DREAM THEATER — A Dramatic Turn of Events (review)

DREAM THEATER — A Dramatic Turn of Events album cover Album · 2011 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
5/5 ·
The Block
Ever since I first heard Octavarium, my first Dream Theater album, I was hooked on them. Since then I’ve come to own every single one of their albums. So when I heard that they would be releasing an album this year I couldn’t wait until it was released. Then the news came that Mike Portnoy, their drummer since the beginning, was leaving the band. As a fan, I really didn’t know what to think. Who would be their new drummer; could they replace who I think was irreplaceable? As time went on I was that, yes Dream Theater can still go on without their fabled drummer. When it was announced that Mike Mangini was to be their new drummer I was ecstatic. Since they filmed the auditions and made them into a mini series titled “The Spirit Carries On” I was able to see who the drummers were that tried out, and out of all of them Mangini was definitely my favorite. This album, the first album without the line-up that made the legendary Scenes From a Memory, returns to the sound leading up to and including Octavarium, which is my second favorite Dream Theater album, so that in itself is a huge plus. The song writing has also taken up a lighter sound that is also reminiscent of the Octavarium and before era. Unlike Black Clouds and Silver Linings, which was very dark, and depressing in spots, this album is very cheery and definitely reverts back to Dream Theater’s distinct progressive metal sound that many fans have loved for the past 25 years.

This album tells a story, maybe of them losing Portnoy and getting Mangini as the title suggests, and as John Petrucci states, “When you listen to it your whole experience will be more of a rollercoaster ride”. This roller coaster ride is definitely a light one, so if you enjoyed Black Clouds a lot, then this album will definitely be a whole different world. I tend to like Dream Theater’s lighter passages on their past albums, so with this album being mostly lighter progressive metal it adds a lot more enjoyment when I listening to it. A good thing with this album being lighter is that Jordan Rudess is spotlighted much more often. With the last couple of albums, DT has focused more on John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy, and now with Portnoy gone and there needed to be someone else to take the front seat, and thankfully that was Jordan Rudess. A lot of the keyboard and synth sections on this album also remind me a lot of his awesome synth lines on Octavarium, which were some of my favorite. Another thing about this album is that the drumming isn’t the main focus as it sometimes was during the Portnoy-era. Since Mike Mangini wasn’t there for the writing of the album, Petrucci, I believe, wrote most of the drum lines, so they are a bit toned down compared to past efforts. Also, up until this album I never really noticed John Myung’s bass playing that much. I always knew he was good, but I never expected this much personality from him, and this is definitely one of his best efforts on bass.

Right from the start this album is extremely melodic, especially the opening lines of “On the Backs of Angels”. This song, which was released as the only single off of A Dramatic Turn of Events, is definitely a signature Dream Theater song with very nice rock oriented rhythms and great choruses. “Build Me Up, Break Me Down” is really the weakest song on the album but it’s still a pretty good song. The catchy chorus makes it really good, but there are some industrial metal sections in it that make it a little weird. I don’t really know why they put those sections in it, but overall it’s not that bad. James Labrie’s voice on this song and all the other’s is absolutely superb, and probably the best it’s been since Octavarium. I never really got the people who didn’t like his singing, I think it’s very good and can never find much wrong with it. This album also features four epics, which are all quite amazing. “Lost Not Forgotten” starts with a great keyboard and drum intro the segments very well into some of the darker moments on the album. The guitar solos on this track are also very well done and mix perfectly with Labrie’s great vocals. “Bridges in the Sky” is yet another very riff driven track that excels in every way possible and features great bass parts by John Myung. The best epic on the album is definitely “Breaking all Illusions” because it returns to Dream Theater’s roots, or more specifically “Learning to Live”. This song features many of the melodies from the song before it, “Far From Heaven” so it adds very nice flow to the album. The technicality of the song is amazing, and each band member is at their greatest on “Breaking all Illusions”.

A lot of people have complained in the past about the production of Dream Theater albums, mainly because the band produced them, and they really didn’t like the tone of the albums, or something like that. I, for one, have loved the production on all Dream Theater releases, except When Dream And Day Unite. This album is no exception. The drums aren’t nearly as prominent as before, but that is to be expected with the absence of Portnoy. The bass, as I mentioned earlier, is finally noticeable and Myung’s talent shines through, for the first time in a long time.

This was definitely my most anticipated album of 2011 and it did not disappoint at all. Though this album might take time to grow on some people, though not on me, it is well worth the purchase. My love of Dram Theater has resurfaced after a brief decline since Black Clouds and Silver Linings. This album has jumped to the top of my 2011 charts, which I expected, and probably will stay there for the rest of the year. I really didn’t want it to be so easy to put it there because I’m such a big fanboy and I didn’t want to put it there just based on my fanboyism, but this album was so good that, fanboy or no, it is the easiest 5 star album I’ve given out in a long time.
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Diogenes wrote:
more than 2 years ago
Well, I don't consider myself a Dream Theater fanboy, and I agree with you; I think their 3rd or 4th best sounds about right. Of course, only time will tell if it stands up to their classics, but 8 months in, it's still sounding pretty good to me.
dtguitarfan wrote:
more than 2 years ago
This has fast become one of my 3 favorites by Dream Theater - I'm a fanboy too, but I don't think that means I can't recognize greatness! ;-)
more than 2 years ago
Nothing wrong with fanboyism ;-)
Xaxaar wrote:
more than 2 years ago
The good reviews sure are just flying for this album. Both rating and quality, I mean. ;)

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