Kategoriarkiv: Anmeldelser

Dream Theater – Dream Theater (2013) – Norsk versjon

xmxe

Dream Theater – Dream Theater (2013)

(Roadrunner Records)
  1. False Awakening Suite – 2:42
    1. Sleep Paralysis
    2. Night Terrors
    3. Lucid Dream
  • The Enemy Inside – 6:17
  • The Looking Glass – 4:53
  • Enigma Machine – 6:02
  • The Bigger Picture – 7:41
  • Behind the Veil – 6:53
  • Surrender to Reason – 6:35
  • Along for the Ride – 4:45
  • Illumination Theory – 22:18
    1. Paradoxe de la Lumière Noire
    2. Live, Die, Kill
    3. The Embracing Circle
    4. The Pursuit of Truth
    5. Surrender, Trust & Passion
  • «Dream Theater» av Dream Theater er bandets tolvte studioalbum, og det er deres fjerde album under plateselskapet Roadrunner Records. Det slippes på markedet den 24 september 2013. Det er det andre studioalbumet som er spilt inn med Mike Mangini som trommis i bandet, men det er det første hvor Mangini har deltatt under hele prosessen med å skrive låtene fra dag 1.

    Albumet er bandets første selvtitulerte i deres karriere, og vi som prognerder liker morsomme små fakta: for 20 år siden så slapp et annet berømt prog band sitt eget selvtitulerte album, nemlig Genesis. Det var også deres tolvte studioalbum, og det albumet inneholdt også 9 spor. Selvsagt er dette bare rene tilfeldigheter, men morsomme små kuriositeter å kjenne til.

    Hvorfor har bandet valgt å gjøre denne platen selvtitulert? Når et band navngir en plate etter seg selv, så er det som regel fordi albumet skal introdusere bandet til verdenen, eller fordi det er et album som tilkjennegir en full gjenfødelse eller forvandelse av hva bandet står for. For noen pretensiøse band så er det kanskje til og med for å annonsere sitt eget magnum opus. For andre igjen så er det kanskje rett og slett mangel på kreativitet. Noen band har ingen selvtitulerte. Andre har flere. Bare tidens tann vil vise hva Dream Theater vil bli anerkjent som av bandets egen fanskare.

    Men skal vi tro bandet selv, så skal dette albumet være det som virkelig forteller verden hva Dream Theater står for og hva de er i 2013.

    Fortsett å lese Dream Theater – Dream Theater (2013) – Norsk versjon

    Dream Theater – Dream Theater (2013) English Review

    xmxe

    Dream Theater – Dream Theater (2013)

    (Roadrunner Records)
     
    1. False Awakening Suite – 2:42
      1. Sleep Paralysis
      2. Night Terrors
      3. Lucid Dream
  • The Enemy Inside – 6:17
  • The Looking Glass – 4:53
  • Enigma Machine – 6:02
  • The Bigger Picture – 7:41
  • Behind the Veil – 6:53
  • Surrender to Reason – 6:35
  • Along for the Ride – 4:45
  • Illumination Theory – 22:18
    1. Paradoxe de la Lumière Noire
    2. Live, Die, Kill
    3. The Embracing Circle
    4. The Pursuit of Truth
    5. Surrender, Trust & Passion
  • «Dream Theater» by Dream Theater is the bands twelfth studio album, and it’s their fourth album with Roadrunner Records. Its release date is September 24. This is the second album recorded with Mike Mangini as the drummer in the band, however it is the first where Mangini participated in the writing process from day one.

    The album is the first self titled in it’s career, and us prog nerds just love some fun trivia; 20 years ago another famous prog band, Genesis, released their self titled album. It was that bands twelfth studio album. The album also contained 9 tracks. Obviously this is just pure coincidence, it’s just some fun trivia for you all.

    Now, there may be some questions as to why self titled this far into their career. When a band names an album after itself, it’s usually the album that introduces the band to the world, or an album that signifies a complete rebirth or re-imagining of what the band stands for. For some more pretentious bands it may even be signalling their magnum opus. For others it may just be a complete lack of creativity. Some bands have no self titled albums, others have multiple. Only history and time will tell what Dream Theater’s eponymous album will be viewed as by the fan base.

    The band themselves wish for this album to define what Dream Theater is in 2013, what defines them as a band, and that’s why it’s called «Dream Theater».

    22b945ee-b7b6-49ce-8150-32820216d34a-1373314314_dreamtheater2013

    Fortsett å lese Dream Theater – Dream Theater (2013) English Review

    Review A Dramatic Turn Of Events (english version)

    Skriver på engelsk da mange besøkende nok ønsker å lese engelsk versjon. Dette er en kort versjon av min anmeldelse, en lengre og mer detaljert versjon kan ventes snart i form av ny fanzine som vil droppe i postkassen rundt release av platen.

    A Dramatic Turn Of Events is, for my part, a very strong album. It may not be the best album DT has released, but it is clear that it’s created by people who have found great inspiration in the events that transpired last year. Turmoil in your life has always proven to be a good source for creativity, and it’s no different here. It sounds fresh and interesting, yet it still retains certain DT trademarks so that there is never a doubt which band you’re listening to. They’ve gone out of their way to create an album which combines «old» DT and «new» DT, and still having room to include stuff that breaks new ground for DT as a band. Instrument- and performancewise it’s a very interesting album as well, as there’s a lot of «new» and interesting sounds from the bandmembers – Jordan is playing a lot more piano and organ voices than on previous DT albums, and there are a lot of interesting lead voices as well from him. More subdued and yet masterfully played, with tons of emotion. James’ vocals are much more similar to the type he has done in his solo albums, and I for one velcome that change (I’ve always preferred James solo over the latter DT albums).

    The music is much more balanced this time around, with 4 big prog metal tracks, one more generic pop metal rocker and three quite different ballads. I’ve always loved all these three aspects of Dream Theater (prog, metal and pop), and found them to be equally important for me, so I really enjoy the balance, and the way they’ve spread the songs on the album makes it flow very well together. The big prog metal pieces are not the typical DT «epic» format we’ve become accustomed to over the latter years, the breadth in the music is much more varied, and we traverse genres constantly. You’ll find tons of sections with insane dissonant fusion chords and solo, you’ll find bluesrocky-type guitar solos, you’ll find neo-classical guitar solos, you’ll find instrumental parts that match the complexity of dance of eternity, and at the same time you’ll find soothing, emotional parts, often following eachother. But it’s tastefully thought out, and works really well, and it never feels flashy. On earlier albums I often got the sense that they went complex for the sake of being complex, or fast for the sake of being fast, but I’ve not gotten that feeling at all on this album. They let the music breathe, and there’s a lot of ambience and emotion spread around. Obviously you’ll also find some reuse here, and you’ll be scratching your head from time to time thinking «didn’t this sound familiar», but it’s only for soundbites lasting a second or two, and it feels much more like it’s referencing their older material than just laziness – that is, it feels right in the context of the music and it flows well.

