DREAM THEATER — A Dramatic Turn of Events

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3.98 | 132 ratings | 23 reviews
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Album · 2011


1. On the Backs of Angels (8:42)
2. Build Me Up, Break Me Down (6:59)
3. Lost Not Forgotten (10:11)
4. This is the Life (6:57)
5. Bridges in the Sky (11:01)
6. Outcry (11:24)
7. Far From Heaven (3:56)
8. Breaking All Illusions (12:25)
9. Beneath The Surface (5:26)

Total time: 77:01


- James Labrie / Vocals, percussion
- John Petrucci / Guitars
- John Myung / Bass
- Jordan Rudess / Keyboards and Continuum
- Mike Mangini / Drums and Percussion

- Paul Northfield / spoken word on track 8

About this release

Label: Roadrunner Records
Release date: September 12, 2011.

Available as a standard single disc edition, a double LP edition, a special edition CD+DVD and a 2CD+2LP+DVD box set. The DVD contains a 60 minute documentary film of the search for a new drummer, entitled "The Spirit Carries On". The second CD of the box set contains instrumental mixes of the entire album. The box set also includes a Dream Theater branded custom turntable slipmat and a lithograph of the album cover. 50 random boxes had a Dream Theater ”Ticket For Life” and all pre-orderers received an mp3 copy of the album the day before the general release.

Thanks to andyman1125 for the addition and UMUR, Time Signature, adg211288, Pekka, diamondblack for the updates


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Let it not be said that Dream Theater lack self-awareness: calling their first album without Mike Portnoy "A Dramatic Turn of Events" suggests that the band were well aware that the loss of such a key member of the group would be difficult to adjust to. Indeed, not only had Portnoy been onboard from the beginning, but this would mark the first lineup change the band had endured since the Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory lineup had coalesced.

New drummer Mike Mangini doesn't exactly turn the Dream Theater sound on its head here, but frankly he was never likely to - nobody joins a band which is 11 albums deep into its career and generally considered a leader of its subgenre and seriously expects to change the chemistry of the group rapidly. Indeed, the album opener - On the Backs of Angels - is an almost calculatedly "business as usual" Dream Theater number, a piece you could imagine Portnoy drumming on just as much as Mangini.

Perhaps part of this is a by-product of the way the album was developed - with the rest of the group writing it and developing demos with programmed drums in parallel with finishing off their search for a new drummer. As a result, whilst Mangini has some scope here to add a little personal touch here and there, he doesn't make any substantial songwriting contributions at all - which means that on the composition side of things you don't have a fresh perspective coming in, you just have the well-oiled Dream Theater machine minus Mike Portnoy.

So it's business as usual, then - but fortunately, for Dream Theater "business as usual" is still pretty good. I wouldn't put it in the absolute top rank of the band's albums, but it's far from an embarrassment either - it needed to prove the band could still recognisably be Dream Theater without their co-founder, it succeeded and did so better than expected.
25 years after their inception, 2010's aptly titled 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' ushers in an era Dream Theater fans thought they'd never see, for this was the first release after the departure of drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy.

With the prog world eagerly anticipating who would have the impossible task of replacing one of the greatest drummers in the world, the band announced a new album and, via an online documentary, unveiled that man to be none other than Mike Mangini, who's résumé includes the likes of Steve Vai, Annihilator and Dream Theater frontman Jame LaBrie's solo project, proving him to be a more than competent successor.

However, other than the inclusion of a new drummer, this is pretty much a by-the-numbers release. Big, epic songs, which display a vast array of heavy, crushing riffs, beautiful and haunting keyboard melodies, an unlimited supply of instrumental mastery and James LaBrie's powerful vocals. It's clear that the drama of the past year hasn't prevented the prog legends from doing what they do best.

I was saddened though, as I'm sure many others were, to hear that Mike Mangini didn't have any creative input in the compositions for 'Dramatic...', as they were written before he joined the group, leaving him to play session musician. It's not really a detriment to the album, but I was more than a little excited to see what musical differences Mangini would bring to the table.

Some of the highlights from 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' includes the single 'On the Backs of Angels', and the longer, more epic tracks 'Bridges in the Sky' and 'Outcry'. The shorter, "metal" tracks such as 'Lost Not Forgotten' and 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down' show that guitarist John Petrucci can always be relied upon to produce riffs that put most metal bands to shame, and ballads like 'This is the Life' and 'Far from Heaven' soften the mood to enable listeners to catch their breath.

