DREAM THEATER

"Dream Theater" (Roadrunner; 2013)

This is the first self-titled disc from Dream Theater and the second with stick smasher Mike Mangini. This is also the twelfth studio disc overall from these progressive metal giants among men. I've been a fan of DT for a long time. I'm not going to slobber all over the guitar work of John Petrucci or the drums of Mike Mangini. Instead, I'm going to break down the disc in a way that highlights the newness of "Dream Theater." One more note: this disc has an instrumental, "Enigma Machine," and that hasn't happened since "Train of Thought" in 2003.

The disc starts off with the mini opus "False Awakening Suite." It's short, but encompasses a whole lot of DT and it almost sounds like an album teaser. The next few tracks that follow sound very fresh and new. The last DT record sounded like it was a bunch of leftover tracks they had to polish up for an album to meet their record contract. "Dream Theater" sounds updated but it still has that recognizable sound that most fans know exactly when they hear it. The instrumental "Enigma Machine" is a whole lot of guitar and keys. It's one of those tracks that gives singer James LaBrie a vocal break and it sounds like Petrucci is just getting warmed up.

Many of the riffs on "Dream Theater" are heavy but melodic in their approach. I felt like a lot of the songs were rock songs. Nothing is over eight minutes until you hit the end of the album. I think it also gives fans a way to enjoy the heavy part of DT before they head off into five different directions and that's meant as a compliment. A lot of John Petrucci's solos are quick bursts. He doesn't really spend a lot of time breaking everything down, he just comes roaring in, leaves his mark and lets you tend to the wound. Like I stated before, it's a fresh approach and makes me remember why DT captured my attention in the first place.

The track, "Along for the Ride" is great because it has beautiful acoustic guitar to start it and a soothing solo in the middle. James LaBrie's voice holds this song and even though its not a heavy track the lyrics are and it's one you'll listen to a few times because of the feel. The last track(s) on "Dream Theater" clocks in at 22:17. It's what you would expect from the progressive nation of DT and it's got more twists and turns than a California back road. DT throw in everything they know musically. This is the track that Mike Mangini really shines on. Petrucci lays down massive guitar compositions and Mike picks up with the drums right behind him. It's great to hear Mike settle in with "Dream Theater."

Dream Theater: James LaBrie - lead vocals; John Petrucci - guitars; Jordan Rudess - keyboards, GeoSynth App, Seaboard; John Myung - bass; Mike Mangini - drums, percussion.

For more information, check out http://www.dreamtheater.net/.

"A Dramatic Turn of Events" (Roadrunner; 2011)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This disc introduced many to the drum precision of Mike Mangini. Fans of Annihilator, Steve Vai and MullMuzzler probably already knew who Mike was, but some didn't. He holds a lot of drum records and now he holds a record with Dream Theater: "A Dramatic Turn of Events," to be precise. I've read, and you have to, about how DT should have begged or accepted Mike Portnoy back into the band, but that was the past; what we have here is the future.

With all Dream Theater discs you can expect excellent and unparalleled fret work from John Petrucci, incredible bass work from John Myung and unbelievable keys from Jordan Rudes (I would love to see Rudess perform an entire concert on piano alone). James LaBrie's vocals are soothing when the songs are slow and powerful when the galloping begins. There is a lot of music on this disc and settling down for a full listen will help any fan of DT or progressive music appreciate the talent captured on this recording.

While there are no standout cuts on this disc, the music is still written with DT's ever-changing time signature style and if you are looking for a radio hit then you need a refresher. "On the Backs of Angels" did receive some radio play but internet radio is the best place to hear a full DT cut. The songwriting is still great and when LaBrie vocalizes the story you can feel it come to life. This disc clocks in at 77:05 and it's worth every second of your time.

Dream Theater: James LaBrie – lead vocals; John Petrucci – guitars, backing vocals; Jordan Rudess – keyboards, Continuum; John Myung – bass; Mike Mangini – drums, percussion.

For more info head over to http://www.dreamtheater.net.

"Black Clouds & Silver Linings" (Roadrunner; 2009)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Fans of Dream Theater probably had this disc in hand or had a digital copy imprinted on their brain the second it was released in stores. I picked up my copy the day it came out and had that pesky cellophane wrapper ripped off before I got back to my vehicle. There is only a two year difference from the release of "Systematic Chaos" and "Black Clouds & Silver Linings," giving those who require a steady stream of Dream Theater their fill.