    John Myung also gets to shine on this album, there’s a bunch of small bass solos spread around in the longer prog songs, and several parts is driven purely by him (with keys and guitar providing more ambience than riffs), and the groove he displays is refreshing from the previous albums where he sort of resorted to copying JP a lot (which was pretty boring to say the least).

    The real star of the album is of course Mike Mangini, who does an incredible job with the material he’s been given. It’s so complex and artistic, yet with so much groove and subtlety that it kinda flies by without you even noticing how good he actually is, until you start paying attention to what he’s doing and you try to work it out with the limbs you have. My brain is certainly not wired to keep playing so many seperate rhythms at the same time with different limbs… He fills the noisescape wonderfully, and it feels completely natural the way he embellishes what’s going on in the music. I truly feel that DT has made the correct choice for a drummer…

    The ballads are also great composed tracks, and for my part the content of the lyrics are as important as the music itself when it comes to ballads. Ballads are about portraying emotion, and I consider these to be very successful. They obviously reflect the album title to some degree, and certainly harks back to certain tracks from previous DT albums dealing with life and living it, and interacting with other people (misunderstood, disappear, wither, etc).

    Yes, I may be a DT fanboy, and I was enthusiastic about SC and BCSL as well when they came out (although I did point out several flaws in both reviews – and I still like the albums, they’re just not my favorites), but I have to admit that comparing this album to those two is unfair – it’s a completely different league altogether. This feels more like the Dream Theater of SFAM/SDOIT period, or even 90s DT at times, and it’s an album that more than sufficiently proves that DT is going to more than survive the events of last year. This is a reinvigorated DT, a DT with a passion and a purpose. As I started with, it’s not the best thing since sliced bread, but it’s still a very strong and interesting album that even after several listens is strong and interesting and never feels boring.

    Review Dream Theater live Moscow 12.July 2011

    Moscow 12.july 2011
    Crocus City Hall
    By John Raaness
    www.dtnorway.com

