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If one band has through some major changes recently, it would have to be Dream Theater. Mike Portnoy, the band’s original drummer, left not too long ago to join Avenged Sevenfold and ended up leaving them for Adrenaline Mob. He wasn’t allowed to come back to Dream Theater because in his departure, they already found another drummer by the name of Mike Mangini. I feel that the publicized search for a new drummer (including a DVD of this) was way over the top for a band that’s been around for 25+ years.
Nonetheless, Mangini holds his own on Dream Theater’s brand new album A Dramatic Turn Of Events (I suspect the title reflects their situation as well). The album opens up with Sarod-like guitar and a bass and orchestra-heavy bridge, goes into an asian-esque keyboard rhythm that seems ideal for an excellent light show, and sultry vocals coupled with awesome guitar solos to bring the listener deeper into the album.
Ever wondered what Dream Theater would sound like if they put a little nu-metal influence into their music? That question is answered with “Build Me Up, Break Me Down.” The beginning sounds like something that wouldn’t be too out of place on a Disturbed song, most evident in the bass playing and the pounding drums. On the chorus, vocalist James LaBrie could have sung out more, as I know he has the ability to do so. It’s a little too soft and unless you mess with your equalizer (like I did) it lies underneath the instruments too much.
If “This Is the Life” doesn’t become a staple in their live set, then I’m a monkey’s uncle. With soaring guitars that sound like the end of an action movie, the song heads into a really soft, piano-driven vocal ear grabber that invokes the imagination to decipher it all as a story. At the 1:50 mark we see the guitar and keyboard trading off, which really sets the mood. This is the kind of song that you turn on your iTunes (or Xbox) audio visual effects and kick back to.
Guitars take center stage in the beginning of “Outcry.” Lots of epic and heavy riffs fill the song to make any guitar geek happy. This song gives equal opportunity for all members of the band to showcase their playing. The keys have a few solo moments in the song that the drums play off of, then the guitar solos really show the listener how guitars should be played.
The mixing of this album really gave more of an emphasis on the bass and the drums over the other instruments and vocals, but it’s not too much of a difference. This album definitely had its awesome moments, especially in the guitar riffs and solos, but for the spastic listener like me, 10+ minute songs are too much. It really takes someone with lots of free time to get into this album. This is definitely one of the top progressive metal albums of the year, as few other bands can do it as good as Dream Theater can.