Released: Sep 23, 2013
Genre: Progressive Metal
Number Of Tracks: 9
What many have been awaiting, this is the debut album with new drummer, Mike Mangini, not only performing but taking part in the entire creative process for the album.
Dream TheaterFeatured review by: UG Team, on september 30, 2013 3 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: The self-titled twelfth studio album by Dream Theater, contains 9 tracks (one of which is a 22 minute monster) and runs at almost 70 minutes. The singles released from the album were "The Enemy Inside" on August 5th and "Along for the Ride" approximately one month later. There are two things that immediately stood out to me about the album – it is much more adventurous than there last several releases, and Mike Mangini is a seriously talented drummer. Mike Mangini makes a really strong creative outing, showing that John Petrucci and the gang made a good choice. Sure, Mike Portnoy was a beast on drums but he decided to leave and if someone has to replace him then Mike Mangini is proving to be a good choice. The album also contains an instrumental called "Enigma Machine," which is the first instrumental on a Dream Theater album in 10 years (if you don't count their "suite" tracks).
The album opens with "False Awakening Suite," which has a very epic feel and contains 3 separate movements titled "Sleep Paralysis," "Night Terrors" and "Lucid Dream." The next track, "The Enemy Inside," is where Mike Mangini really begins to shine on the album, with some heavy rhythm playing by Petrucci. "The Looking Glass" starts out with a melody that reminds me of some of Dream Theater's earlier work with Jordan Rudess providing a nice bed with his keyboard for the song to lie in. The next track, "Enigma Machine," is an instrumental piece that could be described as six minutes of the band showing off if the composition wasn't so formidable. "Enigma Machine" contains some really exciting soloing by Petrucci peppered with a few short bass solos by Myung. "The Bigger Picture" is an awesome heavy melancholy track, and in my opinion, a track where Mangini, Rudess and LaBrie really shine (as Mangini gets to show both his skill and constraint). "Behind the Veil" builds slowly, has a very creepy vibe, and the best guitar tones from the entire album. "Surrender to Reason" seems to come from the same creative place that a lot of the music of Rush comes from, but it is indisputably Dream Theater's take on that particular muse. "Along for the Ride" is a more subdued track than most from the album, but grew on me with more listens. The album closes out with the track "Illumination Theory," which is a massive 22 minute track, and seems to be doing something new every 30 seconds or so. The band has broken "Illumination Theory" into 5 parts: "Paradoxe de la Lumiere Noire," "Live, Die, Kill," "The Embracing Circle," The Pursuit of Truth," and "Surrender, Trust & Passion." // 9
Lyrics: James LaBrie has been one of the strongest vocalists in progressive metal for a long time, and he doesn't disappoint on this release. James LaBrie is a master of his craft, as the other members of Dream Theater, and he continues to prove it consistently from album to album. At some point James LaBrie's age will surely wear on his vocal performances, but it is not on this album. As a sample of the lyrics, here are a few from the track "Behind the Veil": "What would possess you to justify/ Such dark and twisted ways? / What kind of monster would come to feast/ When the devil shows his face? / What does it take for life to change/ And a mind to lose control? / Cruelly left you to suffer the blame/ After all the lies you told/ I am finding courage in my darkest hour/ I am bent, not broken/ Calling out/ Someone save me, look behind the veil/ Please don't walk away/ Someone save me, bring me home tonight/ I can't face another day." // 9
Overall Impression: The bottom line is that "Dream Theater" is one of my favorite albums by the band in a good while. The musicianship is flawless (as always), the composition is genius, the mixing is great, and Mike Mangini showed that he knows what he's doing. My favorite songs on the album are "Enigma Machine," "Behind the Veil," "Illumination Theory" and "The Looking Glass." After about my third listen through the album began to grow on me even more - so with the first listen I went from liking the album to by the third listen being convinced the album is something really special. This is one of the albums where a lot of thought and effort went into some masterful mixing and producing. You would be doing yourself a disservice if you don't listen to this album through some nice speakers or headphones. // 9
Mr Winters, on september 24, 2013 9 of 9 people found this review helpful
Sound: I've been listening to the new Dream Theater album almost non-stop for the past week and I'm going to sum up my impressions of it in one big statement: this is in my opinion the best album they've recorded since 2002's "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence."