    Even though I’m running one of the Dream Theater fan clubs, I’m far from the one who has seen the most Dream Theater concerts. But when it comes to seeing them perform in different parts of the world I think I’m doing pretty good. My latest gig was no exception. Moscow, Russia. Its always very interesting to see what the band offers the different crowds and how they adapt to the different settings. Whether it’s a festival or an evening with or playing for a European, American or Asian crowd. Having never been to Russia before I was excited to see how the crowd would respond compared to crowds in other parts of the world. The Italians like singing their heads off while some other crowds like to sit back and watch. If it’s a festival chances are greater that the crowd will be wild and energetic than if its an evening with. The venue in Moscow this time was Crocus City Hall. A relatively new venue situated on the outskirts of Moscow. A location some artists have had difficulty getting to in time due to the infamous Moscow traffic jam. Arriving by metro however is a breeze, efficient and reliable. The venue is part of a huge exhibition center and can accommodate around 6200 spectators. Tonight Id say the venue was about half full so maybe around 3000 fans, eager to see Dream Theater perform. Doors opened 6:30pm and the doors to the actual concert hall opened at 7pm. Pretty standard timings for a show such as this one. Soundcheck got a little delayed due to some technical difficulties at the venue. The band actually had to continue their soundcheck after the outer doors were opened but made sure to keep the sound down not to give away anything for the waiting fans. However some of the songs played at the soundcheck were not included on the setlist for the night. I was fortunate to see the setlist before the gig and to be honest I was a little reserved about the combination of songs and how they would work together live. But man was I wrong! At 8:30pm the lights were turned off and it was showtime! The introtrack chosen for this tour is from the movie Inception starring Leonardo DeCaprio. Dream Is Collapsing is composed by Hans Zimmer and is a really cool track to get the crowds anticipation up and energy going. In the dark the band entered the stage and John Petrucci starts off the first song of the night, Under a Glass Moon! What a start! I cant remember the last time that being their first song for the night. I might be wrong but it must be over 10 years ago! Now, I had off course seen the setlists from the previous show on this tour so I wasn’t totally surprise by tonight’s song selection but I was surprised of how well the songs worked together. Needless to say Under a Glass Moon set the standard for the rest of the night and certainly got the crowd going. The Russian crowd was quite similar to the crowds I’ve seen in Norway. There’s a core of fans front center that go nuts all night while the rest needs a little bit of encouragement. But with the new situation with the band, James stepped up and was more of a front man than before. He made sure to keep the crowd going and hands up in the air. And while I’m on that topic, the band really seemed like a tight band, mutually respecting each other and being on the same page. Interacting and smiling in a way that I haven’t seen in many years. And “the new guy” was to get his introduction later in the evening. I know a lot of people have been skeptical to a Dream Theater without Mike Portnoy but with tonight’s performance I believe that even the skeptics will finally let that thought go. Mangini fits in perfectly with the band and it was really cool to see how the bandmembers interacted with Mangini throughout the night. Nothing but smiles from start to finish. And when the band is having fun, the fans get a show to remember. Don’t get me wrong, I think Portnoy is a brilliant artist but sometimes changes aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Next song up, These Walls. I don’t know why but These Walls really rocked in a way I haven’t heard or seen live before. I literally got goose bumps! From the first note to the last everything was perfect! I only wish the show had been filmed, because this certainly was a live highlight! The visual effects seemed to have been downscaled abit though. It might have been the huge stage that made the big screen seem tiny but the visual effects on previous tour made a bigger impression than tonight’s. Having said that, the light was never really all the way down in the venue so that the light and video didn’t come to its full effect. Too bad because Johnny Video (nickname of the visual effects tech) did an amazing job. Third song of the night was Forsaken. Great song and great for sing along. Something the Moscow fans certainly did. I could recognize the video footage shown on the big screen from previous tours but there was also some new stuff there. But mostly the footage from the official Forsaken video was shown. By now it was no doubt that the band is still among the best live performers in the world. And in their genre they are the undisputed masters! Endless Sacrifice was no exception. Being one of the longer songs of the night the band still made sure to keep the crowd on their toes by hitting every note perfectly. It must be said that Mangingi has only practiced to the album version of the songs so for those of you who expect the same live interpretation as Portnoy you will be disappointed. Well, in fact disappointed isn’t the correct word to describe it because Mangini ads a new fresh feel to the song but at the same time he stays true to the original song. A few new fills here and there makes the songs seem fresh and updated so to speak. And over the next few minutes Mangini got the chance to prove once and for all the he is the man for the job. A 5 minute long drum solo that completely blow everyone’s mind away! The man is a beast! The good kind! The kind that says “I love what I’m doing and I’m gonna play your boots off!” Manginis drum kit is somewhat untraditional not having the usual left to right, light to big tom setup. With the smallest tom in the middle, surrounded by a snare on top and below with bigger toms on the side, Mangini has a kit that enables him to play in a way that seems unusual even though the sound itself isn’t unique. His kit looks symmetrical but the right side has toms a notch larger than the left side. The cymbals also vary as you would expect from small splashes to a big gong with everything in between. And as the solo showed, he knows how to use it all. For a good 5 minutes Mangini just went totally nuts behind his kit and made all the jaws in the room drop to the floor and when it all lead into Ytse Jam the night was perfect before we were even halfway! I think its great to see the drumsolos back in the setlist because lets face it, a lot of the fans are drummers who’d love to see their new favorite drummer create a local earthquake on front of their eyes! Ytse Jam was as perfect as could be. Mangini totally nailed it and no one expected anything less from the world’s fastest drummer. If I had to put my finger on something I’d like to hear the bass drums a little clearer. Jordan could also benefit from a little louder sound. Other than that the mix was really good. I tried to move around a bit in the venue to see if there was a big difference in the sound from place to place and the sound varied a lot. In front of the control board, as you would expect the sound was perfect but under the galleries the sound wasn’t that great. I wonder why people in the back rows didn’t go down to the floor because it was only three quarters full and the sound was a lot better there. And of course the energy on the floor always beat the back rows. The Russian crowd was also a very polite crowd. If you wanted to squeeze through to the front no one would be upset or tell you to piss off like you could expect in some other countries. Actually almost everyone that I observed on the floor made sure that they weren’t blocking anyone’s view if they moved to a new spot. Hats off to the Russian fans!
    Next song was Peruvian Skies. I song that personally has never been a favorite of mine but like the rest of the setlist Peruvian Skies totally worked and it was especially nice to see how the band enjoyed the song. Like when Petrucci laid down some very cool bluesy fills between the verses to James amusement. Now, for those of you who have been paying attention you would by now notice that none of the songs so far have lyrics written by Mike Portnoy. This of course feeding the conspiracy theories. But like the band says, it is a coincidence. And we have no reason to believe otherwise, so just let it go people! The setlist works and lets leave it at that! Now, the following song is a favorite of mine. Goosebumps again! The Great Debate! Everything about that song just works in every level possible. The intro with double hihats, the build-up, the lyrics, the middle section, the solos, the outro. And needless to say, they nailed every part! By now Jordan had played on his latest addition to his keyboard world a few times; The iPad 2 with a special edition of Jordan’s own Morphwiz application. The app Jordan uses has less menus and more playing surface compared to the normal version available on iTunes Appstore. The iPad is mounted right below his keyboard camera so you can see clearly what’s played on the big screen. The Korg Kronos keyboard does not have a camera mount on the side so the camera is mounted on the right side of the note stand giving a view from above of the keys. This camera is only one of several that Johnny Video can choose from during a show. There are two cameras covering Myung and Pertrucci and two covering the drum kit; one above and one at the front facing Mangini. If you payed close attention you could from this camera see that one of the tom-mics came loose during the show but Mangini was able to secure it while continuing to play!
    The only song from the upcoming album was the newly released single On the Backs of Angels. A great tune with a feel of the early years of Dream Theater. I love James mellow voice in this song and I really like the lyrics. Once again the conspiracy theories are many as to what the lyrics mean but once again, let it go people and enjoy the music instead! The Moscow crowd sure did! Even though the song has only been out a few weeks most fans seem to know the song and most of the lyrics. Most of the video effects were new as you would expect but as mentioned before, the stage was so big that one big screen didn’t seem enough. Three would have done the trick! If On the Backs of Angels set the standard for the upcoming album A Dramatic Turn of Events then we certainly have something to look forward to! The date for the Moscow show was July 12th. John Petruccis birthday! I must admit I was hoping for a cakefight on stage but instead the band and crowd sang Happy Birthday to John with Jordan on the keys. After that the roof lifted! Caught In a Web with James LaBrie at his best! This classic Dream Theater song from the Awake album is a favorite among old and new Dream Theater fans. The crowd went nuts with their headbanging, air guitar, air drumming and singing! James really showed who’s the boss and who’s the leading metal vocalist in the world. After almost ruining his vocal chords in the mid nineties it is remarkable that he is still able to hit the high notes the way he does. Name one other vocalist in the same genre that can do the same! I can think of none! Awesome job by the band. The two next songs were from the Scenes From a Memory album. Through My Words and Fatal Tragedy. James once again displays great control over his voice and held the songs together while Pertucci and Rudess embarked on probably one of the most challenging instrumental sections in their catalogue. And even though Mangini is one of the best drummers in the world I wouldn’t have been surprised if he missed note or two. But did he? No! Perfection! Scenes From a Memory being a fan favorite its needless to says they were all smiles by now.
    The band make the shrink-and-grow section of Fatal Tragedy seem so easy but trust me its not! I asked Pertucci in an interview earlier this year if he was afraid the all his weightlifting would slow down his speed in his playing but Fatal Tragedy was a proof of what he said; “No, it doesn’t slow me down”. Last song before the encore was The Count of Tuscany. Beautiful intro and a beautiful live performance. I love this traditional Dream Theater tune and especially the part after the solos when its only Petrucci and his “acoustic” guitar. His sound during this part was amazing, very clean and basic. I love when the raw instrument sound comes out and its not overproduced with effects and sounds. (I know its Johns electric guitar with acoustic/clean sound but still). After a quick thank you the band left the stage but everyone in the venue knew there was more to come. And tonight the crowd was blessed with one of the most popular Dream Theater tunes of all times. Learning to Live. Only played once earlier this tour (Rome) the Moscow fans knew to appreciate this somewhat rare performance. Learning to Live have over the past decade mostly been played as part of a medley so it was a perfect way to end an amazing evening. After the last note the band did their usual bow and left the stage. A brilliant setlist from start to finish performed by a band at their best. With the enthusiasm they showed tonight, there is not stopping them and I think we’ve only seen half of what they can achieve! Am I even more excited about the new album? Yes I am! So should you! In the meanwhile, Dream Theater is playing in selected cities through out Europe so get up from your couch and see them live because this Dramatic Turn of Event might just be one for the better!

