on 2 December 2013
Musically brilliant, fabulous riffs and melodies all delivered with power and drama in a musically theatrical style with each member of the band pushing the boundaries of their formidable talents..... my only gripe would be that it doesn't go over 70mins. I'm sure there was room for one more song, but maybe I am just too greedy for more.
I love it though, as I have done with any Dream Theater release, but even if this had been my first experience of the great quintet it would inspire me to start buying the rest....... Enjoy and crank it up.....
I'll cut to the chase,i've got all the albums but i wouldnt class myself as an 'uber 'fan,i dont spend hours analysing one album against another ,to see where they've repeated themselves etc,if i like it then great if not tough.
Its not a classic but its a decent release,in my humble opinion,the most immmediately likeable release since 'Awake' (1994) and 'Scenes from a Memory' (1999),to these ears its a vibrant upbeat release and it's a pleasurable aural experience from the first listen.
Both Portnoy and Mangini are excellent drummers so its business as usual on the drumming front,with Portnoy's lyrical input missing,i felt this and ,indeed ,the previous album were less 'dark',i like both experiences,so again no worries.
Star of the show definitely Petrucci,superb soloing,here there and everywhere,it would be fair to say ,occasionally La Brie's vocals ,waver and he does sound ever so slightly less than convincing,it happens.
Star moments,for me,plenty, the opening trio perfect,'False Awakening Suite' is big bold and cinematic,"The Enemy Inside" is an excellent rocker with stun guitar, whilst 'The Looking Glass' has a perfect commercial sheen,harking back to the early days.
Follow that if you will,well they do,with a superb instrumental 'Enigma Machine', its round about now that a couple of tracks dont quite hit the spot,namely
'The Bigger Picture' and 'Behind The Veil',thankfully they have another modern day classic in 'Surrender to Reason",next up another decent if not outstanding track 'Along for the Ride'.
So that just leaves the 'epic', well for the first 18 mins or so 'Illumination Theory' is excellent,possibly one of the best epic's they've done,then its just stops,the last couple of minutes at odds with the rest,it may grow on me,i'm not sure.
All in all its a pretty good release,far more immedate than the previous album 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events',although i suspect in the long run the former will be held in higher esteem,me? i like both. 4 stars
on 16 February 2014
I have known about dt for many a year and have some of their earlier albums but this is an exceptional listen. it starts off in a usual kind of way, dramatic and strong. but its when the third track kicks in, through the looking glass that things really kick off. But from that point it just gets exceptional. really, the next 6 tracks are simp, y brilliant, and I dont say that about many pieces of music. believe me, this is a great album, I have not stopped listening to it, I have even placed this above my fav band within temptation at the moment. thats how good it is!
on 16 February 2014
I have been casually following DT since their very first album in 1989 which I bought after reading a review comparing the band favourably with Rush. Since then I have liked some of their music but not all. Having had the opportunity to hear the album in full a few times before buying, I knew this was one of their best. The only DT album where I like every song! There are many truly wonderful moments on this album and most importantly great songs with superb melodies.
on 4 February 2014
This is an excellent album from the Dream Theater jugger-naught and a more than welcome addition to their discography. It's been three years since the "volcanic departure" of Mike Portnoy in 2010. The last transitional album "A dramatic turn of events" boasted a great centre piece of revitalization in the band, and this latest "Dream Theater" S/T CD largely follows a similar line close behind it. Whilst here on D/T there are noticeably much fewer big epic-suites as a-comparison to previous albums, for the most part, the strength of the songwriting and dynamism of the musical components seem to be all there, so no complaints from me here in that respect.
The album starts strongly with a quality atmospheric theme in "False Awakening Suite" and the successive rocker "The enemy inside" which is a good enough one. "The looking glass" is definitely one of the best highlights on the album with a good sound, depth and dynamism surrounding it's many preludes and musical angles. The following "Enigma machine" perhaps falls a little short of the standard of the rest as the music abruptly switches quite wildly in places and perhaps slightly un-cohesively. "The bigger picture" (as of late) is another decent and OK part/ballad/metal song in-which overwhelmingly reaches a high mark, and "Behind the veil" is another fluid and organic contribution with a solid line and chorus; while "Surrender to reason" is another pleasing, unpredictable and enjoyable inter-ester. Finally, "Along for the ride" arrives and is perhaps a slightly un-spectacular, forced, and forgettable ballad, but it would probably pass the mark as it isn't a bad song.
