Having bought this with a slightly sceptical mind after the disappointing Octavarium, I was blown away! The last few DT albums have divided the fans' opinions - some loved the heaviness of Train of Thought, while others liked the slightly smoother sound on Octavarium. BUT - DT are a prog band after all, so it would disappointing if all albums sounded the same.
With that in mind, I think the guys have outdone themselves with this record - combining the best elements of their previous albums into something which is heavy, ballsy (as MP wanted it to be!) and ROCKIN' yet also intricate and proggy with real thought behind the song structures and themes. The lighter moments on the record are more atmospheric and involving, rather than just sounding weak in the context of the others.
As always, the individual performances are absolutely outstanding. Every solo on this record is well placed, appropriate and adds something to the song, rather than just being a showcase for their talents. It's easy not to noticed the genius in the guys' playing as everything fits so well. But genius it is!
I won't go into a breakdown of the songs - others have done that. But for me, both parts of In The Presence Of Enemies stand out. This is what Dream Theater is about! Powerful songs with a mixture of complex musical themes that combine together to form a balls-out, rockin' blast of a record! These guys continue to be top of bill for me. AWESOME!