    Moscow Setlist:
    1. Introtape: Dream Is Collapsing
    2. Under a Glass Moon Play 
    3. These Walls Play 
    4. Forsaken
    5. Endless Sacrifice 
    6. Drum Solo
    7. The Ytse Jam
    8. Peruvian Skies
    9. The Great Debate
    10. On the Backs of Angels
    11. Happy Birthday  to John Petrucci
    12. Caught In A Web
    13. Through My Words
    14. Fatal Tragedy
    15. The Count of Tuscany
    16. Encore: Learning To Live

    Dream Theater:
    Guitars:  John Petrucci
    Bass: John Myung
    Drums: Mike Mangini
    Keyboard: Jordan Rudess
    Vocals: James LaBrie

    Dream Theater – Black Clouds and Silver Linings – Anmeldelse

    1. A Nightmare to Remember – 16.10
    2. A Rite of Passage – 08.35
    3. Wither – 05.25
    4. The Shattered Fortress – 12.49
    5. The Best of Times – 13.07
    6. The Count of Tuscany – 19.16
     
    Okei, nå har jeg hørt på plata nok mange ganger til at jeg føler at jeg kan skrive nok om den til dere. Dette kommer også i fanzinen (som jeg håper å få gjort klar til begynnelsen av juni), men her er altså en kort omtale, om dere vil, av plata. Jeg kommer til å gå spor for spor, så selv om «alle» nå har hørt to av låtene, så kommer jeg likevel til å snakke litt om de.Som en helhet synes jeg plata fungerer bra. På mange måter er dette en veldig standard Dream Theater plate, med et vidt spenn mellom de ulike låtene på plata. Det er således ikke mange overraskelser her, og det meste har en hørt fra før (og et spor HAR man i stor grad hørt fra før!). Man finner alle kjennetegnene for en Dream Theater-plate her, på godt og vondt. Plata inneholder store mengder gitarsoloer, synthsoloer, unisoner, og krumspring på bass og trommer, som seg hør og bør på en Dream Theater plate.

    Plata åpner med et tordenskrall, bokstavelig talt. Torden og regn strømmer ut av høytalerne, før et «skummelt» piano introduserer låta. Dette eksploderer så i hele bandet som riffer i vei på typisk hard Dream Theater. Dette er altså «A Nightmare To Remember». Herifra er det ganske standard Dream Theater «åpningslåt», dog med et lite innslag av skummel musikk typ gammel skrekkfilm (ooo-wee-ooo synth), noe som kanskje ikke er så rart siden låten hadde navnet «Halloween» på bakrommet. Låten beskriver en bilulykke, men teksten er skrevet veldig rett frem, i «steg-for-steg» gjenfortelling.

    Etter fem minutter bryter låta inn i et mer rolig parti. Veldig pent, og veldig stemningsfylt, med det jeg vil klassifisere som et av de beste refrengene DT har skrevet, dog jeg får litt Pink Floyd-vibber av måten LaBrie ender setningene på. Dette er gjort veldig smakfullt, med digg koring, og nydelige backing av gitar og synth som ikke går av skaftet – før vi når 9 minutter ut i låta, hvor den obligatoriske «nå skal vi dele soloer» delen av låta kommer. JR og JP bytter på å spille hver sin solo i noen minutter, og det høres forøvrig ikke så halvgærnt ut, selv om det hele høres veldig kjent ut.Så kommer der et vokalparti som jeg ikke forstår hvorfor de valgte å løse på den måten. MP gjør en «rap», en snakkevokal som man nå er blitt ganske kjent med, «sint mann» vokal. Og ender det med et brøl. I og for seg ikke så dumt, det er bare at låta akkurat da forteller at «nei, det gikk jo forsåvidt bra med alle sammen, de overlevde», og med den stemmen så høres det ut som at mannen er forbanna for at det gikk bra. Og dette belyser noe av det jeg synes er elendig på denne plata, her er teksten helt tydelig en ettertanke for musikken, og på ingen måte er musikken tilpasset historien som fortelles (eller omvendt, om du vil).

    Så følger nok et langt parti med ulike riff, store mengder bytting av rhytmer og riff, typisk slik vi er blitt vant med DT de siste par årene. Vi får også høre MP prøve seg på blastbeats, noe som ikke passer inn i det heletatt i låta, men men. En helt okej låt, som jeg synes varer litt for lenge. De kunne kuttet låta etter 10 minutt, og den ville vært mye bedre, og heller forsøkt å gjenbruke mer av det vi hørte i første del. Slik sluttresultatet er så virker det som tre låter limt sammen til en.

    Neste låt, A Rite of Passage, en litt mer standard tung låt, med tunge riff som åpner låta etter en kort intro. Dette er altså første singelen fra plata. Dette høres unektelig bra ut, dog kanskje litt klisjefylt og kjent. Kule vokaler med morsomme effekter med «ekkoer». Refrenget er heller ikke ueffent, det er syngbart og man legger det til minne ganske raskt. Låta handler om frimurere og deres hemmelige ritualer. Igjen mer i fortellende stil enn noe annet. Broen minner meg veldig om In The Name of God, med ekkoer som gjentar vokalen. Sånn sett så passer låta kanskje godt inn sammen med de andre låtene JP har skrevet som har omhandlet religion og politikk.

    Så går selvsagt låte inn i Dream Theater modus, med de obligatoriske soloene. Først litt riff, så en kunstig pause for å klargjøre at nå begynner vi «neste del av låten», så en lang JP solo, for så å gå over til en lang JR solo. Det beste med soloene er noe som kommer (og allerede har) blitt kritisert av mange, nemlig at JR eksperimenterer med litt annerledes lead-lyd, som egentlig kan sammenlignes med en gammeldags lydchip fra en Nintendo eller en C64 som «misbrukes». Jeg synes det låter knalltøft, mens andre hater det. Så ender låta i refrenget, med litt riffing slik vi er blitt vant med at DT avslutter slike låter.Wither… Det første jeg tenker på når jeg tenker på denne låta er The Answer Lies Within. Bare litt mer aktiv; jeg har brukt Power Ballad for å beskrive låta flere ganger. Grunnen til at jeg tenker Answer Lies Within er at denne låta i stor grad også er en slags pep-talk låt. Etter hva jeg kan forstå, så handler den i stor grad om skrivesperre, hvordan man skal skrive en historie. Hvordan man ikke må gi opp selv om man ikke kommer seg videre, og hvor man skal gå for å hente inspirasjon. Men det er en nydelig ballade, med flotte melodier. Godt midtparti med hvor refrenget synges kun piano og nydelig flerstemt synging, over i en helt typisk powerballade gitarsolo, og gjentakelser av refrenget. Selv om det er mange klisjeer, og intet nytt, så er dette likevel en sterk låt etter min mening, og en av de aller beste balladene noensinne gjort av Dream Theater.

