hate the haters, so...

I always liked DT besides not liking their earlier albums, my favorites will always be Scenes and Six Degrees. I was avoiding to listen the new album (the same as the latest one) just because the facts I mentioned before, I was waiting for things 'cool down' a bit. Well yesterday I feel like listening, so, here's what I think.

Yes, it is a downhill for the band, but I wasn't expecting anything anyway since I thought exactly the same about A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011) but thing in DT HQs are getting REALLY dull and they're taking everything for granted.

When Mike Portnoy was on board he was a big driving force for the band together with John Petrucci, they were sharing lyrics and producer seat, now the guitarrist is alone, and that's not good. To begin with, Petrucci lyrics are horrible most of the time and he seems to be writing for teenagers, and I think he is, intentionally, to 'get' this audience. On the producer side Petrucci pretty much ignores everything but the guitars. Yeah, DT was always guitars and drums, but now only guitars matter. John Myung is said by many to have a voice now... where? On the 20 seconds per song he appears? Usually MYung is just... not there, then out of nowhere his bass will appear for 15 or 20 seconds and then they are gone again. Mike Mangini had a hard time filling some big shoes and he does pretty well, but the sounds of the drums... why? Sometimes it even looks like some electronic kit because of the effects. Petrucci is a very good player, will always be, and he can write some good songs and riffs, but he just can't play the acoustic, and he tries twice on Dream Theater (2013), both times looks like a robot playing. I have never liked James LaBrie voice but I do think it fits the band's sound, but here... LaBrie is soul-less in pretty much everywhere, as if tired or just plain bored, no nice hooks no memorable singing lines. He seems to be happier on his solo project but DT is a safe job, so he stays. My surprise for the album is Jordan Rudess, always disliked his style and always thought he was the weak link of the chain. Despite the fact he uses that kind of Power Metal/Gothic Metal cheap choir keyboards in some moments he pretty much did very well along the album and have more variety in his keyboards sounds.

Now, the songs... they're weak, VERY weak. You know you have a big problem when your best songs are the single 'The Enemy Inside' and the instrumental 'Enigma Machine'. 'False Awakening Suite' is nothing but the worst piece I've heard and it should never be allowed on the record. 'The Looking Glass' is an unexplicable AOR track that sees the band playing some 80's kind of hair metal, at least here you can hear Myung. 'The Bigger Picture, as I mentioned before, sees Mangini playing a drum that looks like an electronic one.

Now, the big suite'Illumination Theory', an 'epic' with over 22 minutes. Well, let me tell you something, this 'epic' has nothing more nothing less than around 14 minutes long indeed and it is a shame for a band like DT to use this kind of trick just to have a longer piece on the album. 22 minutes, less 2 minutes of 'nature and illumination sounds' = 20, right after that less 4 minutes of a really nice orchestral bit but that is COMPLETELY out of place (it could have been used as the intro though) = 16 minutes. Then, before the 20th minute mark the song is over, 20 seconds of silence and then... an inexplicable piano (with a guitar on the background) jam for 2 minutes = 14 minutes of real music...

I said something on my SW review some time ago that fits here completely: DT are great selers, and it shows on this album. They sell their fans a apretty box but empty inside and the worst part is that the bans buy it with a smile. Just this time not even the box is pretty...

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars The Enemy Inside is a great track!

When I first listened to this album I was really impressed with the opening track "False Awakening Suite" as the composition is really neat and tight and I expected the duration would be long - as long as the overture of Rick wakeman's 1984 album. Unfortunately this opening track with great orchestration only last less than 3 minutes. But when I looked at the sleeve, oh ....this short track comprises three movements! tah sounds ridiculous. But it's OK, the band has their own reason for doing it this way. But bottom line is the same: this opening track is so captivating and could be used later as the band's concert opening. Pattern-wise, this sort of style is somewahat following what power metal bands like Kamelot made their album - eg. Karma with Regalis Apertura as opening orchestra and followed by power ballad "Forever".

The pattern is really similar as the followup track is something powerful with heavy riffs: "The Enemy Inside" (6:17). These two first tracks were the one that hooked me to this album. The Enemy Inside is really a killer for me personally as I love how the music moves dynamically in fast tempo style, typical of Dream Theater. From this track I learn that Mike Mangini's drumming is really fast as he provides high-speed drum-playing throughout this track - especially at the beginning of the track. What interesting from this track is the combined solo work of Jordan Ruddes and John Petrucci. I really love how inventive the jeyboard sound is in this track.

There is one track that I really hate since the first time I listened to it, i.e. the third track: The Looking Glass. Why i hate? It's simple: the opening guitar riffs as well as when the music moves. It sounds something like Rush"Limelight". So what? Because I hate Rush Limelight - I don't like the guitar work, really's not rockin' at all. So is the case with The Looking Glass - it's so boring to me.

