LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT — Liquid Tension Experiment (review)

LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT — Liquid Tension Experiment album cover Album · 1998 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
3.5/5 ·
This all-star band consists of Dream Theater members John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy, with former Dixie Dregs keyboardist (and future DT member) Jordan Rudess, and King Crimson/Peter Gabriel’s Tony Levin holding the low end on bass and Chapman Stick.

When Portnoy was given the invitation to form this supergroup, he could have took the easy way out and produced instrumentals in the vein of Dream Theater’s “Erotomania” or the frantic sections in “Metropolis, Pt. 1”. The passion and spirit carries over for making well-thought out and interesting compositions, but this project is musically quite different from Portnoy’s main band.

It definitely has something to do with the influence of Steve Morse on Petrucci’s playing style as well as Rudess being a former Dreg, but a good portion of this material reminds me of a heavier Dixie Dregs (minus the country/bluegrass elements). Tracks such as “Paradigm Shift”, “Kindred Spirits” and “Universal Mind” have that tight rhythmic groove and soaring leads that much of Morse’s material contains (with the Dregs and solo).

No doubt that Petrucci shreds on this album, but there are some rather memorable moments where his playing either relies on fewer notes but more emphasis on subtlety and melody (“Osmosis”, “Freedom Of Speech”, “State Of Grace”), but even in these moments the band can’t help but show off their chops. However, on the tracks “The Stretch” and “Chris and Kevin’s Excellent Adventure”, the theatrics are minimized slightly as guitar is eliminated from the equation. These tracks serve as effectively punchy interludes to showcase Tony Levin’s abilities, with most of the support coming from Rudess on “The Stretch” and Portnoy in “Adventure”.

Just as things were going along smoothly, we hit the ironically titled “3 Minute Warning”. The liner notes give warning about “extreme self-indulgence”, and that really isn’t that far off. This piece, 28 minutes spread over 5 tracks, is basically an extended jam session. I mustn’t have found it all that worthwhile initially since I didn’t have this part of the album ripped to my computer prior to this review, and while there are a few bright spots, it’s like most jams – hit and miss.

Overall, I’d say LTE is a well-put together instrumental album that should please many fans of progressive rock or metal.
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