Dream Theater
A Dramatic Turn of Events


3.5
great

Review

by Trey Spencer STAFF
September 9th, 2011 | 792 replies | 85,837 views


Release Date: 2011 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Only the bland drum parts and inclusion of three ballads affect the overall quality of A Dramatic Turn of Events.

There’s probably not a single Dream Theater fan that doesn’t already know that Mike Portnoy is no longer in the band. In fact, thanks to Mike’s stint with Avenged Sevenfold, even people that are apathetic towards Dream Theater’s music know the general details. At any rate, bad publicity is still publicity and the band member drama has definitely created more of a buzz for this album than it would have probably had otherwise. There’s the question of whether Mike Mangini can capably fill Mike Portnoy’s shoes as the new drummer. There’s also the question of whether the rest of the band can step up their songwriting without Mike’s (iron-fisted) direction. The answers, as should be expected, are a little more complicated than a simple yes/no answer.

Musically, this is probably one of the band’s most traditional albums in years. Instead of trying to sound like Metallica with a keyboard player, the band have returned to the solid, song-oriented melodic prog that made Images and Words and Awake so special. In all fairness, Dream Theater did make a minor move towards more song-oriented tracks on Black Clouds and Silver Linings, but without ‘metal’ Mike Portnoy the band have entirely returned to that focus. That isn’t meant to imply that the band have given up on a bit of musical indulgence from time to time, but just like in the band’s early days, they actually complement the songs and are surprisingly brief (by Dream Theater standards). Also, without such an obsessive focus on belting out the metal, there’s a lot more diversity to be found on this album. On past releases, it really seemed as though Jordan Rudess’ keyboard sections were saved for choruses and the inevitable solo parts, but this time his playing is much more of an equal partner throughout the entire album. This ability to play a larger role throughout the entire song seems to have really tempered his propensity for wildly inappropriate sounds/melodies and has lead to songs with a lot less ‘WTF’ moments (“Outcry” being an exception). John Petrucci, as well, seems to be enjoying a renewed creative streak now that he doesn’t have to string multiple chugging riffs together throughout the majority of each song. All of this has lead to tracks that are actual songs first, and musical displays of showmanship second.

Of course, we still haven’t touched on the new guy, Mike Mangini. As the YouTube videos proved, Mike Mangini is more than capable of reproducing Mike Portnoy’s parts in a live situation, but it still left us wondering what he could do on his own. Unfortunately, the results are less than spectacular. It should go without saying that Mike Mangini is a technically proficient drummer, but he is also entirely bland. On previous albums, Mike Portnoy always created drum parts that were cool, memorable and pretty creative and that is sorely missed with his absence. Mangini’s drum parts always seem to stick to the simplest beats possible and rarely (if ever) provide the kind of quirky patterns that made Mike Portnoy so interesting to listen to. His playing also lacks any kind of power or passion, and instead sounds clinical and detached. While on the subject of missing Portnoy, and this is just speculation, but I have to believe that Mike Portnoy would have ***-canned the decision to include three ballads on the album – but that is what we have here; each more cheesy and tepid than the last. On the other hand, without Mike Portnoy’s terrible ‘harsh’ vocals, James Labrie has been allowed to display his entire range. Whether it’s his backing screams on “Build Me Up, Break Me Down” or his overall gritty delivery on “Bridges in the Sky”, he has really been able to show his true vocal talents (that fans of his solo work already knew existed) – and his bad Dave Mustaine impressions are entirely absent.

When Mike Portnoy exited the band, there was always the chance that the remaining members would flounder without his guidance, but it seems that his exit has created more good than harm. With Portnoy’s exit, the band have been allowed to return to a more diverse prog metal formula that retains the heavier elements in smaller doses while entirely restoring a strong songwriting focus. This has lead the band to discard their previous overuse of repetitive metal riffs and has also resulted in compositions that don’t end up utilizing the kind of song-killing extended jams that have plagued the band since Kevin Moore’s departure. The unfortunate harm that has come with Portnoy’s dismissal is that the drum sections are now entirely bland and lack any real power. This combined with the band’s decision to include three ballads are really the only things wrong with A Dramatic Turn of Events. If Dream Theater allow Mike Portnoy to return (with a reduced ego) while maintaining their current direction, their next album could actually be the ‘return to form’ that most of us have been hoping for.



