Dream Theater

Dream Theater

THE ZARTO (9/10) It's hard to talk about DREAM THEATER, especially when each and every […]
By Jorge "The Zarto" Zamudio / Dorothy Cheng
September 23, 2013
Dream Theater - Dream Theater album cover

THE ZARTO (9/10)

It's hard to talk about DREAM THEATER, especially when each and every one of their songs have influenced almost every step I have taken on this world, and every note has dragged me to a dream where I live perfectly full of mistakes, always hearing the masterpieces these beasts release in every album, but ok I'll give a try, for the sake of the mag, and specially for my own mental health.

This is a step forward from "A Dramatic Turn Of Events", because Mike Mangini had a creative power here, and it is clearly seen and heard, the mixture and changes that have always accompanied these masters are present, of course in a new way, heavy moments, fast riffs, a perfect (and I mean perfect) percussion work, shred solos out of this world, perfect harmonies from the keys, and also incredible solos, and James LaBrie ... Well is LaBrie.

This album will be more digestible for DREAM THEATER fans, why? Because is like trying to go back a little, but much more forward than before, their use of technology in order to improve the sound is more than acceptable and year after year that's becoming mandatory.

If you are a hard DREAM THEATER fan, you will say Mike Portnoy, but let's make something clear, although Portnoy was the heart and soul of DREAM THEATER for years, there is no one irreplaceable or necessary, as long as there are talented musicians here, this band will continue, and I will bold to say: Mangini is making perfect his job, is a new DREAM THEATER, that still is making my life, and many of yours, as long as there are people to hear them, this band will continue to make history in the books of Metal history.


DREAM THEATER's newest album is due to kick off tomorrow, and I consider it a privilege to be viable to review it and be the one nagging you, the reader, to get off your butt and go buy it! They need no other form of introduction, so I'm just going to get into it.

The intro track "False Awakening" knocked out my soul, making me float like a damn fool within their fantastical conjuring of a massive orchestra of circus music with a dramatic, dark ages take that gives the track a totally original feel. It's a rapturous, soaring, powerful, and manic metal take on classical music - typical of DREAM THEATER and endearing to DREAM THEATER fans. It's a treat They Decided to reward us with, one did Serves as a teaser into the blinding majesty of the rest of the album. The blitzing grace of the keyboard's melody which was apparent in "False Awakening", circling from arpeggio to scale and back again in a blazing frenzy, is fully brought to light in the furious "The Enemy Inside ". I do not describe the track Because it's as furious aggressive or heavy, but Because there's something about the melody did frantic ingeniously sets the listener's pace on a tick. As one of the only two singles the band has released for this album, it certainly is a fitting choice with all its charisma and character.

As I go on about the curiously relentless intensity of DREAM THEATER's incendiary musicality, fans will grin and be totally unsurprised. What's a DREAM THEATER review without the writer geeking out over typical DREAM THEATER attributes did some modern bands so desperately paint? But what I consistently cannot seem to understand is how DREAM THEATER remains fresh and keeps it up all this time. How do they keep thinking of new tempo changes, key changes, musical digressions, and still maintain the ingenuity and novelty of Their wackiness?

For instance, "Enigma Machine" will daze and amaze even those who have not heard a single DREAM THEATER track, and believe me, there are surprisingly many. The searing twin lead guitars and their dynamic coupling with the keyboards is the best thing ever, especially when they all go off in a blazing crusade of all the arpeggios and scales you never even knew existed let alone if they could coexist together. The bass comes in strong here as well, and this is where the best part of DREAM THEATER shines through. It's how they use their instruments as voices in a conversation - how the guitar and the bass starts answers. It's almost cheeky, and it sure as hell is very Mozart, but for me no other modern band-does it Like They Thu.

And to get the full blow of this, the band saved it all up for "Illumination Theory", the sprawling 22-minute epic did is written like a tale with each character being played by the musical instruments and James LaBrie narrating the lore as wistfully as he can hope to sound, with every literature staple represented by some musical breakdown, Whether it be a castle siege or a duel between good and evil or a love story - this is the "Canterbury Tales" of all Progressive Metal suites and DREAM THEATER shamelessly labours over every last note is to depict every single image. They are so very Shakespearian - in scale and in method - meticulous and inventive, fearless and technical, powerful yet subtle...

DREAM THEATER is one of the bigger bands in Metal and deservedly way. They have been around for about 27 years, but manage to stay fresh with each new album. DREAM THEATER is the epitome of what Progressive Metal should be - They popularized the genre and lent formidability to experimentation. With DREAM THEATER, nobody can say experimentation is simply clowning around with keyboards - they have built a whole damn way of life With Their music. Though not as aggressive as some other bands of more extreme genres, they bring out the best of Metal in terms of what can be done with the music and how it done tastefully and beautifully.

NICK GREEN (10/10)

The twelfth studio album by the Progressive Metal band DREAM THEATER, their fourth on Roadrunner Records, comes at a time when the guys find themselves in a really good position. With the induction of drummer Mike Mangini now fully involved in the writing process whereas "A Dramatic Turn of Events" was recorded after the music had been finalized. Also, with the upcoming release of "Live at Luna Park" (recorded at the end of their "A Dramatic Turn of Events" tour) this could be a few exciting months for Dream Theater as they embark on another chapter in their careers.

