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20 years of a career... that's the cause of this live album. Dream Theater, perhaps the most important name in the whole progressive metal, celebrated their 20th anniversary with their fans in the most epic way possible: releasing a live album. The band has reached undescribable heights, musically speaking, on their career, and this is the perfect way for them to tell the fans "thank you for your support". This is how it goes for "Score".
The album has a pretty entertaining tracklist. They did a good choice by playing one song per album (with the exception of "Octavarium" and "Images and Words"). They began with "The Root of All Evil", a good song since it compiles aggressivity with progressiveness. Then, "I Walk Beside You". First mistake. Most probably, they know this song is extremely criticized and choosing it was not right. Well, the performance is good, at least. From this point on, the concert is bound to follow a Dream Theater's timeline, beginning with "Another Won", a song from the Majesty days. They did some good choices, like "Under a Glass Moon", "Raise the Knife" and "The Spirit Carries On", but they also did mistakes, playing the whole "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" was probably the biggest one, knowing that they could play "A Change of Seasons" and a largest song than "Vacant" from Train of Thought instead. The three last songs on the concert really get me going. "Sacrificed Sons" is excellent, they performed it perfectly and the orchestra really helps a lot. "Octavarium" was my personal favorite from the whole live album. There is nothing more exciting than LaBrie screaming "Trapped inside this Octavarium" at the end of the song. Then, the essential "Metropolis Pt. 1". There is not Dream Theater concert without this song, but this one is special, they played it exactly as in the album, and I appreciate the fact that LaBrie didn't changed the vocal melodies throughout the song at all.
Everyone in the band played the songs perfectly. If there is something that is perfect as a fact in Dream Theater, that would be their live presentations. There are absolutely no mistakes in the whole performance, not even by LaBrie, being he the one that at times messes it up a bit. Petrucci does an excellent job with the riffs; I would like to highlight "The Root of Evil" and "Solitary Shell". Rudess loves to modify the keyboard solos when live, and he does it great in here. "Under a Glass Moon" gets basically a new solo, having fully Rudess' style, believe me, it's excellent. Also, pay attention to him in "Raise the Knife", he does great backups. Despite his shyness, Myung is great in here. He has always being great, but he really stands out with the chosen songs, especially those from "Images and Words". Portnoy... well, he is in the drummer's hall of fame, there is nothing to be expected but perfection, and that's the only thing you'll listen to in the whole album by him. "Sacrificed Sons" has the drum solo for him to show off; he took advantage of this a lot, to be honest. LaBrie, as mentioned earlier, did an impressive job. He sang "Innocence Faded" with all the high notes without missing one of them, and "Metropolis Pt.1" identically to the one on the album.
I haven't heard any complaints about the sound quality of the album, well; there is no possibility for them to be made, actually. There is a perfect sound for every single instrument, the bass, guitar, keyboard, and even the orchestra. Backing vocals are heard properly every time they are needed and there is no echoing on it, plus, you can listen to the audience, which is probably the most important thing in a live album (only topped by how the band plays, of course). Proof for this is "The Test That Stumped Them All", where LaBrie lets the audience do the yelling on the verse.
If you are a big Dream Theater fan, if you are a progressive metal fan or if you are even a metal fan in general, this is definitely a must, unless you don't like live albums... no, not even that way. If you don't have this yet, go and buy it now, see how amazing live music can be.
It's finally here. The official recording of Dream Theater's final April 1st, 2006 show on the 20th Anniversary tour.
The album starts off with a track from the widely debated over recent album Octavarium, the Root of All Evil. A nice hard driving track kicks things right off, and holy shit, is James doing well for himself. Somebody's been practicing; He sounds damn near flawless throughout this entire live album, and it makes me regret missing the chance to see this show. The excellent vocal performance on JLB's part is a huge positive for this album, as James can be lackluster at times on stage, especially in recent years, but it sounds like he's turned himself around. Now he just needs to keep it up.
Next comes a mostly poorly-received track, I Walk Beside You. Call me crazy, but James just sings it too damn well here for me to dislike it. The song itself was never too great, but the vocals here really bring it up a notch. Better than the album version in my opinion.
Another Won is a rarely heard Dream Theater track from back in the day when they were first getting started, and lovers of the Majesty Demos will love this track. James sings it well and it's a good taste of Dream Theater's older WDaDU sound.
Afterlife, another taste of the WDaDU era. James once again manages to shatter the original studio version of the song, blowing DT's original singer Charlie out of the water. The band, up to this point, has been playing non-stop, and James lets out an enthusiastic welcome to the crowd as they kick right into...