Each song has a different story attached to it and reading along while James LaBrie sings helps you to understand where the song came from. Although each track has some event that happened to John Petrucci or Mike Portnoy they all find the sliver lining surrounding the black cloud. The first track, "A Nightmare To Remember," is about Petrucci who was involved in a car wreck when he was little.

Dream Theater will keep the same fans that have followed them throughout the years; this disc might not gather any newer ones and if the ink is dry on your DT tattoo then show it off proudly. A lot of the tracks are not radio friendly with the longest clocking in at 19:16. Of course DT doesn't write for radio and those who know this delight in songs that unfold rather than repeat a catchy chorus.

This disc is full of choir sounds; Jordan Rudess really puts the Gothic sound in each song and creates some harrowing music to battle Petrucci's guitar prowess. James LaBrie and Portnoy share vocals duties once again and it's great to hear how they portray their part. John Myung's bass is incredible and you can hear a lot more of it on this disc than before.

The track titled "The Best Of Times" was written about Mike Portnoy's dad who passed away while they were recording this disc. It’s a great story about a father and son -- it’s a tribute. This disc flows along and the only minor hiccup would be the track "Wither" which is a little slow but it's still well written.

Dream Theater: James LaBrie – vocals; John Petrucci – guitar and backing vocals; Jordan Rudess – keyboards and Continuum; John Myung – bass; Mike Portnoy – drums and backing vocals.

For more information, check out http://www.dreamtheater.net/.

"Chaos in Motion: 2007-2008" DVD (Roadrunner; 2008)

Reviewed by Austin Rogers

"Chaos in Motion: 2007-2008" is a two-disc DVD set of the world tour for “Systematic Chaos,” a 2007 Dream Theater album release.

Disc one includes 11 tracks and 5 bonus tracks including a piano solo by Jordan Rudess and it’s unbelievably insane how fast his fingers move on the keys.

Disc two includes features and materials that give you over an hour of bonus behind-the-scenes peeks and a 90-minute documentary about the set up for the "Chaos in Motion" tour. This disc also features tracks from various DT releases.

In between each couple of songs on the first disc there are behind-the-scenes clips and interview snippets with the band and various crew members. Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci talk about the early days of DT and how playing a city for new fans is always a pleasure.

On the track “The Dark Eternal Night” you’ll have to watch the animation that goes along with the song and the track “Lines in the Sand” has a very soothing solo and it is one of their better live cuts.

Petrucci is laying down devil beast riffs on all the heavy tracks. John Myung is cooking up greatness with that six string bass of his and James LaBrie’s vocal abilities will have you singing along throughout this DVD. Jordan Rudess, who handles the keys for DT, could give Beethoven a run for his money and with Mike Portnoy’s drumming to keep the beat, no wonder this DVD went to Number 2 on the U.S. Charts.

Dream Theater: John Petrucci – guitar, backing vocals; John Myung – bass; James LaBrie – lead vocals; Jordan Rudess – keyboards, keytar, continuum fingerboard; Mike Portnoy – drums, backing vocals, percussion.

For more info head over to http://www.dreamtheater.net.

"Systematic Chaos" (Roadrunner; 2007)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

I’m excited to review this Dream Theater release with you today. It’s no doubt that I love DT and have since I saw the video for “Pull Me Under” on Headbangers Ball. Insert metal horns here (\m/). I’ve reviewed two of their discs already and will do more in the future. Since 1992 I’ve followed Dream Theater album by album and immersed myself deeply into their progressive music and, although I’ve never waited patiently for a release, (primarily because I have a play list devoted to them with over 13 hours of music to listen to), I’m always a little more bright-eyed when I hear an album is coming soon. Well, soon is now, let’s dive in. 

Usually when a band has been around a long time they get tired. Well, at least their sound does and maybe even they do. The thing that makes progressive music last longer isn't just because of the name “progressive”, which means moving forward or advancing, is that it’s ever changing. Dream Theater, if they wanted to, could release a completely instrumental album and the music would still do the talking. Of course, James LaBrie is the voice for DT and his operatic style makes each song unique.  "Systematic Chaos" has a five minute instrumental intro by DT until LaBrie ever starts to sing. If any other band tried that it might not fly, but Dream Theater play with such exuberance and confidence, we almost expect nothing less from them.  

