A Dramatic Turn Of Events Review

artist: Dream Theater date: 09/14/2011 category: compact discs
Dream Theater: A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Released: Sep 13, 2011
Genre: Progressive Rock
Label: Roadrunner
Number Of Tracks: 9
The departure of veteran drummer Mike Portnoy might have troubled fans, but the new Dream Theater album continues to deliver the wow factor.
 Sound: 8.4
 Lyrics: 7.7
 Overall Impression: 8.4
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overall: 8.7
A Dramatic Turn Of Events Featured review by: UG Team, on september 14, 2011
7 of 7 people found this review helpful

Sound: If you have been a Dream Theater devotee over the past few decades, the departure of drummer and founder Mike Portnoy undoubtedly left an unsettling feeling. Would the band's sound be altered now that one of the best drummers in the rock world decided to pursue other projects? Well, after delving into the 11th studio release A Dramatic Turn of Events, the verdict is in: Fans can rest easy. There is no shortage of the trademark Dream Theater sound, and if anything, it sounds like guitarist John Petrucci and keyboardist Jordan Rudess took it up a notch. New drummer Mike Mangini handily controls the ever-changing time signatures, which come across just as complex as ever.

The album's most engaging aspect is its diversity, at least in terms of Dream Theater's usual repertoire. In moments the band could be considered very nearly metal (Bridges in the Sky) and in the next it seems that sentimentality is at the core of the songwriting (Far From Heaven). It should also be mentioned that vocalist James LaBrie is 100 percent the vocalist this time around, with the slightly annoying back-and-forth between he and a yelling Portnoy (if you recall Constant Motion) being a distant memory.

If you're looking for the jaw-dropping technical prowess (not that any of the tracks lack this quality), take a listen to Lost But Not Forgotten and Outcry. The latter at times is almost a frantic overload of riffage from Petrucci, but if you're a guitarist who appreciates skill, you'll eat it all up. Lost But Not Forgotten is particularly fascinating because it manages to create this hybrid of neo-classical shapes with almost a mechanical delivery. Ah, but it doesn't stop there. There are instances where there are jazz sections and some fantastic guitar harmonies orchestrated by Petrucci.

Build Me Up, Break Me Down comes very close to being an all-out industrial song, and although that's not a typical genre for Dream Theater, it works. Petrucci throws in some juicy grooves and subtle pinch harmonics here and there to add a nice contrast. Bridges in the Sky feels like it's tailor-made for a exorcism-themed film, so expect plenty of ominous voices and haunting chants. After a compelling, cinematic intro, Petrucci dives right into some of his most metal riff work on the album.

One might expect every song on a Dream Theater album to feature at least one or two elaborate solos, but there is definitely a stripped-down aspect to some of the latest record. Far From Heaven and Beneath The Surface are restrained, solemn ballads that are beautifully tasteful through and through. The strong vocals of LaBrie (along with a subtle piano or synth backing from Rudess) are all those tracks needed to strike a chord, and the band wisely allowed the emotions to reign. // 9

Lyrics: While this could have easily been a way to spit venom at Portnoy for leaving, there is not an overabundance of negativity in the lyrical content. Even a song like Build Me Up, Break Me Down might seem possibly aimed at the former drummer, but the band has pretty much said that the record really wasn't directed at him in the end. There is a pensive, passionate approach to quite a bit of the material, whether it's a dramatic call to battle in Outcry or exploring self-doubt in Far From Heave (Every day I struggle through it once more; Keep things bottled up; Never speaking my mind; Misinterpreted). And of course, LaBrie's vocal range certainly lends to each song's message. // 8

Overall Impression: Dream Theater does throw in quite a few different musical genres within the course of one record, but that cauldron of styles usually is always backed up by the band's trademark sound. If you love Dream Theater, A Dramatic Turn of Events shouldn't disappoint unless you plan on nitpicking the differences between Mangini and Portnoy. There are tracks that might be a little too technical and spastic for some ears, but in the end the band has proven that they are more than capable of carrying on without its founding member. // 9

