Six songs, 4 of them over 10 minutes, with another at nearly nine and another at 6, this isnt throwaway hook laden short stabs at commerciality. Dream Theater tread their own distinctive path through songs of epic length and proportion. It starts off great with a nightmare to remember, a solid stab at furious riffing, barked rapid fire lyrics, a softer interlude and some shouted lyrics from Mike Portnoy to finish. Impressive stuff and sure to keep the fan base happy.
The pace stays at top speed for Rite of Passage, and aside from oddly scanned lyrics it soons breaks into a furious stomp, as guitar and keyboards trade riffs at a furious pace. Great stuff and sure to go down a storm in concert.
Wither sees the band take a breath with a commericalish ballad, enhanced with some strong power chords and a great chorus. Would fit well on the commericialish Falling Into Infinity album.
The final part of Mike Portnoys examination of his alcolholsim and battle with, takes up track 4, with the band revisiting melodies and lyrics of the the other pieces from this project. Powerful stuff and a worthy end to a great series of songs that MIke Portnoy wrote about so honestly. I hope they play all the pieces together at a concert one day...
Best of times has someheartfelt emotional lyrics about the death of MP's father, with James LB handles with tact and diplomacy. Despite the wonderful violin start, and strong melody the songs fails to catch light and a feeling of anticlimax prevails.
The last song, The Count Of Tuscany is DT of old, reminisncent of Images and Words, lots of time changes, guitar and keyboard patterns intertwined with hypnotic drumming. Its a long song and for the first half it could be straight off Images and Words, until a slow section builds to a climax. A real multi parter, that flatters to decieve, they have done better epics, but it's still a strong song
Its a good solid album, there are some nice high points, but I just cant see this being played over and over in the car and MP3. SFAM, Train of Thought, IAWords this isnt. I applaud the band for not making the same album over and over, and just changing the cover, but it doesn't have that 'classic' feel. DT's strengths have always been the powerhouse drumming, the killer guitar riffs and delicate but complicated melodies. This has it in parts, but it falls short of the bands best.
The cover versions are more the same curate's egg. Star Gazer, the Queen Medley and To Tame a land originally by Iron Maiden are great, the rest, not so good.
The third CD is purely instrumental, which to these ears to indulgance for indulgance sake. Nightwish did the same on their last album, and this feels the same as that, you'l spin it once to see what it sounds like, and then go back and play the original instead...
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