|UserSoundoffs 30Album Ratings 4337Objectivity 80%Last Active 06-06-13 11:24 amJoined 05-30-12Forum Posts 0Review Comments 10
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The technically proficient guitar playing of John Petrucci, balls-to-the-wall drumming of Mike Portnoy, and thumping bass of John Myung have elevated Dream Theater to the upper echelons of contemporary heavy metal. While its lineup has continuously evolved, the Long Island-based quintet has consistently delivered sharp-edged music. Dream Theater is known for its high-energy concert performances. They have 12 albums, an EP, and various live CD's/DVD's - a stunning feat. However, the band has become a topic of hot debate after each album, and the band-members can be very hit or miss at times, especially lead singer James LaBrie. Here is an evaluation of each album from best to worst.
Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
An intoxicating musical journey about a modern man haunted by a heinous crime, "Scenes from a Memory" is a triumph of musical storytelling and unabashed rock and roll. Even though a couple songs could be trimmed for time, the musical content here is just breathtaking. This is quite possibly the peak of Dream Theater's musical career, and the best progressive rock album since Rush's "Moving Pictures".
Images and Words
An excellent release in every sense of word, Dream Theater's "Images and Words" hits all the right notes. It combines the best of pop sensibilities with the best of heavy metal and progressive rock sensibilities. Every song here is killer, and every bandmember is at their A-game; there's very good chemistry this time around, and the songwriting is impressive to say the least.
A darker, heavier album than its predecessor, "Awake" features some of the best guitar work from Petrucci to date, and values songwriting over wandering. Portnoy has never sounded better behind the kit, and LaBrie's vocals are also more confident. This is one of the finest albums that Dream Theater would ever put out.
A Change of Seasons
"A Change of Seasons" is a true love letter to the fans. The 23-minute title track, is both heavy and passionate at the same time, and may possibly be the best song they ever made. You have to hear it to believe it. A true example of musical evolution. The four live covers that complete this record may be good in their own right, but they simply don't show as much emotion as the title track.
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
"Six Degrees" is an ambitious production that finds a "post-Metropolis" Dream Theater trying to meet impossible expectations. A double-album, produced just before the 9/11 attacks, is torn between innovation and excitement, and the trademark overdose of annoying jams that would unfavorably characterize the band from this point on. The first disc is wildly experimental, with mostly good results. The second disc is entirely composed of the 42 minute title-track, which will prove divisive amongst fans and causal listeners. It's a decent album, but will not be remembered as much as, say, "Images and Words".
A Dramatic Turn of Events
An admirable effort, with a renewed focus on songwriting compared to say, the last three albums, "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is Dream Theater's true return-to-form. It is focused, cohesive, and best of all, very melodic. The songwriting is purely original and really stands out - it puts their last few albums or so to shame. And newcomer Mike Mangini shows a ton of promise, even though his drums are a little soft in the mix. Long story short, this is Dream Theater's most musically accomplished album since "Six Degrees". And that says a lot.
Dream Theater's best and worst tendencies are all on display in their self-titled 12th LP. The album was supposedly influenced by all their previous works, and it shows. It's a natural combination of experienced songwriting and overblown technicality. The tracks are varied, and can be very enjoyable (more often than not), but can also be a bit stagnant. Mike Mangini makes one helluva impression on the kit, considering the fact it's only his second appearance on a Dream Theater record!
Train of Thought
A crunchy album that features dark lyrics and some over-the-top jams, "Train of Thought" is a stripped-down version of the Dream Theater we all love and know. It's an engaging album, but as it progresses, it gets weighed down by some instrumental overkill.
It's a more accessible album compared to its peers, and there is some fun to be had here (the titular track is excellent), but I can't help but say that it disappoints as well. Why? Because it sounds quite commercial at times, but not enough to warrant the band a sellout tag. One thing I do like, though, is the cutback on wandering. And the songs here are varied, so the listener has much to choose from.
Black Clouds & Silver Linings
Dream Theater attempt to reinstate the songwriting abilities of their golden days, but the album is a bit too bloated. The band's penchant for musical wandering had overwhelmed some albums like "Systematic Chaos", and some of the damage done by that album carries over here. Whatever made the band resonate in the 1990's and early 2000's had started to take its toll on the band, and as it turned out, Portnoy had gone away. But still, there was some good music here, and this album proved the band still had life left in them.
"Systematic Chaos" is a regularly scheduled letdown that may have a good jam or two, but said jams are too excessive to make a full impression. The band's decision to look at their contemporaries (i.e. Opeth, Porcupine Tree), coupled with hammy singing by LaBrie and a lack of unifying themes really killed this album for me. It's also a big problem that plagues many other bands in the progressive rock field. I think there is a reason why Portnoy left after "Black Clouds/Silver Linings", and this album is one of those reasons.
Falling into Infinity
A good chunk of Dream Theater fans (Portnoy included) disowned this album, and for good reason. "Falling into Infinity" is a purely commercial-minded album, lacking the kind of passion and innovation that defined them in the early 1990's. Some of the rhythms are good, but there's no technicality here, and the second half of this album represents the very worst of the band since that obscure debut of theirs from '89. It is one of the few times where James LaBrie becomes an annoyance.
When Dream and Day Unite
Dream Theater got off to a pretty rough start with this hard-to-find debut. The poor production throughout, coupled with cringe-worthy lyrics, Charlie Dominici's inability to add power and vibe to the songs, and the inconsistent music all contributed to a failure not unlike Celtic Frost's "Cold Lake". And don't get me started on the cover art! Dream Theater would really have to shift gears in order to become the band they are today.