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DREAM THEATER

Progressive Metal • United States


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Dream Theater picture
Dream Theater biography
Founded in Boston, USA in 1985 (as Majesty) - Changed name in 1988 - Still active as of 2018

I. Introduction

II. History
    A. Formation and Early Years (1985-1990)
    B. A New Singer and Success (1990-1993)
    C. The Middle Period and Band Turbulence (1994-1998)
    D. Jordan Rudess and the New Millennium (1999-2006)
    E. The Roadrunner Years and the Departure of Mike Portnoy (2007- )

III. Style, Live reputation, Bootleg Culture, and Conclusion



DREAM THEATER is a progressive metal band formed in 1985 in Boston, Massachusetts by guitarist John PETRUCCI , bassist John MYUNG, and drummer Mike PORTNOY. Since the band's conception, they have become one of the most influential post-1970s progressive rock bands as well as ranking as one of the early progenitors of the entire progressive metal genre.



II. History

A. Formation and Early Years (1985-1990)

Based in a love of the sophistication of YES, the virtuosity of RUSH, and the heaviness of IRON MAIDEN, DREAM THEATER had a desire to create complex, heavy, and progressive from the very beginning. Guitarist and bassist PETRUCCI and MYUNG grew up together on Long Island, New York. After high school, both received scholarships to the esteemed Berklee University of Music, where they met drummer PORTNOY, who, incidentally, grew up in a nearby area. The trio soon became friends and began making music together and settled upon the name MAJESTY. This name came about when PORTNOY described RUSH's song "Bastille Day" as "majestic" as they were waiting outside a Rush concert to open. As the band became more "serious," they went out looking for a keyboardist and vocalist. Eventually the band found PORTNOY's high schoolmate Kevin MOORE to play keys as well as schoolmate Chris COLLINS to sing in 1986. The new 5-piece recorded a 6 song demo titled simply "The Majesty Demos" in 1986 on PORTONY's analog 4-track cassette recorder, ma...
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DREAM THEATER discography


Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help Progarchives.com to complete the discography and add albums

DREAM THEATER top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.18 | 1282 ratings
When Dream and Day Unite
1989
4.29 | 2909 ratings
Images and Words
1992
4.13 | 2106 ratings
Awake
1994
3.32 | 1545 ratings
Falling Into Infinity
1997
4.29 | 2977 ratings
Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes from a Memory
1999
4.13 | 1974 ratings
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
2002
3.59 | 1823 ratings
Train of Thought
2003
3.66 | 2021 ratings
Octavarium
2005
3.31 | 1735 ratings
Systematic Chaos
2007
3.45 | 1618 ratings
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
2009
3.84 | 1623 ratings
A Dramatic Turn of Events
2011
3.28 | 945 ratings
Dream Theater
2013
3.37 | 702 ratings
The Astonishing
2016
3.67 | 291 ratings
Distance Over Time
2019

DREAM THEATER Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.66 | 407 ratings
Live At The Marquee
1993
3.30 | 389 ratings
Once In A Livetime
1998
4.55 | 546 ratings
Live Scenes From New York
2001
4.24 | 482 ratings
Live At Budokan
2004
4.46 | 543 ratings
Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.53 | 90 ratings
Happy Holidays
2013

DREAM THEATER Videos (DVD, Blu-ray, VHS etc)

4.18 | 197 ratings
Images And Words - Live In Tokyo
1993
4.37 | 418 ratings
Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York
2001
3.82 | 199 ratings
Live in Tokyo/5 Years in a Livetime
2004
4.03 | 121 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite [Official Bootleg]
2004
4.30 | 407 ratings
Live at Budokan
2004
3.56 | 57 ratings
A Walk Beside The Band
2005
4.40 | 429 ratings
Dream Theater - Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour Live with the Octavarium Orchestra
2006
3.88 | 150 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
3.83 | 6 ratings
Romavarium
2006
4.02 | 81 ratings
Bucharest, Romania 7/4/02
2007
3.44 | 236 ratings
Chaos in Motion 2007/2008
2008
2.40 | 80 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 5 Other Pretty Cool Videos)
2008
3.60 | 55 ratings
Live at Tokyo Sun Plaza
2009
4.40 | 5 ratings
Official Bootleg: Santiago, Chile 12/6/05 (20th Anniversary Tour 2005/2006)
2009
4.11 | 145 ratings
Live at Luna Park
2013
4.37 | 125 ratings
Breaking The Fourth Wall (Live From The Boston Opera House)
2014