With their eleventh studio outing comes a landmark release in Dream Theater's discography, which, while it's a remarkable piece of work in itself, will always be known as the first of the post-Portnoy era. It's a good sign that the band are ready to continue on, and can only leave one excited to see where they will go from here.
This album has a bit of history behind it. After the dramatic departure of drummer Mike Portnoy (I remember a similar reaction whenever the last pope died), the metal world was split. You either now loved Dream Theater or hated Dream Theater due to the decision of one band member. Personally I couldn't really care. Mike Portnoy is a brilliant drummer and yes he did bring a certain flair to the band, but change is always good, for better or for worse. So with the dramatic change, the band started the hunt for a drummer, in an almost Simon Cowell manner with auditions and videos showing the audition. Bit cheesy, but it seemed to be beneficial for the band as they where able to hire drum genius Mike Mangini to join the band.

Personally I think this change has done them for the better. Their last album “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” I personally saw as a bit of a mixed bag, and Portnoy's demanding influence seems to be the reason for some of the albums weakest moments. But now that his overt personality is not seen on this album, it is replaced with a more group effort. Sadly Mangini did not contribute any composition work on this album, but his drumming is still impressive nontheless

The only slight criticism I would have with this album is the production. I wasn't too fond of Portnoy's drum mixes on previous albums, but I fear that maybe the drums on this album have been turned down a tad too much. It is nice to hear the band become not so percussion heavy, but a slight turn up would be good. The guitar mixing I believe to be very muddy as well. There is something about Petrucci's tone on this album which I am not the biggest fan of. I would admit that this may be the best album to hear John Myung's bass, with some pretty impressive musical moments from the man himself. Jordan's keyboards have finally spruced up too, with less experimentation with new technology, approaching with a more classical approach on this album.

The opening track and Grammy nominated lead single “On The Backs Of Angels” is a pretty great opener. With some pretty kick ass riffs, it starts off the album on a good note. I was surprised to see this song get a Grammy nomination, with it being an 8 minute track, but these guys do pull of a pretty great prog metal track, with a lot more prog rock than metal.

My least favorite track on the album would have to be “Build Me Up, Break Me Down.” There are moments of the song I do like a lot, but at times it just sounds like a rip off of a Disturbed riff. The saving moment has to be James' crazy screams in the chorus.

“Lost Not Forgotten” starts off with a beautiful piano intro before exploding into one of the most technically efficient songs on the album. The instrumental section also has some pretty killer riffs too.

One of the album's ballads “This Is The Life” has some pretty great instrumental moments and arrangements. James' vocals on the song are also pretty great, showing off some very diverse moments too.

“Bridges In The Sky” is probably the heaviest track on the album. Using his 7 string, Petrucci really shows off some pretty kick ass riffs on this track. The chorus is also one of the strongest on the album too. The intro is a bit odd and silly, but the real meat and bones of the track is where the song really takes shape.

One of the most oddest compositions on the album has to be “Outcry.” Starting off as a rather anthemic rock track, the song moves into a rather eclectic instrumental section with a lot of experimentation with atonal and chromatic music moments. The song does take a while to get into, but it's impressive nontheless.

One of my personal favorite tracks has to be “Far From Heaven.” A beautiful piano and string arrangement, the song deals with the topic of forceful parents who work their children to the bone. Brilliant lyrics and a brilliant vocal performance from James, the song is rather touching.

The albums longest track and definite strongest moment on the album is the 12 minute epic “Breaking All Illusions.” Now I know that Dream Theater get a lot of abuse for showing too much virtuostic musical ability, but I think this song is an example of the band showing virtuostic talent, but still in a very musical and compositional manner.

The album's closing track “Beneath The Surface” is another ballad that displays some beautiful melodies. I do like the rather minimalist approach behind this song and shows that the band can tone it down to make something rather special. Odd but good way to end the album.

In conclusion, this is probably up there with one of my favorite Dream Theater albums. After having gone through certain difficult circumstances, the band where able to prove that they are very much still relevant. Whether that still holds up today, I'm not sure. But this album definitely proves that the band have still got it in them to take the crown of Prog Metal kings.


Genres: Progressive Metal, Progressive Rock, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Symphonic Rock, Symphonic Prog

Country of origin: USA

Year of release: 2011
"A Dramatic Turn of Events" is the 11th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in September 2011. This is the first Dream Theater album not to feature drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy who left the band in September 2010. He is replaced here by Mike Mangini (Annihilator, Extreme, Steve Vai).

Despite the quite significant lineup change (In addition to his drumming duties Mike Portnoy was active in the band´s songwriting as well as co-producing several of the group´s albums) not much have actually changed since "Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009"). Dream Theater still produce top notch progressive metal involving outstanding musicianship and well written material. What they fail to do on this album and actually haven´t done for a while is challenge their audience. "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is more or less Dream Theater by the numbers and at this point I really wish they would break out of the stylistic monotony they´ve been in for now too long. There are literally no surprises on this album and frankly I expect more from the world´s leading progressive metal act. After all the word "progressive" (in this context) means that you push boundaries and create something new/unheard of.

