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Review: Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Dream Theater
A Dramatic Turn Of Events

Label: Roadrunner Records
Year released: 2011
Duration: 77:01
Tracks: 9
Genre: Progressive Metal

Rating: 5/5

Review online: October 10, 2011
Reviewed by: Bruce Dragonchaser
Readers Rating
A Dramatic Turn Of Events

Rated 4.39/5 (87.86%) (56 Votes)

When drummer extraordinaire and yapping mouth-piece Mike Portnoy handed in his notice, the world stopped for a moment, considered, and threw him a salute for services rendered, wishing him a fond farewell. It also happens to be exactly what the rest of Dream Theater did when they received the news, glancing once more at their legacy and asking themselves what needed to be done to repair the damage Portnoy had inflicted on it. The answer was this album.

From the title to the artwork, we have a fresh, invigorating approach from the world's biggest Progressive Metal act, and with Mike Mangini taking the other Mike's place at the drum stool, it's all systems go for John Petrucci and his army of wizards. Opening with the dreamy, mystic acoustics that blessed A Change Of Seasons, "On The Backs Of Angels" lulls you into the world Dream Theater created with works such as Images And Words and Falling Into Infinity, the two albums A Dramatic Turn Of Events balances between throughout. That's not to say the band have learned nothing from past lessons: the overall sound might have more in common with the Dream Theater of old, but during the album's heavier moments (particularly the overtly commercial "Build Me Up, Break Me Down") one doesn't have to strain too hard to remember 2009's Black Clouds & Silver Linings, or even the coveted Train Of Thought. Petrucci's riff cycles do tend to pulsate between the complex, intricate, and insane, but there is more light and shade on this record than a Rorschach inkblot, and so we have moments like "This Is The Life", a tranquil, slow-build that could serve as a companion piece to Scenes From A Memory, only it is perhaps more sublime than that. Conversely, "Bridges In The Sky", my personal favorite, flattens the listener with sledgehammer riffing that might've been much like a slice of Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence if not for the artistic keys of Jordan Rudess, who dominates much of this material with careful choices, sensitive sequences, and orchestration that will bring you to tears.

More epic in scope than anything they have done since their glory days, tracks like "Outcry" and "Breaking All Illusions" shine with middle sections that rival the band's famed "Metropolis Part 1" epic; this is truly the most progressive Dream Theater have been in years, with more guitar and keyboard interplay than they've ever used before. Just check out the tremendous moment after James LaBrie's last soaring note before the middle eight in "Bridges in the Sky" – it's unbeatable. What's more, LaBrie goes for a softer, more accessible style this time (and obviously there's no toe-curling barking from Portnoy), and this takes time to sink in, particularly as the vocal lines tend to slither over the musical thunderstorm, much in the way Vanden Plas have come to do. The album reaches its pinnacle with "Lost Not Forgotten", a true metal epic that just slays from start to finish, finding new boy Mangini in fine, double-kicking form.

Dream Theater fans have been waiting since 1992 for an album like this. In many ways, it is their Brave New World (except without the reunion), and those who have written off past releases need to live with it for a while. A perfect album for autumnal wanderings, the competition for album of year will have to be very fierce to knock this off the top spot.

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Review: Black Clouds and Silver Linings (reviewed by Hermer Arroyo)
Review: Black Clouds and Silver Linings (reviewed by MetalMike)
Review: Images And Words (reviewed by Sargon the Terrible)
Review: Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory (reviewed by Larry Griffin)
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