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overall: 7.7
A Dramatic Turn Of Events Reviewed by: UG Team, on september 14, 2011
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: A Dramatic Turn of Events' is the 11th studio album released by Dream Theater and will be the first album featuring the work of drummer Mike Mangini after founding member Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater in September of 2010. Mike Mangini came in to the album after it had been written was given demos of the songs on the album with pre-programmed drums to learn and was allowed to add/embellish to some extent when recording. The album was written, recorded, mixed and mastered between January and June 2011. John Petrucci acted as producer as well as guitars and backing vocals. There are nine tracks on A Dramatic Turn of Events' and the album clocks in at almost 80 minutes. I listened to On the Backs of Angels' as soon as it was released as a single and I was excited for the release of this album. Listening to it, the keyboard and guitar parts are huge, and the song was musically interesting throughout. The only thing negative I thought was wondering if the drums were mixed just a little too low. This single really got my blood pumping to hear the full album. The guitar tone is absolutely amazing throughout the album and the song structures stay interesting musically. The production and mixing is very polished, but this is a good thing in this instance. The production and mixing really come across like a well finished product instead of being over polished. The guitar solos are very interesting melodically and tastefully done. On occasion the music sounds just a little too busy to me (and I like prog and shred) and that does detract from the album just a little bit. // 7

Lyrics: The lyrics are well written, and about what you expect from Dream Theater. There is nothing really new, unexpected or groundbreaking about the lyrics - but they are very solid. The vocal delivery is well done and where it should be in the mix. I'll be honest I'm not a huge fan of James LaBrie's voice. I usually like vocalists with a lot of character in their voice, and while James LaBrie's voice is really excellent it sounds mildly generic to me. It does however fit well in the tapestry of each song without detracting from the musicianship displayed. If I was rating this by my personal taste I would probably rate a 6, but instead I will rate based off of the skill and intelligence of the vocals and lyrics. // 8

Overall Impression: There were several times during the album where I felt like I was listening to the soundtrack to an anime, and you can take that as a good or bad thing. A Dramatic Turn of Events' is not as heavy as some of the other recent releases by Dream Theater but instead sounds like what it is prog rock. This is not music to work out to it isn't quite heavy enough. I could see myself listening to this while working, or cutting grass or even possibly while reading. Of course, being Dream Theater the music is slightly cerebral while remaining enjoyable to listen to. John Petrucci is, as always, an impressive musician in both composition and execution. I'm not a huge Mike Portnoy fan, but his leaving did have some impact on the sound. This isn't so much his playing which I don't especially miss but I do feel like the drums are mixed at a level a notch or two too low and I hope this is corrected in the next release by Dream Theater. I'm eager to hear more from Mike Mangini and hope to hear him really grow into his role with Dream Theater. // 8

