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They show off their heaviness. Nice. - 90%

Vegetarian_Cannibal, July 10th, 2010

First off, you should probably know that I am not an expert on Dream Theater. This was the first album I bought, and then later I got their big Greatest Hit yadda yadda yadda compilation. But the thing I noticed when listening to that compilation was that even on "The Dark Side," a lot of the songs just aren't as heavy as I would prefer, particularly with their older songs. Once it got to the songs from Train of Thought and Octavarium, then it was more what I was looking for. And then on "The Light Side," pretty much all of the songs were way too light for me. (Though I do like "Solitary Shell.")

Well, one of the things that I really appreciate about this album is that it's heavy. It gives you four metal songs and two lighter songs, and the lighter songs are both really good compared to most of the lighter songs on their greatest hits compilation. Some people complain that this album isn't progressive enough, but that's something I honestly couldn't care less about. If they shortened up their songs and played in 4/4 the whole time, and stuck with an ABAB format most of the time, I think I would like them just as much. I don't care if it's progressive, as long as it's metal and it's good metal. If you disagree, you might not like this album as much.

I know that we're supposed to avoid track by track reviews on this site, but I think it feels necessary when there are only six very different sounding songs.

A Nightmare to Remember: Great wat to kick off the album. It starts out with some quiet but evil-sounding keyboards, and then some incerdibly heavy guitar riffs blast out of nowhere. Great intro! This song is over 16 minutes long, and the heaviness never lets up. My favorite parts are in the middle of the song when he's in the hospital, and the part where Mike Portnoy does his awesome growls. Some people hate his voice, but I think it gives this band the extra edge that it needs to make it more metal.

A Rite of Passage: This is the first single from the album, and probably my favorite. This is the kind of song that would get a lot of radio play in a perfect world. I love the main guitar riff that gets repeated throughout the song. The chorus is the best part. It gets stuck in my head pretty easily. It's also got a great guitar solo.

Wither: This song is lighter and not quite as exciting, but is still a great song. It's relatively short, at only five and a half minutes. The chorus is good, and so are the verses, really. This isn't like some Sonata Arctica or Stratovarius ballad, but it's still really beautiful.

The Shattered Fortress: This song ends the AA Suite, but of course it was really the beginning for me. This one is heavier and longer. I wasn't the biggest fan of this one at first, but it grew on me and now I absolutely love it. It's just full of great riffs and different sections that are really catchy. It doesn't have your typical pop structure at all, which I suppose made it hard to get into. I think my favorite part is the part that's taken straight out of The Root of All Evil, but I didn't know that when I first heard it. I also like the "chorus" at the beginning, the part that starts "Look in the mirror..."

The Best of Times: This is a lighter song again, and is a tribute to Mike Portnoy's father. The intro is annoyingly long. Just three minutes of pointless instruments. After that, it picks up the pace and becomes a good song. Not the best, but I like it.

The Count of Tuscany: Nineteen minutes. Awesome four-minute intro. Really catchy. This song punched me in the gut right away. It's got the Portnoy growls again. It gets really quiet after about ten minutes, and is sort of boring for a while, but then gets good again. The end sometimes gives me goosebumps. It's the perfect way to close the album.

I would pretty much recommend this for any fan of metal. It's a great album and well worth the money.