Dream Theater’s New Self-Titled Album

image source: bravewords


Considering I spent nearly four years of my life listening exclusively to this band and their circle of peers and influences, it’d be a shame if I didn’t write at least a little bit about them, now that they have a self-titled record out. I’m not blown away by the new Dream Theater album, but it’s a very strong late-career outing for a band that have been incredibly productive over the course of their career.

The album can be streamed here: http://www.rollingstone.com/music/news/dream-theater-channel-prog-metal-in-dream-theater-premiere-20130916

And, here’s my track-by-track:

False Awakening Suite: A short piece that has interesting moments but fails to gain much momentum and suffers from a lack of fluidity. It seems to lack purpose. Score: 2/5

The Enemy Inside: An exceptional instrumental section and JP/JR solo spot gives existential validity to this otherwise vanilla prog metal tune. Score: 3/5

The Looking Glass: Dream Theater play to their strengths here moreso than anywhere else on the album, infusing old-school progressive metal with their trademark instrumental craftmanship and LaBrie’s Arena Rock knack for melody. Score: 5/5

Enigma Machine: It’s not as bad as “Raw Dog”, but it lacks direction and fails to mesmerize despite showcasing virtuosity. It might be a lot more fun to watch live. Score: 2/5

The Bigger Picture: This dynamic and powerful song spirals out of control after the first chorus, but that instrumental build-up into the finale puts everything back into perspective. Score: 4/5

Behind the Veil: Parts of good and bad songs are jarbled together without much regard for fluidity.  JP’s solo almost saves the song, but we’ve seen that trick too many times before. Score: 2/5

Surrender to Reason: The Rush influences on this album are starting to feel blatant. Dream Theater are obviously lifelong disciples, but even they should know how to avoid those awful 70’s Rush transitions by now. Score: 2/5

Along for the Ride: A solid effort that sits well beside songs like “Wither” and “This is the Life”. Score: 3/5

Illumination Theory: For every fantastic section of this 22 minute song, there is section that feels like a mere formality – including & especially Rush homages. I love the orchestrated section, and the piano/guitar fadeout at the very end. Can we have more of that? Score: 3/5

In sum, things seem looser in DT world this time around. DT12 is a mixed bag that continues to demonstrate that band’s excellent musicianship and creativity, but homages to the band’s influences are too prominent, and the songcrafting is more concise but nowhere near as seamless as on A Dramatic Turn of EventsOverall: 6.5/10

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