It's got everything a DT fan should expect: complex drumming and riffs, big compositions and keyboard arrangements and trademark instrumental mastery. The album opens with "False Awakening Suite," a short instrumental track that sounds like a mashup of trailer music for fantasy and action movies, and then moves on to The Enemy Inside, which is fast, heavy and straight to the point. This song is representative of the album as a whole: it doesn't focus entirely on complexity and progressive craziness; these elements are present on the album, but this is no Awake or Metropolis 2 in that aspect. This album is complex and progressive, but at the same time it's catchy and accessible.
After "The Enemy Inside" we hear "The Looking Glass"' opening riff, which surely will remind some people of a certain prog rock band from Canada. Hell, the whole song and its instrumental section feel like a tribute to Rush. It's a short song that relies on a big chorus and a catchy riff that drives the entire piece. Not remarkable in any aspect, but it works and I'm sure it will be great for live performances.
The tribute to Rush ends and then begins one of the best, strongest pieces in the album. "Enigma Machine" is an instrumental track that's all about the heavy, the crazy and the dark side of Dream Theater. It opens with a haunting melody that transforms into a balls-to-the wall guitar intro which is then followed by a riff that sounds dark and nasty, like the whole song. Around the 1:40 mark begins one of my favorite parts in the entire album, where Rudess and Petrucci decide things need to get insane. The song contains some trademark keyboard and guitar soloing and there's also one crazy drum fill. Mike Mangini had to shine on this one too, after all.
"The Bigger Picture" feels like a song that was specifically designed to be played live. It's like a long power ballad, with its piano intro and its big chorus perfect for singing along and what not. A good song, but a bit weak in the context of the album.
"Behind the Veil" starts with some quiet ambient sounds and music but after a while it blasts off with some of the best riffing in the album. It's fast and heavy combined with slow and melodic. The instrumental part is in my opinion one of the best in the album, with a fantastic short solo by Jordan Rudess. This whole song sounds like something out of Images and Words.
"Surrender to Reason" contains a variety of different feels and atmospheres and features a nice instrumental section in which Petrucci goes noisey yet melodic over a fantastic bass groove. It's one of the few occasions where John Myung gets to shine, and while not especially technical, fast or complex, his playing works perfectly in this part of the song. The whole thing sounds like Liquid Tension Experiment.
"Along for the Ride" is the ballad that apparently every Dream Theater album requires. It's a nice little song where everything is soft and emotional and melancholic. Of course it wouldn't be a Dream Theater album without some doses of cheese, and this song, especially the keyboard solo, is that dose. The song itself is ok, but it's one of the weakest tracks in the album.
And then there's "Illumination Theory." A 22 minute monster that is like a mix of everything this album has to offer: huge keyboard arrangements, fast and heavy riffing, complex drumming and indstrumental gymnastics. It's got anything from heavy and almost thrashy to neoclassical to quiet and sad to groovy and psychedelic. It starts like a standard song with verse-chorus structure, then goes into an instrumental section followed by a spacey bit that then gives way to a string interlude. An interlude performed with actual strings, not just a keyboard. And then it's turn for James LaBrie to really shine. His presence in this song is minimal, but he really delivers his best performance in the second part of the song. What follow are three minutes of instrumental wizardry, an outro that reminds me of that in Octavarium, and then the song ends, as beautifully as it started. As a song that's composed of various parts it kinda feels like it lacks a clear structure and a theme (the string interlude feels somewhat out of place, especially), but it's amazingly well done and performed. By far the best track in the album.
I think there's some aspects which deserve a special mention. First of all, the bass. Man, that bass. You can hear it, and it sounds gorgeous. John Myung doesn't get many chances to really shine, but he doesn't need to shine with bass solos or anything like that when his tone is so great and you can hear his playing at almost all times. It's always nice to hear the bass among all that guitar and keyboard, especially when the guitar is played by John Petrucci.
I found the keyboards to be amazing at times, to disappointing in some other parts. There's nothing particularly wrong with Rudess in this album, it's just that I think he can do better. Some of his arrangements and solos in this album sound like they've been done before, and I think the best Rudess is that which tries to push the boundaries and do the craziest stuff. Now don't get me wrong, there are some parts in the album where the keyboard really kicks ass and the overall impression is not at all bad, but I would have loved to hear the adventurous and fun Jordan Rudess I heard in "Scenes From a Memory."
