Dream Theater
Dream Theater


3.5
great

Review

by Thompson D. Gerhart STAFF
September 17th, 2013 | 1284 replies


Release Date: 09/23/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A characteristically "Dream Theater" album that does a bit better than recent efforts in the band's formulaic approach to anti-formulaic music.

I liken Dream Theater to veteran football players. They innovated when they were young in their careers and long into their stride they brought something new to the game - an x-factor that was unparalleled by others, though often imitated. Yet, towards the end of their career, while they're still fan favorites with a bit left in the tank, they're mostly on the way out. Granted, I liken Dream Theater more to a Tony Gonzalez than a Brian Urlacher - more to give and often requested to knock around for another year for another shot at the title, but if you're looking for the apex of progressive metal, the torch has long since been passed.

That said, Dream Theater, an oddly self-titled affair for a band's twelfth outing, ups the band's game plan considerably from the likes of their previous outings and offers a noticeably brighter outlook on most things since 2005 (or, arguably, earlier, when Portnoy became fascinated with the darker side of metal on Train of Thought). While this can't be welcomed as any brilliant change of direction, since it was foreshadowed heavily by previous (and appropriately titled) outing A Dramatic Turn of Events, it certainly can be welcomed.

Most noticeable and appreciable among those elements on Dream Theater are the forward bearing roles of bassist John Myung and keyboard virtuoso extraordinaire, Jordan Rudess, who have expanded greatly on what felt like restrained roles in the latter half of the Portnoy era. Myung breathes a huge sigh of relief and a massive wind of interest into the group's tried and true sound with a bass sound that pops, fizzles, and grooves all throughout the album, while Rudess leads the light and melodic portion of the band's relatively formulaic approach to anti-formulaicness.

Guitarist John Petrucci continues to show that he can shred like nobody's business and lays down more than a few lightspeed polyrhythmic chugs and uber-technical solos which validate his appearance on the most recent Periphery album, but these are standard fare by now, as are James LaBrie's par-for-the-course vocals. They're not bad, mind you, but if you've heard one Dream Theater album, you've heard LaBrie's performance on this one. Seriously, listen to the end of "The Bigger Picture" - it's exactly the same as the end of "Strange Deja Vu."

Dream Theater as a whole is reminiscent of the Dream Theater from around Scenes From A Memory, but with an even more technical outlook that dips its toes into the pool of meaningfulness more often than on previous albums in recent history. That said, for the acquainted ear, it should be a treat to hear a little more purpose behind the punch of a Petrucci solo and the more atmospheric and, dare I say more prog-oriented (see "Illumination Theory") approach of Dream Theater classifies it as a rising action for the previously downward-dipping quintet.

All that said, I'm not quite sure how to classify the involvement of Mike Mangini on this album. It seems my initial criticism of the band's choice in drummers holds true as Mangini proves to be a suitable but safe replacement for Portnoy. Even in crafting his own rhythms, Mangini adds very little to the band that's new or extraordinarily thought provoking and overall, that's how this album can be characterized. Two parts stepping forward and three parts right where they've been. On the whole, it's an improvement, but not enough to move things forward by any order of magnitude.

But after all, with twelve albums under their belts, can we really expect Dream Theater to reinvent the game? Probably not, but heck, it's still fun to watch them catch a touchdown pass here and there.



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user ratings (564)
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2013


2043 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Maybe I'm adding .5 for nostalgia. I'm not sure.

Album has some pretty cool high moments, so I'm going to say it's that, but on the whole, if you mix up Dream Theater's back catalog and add some relatively cool keyboard and bass bits that may be a little new, you've heard this album. But it's still pretty good.

I'd also like to thank the systems at work for going down for over an hour so that I could take the time to write this after having listened to it all day.

Digging: Damascus - When Last We Met

bloc
September 17th 2013


35024 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Damn this is freakin' weak. And I actually really liked the last two albums.

MO
September 17th 2013


19078 Comments


i fart in this albums general direction

Voivod
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2013


6342 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

summary says it all about the new album.

Will read as soon as possible.

Digging: Aspherium - The Fall of Therenia

NocteDominum
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2013


7127 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lengthy review dude, how you been?

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2013


2043 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Been busy haha. Don't have as much time to write as I used to have.

Helped my girlfriend find an apartment and we're generally spending a lot of time together (which is good), acting in a short movie this coming weekend, working 8 hours (or more) a day writing, and trying to find space to do other stuff in-between.

How's by you (and the rest of the Sput crew)?

LittleStranger
September 17th 2013


481 Comments


Would have been even better with Portnoy on skins but album still rocks.

Oh, and good review

iswimfast
September 17th 2013


1346 Comments


at least we arn't comparing them to brett favre

Hoppoman
September 17th 2013


656 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I found this album to be better than the previous 3.

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2013


50960 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

They've put out like five 3/5s in a row

Digging: Friendzone - Collection 1

aggelosm
September 17th 2013


471 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I found this album to be better than the previous 3 [2]

BEHIND THE VEIL and SURRENDER TO REASON are great tracks. THE BIGGER PICTURE is my favorite until now. Illumination Theory is also a beast track.

mryrtmrnfoxxxy
September 17th 2013


13454 Comments


weak badn

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2013


21607 Comments


This is better than I expected following the ridiculously bland ADTOE. It's still pretty weak in parts though.

Digging: Foxes in Fiction - Ontario Gothic

dante1991
September 17th 2013


552 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0 | Sound Off

John Myung is a fucking legend on this album

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2013


16131 Comments


think i'd rather watch paint dry than bother listening, liked the review tho posed

menawati
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2013


16131 Comments


oh u are contrib now cant pos but would have

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2013


2043 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I can dig it, thanks bro.

"Surrender to Reason" and "Illumination Theory" are standouts for sure, though much of the album leaves you with that "oh, I just listened to a Dream Theater album but I don't really remember what I just heard because it sounds like every Dream Theater album" feeling.

Omeggia
September 17th 2013


129 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

"oh, I just listened to a Dream Theater album but I don't really remember what I just heard because it sounds like every Dream Theater album"

Yeah pretty much that but it didn't make me enjoy it any less.

KILL
September 17th 2013


72280 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

lots of good parts on this also lots of bad feelin a hard 3 can i get an amen

Digging: Throwing Muses - Throwing Muses

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2013


50960 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The last song seriously sounds like Dancing Queen by Abba



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