DREAM THEATER Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.17 | 6 ratings
Systematic Chaos Special Edition
2007
2.18 | 186 ratings
Greatest Hit (...and 21 other pretty cool songs)
2008
1.50 | 4 ratings
Take The Time (The Warner Years 1992-2005)
2009
3.50 | 6 ratings
Black Clouds & Silver Linings Box Set
2009
3.93 | 48 ratings
Original Album Series
2011
1.50 | 4 ratings
The Triple Album Collection
2012
2.83 | 6 ratings
The Studio Albums 1992-2011
2014

DREAM THEATER Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.02 | 39 ratings
Afterlife
1989
3.29 | 37 ratings
Status Seeker
1989
2.92 | 30 ratings
The ATCO Demos
1991
2.92 | 64 ratings
Another Day
1992
3.68 | 57 ratings
Pull Me Under
1992
3.86 | 7 ratings
Take the Time
1992
4.67 | 3 ratings
Live
1993
3.56 | 63 ratings
The Silent Man
1994
2.94 | 48 ratings
Caught In A Web
1994
3.07 | 61 ratings
Lie
1994
3.68 | 671 ratings
A Change Of Seasons
1995
3.00 | 7 ratings
International Fan Club Christmas CD
1996
2.17 | 6 ratings
You Not Me
1997
2.50 | 6 ratings
Burning My Soul
1997
3.09 | 66 ratings
Hollow Years
1997
4.50 | 4 ratings
Live Bonus Tracks
1998
3.80 | 37 ratings
Once In A LIVEtime Outtakes (International Fan Club CD 1998)
1998
3.11 | 66 ratings
Cleaning Out The Closet
1999
3.15 | 74 ratings
Through Her Eyes
2000
2.11 | 39 ratings
Christmas 2000 Fan Club CD
2000
1.98 | 39 ratings
4 degrees of Radio edits
2002
3.25 | 24 ratings
When Demos and Singles Unite
2002
2.83 | 6 ratings
Selections from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
2002
3.04 | 47 ratings
Taste The Memories
2003
2.95 | 40 ratings
Graspop Festival 2002 (International Fanclub CD 2003)
2003
3.08 | 50 ratings
The Making Of Scenes From A Memory
2003
2.82 | 111 ratings
The Number Of The Beast
2003
2.02 | 117 ratings
Master Of Puppets
2003
2.71 | 42 ratings
Los Angeles, California 5/18/98
2003
3.33 | 43 ratings
Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95
2003
2.91 | 52 ratings
The Majesty Demos 1985 - 1986 [Official bootleg]
2003
3.72 | 36 ratings
A Sort Of Homecoming
2004
3.31 | 42 ratings
Images and Words: Demos 1989 - 1991 [Official Bootleg]
2004
3.82 | 73 ratings
When Dream And Day Reunite
2004
2.79 | 33 ratings
When Dream And Day Unite Demos 1987-1989
2004
3.36 | 134 ratings
Dark Side Of The Moon
2006
2.52 | 42 ratings
Awake Demos
2006
3.20 | 38 ratings
Old Bridge, New JERSEY - 12/14/96
2006
3.39 | 71 ratings
Made in Japan [Official Bootleg]
2006
3.48 | 41 ratings
Images and Words - 15th Anniversary Performance (Fan Club CD 2007)
2007
4.07 | 77 ratings
Falling Into Infinity: Demos 1996-1997 [Official Bootleg]
2007
3.12 | 48 ratings
Constant Motion
2007
3.58 | 46 ratings
New York City 3/4/93
2007
3.00 | 6 ratings
Lifting Shadows Companion CD
2007
2.67 | 3 ratings
Road to Wembley
2007
2.67 | 9 ratings
Forsaken
2007
3.75 | 20 ratings
Progressive Nation 2008 - The International Fan Clubs CD 2008
2008
2.52 | 63 ratings
Forsaken
2008
2.61 | 79 ratings
A Rite of Passage
2009
3.12 | 79 ratings
Stargazer
2009
3.40 | 74 ratings
Tenement Funster/Flick Of The Wrist/Lily Of The Valley
2009
3.68 | 59 ratings
Odyssey
2009
3.52 | 54 ratings
Take Your Fingers From My Hair
2009
3.24 | 73 ratings
Larks Tongues In Aspic, Pt. 2
2009
3.22 | 86 ratings
Wither
2009
3.14 | 49 ratings
Uncovered 2003-2005
2009
2.29 | 33 ratings
The Making of Falling into Infinity
2009
2.93 | 32 ratings
Train of Thought Instrumental Demos 2003
2009
3.58 | 124 ratings
On the Backs of Angels
2011
3.36 | 11 ratings
Build Me Up, Break Me Down
2011
3.20 | 10 ratings
Along for the Ride
2013
4.50 | 2 ratings
The Looking Glass
2013
3.23 | 84 ratings
The Enemy Inside
2013
4.06 | 40 ratings
Illumination Theory
2014
3.31 | 13 ratings
Our New World
2016
3.09 | 23 ratings
Untethered Angel
2018
3.62 | 21 ratings
Falling Into The Light
2019
3.73 | 11 ratings
Paralyzed
2019