    Så går vi inn i en fade in av et riff som spiller om og om igjen, med små variasjoner fra gang til gang, som rett og slett bygger på seg gradvis til å vokse mer og mer inn i noe som høres mer og mer kjent ut. Synth og gitar legger seg mer og mer mot noe vi kjenner igjen, før det hele står klart som solen – vi er jo selvsagt inne i introriffeet til This Dying Soul. Noe som ikke varer så lenge, for plutselig er vi inne i The Glass Prison-hovedriffet! Som så utvikles videre til å være et underliggende riff som ent nytt vokalparti synger over, hvor man rett og slett oppsummerer de forrige låtene med teksten. Faktisk er hele låten stort sett bygd opp av riff og partier fra de gamle AA saga låtene. Det er små og større variasjoner som gjør at av og til er de ugjenkjennelige om man ikke fokuserer, og andre ganger er det direkte kopi av de vi hørte i de foregående låtene. Noen ganger endrer de hele følelsen av det partiet. Nye soloer og måtene de kobler alt sammen er det som gjør denne låta særdeles interessant. Alt av låten er referanser, teksten, melodier, riff…
    Men det som er viktig å se her er at dette er den siste låten i en serie av nå fem låter – The Glass Prison, This Dying Soul, The Root of All Evil, Repentance og til sist The Shattered Fortress. Så den bør lyttes til som en avslutning av dette, og aller helst burde man bare lage seg en ny cd som inneholder disse fem låtene, i stedet for å høre på Shattered Fortress alene. Alene så fungerer den ikke SÅ godt som låt, men som avslutning av et konseptalbum så fungerer den VELDIG bra. Jeg har selv tatt eksperimentet med å lage meg nettopp denne cd’en, og det er faktisk utrolig tøft. Et fantastisk konseptalbum, bare fordelt på fem plater. Det eneste som ikke fungerer helt er overgangen fra Root of all Evil til Repentance siden Root of all Evil egentlig går flytende inn i Answer Lies Within. Men, jeg trodde Dream Theater var ferdige med å avslutte låter og plater slik andre låter begynte…Videre kommer vi til det jeg mener er det absolutt største høydepunktet på plata. The Best of Times er låten MP skrev til sin far, som døde tidligere i år. Låta starter med et nydelig piano-parti med violin og gitar som spiller nydelige, rolige gitarpartier. Dette er slikt vi hører ofte i triste filmer. Det er følelsesladet, og veldig pent. Før vi bryter inn i noe som er mye gladere, en glad rock låt som beskriver forholdet mellom MP og faren. Stilistisk sett minner dette meg mer om noe fra FII-tiden, typ B-siden «The Way it Used to Be». Dette kan være fordi The Way It Used to Be hadde mye Rush i seg, og det har også denne låten. Dette er bunnsolid, og jeg synes det passer utrolig bra. Midt i låten bryter det inn dramatikk i gleden, da teksten forteller om når han fikk beskjeden om at faren hadde kreft med få måneder igjen å leve, og musikken gjenspeiler dette med dramatiske strykere.

    Så går vi inn i et mer roligere parti som er mer balladeaktig, hvor teksten i stor grad er en takk til faren for alt han hadde gitt sin familie. Og vi ender med en 3 minutter lang JP solo. Denne låten er rett og slett perfekt. Kanskje litt i lengste laget, men jeg synes aldri den er kjedelig, og ikke braut de inn med teit upassende soloer og unisoner som hadde kommet til å ødelegge det følelsesmessige som ligger bak låten, og heller ikke i upassende rytmeendringer eller uforklarlige plutselige hopp. Her har de en struktur, og holder den fra start til slutt. Dette føles ut som en helhetlig låt, noe som jeg vil påstå har manglet fra de fleste at Dream Theaters store lange episke låter de siste 10 årene. Det er emosjonelt, og jeg satt faktisk igjen med gåsehud og antydning til tårer etter låta – selv etter 15 ganger i spilleren. Så dette er desidert noe av det beste de har fremført på svært lenge etter min mening. En perfekt låt, og sammen med Wither er det disse som gjør plata! Hvilket er noe merkelig, med tanke på at disse er de to låtene som det er minst «Dream Theater» over her.

     

    Til slutt har vi kommet til låten The Count of Tuscany, en låt som allerede har blitt mobbet til døde på nettet på grunn av sitt snodige navn. Starter med nydelig ren gitar, ganske standard Dream Theater igjen. Dette er en prog låt om jeg noensinne har hørt en. Morsomme taktskifter, morsomme rytmer, og jaggu, her har vi et Zappa-parti også. Og morsomme synth-lyder, ikke noe som jeg er vant med å høre fra JR på en Dream Theater plate. Minner meg på en måte litt om Dance of Eternity. Og hva skjer her? Plutselig kommer det inn et sært parti som gir meg en helt klar forståelse for hvorfor de har valgt «greve» som en del av tittelen. Noen av overgangene synes jeg ikke fungerer helt.
    Så bryter låta over i en mer standard tung rockelåte med bra vokal. Litt metallica. Teksten er derimot noe av det absolutt verste jeg har noensinne hørt fra Dream Theater. Den passer ikke til musikken i det hele tatt. Refrenget er veldig bra, og hadde nok vært mye bedre om teksten faktisk hadde gitt mening. Hele denne delen fungerer veldig bra musikalsk sett, men teksten ødelegger alt! Men vi går inn i nok et lengre instrumentalt parti, med noen merkelige rytmer og unisoner, noe funker, noe funker ikke.
    Også avslutter vi låta, høres det ut som, vi får den avsluttende gitarsoloen som vi pleier å høre som avslutning på en Dream Theater låt og tempoet senkes… Men vent, vi er bare 11 minutt inn jo. Hmm. JR spiller akkorder med stemningsfylte pads, særdeles sakte, mens JP spiller lange rolige noter med lang delay på. Dette er Pink Floyd i et nøtteskall. Dette er rett og slett nydelig. Men det har ingen som helst kobling til det som kom før, ingen melodier gjentas. Etter tre minutter går vi inn i en akustisk del som fortsetter temaet som ble introdusert i «Pink Floyd»-delen, og fortsatt med ingen kobling til første halve delen. De bygger og bygger på dette, og ender til slutt på en stor «rock anthem» avslutning, som i og for seg er veldig bra, jeg bare synes ikke det passer med den første halvdelen.
    Etter å ha fått en liten oppvåkning innser jeg at starten, PF delen og slutten av låten henger bra sammen, og faktisk er det kun tre ting jeg irriterer meg over i låta; «greve-temaet», og et litt merkelig riff på slutten av vokalpartiene som varer litt for lenge, og teksten. Det høres kanskje litt ut som tre-fire adskilte låter, men helhetlig synes jeg faktisk ikke at det er en så veldig dårlig låt. En instrumental progintro, en tungrock låt med noen få krumsprell og stor metallica faktor, og en «Pink Floyd Rock Anthem» låt. Hver for seg er de veldig bra, sammen blir de litt for forskjellige, og teksten som skal knytte det hele sammen fungerer utrolig dårlig. Jeg innså at det faktisk er teksten som ødelegger mest for meg i dette tilfellet, og ikke musikken.

    Jevnt over; albumet starter sterkt med en god prog metal sang som uheldigvis er litt for lang etter min mening, så går det over i en mer rett frem, men solid, rockelåt før vi beveger oss inn i den beste balladen bandet har skrevet, før vi avslutter en lang serie med sanger på en verdig måte, videre inn i en fantastisk hyllest til en person som var mike portnoy nær, før vi ender med en ganske sterk låt som uheldigvis har noen skavanker. Av 75 minutter, så er det kanskje 5 minutter som jeg kunne klart meg uten, og det er aldeles ikke ille. Resten er bunnsolid, og er blant favorittene mine av hva dream theaetr har gitt ut de siste 10 år.