With that out of the way "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is of course still a high quality release on almost every other parameter and as such the album opens pretty strong with the trio of tracks "On the Backs of Angels", "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" and "Lost Not Forgotten". But from "This is the Life" and onwards my attention begins to wander. Especially some of the longer tracks like "Bridges in the Sky" and "Outcry" are rather tedious to my ears, but of course things aren´t helped along either with the inclusion of the saccarine and forgettable ballad "Far From Heaven". I don´t know why they keep insisting on including tracks like that on their albums ("This is the Life" also falls under that catagory).

The sound production is decent but the drums have an odd sound. Maybe they are not high enough in the mix or something like that. I can´t put my finger on it, but there is some kind of issue with them. Regarding the drums it´s interesting to note that Mike Mangini more or less completely imitates the playing of Mike Portnoy. I´ve read somewhere that the drum parts for the tracks were already written when Mangini entered the lineup, so maybe it´s not so strange. It´ll be interesting to see if he can bring his own style to the table on the next release if he decides to stay with the band.

Now I can understand that hardcore fans of Dream Theater find "A Dramatic Turn of Events" to be a great release but I simply have to point out what I see as weaknesses and potential signs of a band that have given up developing their music. To me "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is a kinda "middle of the road" album by Dream Theater and it´s far from the best output by the band. Sometime in the future when talking about Dream Theater´s discography this album will not be mentioned. A 3.5 star (70%) rating is warranted.
I have been a long time Dream Theater fan, as my username might suggest. Dream Theater, for me, is the band that expanded my way of thinking about music, caused the Progressive Rock addiction in me, and made me realize I was no longer interested in pop music. For over 10 years, my favorite Dream Theater album was Metropolis Part 2: Scene From A Memory. While I loved their albums that came after, nothing came close to the quality of this album, in my mind. During this time, I also believed that Images and Words was a very, very close 2nd place. I say this to show you that it is not a fickle statement for me to say that A Dramatic Turn of Events is now my favorite Dream Theater album. While I immediately, upon first listen, knew the album was amazing, I had to listen to the album, and the other two I have mentioned, repeatedly (and over the period of 8 months) to come to this decision. I truly believe this to be a necessary part in the collection of a Progressive Rock or Progressive Metal fan.
The Angry Scotsman
I try to avoid hype, (whether it's music, movies, video games anything) to keep a clear mind and form honest opinions, and do so by avoiding said item for a while. So I really waited a good bit to listen to DT's "A Dramatic Turn of Events" but have finally gotten around to it. After giving the album some listens and fully digesting it, I can safely say while it's not a bad album at all, it's not anything great either. Like all their albums since "Octavarium" I was left a bit underwhelmed. It was a bit disappointing since I heard this album was a turn back to their progressive, melodic days.

The band does accomplish just that: the keyboards are way up, the heaviness is a bit down, and while still present the famed DT shreddery and technical w**kery are reduced. These are of course part of DT's appeal, but you have to change it up sometimes. I applaud the change, just the music itself left some to be desired overall.

The opener "On the Backs of Angels" I actually quite enjoy. A good blend of riff based and melodic based prog. It has a good flow and strong songwriting. It has a bit of all and is just very well done.

"Build Me Up, Break Me Down" has a cool spidery riff, and some nice heavy moments. The power chord chorus is a bit eh, but what can you do? Not a bad song.

"Lost Not Forgotten" is more "standard" DT filled with more technicality, w**kery, and riffing. I'm a fan of this, especially when put in a nice 10 minute prog metal song so this is probably my favorite on the album. Again, another well done song and not just a "by the numbers" which tends to be my issue with DT.

"This is the Life" is a nice light song. Keyboard driven, light guitar and drumming that builds to a melodic and powerful part. Nice to get some feeling, which despite liking the previous songs felt a bit absent of it. Pretty good song, though for the first time LaBrie's vocals get on my nerves, especially in soaring parts.

"Bridges in the Sky" starts with a quiet intro, featuring an attempt at throat singing which works semi well in my opinion. The song kicks into a heavy riff, and like the opener has a bit of everything. Good song.

"Outcry" is more of the same though I really like the middle section. A bit sluggish at times, it's not bad overall.

"Far From Heaven" a very light, keyboard and vocal driven song.

"Breaking All Illusions" I'm running out of different words to describe "more of the same" but this is actually one of the better songs on the album. Another straightforward though well done prog metal song.

The album ends with an acoustic guitar, keyboard and vocal song. Light and melodic, it's quite nice.