DREAM THEATER Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes from a Memory by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1999
4.29 | 2977 ratings

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Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes from a Memory
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Hector Enrique

5 stars The masterpiece by definition of Dream Theater, and which defines the settlement of progressive metal as a genre that opened its way within the boundaries of the progressive with its influences from metal. Separated into two great acts, this conceptual album has no wells or low moments, it captures us from beginning to end, from the beginning with Nicholas's session in his hypnotic therapy (Regression), where the visions of a previous life come by constantly that do not leave him alone and his need to find answers, until the tragic final outcome (Finally Free).

The instrumental display and showcasing of virtuosity on John Petrucci's guitar, managing to harmoniously combine heavy riffs with well-assembled moments of serenity, Mike Portnoy's drums with a lot of energy and precision, and the musical contribution on the keyboards of Jordan Rudess, complement each other. and they manage to generate a solid wall of sound that is sustained throughout the musical journey, with the support on the bass of the always correct John Myung, and a very good vocal performance by James LaBrie, one of his best throughout his career.

Although all the compositions have a very high level, we could highlight as the peaks in terms of their compositional and instrumental quality Overture1928, Fatal Tragedy and Home with its almost 13 minutes, in which all the influences of the DT come together to generate a piece that it is undoubtedly among the greatest songs of progressive metal.

When I was able to attend their tour for the launch of Distance Over Time in Omaha, Nebraska in November 2019, they also played the entire Metropolis Part 2 ... commemorating their 20 years of release. And in my opinion the album has not aged anything, on the contrary, it continues to sound as vital, powerful and timeless as when I first heard it years ago.

Undoubtedly, one of the flags of progressive metal, and of the progressive genre in general.

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.37 | 702 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Zoltanxvamos

1 stars Turns out John Petrucci's passion project known as Dream Theater goes one step further from Prog Metal to bland Rock Opera. Of course what can I say about this album? Its astonishingly bad... ok I really just wanted the pun.

But in all seriousness, this album, as good as... well... one song is, the rest of fairly boring, overblown, and way over the top. I've been a fan of the bands double albums for a while, Metropolis Part 2 and Six Degrees, but this is completely over the top and way too long (and that's coming from a Flower Kings fan). Unlike TFK, this album has barely any good songwriting and just comes off bland and uninspiring. The instrumentation is still good but Mike's drums here just don't sound right. I do like the large concept idea of this album, and there are a few songs on this album that I can say "hey, that wasn't too bad", but for the most part this is just way too much. Petrucci should've listened to Mike Portnoy, they should've went on a hiatus and come back with new ideas. Unfortunately for the band, Petrucci works like a machine (which is a blessing and a curse), he likes to keep pushing out albums whether the albums are not of top quality.

Without Portnoy, this band has gone from great to merely mediocre. This is one example as to why the band should've went on a hiatus, to avoid something like this. If you want hard hitting Dream Theater of the now, go elsewhere, give this album a shot in case you like it though. I wasn't a fan of this album but give it a shot either way, but I would suggest 'Distance Over Time', it is much better than this album, and it has a more retro Dream Theater writing style. Unfortunately, this wasn't my thing, the rock opera elements just don't work for me, if I want to listen to Rock opera I'll listen to Queen.

