|UserSoundoffs 32Album Ratings 502Objectivity 71%Last Active 06-06-13 11:24 amJoined 05-30-12Forum Posts 0Review Comments 11
|The Many Faces of Dream Theater, pt.1|
The technically proficient guitar playing of John Petrucci, virtuoso talents of drummer of Mike Portnoy and keyboardist Jordan Rudess and calculated techniques of bassist John Myung have elevated Dream Theater to the upper echelons of contemporary heavy metal. While its lineup has continuously evolved (Mike Mangini replaced Portnoy in 2011 following a much-publicized audition), the Boston-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, rand the band-members can be very hit or miss at times, especially the singing style of James LaBrie. Here is an evaluation of each album from best to worst. Happy 30th, Dream Theater!!
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
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 Dramatic Turn of Events
An admirable effort, with a renewed focus on songwriting, "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. I know I'll get scorned for saying this, but I'm not afraid to say it: this is Dream Theater in their best shape since 1999. And that says a lot.
Dream Theater's renewed sense of creativity is still on display on their self-titled 12th LP. The album was supposedly influenced by every last one of their works, and it shows. It's a natural progression for the band, and represents all they have worked on up to this point. The tracks are diverse and very enjoyable; the band reincorporates their old trademarks while adding a contemporary twist. Mike Mangini is one of the best things that happened to this band; his impact on the writing style is tenfold. Songs are more vibrant, and pack more punch - both musically and lyrically. It's also tighter than some of their older works.
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 worth a listen, but they simply lack the impact of 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. The result is a double-album (produced just before the 9/11 attacks), torn between innovation & excitement, and the wretched excess & pretense that would unfavorably characterize the band from this point on. The first disc is wildly experimental, with mixed results. The second disc is entirely composed of the 42 minute title-track, which recalls the likes of Rush's "2112". The album shows some maturation and musical growth, but at the same time, there's some of that wild stuff here that people don't like. This album is decent enough, but it's no "Images and Words".
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 technical
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. They did cut back on the excess. 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 that album's bad reputation carried over here. But still, there was some good music on this album, proving that DT still had life left in them. The copy I heard contains a second disc, full of cover songs that fully embrace Dream Theater's origins and actually do justice to the very bands they were inspired by.
"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 poor lyrics, 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. This album was an ego trip of sorts, and I think its easy to see why Portnoy jumped ship in 2010.
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 the only album in which James LaBrie actually annoys the listener.
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 instant failure. Not as bad as Celtic Frost's "Cold Lake", but still a horrendous experience. And don't get me started on the cover art! Dream Theater would eventually shift gears in order to become the band they are today.