So I've used a lot of "good" and "a lot of the same" but that's the best way to describe "A Dramatic Turn of Events". It's a good album. Not great, but not bad, no real weak songs but none jump out at you either. It is generally well done prog metal. Good but not great, textbook definition of 3 stars in my book.

DT fans should like this, haters will find nothing to turn them on to it, and moderate/casual fans like myself will probably find it decent, and it's worth a listen.

Three Stars

Dream Theater's "weakest" since 1997

Another speedy released album by pregressive metal's kings. It's called A Dramatic Turn of Events. And why not? When all these news around the band has flourished. The founder and leader of the band Mike Portnoy left in September 2010 and soon after Mike Mangini was bought in. There was a passionate reality in three part about the audition for new drummer. All these events was very exciting.

First of all I would notice Mike Mangini is wonderful talent, who replaces Mike Portnoy in such a great manner. But this album just doesn't come up to my expectations. This album is too long, without avoiding anoyance with requisite precise songwriting and structural essence. A definite step backward to band's previous works. The ambience is quite sterile and undeviating (in negative sense of the term), typical for band's early career. All the songs, except Outcry are too predictable and contain some jejune structural decisions.

The musicianship, as always, is of high quality and long song are the positive and distinctive Dream Theater. That's the salvation of this interesting, but quite disappointing release. 3+ stars by me.
Dream Theater's first album with Mike Mangini and without the founding member, Mike Portnoy, shows a return to their classic roots, especially 'Image and Words' era and combined with what they've done in the last four albums. I found them slowly trapped in monotonous circle after the highly acclaimed 'Scenes From A Memory' but this is a dramatic turnaround for them and suddenly Dream Theater became an interesting entity again for me to explore further.

'On The Backs of Angels', the first single is a good track but not the best here. A dynamic tempo with mostly in mid-paced, Rudess got more portion with his keyboard, and I saw it as a less-metal-more-progrock track. 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down' has a modern flavor verse and the center point of this song is brilliantly melodic. 'Lost Not Forgotten' hihglight is the complex guitar/keyboard duel, the instrumental show is magnificent but kinda lack of memorable hooks. 'Bridges in The Sky' has an ultra-weird intro and freaky choir, sounds very old school with massive galloping rhythm, but it's a decent track overall.

'This Is The Life' is a beautiful small piece of piano ballad, I love this one, and also the other ballads here, 'Far From Heaven' and 'Beneath The Surface'. Although it's totally unusual for a prog metal band to introduce 30% ballads in their album but perhaps they think it's necessary to opt for a safer path to reach an even wider audience, especially the first time without Portnoy.

The second best song of this album is 'Outcry', a complex verse with chugging rhythm, the tempo is slowing down in the middle and they put up some Middle-Eastern passage, a great prog metal tune, but the true champion of this album is 'Breaking All Illusions'. Started with a spectacular intro, this long track is a melodic epic, pay attention to the battle of heavy riffs and killer keyboards before it slows down with some bluesy feel, what a song!

I still think the Portnoy saga is a big Dream Theater conspiracy to revive their dying image and reclaim the prog-metal throne before the original Portnoy came back to the fold in 3-4 years, but I might be wrong though. Whether that's a true prediction or not, 'A Dramatic Turn of Events' is still a pleasant album by the band, not enough to beat the classic 90s era, but I haven't been this excited with this band since 'SFaM', so that's a great sign.
Conor Fynes
'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' - Dream Theater (8/10)

Love them or hate them, Dream Theater have been one of the most influential, and successful bands in modern progressive rock. On top of laying the groundwork style for every other progressive metal band out there today, this band has been the centre of constant debate between people that virtually worship them for their virtuosity as musicians and talent, and others that condemn them for what they perceive as needless showmanship at the sacrifice of real substance. Chances are that coming onto this review, you may already have a potentially strong opinion about Dream Theater, and what they are all about. For me, this was a band that- along with other legends like Rush and Led Zeppelin- got me big into music when I was first beginning to explore beyond what my parents showed me. Their classic albums 'Images & Words' and 'Scenes From A Memory' have had an indelible impact on my development as a musician and listener, and I've loved a fair bit of what they have done since then. Admittedly, I found myself a little weary of Dream Theater's indulgent style around the time that the band's 2011 single 'On The Backs Of Angels' was announced, but all the same I went into listening to it, and was immediately impressed. The appropriately titled 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' has been met with a great deal of anticipation from alot of people, first considering that it is a Dream Theater album, but also because this is the first album that their lifelong drummer Mike Portnoy does not appear on, after being given the boot by the rest of the band. With one of their founding members gone, it was natural to expect that his departure- and the arrival of Annihilator drummer and Dream Theater newbie Mike Mangini- to have an impact on the band's direction. Portnoy was the one that pushed for Dream Theater to have a heavier sound, so I had been expecting a more progressive edge this time around, and that is exactly what 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' is about; the same proggy excellence that first got me into them. While I can imagine the legions of detractors using the seemingly unchanged sound of the band against them, I for one have been greatly satisfied by this new batch of band material, and even with one of their vital organs missing, Dream Theater is far from dead.