Either way, my final words are: This could've been better, but overall, this just didn't have anything that intrigued me. The only song I enjoyed was 'A New Beginning', but even that song was a bit of a pill. Anyways, if you want Dream Theater at their best, I'd go elsewhere, because this album is just really long and it can be hard to get through.

 When Dream and Day Unite by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 1989
3.18 | 1282 ratings

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When Dream and Day Unite
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by ssmarcus

1 stars What is it with progressive rock groups' affinity for naked men on their album covers? At least Yes' Going for the One and Rush's Hemispheres spared us the sight of armpit hair, a courtesy not granted to us by Dream Theater's When Dream and Day Unite. The music on this record, much like the album cover, is fairly dated. A mix of Rush-like progressive rock and 80's arena hard rock, When Dream and Day Unite contrasts starkly with the group's thoroughly modern sound from the turn of the century and onward. Although a hard swallow for the group's turn of the century Golden Age fans like myself, fans of 80's music generally are likely to view this record more favorably.
 Octavarium by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2005
3.66 | 2021 ratings

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Octavarium
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by Kempokid
Collaborator Prog Metal Team

2 stars Dream Theater are a band that are in a constant state of inconsistency, the changes in sound that they try often falling flat, and for every landmark album in their discography, you'll usually find a dud not too far ahead of behind. Unfortunately, they also have a similar problems with the consistency of songs within many of their albums, although often to a lesser extent. With this said, I feel as if Octavarium is the album to epitomise these issues, despite having some of the band's best work within it. The issue of an extremely clinical, emotionless feel within every element of it further exacerbates these issues by frequently derailing concepts through the band's infamous tendency to drag out a solo to its absolute limit, all without adding anything interesting to it, ultimately making this album a very mixed listening experience.

As seems to be quite common whenever I begin going into detail about why I don't like an album in my opening paragraph, the opening song here manages to avoid the majority of the issues I've just mentioned, and easily be one of the album's greatest tracks. As is standard with any part of the 12 step suite, The Root Of All Evil goes for a far more oppressive, dark tone to most of the band's work, complete with an extremely solid riff and a powerful feeling of helplessness. I love how the song is able to nicely blend aspects of The Glass Prison and This Dying Soul without taking away from its own individual identity, creating an extremely good song that shows that Dream Theater can definitely make songs full of power and emotion when they put their minds to it, even if the guitar solo wasn't really needed here, kinda doesn't properly fit in and takes away from the tone of the song, but at least it's reasonable in length, so it doesn't really bother me. The next worthwhile song to any degree is These Walls, although it's not very good regardless. This song is just straight up goofy in basically all the worst ways, with the overdramatic vocal performance by James being especially hard to stomach, especially since the vocal melody wouldn't sound good even with a more subdued vocalist. The instrumentation in general manages to be quite good however, nothing too flashy or long winded, which genuinely benefits the track immensely, as it doesn't keep trying to distract you from the core elements of the song, but genuinely works as a nice complement to the core of the song, shame that that aspect of it isn't anything special.

Panic Attack is the other song that I feel genuinely has some merit to it, outside the obvious song, as it attempts to establish a compellingly claustrophobic, frantic atmosphere that goes all out on the heavier side of the band that occasionally rears its head. First things first, that intro is absolutely amazing, for once, you can actually briefly hear the bass, before it's buried under the guitar. While the transition to the chorus is a bit forced, it overall works quite well and perpetuates the desperation that the track revels in. The constant changing of the vocal melody also works extremely well here, providing some freshness throughout, even if the chorus is frankly tedious after a single listen. Where this song fails is having Petrucci decide that he ought to play another solo which consists of more or less nothing but shredding over some downright awful riffs, and then once it seems as if the song's about to jump back into the main meat of the song, it just carries on, twice. This completely derails the tension that was building up within the song, substituting It with pointless wankery that goes on far too long and contributes nothing.

