Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)

Probably one of the most expected albums of this fall by metal fans. Three years after the epic “Black Clouds & Silver Linings”, the progressive metal band formed in 1985 by John Petrucci, John Myung, and Mike Portnoy while they attended Berklee College of Music in Massachusetts are back, first time without founding member, drummer Mike Portnoy. His departure raise higher the interest for this new material, but Mike Mangini can not be a disappointment for anybody. Metal fans probably remember his name from his contribution on Annihilator’s third album, “Set the World on Fire” released in 1993, but he also contributed to Extrem’s 95’s album, “Waiting For The Punchline” and more notably he was the drummer in Steve Vai’s live band and recorded several drum tracks for Steve’s “Fire Garden” and “The Ultra Zone” albums. Also Mangini was notorious for setting five World’s Fastest Drummer records between 2002-2005.
The band’s 11th studio album, “A Dramatic Turn of Events” is scheduled for a September 13 release on Roadrunner Records. After several listening, this might be the best, the more balanced Dream Theater album so far. Well, I’m conscious, some said this about their previous album… and every new release of any band usually is nominated as their best, but this time Dream Theater actually quite managed to delivered their best.

Hugh Syme cover art work reminds me ghostly of an album cover of the 80s which featured a clown balancing on a rope and a hand with a scissor which was ready to cut the rope, but for weeks now I can remember which band on which album used that image… Anyway, once again Hugh Syme delivered a beautiful artwork. The album was written, recorded, mixed and mastered between January and June, 2011 at Cove City Sound Studios in Long Island, New York, and it was produced by John Petrucci and mixed by Andy Wallace.

Track list:

01. “On The Backs of Angels” 8:45
02. “Build Me Up, Break Me Down” 6:59
03. “Lost Not Forgotten” 10:11
04. “This Is The Life” 6:57
05. “Bridges In The Sky” 11:03
06. “Outcry” 11:24
07. “Far From Heaven” 3:56
08. “Breaking All Illusions” 12:25
09. “Beneath The Surface” 5:26

Total length: 77:05

“On The Backs of Angels” was released via YouTube on June 28, it’s an epic composition where heavy riffs and more smother and harmony full passages are nicely combined and overlapping each other and this controlled struggle between aggressive heaviness and lyrical or progressive constructions are the main characteristic of the whole album.
“Build Me Up, Break Me Down” bring to the surface some quite dark riffs and a few modern sounds, it has a well build tension running through the whole song while the chorus are spacier and more melodious.
“Lost Not Forgotten” is build upon a beautiful piano theme, a nice epic juggling between subtle, lyrical taste-like themes and dense, riff and keyboard oriented moments.
“This Is The Life” is a slow one, a progressive taste-like ballad with some charming roots back to the 70’s and 80’s, but sounding spacy and fresh.
“Bridges In The Sky” is one of the heaviest moments of the album incorporated some crushing modern sounds as well. I like when DT gets edgier, fusing on heavy riffs and contorted layers, hurricane like explosions and glowing themes. This is a complex, well structured and groovy, heavy, but beautiful composition, an excellent teaser of what exactly DT sounds like in their best and most inspired moments.
“Outcry” incorporates some strangely modern electronica along their powerful riffing and gloomy textures, but still, this is almost a classic DT construction, lyrical breakdowns and heavy eruptions are elaborately combined into an epic composition with some exciting dialogues between the guitars and keyboards.
“Far From Heaven” is another smooth, tasty ballad having the piano in center and reminding me of Queen with a subtle jazzy spice and subtle symphonic orchestral arrangement. I’m not a big fan of these ballads, but this is not so bad, well, even kind of… lovely.
“Breaking All Illusions” have a very classy heavy metal taste, kind of unexpected turn in the vibe of the album, but still not out of the classic DT musical horizon. A little bit step back to the 70’s and 80’s, have some smooth keyboard licks and a darker, spacier, progressive theme pulsing through, but also some violent heavy breakdowns and turns, DT delivered another piece of epic and complex composition, classy and still very in their own style.
“Beneath The Surface” close the record in acoustic key, this is probably the most warm and sunnier track of the record and it’s main role is to serve a full breath of hope and kind of release.

Cliche or not, perhaps this is the strongest, more balanced album delivered by Dream Theater so far, they didn’t reinvent themselves or the progressive metal genre, but delivered a very tasty piece of it.

Dream Theater – Official Site
Dream Theater @ MySpace
Dream Theater @ Facebook
Dream Theater @ Twitter
Roadrunner Records

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