As was the case with the past two albums of Dream Theater, sitting down to give my first listen to the material was a very important, almost somewhat spiritual experience, especially considering that I believed only a few months before that Dream Theater was all but dead. Both fans and haters should know that there is very little that will surprise them here necessarily, but the music here is easily distinguishable from other albums, especially what they have done more recently. While I did love 'Systematic Chaos' and 'Black Clouds & Silver Linings', the removal of the contrived heaviness and Gothic darkness that Dream Theater unsuccessfully tried to evoke on previous records is a refreshing change. Dream Theater are still definitely a progressive metal band, but of that formula, the emphasis here is on that of the 'progressive', rather than the thrashy Metallica, or pseudo-death metal that Mike Portnoy kept thinking was a pretty cool and hip thing for Dream Theater to do. Besides that, this is a Dream Theater album, complete with cheesy album artwork, epic songs, virtuosic musicianship, and the apparent effort to see how much of a CD's space can be used up without making it a double album.

After my first listen to 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events', I was silent for a few minutes, trying to figure out what I thought of it. This was Dream Theater alright, but I wasn't exactly sure whether I liked it or not. Although my general impression of the album has vastly increased since first listen to this album, some of the things I noticed on first listen have stuck with me. First off, the instrumental sections here no longer have the needless sense to them, and as far as the 'technical' elements of Dream Theater go, this may be the best I've ever heard them. With the handful of longer, ten minute plus tracks, each goes into some sort of departure from the regular songwriting in order to blow the listeners away with the talents of each member. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess really shines here, and I find myself replaying these instrumental parts. What I used to consider 'noodling' from these guys doesn't sound too different on first impression, but the band has put a much greater sense of complexity here into the instrumentals that I haven't quite heard from the band before. Suffice to say, haters of Dream Theater will probably still hate Dream Theater for these instrumental 'battles', but for someone who has loved them for almost a decade, the technical instrumentation here has never sounded more thoughtful. 'Bridges In The Sky', and the album's epic highlight 'Breaking All Illusions' both have the go-to elements of this.

The other aspect of this album is the melodic, songwriting side. I was never anything short of impressed by the familiar talent and skill exerted on the instrumental side of Dream Theater's material here, but as far as the songwriting went, 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' took a few listens to warm up to me. This is largely because half of these songs are quite long and complex. 'On The Backs Of Angels' is the most instantly memorable track here, although there is much better to hear on the album. 'This Is The Life' is a brilliant mid-tempo prog rocker in a somewhat mellow vein, with a gorgeous chorus to boot. 'Bridges In The Sky' (originally given the less promising title 'The Shaman's Trance') has a real 'Glass Prison' vibe to it, but the dark progressive metal moments are contrasted with vibrant melodies and feeling. 'Far From Heaven' is a gentle piano piece that may very well hit me harder than any of Dream Theater's ballads. Here, James LaBrie's vocals and the gorgeous violins make my heart bleed rainbows. The only song here I really do not care for much is 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down', which has a similar sound to 'Caught In A Web', from 1994's 'Awake' album. It is not a terrible track, but there's nothing about it that really jumps out at me; a single bump in an otherwise awesome experience.

The true highlight here is 'Breaking All Illusions', which I can see Dream Theater fans idolizing throughout the coming months. The song has every element of an 'epic' to it, except that it is only a relatively brief twelve minutes long, as opposed to well, you know, a 'true' long song. We have one of John Petrucci's greatest guitar solos towards the end, prog metal freakouts, slower, almost Floydian mellow segments, and some of their most memorable riffs to date. Also of great importance to note is James LaBrie's performance on this, and on all other tracks on the album. He- like much of Dream Theater's sound- is another point of contention that people will argue about until breakfast time, and while he has had his moments where even I question his abilities, his vocal performance here shows him in his element. He is definitely not the sort of singer that he used to be with 'Images & Words', but he is no longer trying to sound like he is in Metallica, in other words, being something he is not. Here, he is trying to sound like James LaBrie, and his voice here is warm and full of feeling, especially on the gorgeous 'Far From Heaven' and closing ballad 'Beneath The Surface'. I would have like to have hear him pull off a few more high notes throughout the album, but I'm not disappointed. Also- lest I forget to mention- is Mike Mangini's performance, another thing that Dream Theater fans will continue to debate 'til past noon. Sadly, as the newest member of Dream Theater, he seems to get the newbie's treatment in terms of mixing, and his drum performance is less audible to me than Portnoy's work; hell, even bassist John Myung can be heard playing on this album now finally. While the drum recording could have used a little more life to it, Mangini's performance fills in the shoes of Portnoy very well, although I would be hard pressed to say he does more than that. There are techniques here where I could have sworn it was Portnoy playing, and I do not think this is coincidence; maybe Dream Theater is trying to warm up their fans to a new drummer, but I think it will take until the next album to hear what this new drummer is truly capable of.