The second track is really what perfectly demonstrates the flaws in this album, because my god, The Answer Lies Within, just like most Dream Theater ballads, just straight up sucks, same with I Walk Beside You. These both are absolutely nothing other than saccharine drivel that are painful to listen to at the best of times, and if you're in the wrong mood, then these become downright frustrating to listen to. While Never Enough isn't too bad, it's hard to ignore the extreme influence from Muse's Stockholm Syndrome, especially the main riff. Now, I know that things like the chorus are different from it, but frankly, this is one of the weakest in the album, and definitely doesn't help a song that was already bordering on mediocre. Sacrificed Sons is able to be described with the sentence 'Hey, remember when DT turned a heartfelt ballad about 9/11 into an absolute wankfest?'. In actuality, this is a case where I really enjoy a ballad by Dream Theater, the other prominent example being Space Dye Vest. What I like about it is how it sounds almost apocalyptic in nature, but then with sweeping orchestral instrumentation being able to create moments of beauty within, making for a truly haunting piece. And then the instrumentation took centre stage and everything was ruined.

Fortunately, the album stops itself for being more or less entirely comprised of heavily flawed tracks (Root of All Evil excepted) with the 20 minute title track that definitely redeems the album by quite a bit, as this is what I consider to be far and away the band's best song, with each section of it perfectly fitting in with one another and escalating in a way that keeps raising the tension and intensity to the point where It impresses me so much even after listening to it countless times. The first 2 sections perfectly set the song up, with a long period of ambience that escalates into an explosion of one of the most grandiose moments in music I've heard, all before settling down to set the stage with an all around mysterious tone. This breaks into a more conventional part where the highlight is easily, once again, the bass (almost as if the bass should be a more integral part to Dream Theater overall), which is groovy and just really fun on the whole, along with establishing the gradual progression of the song through holding to a very steady beat with some more bite to it, compared to the first section, which utilised acoustic guitars and flutes. It's the third section where things begin to really pick up however, now with a more chaotic sound to it as an incredibly compelling performance from Labrie steals the show as he seems to be crying out in desperation while spouting utter nonsense in the form of various music references, definitely making for an extremely fun, interesting listen. This chaos becomes far more grounded in the 4th section, as the intensity rises, background vocals subtly counting up as a spoken word part is building up over the crescendos of each and every part of the band until it absolutely explodes with some screaming, before settling back down into a more melodic, beautiful way to end what is the greatest song Dream Theater have written.

While the album does extremely well to ensure that the listener will end the album thinking fondly, due to how amazing this final track is, it still doesn't change the fact that 6 tracks on this 8 track album are heavily flawed or just outright bad. Almost every song could have benefitted from either just not existing in the case of the couple of egregiously bad ballads, or not letting the sterile, bland guitar solos take up any time at all, because they almost all take away from the songs, rather than adding anything meaningful, since they often just devolve into shredding. What could have been something great ended up being marred by just how many aspects of it were as botched as they were here, which is a shame, considering how good the good stuff is.

Best tracks: The Root of All Evil, Octavarium

Weakest tracks: The Answer Lies Within, I Walk Beside You, Never Enough, Sacrificed Sons

Verdict: A heavily flawed album with traits of pure greatness found throughout. If the band were just able to comprehend restraint to any degree, this could have easily been amazing, since it's constantly this unbearable need to stretch out almost every song out with bland instrumentation that completely kills the album in a lot of respects, to the point where half of it being good just doesn't excuse how poorly composed most of this is. This is an album with a couple of great songs on it, but it's far from a good album.

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.37 | 702 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by maani
Special Collaborator Founding Moderator

