(Progressive Metal) Dream Theater - A Change of Seasons
Dream Theater are:
James LaBrie - Vocals
John Petrucci - Guitars
John Myung - Bass
Derek Sherinian - Keyboards
Mike Portnoy - Drums
This is an odd record. You will notice that there are only five tracks, but the record is nearly an hour long anyway! This is mostly aided by the fact that the title track is 23 minutes long. The record is in two parts, the epic "A Change of Seasons" which is recorded in a studio, and the other four songs, which were recorded live in Ronnie Scott's Jazz club in London. They are all cover tracks, featuring such artists as Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Queen. This record highlights the amazing-ness of the band - I didn't even know it was a live album until I read it somewhere on the Internet, even with the crowd cheering and such.
Anyway. Dream Theater, what a band! I picked this CD up as a random buy (I am a rather compulsive spender on CDs) for $12.50. Dream Theater is THE archetypical prog metal band, no doubt about it. They integrate time signature changes and tempos effortlessly. Both Petrucci and Portnoy are both ridiculously good at their instruments, both being one of the premier artists at their respective instruments. The other three members are also extremely competent.
The album cover is interesting, and raTher fun to look at. If you look at the front cover, you will see a little boy playing in what I initially thought to be a beach. But, as I was writing this, I noticed in fact he is playing snow, with only board shorts on. If you look on the back, however, you will see an Eskimo sitting on the beach in a hot climate. Not the best thing I have ever seen, but pretty cool nonetheless!
A Change of Seasons (23:06)
As you can see on the album cover, this song is a medley. It is comprised of 7 parts with the song beginning "Crimson Sunrise", an arpeggiated riff on the acoustic, and ending pretty much the same way with "Crimson Sunset". The 7 part song is quite amazing, featuring uncuntable time signature changes, several style changes, and amazing solos. The time signatures can get a bit tiresome, especially the ones with just a beat out from 4/4 - namely 7/8 and 9/8 (played as normal time, not compound time... incredible) you can't really sink in with the beat. This is probably one of the best progressive metal pieces ever composed, and it is not hard to see why. Just listen to the damn
thing. I am not quite sure what the lyrics are about, as they are quite dense, but no doubt they are about the different weather patterns, or something to do with seasons.
Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding (10:49)
You know those cover songs that bands do to become famous? And almost all of them completely destroy the song? Well, I'm pleased to say that instead of butchering it, Dream Theater have managed to surpass Elton John's version in terms of enjoyment and musically. Considering it is live is even more amazing. They haven't changed much from the original (thankfully) apart from the instrumentation, and it is an amazing song. This song is also a medley somewhat; the slower, instrumental bit at the start that goes for about 5 minutes is "funeral for a Friend" and the remaining faster bit is the "Love Lies Bleeding" section. The "Love Lies Bleeding" is probably my favourite song on the album, its very fun to listen to and has some great riffs in it, especially the piano in the verse. LaBrie's vocals are great as well. And there is a killer solo from Petrucci at the end of the song.
Perfect Strangers (5:33)
Firstly, as I have not heard the original, I can't comment on which version is better. This version is pretty rocking though! Whilst pretty slow it makes up for it with heavy riffs and a killer bassline. (I can't imagine Myung playing something as simple as this! It must be killing him!) The bridge bit, again not knowing the original, is typical Dream Theater, a cool riff, but is let down a bit by the odd time signature. A pretty good song, but is not the best.
The Rover/Achilles Last Stand/The Song Remains the Same (7:28)
Myung is a monster in this song. He pretty much doubles the pace of what Jones was playing in the Zeppelin's version of "Achilles Last Stand". Again (thankfully) they don't change it around much, and still make it sound amazing. This is a high paced and very enjoyable song. Petrucci again shows off his shredding skills in an amazing 1 minute + solo. "The Song Remains the Same" is really too short (under a minute) to really make an impact, but Dream Theater merge it perfectly with "Achilles"...
The Big Medley (10:34)
This song features some big names of the 70s and 80s, like Pink Floyd, Queen and Genesis. This is a perfect arrangement of mammoth proportions, a six song medley spanning over 10 minutes. The most recognisable track, of course, is Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody
missing the classic "Mamma Mia" bit, but included is the headbanging riff made famous by Wayne's World, done extremely well. The unforgettable guitar riff of "In the Flesh?" is present, and is done to perfection. "Carry on Wayward Son", I've never heard, but has some killer riffs in it. This is a pretty amazing song, but can get pretty boring in parts.
Overall: 4.5/5. Another top notch effort by Dream Theater, they show their brilliant musicianship in this record, and have produced yet another fun CD to listen to.