And then there's the drumming. Mike Mangini already played on Dream Theater's last album, but he played the parts that Petrucci wrote for him. In this album he had the chance to be creative and prove DT made the right decision when they chose him to replace Mike Portnoy, and boy, does it make a difference. The drumming is much, MUCH more interesting than in "ADTOE." From the groove in "The Enemy Inside" to the overall craziness of "Enigma Machine" to the instrumental sections of "Illumination Theory," Mike Mangini is always doing something to spice things up, in the entire album. Whether it's some fast and complex fill or variations of the main theme or the expected odd time signatures, he keeps things dynamic and interesting. Portnoy fanboys will hate, but the drumming in this album is great. // 8
Lyrics: I'm not going to comment much on the lyrics. Dream Theater were never known or admired for their lyrical prowess, anyway. These lyrics just work, but that's it. Some nice bits here and there, but nothing really special.
The singing, on the other hand, is great. James LaBrie's voice is not everyone's cup of tea and I'm aware that some people just can't stand him, but the man can sing, there's no denying that. He's of course not in his best shape, but he still delivers. His voice sounds rougher than usual in some parts, and he does some impressive high notes in the second half of "Illumination Theory" (here's hoping he can pull that off in a live performance). In general, the singing is pretty decent for Dream Theater standards. Not bad and not super good, just more than good enough overall. // 7
Overall Impression: I said at the beginning of the review that this is the best album they've recorded since 2002. "Scenes From a Memory" and "Six Degrees..." are my two favorite DT albums, and this one is quickly earning the bronze medal. I think this album tries to combine the heavy and metallic sound of the latest records (from "Train of Thought" to "Black Clouds") with the more progressive aspects of classic Dream Theater. The final result may not be a total progfest like previous albums, but it's still a great blend of metal and prog and a damn good album in terms of instrumental and songwriting capabilities. A solid 8 that could be a 9 if it weren't for a couple underwhelming songs.
If this is the way the new Dream Theater is going to sound from now on, then I believe I'm along for the ride. // 8
toxin9, on october 03, 2013 2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: The first album with mike Mangini being a part of the creative process from day 1... I don't know what about you guys, but I was really curious what it would be like to hear dream theater writing as a band again, with a new drummer this time. The new album is filled with monster riffs, and also great melodies, side by side. The guitar fills the mix and delivers a great sound from the heavy to the melodic and gentle moments. Also I have to say that LaBrie's singing on the album is absolutely unbelievable, it's powerful and emotional in a way most singers just can't get across and deliver that kind of emotion to the listener. And let's not forget the drums: (besides the snare sound that isn't liked by many) the drums are very dominant in the mix and mike's interpretation to the drum parts that should be played are very intuitive and strong. He is an amazing drummer and even though the fill is different from Portnoy's drumming it's very cool and powerful. The keyboards on this album weren't as dominant as they usually are but still contributed a lot to the sound of the album and the band in general and there were a lot of bass breaks and moments where the bass has been enhanced and that very cool and something they didn't do in a while. // 9
Lyrics: I have to say that after really listening to the lyrics and reading it I was speechless. The lyrics of John Petrucci is some of the best lyrics they have ever made and the one song John Myung wrote was also very moving and original. It's lines like: "Long before the colors start to bleed, I can see the painting come alive... You look but cannot see. Talk but never speak, You live but cannot breathe, See but don't believe..." Or: "Passion glows within your heart Like a furnace burning bright Until you struggle through the dark You'll never know the joy in life..." And many others that give me chills just hearing them, making the songs even more epic then they are. // 10
Overall Impression: This album is a really good one, every song could be made a single before the release and every song is flawless. The only thing I didn't like was the length and the concept to just sticking to concise song forms that takes the song to the 6 minute mark. I would have loved it if the album was longer... But beside that I think this album is a great one and that it makes perfect sense to do a self-titled in this point of their career. The last one: a dramatic turn of events was the writing of a "safe" album with the regular songs everyone know from dream theater and there was no room for experimenting because they had to prove that they're not different after Portnoy's departure. In this one they did experiment because it was time to go back to the way every album was made: writing live as a band and experimenting with the sound and musical direction of the album. I also think that dream theater hasn't changed that much after Portnoy was gone, because even though he was in many ways the leader of the band his contribution MUSICALLY is only arrangements and style. He didn't actually write and riffs for the band so the sound didn't change that much because the true music writers of the band: John Petrucci and Jordan Ruddess didn't leave so the sound just keeps evolving from album to album like it would have with Portnoy in the band... This album is great and I recommend to everyone to buy a copy and support the band! // 10
