Dream Theater
Dream Theater


3.0
good

Review

by NightmareCinema16 USER (36 Reviews)
September 16th, 2013 | 42 replies | 4,407 views


Release Date: 09/23/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: They may change, but they sure won't progress.

3 of 11 thought this review was well written

It should be obvious that Dream Theater is no longer the band they used to be. In the first 15 years they made music, it was still original, modest, and each of the member's technical virtuosity was still acceptable. Their songwriting abilities and individual makeup of each of their albums were also well balanced, and as a result you would have brilliant albums, such as Images and Words, Awake, and Scenes From a Memory, their magnum opus.

But the years since Scenes have changed for Dream Theater. As they went further into their careers, their works began lose something. The group was growing less original and more indulgent, which is a very bad combination. More recent albums, such as Train of Thought, Octavarium, and Systematic Chaos began to sound more generic, over the top, and showed extreme Petrucci-Portnoy dominance in the songwriting. The result was degrading material. And it has been happening for over a decade.

So, what is to be expected of their newest self titled album? If you are looking for something as good as Scenes From a Memory or Images and Words, you probably won't find it in this album. However, Dream Theater is doing a few things differently. One: there are two instrumentals in this album. Not since the last studio album, Train of Thought has there ever been a single instrumental since. Perhaps that may be good news. Two: this is the first DT album under 70 minutes of material in over 10 years. This fact gave me a hopeful sign of Dream Theater finally taking back control of balance between virtuosity and modesty.

Upon hearing the first few songs, I was now given some hope, but also more doubt that Dream Theater would sound bad. The mixing and production of this album is already the first issue at hand. It immediately dulls the quality of single The Enemy Inside, and the impressive drumming of Mike Mangini, who now plays a more important role in this album. However, reassurance returns when shorter songs such as Along for the Ride, The Looking Glass, and Surrender to Reason give off themes, sounds, and vibes that return to the old days of Change of Seasons, Awake, and most importantly, Images and Words. One of a few high points saving them this time so far.

Dream Theater's self-titled album has been both troubling and still giving off signs of hope and progress in comparison to A Dramatic Turn of Events. However, here's the tip off point. Petrucci may be saying that the whole writing process is fully integrated now. True, yet so false. Upon looking at the who wrote the lyrics for the self titled album, it appears that every song except for the instrumentals and Surrender to Reason are written all by John Petrucci. So, about the words integrated. Does that explain why most of the lyrics are uninteresting or rehashes of older DT songs? The only song with actual interesting lines in general is Surrender to Reason, whose lyrics are coincidently written by John Myung. Seems that DT's bassist always has it right when others don't. That isn't the only aspect of this album Dream Theater got right.

The impressive drumming performance by Mike Mangini is also a bright spot in the album. This is because Petrucci hadn't written the drum lines this time around. So, Mangini, no matter what, created something far more interesting in the self titled album compared to A Dramatic Turn of Events. Plus, John Myung's role as a bassist has always been exiting and that is just about good enough for not just any DT fan, but also just any prog metal fan. However, there is still issues with this album.

It would be ridiculous to let yourself drift away to the newest album without having paid attention to the ambivalent selection of a keyboard sounds by Jordan Rudess. There are some applications that are pretty impressive, but most of them are either average or just drag the overall quality of the album itself. While average may not describe Petrucci's guitar performance, slightly repetitive does. Yes, the usual extravagant virtuoso passages of exhilaration are once again back for the hundredth time, and while nothing changes...nothing bad happens to Petrucci's role as a guitarist either. In other words, the overall musicianship really doesn't advance in any groundbreaking manner.

Once again, it's been over a decade since Dream Theater has created a studio instrumental and 3 years since they've created a song over 20 minutes. Once again, for the first time in a long time, three songs: two of them being instrumentals and the other a 22 minute epic by the name of The Illumination Theory, are provided, and each of them sound very good. The keyboard selection in these three songs is particularly better compared to the rest of the album and the creativity that was lost in A Dramatic Turn of Events has been compensated in this epic. In fact, The Illumination Theory along with Enigma Machine saved the entire album from being average or worse. Why? Because the Enigma Machine is a power-surged piece that is executed in a very similar way to that of instrumental sections in parts of Scenes of a Memory. And The Illumination Theory is a comeback that DT desperately needed to bring back a reputation and the concept that actually sounds pretty solid. All the reason the self-titled album doesn't end up being a disaster.