- Brandon East (c) 2011

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overall: 8
A Dramatic Turn Of Events Reviewed by: SawGuru, on september 14, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: This album definitely goes back to the sound Dream Theater started with. Taking pieces from each of their previous albums, it is a lovely mix of old and new for any Dream Theater fan. While Portnoy is missed on this album, Mangini does well to fill in the gaps. It'll be fun to hear what he can write with the band, as Mangini did not get any writing on this album (the drum tracks were written/programmed by Petrucci then recorded by Mangini). Songs like 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down' and 'Lost Not Forgotten' seem like they could've been lifted directly from the 'Train of Thought' sessions. However, other tracks showcase pieces from the past and their influences, such as 'On the Backs of Angels,' which has sounds similar to everything from 'Images and Words' up to 'Black Clouds and Silver Linings' with a heavy Rush influence in pieces of the composition. While the music is of the caliber to be expected from the band, I believe they truly step up on this album. Tracks such as 'Bridges in the Sky' have a haunting presence thanks to Ruddess's writing. On many of the tracks, Myung is able to be heard clearly in a way that also lends to the dark undertones. One track that stands out above the rest is 'Outcry.' The track hits many different areas, and allows for each band member to showcase their talents, from LaBrie's vocals, to the guitar/keyboard/bass solos, down the Mangini playing the most challenging track on the album. In short, this album follows a very diverse musical structure that I can only compare to the emotional turns of 'Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory.' The irony in this (likely intentional) is that 'Scenes' started a pattern that is complete with this album. 'Scenes' had nine tracks, 'Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence' housed six, and 'Train of Thought' held nine. 'Octavarium' was the middle piece with eight tracks, before the pattern reversed. 'Systematic Chaos' had seven tracks, 'Black Clouds' following with six, and now, 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' ending the cycle with nine. This completes the theme of the middle album, 'Octavarium,' that all things end where they begin. I think it's genius that this was not only done in track amounts, but in album sound and structure ('Scenes' and 'A Dramatic Turn of Events'). // 9

Lyrics: The lyrics on this album are what would be expected from Dream Theater. The lyrics do seem a little more personal than they have in the past; however, the themes and flow are nothing new. LaBrie's voice is still very distinguishable, and his melodies fit well with the tracks. Certain tracks take on a dark tone, as mentioned before, and LaBrie does well to balance the dark sound of the song without compromising the smoothness of his voice. He rarely has any growling moments like what was showcased between him and Portnoy on the previous albums. His vocals on 'Far From Heaven' are the shining point of the album for his singing. Throughout the album, he is in typical Dream Theater form, but this track takes him a step above the rest. His lyrics are strong and very heartfelt on this track, and show that LaBrie is capable of contributing solid lyrics to the Dream Theater catalog. Not far behind this track is the closing ballad, 'Beneath the Surface.' // 7

Overall Impression: Overall, this is a great album. It's definitely a grower. 'Black Clouds and Silver Linings' had an immediate effect and was easy to embrace. The changes in this album separate it well from 'Black Clouds' and as such, it takes time to immerse oneself in. However, in time, this will be considered one of Dream Theater's most accomplished albums due to it's implementation of the past and present states of the band, along with a diverse musical structure (not too focused on metal, or too focused on prog, or too focused on ballads). The blend helps tell where Dream Theater has been, where they are today, and where they plan to be tomorrow. // 8

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overall: 8.3
A Dramatic Turn Of Events Reviewed by: Hammerzeit, on september 14, 2011
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: A Dramatic Turn of Events, progressive metal titans Dream Theater's 11th opus, represents their maiden voyage sans founder member and long-time drummer Mike Portnoy. I'm sure you've all heard the fairytale by now so I am not going to bore you with it again. All that needs be said is that whatever water has flowed under the bridge over the past year, it has done nothing but galvanise this band. A Dramatic Turn of Events (henceforth ADToE) is unashamedly a Dream Theater record and this return to their roots is nothing less than refreshing. At almost 80 minutes in length, this is a long album but it simply doesn't drag at all. The pacing is spot on. Theatrical choir patches on opener On the Backs of Angels set the album on its way and the momentum never drops. The peaks are as strong as the troughs and just about every song has its moment. Bridges in the Sky', which contains probably the pick of the riffs on the album, is every bit as good as The Glass Prison' and the ethereal This is The Life' could easily go toe to toe with the bands better ballads such as Hollow Years'. If you want technical expertise, then the driving Lost Not Forgotten', Outcry's' schizophrenic mid-section and the imperious Breaking All Illusions' all pack it in abundance without there ever being an instance where an instrumental section is formulaic or completely overstays its welcome. The lack of awkward transitions between sections is nice too. The decision to close with an introspective ballad proves another masterstroke; Beneath the Surface' comes out of nowhere, is simply beautiful and is a fitting end to the album. It's noticeable for the first time in a while that seems like all instrumental aspects of the band are functioning to their full capability too. John Myung is audible once more and possibly the best compliment I can pay new sticksman Mike Mangini is that you barely notice anything different. He fits the band that well. The album seems more thought out than previous efforts. The ever majestic John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess' interplay seems less forced and and more considered, with the latter channeling Kevin Moore in contributing significantly more melodic and memorable lead lines and the former proving that he is a both a riff factory and a supremely consistent soloist all rolled into one. Granted, ADToE is not without its flaws. Build Me Up, Break Me Down' sounds more like Disturbed than a Dream Theater song ever should, the belches that book-end Bridges In The Sky' are downright ridiculous and Outcry', despite all its instrumental meandering and one particularly powerful riff, is almost too much at times, doesn't really go anywhere and is probably, lyrically speaking, is probably the weakest song on the album. There's also a great deal of self-referencing going on here: On The Backs of Angels' shares a structure with Pull Me Under', Lost Not Forgotten's' guitar solo, chorus, outro and large part of its general structure are semi-interchangeable with Under A Glass Moon' and Outcry' tries so, so hard to replicate Metropolis pt.1's insane dynamics without ever really managing to do so. That said, I'd rather Dream Theater copy Dream Theater than Dream Theater copy any other band and to their credit, they stay very true to themselves here. // 9

