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It’s been far too long since the last Dream Theater instrumental way back in 2003. Dream Theater has always excelled at writing memorable and intricate songs sans vocals and it’s always a delight to find an instrumental track on a new record of theirs. This new piece, labeled with the groan worthy title of “Raw Dog” is no exception.
This time around it looks like Dream Theater have decided to use the instrumental format in order to vent some of their heavier riffs. This is a smart move, as James LaBrie’s vocals would be ill fitting over such a tumultuous and aggressive backdrop. The song begins with a stuttering staccato rhythm reminiscent of Meshuggah, although Mike Portnoy has a very different approach to polyrhythm than Tomas Haake making it easy to recognize this as the work of Dream Theater. It also has Jordan Rudess sprinkling his keyboard magic all over the track, which is also decidedly un-Meshuggah. When the song picks up in tempo it strongly resembles “A Nightmare to Remember” and the solo section of “A Rite of Passage” both off of Dream Theater’s most recent full length. Given the proximity of the two releases, I wouldn’t be too surprised if some of these riffs were indeed leftovers from the “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” session. The highlights of the song include the fast paced thrash riffs under the solo section, the unison run that follows shortly after and the wacky circus keyboard bit that only Rudess could pull off.
If you aren’t a fan of the band’s vocals and give the excuse that you find them to be too soft and cheesy for your tastes, this song will do the trick for you. If you’re a total wimp and can’t stand it when Dream Theater get heavy, go back to listing to Owner of A Lonely Heart. Given that this song is only worthy a dollar on iTunes, you don’t have too much of a reason to not check this out. It’s one of the many pieces of proof that Dream Theater is by no means fading with age.