    Dette var mine tanker om plata, så får dere glede dere (eventuelt grue dere) til å høre den selv. Selv gir jeg plata 4 av 5 stjerner.
    English Version:

    Apologies to everyone who do not agree with me, who find my review arrogant and subjective. This review is for an intended audience of fans and members of this fanclub, and specific Dream Theater forums. And although I might be focusing too much on some of the flaws, and being picky and analyzing too much into the music, it’s because I am a fan and I want to provide my honest opinions. I am an amateur reviewer, and my first language is not english, so I may have made some poor choice of words. Regardless, I present my review as is, and hope you’ll see that it is with love i critique, not with intent to hurt.
     

    As a whole, I think the new album works pretty well. In many ways this is a very typical Dream Theater album, with a wide range between the different tracks on the album. There aren’t that many surprises here for fans that have known Dream Theater for a long time, and one get a feeling that one has heard most of it before (even to the point that we’ve quite literally have heard most sections of a song before – though there’s a special reason for that as we shall see), but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. If it works, it works, so why change a winning formula. We find all the hallmarks of a Dream Theater album here, with all that it entails. There’s a lot of wild and melodic guitar solos, fun and wacky synth solos, unison parts and twists and turns on the bass and drums, as there should be on a Dream Theater record.

    The album opens with a huge thunder crash, quite literally. Thunder and rain streams out of the speakers before a haunting piano introduces the song. This explodes into the entire band riffing away in prog metal hard Dream Theater style. So this is “A Nightmare to Remember”. Here and onward it’s everything we expect from a strong Dream Theater “opener”. Strong metal riffs with a little slice of scary movie music added to it (ooo-weee-ooo synths), which makes sense considering the song was called “Halloween” on the backroom. The song describes a car-accident, but the text is written in a very straightforward manner, with a step-by-step recounting of events. Not terribly poetic, but it works okay.

    After five minutes of great metal riffs, the song breaks into a more quite section. Very pretty, and very moody, with one of the best choruses that DT has ever written in my opinion, and I get some Pink Floyd vibes from the way LaBrie ends his sentences. This is done very tastefully, with sweet layers of voices and beautiful backing of guitars and synths. There is poetry in the lyrics here «hopelessly drifting, bathing in beautiful agony», and it’s all very good – until we reach the 10th minute of the song, where the now obligatory “let’s share solos” part of the song comes around. JR and JP take turns in playing solos for a few minutes, which in and of itself doesn’t sound that bad, even though the formula is beginning to become a little worn out. The solos themselves are really good, it’s just that when something that used to be unpredictable (like progressive music should be) now becomes a rule, a standard, it makes the experience a little less good and interesting. The music itself may be top notch, but even if it’s complex and fantastic, if it’s not grabbing me emotionally it doesn’t work.

    Then we also have a vocal section that I cannot for the life of me understand why they solved that way. MP does his “rap” style vocals, a talking/shouting thing we’ve know come to know and (love/hate – scratch whichever fits), “angry man” vocals. And it ends with a roar – literally. Musically it’s pretty cool, but I don’t think it works that well because the song at that very moment tells us that “oh, it’s okay, everyone survived”, and with that kind of voice it sounds like someone is utterly pissed because it all went well. And that is a thing I feel covers some of the lyrics on this album,  it’s sometimes so strikingly apparent that the lyrics are an afterthought for the music..

    Then yet another section of different riffs, large amounts of rhythm changes and riff changes, typical for what we’ve come to know from DT the last few years. We also get to hear MP try out blast beats for a size, which absolutely does not fit the song at all, but oh well. Overall an okay, good song, which I think is maybe a few minutes too long. They could’ve cut the song after 10 minutes, and it would be much, much better, and then rather have reused something of that which we were introduced to in the first half of the song. As the resulting song is, it really feels like two-three songs glued together as one. A good opener that could’ve been better, but still has many memorable bits that I truly enjoy.

    Next song, A Rite of Passage, is more of a standard heavy rock song, with heavy riffs that open the song after a short intro. This is the first single from the album. And it sounds pretty good, though maybe a bit clichéd and familiar. Cool vocals with nice effects added that “echo” the lyrics, and a chorus that’s pretty solid. It’s singable, and it sticks to your mind pretty quickly. The song itself is about the free masons and their secret rituals. Again in a more of a recounting style than anything else. The bridge reminds me of In The Name of God, with echoes that repeat the vocals. As such this song maybe fits well with the other songs that JP has written about religion and politics.
    Then it’s of course into Dream Theater mode, with the yet again obligatory solos. First a bit of riffing, before an artificial break to signify that we’re into the next part of the song. Then there’s a long JP solo, before we move into a long JR solo. Very good solos indeed. The best part about these solos is something that will be (and already has been) criticized by a lot of people, is that JR is experimenting with a different kind of lead sound. A sound that could be more compared to an old sound chip from a Nintendo or a C64 that’s being abused (in a good way). I think it sounds awesome, while many other people hate it. And then we end the song, with some riffs and toms and slowing down the tempo. A strong single that surely will be well accepted by a lot of fans, and probably draw a few new ones in.
    Wither… The first thing that comes to mind when I think about this song is The Answer Lies Within, only more powerful. I’ve used the term Power Ballad to describe this song to people several times already. The reason I’m thinking about Answer Lies Within is that this song is pretty much a pep talk song. From what I gather, it is about writers block, and how to tell a story, how to not give up even if one is stuck, and where to go for inspiration. It’s a beautiful ballad, with strong melodies. There’s a great mid section here with just piano and beautiful multi layered vocals that leads into a typical power ballads guitar solo, and repeating of the chorus. Even though there are clichés present, and not very groundbreaking, this is still a very strong song in my opinion, and one of the very best ballads ever done by Dream Theater.
    Now we’re fading into a riff playing over and over again, with small variations from time to time. It’s just building and growing into something more and more familiar. Synths and guitars add up increasingly into something we know, until it’s as bright as the sun: we’re of course inside the intro riff for This Dying Soul. Which doesn’t last long, because suddenly we’re in the The Glass Prison main riff. Which is then further developed into an underlying riff that gets a new vocal melody over it, where we pretty much get a complete summary of what the previous songs were about. In fact, the entire song is mainly built using riffs and sections from the old 12-steps suite songs. There are smaller and larger variations that sometimes make them harder to recognize, and other times it’s a complete lift of the section from the original songs. Sometimes they change the entire feel of the section. New solos, and the way they connect everything together is what makes this song very interesting. Everything in this song is references – the text, the melodies, the riffs, the rhythms… And it works really well to build a new song from reused riffs and ideas from the previous songs in the series.