Lyrics: Lyrically and vocally, ADToE stands head and shoulders above recent efforts. Petrucci's lyrics don't go anywhere near the cringeworthy depths they have plumbed in recent years and his lyrics on tear-jerking closer Beneath the Surface' are a genuine highlight. Even John Myung gets another long awaited stab at contributing lyrically and Breaking All Illusions', co-written with Petrucci, is every bit as poetic as Learning to Live' or Trial of Tears'. James LaBrie sounds more convincing than he has in decades, delivering soaring chorus after soaring chorus (Breaking All Illusions and Bridges in the Sky being the most impressive) whilst supplementing the album's softer moments with appropriate melodrama. Every song plays to his strengths and apart from the last minute of Beneath the Surface', LaBrie never sounds strained, representing a massive return to form. // 8

Overall Impression: On the whole then, A Dramatic Turn of Events is a mighty good effort and much better than recent albums which have been afforded hype which has only died down shortly after release. Everything you want from a Dream Theater record is present and correct. Is it a classic? I'd suggest not but there's still some great music on offer here. Does it sound stuck in the same formulaic rut as the last couple of DT releases? Not at all. Is it a triumph? You bet it is. Make sure you pick this up. Acquire: Bridges In The Sky, Beneath The Surface, Breaking All Illusions // 8

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overall: 8.3
A Dramatic Turn Of Events Reviewed by: IAmTwisted, on september 14, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Dream Theater returns with new drummer Mike Mangini after the departure of Mike Portnoy in 2010. A Dramatic Turn Of Events' is the bands eleventh studio album to date, and was produced by the guitarist of the band, John Petrucci. In typical Dream Theater style this album is filled with massive prog songs and plenty of blistering guitar solos that truly take your breath away. The drums excel throughout the album. I'd even be inclined to say that Mangini is a better drummer than Portnoy. Mangini harnesses his full prowess as a drummer and batters through the songs with incredible agility, but still manages to control himself when another member of the band is showing their talents. The album sounds simply sublime, especially when compared to the other bands out there. The vocals do tend to flail slightly in certain songs, but James LaBrie manages to recuperate himself and continue on with another melodic phrase. The stand out track on the album is most likely Build me up, Knock me down. The riffs during this song are tight and tasty, whilst the lyrics fit seamlessly into the song. Although it is common for Dream Theater songs to be exponentially long, some of the track lengths are intimidating and can be quite off putting for some first time listeners. // 8