Filipe.mota89, on october 07, 2013 1 of 3 people found this review helpful
Sound: Well, let's start by saying that for me, this albums has the best of each DT album. The production overall it's really cool, even in a low quality audio you can distinguish the instruments. Of course that some parts are a bit confusing but in a high quality audio like the album you really enter in the studio (using headphones of studio. The guitar sounds amazing through the whole album, it just had the perfect tone. The rhythms are perfectly well balanced and equalized, the solos are not too high but very distinguishable, the clean guitar sounds are crystal clear and very high quality. It looks that John Petrucci, decided to let the acoustic guitar staying on top of the electric guitar itself. The reason of this huge sound and very clear overdrive sounds might be linked to the new John Petrucci Music Man model JP13 which includes new pickups from DiMarzio, called Illuminator Bridge and Neck pickups along with Piezo Pickups on the bridge. On the keyboard (I'm sorry to starting with this two instruments first, but they are the most audible instruments on the album...), Jordan Rudess outstands himself once again delivering an intense library of Sounds from the Spectrasonic's Omnisphere VST plugins along with Vienna Symphonic String Library, CineSamples, Hevyocity Damage, also with his Wizdom Music Company's Geo Synthesizer, Alchemy, Dream Voices, and a lot of great VST's that deliver the Dream Theater Keyboard signature along with the technique and professionalism of Mr. Jordan himself and his amazing ability on the keyboard. Out of his musical mind came the idea of the strings sessions that we hear in some tracks (detailed further on the text), and his invitation for an young protégé of his called Eren Basbug, who conducted an orchestra, so when you hear this strings, know that they are real strings playing through some amazing melodies.
On the drums we have Mr. Mike Mangini along with his mathematical time signatures and astonishing breaks and rhythms. In here we can hear Mike "The Machine" Mangini giving an impeccable work on the drums making the band choice for Portnoy's substitute worth and well placed.
In this album we hear the bass through the whole albums with some highlights on some songs in the album, we even have mini-solos from Mr. John Myung. And for the last but not the least, we have the amazing vocal work from James LaBrie, giving to the listener a bit of everything that he has done in Dream Theater. Namely, melodic tones, soft melodies, high-notes, etc.
So, let's analyze track-by-track.
1. "The False Awakening Suite" - This song opens up for the album with a huge effect on a VST plugin that drives us into an Epic rhythm surrounded with open chords from John Petrucci and John Myung with a solid drumbeat from the Mike Mangini that's letting us know when the song changes from the part "I. Sleep Paralysis" to "II. Night Terrors" and at last to "III. Lucid Dream." The idea of the song was to be an opener for a gig and it's really well done and full of charismatic rhythms and breaks.
2. "The Enemy Inside" - This is a regular heavy tune from Dream Theater, reminding us a bit of "Train of Thought" era. The song involves a dramatic psychological conflict of post-trauma of war. The song is a solid tune with a highly complex riff of a 7th string guitar followed by a Megadeth type of riff that opens to the verse where James LaBrie voice gives a certain soft vibe to the song. The solo is the climax of the song where Petrucci's ability revives the memory of his complex style. The song ends with a high note from LaBrie's line saying "The Enemy Inside" filled with a very metal rhythm on the drums, guitar and bass. A very catchy chorus on this song.
3. "The Looking Glass" - this one reminds me of "Awake"'s "Innocence Faded" a bit. It has that '90s vibe attached to it. The song has a very cool melody from top to bottle with very cool lyrics talk about how younger people act like famous people on Facebook, Tumblr, blogs and all of those social networks...
The solo is really cool with only but melody and some few tricky stuff on the guitar. Behind the solo we have the bass playing a really cool rhythm which audible even on a cell phone speaker. This is one the bass highlighted moments. It also has a master trick on production on the chorus which is really well placed in my opinion, we have a delay effect on vocals singing "digging up a gold mine...". I think that's really cool on the song.