As with all Dream Theater albums, this is an album I have some strong opinions about, although I am positive there are others- even other fans of the band- that will see things in a completely different light. 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' took me a little longer to fully appreciate than much of the other more recent material that Dream Theater has churned out, but giving it the time it deserves, I've found it to be an incredibly strong, albeit flawed album. There is still some cheese to grate off the edges of the band's sound, and one less- than-satisfying track towards the beginning does tend to have me argue against this being labelled as a 'masterpiece', but does this stand its ground against other albums by the band? Yes, and more than that; it shows them taking some of their less tasteful aspects and injecting more thought into them, making the overall sound of Dream Theater all the more powerful. Agree with me or not, 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' has wowed me and impressed me more and more with each time I listen to it, and I can see myself giving it the same long-term appreciation as I do most of the band's material.
A new Dream Theater and one surrounded with much ado about a certain line-up change. It also followed a string of albums that weren't exactly received with universal praise. So obviously this album was much anticipated and luckily for DT this album has been met with much enthusiasm. Well, after 20 years with this band I think it's safe to say I will never fully like them, their shredding tendencies as well as their average vocals and sticky pop vanilla are a too dominant feature in their sound. Too bad as there is plenty of good stuff here, some of it easily reaching a Prog Metal master degree.

After the strong opener, also 'Build Me Up' starts excellently, but the cheesy chorus reminds us Dream Theater apparently can't do without bringing down their own songs with lame pop melodies. And it gets worse further down in the album: 'This is Life', 'Far From Heaven' and ' Beneath The Surface' are dreadful sugar-sticky ballads, exactly the kind of stale fake-emotion pop you can hear on any commercial TV during prime-time. Good, enough nagging, I hope the fans are into this for the lavish 10+ minute metal epics on this album and not for the pop ballads.

Dream Theater filled the 76 minutes of this CD to the brim and I'd wish they hadn't. I'm too lazy and obnoxious to go through all the trouble of skipping all these questionable ballads to come to real treats. I expect bands to have enough self-scrutiny to do that selection themselves. A potential 4 star album leaving me with a foul after-taste. One for the fans.

Members reviews

Honestly, I didn't have very high expectations for this album. With Portnoy leaving and the sub-par quality of their previous album (along with the awful album art), I bought the album expecting it to be passable at best. How wrong I was... After a few listens, like complex music tends to do, the album began to grow on me immensely. A Dramatic Turn of Events shows Dream Theater at a career high in terms of musical complexity and songwriting. The album is certainly metal, but it's less heavy than their previous two albums, focusing instead on (what is this??) emotion in the music again! Not "Another Day" or "Hollow" emotion, but genuine progressive metal emotion more along the lines of Six Degrees. Anyways, A Dramatic Turn of events shows Dream Theater having a strong comeback. The music is top-notch, catchy, complex, progressive metal with plenty of eclectic influences. The music isn't overly worried about being heavy, just being top-tier progressive metal. A Dramatic Turn of Events is on the same level as Dream Theater's classic albums like Metropolis and Six Degrees, and is a welcome return to form from the masters despite losing one of the greatest metal drummers of all time.

Rating: 9/10
Only two years after the amazing last release "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" Dream Theater are back with a bang. They got a lot of media attention because of their split with founding member and drum workaholic Mike Portnoy who now tries to sue the band and doesn't only scrap his professional career but also his image, his friendship with the other members and finally his credibility. Thumbs down for Mike Portnoy but thumbs up for the other guys of Dream Theater who were able to write a very strong record even without the controling influence of Mike Portnoy. Most of the songs on here are written as a team. Jordann Rudess did an amazing job and sound stronger than ever on this record. Lets notice that he also wrote the drum patterns for the record that the new and very sympathetic drum monster Miek Mangini copied in his studio. He is the only new member who didn't have a writing credit on this record and I'm looking forward to see what this guy is able to play and write in a bright future with Dream Theater. Of course, John Petrucci is once again an important corner stone of this record and had many great ideas. James LaBrie gets some more credits on this record than before and his vocals sound more effortless and amazing than ever before. Even they shy guy John Myung got back on track and wrote a lot of music and also some lyrics on this album. Everything seems equilibrated on this album and Portnoy's departure seems to be a relief and released a lot of fresh creativity within the different band members. These are the reasons why this album turns out to be so strong.

Enter "A Dramatic Turn Of Events". I described the previous record as a great compilation and mixture of styles from albums such as "Six Degress Of Inner Turbulence", "Train Of Thoughts" or "Systematic Chaos" and this new record is the equivalent force to it. It touches calmer and more progressive sounds that made me adore records such as "Images And Words", "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory" or "Octavarium". The opener "On The Backs Of Angels" needs some time to grow but ultimately convinces with beautiful guitar harmonies and atmospheric keyboard section. Especially the calmest and most progressive tracks on this album are amazing like the catchy and yet epic anthem "Breaking All Illusions" or the touching and introspective ballad "Beneath The Surface".

But the band is even more diversified than this and has added some thrash orientated and modern sounds into a couple of songs that could come straight from "Train Of Thoughts" or "Systematic Chaos". The greatest example is the brilliant "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" that has many heavy and modern sounds but a catchy and beautiful chorus that contrasts the stunning beginning of the song. The great thing about this album is that it touches many different styles, ideas and genres but the choice of the track list still glues the nine songs coherently together. Every song has something different to show us even if we have heard bits and pieces of the diversified styles in many other Dream Theater albums before. This record presents us nothing new but it stagnates on a very strong level and is an important transitional album and new beginning after the departure of Mike Portnoy. This record should unite old and young fans and as I recognized, this album pleases as much to those who cite "Awake" as their favourite album as to those who would put "Train Of Thoughts" on the top of their list. That's a rare and stunning effort. With the last record, the band seems to have been able to develop away to catalyze their different styles into a well mixed melting pot of genius.

Every Dream Theater album has one song that truly stands out in my opinion and even though all songs are pretty great on this new effort, this is still the case on here. I talk about the amazing "Bridges In The Sky" that has almost made it as the title track of the album. The song mixes haunting shaman chants with atmospheric choirs, keyboards passages and even new age influences that lead to heavy and almost thrash orientated verses and beautiful choruses. Every instrument plus the vocals shine in this masterpiece that I would put slightly in front of the other stunning epics "Breaking All Illusions", followed by "Outcry" and finally "Lost Not Forgotten". This song contains everything Dream Theater is still about in 2011. I don't like stupid general comments but I would make an exception here and say that you don't like Dream Theater if you don't like this song.

In the end, the only reason why this record isn't my favourite one of the band and only placed second behind the previous "Black Clouds And Silver Linings" is that there are maybe one or two ballads too much on the record with "This Is The Life" and "Far From Heaven" and that the band doesn't try out something completely new yet. But I feel that the best is yet to come and that this album will also still grow on me. This album is definitely in my top ten of the best metal releases of the year and a must have for any fan of progressive music of any kind.
The Truth
They haven't done anything this good in a long, long time. Too long as a matter of fact, this is the best thing since Images & Words, the band's best record. It's not an exaggeration to say that this album is quite possibly Dream Theater's second best record ever.

Enough with all the rambling and onto why the record is good. Bottomline is Dream Theater does metal really badly and I think that Mike Portnoy tried to force feed a metal sound into the band's chemistry. What Dream Theater is really good at is progressive metal and with Portnoy gone it really sounds like the band came together and explored their sonic capabilities. We see that they're very much capable of greatness.

A Dramatic Turn of Events contains from start to finish material that rivals parts of Scenes From a Memory and is almost on par with Images & Words. The band sounds much more original than they have the past decade and you can sit back and listen to this record without any regrets.

Let yourself experience the true rebirth of a metal great, let Rudess and Petrucci take you on a ride completely free of the metal limitations they previously had. See for yourself how good this record is.
Dream Theater of late has been known more for the drama between ex-drummer Mike Portnoy and the band, first with the departure of Portnoy, then the dramatisation of the auditions for drummers, with the band posting videos of the entire audition process online (which honestly, left a bad taste in my mouth, with the videos almost feeling as if the band were out to make a quick cash-in on the attention) after that, finally naming Mike Mangini as the new member of the band. It is incredibly apt then, that the band name their new album A Dramatic Turn of Events, with a new member replacing the role of one of the band's former and founding members.

While Dream Theater's recent albums, namely Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds and Silver Linings have gained much critical acclaim, they did not particularly leave much of an impression of me, with the numerous recycled ideas (in particular the 12-step AA-themed songs) and the heavier direction that the band seemed to be going. Personal favourites of the band's releases have been Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory and the softer Octavarium. Therefore, on first listen to A Dramatic Turn of Events, it was indeed pleasantly surprising, with the band once more heading towards the form that they have crated with Octavarium, though managing to retain the element of heaviness in their music.

Opening track On the Backs of Angels begins promisingly, with a soft intro that almost reminds listeners of the epic Octavarium, before the acoustic guitars of John Petrucci come in and it does not take long for the listener to recognise the band to be Dream Theater as the band soon breaks into some technical, progressive passages, with Petrucci and Rudess taking turns taking over the lead instrument, like they do as before. It is nice for once to hear Petrucci putting some emotions into his playing (even his shredding), especially on songs like This is the Life, compared to the usual mechanical style that he utilises, making past heavier material sound as if his only goal is to squeeze as many notes as possible into a solo. Rudess, as usual, incorporates his neoclassical-style of playing on his keyboards, along with quirky moments that he has come to be known for on songs like Lost Not Forgotten. He plays a role at times in providing the symphonic elements in the music on tracks like Bridges in the Sky as well. LaBrie's vocals are also strong, though on this record he does not really push his vocal range as much as previous releases, instead choosing to focus on the emotions and the melodies that are present in the music, though on songs like Build Me Up, Break Me Down he does do some screams and shouts here and there.

As already mentioned, the songwriting style on A Dramatic Turn of Events has taken a turn to a softer and more melodic style, and this can be seen on songs like Build Me Up, Break Me Down, with the big hooks in the chorus and the overall melodic songwriting style, despite the song containing some of the heaviest riffs on the album, along with Lost Not Forgotten. The inclusion of the ballads on the album like This is the Life and Far from Heaven also seem to signal the direction that Dream Theater is heading towards with this album, and I, for one, am not complaining about it being a sucker for their softer stuff right from the start. This is not to say that the band has forsaken heaviness and technicality though. Heavier songs like the first half of Bridges in the Sky also manage to get listeners headbanging along with the band easily, and Petrucci displays his chops on the face-ripping guitar solo on Outcry, and the song sees the band bringing listeners on a technical ride, reminding them of moments taken off Metropolis - Part 1.

This album is not without complaints though. For one, the drums of Mike Mangini sound somewhat restrained, with few moments that really give him a chance to display his talents even though the odd time signatures and transitions are still present, but the drums were mixed to somehow sound weaker compared to the rest of the instruments, and this is no fault of his since the band mentioned that the drums were written before the place of the drummer was confirmed, and Mangini's performance on the auditions display his true abilities. And of course, while contentious, not hearing Mike Portnoy's backup vocals felt slightly weird, with moments that could have seen his vocals fitting in perfectly, but things like this blow over quickly. Myung's bass is also hardly audible throughout, and it seems that little attention is given to him, and while replicating riffs that Petrucci is playing already displays his technical capabilities, it would have been nice to listen to his improvisation once in awhile. Then there are the cheesy song titles, like Build Me Up, Break Me Down and Lost Not Forgotten, which could make fans of the band slightly hesitant.

Overall though, A Dramatic Turn of Events has been an extremely pleasant and soothing ride, and sufficiently proves the band's tightness as a songwriting and performance unit. The large melodic and catchy moments on the album are sure to attract any fan of melodic, yet technical metal, and suffice to say, I would personally take this over Systematic Chaos or Black Clouds and Silver Linings any day.

Consider this musical lease renewed.

For Dream Theater, there's a lot riding on their first album without Mike Portnoy. The leading up to the release, the questions loomed large: Can they hold to a cohesive vision? Will the production quality be up to snuff? Can Mike Mangini handle the material - let alone offer his own contributions?

When I finally was able to listen to the album for myself, the answer was an enthusiastic "YES" on all accounts! Any worries that the band would follow in the footsteps of the post-Neal Morse Spock's Beard are completely assuaged.

The band certainly has stepped it up in this release, with material that reflects the reality that their careers are riding on its success. The clear creative forces behind the music are John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess, who have a long history together of weaving complex and compelling musical storytelling. Both also offer a strong ear for great production value, which is evident from the very first listen.

Of course, the wild card was Mike Mangini. In this reviewer's opinion, that card turns out to be an ace. He does way more than mimic Mike Portnoy's meticulous and frenetic drumming, bringing a sound that he owns. His chops don't just keep up, but blaze new territory with some of the most original and intricate drumming we've ever heard from Dream Theater.

Every song on the album is strong, with my personal favorite being the anthemic Outcry. All the music is at once accessible and deeply complex, offering something for every level of prog-appreciation.

Dream Theater has turned over a new leaf. Is it because Portnoy left, or just because they had to renew themselves in his absence? Whatever the answer, the result speaks for itself--and bodes well for the future of the band.

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