Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn of Events – Review
Posted by Reggie
September 13th marked the end of a nail-biting wait for Dream Theater fans. The much anticipated Dream Theater release, A Dramatic Turn of Events is upon us. It’s not that it has been a long time since their previous release, but the mystery and suspense surrounding the future of Dream Theater is over. A Dramatic Turn of Events is solid Dream Theater! And Mike Mangini is worth his weight in Gold.
I heard previously through video reviews and also read countless opinions about the last several Dream Theater albums, Black Clouds and Silver Linings, Systematic Chaos and Octavarium. Mostly, those opinions were complaints that Dream Theater lost focus or was just “going through the motions.” I didn’t see it…until now. Not that those three albums suck because they definitely do not. It feels in a sense (to me) that Dream Theater was a little less progressive musically. The reason I see the difference now is because A Dramatic Turn of Events is everything Dream Theater was in their early years; more progressive. I guess the introduction of Mike Mangini was the “kick in the pants” Dream Theater needed, although I don’t think Dream Theater knew they needed it.
When I listen to A Dramatic Turn of Events, I hear all the intricacies that I heard on Images and Words, Awake, and Metropolis Pt2: Scenes from a Memory. Jordan Rudess seems to have increased his keyboard production. Instead of mostly intertwining his keyboards around intros/outros and following Petrucci’s guitars, there are more keyboards throughout the music. Rightfully so, Rudess is so damn talented we should hear more of his great work.
On the Backs of Angels is the opening track and sets the tone of the album flawlessly. It is every bit as heavy as Dream Theater can be, but also carries with it the perfect tempo changes (the prog) and the melody that makes a Dream Theater song magnificent. At 8:42, it neither too long nor too short for the Dream Theater introduction.
The heavier side of Dream Theater comes in track #2, Build Me Up, Break Me Down, but does not fail in the area of a harmonious chorus. As the song quietly fades, Lost Not Forgotten carries on the heavier side of Dream Theater, but dials up the prog a bit more especially in the Rudess/Petrucci solo trade-offs. There is an awesome guitar solo near the latter part of the song.
This is the Life is the “Wither” (Black Clouds and Silver Linings) of this album. Without sounding too much like Wither, it has the feel and the emotion of the song, this is a nice come-down after the previous heavy-prog style Dream Theater. If you want epic, you get that with the next two tracks Bridges in the Sky and Outcry. Both over the 11-minute mark, these two songs encompass everything that is Dream Theater and will not disappoint. Bridges in the Sky is more epic-prog whereas Outcry is impressive. I think the serious Dream Theater fan will replay Outcry over and over. It’s almost like a Six Degrees…medley.
Do you remember a song called “Wait for Sleep (Images and Words)?” This is Far From Heaven in a nutshell. It’s a great transition from the two previous masterpieces. Poor Mike Mangini has nothing to do in this song if they play it live…he’ll probably need a rest anyway. Far From Heaven is perfectly placed in the album because it’s the calm before the storm. The next track, Breaking All Illusions, is the longest song at 12:25 and follows the path of complicated transitions and musical arrangements of Bridges in the Sky and Outcry. With a more somber mood (initially), it takes me back to Metropolis Part 2. You’ll know what I mean when you hear it. This is my favorite song on the album! Beneath the Surface is a nice breather after the Dream Theater assault and a nice closer to A Dramatic Turn of Events. This time they did not end the album with a 20-minute magnum opus; just a 5:26 calm and soothing semi-acoustic experience.
Lyrically, A Dramatic Turn of Events in on par with all of Dream Theater’s albums. They are obviously influenced by the world around us which his unfortunately a lot of doom and gloom. Let’s face it there are not many feel-good moments going on. But you don’t feel sad after listening to the album. The music takes care of that, but lyrically what you see happening in the world is written on this album.
Personally, I am ecstatic that Dream Theater managed to squeeze 9 songs on to this album. A Dramatic Turn of Events is not aimed at pleasing any of the masses unless the masses are prog-metal fans. I hate to say it’s a return to roots because the band has grown so much. In my opinion there is only one set of roots. After that it’s just growth, but I will say the experience of the album predates their most recent three releases. A Dramatic Turn of Events is 5 of 5 Devil Horns. Nuff said!