Dream Theater
A Dramatic Turn of Events

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

James LaBrie – lead vocals
John Petrucci – guitars, backing vocals
John Myung – bass
Jordan Rudess – keyboards, continuum
Mike Mangini – drums, percussion

When Dream and Day Unite (1989)
Images and Words (1992)
Awake (1994)
A Change of Seasons (EP) (1995)
Falling into Infinity (1997)
Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (1999)
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002)
Train of Thought (2003)
Octavarium (2005)
Systematic Chaos (2007)
Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)


John Petrucci – production
Paul Northfield – engineering
Andy Wallace – mixing
Hugh Syme – cover art
Ted Jensen - mastering

Released 15/9-2011
Reviewed 5/9-2011


The Swedish review became a very, very long review of the latest offering by the front figures of the progressive metal. Dream Theater is probably the most influential of all the bands in the progressive metal genre with over ten million sold album and critically acclaimed by most press as well as a celebrated live band held in higher regard than band like Metallica or U2 in some polls. I for one am one of those who really find them being an amazing live band and in all honesty on of very few bands I would actually pay to see perform live. There are of course also those who find Dream Theater a band being full of themselves and just performing difficult music to show off their skills and at the same time celebrates a band like Unexpect which I reviewed yesterday. But it seems like in general even those who are not fans of the genre like what Dream Theater does.

A Dramatic Turn of Events could have been referring to the fact that the band’s long time friend and one of the founders left the band last year, I am of course speaking of drummer Mike Portnoy. Portnoy was replaced by Mike Mangini after an audition process that was made into a documentary which was aired on Roadrunner youtube channel. Mangini has worked with singer LaBrie for three solo albums which would indicate that he should have some knowledge about how Dream Theater work. I also have to mention before I turn to the album itself that the cover artwork is really attractive with this guy on a line above the clouds and the Dream Theater tour airplane.

Musically a lot can be said about Dream Theater, many claim that they are very complex and quite difficult to get into and that is true to some extent, the music is progressive metal and in Dream Theater’s case that means that it is very varied. The music has some real dramatic turns of events which is the source to the title and not the case with drummer Portnoy, it is extremely heavy at times, very laid back and soft at times, they show a furious tempo as well as very low tempo, aggression mixes with beauty and pompousness with minimalism as well as virtuosity mix with simplicity, all in one package. There is really no easy way to explain the sound of Dream Theater but what usually strikes me with their music is that I am more often struck with how well their songs fall together and their sense of melody than I am with how skilled they are and how complex their music is that is usually something I notice after hearing their music many times. For you who know Dream Theater and their catalogue I can say that stylistically in spirit this album is closest to Scenes From a Memory and Images and Words if we are to compare it with what they have done before. It is a style of music that is not instantly rewarding as it takes a while to take it all in, this album does not really deviate from that fact. The album is 77 minutes and a few seconds long with nine tracks which makes it almost exactly as long as said Scenes From a Memory, according to wikipedia there is only a second between them with Scenes… being slightly longer. Speaking of that album, it is the first album since that one that John Myung wrote lyrics for a song, he wrote the lyrics for Fatal Tragedy on Scenes… and Breaking all Illusions for A Dramatic Turn of Events.

This review seem to be quite long in this language as well so I hope you turned on the preview song from this album before you started to read, it is quite long so you would have time to listen and read the review in peace. But I think this album is brilliant, I think of the great songs rather than the complexity which I think is one of the great things about Dream Theater, they often manage to make complex music sound simple and catchy which is a trademark of really skilled musicians and song writers. I have never thought it sounds like Dream Theater are full of themselves and this album is no exception, the songs are focused on telling the story of the song and not on showing off skills with their instruments.

I have read on some places around the web that some people think that James LaBrie has lost the quality in his voice, bullshit is the only thing I can say to those he may not have the same Edge as he had in the nineties but that is not all there is to it. I think he really show off a great vocal skill on this album, he is powerful and yet he can pick the finer notes just as well and when he is required to hit the higher notes he does that as well, almost as well as he did on tracks like Pull Me Under back in the early nineties. I also think his voice and general tone when he sings is the perfect match for the music of Dream Theater, the change in vocalist from the first album to Images was a brilliant choice and probably what made Dream Theater the successful band they are.

But what about the new drummer? is there a new drummer? well, I think that the drums are as good as they have ever been. The new timekeeper does his job brilliantly and other than maybe in spirit I do not miss Portnoy. The fact is though that everyone just as usual does pull off their parts brilliantly, from the guitars to the keys, form the bass to the drums and the vocals as well as the production, everything is tip top.

I think that this album dramatically changes how the top lis of albums from this year look as it just wipes the floor with any other album I have reviewed so far this year so it easily becomes the new leader of this year’s album. I am not saying winner as there are a few months and some really interesting releases left to go through before the year is over. This album just has it all, it is precisely performed and produced, the songs are just breathtaking in grandness or beauty, in complexity or simplicity, the melodies are just fantastic. I think what does make Dream Theater that much better than many other progressive metal bands is the fact that they are not looking to be complex, they build their songs from a solid ground and then they start exploring from there in difference to some other progressive bands I have been through this year.

It is quite hard to tell after a little less than two weeks and about thirty plays how good this album really is but as far as I can tell now I would say that it is on my top three list of albums from Dream Theaters career. If you ever need 77 minutes to pass in a flash, listen to this album. I have no real favourite track as they are all fantastic even though the ending song is a great way to end giving the listener the desire to hear the album again. No matter what dramatic events occur, there is one constant and that is the song writing skills of these guys. So remember september 15 is the date when the album we have been waiting for the entire year is released. Less is what?



Label: Roadrunner Records/ADA Nordic/Warner
Three similar bands: Pagan's Mind/Vanden Plas/James LaBrie
Rating: HHHHHHH (7/7)
Reviewer: Daniel Källmalm
Läs på svenska