Dream Theater
Dream Theater


2.5
average

Review

by Scott M. Baldwin USER (76 Reviews)
September 17th, 2013 | 29 replies | 3,064 views


Release Date: 09/23/2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dream Theater is as Dream Theater does.

11 of 16 thought this review was well written

If there's one thing a progressive band of any kind should not allow themselves to become, it's predictable. Progressive rock is a genre where people break down the boundaries and supposed comfort zones, and, as the label implies, "progress" with their music, moving forward, etc. one of these prime examples is Opeth, a band who have been moving toward an all-out 1970s prog-fest from their Death Metal roots. And then there's bands like Dream Theater, who, since 2005, make albums that pretty much offer what there is to expect in Dream Theater albums: long songs, the "fingers are always moving" mindset, keyboard freak-outs, ripping basslines, "assault on the senses" drums and soaring vocals. And surprise, surprise; Dream Theater do just that on their newest album, Dream Theater. How very fitting that they leave the album self-titled.

Because of already pre-set expectations, DT have also thrown us a few curveballs here; their first instrumental in ten years (two of them, actually), and their first song exceeding the 20-minute mark since "Octavarium". Yet even those seem so defiantly routine here; it's pretty much like the band's one and only mindset was "give them what they're used to for these kinds of tracks". This is also the second album recorded with drummer Mike Magini, who was involved in the songwriting process since day one, and this time we get to hear him more clearly, whereas on the previous album, he was sort of lost in the mix. Yet his performance here is sort of the same as it was n the previous album- he merely plays the beat instead of feeling it.

So essentially we have an album of nine tracks that are merely just Dream Theater tracks. In a way, I compare it to a McDonald's hamburger. Of course, if you like hamburgers, you'll love this hamburger because it looks like a hamburger and tastes like a hamburger, and goes down just like you'd expect a hamburger to. And in this burger, there's the doom-laden "crushing" and heavy parts ("False Awakening Suite"), there's the obligatory "Panic Attack Part Whatever" track ("The Enemy Inside"), there's the ballads ("The Bigger Picture", "Along for the Ride"), the song where the obvious Rush influences show through ("The Looking Glass"), and then we have the meat of the whole thing, "Illumination Theory", the patty itself. So far we have all the things that make a "perfect burger" of sorts, and when you consume it, you'll enjoy it because it tastes like a burger. Problem is, like most hamburgers, it isn't until after you've devoured it that you suddenly discover the lack of substance, and you're left with a lingering stomach ache.

The sad thing is, that's exactly the problem with Dream Theater. You listen to it front to back and after, you don't feel like you've listened to a good album or a bad album. You've listened to nothing more than a Dream Theater album. This can be chalked up to one person- John Petrucci. There hasn't been a single interview promoting the disc where he mentions that Magini has been involved all the way since day one. Problem is, if you look at the track listing, Petrucci has writing credits on all the tracks. John Myung fortunately picks up the pen on the album's one of two stand-out tracks, "Surrender to Reason". His influence on the track is obvious and it's a good break from the rest of the album; and the entire band is involved on "Illumination Theory", the best track on the album and is a good old-fashioned "roller coaster" song. There's tons of highs and lows; it feels like a mini-symphony and many different peaks and valleys can be found; one minute the song is slow and string-drenched, the next it has hammering pianos reminiscent of a horror movie, and there's a brief period of silence before Rudess gives us a coda with a piano fade-out. Yet aside from those songs, Petrucci's dictatorship over the band hangs heavy on the songs like a robe. And to be fair, it really isn't that any of the songs are bad, because they're all enjoyable to an extent. But essentially, the don't amount to anything more than just Dream Theater songs. They just seem done.

At the end of the day, Dream Theater is appropriately self-titled; it advertises the album exactly like it is: walking, talking, and acting just like Dream Theater. I guess I shouldn't be too mad, because I got exactly what I expected, and no doubt that the more dedicated portion of the band's fanbase will devour it, but at the end of the day, the rest of us will definitely walk away expecting something more. Ultimately, it's the sound of a band who probably should have given up the ghost a long time ago, and are repeating their formula to out their kids through college and give the fans their brand of methadone. But then again, if it's what keeps them selling records, who are we to come down on them too hard?



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user ratings (407)
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other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
TheMoonchild
September 17th 2013



382 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Painfully average album.

Sapient.
September 17th 2013



1109 Comments


I listened to the first two tracks so far, the intro one is pretty freakin' cheesy imo, but "The Enemy Inside" is alright

AtomicWaste
Staff Reviewer
September 17th 2013



1918 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Good review. Just fix this sentence up (typos) and you'll be perfect: "Of [course if] you like hamburgers, you'll love this hamburger because it looks like a hamburger and tastes like a hamburger, ad goes down just like you'd expect a hamburger to."

Seriously, great flow, good tone, and nice writing. I agree (even if I think the album is better than the top of the bell curve for most albums and better than that for DT themselves)

IbenizGEO1
September 17th 2013



2258 Comments


Sapientlife your avatar creeps me the fuck out every time i see it.

Sapient.
September 17th 2013



1109 Comments


well here, see it again :D

TheMoonchild
September 17th 2013



382 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@AtomicWaste thanks mate! Just went and fixed it

IbenizGEO1
September 17th 2013



2258 Comments


Horrid [7]

TheMoonchild
September 17th 2013



382 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Gotta say that avatar is indeed very uncanny valleyish

AceOfSpades
September 17th 2013



60 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

new wave prog is just ripping off original prog therefore none of it can truly be prog.

RadicalEd
September 17th 2013



2437 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Petrucci wanking his mighty shred dick once again...

Evreaia
September 17th 2013



3742 Comments


rating is too high

Digging: Plebeian Grandstand - Lowgazers

BigPleb
September 17th 2013



28453 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Solid stuff.

Gwyn.
September 17th 2013



13972 Comments


sort of the same as it was n the previous album


^ Fix that

There's a lot of reiteration through this whole review, there only a handful of sentences that don't mention that this "Just more Dream Theater", and the hamburger analogy was just... Weird. I dun really know what to say about this review because it's not badly written, it's content is just off.

Try talking a little more about the actual music and how it fairs out instead of how "it sounds like Dream Theater", then all my problems with this review would go away.

Wizard
September 17th 2013



18770 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

Damn good review and I hope this gets featured. You nailed it on the head when you say this:

since 2005, make albums that pretty much offer what there is to expect in Dream Theater albums: long songs, the "fingers are always moving" mindset, keyboard freak-outs, ripping basslines, "assault on the senses" drums and soaring vocals. And surprise, surprise; Dream Theater do just that on their newest album, Dream Theater. How very fitting that they leave the album self-titled.

I found this to be worse then their last few albums.

Digging: Triptykon - Melana Chasmata

Keyblade
September 17th 2013



13255 Comments


Not even gonna bother

Digging: Nmesh - Dream Sequins

Jesu
September 17th 2013



1 Comments


Good review. You gotta fix the spelling of one of the greatest drummers in the world, though! ;) It's Mangini, not Magini.

Keyblade
September 17th 2013



13255 Comments


Mangina


it had to be done

manosg
September 17th 2013



4672 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

If it's anything like their last two it will be impressive but not soulful. DT need to go back to the roots. Most times, playing less is more.

Digging: Jan Akkerman - Tabernakel

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
September 17th 2013



18197 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

It's not that bad. They've done worse than this album (SC, ADTOE etc.)

Digging: Benoit Pioulard - Hymnal Remixes

Minomol
September 17th 2013



10 Comments


"Most times, playing less is more."

Holy shit someone needs to say this to Petrucci.



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