Dream Theater - 2011 A Dramatic Turn Of Events

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ARTIST: Dream Theater
ALBUM: A Dramatic Turn Of Events
LABEL: Roadrunner Records
SERIAL: RR7765-2
YEAR: 2011

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: image

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

TRACK LISTING: 01 On The Backs Of Angels * 02 Build Me Up, Break Me Down * 03 Lost Not Forgotten * 04 This Is The Life * 05 Bridges In The Sky * 06 Outcry * 07 Far From Heaven * 08 Breaking All Illusions * 09 Beneath The Surface

RATING: image

WEBLINKS: Site Link

Background

As opposed to 'Systematic Chaos' and 'Black Clouds And Silver Linings', when the band was resting quietly on their laurels, 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' came after the worst turbulence in Dream Theater's history - the split with one of the founders of the band, Mike Portnoy.

The band moved on quickly to reassure the fans they are still the band prog metal lovers know and appreciate - and maybe did it a little too well?

The Songs

'On The Backs Of Angels' was a bold choice for a single, I'll give them that. Usually the song which was closest to cookie cutter metal got the spot (on some albums, that still left us with some weird choices), but this one is an eight minute prog baby, with an intro which paradoxically takes a while to build up but yet doesn't feel long at all, clever verse construction, chorus as strong as any from their golden days (and a rather smart, unexpected turnover in melody before it) and some refreshing soloing.

'Build Me Up, Break Me Down' is hands down my least favourite song in their catalog, an awful mish-mash of some faux-industrial leanings, orchestral keyboard patches placed horribly and a radio-friendly chorus when you least want one.

'Lost Not Forgotten' is just overlong, with some decent parts lost in a sea of mediocrity, the infamous instrumental 'tickle section' (you'll know it when you hear it) probably being the icing on that sea - and salt with icing does not taste very good.

And 'This Is The Life' is just the blandest ballad they ever made. As you can tell, I did not have much fun with this part of the album.

'Bridges In The Sky', however, is a very fun ride, if you can stomach the long, long 'shaman growling' intro. The chorus is like something straight out of 'Scenes From A Memory', the solo section with the oriental touches and the Hammond parts is unreal and James LaBrie sounds completely angelic on it.

'Outcry' is, again, a song that would benefit a lot from being shortened and just relying on that majestic main melody to stir up emotions in the listener, instead of just changing in direction willy-nilly.

'Far From Heaven' is a lovely ballad, but it completely pales in comparison to what follows.

'Breaking All Illusions' is the best song the band has written in the last 15 years. Every melody on it is exciting and clever, every vocal line nuanced with experience, and the David Gilmour-inspired John Petrucci solo is breathtaking. John Myung's presence in lyric writing has also been sorely missed over the past decade and a half, and he finally made up for it here.

'Beneath The Surface', completely written by Petruci, is a nice change of pace for a closer, since it's a short acoustic ballad with a rather fitting tasteful Rudess solo, and most painfully beautiful lyrics, though I do giggle at the 'he couldn't risk my fragile frame' line, knowing it was written by a 180-pound gym aficionado.

In Summary

The album is definitely a little rushed, perhaps not thought through, and played a little too safe. Even though they got a monster drummer to replace Mike Portnoy, some details in his playing were almost inaudible due to the production that definitely needed a drummer's input.

Also, 2011 was NOT a good time to be a Dream Theater fan.

The lengthy wait for the new drummer announcement, the derogatory comments from Portnoy fans, the social media drama caused by the ex-drummer's ability to take everything the band says about moving on with their lives personally, the discussions of whether or not they simply plagiarized the entire 'Images And Words' album in order to write this (seriously?) just made me stay away from the fanbase and everything that was going on with Dream Theater.

For the first time in my life, it definitely left a bad taste in my mouth whenever I tried to listen to this album - only now I can be objective about it and that's a damn shame.


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