...Under a Glass Moon. One of my favorite Dream Theater songs, definitely my favorite track from Images and Words. It somehow seems to have much more energy than the studio recording ever did, perhaps because those terrible snare triggers from the album version aren't sucking the life of it. :) James continues to own face, and the keyboards sound especially strong here. A little before halfway in, JR does his goofy little circus tune he seems to like so much and manages to get a laugh and a cheer from the crowd. This doesn't seem to hurt the song at all.
Here comes a softer U2-influenced song that most metal fans would hate; Innocence Faded, from the Awake days. There's nothing wrong with mixing it up some, though.
Another rarely-heard Dream Theater track appears: Raise the Knife. This one is the longest song they've played so far in the set, and it gives a taste of the unreleased music of Falling Into Infinity. It's nice and varied and really shows how different the FII times were from their rest of their career.
Next comes the Spirit Carries On, a track that listeners seem to either love or hate, depending on how much they like Pink Floyd. :P This version starts off with a lengthy intro and some fairly mellow improv by Petrucci before the familiar part of the song actually opens up. James is still kicking ass. There is very much energy in this recording, especially the solo, one of Petrucci's best in my opinion. We have now reached the end of the first disc.
Begin disc two. And what's this? Six Degress of Inner Turbulence being played seamlessly in its entirety, complete with the Overture and a fucking full-blown ORCHESTRA? Yep, you read right. Thankfully, they didn't pull a "Metallica" by bring an orchestra with them, since most of the music played using the Octavarium Orchestra involved an orchestra in the studio recordings anyway. This sure beats the hell out of keyboard sounds being used to cover for the lack of an orchestra. If the studio recording of SDoIT wasn't a must hear, this live version sure as hell is.
Vacant is next, and seems a bit oddly placed, since it was mostly an introduction to Stream of Consciousness on Train of Thought rather than a song of its own. SoC is probably the only thing that could have made this a better show and live album, but Vacant is still cool with an orchestra despite the odd absence of its bigger, much heavier brother.
DT keeps the soft mood going with the Answer Lies Within, another track from Octavarium that doesn't really deserve the hate it gets. Anna Lee might have been better here for the sake of nostalgia, sure, but TALW is still fitting as a follow-up to Vacant. James still hasn't faltered up to this point, and we're close to two hours into the show.
Next up is Sacrificed Sons, one of the more praised tracks from Octavarium, and with good reason. The instrumental section of this song is absolutely incredible, magnified even more so on this recording by Dream Theater's sheer live playing ability and the orchestra behind them.
Finally, we've hit third disc, which has only two tracks... Including Octavarium! The moment everyone at this show must have been dying for. Dream Theater's newest epic, live, with an orchestra. Hot damn. Jordan's Floyd-esque intro is extended by a couple of minutes before the song kicks off. James is still singing flawlessly, and of course the instrumental sections are the ultimate in ridiculous yet enjoyable wankery. James' screams of "TRAPPED INSIDE THIS OCTAVARIUM" are fucking epic and somehow cringe-worthy at the same time. As the song winds down, James has a little chat with the crowd, and Razor's Edge closes out the song.
And of course, what's a fucking Dream Theater concert without Metropolis? The band returns for a classic encore with one of their most loved songs. As Portnoy once said, "Don't you guys ever get TIRED of this fuckin' song? I don't understand!" Unfortunately, James finally falters a bit at this point, but he still far outclasses many of his past live performances.
Needless to say, everything was executed absolutely perfectly on an instrumental level. Dream Theater just keeps getting more and more proficient with their instruments and it shows. I honestly think this is the best thing they've ever released, simply because it gives the listener a broad taste of the best eras of their career, and of course because of the wonderful display of musical talent and James' surprising vocal comeback. The display of Six Degrees and Octavarium are absolutley incredible and are definitely better than their studio counterparts. The hour of music those two songs make up makes the album worth buying, and there's still the other hour and a half of great stuff you'll hear.
It WOULD have been nice to have Stream of Consciousness accompanying Vacant, as it would have been mind-blowing with an orchestra, and that would also filled the empty void where I'd like a heavier Train of Thought track to be. That's the only reason I gave this a 95. Other than that, this is a must-buy for anyone who likes DT, anyone who's new to DT, anyone who even likes prog. If you have a friend who wants to get into Dream Theater or heavy metal in general, BUY THEM THIS ALBUM. They'll be hooked.
Just don't let them turn into a raving, obnoxious DT fanboy like myself. :P