Lyrics: The lyrics are similar in style to the band's previous installments, but the melodies that LaBrie employs fit perfectly into the riffs and beat. However, as previously aforementioned there are times where the vocals sound slightly off, specifically during Build me up, break me down, during the chorus. There are some backing screams that don't seem to fit in well with the guitar. Regardless, these anomalies are quickly forgotten and lost within the masterpiece that is this album. // 8

Overall Impression: This is a crisp and fresh album that can only be described as a fresh breath of air into the current music industry. Mike Portnoys depature has certainly not hindered the bands progression. If anything you'll be forgetting Portnoy after this album. As a critic, I tried to poke holes in the album, but as it turns out, this album is truly monumental. As mentioned earlier, the only thing that could hinder the albums success is the length of some of the songs, but despite this, I highly doubt anyone is going to be that bothered by the length of the songs when they actually hear the, quite frankly, fantastic, epic, momentous sound of this album. // 9

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overall: 8.7
A Dramatic Turn Of Events Reviewed by: Bluesmetalguy, on september 14, 2011
0 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Dream Theater is having their first release since the departure of band leader Mike Portnoy and to be frank, when I heard Portnoy was gone, I thought Dream Theater was over. Yet they are not! Instead they have come back with one of their greatest efforts to date! Mike Mangini helped bring the band back to his life and his drum work more than compensates for the missing Portnoy. A Dramatic Turn of Events is quite literally a dramatic turn of events for Dream Theater as it brings them back to their old more melodic proggy roots making this almost more of a Rhapsody of Fire type record. Yet this album has so much more than other Dream Theater releases. The guitars balance loud and soft while featuring some really sweet riffs. The solos are typical Dream Theater with some blazingly fast solos. In addition the bass is powerful and has some exceptionally solid lines on this album really driving the music along. The newest member of DT does a very good job on the drums perfectly meeting all of the chops required to play on a DT record. The keyboards are beautiful and symphonic as is the norm with DT but there are still some impressive piano solos in there too. Then the vocals of LaBrie are up to par as usual with the same epic DT lyrics. The guitar work on this record goes back to the more melodic side of Dream Theater. This album is not as heavy as the past few Dream Theater releases but it has easily 3 times the technicality and atmosphere. One only needs to hear the intro solo to On The Backs of Angels to realize that this is going to be an amazing guitar album. The shift from epic intro solo to brutal (for DT) riff is excellent and really helps to get the album going. The solos on this record are brilliant and they are plentiful. Almost every song has some form of extended solo and it helps keep the album melodic. Admittedly this does get a bit frustrating after a while and some bits are probably extraneous. Yet there are times when Petrucci back up and play simpler acoustic passages like in the intro to This is The Life and this adds a very nice feel of contrast to the music. Suffice to say from a simply guitar perspective this album is brilliant. The bass on this record is really impressive too. From the huge bass line from On the Backs of Angels to the solid finish at the end of Beneath The Surface the bass has a huge part on this record. There is a huge amount of bass on this record and that helps it become that much heavier and that much more solid. However I wish that the bass got a few extra unique fills instead of repetitive follow the lead guitar type stuff. The drums are really well done, almost, too good. Mangini really takes DT to a whole new level with his drum work. He perfectly balances hard powerful drumming techniques with lighter more gentle parts nicely fitting the pattern of DT's music. Yet the whole time he drives the music on. A key example of this is fond in the track Build Me Up, Break Me Down where the solid bass drum line keeps the music powerful and driven. The keyboards of Jordan Rudess show off some real chops on record. A key example of this is on Lost, Not Forgotten a frenetic keyboard driven track filled with some amazing piano parts that really add on to the music. Yet Rudess is not all about the crazy technical piano parts there are definitely some tracks where he goes into symphonic mode like in the track Outcry where the entire song is layered by his great pianos. Finally the majority of the intros on this record are somehow piano based and this gives a really nice feel to the beginnings of many of the songs. I do feel though that some of the bits are a bit to tweedly and a bit overused making some bits of songs eventually dull. In short, Rudess shows great technical skill on this album yet proves that he can still pull back and play background stuff. // 9