5 stars Wait...five stars? Considering how disappointed so many reviewers clearly are? Well, yes. Because I feel that many listeners simply may not have understood what they were listening to. True, it's not Metropolis, or even Six Degrees (or possibly even Systematic Chaos). But its' not supposed to be. Like Metropolis, it is a concept album. But that is where the similarity ends. Metropolis - one of the greatest concept albums in history - was "simply" an album built around an idea, a story, a theme. When Petrucci wrote The Astonishing, he was specifically writing a musical. And since I believe he succeeded in this - quite spectacularly - I am giving this five stars because of the success of his intent - which also assumes brilliant writing for the concept. A musical is a very specific form. Petrucci shows just how brilliant he is beyond being an amazing lyricist and guitarist, by writing the world's first (and highly successful) progressive rock musical. In fact, I cannot wait to see whether he attempts to have this staged AS a musical. Can you imagine? Progressive rock takes over the West End and Broadway? Can you imagine a voice like Idina Menzel's as Faythe? It send goosebumps up my spine. In fact, even if this were not a a successful musical concept, I would give it 4 stars; Act 2 (i.e., Disc 2) is among the best work Petrucci has done. The first three compositions alone are worth the price of admission. Again, it is true that this is not Metropolis, and so maybe I am being a TAD generous in giving it 5 stars. But i am so incredible impressed with the idea of a progressive rock musical, and the clear success that this one presents, that I felt it would be unkind of me to give it less. The lyrics are masterful in the context of a musical, and the music runs from the merely very good to the truly breath-taking. But all of it must be taken in the context of the project,- which is what I think many listeners may have missed. However, taken in context, and measuring the album by the success of which it was written and executed, this is absolutely a five-star effort. Bravo! I can't wait to buy a ticket to the first performance on Broadway. (But where are they going to find musicians who can play the score? LOL) That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
 Distance Over Time by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.67 | 291 ratings

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Distance Over Time
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by JJLehto
Prog Reviewer

3 stars A solid, though unspectacular, album. Possibly the best they've made in 16 years.

If this seems like an odd, or snarky, headline it's a reflection of DT's output for the past decade and a half. Dream Theater has been putting out inconsistent or mediocre albums since Train of Thought. They seem to have put this maddening trend to bed at least for this album. "Distance Over Time" is a fairly consistent album, and one that is largely solid to good. There is no track that really stands out or hits me with a "wow" but none are real clunkers either. Unlike some other albums that fit this mold (Systematic Chaos, ADTOE) that come off as uninspired or trying too hard, Distance Over Time does not. I suppose I wouldn't say this album feels inspired, it really doesn't, but the band certainly seems to have dropped their purposefully over the top mentality. Shorter songs, (not one over 10 minutes and 6 of the 9 clocking in at under 7 minutes!) less technical wankery, shorter solos, it could be called "Dream Theater abridged"

Some may lament this. Those very things are what make Dream Theater, often prog itself, and I am 100% A OK with all of it. Give me 10+ minute epics with all the showing off, every instrument getting a solo, and complex songcraft you can! That said, in the case of DT, (a talented band that I feel has been wheel spinning for a long time and suffered from "cant get out of their own way" even earlier on) I think this is a welcomed change.

It's undeniably Dream Theater. It's got absolutely everything you would expect, nothing is skipped. Unfortunately this includes passages of simple chords, with airy uplifting keys and soaring vocals that LaBrie struggles to nail... you know the song(s) that are contractually obligated to be on every DT album, (or that's what I wish was true, as it's frustrating they are unable/unwilling to break free). As for LaBrie there's nothing to say about his voice that hasn't been beaten to death, all I will say is I dislike them especially on this album. I find them particularly bad, shame because I found them quite fine on "Dream Theater" so not quite sure if some different recording/editing technique was done differently this time. That said there are of course some nasty riffs, solos, epic passages and progressions, and the best drumming I have yet heard from Mike Mangini. Since his entrance to this band his talent was clear but it never really stood out or impressed me in any real way. Seemed a good but generic drummer. This is not the case here, Mangini's drumming is quite human, passionate, and well...lively. The best output he's had yet with this band.

I won't go into song particulars except that it ends on a high note. "Pale Blue Dot" is the best song on the album by far. Though a close second is the bonus track "Viper King". I get why this is not on the official album, it's a far cry from a normal DT song: a 4 minute Deep Purple/Van Halen laden romp about the Dodge Viper. It's awesome. It's the most energetic, fun and human song on the album, and frankly more than most DT songs. Even LaBrie sounds really good! Sorry DT loyalists/"prog or it's not even music" believers. I would LOVE for the band to do a whole album in the vein of Viper King.

THREE AND A HALF STARS

 Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95 by DREAM THEATER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.33 | 43 ratings

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Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

3 stars 'Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95' is the second release in Dream Theater's live series of official bootlegs. Recorded in 1995 (the clue's in the title!), it shows a fairly young band who, while playing immaculately, are still polishing off and refining their live shows.