4. "The Enigma Machine" - in here we have a funny sound on the keyboard entering a great section of power chords followed by time changing break that leads into a TV Theme type riff (something in between "Pink Panther" and "Inspector Gadget" kind of thing...). For people who sit hearing a song and waiting for the solo to arrive, they don't have to wait here. This song is a truly battle of solos by John Petrucci, Jordan Rudess and even John Myung mini-solos on the bass. The song twists and turns with solos and rhythms and a fantastic break that look like that it's pulled from a TV cartoon or Film and then goes back to the beginning where it ends.
5. "The Bigger Picture" - This is one of the soft and cool songs on the album. It has this really melodic rhythm on the piano followed the amazing vocals of James LaBrie where you can hear his emotions floating on the song. The solo is a very melodic highlight of the song but the vocals is the center of this song.
6. "Behind the Veil" - This song has a real vibe from the '90s vibe too. It also has a bass highlighted part. The lyrics are very intense and talks about kidnapping and kidnapping point of view. The song has a cool solo that repeats itself on the end.
7. "Surrender to Reason" - This song has a vibe from the '90s too, but more to the "Falling Infinity" era... This song is about life and life meanings. It starts with a cool chord progression followed by an acoustic section of strumming chords. The melody is very remarkable and it drives to a climax near the end where it also ends with the same riff that starts the song.
8. "Along for the Ride" - This song starts with an odd acoustic riff that reminds me of classic music (don't know why...) this drives the song into a recent memory from "A Dramatic Turn of Events" tune "Beneath the Surface" by the melody and by the synth solo that has the same preset that was used on "Beneath the Surface." Which don't make the song worse or better. The song is very cool, has a mini guitar solo and a very cool rhythm. This was the second single of the album released nearly a month after "The Enemy Inside."
8. "The Illumination Theory" - This song is monster. It's 22 minute epic song. Illumination Theory stands in stark contrast to the mediocre, uninspiring trash masquerading as music that popular culture tries to sell us. The song starts out with the part "I. Paradoxe à Lá Lumiér Noire"; part "II. Live, Die, Kill"; "III. The Embracing Circle"; "IV. The Pursuit Of Truth" and the last part "V. Surrender, Trust & Passion." The song starts with a floor drum opening to a huge section of guitar open chords involved with a strings section melody that has an awesome epic vibe. After this section, follows a great Megadeth type of riff again that leads the song into a whole solid track that has it all, aggression, melody and a typical metal pattern. Later comes a section with solos and really complex parts followed by a break of nearly a minute that leads into a fantastic epic string session preformed once again by the orchestra invited to record in the album. After a special effect sound of an airplane crashing enters a solid bass and drum part with a really cool lyrics entering "Mothers for their children/Husbands for their wives/Martyrs for the kingdom/Fighting for your life." The song starts to end with a beautiful melody with lyrics that ends up with a very powerful line saying: "Until you struggle through the dark You'll never know the joy in life." After this comes a solo again very melodic and complex. The songs ends after a minute of silence and Dream Theater tags out with an awesome melody on a piano and guitar following. // 10
Lyrics: When you start to read the lyrics you'll find out that the lyrics have a message incorporated that teach us something. Like, defeating the greatest enemies of all times - our fears. To appreciate life; to face our problems to understand that we're all in this world together; fighting and dying for a cause; criticizes the nowadays society but in a way of correction.
All of the lyrics have a meaning. All of the lyrics are the typical Dream Theater style of lyrics. For the fans that like surreal stories and stuff like that you'll find that in this album the lyrics are realistic. There's a whole concept to the album and it has really good identify lyrics for every each one of us. // 9
Overall Impression: "Dream Theater" is one of the best works in the Dream Theater's carrier. This album gathers a pieces of old albums, especially on the sounds and sections of songs.
"The False Awakening Suite" reminds me a bit of "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence"; "The Enemy Inside" reminds me of "Train of Thought"; "The Looking Glass" reminds me of "Awake" and "Images and Words"; "Enigma Machine" reminds a lot of "Scenes From A Memory" by it's TV/Theatrical genre of music; "The Bigger Picture" is the type of song that would fit perfectly on "Octavarium"; "Behind the Veil" reminds the "Awake" album too; "Surrender to Reason" reminds me of "Falling Into Infinity"; "Along for the Ride" reminds of the previous album; "The Illumination Theory" seems like a fusion of "Black Clouds and Silver Linings" with "A Change of Seasons" and "Octavarium." It's just these kind of sets in particularly that when you listen to their previous works you'll find similarities on each and every one.