John Petrucci’s playing exceeds all expectations because this disc has him playing at least four different styles. His melodic tone is always present but, unlike the night manager who locks the doors when things get crowded and uncontrolled, John steps up and fires solos off like “back off” warnings. Songs such as “Forsaken,” and “Constant Motion” are prime examples. “The Dark Eternal Night” song has him riffing it up with a Pantera-like assault.

Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci produce Dream Theater’s sound so those guys are closer than Siamese twins when it comes to crafting the music we all marvel at. On the song “Prophets Of War,” Petrucci makes his guitar sound like a helicopter to give the effect it needs to match the chant lyrics. It last only six minutes, but it's one of the eeriest tracks performed.  

In an ever changing musical world where is seems everyone is trying to come up with the latest sound to capture a few more of your dollars, Dream Theater stick with the sound they pioneered. They do this with little or no radio play. DT doesn’t just have fans, they have a multitude. 

Dream Theater: James LaBrie – vocals; John Myung – bass; John Petrucci – guitar and vocals; Mike Portnoy – drums, percussion and vocals; Jordan Rudess – keyboards and continuum.

 
For more information, check out http://www.dreamtheater.net/.

"Score" DVD (Rhino; 2006)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

After hearing Dream Theater’s “Pull Me Under” way back in 1992 I knew I was hooked. While I have purchased all of the band’s live CDs I have been reluctant to purchase their DVD concert documentations as I’ve always thought that it might spoil the rare chances I do see them live. Not to mention the fact that who has the time to watch music DVDs? I certainly don’t.

“Score” is the band’s final performance of the Octavarium Tour which concluded the 20th year of the band’s existence. Filmed at the famed Radio City Music Hall in New York City Dream Theater managed to land the penultimate concert spot in a perfect location in their “hometown.” That’s a far cry from the first time I saw Dream Theater at the dumpy but comfortable Daytona’s Club (R.I.P.) on the Infinity Tour.

“Score,” like most of the band’s performances, draws from every album in the band’s history and Portnoy’s set list makes every attempt to make the show as unique as possible. The set list on “Score” is different than their last live release “Live In Japan.” I think it’s amazing that Dream Theater is prepared to play any song from their official releases and others at the drop of a hat. The evidence on “Score” pretty much makes it look effortless. The visuals make prominent display of Portnoy’s manic energy, Myung’s understated low-end strength and fluidity, Rudess’ maestro-like ability, Petrucci’s amazing dexterity and skills, and LaBrie’s expressive range.

The first set includes a variety of tracks including the heavyweight “Under A Glass Moon” and a stately “The Spirit Carries On.” The second set is entirely done with an orchestra (dubbed the Octavarium Orchestra) as a sonic complement. The second set begins with a complete performance of “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.” Here the Octavarium Orchestra gives this album-length song a stunning fullness. The complete performance of “Six Degrees” can get a bit long for the casual music fan, but, generally speaking, casual music fans aren’t Dream Theater fans. The second set with the orchestra includes a crushing “Sacrificed Sons” and a rousing, concert-concluding “Metropolis.”

However, the best treat for me on the “Score” performance is the unreleased track “Raise the Knife” (appears in the first set). This track fits in perfectly with the ‘anthology’ nature of entire concert and serves a special treat for me as I’ve been lazy at collecting the band’s works outside of official releases.

The production values on the “Score” DVD are quite high which makes the DVD easy to watch and listen to. I have found myself simply listening to the DVD and not watching it – the audio quality is that impressive. “Score” is a powerful testament to the vision and history of Dream Theater.

The second DVD features bonus material including a documentary highlighting the band’s progression through their 20 year history, three bonus tracks from previous performances, and a brief animation. The documentary is interesting and insightful, but perhaps a bit long even for the dedicated Dream Theater fan that probably already knows a lot about the band. The bonus tracks are “Another Day” from a 1993 concert, “The Great Debate” from a 2002 concert, and “Honor Thy Father” from a 2005 concert. Since none of these three songs are on the main “Score” DVD they are unique addition and valuable visual evidence of the band’s evolution. Also included is the “Octavarium” animation which was featured at the beginning of the band’s concerts on their tours for the album of that name.

Dream Theater: James LaBrie on vocals, John Petrucci on guitars, John Myung on bass, Jordan Rudess on keyboards, and Mike Portnoy on drums.