All in all, Dream Theater was basically split into two areas: one area that was well played and spent, the other, in quite a bit of a mess. The group once again nailed the instrumentals and created a well done epic. Mangini's drumming performance was very much improved. DT made some changes. However, the self titled album is also torn down by a Petrucci's tyranny in the songwriting and production, which as a result makes the album also sound disturbingly bad. There was once again a lack of good integration, originality, or modesty for that matter. If it weren't for a few standout songs, this album could've easily been a dud. To conclude, Dream Theater may change, but they sure won't progress.

3.2/5



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user ratings (407)
Chart.
3.5
great
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
NightmareCinema16
September 16th 2013



2016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Stream is found here:
http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/dream-theater-channel-prog-metal-in-dream-theater-premiere-20130916

NightmareCinema16
September 16th 2013



2016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Don't expect everything, or anything.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
September 16th 2013



48528 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

9 paragraphs after hearing the album once what?

Digging: The Hotelier - Home, Like NoPlace Is There

KILL
September 16th 2013



67082 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

well that was quick :D

Digging: Picchio dal Pozzo - Picchio dal Pozzo

manosg
September 16th 2013



4672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Damn that was fast. Haven't listened to the stream yet but I expect it to be better than their last album.

Digging: Jan Akkerman - Tabernakel

OhCarrots
September 16th 2013



335 Comments


A little quick, bro

dante1991
September 16th 2013



479 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

"9 paragraphs after hearing the album once what?" [2]

This stream has been out for half a day and a review already? Tbh, I'm not sure you can judge an album, particularly a DT album in such short time :/ There's quite a bit to absorb here IMO and it's too early for a review, even if it's fairly well written.

Still, really enjoyed this. More structured and song oriented and overall sums up DT nicely, as far as a self titled is concerned.

Digging: Sonata Arctica - Winterheart's Guild

beefshoes
September 16th 2013



2110 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Ugh.

Motiv3
September 16th 2013



8418 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Do not have high hopes for this album now.

Green Baron
September 16th 2013



11025 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

so quick? haven't heard it but based on the singles it seems as if it will be better than ADtoE, but not as good as 6DoIS

Digging: Chevelle - La Gargola

NeroCorleone80
September 16th 2013



26845 Comments


First paragraph is spot on

Digging: Morbid Angel - Altars of Madness

TheHamburgerman
September 16th 2013



1251 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Definitely better than BC&SL and WDaDU, altough not as good as MP2:SfaM and definitely not AOTY or AWEFKODLKASDLK

linguist2011
Contributing Reviewer
September 16th 2013



1776 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Since I thought the last DT album was almost average by their own musical standards, my hopes for this album aren't too high. Nonetheless, I'll give it a good listen since I'm always willing to give Dream Theater a try anyway. Nice review, albeit just a tad long in my opinion. Just one suggestion:

"Upon looking at the who wrote the lyrics for the self titled album"

Change to "Regarding the main lyricist for the band's self-titled album"

NightmareCinema16
September 16th 2013



2016 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Will change that when I get back home. I've heard this album now a few times (I've lost count of the singles.)

NeroCorleone80
September 16th 2013



26845 Comments


You must have had this on repeat all day

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 16th 2013



18186 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Only listened once so I don't know what to rate this yet but it's pretty good. Better than ADTOE but I don't think it's as good as Black Clouds. Still too early to tell yet though having only listened once.

Digging: Benoit Pioulard - Hymnal Remixes

Mister Twister
September 16th 2013



1432 Comments


how can they not progress







they are a progressive metal band






















that dosnt even make sense

beefshoes
September 16th 2013



2110 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

DT hasn't been progressive since SFAM. They're just a technical metal band who thinks including a ballad or two along with really long songs makes them stand out.

NeroCorleone80
September 16th 2013



26845 Comments


Pretty much

bodiesinflight57
September 16th 2013



866 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Yeah, this is pretty bad



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