"Illumination Theory" is the epic-suite mantle-piece of "Dream Theater" and is the last song present on the album. The start is anticipatory, smooth and inspired. Going further in, there are plenty of interesting ideas thrown about the place and are unified with strong transitional links and cohesion as we enter the middle part of the song. There are some touching atmospheric and tuneful passages to go through once we get to this stage. A heavier and compelling riff sub-section further-in is convincing and enjoyable with lots of extreme and unpredictable time-changes. Excellent lines, melodic corridors and solos punctuate the next few minutes of the omnibus. The grand sounding final minutes lead us into the closing stages of the CD where things evidently quieten down with a nice and beautifully touching piano prelude; though ending a throughly intoxicating and commanding affair.
Production, sound and musicianship is demonstratively good quality on "Dream Theater" and the band proves it, by a well gelled collection of very solid compositions, organic sound, and a nicely distributed input from all the band members:- which is pleasing. Occasionally, Jordan Rudess gets a-bit to self-indulgent with himself, (again) as he tends to from time to time, with the keyboard solos, and this could definitely do with a reign-in from time-to-time. (The unnecessary noodling however, has been considerably reduced so that's a great improvement!); but again good marks here in these areas too.
Overall, I have a positive feel about "Dream Theater", and likewise to it's predecessor, it is probably the most consistent album since "Six degrees of turbulence". The flab and excess twiddling has been largely (albeit not entirely), brought under control in "Dream Theater" and I believe a newly found focus-of-return to the songwriting is definitely something to be hailed. However, there are still a few patches of poor quality control and clunky musical transitions on the CD, which-in some areas for me works against it as one of the few set-backs on the entire album., The songwriting impression however, while still a-way off from their 90's stuff, is still quite a marked improvement on "Dream Theater" and I thoroughly commend it.
D/T ultimately sounds like DT, It feels like DT and, (in my opinion) works as a DT album could be expected to; and for it, suitably merits the self-titled name, even if it isn't truly good enough to challenge some of their other widely-acknowledged masterpieces.
on 26 November 2013
Since the end of the meta album, the last of which being Octavarium, there's been something missing in their musical construction. In my opinion this release is a better album than their last (A Dramatic Turn Of Events) but it's still not quite up to the standard they were at during the beginning of the millennium. Mike Mangini seems to be a good fit as a replacement for Mike Portnoy, the drums are still funky, syncopated and deeply technical. Overall the group still perform as we've come to expect but there still lacks that secret ingredient, that inspiration and magnificence that was present earlier on.
If you're a DT fan and haven't yet bought this album then go ahead and add it to your collection. It may not be one of their best but it's still a brilliant album and deserves a lot of praise.
on 24 January 2015
If it wasn't for Illumination Theory - which is without a doubt one of the best songs they have released in the recent years I'm sure in a few years time I wouldn't remember anything from this album. Even Octavarium seems a great album as compared to the recent works. I know some people love this change, I don't. I miss the old times like images and words or six degrees - and then the score!!! I still consider Dream Theater as my favourite band and will always top the rankings of what I'm listening, just not necessarily the new albums. Illumination theory I love it so much that I've made my own ring tone to use as alarm clock :)
on 22 December 2013
In the age of free music streaming, I know it's barely worth reading/writing music reviews these days...
I had to write this because some of the reviews on here are bizarre! I know music is an art form and, therefore, subjective but Dream Theater's latest album is surely their best since the Muse-inspired Octavarium (which I adore partly due to that but mostly because the title track is my fave DT track ever) and I really don't understand the resistance to it.