"Enigma Machine" (6:01) is a nice instrumental piece.Again, I enjoy how mangini plays his drum set. "The Bigger Picture" (7:40) is a relatively slow tempo music with nice melody. Labrie sings nicely here. But ..."Behind the Veil" (6:52) is for me is an excellent track like thw second track. It starts in an ambient mood using thin keyboard work that reminds me to Ocatavarium's epic. The music then blasts off loudly followed with heavy riffs similar to what it sounds on The Great Debate of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. The riffs I really like very much. The melody as it is sung by Labrie is really excellent as well. I also love the interlude part that demonstrates great keyboard work by Ruddes and followed with guitar solo by Petrucci.

The next two tracks are also very good in composition: "Surrender to Reason" (6:34) and "Along for the Ride" (4:45). What makes me interested with this album is the last track that serves as epic as the duration is 22 minutes. "Illumination Theory" is no doubt very intelligently composed. It has soft as well as very soft break. Again I love how mangini plays the drums especially at the beginning part (transition) when he has to plays his multi size tom at approximately minute 3:30. What follows is the heavy riffs in the vein of The Great Debate. One of the strengths from this composition is its ability to combine heavy and soft sides excellently. I really enjoy this epic. In someway it's similar with the disc two of Six Degrees album especially with the orchestra work in the middle of the epic.

Overall, this is an excellent album with great tracks like: False Awakening Suite - The Enemy Inside; Behind The Veil and Illumination Theory. The album really grew on me as the first time I listened to it I felt like being bored with this kind of DT music. But it's OK now especially when lately I love Behind the Veil and Illumination Theory. Keep on proggin' ...!

Peace on earth and mercy mild - GW

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars "Dream Theater" is the self-titled 12th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in September 2013. Releasing a self-titled album this late in your career, often signals a change in musical direction or maybe more often a return to the roots. In Dream Theater's case that's not really true though, and while I'm not sure about this, I assume that in this case the title is meant to signal that the band are now a more harmonic and tight nit unit, than the case was when Mike Portnoy was with the band. That's a wild guess though and maybe they just couldn't come up with a better title.

The music on the album pretty much continue down the same path as on the last couple of releases. In other words this is Dream Theater as we know them and love(hate) them. The musicianship is outstanding as ever. Challenging guitar and keyboard work, intricate and adventurous rythms, progressive song structures and James Labrie's strong and distinct sounding vocals in front. The most significant change from their previous releases is on the drum post. Mike Mangini did play the drums and was a permanent member of the lineup on "A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)", but at the time he was hired, the drum parts for the album were already written, and he basically played as a session musician on that album. So this is the first time, he is allowed to put his own mark on the music, and it is heard. While his drumming style fits Dream Theater's music well there are notable differences between his playing and the playing of his predecessor. And that's a great positive in my opinion, as it was something I missed on "A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)".

The material on the 9 track, 68:01 minutes long album primarily consist of tracks between 2 and 7 minutes in length and it's only the 22:17 minutes long closing track "Illumination Theory", that is really long on this album. Heavier tracks like "The Enemy Within" and "Behind the Veil" stand pretty strong in the picture, but there are generally too many "by the numbers" tracks, that don't really make a lasting impression. Tracks like "Along For The Ride", "The Bigger Picture" and "Surrender to Reason" are examples of this. They are competently written and all feature enjoyable sections, but they don't add anything new to Dream Theater's sound and Dream Theater have simply produced better material in this style before. Even the instrumental "Enigma Machine", which is occasionally brilliant, isn't that memorable. "Illumination Theory" is not surprisingly one of the highlights of the album, featuring structural twists and turns and several intriguing sections. It's interesting how they incorporate classical soundtrack type sections both on "Illumination Theory" but also on the opening track "False Awakening Suite" (oh well the use of classical orchestration is more bombastic on this track and kind of reminds me of Symphony X).

Dream Theater are as always a distinct sounding band, even though their influences occasionally surface. Take a listen to the very obvious Rush influence on "The Looking Glass" and on the opening section of "Surrender to Reason" for an example of that. With this self-titled release they've created yet another quality progressive metal release to add to their already sizable discography. Although the sound production (which features the sharpest drum production since "Awake (1994)"), the musicianship and the songwriting are all on a high level, it's still not an album in the better end of their output, but still a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.

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

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

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

Review by jampa17
4 stars A great add for your collection but not their best

The self-titled album of Dream Theater was a big step in their career because it was the first time they have a different drummer involved in the composition of the songs. And of course, the really big shoes of Mike Portnoy weren't easy to fit in and walk away just like that. Well, Mike Mangini proves in this album that he is really on the same page of the rest of the band and made a wonderful work making the music interesting, intriguing and powerful.

If it's your first DT album you're going to hear, you will be pleased with the amazing riffs, the complex time signatures and melodic lines you're going to hear. There are some really fresh tracks like THE LOOKING GLASS (very "Rush-y") or ENIGMA MACHINE (a really "happy" and "easy going" instrumental piece) while SURRENDER TO REASON is maybe the most memorable and intriguing. On the other hand, while all the songs of the album are great, is not near the best you can hear from them. AWAKE, METROPOLIS Pt_2 or A DRAMATIC TURN OF EVENTS are way more interesting and the lyrics and melodic lines are more engaging and beautiful at the same time. Maybe the issue with this album is the "snare" sounds, which don't match with the rest of the production. I mean, the ejecution of the drums are perfect, but the sound lacks strength and definition. It's a minor problem, of course, more to do with the mix than with the band itself. The rest is a solid, creative, "usual" stuff for DT, with powerful guitar sounds, great harmonies, fresh keyboards sounds and the enigmatic bass lines fitting great with Labrie's top notch vocals. It's indeed a strong 4 stars album, but it will not convert the detractors, 'cause the band is no interested on doing it so. It's a great addition for those who love Prog Metal and this proves that DT keeps as the referent for the sub-genre.