    But it’s important to see here that this is the last song of a series of now five songs – The Glass Prison, This Dying Soul, The Root of All Evil, Repentance and lastly The Shattered Fortress. So it should be listened to with this in mind. Alone it’s maybe not that strong a song (because it relies too much on the references to older songs – and these references do not make complete sense all on their own), but as an ending to a concept record it works very well. I myself have done the experiment of making me this concept album as a cd, and it’s really cool. It’s a fantastic concept album, only divided between 5 other albums. The only thing that does not work fully is the transition from Root of All Evil to Repentance, since Root of All Evil flows into Answer Lies Within, so the abrupt ending of that noise is jarring. But the entire AA Suite is absolute fantastic to listen to from start to finish, and is my favorite long coherent Dream Theater piece thus far, surpassing even SFAM and SDOIT disc 2. One thing though, I thought Dream Theater was done with finishing songs and albums like other songs begun…
    Further on, we reach the song that I feel is the absolute highlight of the album. The Best of Times is the song that MP wrote for his father, Howard Portnoy, who died earlier this year. The song starts off with a beautiful piano section with violin and acoustic guitars playing slowly and beautifully. Until we break into more of a happy beat, a happy rock song that describes the relationship between a father and his son. Stylistically this reminds me of something from the Falling Into Infinity-era, especially the song “The Way It Used To Be”. This because there is a certain amount of Rush influence present here, with a guitar sound that is pretty similar to that of TWIUTB. This is very strong, and I think it fits extremely well. In the middle of the song, we go more into dramatic music, where the lyrics explain how a family received the sad message about an illness. And this is mirrored in the music with dramatic orchestral synths. The emotions are all over the map in this song, and I think it’s well fitting the subject matter. Of course there’s going to be emotions consisting of happyness, of sadness, of love, of grief. The range of emotions are stunning, and it’s tear inducing and causes goosebumps for even the most hardened soul.
    Then we go into a more quiet section that is more ballad like, where the lyrics mainly is a thank you letter from the son to the father for everything he had given the family. And we end the whole thing with a 3 minute long JP solo. This song is just perfect. Maybe a tad too long, but I never find it boring, and they kept it tasteful without unnecessary parts that could’ve destroyed the emotions that are behind the song, and they keep it straight from start to end. This really feels like a coherent song, which is something I would say has been missing from many of the long Dream Theater songs the past 10 years. So this is absolutely something of the best they’ve done in a long while, in my opinion. It literally gives me goosebumps and brings me almost to tears even after listening to it 20 times. A perfect song, and along with Wither they really make the album. Which is kinda strange, considering they are the two songs that are least “Dream Theater” of the lot!

    Finally we’ve come to the song The Count of Tuscany, a song that’s already become an instant meme on several sites online because of its curious name. Starts with a beautiful clean guitar, pretty standard Dream Theater again. This is a prog rock song if I’ve ever heard one. Neat time changes, fun rhythms, and would you look at that, a nice Zappa reference. I like the synth sound alot in this song, even if it’s not something I’d expect JR to put on a DT album (not that JR sounded bad before, but change is good!). Kinda reminds me of the Dance of Eternity, only a little more coherent – a little less playful. A very worthy progressive intro to this track that is solid gold.

    But then something happens, where they add a weird section I’ll refer to the Count section, because it makes it utterly clear why Count is a part of the song name. I do not like the transition, and it breaks the flow completely. Thankfully it only lasts a few second. Awkward, but forgiveable.

    So we move into a more standard heavy rock song, with pretty good vocals. A bit metallica. The lyrics, however, are among the most horrendous lyrics I’ve ever heard from Dream Theater. It does not fit the music at all. The chorus is pretty good, and would probably have been a lot better if the song’s story made any sense. This entire section works very well musically, but the lyrics ruin so much! Oh and that Count section is repeated, and still doesn’t work. But we go into yet another longer instrumental part, with rhythm changes and unisons which is pretty cool, and works well. Overall this section is very good musically, got a very strong metallica-ish vibe with some dream theater twists added to it. Fans will surely enjoy it.
    And we finish the song, apparently, because we get the outro guitar solo that we’ve come to expect from a Dream Theater song, and the tempo slows… but hang on. My clock only says 11 minutes into it. Hmm, what’s happening? Here’s JR playing chords with moody pads, changes them every minute or so, while JP plays slow and soaring notes with long delay on them. Pink Floyd in a nutshell. This is beautiful. Stunningly so

    But I feel that it’s a bit disconnected to what came before, as I can’t get a fix on a reused theme, and I don’t understand how it fits the story. After three minutes we go into an acoustic part that continues the theme that was introduced in the “Pink Floyd” part, and still I feel like I’m listening to a completely different song. They build and build on this, and ends with a large “Rock Anthem” finish, that in fact is very good. A very worthy ending to the song, and a good ending to one of the better albums of Dream Theater.
    The song feels a bit like a few differnt songs mashed together. A nice prog rock intro, a good heavy metallica-like song with some twists, and a pink floyd rock anthem song. Each on its own is very good, together they’re a bit too different, and the lyrics that is supposed to connect it all is pretty bad. But it’s not a –bad song-, it’s just not as good as it could be. And in fact, in hindsight, aside from the «Count» riff, the sillyness that ends the «metallica part», and the lyrics, this is in fact a very good song, and it has only improved with time for me. I discovered that if I ignored the lyrics, the song was lifted several notches in quality for me. The thing is, though, I know Dream Theater can do so much better, as they have proven with several albums that have come before, and this seems a bit uninspired.

     

    As an overall; The album starts strong with a good prog metal song that unfortunately lasts a bit too long, goes into a more straight rocker thats pretty solid overall, into the best ballad this band has written, to a fitting ending of a long series of songs, to a fantastic tribute to a person dear to mike portnoy, and ends quite strongly with a song with some flaws that i can manage to ignore. Out of 75 minutes, theres perhaps 5 minutes i could’ve been without, and that’s not bad at all (i usually have more problems with a regular DT album, even my favorites). The rest is very solid, and is some of my favorites from dream theater the past 10 years.
    These were my thoughts about the album, so look forward to hear it for yourself (or not). I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

     

     

     

    Systematic Chaos

    So the time has come for the newest album from Dream Theater – the band I’ve invested much time in for the past 7 years as being an active moderator in their chatroom as well as being active as one of the leaders in the norwegian fan club. After going to the record company to setup a potential listening party for the release of Systematic Chaos, I recieved the promo and I have listened to it religously for the past few days. Approaching it with an open mind, with few expectations and much interest, this has proven to be one of the most exciting Dream Theater releases in years for my part – albeit with some minor flaws that stops it from being a perfect album.

    Now, looking at the album as a piece of Dream Theater’s catalogue, it’s an album that pretty much signifies a new start for Dream Theater. Whereas the previous 4 albums have been rather consistent in their sound and thematics (in the sense that they dealt with personal issues such as psychological problems, religion, ethics, politics and so on – and musically stayed within a familiar path of progressive metal although each album retained a «signature»), this album displays a freshness in how they express themselves with the words and music. But it still retains that Dream Theater feeling that is so familiar, it just does it in a new setting. It is simply an album that is fun to listen to! It has great riffs, it is heavy, and it has great vocal parts. There is a lot of vocals sung by the other Dream Theater members – either in unison with James Labrie, or sung alternatively, and that makes it a lot more interesting vocally. Overall, it sounds great, the album has a wonderful mix as well with depth between the instruments, they come through well-defined and with just that right punch and clarity.