I'm convinced that many of the fans who dislike this album wrote off DT the moment Mike Portnoy left and, perhaps, can't help but see this as further evidence that he should come back. Maybe I'm being unfair but, if not, those same devotees should open their minds as there's nothing to gain from walking away from a band of virtuosos. If they genuinely don't like this, fine, their loss IMO but, if you are similarly concerned and reading this review, please listen to the album and again...and again as this album really does get better with each listen.
There is one obvious flaw, however. I've never loved the band's lyrics generally but these are, mostly, utterly forgettable, but that's a very small negative wave in a sea of positives. Besides, no-one ever claimed that DT had a Roger Waters-esque poet or a storyteller, a la Peter Gabriel, in the band.
Comments about synth/pad sounds are accurate but I admit I like those because they add colour and ambience at the right times.
The guitar work is sublime - actually it's stunning in places, as is the production on most songs. I think the drumming suits perfectly.
Finally, I have to add a bit about the orchestral section in Illumination Theory. I'm a big classical music fan and am aware as both a listener and composer that large-scale arranging is not an easy task! However, Turkish arranger/conductor Eren Başbuğ's work on Jordan Rudess's composition is so good he makes it look simple, almost surpassing the themes he's so brilliantly orchestrated.
So, yes, if you like Dream Theater, you really should give this album a few chances to grow on you. Personally, I loved it instantly. :)
The best tracks for me are : The Enemy Inside - this would have been a suitable addition and highlight on Train Of Thought had it been written 10 years ago, The Bigger Picture, Surrender To Reason and, of course, Illumination Theory - a 20-minute classic with obvious progressive rock influences and a string section to buy for.
As far as Dream Theater go, I'm somewhere in between a layman and an aficionado. I have plenty of their albums, have enjoyed their output over the years to differing degrees and often put one on when I'm in the mood for some excellent symphonic, progressive metal. I didn't enjoy their last album ("A Dramatic Turn Of Events") as much I had some of their previous releases with their former drummer Mike Portnoy and was therefore interested to see if they could recapture their magic this time around, now new drummer Mike Mangini has had time to settle in and provide his own creative input. I have to say that I've thoroughly enjoyed their eponymous album and have produced a piece of work that compares favourably with some of their best music, whilst falling a little short of actual greatness. The best tracks on the album, to me, are "Behind The Veil", with its winding, twisting guitar solo over crunching power chords providing the pinnacle of the song, "Surrender To Reason", which quickly goes from strummed guitar-driven dramatic ballad to emotionally charged prog-rocker and the superb "Illumination Theory" (all twenty plus minutes of it) which starts with an almost E.L.O.-like orchestral theme and develops into a suite of songs which is easily the best thing on offer here, utilising several different time signatures, tempos, riffs and several excellent keyboard and guitar solos as well as a rather beautiful symphonic piece written for strings, revisiting and expanding the opening theme.
I think some fans had written off the band after Portnoy's departure, but when you have a replacement as talented as Mangini and a virtuoso band including the incredible Petrucci on guitar, you would have to be a bit foolish to do so. Whilst admitting wholeheartedly that I've heard better from Dream Theater, this is still a rather great piece of work and manages to occasionally thrill and always entertains for the duration of the record. It demonstrates that the band is far from finished, creatively, and are merely entering another chapter of their history. I think that long-term fans will be looking for a little more ambition, arrangement-wise (if everything here was like the final track, that wouldn't be an issue), and perhaps a quickening of the tempo next time as this album sometimes settles into a low gear a little too easily and both drummer and vocalist seem a little content to cruise than to push themselves. Other than those minor criticisms, it's a rather good listen and a welcome addition to my Dream Theater collection.
on 30 November 2013
HI, so it has arrived, the 12th Dream Theater album and the first self titled album, I cannot describe in words what this album is like, you will have to experience the pleasure of hearing it. They are the best prog rock band in the world, who have come back with a bang.
This is the second album with drummer 'Mike Magini', and the first time that he has had direct contact with the arrangement of the music.
All I can say is that this is one of the best albums that I have ever heard. A grand 10/10 for Dream Theater.