For more information visit http://www.dreamtheater.net

"Octavarium" (Atlantic; 2005)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

Prog rockers Dream Theater return to release another tight and proficient album titled "Octavarium." In listening to this release, you will notice a lighter mood than "Train Of Thought" required. A couple of tracks here are piano and strings driven: "The Answer Lies Within" and "I Walk Beside You." One should note that DT can create a different flow or vibe with each CD, although -- with all the guitar driven music out there -- DT are allowed as musicians to show all sides of each member's talents.

James LaBrie's vocals are smooth on the light tracks and powerful yet controlled on the heavy tracks. John Petrucci's guitar is very melodic and, of course, full of brilliant solos and rhythm that carries you along as Jordan Rudess lays an angelic hum behind the wall of sound. Mike Portnoy is still as great as he is expected to be with drums and percussion. John Myung keeps the bass department tight as he places his instrument perfectly with all the others to create the firm sound Dream Theater is known for.

With each Dream Theater release, it takes a few listens to fully appreciate all of the music they put in to it. It's not a difficult listen at all, however. In fact, rather it's very inviting and welcoming. Most fans snatched this CD up the day it came out.

Dream Theater have been together for sixteen years but that shouldn't have anyone thinking that their music is manufactured simply to satisfy a record contract. These guys have incredible talent and produce some of the best music around. They shine the most on the epic tracks that run at least ten minutes or more.

The best tracks here are "The Root Of All Evil," "Panic Attack," "Never Enough," and "Sacrificed Sons."

Dream Theater is: James LaBrie - vocals; John Myung - bass; John Petrucci - guitar and vocals; Mike Portnoy - drums, vocals and percussion; Jordan Rudess - keyboards, continuum and lap steel guitar.

For more information, check out www.dreamtheater.net.

"Master of Puppets" (Ytsejam Records; 2003)

Reviewed by R. Scott Bolton

What are the odds of a highly respected band like Dream Theater releasing a CD bearing the same title as a legendary Metallica CD? I mean, really, they've got to be astronomical!

Okay, I'm being a smart ass here. Of course Dream Theater's "Master of Puppets" is the same as Metallica's. This CD captures the band's February 19th, 2002 live performance in Barcelona, Spain as they covered the entire "Master of Puppets" album as an encore to their regularly scheduled set. (According to the liner notes, this later became a tradition with the band playing a complete classic album whenever they were scheduled to play two live dates in the same city). 

The question is does Dream Theater have the chops to perform "Master of Puppets"? The answer, as any Dream Theater fan will tell you, is hell, yeah! With a line-up of nothing short of spectacular musicians, Dream Theater does "Master of Puppets" justice, with the only exception being an understandably weary and raw-voiced James LaBrie delivering a less-than-pitch-perfect James Hetfield impression.

Throughout, Dream Theater's version of "Master of Puppets" stays very close to Metallica's. Perhaps it would have been nice to have a few experimental, more Dream Theater-like moments thrown in but that's one of those situations where you're damned if you do and damned if you don't. If you don't, people like me will wonder why. If you do, people will bitch that you're messing with a classic. Guitarist John Petrucci, a legend in his own right, does toss in the occasional superman trick, however, and they're worth looking for.

Bottom line is this: Dream Theater fans and Metallica fans will definitely want to have this "Master of Puppets" in their collection. 

Dream Theater: James LaBrie - vocals; John Myung - bass; John Petrucci - guitar; Mike Portnoy - drums, vocals; Jordan Rudess - keyboards.

For more information, check out http://www.dreamtheater.net

"Train of Thought" (Elektra; 2003)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This disc is heavy, not just musically but lyrically as well. Dream Theater follow-up "Six Degrees Of Separation" with "Train Of Thought," which is an appropriate name for an album with this lyrical content. Mostly, DT pen songs that have a concept or message. This release tackles alcoholism and recovery on the track "This Dying Soul." while "As I Am" fronts resistance and independence. The title alone of "In The Name Of God" should give you an idea of what the subject of that song is.

As mentioned above, this disc is heavy in that the guitar is crunchy yet melodic. The solos seem to come from nowhere; they are ripping and burning but so well written you know you have just witnessed listening to a masterpiece. John Petrucci's heavy but quick-handed guitar and his epic playing continue to prove him a guitarist who will never cease to amaze those who follow his side projects and commercial releases with Dream Theater. 