Lyrics: The vocals of John Labrae are pretty standard for Dream Theater yet for me they are sufficiently soulful and beautiful to hold up against the test of time. Labrae's vocals reach power metal heights at times yet they always come back to their roots in the technical ecstasy of Dream Theater's music. Labrae really cuts off his metal edge on this records and goes straight back to the old days giving DT the most real sound they've had in years. The lyrics are varied but there are definitely some good themes in the tracks. One of my favorites is Far From Heaven a song about the miseries of being on earth. All in all this is a very solid album vocally. // 8

Overall Impression: To finish, this is one of the greatest Dream Theater albums ever. This album has all that makes DT an amazing melodic band and takes out the meh metal element that has been invading their sound in recent years. This album is a return to the basics for Dream Theater with simpler riffs and more melodic solos. With Portnoy gone the band feels a lot more free in their tone and the music profits greatly. So the verdict, this record is sick, go buy it. If you like my stuff please check out my site Twoguysmetalreviews.blogspot.com // 9

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overall: 7.7
A Dramatic Turn Of Events Reviewed by: naw2, on july 16, 2012
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: There is not much to say about this album in terms of sound. If you know Modern Dream Theater you know it's going to have a mixture of technical wizardry on all instruments, heavy riffing and juxtaposition between Progressive Instrumental sections and hugely melodic chorus's. It's the sound that the band has become famous for in the 2000's. It is a sound that is so ingrained that the arrival of new drummer Mike Mangini hasn't made much of a difference. It sounds like I am hating on the sound but I am not. If I did have a nit pick, and since I am reviewing the album critically, I do, I would have to say that it has become such a staple sound you do wonder if they have any space to create anything out of this comfort zone, like they did when they made "Metropolis Pt 2" as a response to their previous works up to that point. And this begs the question; with the familiar sound and the loss of one of the founding members does this album deserve it's place in the Dream Theater back catalouge? One thing I am happy to see coming back is a larger emphasis on John Myung's bass. In the last two albums I always felt while it was no less technical or fitting within the music that it had been rather lost in the mix with the metamorphosis of the Metal elements in the bands sounds. // 8

Lyrics: Lyrics on the whole have never been Dream Theater's strong point. This is the first album in a very long time which does not have any tracks that tie in with any other tracks on the record ("6DOIT") or the bands previous albums ("12 Steps"). It is the first truly stand alone album the band has released since "Falling Into Infinity" and while none of the lyrics are terrible they don't have the same sense of craft about them that the previous album's (even the previous effort "Black Clouds And Silver Linings") had. James LaBrie, much like the Dream Theater sound as a whole, returns with his familiar vocals performance: A mix of well woven melodic passages, some very powerful high notes, excellent range and (as far as I am concerned) a still improving style that matches some of the heavier aspects of the music. However, much like the sound of the band as a whole, I can't help but think that he is now working in a comfort zone which, while not at all bad in my eyes, makes me wish that he could try something different, just to see if he could push himself in writing/recording new music. // 7

