|UserSoundoffs 30Album Ratings 4434Objectivity 80%Last Active 06-06-13 11:24 amJoined 05-30-12Forum Posts 0Review Comments 10
|The Many Faces of Dream Theater, pt.1|
The technically proficient guitar playing of John Petrucci, virtuoso drumming of Mike Portnoy, rrrand thumping bass of John Myung have elevated Dream Theater to the upper echelons of rrrcontemporary heavy metal. While its lineup has continuously evolved, the Boston-based rrrquintet has consistently delivered sharp-edged music. Dream Theater is known for its high-rrrenergy concert performances. They have 12 albums, an EP, and various live CD's/DVD's - a rrrstunning feat. However, the band has become a topic of hot debate after each album, and rrrthe band-members can be very hit or miss at times, especially the singing style of James rrrLaBrie. 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's in their best shape since 1999.
And that says a lot.
Dream Theater's renewed sense of creativity are all on display in their self-titled 12th LP. The album was supposedly
influenced by every last one of their works, and it shows. It's a natural combination of experienced songwriting and overblown
technicality. The tracks are diverse, and can be very enjoyable; the band reincorporates their classic 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. The band's inspiration to keep their
tunes fresh is the album's selling point.
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. 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 recalls the
likes of Rush's "2112". The album shows maturation and musical growth, but at the same time, there's some the wild stuff
that people don't like. This album is decent, but will not be remembered as much as, say, "Images and
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. 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. The copy I have 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 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 one of the only times where James LaBrie 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.