    The album starts with their new epic song, In The Presence of Enemies Pt. 1. The song is probably one of the songs on the album that is most like what they’ve done before. It starts off with a bang, and keeps it up throughout with pure progressive goodness – there are pieces in here that just made me grin of delight. Excellent guitar sounds and interesting synth-usage that reminds me a bit of vintage prog. There are guitar solos that lead the melody with a flowing feel, simply beautiful. The song varies from the hard and heavy prog metal we’re used to from Dream Theater with the insane guitar solos and unisons – to the slower parts filled with emotional playing. It reminds me of Liquid Tension Experiment, particularly the more slower parts. A bit like Liquid Tension Experiment meets Octavarium. And it never seems to go overboard with the unnecessary instrumental parts. This track will certainly please the long-time Dream Theater fans.

    We then move on to one of the more pop-sounding tracks on the album, Forsaken. It’s a pretty straight forward metal piece, reminding me a bit of the newer alternative metal that has been very popular the past few years. Simple riffing, a bit like Linkin Park or Evanescence particularly during the verses. The chorus is, for me, pretty cheesy. It has that arena rock/pop-metal «singalong» feel to it, with cliched lyrics that left me a bit embarrased – «Forsaken, I have come for you tonight. Awaken, look in my eyes and take my hand.» The solo on this song is very good, it reminds me of the Awake solos, and is some of the best work Petrucci has done in years – too bad it’s so short. This is probably the most commercial sounding song on the entire album. And it works very well as a pop metal track.

    Constant Motion has, by the time this is read, been out for a while already. A pretty straight forward prog metal piece that is also their first «single» of the album and will be released as a video. With quite simple riffing, it works well as a metal song – it sounds like a mix between Megadeth riffing and Metallica vocals during the verses. The chorus is great, with sounds in the background that heavily reminds me of Lie from Awake. You can see that they wanted to create a metal song with balls – of the type that Metallica used to create. Halfway through the song, the song goes into pure Dream Theater mode – with the crazy rhythms and solos we’ve come to expect from them. Great guitar solo! And a typical Jordan Rudess keyboard solo (on both good and bad). Overall this is a damn good song that I think will be quite a hit – it has the potential of drawing new fans as well as showing the existing fans that Dream Theater still is going strong. Yes, it is a bit straight forward, but that is not a bad thing at all!

    The next track brings the first REALLY big surprise on us. It starts out with a heavy, simple riff that just sets the mood for an all out headbanging session. And when the vocals come in… Completely distorted vocals more shouted than sung, by a group of people. And in between, there’s some crazy doublebeat rhythms where the vocals are sung over, that at first listen just captured me completely because of its unexpectedness. But it sounds GREAT! The chorus is pretty straight forward though. After a few minutes of this, the song goes into mental overdrive, with insane riffing on the keyboard and synths, with solos left and right, which should please the prog metal fans. Kinda like a Dance of Eternity, only with vocals – it even has the given Rag Time keyboard bit in the middle. It changes styles and rhythms ever so often, yet keeping the same type of riffs throughout. This is my absolute favorite on this album, the epitome of what Dream Theater is. It is by far the most outright heavy song Dream Theater has ever done – some people have said Meshuggah-like, which might to some degree be true. Meshuggah meets Dance of Eternity?

    Repentance is the next part of the ongoing Alcoholics Anonymous series. The basis of the song is the riff that drives the vocal bits at the beginning of This Dying Soul – only done in a Opeth/Porcupine Tree/Pink Floyd style. The song is a long, mellow piece with very little instrumental insanity – the song is kept at the bare minimum for effect. Instead, they try to just adjust the ambience every so often to keep it interesting, and it works very well. Particularly towards the end, where the main parts of the song is clean guitars, piano and drums and a vocal group just singing chords for the entire time – but keeping the bass heavily distorted. And there is mellotron. Mellotron!! This track is just perfect, it is a great song with a lot of emotions.

    Now on to a song I think might cause the most controversy of the songs, at least for the fans. After the heavy criticism on Octavarium for having a huge Muse influence, this song starts out with a VERY apparent muse liftoff. There are some great riffs in here, and the song is well built. With some very interesting vocal parts. Particularly the parts where the 50 fans that were invited to the studio to lay down some tracks are really rocking – this is going to be a hit live. When i say controversy, i’m not just talking about the Muse influence though. The lyrics are, as the title suggest, a comment on wars – and will be viewed as a comment on the current situation for the US. «It burns deep down inside of me, we have ourselves to blame, not questioning  – accepted as the truth. »  «Is it time to make a change». A pretty serious matter of discussion – and yet the music kinda sounds happy to me, which confuses me.

    The ministry of lost souls is yet another beast. This is one of the slow building songs, that begins as a «ballad» style song, and keeps that going for a while to build on itself before taking off entirely towards the end. It is this albums «Sacrified Sons» – the similarities are pretty uncanny. It is built up in much the same way, and has the same amounts of shredding. A good track, but not particularly memorable for me. It doesn’t even get really interesting until the 7 minute mark – before that it is pretty generic and forgettable.

    The album ends with the completion of the epic song, In the Presence of Enemies. Continuing some thematics from the first part, this continues the story from the song, but takes on a much darked mood than hte first part. But at 4 minutes, this song becomes  a different beast altogether – was I listening to Dream Theater or some generic Power Metal band. The lyrics are cheesy, talking about Dark Masters and whatnot. With some background vocals pitched down to «demon level» (If you’ve seen Stargate SG-1, think Ghoauld voices). But it only lasts for a couple of minutes before the song goes into complete Dream Theater overdrive again, with crazy instrumental parts as we’re used to (reminding me of Scenes from a memory) . Overall, the song is pretty good, but also pretty standard Dream Theater.

    Altogether, the album is pretty great. I like it a lot, even though there are some parts that I’m not terribly interested in. There is a lot of other interesting stuff here though, and a lot of surprises for the fans. Some parts are pretty commercial, with a simple «pop metal» sound, some is clicheed and rehashed Dream Theater material, but the overall feeling is that this is the new beginning for Dream Theater that they needed after moving from their old record company to their new. For me, this album has already worked its way up between my favorite albums of this years, and ranks pretty high for the Dream Theater albums. It’s not the straight prog metal album people expected, it’s not even a typical Dream Theater album. But if you manage to listen to it without a preconsieved notion of what a Dream Theater album should be, I think you might find that it is a very strong album on its own. It has all the elements we’ve come to love from Dream Theater, but it also has so many new elements (for Dream Theater) that it makes this album one of the most exciting releases they’ve done so far.