Dream Theater’s latest album is a very fine work of art!
Revisiting their last album Systematic Chaos I ended up enjoying a couple of tracks. These were the concert staples that were the only good bits of their last live album/DVD ‘Chaos in Motion’. The live DVD proved to be excruciating terrible in both production quality and performance quality minus a few nice gems. As such I didn’t expect much from the upcoming the album.
However after giving this particular album a little more time to ferment, I have to say that 90% of this album is really well done. There are two versions, the regular version and the extended version. The extended version includes a whole CD of rock covers which are done exceptionally well.
On Disc 1 the new material is pretty much rock solid. You get the typical Dream Theater story epics, some great radio friendly rock metal songs, and of course the epic Dream Theater power endings. ‘A Nightmare to Remember’, ‘A Rite of Passage’, and ‘Wither’ are a great opening trio of songs that open the album. Hard driven, great vocals and musically well done. ‘The Shattered Fortress’ and ‘Best of Times’ are okay, not great but not bad either. ‘The Count of Tuscany’ nicely wraps up the album with an interesting story with once again amazing musicianship. The smooth interlude that harkens back to Pink Floyd will have you fully relaxed before the climatic ending.
The only faults I can find from this album are the occasional vocals from either John Petrucci or Mike Portnoy. Throwing in the occasional yelling or special effect voice over James LeBrie’s sweet voice just doesn’t work. It sounds like a heavy metal parody when they do this. Beyond that I can’t find anything wrong with Disc 1.
Disc 2 of the expanded edition has numerous covers from various other rock and metal influences. Once again these are some amazing covers with James LeBrie hitting some amazing high notes in places. He makes Queen actually sounds good for a change! Some great instrumental work as well they could have made this a whole separate album. Either way the trip from the beginning of disc 1 to the end of disc 2 is a wonderful trip of musical exploration and harmonic brilliance.
Disc 3 of the expanded edition (yes there is a disc 3) is the instrumentals from disc 1, so if you ever wanted to sing karaoke to Dream Theater now’s your chance. While I can say it’s a nice to have this there are some noticeable differences between the instrumental versions. Beyond that this is as close as we’re going to get to Liquid Tension Experiment Album #3.
Hopefully LaBrie’s vocals will perform admirably this time around on tour, beyond that Dream Theater continues to amaze me both in Production and their ability to keep pushing Progressive Metal forward.