Each member is so well represented here that no one overpowers the other.

James LaBrie's vocals exude the eerie brilliance that makes him the sound of Dream Theater. He sings his own harmony, he growls more on this disc than others. He uses spoken words at times and a low devilish voice at others. It really runs the gamut of his talents. Mike Portnoy is a stick smasher but with such technicality that you would think an Julliard trained octopus is drumming sometimes. John Myung's bass just gallops along with the guitar. Jordan Rudess has the keyboard part so well intertwined with Petrucci's guitar that you sometimes think if he picked up a gitfiddle he could give John a run for his money.

Each song is an epic in length; five of the seven here run ten minutes or more. I guess that's standard for a progressive song - no pop song could last that long; how awful would it be to hear the same three chords for ten minutes in a row? Painful to think about, isn't it? 

The best songs here are "As I Am," and ... ah, just listen and pick your own. I would love to hear which ones amazed you.

Dream Theater: James LaBrie - vocals; John Myung - bass; John Petrucci - guitar and vocals; Mike Portnoy - drums, percussion; Jordan Rudess - keyboards.

For more information, check out www.dreamtheater.net.

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (Elektra; 2002)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This disc is broken down into six parts, hence the album title. It's also the sixth full-length studio album from Dream Theater. One more trivia fact: it's also the first Dream Theater disc to feature a title track. It was released as a double disc because songs 1-5 were on disc one while disc two contained the 42 minute "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" track. The whole project clocks in at 1:36:13 and it's worth every second of listening.

Although not advertised as a concept album it still deals with mental issues such as personality disorders that range from post to present. The second disc is broken down into eight parts that deal with six individuals who are dealing with various mental issues. The music is incredible and those who put this disc on to hear the guitar mastery of John Petrucci will marvel at his metal sound while their mouths hang agape at his soloing.

The band is very tight and James LaBrie's vocals are very clean and even could be considered heavy metal. He seems to hold notes a lot longer than on previous disc. Mike Portnoy does clock in some vocal time on the opening track "The Glass Prison." There are plenty of keyboard sounds from Jordan Rudess; he adds a magical element to many of the songs. Mike Portnoy is a great drummer and he moves the faster songs along with his machine gun double bass. John Myung can be heard on a few of the tracks but his bass is a little more silent than I've heard before.

I don't recommend putting this album on shuffle mixed with your other play list because it has a flow that comes in and out and you really need to feel the tide. DT does take on some political issues -- stem cell research was a hot button topic in 2002 and they pen a song about with news reports being given in the background.

Dream Theater: James LaBrie – lead vocals; John Myung – bass; John Petrucci – guitars, backing vocals; Mike Portnoy – drums, backing vocals (co. lead vocals on "The Glass Prison"); Jordan Rudess – keyboards.

For more information, check out http://www.dreamtheater.net.
 

"Metropolis 2: Scenes From a Memory" (EastWest; 1999)

Reviewed by Christopher J. Kelter

"Metropolis 2: Scenes From A Memory" is a concept album that was given birth by the song "Metropolis Part One" on Dream Theater's 1991 release "Images And Words." Dream Theater fans have been clamoring for a concept album since the band's earliest days; Dream Theater have delivered an epic and the fans can complain no longer.

"Scenes From A Memory" is ambitious and sprawling. However, the music isn't hard to follow; the disc is like glue that stays stuck in the mind for a long time. I'm not ashamed to say that I have difficulty putting this CD away - it's great in every way imaginable. Whereas Dream Theater's last studio effort ("Falling Into Infinity") lacked an edginess in the heavy parts of songs and lacked sincerity in the ballads, "Scenes From A Memory" pushes the boundaries of the Dream Theater sound whilst retaining the characteristics we've all grown to love since the band's embryonic days. "Scenes From A Memory" brings the band another step closer to their goal of having a sound to call their own.

Bits and pieces of the original motif from "Metropolis Part One" appear in fragments of "Scenes From A Memory" - this is integral in making the story lines match musically. The addition of keyboardist Jordan Rudess to Dream Theater has been magnificent - Rudess' virtuoso keyboard work is just what Dream Theater needed to help the band get to the next level. Bassist John Myung has a thankless task, but he does a great job keeping the low end interesting and supportive. Mike Portnoy is certainly a force to be reckoned with - the complexity of the drum parts always seems to fit the songs. John Petrucci is a guitar monster - words simply do not do justice to his abilities as a guitar player or a songwriter.