Recent reviews by this author
Anathema Distant SatellitesFlotsam and Jetsam No Place for Disgrace - 2014
Mindcage Our Own DevicesFates Warning Darkness in a Different Light
Queensryche QueensrycheSkinny Puppy Weapon
user ratings (912)
Chart.
3.6
great
other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
September 9th 2011



15877 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Album Stream: http://www.roadrunnerrecords.de/page/webwheel+DreamTheater


Anyone into DT or prog in general should check out the recommended albums (the Arch/Matheos one isn't out until Tuesday, though).

Digging: Emperor - In The Nightside Eclipse - 20th Year Anniversary

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2011



16134 Comments


Should've called this album A Dramatic Regression of Sound.

cinaedus
September 9th 2011



26298 Comments


rating chart is lol

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2011



15339 Comments


I haven't heard this yet, but DT fell back into my good graces with Black Clouds & Silver Linings. If this is like that but more melodic, as you say, then there's a good chance it will earn over a 3.5 for me.

And as always, excellent review Willie.

Digging: Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds - Abattoir Blues/The Lyre of Orpheus

tiesthatbind
September 9th 2011



7371 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is really underwhelming.

Digging: Anberlin - Lowborn

DarthMann
September 9th 2011



13476 Comments


is this legal now? I thought it came out later. oh well.
Goood review, I'll probably get this. Last one i got was Octavarium, haven't been bothered to get Train of Thought.

Willie
Moderator
September 9th 2011



15877 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

I like it. It has a very Images and Words meets Awake kind of feel, but there's even a little Dream and Day Unite kind of vibe in places. It definitely could have done with a more interesting drummer, and three ballads... what the fuck.

Edit: It's legal for staff to review stuff early. Plus, it is streaming so anyone can post a review now... let me find the link.

SowingSeason
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2011



15339 Comments


staff can review prior to the release date because they get promotional copies

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2011



16134 Comments


This album reminds me most of Ocatavarium: little diversity in song structures, pretty boring downtuned guitar riffs, and very little feeling in any of the songs. Album is relatively enjoyable, but I was hoping the band would take another step forward after BC&SL, not two steps back.

RIP

RosaParks
September 9th 2011



14592 Comments


don't like this band

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2011



16134 Comments


Oh, and review's pretty good, Trey. m/

cinaedus
September 9th 2011



26298 Comments


i used to be into DT but systematic chaos ruined them for me

Willie
Moderator
September 9th 2011



15877 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

Ok, the stream link is in the first comment now.

This album reminds me most of Ocatavarium: little diversity in song structures, pretty boring downtuned guitar riffs, and very little feeling in any of the songs. Album is relatively enjoyable, but I was hoping the band would take another step forward after BC&SL, not two steps back.
This is nothing like that album. Ocatavarium was like Falling into Infinity with better songs, but simpler structures. This is just a 'return to roots' kind of album, IMO.

don't like this band
Yet you checked it out anyway.

tiesthatbind
September 9th 2011



7371 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Lakes, did you ever check out any of their 90's stuff? Systematic Chaos is one of their worst.

And I think two of the ballads (This is the Life and Beneath the Surface) are highlights tbh. Breaking All Illusions is the best song though.

cinaedus
September 9th 2011



26298 Comments


i've heard various tracks. not too interested though

AngelofDeath
Staff Reviewer
September 9th 2011



16134 Comments


I don't know. I see a lot of similarities. Both have very chorus-oriented "metal-y" songs with a couple ballads thrown in. And both are a mixed bag of quality.

Not a single track on here that even approaches being as good as Best of Times or Count of Tuscany.

Lambda
September 9th 2011



2412 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

I'm midway through the album, some cool parts, but I ironically find the drums a little quiet in the mix

Digging: Anathema - Judgement

DarthMann
September 9th 2011



13476 Comments


I like six degrees and images of words the best probably. But Octavarium is an awesome song.

Oh that's awesome, promotinal copies sound sweet aha. Thanks

tiesthatbind
September 9th 2011



7371 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

i've heard various tracks. not too interested though

Fair enough. I'll just point out that none of the three albums you have rated by them are even in the top 5 of their discography for me.

Honestly, this album just doesn't have the climaxes that their great albums (or even mediocre albums) have. Black Clouds may have had the lame growls, but it was way more exciting than this and the awesome moments (i.e. Best of Times solo) made up for the few weak points. This just kind of plods along, it's not bad, but it's not really good enough to really justify being a 78-minute album.

Willie
Moderator
September 9th 2011



15877 Comments

Album Rating: 3.2

The drums are quiet because they're fucking boring. I had a line that said, " If Mike Portnoy hadn’t been booted from A7X and his new band didn’t suck, he would definitely be pissing himself with laughter," but it didn't really work anywhere after a re-write.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2013 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy