DREAM THEATER — Dream Theater

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3.57 | 60 ratings | 8 reviews
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Album · 2013

Tracklist

1. False Awakening Suite (2:42)
I. Sleep Paralysis
II. Night Terrors
III. Lucid Dream
2. The Enemy Inside (6:17)
3. The Looking Glass (4:53)
4. Enigma Machine (6:01)
5. The Bigger Picture (7:40)
6. Behind The Veil (6:52)
7. Surrender To Reason (6:34)
8. Along For The Ride (4:45)
9. Illumination Theory (22:17)
I. Paradoxe de la Lumière Noire
II. Live, Die, Kill
III. The Embracing Circle
IV. The Pursuit of Truth
V. Surrender, Trust & Passion

Total time: 68:01

Line-up/Musicians

- James Labrie / Vocals
- John Petrucci / Guitar
- John Myung / Bass
- Jordan Ruddess / Keyboards
- Mike Mangini / Drums

About this release

Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: September 24, 2013
Format: standard and special edition CDs, 180-gram double LP, and a limited-edition boxed set

Recorded at Cove City Studio in Glen Cove, Long Island.
Produced by John Petrucci.
Mixed and engineered by Richard Chycki.

Thanks to Stooge for the addition and adg211288 for the updates

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The Angry Scotsman
While I have not been a big fan of DT's output over the preceding decade, finding these albums either hit/miss or lackluster, (and I admit I'm odd that I feel the band actually peaked with "Train of Thought") I was intrigued to listen to this album, since it would be the first to have Mike Mangini fully integrated in the creative process. Perhaps he would bring some new ideas, or spark a change I felt they long needed, and being a drummer I at least wanted to hear what he's got.

Well, it doesn't seem very different from anything Dream Theater has done before. Aside from shorter songs it seems a very standard Dream Theater affair. Mangini is clearly a talented drummer, though I can't say his work here was much "better" or even radically different from Portnoy. I would say he has a more "technical" style, and I do like his drumming, there's some impressive stuff.

The album has a good sound to it, I think the guitars sound good, heavy but not ridiculous, just have a good tone, the drums sound great, I am still not a big fan of LaBrie's vocals but they are fine, and not placed well in the mix. I hear a tiny bit more Myung but that's not hard considering I never hear his bass at all, it's still not prominent at all and missing on most of it.

While the music is typical Dream Theater, and still hit or miss for me, I do think this is a better album than any of their recent ones with some great standouts. The album opens with the awesome instrumental "False Awakening Suite" a keyboard heavy, fun piece filled with choirs, great melodies, drumming and instrumentation and moves into "The Enemy Inside" which may be the best song DT has made since Train of Thought.

"The Enemy Inside" is packed with great riffs, melodies and has a superb flow. It doesn't linger, it doesn't move at breakneck speed or with abrupt changes, just has a great pace. It's a very well composed song, with everything having its place, and getting show off, but working together, and the drumming kicks ass. It frustrates me songs this good, this well written, are possible but generally elude the band.

"Enigma Machine" is another standout. A classic DT instrumental bursting with epic riffs and virtuosic musicianship, it's compact and packs a wallop. Mangini's greatest display on the album. "Illumination Theory" is the other highlight, a 20 minute prog epic that features it all, "Metal Heaven" as I'd call it, great riffs, great flow and pace, and some awesome moments. There is a long interlude, and everyone gets to show off. I mean everyone, Myung has his section and even LaBrie shows some range and hits some real shockers. As always guitar and drums dominate, with Petrucci and Mangini really impressing. One of the better prog metal epics from the band.

Those were the highlights. "The Looking Glass" is a really good song and it's nice to see DT can be DT, but without lingering on and on or sounding stale. The rest of the album I find lackluster. Uninspired and boring. There are good moments of course but not enough to really call the songs good.

So what to make of the eponymous "Dream Theater"? There is nothing that will surprise you, nothing is added, or removed, and the album is inconsistent. The musicianship is good though, including a real coming out party for Mangini, and there are some songs that are quite good. The others, while not special, are not bad by any means. The shorter songs do of course mean there is less time to linger in the so so areas. So, I have to say this album is not a superb effort, but stronger than the last few DT albums and have some of the better songs they've made in a decade.

Three Stars

UMUR
"Dream Theater" is the self-titled 12th full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through Roadrunner Records in September 2013. Releasing a self-titled album this late in your career, often signals a change in musical direction or maybe more often a return to the roots. In Dream Theater´s case that´s not really true though, and while I´m not sure about this, I assume that in this case the title is meant to signal that the band are now a more harmonic and tight nit unit, than the case was when Mike Portnoy was with the band. That´s a wild guess though and maybe they just couldn´t come up with a better title.

The music on the album pretty much continue down the same path as on the last couple of releases. In other words this is Dream Theater as we know them and love(hate) them. The musicianship is outstanding as ever. Challenging guitar and keyboard work, intricate and adventurous rythms, progressive song structures and James Labrie´s strong and distinct sounding vocals in front. The most significant change from their previous releases is on the drum post. Mike Mangini did play the drums and was a permanent member of the lineup on "A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)", but at the time he was hired, the drum parts for the album were already written, and he basically played as a session musician on that album. So this is the first time, he is allowed to put his own mark on the music, and it is heard. While his drumming style fits Dream Theater´s music well there are notable differences between his playing and the playing of his predecessor. And that´s a great positive in my opinion, as it was something I missed on "A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)".

The material on the 9 track, 68:01 minutes long album primarily consist of tracks between 2 and 7 minutes in length and it´s only the 22:17 minutes long closing track "Illumination Theory", that is really long on this album. Heavier tracks like "The Enemy Within" and "Behind the Veil" stand pretty strong in the picture, but there are generally too many "by the numbers" tracks, that don´t really make a lasting impression. Tracks like "Along For The Ride", "The Bigger Picture" and "Surrender to Reason" are examples of this. They are competently written and all feature enjoyable sections, but they don´t add anything new to Dream Theater´s sound and Dream Theater have simply produced better material in this style before. Even the instrumental "Enigma Machine", which is occasionally brilliant, isn´t that memorable. "Illumination Theory" is not surprisingly one of the highlights of the album, featuring structural twists and turns and several intriguing sections. It´s interesting how they incorporate classical soundtrack type sections both on "Illumination Theory" but also on the opening track "False Awakening Suite" (oh well the use of classical orchestration is more bombastic on this track and kind of reminds me of Symphony X).

Dream Theater are as always a distinct sounding band, even though their influences occasionally surface. Take a listen to the very obvious Rush influence on "The Looking Glass" and on the opening section of "Surrender to Reason" for an example of that. With this self-titled release they´ve created yet another quality progressive metal release to add to their already sizable discography. Although the sound production (which features the sharpest drum production since "Awake (1994)"), the musicianship and the songwriting are all on a high level, it´s still not an album in the better end of their output, but still a 3.5 star (70%) rating is deserved.
AtomicCrimsonRush
Dream Theater are still an Enigma Machine. "Dream Theater" opens with a very dramatic classical orchestration with heavy dark foreboding strains 'False Awakening Suite'; that lasts just under 3 minutes, yet inexplicably is in 3 parts, but it is a grand start to this latest Dream Theater project. The metal speed licks really take off on 'The Enemy Inside' and there is that familiar DT sound with Labrie's vocals, and the precision riffing of Petrucci along with the power of Rudess keys and the rhythm machine of Myung and Mangini. They really are a force to be reckoned with, blending heavy duty power metal riffs with melodic orchestrations on this release. The violins and cellos certainly are a blast of fresh air not found on other albums of recent years, not counting the one off "Score" concert. The music in the opening song greets me like a long lost friend and is as great as any other DT I have heard. I looked forward to hearing new original instrumental breaks and the band certainly pour out their passion on this track; an incredible start to the album.

Next up is 'The Looking Glass' with a melodic guitar riff and some odd time sigs mixed in the structure. Sounds like they are channelling Rush; is that a bad thing? Even the lyrics are about the pitfalls of fame sounding like Neal Peart's ideologies in his composition 'Limelight'. It has a great lead break over a pulsating bassline, but overall this is not one of the best songs I have heard from the band, a bit drawn out and too reliant on a basic melody.

'Enigma Machine' runs for 6 minutes, beginning with chiming keys that are chilling and ethereal. The deep metal distortion crashes through beautifully. It locks into a weird time sig, reminiscent of the Inspector Gadget theme, but it has a compelling atmosphere. This track is one of the reasons to get hold of this album. The lead break goes into overdrive with twin powering on the speed licks and trade offs with the keyboards. Then it goes up a few gears with staccato Hammond flourishes, and double kick drums at a frenetic pace. Rudess chops out some amazing keyboard phrases and then there is an astonishing lead break with hyper speed fret melting Petrucci who is blindingly brilliant. The pace slows into a shuffling crawl, till a new section takes over with more fractured signatures and gob smacking riffing, then a drum solo and more melodic motifs. What a masterpiece instrumental!

'The Bigger Picture' is a long song at 7:40, and features LaBrie in a melancholy mood, softly singing to a gentle piano. The tranquil atmosphere is a standard for DT who always include a soft ballad at some point. After the blitzkrieg attack of the previous track it is not such a bad thing in context. The chorus builds into a heavier vibe and very catchy melody. The song actually gets quite heavy with choppy riffs and a string orchestra cascading over like warm honey. The lead break is glorious, empowered with twin harmonics and simplistic string bends and sustain. This song grew on me as a genuine highlight due to the powerful melodies.

'Behind the Veil' opens with ominous horns and atmospherics, a cinematic soundscape, and very eerie keyboard shrieks. Suddenly the peace is punctured like a balloon with a flurry of thrashing metal riffs, and it locks into a rocking rhythm with very dirty guitar distortion. LaBrie moves into his nasty mood with spiteful lyrics and it is apparent this has a dark edge about the evil that men do. The instrumental break is terrific with Rudess and Petrucci having way too much fun trying to outdo each other in technical finesse. This is an aggressive song and certainly a thrashing prog fest by any standard.

'Surrender to Reason' is layered with synth strings, opens with an Alex Lifeson guitar sound and transcends into Porcupine Tree territory with acoustic guitars in the verses, then builds into tricky distortion riffs and grandiose organ flourishes. Not a highlight of the album but it has the power to grow on you.

'Along for the Ride' is the obligatory ballad of the album, LaBrie revels in these and of course it breaks up the incessant complex riffs and instrumental workouts. The acoustics are crystal clear, and LaBrie is an accomplished balladeer. The problem is this sounds the same as other DT songs and sticks to formula. The band could do with a revamp and try something different as it's getting very similar from album to album. Having said that, there is a section where Keith Emerson walks in and begins to play a ditty on the Moog, actually it's Rudess at his rudest mimicking 'Lucky Man's sound, but of course a Moog moment can never go astray for the prog afficianado.

'Illumination Theory' is the huge momentous epic, a 22:17 pomp romp of prog excess as only Dream Theater can perform. It is in 5 sections in classic prog style, a multi movement suite in the classical tradition; I Paradoxe de la Lumière Noire, II Live, Die, Kill, III The Embracing Circle, IV The Pursuit of Truth and V Surrender, Trust & Passion. It segues together like all great epics almost seamlessly and I can only shake my head in awe at the end of this mammoth track. It opens with stirring string ensemble and then plunges into a rhythmic distorted metal outbreak. So far so good. Then a riff that is lifted from "Images and Words" locks into place and LaBrie decides it's time to sing. The musicianship is awesome and saves this from getting dull even after 6 minutes of kanoodling and spouting off New Age influenced conspiracy theories about the Illuminati; "we seek to understand." A lovely keyboard workout follows and then a lead guitar domination, certainly driving the point home that the band are virtuosos. The music settles into an ambient scape with ghostly reverberations and strange chimes. There are even bird sounds as the orchestra movement begins to play; an extended violin and cello arrangement that stirs the soul. This piece stands out as it is a genuine classical symphony sound that is generated. It sounds like someone switched channels and we are hearing the ending of some old classic romance movie. This would make a beautiful concerto on the live stage and it took me by surprise after all the rock.

The power metal returns as though lurking round the corner ready to strike, with loud LaBrie languishing eloquently about mothers, children, wives and fighting for your life, teachers and students, crimes and freedom; whatever he is on about LaBrie is giving the microphone a real pasting. The epic shifts up a few gears as the pace quickens, with frenetic piano spasms and a schizo staccato riff, along with hyperactive percussive rhythms. The brilliance of all this chaos is answered with a swift lead guitar speed picking passage until Rudess says shove over it's my turn. Rudess' keyboard break is insane here with some of his best arpeggios and he is answered by Petrucci's wah wah workout; okay, we know you can play, genius! After this indulgence where is there to go but to move back to conventional melodies, a reprise of the string ensemble and LaBrie singing uplifting lines such as "you must suffer through the pain, when you surrender to the light you can face the darkest days." We believe his conviction and a huge crescendo climaxes. It is all so majestic and uplifting that you can't help but be mesmirised by the sheer spectacle of it all. The band go into full flight as the finale nears, with Petrucci's soaring lead guitar licks and Mellotron sounds emanating beneath. The darkness has lifted and all is well with the world again. Oh, just time for a ghost track with stirring symphonic prog nuances and a piano to boot. No complaints from me; this is bombastic prog at its proudest, with DT waving the prog metal flag triumphantly.

This latest Dream Theater album is a real mixed inconsistent affair; moments of brilliance with moments of familiar territory that demands some kind of diversity. The band are getting too familiar to be honest, and could do with a real shake up to try something different. Each album is sounding the same and some of the material on this latest album leaves a lot to be desired especially the middle section. Also Mangini's drums sound a bit synthetic lacking Portnoy's punchy style. The creative department also needs a shake up as there is not a lot of lyrical punch and Mangini had input into the songwriting but it has not affected the band that much at all; they still opt for the safe approach revisiting what has worked on previous albums.

Of course the opening tracks, and instrumental are brilliant, along with the epic final track, so this could be enough to warrant a 4 star rating and I have to consider whether this measures up to other 4 star albums of DT. And what is with that dull album cover and uninspired title? Not exactly as if there was a lot of effort put into it. One has to ask, if this does not measure up to the masterpiece releases whether this is as even as good as "Awake", "Six degrees?" and "Black clouds and silver linings", all of which I awarded 4 star reviews. Really it is not as good as these, so is it then better than the middle of the road 3 star albums "Systematic Chaos", "Train of Thought" or even "Falling into Infinity"? Well, it definitely had more impact on me than those which leads me to believe a marginal 3.5 star rating is warranted. I will settle for 4 stars but only due to the astonishing symphony intro, the awesome instrumental and colossal epic that I really enjoyed, especially all the symphonic elements, and guitar and keyboard freakouts. Dream Theater still hold the attention and even though this is no masterpiece it is well worth a listen and as always is going to divide the prog fanbase, which has become an essential part of the band's appeal. Love 'em or loathe 'em, Dream Theater still has the power to make the rock world wake up and take notice.
arcane-beautiful
Oddly enough, this is my first time ever reviewing a Dream Theater album. Which is odd, because I have been a massive fan of this band for 10 years now. In fact, if it weren't for this band, I would never have started to play guitar. I wouldn't have discovered the wonderful world of progressive music. So...here we go...

After a return to form with their last album “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”, this new album, a self titled 13th studio affair is pretty much a taster of what's to come for the band in the future. So how does it hold up, Well...its a mixed bag really. Much like every Dream Theater album (except for the classics obviously).

Mangini's drumming, which is pretty much the hook for the album is pretty impressive. I've always been in love with this guys technique and ability. It is odd not hearing Portnoy's sound (dugga dugga dugga as I like to call it), but I do like a new spice added to an old broth. James' vocals are also show a pretty noticeable change, with his vocals sounding a lot more comfortable than on previous releases. And with his solo album doing so well, this guy is probably on top of the world at the moment (with his facebombing beard...and a beautiful beard it is).

Mix wise, this album is a lot better. This time the guitar sound isn't too overbearing, and finally...the bass can be heard. John Myung is one of the best players on the planet, yet his bass sound over the past album has almost been inaudible. Good to hear the funk put back in the band again.

And as usual Petrucci and Rudess sound amazing...but they always do. Damn those wizards.

The album's opener “False Awakening Suite” is the band's attempt at creating opening music for their tours. In many ways it reminds me of a Symphony X instrumental, with the intro to “Paradise Lost” coming to mind. A nice little composition with some pretty cool riffs and bombastic uses of orchestration.

The lead single “The Enemy Inside” is one of the best introduction songs these guys have released since “Constant Motion.” With a rather heavier approach to the bands sound with some modern metal influences, with the use of discords and stuff, the band show a more modern sound. Lyrically the song deals with the topic of post traumatic stress disorder, and I have to admit, it does have some good lyrical moments.

“The Looking Glass” is probably one of my favourite songs on the album. Now, I will admit, the main riff is pretty much a Rush rip off (maybe a tribute, just to be nice), but as the song goes on, it does move in to rather more beautiful territories. The lyrics deal with fame and are aimed at people who get fame from no work and stuff. I have to admit, some of the lyrics and lines I'm pretty impressed by.

In all of Dream Theater's albums and career, I have never heard what I would describe as a 'filler track'...but I'm afraid that I finally have found one. “Behind The Veil” pretty much just sounds like certain sounds heard on this album meshed together. The chorus is rather weak but there is some rather good moments throughout it.

The album's final track “Illumination Theory” is the album's longest track, being just under 20 minutes (with a hidden Easter egg at the end). In many ways this track reminds me of “The Count Of Tuscany,” except the opposite. On “The Count Of Tuscany”, I really didn't like the metal bits and favoured the softer bits. But, the metal bits on this song I absolutely love, mainly because it reminds me of a more classic style of metal. The softer moments on this are rather good, but the most oddest bit would be the middle part of the song. It does sound nice and al, it just comes from nowhere. The ending Easter egg is also pretty cool and rather beautiful...and if this was the start of the next album, it would be a pretty cool idea.

In conclusion, this album reminds me of the way I felt when I listened to Rush's “Clockwork Angels”. A good album, a return to form, joyous music...but still not 100% rubbing me the right way. By far not their best and by far not their worst, this is a pretty decent affair. Their ain't no instant classics on this album, but there is some pretty decent minor experiments cropping up now and then. In all fairness, James' solo album is in fact a way more enjoyable affair...which I know is a very odd thing to say, but...it makes sense. At the end of the day, Dream Theater have become the new Rush. They will always excel with their talent, always impress with their old and new material and to this day are one of the biggest cult bands on the planet. So really nothing I can say will dampen their already perfect image. Good on ya lads!

8.1/10
progshine
Every new Dream Theater album there's a rain of reviews everywhere. 90% of them are separated into 2 categories: The Fanatics and The Haters. The first one forget everything else give it 5 stars and only focus on the fact this is their favorite band and this is their best album ever. The second will not listen the album with attention, give it 2 stars and call it the worst (once again).

I don't like fanatics and I hate the haters, so...

I always liked DT besides not liking their earlier albums, my favorites will always be Scenes and Six Degrees. I was avoiding to listen the new album (the same as the latest one) just because the facts I mentioned before, I was waiting for things 'cool down' a bit. Well yesterday I feel like listening, so, here's what I think.

Yes, it is a downhill for the band, but I wasn't expecting anything anyway since I thought exactly the same about A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011) but thing in DT HQs are getting REALLY dull and they're taking everything for granted.

When Mike Portnoy was on board he was a big driving force for the band together with John Petrucci, they were sharing lyrics and producer seat, now the guitarrist is alone, and that's not good. To begin with, Petrucci lyrics are horrible most of the time and he seems to be writing for teenagers, and I think he is, intentionally, to 'get' this audience. On the producer side Petrucci pretty much ignores everything but the guitars. Yeah, DT was always guitars and drums, but now only guitars matter. John Myung is said by many to have a voice now... where? On the 20 seconds per song he appears? Usually MYung is just... not there, then out of nowhere his bass will appear for 15 or 20 seconds and then they are gone again. Mike Mangini had a hard time filling some big shoes and he does pretty well, but the sounds of the drums... why? Sometimes it even looks like some electronic kit because of the effects. Petrucci is a very good player, will always be, and he can write some good songs and riffs, but he just can't play the acoustic, and he tries twice on Dream Theater (2013), both times looks like a robot playing. I have never liked James LaBrie voice but I do think it fits the band's sound, but here... LaBrie is soul-less in pretty much everywhere, as if tired or just plain bored, no nice hooks no memorable singing lines. He seems to be happier on his solo project but DT is a safe job, so he stays. My surprise for the album is Jordan Rudess, always disliked his style and always thought he was the weak link of the chain. Despite the fact he uses that kind of Power Metal/Gothic Metal cheap choir keyboards in some moments he pretty much did very well along the album and have more variety in his keyboards sounds.

Now, the songs... they're weak, VERY weak. You know you have a big problem when your best songs are the single 'The Enemy Inside' and the instrumental 'Enigma Machine'. 'False Awakening Suite' is nothing but the worst piece I've heard and it should never be allowed on the record. 'The Looking Glass' is an unexplicable AOR track that sees the band playing some 80's kind of hair metal, at least here you can hear Myung. 'The Bigger Picture, as I mentioned before, sees Mangini playing a drum that looks like an electronic one.

Now, the big suite'Illumination Theory', an 'epic' with over 22 minutes. Well, let me tell you something, this 'epic' has nothing more nothing less than around 14 minutes long indeed and it is a shame for a band like DT to use this kind of trick just to have a longer piece on the album. 22 minutes, less 2 minutes of 'nature and illumination sounds' = 20, right after that less 4 minutes of a really nice orchestral bit but that is COMPLETELY out of place (it could have been used as the intro though) = 16 minutes. Then, before the 20th minute mark the song is over, 20 seconds of silence and then... an inexplicable piano (with a guitar on the background) jam for 2 minutes = 14 minutes of real music...

I said something on my SW review some time ago that fits here completely: DT are great selers, and it shows on this album. They sell their fans a apretty box but empty inside and the worst part is that the bans buy it with a smile. Just this time not even the box is pretty...
Stephen
This eponymous album was supposed to serve as the culmination of their whole career so far and hence the large range of influences from their early era right to the last album with Mangini, 'A Dramatic Turn of Events', and as good as it goes, this album still can't touch the peak era of 92-99 and I personally think 'Dramatic' is a bit better.

However, there are lots of great moments here that surpassed the dark dull years of 2000-2009. 'False Awakening Suite' made a good intro, very movie-score track and I read that this is going to be the original concert opener instead of covers. The first single, 'The Enemy Inside', is fantastic thrashy prog and second best track after the magnificent 'The Looking Glass', which seems to be the third single. The intro riffs is almost similar to VAN HALEN and other Arena rockers but looks like the whole song was majorly influenced by 80s RUSH.

'Enigma Machine' is groovy and one of their technical expertise showcase, some really favor this but I think it's just a good track. 'The Bigger Picture' is slightly better and Labrie's vocal is simply beautiful here. After the intro, it cools down with a nice touch of piano and acoustic guitar and then shifted to great chorus with a very nice melodic interlude in the middle.

'Behind The Veil' is amazing although I can sense they ripped off METALLICA's 'Creeping Death' style, this is less-prog and more straight forward metal track. 'Surrender To Reason' is another nod to RUSH, very similar style and also a good track. 'Along For The Ride' is probably the sequel to 'Beneath The Surface' but with some rockin' moment, the Rudess solo is even implemented the same sound effect. 'Illumination Theory' is heavy and complex, has all DT signature inside and hard not to love this as a DT fan but sometimes the lengthy track can be a threat and requires a certain mood to fully appreciate that. I also like the calming spacey moment that bridge the whole song.

Bottomline, a great disc and slightly weaker than 'Dramatic' but I must say quite on par with 'Awake'.

82%
adg211288
Dream Theater (2013) is the self-titled twelfth full-length album release by US progressive metal genre leaders Dream Theater. It's the second album released without co-founding drummer Mike Portnoy after A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011). Unlike that album, new drummer Mike Mangini has this time been involved in the writing of the album, although it remains a mostly John Petrucci penned release, having written all lyrics except for those to Surrender to Reason (which were written by bassist John Myung) and having credits for writing the music on every single track along with keyboardist Jordan Rudess.

Quite why Dream Theater have chosen their twelfth album of all things to be self-titled is unknown to me, although I can think of a couple of possibilities. It could perhaps be because by this stage in their career, even with Portnoy's surprise exit, people know where they're at with Dream Theater. This is a band that you know are going to deliver high quality progressive metal, but without breaking their own mould, at least not in any significant way. In this sense they are victims of their own success. I love Dream Theater's music and the prior A Dramatic Turn of Events ended up being one of my favourite albums by the group, but I haven't been able to get really excited for the last few Dream Theater releases the way I can other bands work, because there's never any doubt in my mind what the album is going to more or less sound like, and Dream Theater proves to be no exception.

It could also be though because the songs on Dream Theater seem to represent every aspect of the band that they've presented to date. You have your heavy and intense sounds of the latter days as per albums like Train of Thought (2003) in the form of a track like lead single The Enemy inside (which let's just take a moment to point out is the best single Dream Theater have put out to promote an album in ages), instrumental work in Enigma Machine, an epic of over twenty minutes in length in Illumination Theory, as well as songs which feel more like old school Dream Theater like The Looking Glass, and a balladry type in Along for the Ride. There are some newer developments to be heard of course. A decent portion of the album can be consider as symphonic progressive metal, something that really began to show on A Dramatic Turn of Events while some of the guitar riffs have a bit of power metal technique to them. Whether the latter is the result of new influence from Mangini or simply an unintentional fluke is beyond my ability to say, but all the same it was quite nice to hear it flavouring Dream Theater’s otherwise technical proggy sound on a couple of tracks.

Or it could be a bit of both. Or neither. It's all just speculation on my part and either is a valid reason for a self-titled release after being around twenty-eight years in my view. Let’s just hope that whatever the band’s reason for the title it’s not that they consider this the definitive Dream Theater release, because quite honestly it’s far from it. Although it would be unfair to say it brings the band’s run of high quality albums, which began with fan favourite Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (1999), to an end, Dream Theater is a step down from the last couple of offerings from the group, especially the prior A Dramatic Turn of Events. It’s a solid album, the sort of work that an established and skilled group like Dream Theater should be putting out, but it only really achieves the bare minimum of what I expect of them.

There are a few ups and downs to be found during the release when talking song quality. It starts of excellent with a short instrumental, False Awakening Suite (bet that everyone, like me, thought this would be one of their epic length tracks when the titles were first released) which surges into the riff driven The Enemy Inside. The quality stays high until The Bigger Picture, which comes over as being filler in comparison to the album's previous offerings. This song marks the turning point for the album; everything prior is either exceptional or top tier work but at this point the album has got as good as it’s ever going to get. While further songs like Behind the Veil and the album’s epic closer Illumination Theory go on to assert themselves as album highlights nothing to able to compare to the sort of energy heard in the early stages of the release. Illumination Theory does of course showcase how to do an epic twenty plus minute track right but at the same time falls short of the greatness of past classics. All songs are great based on their own merits but I can’t shake the feeling that Dream Theater is one case where the whole isn’t greater than the sum of its parts, but the opposite. It’s also been the opposite of an album that could be called a grower, as I’ve been left with lesser impressions with every listen I’ve given the album.

Dream Theater may be a step down for the legendary band but ultimately I can’t say it disappointed me. It has several betters in the band’s catalogue such as the albums I’ve mentioned previously in this review but also Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009) and Octavarium (2005) deserve mentions, not to of course forget breakthrough release Images & Words (1992). But it also stands superior to several of their releases including Falling into Infinity (1997), Systematic Chaos (2007) and Awake (1994), making Dream Theater something of a mid-range album for the band. A great album tier rating is deserved.

84/100

(Originally written for Heavy Metal Haven: http://metaltube.freeforums.org/dream-theater-dream-theater-t3192.html)

Members reviews

diamondblack
Let me start with few words about this legendary band. I do realise that there are a lot of DT haters, I don't really understand why. Maybe because DT considered to be a pioneer of Progressive Metal? But let's face it, if it wasn't for these guys we might not have other great Prog Metal bands. Prog Metal without Dream Theater is like Thresh Metal without Metallica or Megadeth. Come on guys, you have to have an open mind and embrace that these guys are legends. New self titled album in my opinion is amazing with amazing melodies and riffs. As much as we all like Mike Portnoy, he is a top class drummer, but it's time to move on as he is not coming back anytime soon and new Drummer is exceptional as well. This album is a masterpiece IMO , all Dream Theater albums are mature and emotional with exceptional musicain skills and techniques. All tracks on this album are unique to DT style, but that's what we love them for. John and guys are all Cream of the crop musicians. Real highlights of the album IMO are Enigma Machine and Illumination Theory. It's not to say that other tracks are bad, they are all great. Please have open mind and try to listen to album a few times before judging it. This album deserves 5 stars in my book. Well done guys.

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