The lyrics alternate between the past and the present with each new verse revealing new clues to the storyline. The words convey a sense of emotion rarely found on heavy metal or progressive discs. James LaBrie really does a magnificent job with the material on "Scenes From A Memory" - it is almost enough to make one forget the less-than-stellar "Falling Into Infinity" (although I wouldn't call the material on FII very inspiring in the grand scheme of things). The lyrics on "Scenes From A Memory" have obviously allowed LaBrie to connect with the story and the characters as his emotive voice lends a sense of drama to the proceedings. What's even better is that LaBrie's stellar vocal effort connects the listener to the story, too - check out the lethal combination of "Fatal Tragedy" and "Beyond This Life" for immediate corroboration of this fact. Theresa Thomason's additional vocals are a welcome contribution to the disc's storytelling features. 

The production is nothing short of flawless; Portnoy and Petrucci are fast becoming studio veterans in the production realm and by taking charge they've enabled themselves and the band to deliver the kind of amazing work that the entire metal/progressive community has come to expect. 

There's not a doubt in my mind that "Scenes From A Memory" will one day be recognized as a defining moment in progressive metal history. 

For more information visit http://www.dreamtheater.net

"Falling Into Infinity" (EastWest; 1997)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This is the first and last release with Derek Sherinian as the temporary keyboardist for Dream Theater. He is credited on their previous release, "A Change of Seasons," for one song and for this disc. He is followed by Jordan Rudess, who has remained with the band since 1999. This disc is also the first to not feature their recognizable font. There were some problems with the graphic artist and he wouldn't put it on the cover. "Once in a LIVEtime" does not have the iconic Dream Theater symbol displayed either.

James LaBrie's voice was damaged due to food poisoning when he and his wife went to Cuba on holiday. His vocal range is very low compared to their earlier releases. Critics didn't like this disc for its darker tone while Dream Theater didn't like it for other reasons. Mike Portnoy released the demos on his own label, YtseJam Records, because he wanted to show the true music that DT had created.

Despite all the problems that seemed to arise during this disc there was still some great music that emerged. John Petrucci stills rips on the guitar, John Myung is an incredible bass player while Mike Portnoy smashes the drums with a progressive style unmatched. A guest vocalist can be heard on "Lines in the Sand": it's Doug Pinnick from King's X.

The best tracks are "New Millennium," "You Not Me," "Burning My Soul," and "Just Let Me Breathe."

DT: James LaBrie – vocals; John Myung – bass, Chapman Stick; John Petrucci – guitars, backing vocals; Mike Portnoy – drums, backing vocals; Derek Sherinian – keyboards, backing vocals. Doug Pinnick - backing vocals on "Lines in the Sand."

For more information, check out http://www.dreamtheater.net.

"A Change of Seasons" (EastWest; 1995)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

When you talk about an EP in record terms it's supposed to be shorter than an average album. The idea for an EP from Dream Theater came courtesy of Mike Portnoy, regarding the newest member, Derek Sherinian. DT didn't want their fans to think they had put out a new disc with Derek just yet so they opted to call it an EP. Now, back to the length of an EP: it's supposed to be shorter and generally contain only a few songs, however long they may be. "A Change of Seasons" clocks in at 57:31.

This EP has a lot of covers on it: "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding" by Elton John, "Perfect Strangers" by Deep Purple and a slew of Led Zeppelin - "The Rover," "Achilles Last Stand" and "The Song Remains the Same." All the Zepp songs are presented in a medley type performance.

Other bands that DT bends a note to here are Pink Floyd, Kansas, Queen, Journey, Dixie Dreggs and they finalize it with a cover of Genesis's "Turn It on Again." The last song weaves all the aforementioned bands together and is called "The Big Medley." It's a full 10:34 long. You'll recognize many of the guitar parts as well as the lyrics to some memorable songs.

One special note about the cover of "Perfect Strangers" is that it contains a guitar solo where the original does not. It's Dream Theater! Would you expect anything less than stellar from them?

The live tracks were recorded at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, England.

DT: James LaBrie – Vocals; John Myung – bass; John Petrucci – guitars; Mike Portnoy – drums; Derek Sherinian – keyboards.