Review by JJLehto
3 stars While I have not been a big fan of DT's output over the preceding decade, finding these albums either hit/miss or lackluster, (and I admit I'm odd that I feel the band actually peaked with "Train of Thought") I was intrigued to listen to this album, since it would be the first to have Mike Mangini fully integrated in the creative process. Perhaps he would bring some new ideas, or spark a change I felt they long needed, and being a drummer I at least wanted to hear what he's got.

Well, it doesn't seem very different from anything Dream Theater has done before. Aside from shorter songs it seems a very standard Dream Theater affair. Mangini is clearly a talented drummer, though I can't say his work here was much "better" or even radically different from Portnoy. I would say he has a more "technical" style, and I do like his drumming, there's some impressive stuff.

The album has a good sound to it, I think the guitars sound good, heavy but not ridiculous, just have a good tone, the drums sound great, I am still not a big fan of LaBrie's vocals but they are fine, and not placed well in the mix. I hear a tiny bit more Myung but that's not hard considering I never hear his bass at all, it's still not prominent at all and missing on most of it.

While the music is typical Dream Theater, and still hit or miss for me, I do think this is a better album than any of their recent ones with some great standouts. The album opens with the awesome instrumental "False Awakening Suite" a keyboard heavy, fun piece filled with choirs, great melodies, drumming and instrumentation and moves into "The Enemy Inside" which may be the best song DT has made since Train of Thought.

"The Enemy Inside" is packed with great riffs, melodies and has a superb flow. It doesn't linger, it doesn't move at breakneck speed or with abrupt changes, just has a great pace. It's a very well composed song, with everything having its place, and getting show off, but working together, and the drumming kicks ass. It frustrates me songs this good, this well written, are possible but generally elude the band.

"Enigma Machine" is another standout. A classic DT instrumental bursting with epic riffs and virtuosic musicianship, it's compact and packs a wallop. Mangini's greatest display on the album. "Illumination Theory" is the other highlight, a 20 minute prog epic that features it all, "Metal Heaven" as I'd call it, great riffs, great flow and pace, and some awesome moments. There is a long interlude, and everyone gets to show off. I mean everyone, Myung has his section and even LaBrie shows some range and hits some real shockers. As always guitar and drums dominate, with Petrucci and Mangini really impressing. One of the better prog metal epics from the band.

Those were the highlights. "The Looking Glass" is a really good song and it's nice to see DT can be DT, but without lingering on and on or sounding stale. The rest of the album I find lackluster. Uninspired and boring. There are good moments of course but not enough to really call the songs good.

So what to make of the eponymous "Dream Theater"? There is nothing that will surprise you, nothing is added, or removed, and the album is inconsistent. The musicianship is good though, including a real coming out party for Mangini, and there are some songs that are quite good. The others, while not special, are not bad by any means. The shorter songs do of course mean there is less time to linger in the so so areas. So, I have to say this album is not a superb effort, but stronger than the last few DT albums and have some of the better songs they've made in a decade.

Three Stars

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A letter of apology.

Dear Dream Theater,

During the naughties, when you released several bleak albums in a row I was really starting to worry about you. The whimsy and magic from earlier albums that kept me captivated among the hard hitting metal and intricate songs were no more. At first I enjoyed the manic frenzy but after time it started to grow old. When you released Black Clouds and Silver Linings I considered it the final nail in the coffin of a band that I once dearly loved.

In the coming years with the shift in personnel I still didn't want to give you another chance. I didn't listen to any of your music until just earlier this year. The colourful cover of A Dramatic Turn of Events paired with the name to me just seemed like a cocky statement about how you could overcome your own nadir, but I was so busy exploring new music that I didn't have any time for the band who once let me down so badly.

But I shouldn't have given up on you. I am sorry for thinking that there was no way that you would ever be able to make enjoyable music again. Maybe I was caught up on the idea that your time had passed, that the world no longer needed complex progressive metal with a story telling aspect. Maybe I just didn't need the hard hitting riffs at the time. Maybe I had lost appreciation for just how much practice goes into being able to shred the way you do.

Thank you for changing my mind. When I finally got up the guts to listen to your new album I heard a band revitalized. Playing music that they wanted to play, not the music they thought their fans wanted to hear.

Yours Truly, --Queen By-Tor

*ahem* Now that that is out of my system...

Dream Theater's newest album is a far cry from the band who has for a long time been a laughing stock of the progressive community. The songs are tighter, the solos are enjoyable instead of indulgent and the writing has a down to earth feel which makes the album actually relatable.

Even the structure of the work is better thought out. The album is composed of a handful of medium length tracks (between 6-7 minutes), a few shorter rockers and one epic track. Perhaps after learning that a string of long songs and epics just don't work there is a variety of lengths at play that don't grow tired after repeated listens.

