Dream Theater - 2013 Dream Theater

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ARTIST: Dream Theater
ALBUM: Dream Theater
LABEL: Roadrunner Records
SERIAL: RR7064-5
YEAR: 2013

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

LINEUP: James LaBrie - vocals * John Petrucci - guitars * Jordan Rudess - keyboards * John Myung - bass * Mike Mangini - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 False Awakening Suite I - Sleep Paralysis II - Night Terrors III - Lucid Dream * 02 The Enemy Inside * 03 The Looking Glass * 04 Enigma Machine * 05 The Bigger Picture * 06 Behind The Veil * 07 Surrender To Reason * 08 Along For The Ride * 09 Illumination Theory: I - Paradoxe De La Lumière Noire II - Live, Die, Kill III - The Embracing Circle IV - The Pursuit Of Truth V - Surrender, Trust & Passion

RATING: image

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

Mike Portnoy and the rest of Dream Theater found themselves in a position of having vastly different priorities in September 2010 - the drummer wanted to take a long break and come back with a bang and a huge 'hey guys, we've returned' tour.

The rest of the band was adamantly against putting the focus of their musical activities and their livelihoods on hold.

This led to a split, which launched a thousand marriage analogies in statements from members of the band, press and the fans alike (if no one ever wrote Mike Portnoy and Dream Theater filed for divorce due to irreconcilable differences, that's a huge lost opportunity), and, of course, speculations over who will be the new drummer of the band.

After a 'rockumentary' which showed auditions of seven world-class drummers, Dream Theater announced they picked Mike Mangini, who at the time was teaching at Berklee.

The release of their first album with Mangini in the lineup, 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' was a stressful period for the band, but the subsequent chart and tour success proved they made the right choice.

In interviews promoting their first self-titled album, that came out this September, members of Dream Theater hyped it beyond belief, saying that for the first time in the studio they witnessed 'Mangini unleashed'.

The fans believed the hype; was it warranted?

The Songs

'False Awakening Suite', sounds like an opening track from a Symphony X album in their golden era: imposing, cinematic, and positively cheesy.

Since it was written for kicking off Dream Theater's live shows by playing in the background until the band comes onstage, it's expected that the next track, 'The Enemy Inside', will be the concert opener for the rest of the tour.

It is the only song on the album that's balls-out metal from beginning to end and it features the classic John Petrucci riff attack, and the classic Jordan Rudess keyboard flourishes at almost inappropriate times.

'The Looking Glass' is one of the band's many homages to Rush - they probably should have called it 'The Limelight Glass', as it bears a lot of similarities to it!

'Enigma Machine' was the first track that wasn't quite to my liking - while the Inspector Gadget-y riff is fun and quirky, Dream Theater have written way better instrumentals.

'The Bigger Picture' is one of those more poppish Dream Theater tunes that simply explode in the chorus and hark back to the band's 'Falling Into Infinity' album. It is one of my favourite tracks.

Afterwards, the album gets a little samey, with two tracks that try to evoke a hopeful mood, but both fall short of that - both 'Behind The Veil' and 'Surrender To Reason' feel somehow both short and disjointed.

They had about 27 minutes left on the album to redeem themselves, and they used it up for 'Along For The Ride', the only ballad (in the classic sense of the word) of the album that was probably imagined to be a version of 'The Spirit Carries On' for the 21st century (your liking of it will depend on how much you like cheerful prog ballads) and the also somewhat disjointed epic, 'Illumination Theory'.

It consists of a grand intro, verses full of balls and chunk, an inexplicable part smack dab in the middle of the track that's made of ambient sounds and string parts - highly beautiful, but does nothing for consistency.

it's followed by my absolute favourite part of this album, a bass riff leading into some downright evil-sounding verses (impressive work by James LaBrie), a mad solo section where everyone sets fire upon their instruments, and the typical uplifting Dream Theater epic ending.

So if you're a fan of Dream Theater, one could say you won't miss anything new starting from the beginning of the solo section, except for the fact there is a beautiful Easter egg tacked onto the ending of the album, so you should stick around for that.

In Summary

While everyone's performances on the album (especially Mangini's) are ranging from satisfactory to brilliant, the mixing job doesn't leave space for everything to shine as it should.

And the album is marred by the fact it doesn't have that one standout song that will become a staple at Dream Theater concerts for years to come, as most of their albums did.


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