Sound — 10
Musically, Dream Theater remains at the top of their game and the top of the prog-metal genre. Best in Class musicians who continue to stretch out exploring new avenues with each release and who are never content with the status quo. This of course means that many (narrow minded? ) people will criticize the "new" and wish the band released something like their "favorite" album of the past. Oh well, so much for the "progressive" in the progressive fan.
Lyrics — 8
Lyrically and vocally there are some challenges for me on this album (read on). However, watching the DVD (released with the Special Edition only) really helps put things in their proper perspective. I really appreciate the fact that DT cares so much about the fans to provide a "behind the curtain" view of the writing/recording process and really hope they continue to offer the bonus DVD in the future. Once again, DT leads the way with an enhanced way for the fans to further enjoy the band.
Overall Impression — 9
Now for the song reviews. In the Presence of Enemies 1 & 2 are very strong musically with the Overture portion setting the tone for the entire epic in a very traditional DT/Prog Rock fashion. Solid vocals with the story line/lyrics based on the excellent Priest manga series by Min-Woo Myung. If you read these stories, the song will be much more meaningful/powerful. Forsaken has the most potential for commercial success. Solid rocker start to finish. Kind of reminds me of Evanesence on steroids. Constant Motion, straight up DT heavy riffing/multi time signature special. I know I overplayed the pre-release of this song but now that I've given it a rest it's one of the best. Dark Eternal Night, super chunky 7 string guitar with crazy (think Dance of Eternity) instrumental break. This is still a tough song for me to get into. I despise all "cookie monster" vocals and never understand why bands with great singers (hello Opeth) feel the need to use this effect. Additional, these lyrics are just a little too corny for me. I know JP was writing lots of fictional/fantasy lyrics on this album but this is just too much. Repentance, another chapter in MP's 12 Step saga. Very rich musical textures and haunting spoken word overlay make this a nice moody tempo changer in the on-going story. Prophets of War, good solid song with fan participation (background vocal chants). Reminds me of what Muse could be if they brought they guitars out front and beefed up the instrumental breaks. Saving the best for last, The Ministry of Lost Souls is easily the best song on the disc. Very classical feel with emotional lyrics and melodies. This song will bring down the house every night when JP works through the 3 key change outro solo.