This feels like the album they were trying to make with Octavarium but got too caught up in the theme of 8 to actually accomplish. A mixture of darker, heavier tracks blended with some songs that are actually upbeat make for a Dream Theater that we haven't heard since Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. The Looking Glass and The Bigger Picture being two soaring songs that can lift up your heart without sacrificing the music to (too much) cheesiness. Enigma Machine is a hard hitting instrumental reminiscent of the Train of Thought era and The Enemy Inside builds off of the few things that were right with Black Clouds..., and expands them into a new and better territory.

Even Illumination Theory seems like a monument compared to previous works. After Black Clouds and Silver Linings I did not want to listen to Dream Theater play a song longer than 10-minutes ever again. Illumination Theory takes all the themes of the album and takes them for a ride through brilliant and beautiful music. Through its speed changes and all its own sections it manages to never become boring. It is an epic that was made to be an epic, not a song built upon just to make it longer.

In conclusion - This is not only a great album for Dream Theater but a great album for the progressive metal scene. It has completely restored my faith in the band which means next stop, A Dramatic Turn of Events! Even if they never manage to produce another album that I like I will still hold faith that they could. 4 stars, well done boys!

Review by Wicket
4 stars Call me insane, but I really feel like it's pointless to review Dream Theater albums on a prog-rock-themed forum. No other ensemble in the past 30 years has created a gigantic schism of love-em-or-hate-em listeners, and frankly, it's getting to the point in time where it's nigh impossible to change the minds of the "haters" and it'd be more worthwhile for all the people who still do like DT's music just to sit down and enjoy it.

After all, everyone is going to have their biases on why they love or hate DT. My personal reason is the fact that their music relates so much to classical compositions (which I both perform and compose, BTW). They're not songs you can really jam to (although there are quite a few where you can), they're songs you have to sit down and enjoy, absorb the melodies, embrace the disonance, sit and watch in awe and amazement as these guys weave an unexplainable, unimaginable web of melodies, harmonies and sound effects into not just songs, but emotions. They tell stories.

That's one thing I've always looked for in progressive music, that unmistakeable art of evoking emotion and telling stories. In the 1800's, the Romantic era of composing revolved around telling stories. Beethoven was the first true master of the art, starting with his "Eroica" symphony written in honor of Napoleon Bonaparte at the time, and ending with his epic 9th. Schubert's lieder pieces evoked a sense of reality when you listened to the singer weep her sad, sad tune. It was such a provocative way of making music, it only caught on to even bigger, more elaborate productions in the form of Berlioz's "Symphonie Fantastique" and Wagner's operas.

So when you look at it from that perspective, Dream Theater has created many pieces like that, what with "Metropolis", "Six Degrees", "In The Presence Of Enemies", etc. Sure, have they lost their way a bit from a compositional aspect with the departure of Portnoy? Absolutely. No one can replace Portnoy in my mind. Sorry, Mangini.

If it's any consolation, Mangini's sophomore effort with the band is a MILLION times better than on "Dramatic Turn Of Events". I did say a while ago that I thought DToE was the best Dream Theater album ever made, and while I'm not really sure it is anymore, it's still one of their best efforts to date. The only blemishes I did knock it for was Mangini's drumming, which is vastly improved on this disc. It sound more refined, less copycat and more original. I felt like Mangini was trying too hard to fill Portnoy's shoes. After all, as one of the most beloved, if not THE most beloved member of the band, it would be impossible to replace him.

In fact, in any circumstance, it's impossible to truly replace anyone in any circumstance. Steve Young knew there was no way he was going to be able to live up to the hype of Joe Montana in San Francisco after he was traded. How can you replace a quarterback who won 4 Super Bowls? Simple. Forget about him and win another 3 Super Bowls for the franchise. And I feel that's the mentality Mangini went into the studio with when recording tracks for this album. DT with Mangini is like Queen with Adam Lambert: it's a completely different band. Now did we say that when Kevin Moore was replaced with Derek Sherinian, who was then replaced by Rudess? No, because while both were great keyboard players and pianists, Rudess just has a magic touch the other two didn't have. The same kind of magic Portnoy has.

And perhaps due to the identity Mangini is now creating in the drummer of one of the most popular and respected prog metal bands of our time, this self titled album reflects a bit of a change. In what direction? I still can't say. It's definitely not the heaviest album in their repertoire, but it's also not the most memorable. Sure, the heavy single "The Enemy Inside" is going to be catchy, while "The Looking Glass" tries too hard to be mainstream and falls flat on its face. The "False Awakening Suite", while brilliant, is way too short, while "Enigma Machine" is a classic DT instrumental. Again, not entirely memorable, but still distinctly true to that DT sound. "The Bigger Picture" has nothing in it that keeps me hooked or entertained, whereas "Behind The Veil", while brilliant, has an intro that simply takes far too long in proportions to the rest of the track. "Surrender To Reason" has one chord in the middle I like, "Along For The Ride" should be renamed "Falling Into Infinity", and the whole album is wrapped up with a 22-minute epic that should have been made a long time ago.