For more information, check out http://www.dreamtheater.net.

"Awake" (EastWest; 1994)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This is the third album from prog rockers Dream Theater. Their previous disc, entitled "Image and Words," was a smash achievement while this one was not met with the same commercial success. The pressure to write another hit single like "Pull Me Under" put more demands on the band than they wanted. Out of the rubble of Kevin Moore leaving the band and tensions between members, this disc is one of my favorites because of the music and lyrics. Each member contributes their own writing talent to each song while their musical prowess shines on individual tracks for which they created a riff or bass line.

This was the first disc that John Petrucci played a 7-string guitar on. Grunge music had been heard by everybody and those who couldn't produce a richer sounding guitar beyond the three chord onslaught were going to die on the vine. John stepped up to the plate and created some memorable riffs along with blistering solos. Grunge continued on for a while but look who is still standing: Dream Theater.

Derek Sherinian joined the band as the new keyboardist and had two weeks to learn all the music for their upcoming tour. He had studied at the Berklee College of Music where John Petrucci, John Myung and Mike Portnoy had so he was accustomed to complex music. The whole disc is 75 minutes long and great for those times when you need a real musical experience.

The album cover refers to many of the song titles. If you'd like to do a little "I Spy" here are the songs from "Awake." See how many you can find.

"6:00"
"Caught in a Web"
"Innocence Faded"
"A Mind Beside Itself: I. Erotomania"
"A Mind Beside Itself: II. Voices"
"A Mind Beside Itself: III. The Silent Man"
"The Mirror"
"Lie"
"Lifting Shadows Off a Dream"
"Scarred"
"Space-Dye Vest"

Dream Theater: James LaBrie – vocals; Kevin Moore – keyboards; John Myung – bass; John Petrucci – guitar; Mike Portnoy – drums, percussion.

For more information, check out http://www.dreamtheater.net.

"Images and Words" (Atco; 1992)

Reviewed by Jeff Rogers

This CD is sort of a "Where were you?" when you first saw the video for "Pull Me Under" on MTV. I was at home watching Headbangers Ball, and a long-haired Rikki Rachtman introduced the video. From that point on, I was hooked on Dream Theater. Since that time there have been three keyboardists, three lead singers, ten studio albums (to date) and two drummers. Want some more interesting information? On May 1, 2004 the guests of Headbangers Ball were Avenged Sevenfold and guess what video they introduced? Yep: "Pull Me Under" by Dream Theater. Mike Portnoy left Dream Theater to join Avenged Sevenfold since The Rev passed away in 2009. I'm sure it's all coincidence.

This disc is the first to feature James LaBrie on vocals after DT decided to change direction and go with a new lead singer. Charlie Dominici was the first under the Dream Theater name. James has remained the voice of DT despite some throat problems early on. The hit single, "Pull Me Under," really got Dream Theater noticed and it's been their most recognizable song to date. The problem with a debut CD is that you are measured by its success, DT have been shackled to their firstborn ever since.

Hailed by critics as the first disc to put progressive metal on the map, this incredible musical experience never gets old. You can listen to it over and over again and still hear the passion in how it was written and performed. Fans of DT have probably started with this disc and have grown with the band so if you've been here since the beginning, it's good to have you here.

Well, I think I've rambled on more about the history than the music ... sorry about that. The music on this disc is progressive metal and it has enough solos to attract even the moderate guitar player. The drums are amazing because Mike Portnoy is an incredible drummer. John Myung's bass playing is faint in some parts but you know it's there because of the solid sound.

All around, this disc will be the one that Dream Theater is known for because they were the first to be recognized for their contribution to progressive music ... mainly progressive metal.

Dream Theater: James LaBrie – vocals; Kevin Moore – keyboards; John Myung – bass; John Petrucci – guitar; Mike Portnoy – drums, percussion. Jay Beckenstein – Soprano saxophone on "Another Day."

For more information, check out http://www.dreamtheater.net.

Rating Guide:

A classic. This record will kick your ass.

Killer. Not a classic but it will rock your world.

So-so. You've heard better.

Pretty bad. Might make a nice coaster.

Self explanatory. Just the sight of the cover makes you wanna hurl.

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Copyright © 2013 by R. Scott Bolton. All rights reserved.
Revised: 02 May 2017 21:24:56 -0400.