For people who don't know the bands work, I suggest this album for starting. And of course later on, the discography of the band. For people who like music it has it all.
No words to describe it more than: Dream Theater. // 10
alees68851, on september 25, 2013 0 of 2 people found this review helpful
Sound: Was it really 2 years ago that Dream Theater entered the post Mike Portnoy era and released "A Dramatic Turn of Events"? With Mangini on board, Dream Theater shattered rumors that they might disband, and solidified their status as prog metal masters by confirming they were in for the long haul. The influential concept metal masters release their 12th studio album, their first in 1989, and drummer Mike Mangini's second album since joining in 2011.
From Petrucci's ultra efficient, flawless guitar to Myung's inventive fingering, every musician in the band gets time to shine. A hurricane of heavy, arpeggiated duels and mesmerizing time changes feature in musical mayhem madness. But it is not just who can play the most notes. They have the ability to take that power and make an elegant set of masculine and heroic masterpieces.
Opener "False Awakening Suite" is a brief three sectioned ("I. Sleep Paralysis," "II. Night Terrors," "III. Lucid Dream") cinematic near-instrumental with twinned guitars from Petrucci and keyboard riffs from Rudess. From the first track, it is clear that we are in for an explosive ride.
After Portnoy laid down the drum tracks in "A Dramatic Turn of Events," this is Mangini's first chance to be creative. "The Enemy Inside" shows he has few mortal equals and is a fast paced, stand out track. "The Looking Glass" is influenced by Rush but moves beyond its crunchy intro into an intricate web of time changes, tight melodic rock riffs and invincible vocals, and will have DT fans thinking back to "Images and Words" released in 1992. "The Enigma Inside" is a 6 minute guitar masterclass from Petrucci, featuring some Portnoy style drumming. Virtuosic piano arrangements start "The Bigger Picture" off, before a steady guitar interlude takes over. This is definitely the slower song on the album, but is emphatic in its own way. "Behind the Veil" reveals itself slowly, but to punishing guitar riffs pounding bass lines and proof yet again that LaBrie's vocals show no sign of weakening.
Acoustic lead "Surrender to Reason" is reminiscent of 1997's "Falling Into Infinity" and has a hint of "Subdivisions" by Rush. It ends with a really groovy rock section, with funky bass line by Myung. Radio friendly "Along for the Ride" is similar to track 5, "The Bigger Picture" as they are both easy songs designed to hook in new listeners and are rather disappointing.
All this leads up to the astronomical 22 minute epic finale "Illumination Theory." Every second of this track is phenomenal and epitomizes everything we seem to know about Dream Theater, and their creativity. It's packed with face melting jams, and forests of progressive majesty and is a progressive metal jewel where every instrument is utilized tremendously. The song can be broken down into 5 parts ("I. Paradoze de la Lumiere Noire," "II. Live, Die, Kill," "III. The Embracing Circle," "IV. The Pursuit Of Truth," "V. Surrender, Trust & Passion"). // 8
Lyrics: "The Enemy Inside" is lyrical genius by LaBrie, and the meaning of the song will grab a lot of people. Released as a single, DT have created a conceptual video showing the torment of a soldier reintegrating with normal life whilst suffering with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Petrucci told Billboard that: "the topic of ptsd really seemed to fit the song as it is fast paced with machine gun style riffs which makes you feel anxious, perfectly matching the theme and song." Final track "Illumination Theory" draws on real life questions and gets us all thinking "Consider this question, Look deep inside, Deliver a true confession, What are you willing to live for?" I think the album has quite powerful lyrics, aimed at drawing in new listeners by singing about engaging topics. If you think LaBrie's vocals would have declined, then you'd be wrong, as he produces a solid vocal performance.
Overall Impression: There maybe other prog metal outfits out there, that blend dazzling crunchy riffs with swirling strings and dramatic keyboards creating musical prowess, but DT are still considered lords of the genre. Being one of the progenitors of the early progressive metal genres, DT have been the most consistent metal band of its generation.
Overall, this is a prog metal show piece done by the best in the genre. If you were worried that Mangini's couldn't fill Portnoy's shoes, he shows outstanding technical ability, and really drives some songs. He adds a new flavor to the band, whilst being previously influenced by Portnoy. // 8