Is this album perfect? Far from it. I can recognize far more tracks off of DToE then I can this album, so from a critics standpoint, this album is essentially being held up by an epic intro, a standout single, an awesome instrumental and an album closing epic.

And that's OK.

Frankly, this current ensemble is still in a development stage. This a Dream Theater that wants to bring back its staple compositions that shaped their identity ("Enigma Machine", "Illumination Theory") while still trying to remake themselves with this new chemistry than stay anchored to roots which are drying up with nowhere else to go ("Behind The Veil", "Surrender To Reason", "The Bigger Picture").

This is a veteran band caught through a transitional period. A period where they still want to perform, tour and make music, but one where they have to deal with a new hand of cards dealt to them in a music world that has changed a lot since they first made waves back in 1992 with "Images & Words".

In short, this is a band that still has a story that needs to be completed, a story that, hopefully, comes full circle and re invites Portnoy back to the fold eventually. Only then will we, as critics, as judges, be able to truly judge and define this band's legacy, because when you think about it, most people are analyzing their legacy when they're still going strong, and that's not right. One day, all five of these guys will have become too old to tour, too old to keep pounding away in that metallic fashion they've embraced for many years.

Only then, when they all hang up their instruments, will we truly be able to determine their successes and failures over this band's lifetime.

Only then will we truly understand their progress and motivation into their ever-changing, ever-evolving sound. A identity totally unique to this band, yet always evolving to keep up with the times (AND their audience, that's always important). After all, the Beatles succeeded in doing that, and they're one of the most popular and famous bands in history.

It's not easy, but it can be done. And hopefully, Dream Theater will add their names to that rarefied list of artists to forever stand the test of time.

Review by Prog Leviathan
2 stars If Dream Theater released a self-titled album 10 years ago, it would be synonymous with excellence in the prog-metal genre. It would erupt with creative instrumental virtuosity; explode with equal parts hooks, riffs, and brain-melting awesomeness.

But it's not 10 years ago. And it seems like it's becoming a tradition of mine to basically just whine about how mediocre one of the best prog-metal acts of all time has become. These days, a self-titled Dream Theater album means three things: generally cookie-cutter song writing, outstanding musicianship made boring by lack of enthusiasm, and vocals and lyrics that fall flat on their face.

"Dream Theater" (the album) is exactly what you expect at this stage in their game. It plays it safe, which isn't always a bad thing, but it certainly isn't going to pull the group out of a nearly decade-long slump of mediocrity.

After listening to this album a few times consecutively, I decided to perform an experiment. I listened to one of my favorite DT songs, "Glass Prison," and counted the number of times I was genuinely stimulated - emotionally, creatively, whatever. I counted 22 times. Then, I listened to this album's opener "Enemy Inside". The count: 4.

Reviews are much more honest when they take an album at its own merits, rather than comparing it directly against something else - but this should give you an idea of the overall feeling of "blah" that "Dream Theater" offers up.

OK, so what do we actually get with "Dream Theater"? The opener is a disjointed and silly instrumental that comes and goes without direction. It's not connected to any of the themes of the album, and is filled with Rudess' now cartoonish sounding keyboards. Off to a bad start.

"Enemy Inside" isn't a bad track; it's bottom-heavy, has nice soloing, hooks, and shows off some energy. Alright!

"The Looking Glass" is the band's now formulaic second-track single. Sort of middle of the road metal that would impress someone unfamiliar with the prog-metal genre. Pretty banal for people reading this review. I much preferred "I Walk Beside You" from Octavarium, which at least let LaBrie sing his heart out.

"Enigma Machine" is fast and heavy instrumental, and probably the best short track on the album, even though it reprises moments from "A Nightmare to Remember." Since we're talking instrumentals, I'll say a few words about Mangini's drumming. Overall, I'm not impressed. He certainly keeps up with the group and delivers a very precise performance, but doesn't have a faction as much personality to his playing as Portnoy. Portnoy, whom I've described as having George Lucas levels of creative douche-bagery, is at least exciting to hear play. Mangini could be a very realistic drum-machine for all I can tell by his lack of character.

"Bigger Picture," a power ballad, is pretty awful. It's trite and poorly written, giving us lyrics like:

Like a moth burned by the fire and driven to the flame (Prophecies' a blessing and a curse) I must bare this cross alone There's no one else to blame

Petrucci lyrics at their most contrived and uncreative. These are typical throughout the album, which by the way, are sung quite blandly by LaBrie.

"Behind the Veil" is basically the point of no return. It, and the following three songs pass by with a wimper of creativity and excitement. The three observations I raised earlier stick with you for about 25 minutes that basically just made me sigh and look at the clock.

The grand finale, "Illumination Theory," is the only reason any one will remember this album. It's sort of a sweeping epic that (surprise!) deals with issues of self-discovery and cartharsis... just like every other extended Dream Theater song (except that one about gay European vampires). It's actually pretty good; there is a lot of variety and compositional complexity. LaBrie actually sings like he still cares about being in the band, and the song's momentum gives us a lot to enjoy.

So a very mixed bag from Dream Theater's 12th album. In looking at my review history of the group, they have a 63% average... a poor score for a band with their impact on the genre. But, an appropriate average considering that's about exactly how I'd rate this group's self-titled release. Not terrible, but definitely not going to impress anyone new to the party.