Overall Impression: 01. "On The Back's Of Angels" - This is a mainly E minor song and it's purpose is to re-familiarise new and old fans with the bands still and song writing styles. It is also meant to ease the new fans into Mike Mangini's style of drumming which I can detect is only midly different to Portnoy's if not a little more simplistic in certain parts. This is a good song though with the use of the progressive style they have become synonymous with as well as wonderful melodies. 02. "Build Me Up And Break Me Down" - The lead single and the first glimpse that fans got to the album. I have a love/hate relationship with it. Sometimes I love the electronics on the vocals but sometimes it does rub me up the wrong way. One thing I can say very definitely love about the song is guitar. The rhythm parts, from the heavy riffing to the intricate solo sections towards the end of the song give this song the ability to be both very progressive and catchy at the same time. 03. "Lost Not Forgotten" - Since I am sucker for Piano music I was very happy at the beginning of the song and how it was kept important when the rest of the band came in. This goes into being a heavy D Minor based track and the first ten minute plus song with some exceptional work going on between John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess. Unfortunately it is rather forgettable in some instances until it gets towards the end. Not a bad song but sadly, as you'll see a lot with this record, not brilliant either. 04. "This Is The Life" - There is a little bit of Iron Maiden in how the song begins with the clean guitar followed by the melodic and not overly fast lead guitar work before it drops down to piano and vocals. It's a ballad at it's core and I have to say it is one of the bands better done ones. With an excellent Guitar solo and some nicely crafted modulations it is a song that will not get boring in a hurry. Yet still I feel the need to compare to tracks like "The Spirit Carries On" and "Goodnight Kiss" especially because I do think the lyrics in the song are not that fantastic. 05. "Bridges In The Sky" - The second ten minute plus song on the album is absolutely much more like it. Using the 7 string guitar to it's fullest it has wonderful "Train Of Thought"-esque riffs and the first sign that Mike Mangini is stamping his authority on the band with drums that do not over complicate matters when not needed but also manages to show his ability as a musician. The Chorus of this song is where it really shines. The superb chord pattern and amazingly complimentary singing from LaBrie and actually quite triumphant lyrics give this a feel of a band using all the tools and their disposal to the best of their ability. 06. "Outcry" - This is another song which uses the 7 string guitar and it shows in the heavier sections that it actually does increase the power behind a song like this. Unfortunately it is actually a tricky listen. Not because it's a bad song, because it is actually really good with some excellent uses of the bass in the middle instrumental section and lots of timing/key changes to keep listeners on their toes because it's come just after a 10 minute track and is another 10 minute track it makes the middle part of this album actually very tiring mentally to listen to. 07. "Far From Heaven" - This piano ballad is wonderfully crafted, well sung and has some wonderful little musical interludes. Considering it is not really what the band is known for it is an absolutely beautiful track is a very nice change of pace from the previous two tracks which, although both wonderful could be seen as rather heavy going. A very soothing song which somehow manages not to feel at all out of place. 08. "Breaking All Illusions" - This was the first song I properly got into on the record. It also happens to be the longest track on the entire record. The opening instrumental sets up the second half of the song nicely but the change in tact from the G Minor Key change to a wonderful chorus esque section. This song is progressive Metal at it's purest. Key and timing changes gallore and mixture of really heavy and lighter sections and a wonderful grandious outro make this song one of the more memorable songs on this record. 09. "Beneath The Surface" - This is actually quite a disappointing album closer. It's a rather forgettable track which actually has rather dull music and lyrics. It is another case of the band being in it's comfort zone and it almost sounds a little bit effortless but not in a good way. The previous track I think would have served as an excellent album closer and this would have possibly made more sense earlier in the album. Overall I would have to say this is not Dream Theater's best work by any stretch of the imagination. While it does not fall into the trap that "Systematic Chaos" fell into with focusing too much on one style I think that it tries to fit in too many of Dream Theater's styles and clichs into it's songs and it could come across as a bit of a caricature of the band. However that is not really how I see the record. I think it is a band trying to find it's feet again after the loss of one of the founding members and they are trying to make sure they can still music that the fans will enjoy and that they will enjoy. Me being somewhat close to the level of fanboy I definitely enjoyed quite a lot of the album, mostly the second half of the record with the stand out tracks being "Bridges In The Sky", "Far From Heaven" and "Breaking All Illusions". And to go back to the question that I posed in the first section: This definitely does deserve to be in with the rest of the back catalouge. Not only does the album have the technical skill which set Dream Theater apart from a lot of other Metal bands but also in songs like "Breaking All Illusions" and "Bridges In The Sky" show that there is, in fact, a bright future for the band and I for one will be fascinated by where they go next? // 8

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