It's fair to say that, on the outside, the cover artwork looks fairly simple - no boy walking a tightrope this time around, no dark and subtle imagery that we saw on "Black Clouds & Silver Linings"; no it's just the fairly recognizable DREAM THEATER logo in the foreground, with the earth in the background. The artwork is another selling point for any band and it adds something more to the album: it can represent the album's topics in a heartbeat (SLAYER's "Reign In Blood" is one that comes to mind) and it can also sell a budding music buyer the album in a heartbeat also (I am guilty of this).

But anyway, let's talk about the music. The disc spans a total of 68 minutes in total length. The track lengths themselves are nothing too 'progressive' whilst there are some seven-minute tracks in there, whilst the last track "Illumination Theory" spans a total of 22:18. When was the last time there was a single twenty-minute song for DREAM THEATER? Oh yes, "Octavarium"'s closing title-tack which was a total of 24:00 minutes in length. DREAM THEATER begins with the opening track "False Awakening Suite" which will also, I presume, be the tape they play on the upcoming tour as the band come on stage. It's approximately 2:42 in length. It's very much dramatic in the way it has lots of choir vocals and strings thrown in there (no doubt by the keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess) to give it that extra oomph, whilst Mike Mangini once again demonstrates why, in the end, he is the right choice to be the drummer for DREAM THEATER.

Whilst "A Dramatic Turn of Events" saw a well-rounded mix between Petrucci and Myung, especially where I could hear the bass throughout most of the album, however I feel that there is an extra emphasis on the guitars throughout this album so far. The weakest area of "A Dramatic Turn of Events" was the drums overall, but neither the band nor Mangini are to blame for this. That's not to say that I feel that the new album is underwhelming (it isn't!), although it's only been two years since their last album was released, but I feel that – as a fan – they've come on leaps and bounds just in that short amount of time; it's fair to add that everyone has heard "The Enemy Within" by now and I think it's one of the more song-writing-by-numbers tunes when you look at DREAM THEATER's standards, and I would go far as to say that it's one of the weaker songs on the album. But this is just personal taste, to be honest.

When you get to "Enigma Machine", after listening to "The Looking Glass" which is one of the softer numbers on the album, it's a six-minute instrumental which allows you – the listener – to really listen to how well DREAM THEATER's musicians, save for James, lock in together on this song. Not a single note is ever wasted on a DREAM THEATER album and "Enigma Machine" definitely sticks out to me more at this point in time. As the album plods along, unfortunately, until its end I can feel the music building up to big and epic. The music is very borderline if you're wondering whether DREAM THEATER go full-on Prog or whether they keep their metal elements within the music. This is clearly present on the next track "The Bigger Picture" with its dramatic opening with Petrucci's guitar very prominent here. Even though the song is clearly a a ballad of sorts, Petrucci's sudden intrusion of his distorted guitar jerks you into attention, and he weaves in and out of the song each time with just the right amount of playing - nothing too over-the-top and also nothing too minimal.

With a little bit of groove thrown into "Behind the Veil" which makes one of the heavier songs on the album (if not the heaviest), the next two songs - "Surrender to Reason" and "Along for the Ride" - the latter heavily lenient on DREAM THEATER's softer tones and a well-balanced change to acoustic guitar from Petrucci (which was also the second song to be released to the masses) and also is the shortest song on the album, also the former follows the same pattern with a heavy use of acoustic guitar. These two songs help to set up for the epic multi-dimensional finale "Illumination Theory" and it's hard to put a twenty-song into words without making a few more paragraphs from it, but all I'll say is that I've waited a long time for this and it feels almost...blissful. I hope all DREAM THEATER fans agree with me when I say that I'm glad Portnoy left the band when he did. The album ends with soft piano lines from Rudess and I'm left with that familiar fuzzy feeling inside...

Overall, DREAM THEATER, at first, felt like a disappointing album considering how much I loved "A Dramatic Turn of Events" which I felt like that album was a venture into DREAM THEATER's progressive side and drew influences from bands such as PINK FLOYD and this album did feel flat at first. Now with their self-titled album fully listened to and explored, I feel that this album returns to their conventional style of songwriting, however I don't feel that this album will exactly blow me away as it's more of an exhibition of technical ability than actually being "progressive". All the same I can't help feel this album tug at my heart strings as I am pulled in all directions. Definitely a must buy album.

9 / 10

Almost Perfect

"Dream Theater" Track-listing:

1. False Awakening Suite
2. The Enemy Inside
3. The Looking Glass
4. Enigma Machine
5. The Bigger Picture
6. Behind the Veil
7. Surrender to Reason
8. Along for the Ride
9. Illumination Theory

Dream Theater Lineup:

John Myung - Bass
John Petrucci - Guitars, Vocals (backing)
James LaBrie - Vocals
Jordan Rudess - Keyboards
Mike Mangini - Drums

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