Now excuse me, I'm going to go back listening to 6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence.

Songwriting: 3 - Instrumental Performances: 3 - Lyrics/Vocals: 2 - Style/Emotion/Replay: 2

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Another two years - another Dream Theater release...

There doesn't seem to be an end to the never-ending album-tour-album-tour cycle that the band have been following since the release of their debut album back in 1989! Even thought I would have wished that the band would have taken more time with their releases and not stress them in time for the next tour, this schedule have done good for Dream Theater and they have managed to keep up their momentum. The albums have been climbing in the charts and the fan base seems to expand every single day. Still, everything is far from perfect in the Dream Theater camp as the band have been accused of following the same formula while writing and recording their new albums. These complains have become more prominent with the releases of Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Some of these complains have grown even larger after the departure of Mike Portnoy and the release of A Dramatic Turn Of Events, an album that I consider their return to form after almost a decade of stagnating releases. Where should the band take their music on the follow up to their successful 2011 release? Well, why not simplify the sound even more than they did in the past? But that would create another fan outrage, someone cries! No problem, just add a 20+ minute composition to the mix and pretend that it's a skillfully written interconnected suite.

You might have already guessed that I'm not a fan of this 2013 release, but it isn't for the lack of trying on my part. I began listening to the album right when it was released back in September 2013 and have continued revisiting it over the years. My original reaction was very bleak and I couldn't really make much of the new material. I could certainly hear that Dream Theater have simplified their sound and the shorter track lengths didn't do much to convince me otherwise. Plus, the songs lack an distinct identity and instead are a combination of many influences fused into one melting pot. There are quite a few obvious nods at some of the progressive rock giants like Yes, Rush and E.L.P.. But instead of covering those bands greatest achievements, Dream Theater have embraced the more commercially inclined moments that those bands have achieved over the years.

After the disappointment of the first eight tracks, where even the highlights bring back a feeling of been there and done that, we've finally arrived at the 22 minute multi suite Illumination Theory. Is this the one redeeming factor that will save the album, just like Octavarium did for many fans on the album with the same name back in 2005, or will it be like one of the four longer compositions on Black Clouds & Silver Linings? My take is that it's actually neither! Illumination Theory is not even a real multi-suite composition and should be described as a mix of a few bits and pieces that the band have been working on but couldn't turn into full length tracks.

My take of the 2013 band-titled release is that it's a wolf in sheep's clothing where Dream Theater have released a new Falling Into Infinity but they tried to camouflage it as a new Octavarium. Either way, neither of the alternatives sounds all that original to my ears.

**** star songs: False Awakening Suite (2:41) The Looking Glass (4:52) Enigma Machine (6:01) Along For The Ride (4:44)

*** star songs: The Enemy Inside (6:17) The Bigger Picture (7:40) Behind The Veil (6:52) Surrender To Reason (6:34) Illumination Theory (22:16)

Review by A Crimson Mellotron
3 stars Dream Theater's self-titled 2013 album is... How do I put it? It is predictable. The releases of the post-Portnoy incarnation of the US prog metal pioneers have been hit or miss, primarily because of the re-hash of sounds already mad, or because of the fleshless regurgitation of tricks already showcased multiple times. Therefore, it is all left upon the shoulders of the songwriting to help us weigh out whether a new DT album is excellent, tedious, or just decent. It is worth mentioning that this album and its follow-up can be thought of as 'the Petrucci duplet', as Dream Theater's own guitar hero takes [almost] full control of the musical and lyrical content as well as the production (and we have to say, the production on these most recent albums by the Boston prog metal titans has been stellar; the songs just happen to be yawn-inducing sometimes).

Opening the self-titled twelfth studio release by Dream Theater, is the 3-part and nearly 3-minute long instrumental 'False Awakening Suite', a piece that has been primarily written to serve as a concert opener. This leads to one of the more successful and recognizable singles of the band, the strikingly heavy 'The Enemy Inside' - a sing-along prog metal anthem that reminisces the days of 'Awake' or 'Train of Thought', a great beginning to this record! Next up is the very Dream Theater-y track 'The Looking Glass'; great lyrics, maybe a bit catchy, but not too inspiring to make the listener take up the role of a musician and kickstart a prog metal band with art pop leanings. The instrumental 'Enigma Machine' is one of the highlights of the 'Dream Theater' album, a very complex mind-boggling circus of sounds, with each instrumentalists showcasing enviable pace, technique and feel. 'The Bigger Picture' sees off James LaBrie's majestic vocals almost in full power, as the song is driven by its menacing theatrical mood. 'Behind the Veil' is among the really enjoyable number on here, a DT classic, as some may classify it - both powerful and melodic, with equally impressive moments of serenity and aggression. 'Surrender to Reason' with lyrics written by John Myung, and 'Along for the Ride' are songs that get more and more painful to get through with every new spin of the record. But finally, all the lows are redeemed by the graceful 22-minute epic 'Illumination Theory', this is one of the highlights of Dream Theater's catalogue overall, whether it is for the composition's structure (and I emphasize composition here), or the philosophical lyrics, or simply the great music that the band play - a highly recommended listen even outside the context of the album (or maybe, especially outside of it...).

