Review Summary: Grooving, Heartful Guitar Solos and Weird Keyboard Sound Effects = FII.
Bad Lyrics, No Progression, "Burning My Soul" = FII (sadly).9 of 10 thought this review was well written
Ok children, let’s be nice. This isn't a bad record; I even encourage you to buy it. We all should know that every DT album has some differences within the sound of their albums, from the neo-classical progressions within WDADU to the down-right heavy TOT. So what does this
album sound like? Well, there’s far fewer progressive elements, but that's made up by the tasty grooves within each and every song. And, hey, it's DT so these grooves are going to be extra-tasty with all these time signature changes. Poppy songs are not our enemies so don't criticize how pop-ridden these songs are. Derek also adds a more electronic approach to the keys, which ultimately defines why it sounds are more different to the previous Awake. Lyrics are weak on here, so don't expect the new Learning To Live, anyway this record seems to be far more focused on the music, which should be a thrill for LeBrie haters everywhere. Okay I'm done. I've bulls***ed long enough.
Here's the line-up for the grooviest DT album to date:
James LeBrie - Vocals
Mike Portnoy - Drums/Percussion & Backing Vocals
John Petrucci - Guitars & Backing Vocals
John Myung - Bass/Chapman Stick
Derek Sheirenen - Keyboards
The intro probably sums up what the whole album is going to sound like, grooving bass and guitar with techno-like keyboards, which actually goes pretty well when all mixed together with the musical juices of DT. Good song, some of the craziest sounds you'll hear and Mike Portnoy singing like a girl in the chorus. It indeed goes through many different levels, heavy to poppy. A real mixed opener. 4/5
You Not Me
Well, it's a simple riff repeated over and over, with none of them progressive passages which DT are famous for, just a simple song. However, Derek does add them few magic touches, until he completely overshadows the rest of the band with an interesting outro. It may sound a bit harsh but the outro is actually the best part of the song. 3/5
Maybe a strange way to describe this, but it sounds like a dark, ultimately cool, western song at first listen. That is, until we get to the build up and suddenly DT are making magic again! Then thee
guitar solo of the album, which makes the song worth it alone, until fury rips and we're into western progressive metal! It's amazingly brilliant! It's DT of course. See! This album IS
good folks! 5/5
No prog in this song either, but it isn't needed. The better of the ballads in this album and a well constructed pop song. From the lush sounding acoustics to LeBrie's backing vocals, when the "into the waves..." come in. 4/5
Burning My Soul
A failed metal song, to put it bluntly. There really isn't anything to say about this song. No prog, nothing truly inspiring, no DT magic, just a dodgy sounding keyboard solo. Irritating techno voices. I fond the link between the verses and choruses my only salvation. 2/5
Thank goodness for John P. My favorate DT instrumental, and it is probably their most simplest. A tear jerking guitar solo (I did actually cry...) and quite addictive too. It's classic DT. Majestic, melodic, progressive, and beautiful in every sense! *tear* 5/5
Lines in the Sand
Grooving time!! A pretty phycadelic keyboard intro followed by the tastiest riff DT hae ever written. John Myung does an outstanding job with the rolling bass, highlighting his harmonics, Mike is grooving it up double-bass style, and John P is laying those tasty riffs along with Derek. King's X vocalist guests in this, although his voice sounds far too bluesy for the song. John P's solos are flying high as he has another strong attempt at bring the song back to life when things quiet down, if only he soloed like this on every album. Basically a bog standard build up of getting heavier and heavier, until we groove off to the end. For the riff alone it's worth a listen. 4.5/5
Take Away My Pain
For about 3 seconds I thought I was listening to Tool for a second...Disposition? Anyway it sounds nothing like that song after the guitars come in. No prog in here either, although it's an enjoyable song. Another simple pop song, the guitars in the chorus bring a little life into the ballad, and John P's solo is performed well, although the tone is awful. Three words. Simple. Pop. Cheesy. 3/5
Just Let Me Breathe
More grooving time!!! It isn't really progressive but certainly an enjoyable song, which John M & Mike both gel well together, and the keyboard riff is instantly recognizable. That keyboard/guitar duel also flairs some grooving DT. Do we care what LeBrie is singing about? No! Just listen to the music, it's far more enjoyable! 4/5
Ok we've neglected LeBrie long enough. He does do a solid performance in this song, probably the best lyrics on the album. This is the piano ballad, one usually appears somewhere in a DT album. While it isn't exactly what you would call a DT classic, it is certainly a beautiful song, and John P yet again does another stunning solo, with all of the fast, technicality of his guitar playing taken out, and it still achieves. We've saved all of the crazy time signature changes, key changes and bizarre experimentation for our closing song though... 4/5
Trail Of Tears
It's songs like this which make me shake in fear of reviewing a DT album, the ones which have all those progressive elements. It opens perfectly, it's constructed well and those little nick-nacks of magic through the keyboards are there, creating an ultimate soundscape. Mike also done a good job with this too. The instrumental section The Wasteland finally shows the extreme technical playing of John P, and yet again, another brilliant solo. Derek also shines with his own signature keyboard tone which would sound very different compared to Jordan Rudess or Kevin Moore. And then the final part, Tears In Heaven, sounds... well, strangely western to begin with, building up and getting heavier, until the outro comes, and we say goodbye with a nice short bass solo by John M. Maybe a bit unfulfilling for some listeners though. 4.5/5
Well what did each member actually input to this album? James LeBrie was responsible for Anne Lee... that's about it.
Mike didn't show too much flair, although he does a solid performance on Just Let Me Breathe
John Myung dished out some extremely groovy bass lines, but that was about it also.
But Derek and John P deserve an A+ musically. They both gelled together perfectly. Derek gave the listeners a whole new different keyboard sound, which showed up as on of the main changes to DT's sound in the alum, while John P decided to lay of them finger steroids and play masterpieces such as Hell's Kitchen
. And groove it up on a few other songs.
*Flies away to Derris-Kharlan*