Dream Theater is back. With a bang!. From a near career-threatening blow with the departure of founding member and drummer Mike Portnoy, the progressive metal giants return with their eleventh studio release A Dramatic Turn Of Events .
Any worries will be put to rest after giving the disc a few spins. Brace yourselves for a remarkable and crowning achievement in the prog rock world.
Don’t base your assumptions of the record with their single On The Backs Of Angels. Although a strong track, it could at best been a leftover from their previous releases. But that’s where the similarities end, as an electronic drum loop leads you into the up-tempo Build Me Up,Break Me Down where vocalist James LaBrie goes into falsetto assault.
Several listens and long time fans of Images And Words will immediately feel at home. If anything, Dream Theater has gone back to its roots with A Dramatic Turn Of Events, balancing the prog and metal elements perfectly with a contemporary edge. Or to address the fans, the album has the virtuosity of Train of Thought with the mentality of Images And Words.
Incredibly melodic, the record has frequent bursts of sheer technical madness and complexity which can either inspire you or force you to hang it up and give up playing, depending on your personal character. The unpredictability in their songs is back without the feeling that they are being dragged. There is just a great pacing with the album with the ballads thrown in at the right moments. Guitarist John Petrucci returns once again at the production helm. One of their most balanced releases in recent years, the guys finally seems to be free from the constant pissing they get from Portnoy..
The album has a lot of piano and orchestration showcasing keyboard wiz Jordan Rudess formidable chops. Petrucci-Rudess chemistry is just on a whole new level, each being aware of their musical direction. From the chaotic progressive instrumentals to the seamless trading of synths-guitar solos, we can only gasp at the technical proficiency of these masters.
James LaBrie shines on this album, with some of his finest and emotive singing ever. LaBrie’s centerpiece is clearly Far From Heaven, an emotion drenched melancholic piano/vocal track. And so what about our famous newbie drummer Mike Mangini? Well, Portnoy’s creative drum fills is definitely missing, but the Genie delivers with his own style. As for answering ‘who is better’ we can leave that debate to the forums.
Headbangers, there is enough guitar onslaught and double kicks for you to chew on. Lost Not Forgotten has Petrucci and Rudess engaged in a diminished scale unison-solo frenzy. Bridges In The Sky (originally The Shamans Trance) is a riff factory with trading guitar keyboard solos. Outcry has an anthemic feel with an insane proggy instrumental section in the middle.
This Is The Life has a soaring guitar melody which is enough to give you goosebumps. But the track to watch out for is Breaking All Illusions, with lyrics written by the ever quiet bassist John Myung! With generous amount of absurd odd time signatures and uncertainty, it has the makings of a potential Dream Theater classic. Apart from the crazy instrumental passage of over five minutes, the song has an impending chorus melody which can leave you tense. The record ends with Beneath The Surface, an acoustic ballad with a Keith Emerson-like moog solo. Interesting since Dream Theater has never ended a record with an acoustic.
With A Dramatic Turn Of Events, Dream Theater has raised the bar even higher that takes you on an incredible musical journey from the tight and heavy to the melodic and orchestral. Clearly one of their finest releases since Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence. A masterpiece indeed, its just the right prescription for progressive metal fans out there.