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Too much filler - 70%

westknife, June 1st, 2005

"A Change of Seasons" -- the song -- is a hugely awesome, 23+ minute progressive metal epic that will bring you to your knees. Running the gamut from slow, more melodic sections to full-on metal onslaughts, this is Dream Theater's masterwork, their greatest creation. The many moods and colors of the song give all five of the band members room to display their enormous instrumental chops. Just one album later, much of their music (especially LaBrie's singing) would become cheesy and overdone, but everything is perfect here -- Dream Theater's last big hurrah. No metal collection or progressive rock collection is complete without this landmark recording.

That said, the rest of the album is disappointing. It consists of four live tracks, all of them covers. The first is a medley of two Elton John songs. Of the live tracks on the album, this one works the best because the original song is so different from Dream Theater's style that they have plenty of room to make it their own song. The next track, a cover of Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers," is decent, but it doesn't do anything to expand on the original version. Everything here is a weaker version of the original Purple recording. The song has become somewhat of a live standard for Dream Theater, so in that sense it is fairly interesting, but this is really for fans only.

The third live track is a medley of three Led Zeppelin songs that simply pales in comparison to the originals. They took three songs that are metal/hard rock classics and played pale tribute versions of them. Led Zeppelin, especially Plant and Page, had such distinctive and unique styles that it is impossible to try to imitate them, and Dream Theater certainly doesn't do a very good job. The last track, however, is the weakest of the album, a huge 10+ minute medley of classic metal/prog tunes such as Queen, Genesis, and Pink Floyd. This may be interesting to actually see live, but on record it is horribly boring, and I would rather just make a playlist of the original versions and listen to that. Furthermore, their choice of songs is questionable, especially the Journey song. Journey? Come on.

So my rating gets docked for the live tunes, but let's not forget the power and importance of the progressive masterpiece that is "A Change of Seasons."