Dream Theater take a step back after the adventurous 'A Dramatic Turn of Events', as they present a collection of very Rush-inspired songs to questionable results. Eventful moments are present but they quickly become uninteresting upon repeated listens. Briefly, half of the album is killer, and it can certainly be compared to some of the band's finest episodes, and half of it is plain and mediocre. The highs, however, outweigh the lows, but despite the reserves I hold for this album and the many joyous listens, the truth is that it is just good, nothing more.

Review by Warthur
3 stars Dream Theater's second album with Mike Mangini on drums takes the ballsy step of being a self-titled album. There's basically two reasons to do a self-titled album: one is that it's your debut album, and the other is that you think it's a release which really encapsulates your sound. Doing this some 12 albums into your career feels like a big step in particular - it's not that doing this necessarily disparages the preceding albums, but it does imply a crystallisation of the thread that ran through all of them.

As it turns out, though, the choice of title is apt not for this reason, but simply this: "Dream Theater" is about a generic a Dream Theater album as Dream Theater have ever made.

It's not that it's clumsy or bad - it's just that nothing in particular stands out, the band largely continuing to plough the same furrow they'd been working on A Dramatic Turn of Events. That album, in itself, was very much a "business as usual" affair; producing such a thing after one of your co-founders have left and you need to establish you can still go like you used to is fair enough, but doing two in a row suggests the creative well is drying up.

The major exception here is False Awakening Suite, a brief under-3-minutes introductory track which sees the band dabbling in symphonic power metal territory; it's incongruous and could have probably happily been trimmed, but at least it manages to stand out. Here, Dream Theater sound like, well Dream Theater - or any other reasonably competent imitator. And we've got plenty of that already.

I wouldn't say this album is outright bad - but I'd be lying if I said it was great. It's fine to listen to in the background if you are fond of the group, but I'd never make it the first album you listen to. For better or worse, if any album in their discography can be said to sum up what makes Dream Theater, well, Dream Theater, it's Images & Words, their first true classic which set the stage for everything to follow. As for Dream Theater, by Dream Theater... well, it's Dream Theater, alright. But it's just Dream Theater, nothing more than that. And Dream Theater are able to be a better Dream Theater when they reach beyond the unambitious boundaries they set for themselves on "Dream Theater".

Review by The Crow
3 stars "Dream Theater" is the twelfth eponymous studio album by the influential progressive metal band Dream Theater. Released in 2013 under the Roadrunner Records label, this album was produced by John Petrucci and sound engineer Richard Chycki. The album was recorded at Cove City Sound Studios in New York, and the cover was designed by Hugh Syme, known for his work with artists like Rush.

As for the album's quality, "Dream Theater" showcases the band's exceptional technical ability, with virtuosic instrumental performances and James LaBrie's distinctive vocals. The positives aspects include intricate and challenging compositions, high-quality production, and excellent musical performances. John Myung's bass sound more powerful than ever here!

However, the album may lacks the freshness and innovation of the band's earlier works and could feel somewhat repetitive in terms of style and song structure. It's also a letdown in comparison to the previous "A Dramatic turn of Events", which was their best album in a while, being much superior that this "Dream Theater".

In summary, "Dream Theater" deserves a rating of 3 out of 5 because, while it showcases the band's technical mastery and has standout moments, it fails again to innovate or surprise, resulting in a work that feels largely derivative and does not satisfies the high expectations that i had of Dream Theater after the freshness of their previous record.

Best Tracks: The Enemy Inside (powerful and catchy) and Enigma Machine (a fine instrumental song)

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4 stars This album in my opinion is great! Songs like Illumination Theory, Enigma Machine & The Enemy Inside are great more heavier songs, but songs like The Looking Glass & Along for the Ride are more calm songs that are not only shredding and odd time signatures. So because this album has heavy and mo ... (read more)

Report this review (#2991076) | Posted by Sakke | Tuesday, February 13, 2024 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Whenever a band releases a self-titled album, there's always that feeling that this is their definitive piece of work, something that so truly encapsulates their sound and legacy that no mere title will do. Simply put, this is supposed to be THE Dream Theater album. And yet, it's just that. ... (read more)

Report this review (#2974288) | Posted by martindavey87 | Friday, December 15, 2023 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I can't justify the low overall rating of this album on as DT have not deviated significantly from their previous route and offer another convincing set of heavy or more streamlined songs. As usual, there are plenty of nuisances, technical virtuosity and highlights. I really li ... (read more)

Report this review (#2858640) | Posted by sgtpepper | Saturday, December 17, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Dream Theater - for me this album is comeback to good old DT. I can feel more joy and flow in song writing and the word "song" in here seems to be a keyword. Some may say there's nothing new in their music that it's repetitive but for me after the heavier albums this is quite a refreshment and s ... (read more)

Report this review (#1105327) | Posted by judaspriestfan | Thursday, January 2, 2014 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Oddly enough, this is my first time ever reviewing a Dream Theater album. Which is odd, because I have been a massive fan of this band for 10 years now. In fact, if it weren't for this band, I would never have started to play guitar. I wouldn't have discovered the wonderful world of progressive m ... (read more)

