DREAM THEATER – A DRAMATIC TURN OF EVENTS
Released 12th September 2011 (Roadrunner Records)
Words: Tom Willmott
The back catalogue of prog metal titans Dream Theater is a mighty fine one. They have now reached their eleventh studio album and are still considered one of the most influential acts in modern metal. But their discography has not come without some glitches. Records like “Black Clouds And Silver Linings” and “Images and Words” come across as genuinely superb material whilst “Octavarium” and “Systematic Chaos” are not the easiest of albums to get on with. Their latest effort, “A Dramatic Turn Of Events”, is something of a landmark as it is the first album not to feature long-serving drummer Mike Portnoy who left to join Avenged Sevenfold as their live drummer, only ironically to leave them later on. Filling his spot is Mike Mangini, previously working with the likes of Steve Vai and Annihilator.
As per usual, this record does not come without the lengthy numbers that the band are well known for, but has the replacement of their drummer had an adverse impact on them? Well, thankfully, the answer is no, but on the other hand, it does feel that they are still following the same formula they’ve been plugging for the past twenty years or so. Granted the opening track “On The Backs Of Angels” demonstrates they are still a force to be reckoned with, and that only such songs could come from them. And others such as “This Is The Life” and “Bridges In The Sky” are certainly intriguing in parts, but for a lot of the time, the album tends to drift and digress. Yes, we get that the musicians are incredibly gifted, but this doesn’t justify the endless improvised keyboard riffs, not to mention the lengthy guitar solos that do not seem rooted in any coherent sound. Perhaps it’s just me, but I feel we’ve heard it all before and that this album was all too easy to predict.
For life long fans, this record will fit comfortably with the rest of their discography and they’ll have absolutely no problem with it. But it’s not likely to attract first timers or peak casual listeners. The great news is that Mastodon and Opeth are bringing out new records which hopefully will meet all prog metal needs. In the meantime, I recommend blasting “A Rite Of Passage”, a great representation of Dream Theater’s sound unlike what is on offer with this largely forgettable collection of tunes.