Review : DREAM THEATER – "A Dramatic Turn of Events"

Dream TheaterA Dramatic Turn of Events
Release: 2011Sep13 (US)
Label: Roadrunner
Rating: 3/5

Man, more like A Boring Plod of Uneventfulness. Alright, we all know founding member Mike Portnoy no longer drums in this band, right? He’s been floundering a bit, between his A7X stint, attempts to form new bands, and the retardedtry of recent lawsuit threats. But Dream Theater is still contracted to Roadrunner, who I’m sure will be good-goddamned if there isn’t a new album every two years. I guess what kills me about this album is the length, which I should be used to by now. The band just loves to churn out these 70+ minute monstrosities unopposed, mostly because they have an editor-eating Sarlacc.

"No no no, 12:25 is a perfectly reasonable track length. Yes yes yes, shorter than your four long songs on the last album. And I'm sure all the ballads won't weight this down a bit!"

I’ve always appreciated the grandiosity of Dream Theater, in one way or another. Back in the mid-’90s, when I was seriously forming my attitudes toward heavy music, they were a critical go-to band. However, across a decade of new releases, the only album I could get through was Train of Thought. I want songs from these guys, not orchestral exercises, which is probably why I found Black Clouds and Silver Linings so awesome. There were plenty of memorable sections, and—gasp!—the ballad was actually okay.

Not so here. Haven’t we dealt with the “Far from Heaven” issues in “As I Am” already… and in a way more badass manner? Do we need Petrucci to again remind us how stinking precious our existence is on “This is the Life”? After more than 71 minutes, should we hear an introspective, mellow, drawn-out letdown in “Beneath the Surface”? No, none of these songs are necessary, and shaving this excess in favor of the heavier songs would have made A Dramatic Turn of Events stronger on the whole.

You wouldn’t guess by the album’s beginning. Sure, we must trudge through Petrucci’s biblical invocations, but those first couple of minutes of “On the Backs of Angels” really gets the blood pumping, and LaBrie belts out notes he rarely approaches on the chorus of “Build Me Up, Break Me Down”. Then, “Lost Not Forgotten” (which should also have a comma in its title) channels subtle Middle Eastern motifs convincingly; something I’ve not heard from a mainstream band since “The Nomad” by Iron Maiden. Similarly, I dug the shamanic throat singing bookending “Bridges in the Sky”. I’m only mildly familiar with the Tuvan approach, but this seems more rooted in Native American heritage, though the region is inexplicit.

Is it impolite to ask for an EP? The last time they did that, we got one of my favorite Dream Theater releases and it was still nearly an hour long. Listen, it’s great that the band (literally) regrouped for this album; I admire their perseverance. But seriously, dudes, I have another old adage for you:  sometimes less is more. Shorten the songs, have fewer of them, and pour your soul into no more than one tender tune per album. My focus is scattered more than ever before, and plenty of other bands are capably competing for attention.

Try: 1, 2, 3, 5

01. On the Backs of Angels
02. Build Me Up, Break Me Down
03. Lost Not Forgotten
04. This is the Life
05. Bridges in the Sky
06. Outcry
07. Far From Heaven
08. Breaking All Illusions
09. Beneath the Surface



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