Report this review (#1098286) | Posted by arcane-beautiful | Monday, December 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I have never written a review on a Dream Theater album, never feeling the need to, but with this one I did. In my opinion I could not think of any other album by them that should be self titled. Don't get me wrong this is not my favorite album by them at all. However, I could not think of any albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#1089455) | Posted by AlexDOM | Friday, December 13, 2013 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Ugh. Where to begin? Another album from DT that I've completely lost interest in before I even finished listening to it. These guys are now the AC/DC of Progressive Metal. To quote one of my favorite old school thrash albums, "The always changing, never changing, nothing changes..." You've go ... (read more)

Report this review (#1074930) | Posted by methodic_progression | Sunday, November 10, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars Dull. Bland. Not even trying anymore. I'm genuinely sad to say that the band I idolised as the epitome of rock music a decade ago have truly lost all their creative talent as a band. Their last few albums have all been desperately uninteresting, especially the previous album, but this one is equa ... (read more)

Report this review (#1070930) | Posted by Revelation_Space | Saturday, November 2, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A case of Dream Theater fatigue? No Dream Theater album is bad. But this one I could call the "least necessary" in the sense that we the fans could have waited a year or so for the ideas, to use a sommelier term, to mature better. Black Clouds and Silver Linings were not that good, but at least ... (read more)

Report this review (#1068247) | Posted by Progrussia | Monday, October 28, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars This was an initial disappointment. The album might have been overhyped. I think that was it. After a few listens I am quite convinced this is a good album. Not a masterpiece, but really enjoyable (3.5 stars at least). Most of the tracks are quite strong, though they lack variation, especially in th ... (read more)

Report this review (#1065708) | Posted by AndAhls | Thursday, October 24, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A Taste of Majesty Dream Theater introduced me to progressive rock some seven years ago and touched me with their passion for music, intricate virtuosity, spiritual awareness and gorgeous memorable melody. Since then I have become acquainted with the canon of prog, and for that I am ever gr ... (read more)

Report this review (#1059448) | Posted by Kassimatis | Sunday, October 13, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I won't deny I have problem with both this band and this genre. Dream Theater is the most famous progressive metal band. Their first studio record was released 1989 and now 2013 they have released their twelfth record with the name "Dream Theater" with the line up James LaBrie(voclas), John Pe ... (read more)

Report this review (#1056244) | Posted by DrömmarenAdrian | Tuesday, October 8, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars It sucks when you find out you might just be wrong about your favourite band. When Portnoy left amid claims Dream Theater needed to take a break and freshen up, I thought it may have just been a bleep on the radar and this band would continue putting out awesome album after awesome album that ... (read more)

Report this review (#1054715) | Posted by Inharmonia87 | Sunday, October 6, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars Dream Theater's newest album is rather important for two reasons: the first being that it is self-titled, showing that the band is confident that this is an offering including and encompassing of all Dream Theater's elements. The second reason is that it is the first which involves Mike Mangin ... (read more)

Report this review (#1054639) | Posted by zeqexes | Saturday, October 5, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars An eponymous album this late in a band's career is always an interesting paradigm to follow; The Beatles certainly made it work. But any sort of establishment of a new and refined sound here is completely misplaced; as this is the same Dream Theater we've been spoon-fed from the beginning. In ... (read more)

Report this review (#1054543) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Saturday, October 5, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars I've now have had a chance to listen to this album a few times and slowly digest it, I like much more that the last release personally, I think it's the best in quite a few albums I heard some people are complaining it's not "Heavy" enough ( Like Train Of Thought) and they are right, but why shou ... (read more)

Report this review (#1053591) | Posted by metalrob4662 | Friday, October 4, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars I beleive that for the last 10 years DT have lost much of their poetic side. The keyboards are struggling to fit in and the latest albums cannot be compared with Images or Metropolis. Developing their heavier side have alienated an audience which loved their differentiation from the Metal genre. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1049777) | Posted by starclassic | Wednesday, October 2, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars This album is better than A Dramatic Turn of Events but still not great. Mangini's drumming is really good but they are definitely lacking Portnoy's song writing skills still. When I heard the intro "False Awakening Suite" I was pretty pumped, expecting the best but things kind of were a roller c ... (read more)

Report this review (#1049653) | Posted by EGallager | Tuesday, October 1, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Top 3? Probably not. Top 5? I think so... The album showed real promise as soon as 'The Enemy Inside' premiered... DT has an affinity for releasing an album's least interesting song as the single. If 'Enemy' was it, well then... More importantly, this is the first DT album since Six Degrees t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1049035) | Posted by StrafeSawdoffe | Monday, September 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

2 stars No, "Dream Theater" is not a masterpiece. Objectively speaking, this album is not as good as their releases in the past. It seems their creativity is drained, which is evidently true with their eponymous album title. I had high hopes for this album, being a fan of DREAM THEATER, and was excited of t ... (read more)

Report this review (#1049025) | Posted by SevDawg | Monday, September 30, 2013 | Review Permanlink

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