Tag Archives: dream

Album Review: A Dramatic Turn of Events – Dream Theater

Album: A Dramatic Turn of Events

Release: 2011

Artist: Dream Theater

Label: Roadrunner

Track Listing: 1) On the Backs of Angels 2) Build Me Up, Break Me Down 3) Lost Not Forgotten 4) This is the Life 5) Bridges in the Sky 6) Outcry 7) Far From Heaven 8) Breaking All Illusions 9) Beneath the Surface

Arguably the most anticipated Dream Theater album in quite some time, A Dramatic Turn of Events is the aptly named product of a shaken band. Co-founder, drummer and songwriter Mike Portnoy infamously departed last year on the back of the group’s most successful album in search of a more metallic venture with Avenged Sevenfold. Once he was surprisingly shown the door from that project he was justifiably denied his place back in Dream Theater and the band (after a long drawn out process) recruited former Extreme and Annihilator powerhouse Mike Mangini. Recent reports that Portnoy is now looking to sue his former band mates is casting yet another shadow over the Dream Theater camp, but if not more so over the ex-drummer himself. For this new album is the result of a band bravely marching on, leaving the past behind and embracing a new future. Perhaps their strong defiant approach has left Portnoy more than just a little bitter.

Eager fans will already know the opener On the Backs of Angels since it was released as an early album teaser. Our first glimpse of the new outfit is most impressive. A technically advanced yet musically enjoyable track, the opener proves to be one of the most satisfying Dream Theater tunes in recent years. Beautiful chiming clean guitars marry with the atmospheric keyboard pads and chugging riffs. Build Me Up, Break Me Down is also a success, presenting brutally heavy memorable riffs and catchy chorus lines.

Lost Not Forgotten sees the band return to the technical exploitation that they’ve become renowned for. The complex sections are perfect opportunities for Mangini to prove his worth, complementing shifting rhythmic patterns with his likeable, if not Portnoy-inspired style. Despite the instrumental virtuosity, the track fails to deliver on the melodic side. At ten minutes in length it falls victim of a tried and tested formula that the band have been milking to death over the last decade. Outcry and Breaking All Illusions contain further examples of this.

Bridges in the Sky is a more inspired musical venture. With an intro that contains Tibetan throat singing, harps, oriental chimes and a choir, the track sets itself up to be nothing short of epic. It doesn’t disappoint with the eleven minutes packing in quality riffs and melodies to make it easily one of the most playable tunes on the record. The inspiration is also found on the tender ballad Far From Heaven. The single-length song contains a believable performance from James LaBrie accompanied by piano and strings. A much more stripped-down song, it proves to be one of the album’s most enjoyable. Beneath the Surface has the same approach, the band proving that they can do just fine without a drummer at all.

If fans had any doubts that Dream Theater would struggle without Portnoy then they can breathe a sigh of relief. A Dramatic Change of Events contains some great material and much promise for where the band may grow with future releases. This is one of their more enjoyable records in recent years and a strong one at that.


Rating: [7/10]



1)      On the Backs of Angels

2)      Far From Heaven

3)      Bridges in the Sky


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 22/09/2011

Album Review: Black Clouds & Silver Linings – Dream Theater



Release: 2009

Artist: Dream Theater

Label: Roadrunner

Track Listing: 1) A Nightmare to Remember 2) A Rite of Passage 3) Wither 4) The Shattered Fortress 5) The Best of Times 6) The Count ofTuscany

Two years after releasing one of their greatest albums to date in Systematic Chaos (2007), Dream Theater attempt to build upon their recent run of impressive releases. Returning to a more gothic tone that hasn’t been fully exploited anywhere else other than on Train of Thought (2003), Black Clouds & Silver Linings is a much darker album than its predecessor.

The beginnings of A Nightmare to Remember reveal that LaBrie has returned to his snarly vocals that worked brilliantly on The Dark Eternal Night. There, he sounded remarkably like James Hetfield whereas here they’re not quite that extreme. Upon returning to his regular clean vocals later on it immediately feels more fitting – less forced. They return during a brilliant mellow section that manages to be uplifting, dramatic and catchy.

After the expected soloing from various band members, some rather unappealing ‘roars’ from Portnoy come into light. Unfortunately this doesn’t disappear here as it will come up again in various places of the album and they don’t sound too good. Perhaps they thought they would give the sound a bit of needed angst, or maybe they did intend it to be a bit of a joke; either way it kinda dents the seriousness of the music. However, the whole sound can relate to this with Rudess delivering some ‘haunted house’ style keyboard runs and Petrucci’s guitar mimicking the epic horror sounds. This opener clocks in at over sixteen minutes.

You can’t really describe anything by Dream Theater as being ‘commercial’, but A Rite of Passage feels like a single and it was to become the first off this record. It’s still lengthy at over eight minutes with the band attempting to recreate the magic of Pull Me Under albeit a tad heavier in places. A fine ballad follows, Wither bringing a temporary break to the tech-gothic theme in returning to the Dream Theater of old, think Another Day from Images and Words (1992) and you’ll have an idea of the musicality on show.

The second half contains three long journeys: The Shattered Fortress and The Best of Times are both around thirteen minutes and The Count of Tuscany stretches over nineteen. So if you like long and interesting tracks, this album is definitely for you. The band shows their Rush influences as well, in some cases a bit too much with the ending number containing YYZ moments that are a bit too inspired. The Count of Tuscany develops into the band’s latest epic venture that matches the genius of A Change of Seasons and Octavarium. A dreamy mid-section is an enjoyable slice of space rock, Rudess and Petrucci executing a much needed break from the technical madness.

Overall Black Clouds & Silver Linings is a good album. Dream Theater’s choice to go gothic has its ups and downs but the lengthy tunes are solid structures to be admired upon by all who care to listen. The compositions are technically amazing as always, however this time around there is less in the way of memorable tunes. The collector’s edition contains a disc of instrumental takes of the whole album which is very enjoyable, worth it for the lack of irritating roaring. The third disc however is yet another batch of rather uninspiring cover versions ranging from Rainbow to King Crimson (this doesn’t affect the album’s overall score).


Rating: [6/10]



1)      A Nightmare to Remember

2)      The Count ofTuscany

3)      Wither


Reviewed by: Daniel Aston, 16/01/2010