With only three studio albums and one EP under their belts at this point, the set list seems fairly limited by today's standards, especially as the band don't play anything from their debut, and miss two pretty important tracks from their seminal 'Images & Words' album. Still, it's a look back at the band in their early days, and the set is pretty solid nonetheless. There's a fair bit of "jamming" added in which does get a little tedious, especially as some of the placements of these sections seem a bit jarring, but again, this is something the band will refine over time.

The sound is okay. The band themselves sound great and everyone is perfectly balanced in the mix. Unfortunately the audience are barely audible, which, considering this is a live album, is a little bit of a shame. Vocalist James LaBrie trying to get the crowd to sing only for the listener to receive near-silence in response is a bit of a letdown.

But otherwise, this is a decent enough release. The performances from all involved are fantastic, including LaBrie, who struggled enough live as it was, even before his infamous food poisoning incident, and there are a few added in extras that make this worth having for fans, such as an acoustic guitar version of piano ballad 'Wait for Sleep'. While this pales in comparison to the bands later official live albums, it's still cool to hear them in their earlier days, making this a worthy addition to any fans collection.

 The Astonishing by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2016
3.37 | 702 ratings

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The Astonishing
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by ssmarcus

1 stars Dream Theater's final release with Roadrunner records is a bloated uninspired dud. A concept album with a run time of just over one and a half hours, The Astonishing served to reinforce for long time DT fans just how tone deaf the band had become in the 2010's. Dream Theater haters have long criticized the group for mechanical song writing and putting the flash and flair before substance. Although an obvious complete mischaracterization of the band's music, on The Astonishing, the criticism actually holds water. A broken clock is right twice a day I suppose.

The real tragedy of this album is a wasted potentially career defining performance by vocalist James Labrie. Ever the nimble work house, James successfully manages to bring to life through his singing roughly half a dozen characters throughout the record. Its too bad the music just happens to suck.

 Distance Over Time by DREAM THEATER album cover Studio Album, 2019
3.67 | 291 ratings

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Distance Over Time
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by ssmarcus

4 stars For long-time Dream Theater fans, the 2010's have been a frustrating decade. In the years following the departure of legendary drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy, the band released several albums to, shall we say, "mixed" reactions by fans and critics alike. While the albums 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' and 'Dream Theater' arguably had their moments of brilliance, 2016's two-hour rock opera 'The Astonishing' was a hard swallow, even for the most dedicated of fans. With this year's 'Distance Over Time,' the band seems to finally feel comfortable again in their own skin. The riffs are some of the band's heaviest in over a decade. The choruses are colorful and harmonically interesting. Gone are the long robotically constructed prog epics. Tight and balanced songs have taken their place.
 Los Angeles, California 5/18/98 by DREAM THEATER album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
2.71 | 42 ratings

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Los Angeles, California 5/18/98
Dream Theater Progressive Metal

Review by martindavey87

2 stars Aw man... poor James LaBrie. I can't help but feel that this release is some kind of dig at the fella. Perhaps he'd upset Mike Portnoy or maybe he lost a bet or something? The fact is, this official bootleg by Dream Theater is a pretty substandard album thanks in part to LaBrie's absolutely horrendous vocals which falter and diminish more and more as the set drags on.

It's been well documented the issues LaBrie had after rupturing his vocal chords whilst touring in the mid-90's, but damn, the number of times his voice cracks or wobbles or he just flat out can't sing like he use to, is painful to hear. But props to the guy for never giving up, since stuff like this must have been a HUGE knock to his confidence.

Besides that, while the musicianship is fantastic as you'd always expect from this band, the only other notable reason that this recording was put out there was because it features the legendary Bruce Dickinson from Iron Maiden on vocals for a number of songs, (and Ray Alder of Fates Warning too! But that pales in comparison), and to be fair if I was joined on stage by Bruce Dickinson I'd probably want everyone to hear it too.

But even that is mildly entertaining, as it's literally just a fun jam, and nothing overly memorable. But for what it's worth, that's probably the only major selling point of this release. Hell, even the front cover is a shot of Dickinson jamming with the band, leaving poor James LaBrie standing in the background with whatever shred of dignity and self- respect he had left slowly fading away.

Poor LaBrie.

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