Artist: Dream Theater
Release Date: June 4th, 2007
Producer: John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy
This one was requested by @Djm
. This progressive style of metal is not a style I've ever gotten into before. I've heard of Dream Theater in magazines back in the day, chances are if you've ever read Guitar World magazine you've read the name John Petrucci a time or two. Mike Portnoy is another name I have read a lot but for whatever reasons I've just never really given DT a chance I guess. Not only is this the first time listening to this album but it is the first time listening to Dream Theater period, so I can't say much about where this album stands in their catalog. Just sharing some of the stuff I've learned for my research for this album, this was their 9th studio album. Their commercial peak was with 1992's "Images and Words" which went on to be certified Gold by the RIAA. This album was produced by Dream Theater themselves but it was engineered and mixed by Paul Northfield who also worked on Rush's "Moving Pictures", Queensryche's "Operation Mindcrime" and "Empire", Ozzy Osbourn's "Ozzmosis", and Marilyn Manson's "Holy Wood" among others.
Also noticed that Dream Theater were on the same record labels as Pantera, starting out at ATCO, which I think turned into EastWest at some point before being swallowed up by Elektra, which I think went out of business around 2004 where Dream Theater found themselves with Atlantic records. Things didn't work out so well with Atlantic so they signed with Roadrunner Records for this particular album in 2007. A trend I noticed with Roadrunner records back around this time was that you started seeing them signing fewer and fewer new bands and instead they went out and signed a bunch of older established acts like Dream Theater, Megadeth, Hatebreed, Black Label Society, Cradle of Filth and maybe some others I'm forgetting. Roadrunner had a pretty good finger on the pulse of heavy music for a long time, signing new bands like all of the Florida death metal bands of the late 80's, the Nu Metal stuff like Coal Chamber in the 90's, metal-hardcore bands like Killswitch Engage, Chimaira in the early 00's, every year they were pushing some new young band that they signed out of nowhere, then it was like they gave up looking for new metal bands. Shortly after Dream Theater signed with Roadrunner the company was bought out by Atlantic.
^Dream Theater circa 2007
This is a really deep, really complex album. The technical musicianship is outstanding. Something cool about this album that I've never seen before was the opening and closing track, which is like one song split up into 2 parts. The first part, In the Presence of Enemies part 1 is split up into 2 parts itself, I Prelude and II Resurrection. The second part of In the Presence of Enemies is split up into 4 parts, III Heretic, IV The Slaughter of the Damned, V The Reckoning, and VI Salvation. The whole thing together(which is how they play it live from what I've read) is like 26 minutes long. The first part of In the Presence of Enemies(I. Prelude) is instrumental with some ridiculously fast and intricate guitar and bass playing parts, and some nice pianos/keyboards. The word "theatrical" comes to mind when listening to this song, it just has a big feel to it like it's from some big scene in a movie. The song goes into II Resurrection pretty seamlessly with a nice little acoustic style opening coming out of I Prelude and going into a big heavy part that sounds excellent with the way the keyboard intertwines with the riffing with some nice effects. The lyrics kick in during this part of the song, the singer's voice is a mixed bag, I don't love it but I don't hate it. There are some pretty sick guitar solos going on during II. Resurrection, dude just burns the fucking fretboard up here.
The second track Forsaken is a little more straightforward. I really like the guitar sound on this album. The keyboards on this song are also really good, as are the drum beats. Really high level stuff going on here with the musicianship. Constant Motion is another song that I really liked, maybe my favorite song on the album, just an excellent groove on this song and a bark and bite in the vocals that remind me of some old Metallica.
The Dark Eternal Night is another song that I really liked, the bass is so mean and the riffing is so tight, but yet it's got that groove that I like. I love the way they speed up and slow down into that groove. This is one song that has been stuck in my head, I like the way they go into/set up/build to the chorus. Loved the bridge where they go into the trippy part with the keyboards, then the fast/heavy part coming out of that were it sounds like the dude is murdering his drums. The song goes into a lot of different directions and just kind of keeps you on the edge of your seat, I really like that.
I really didn't like the next 3 tracks, starting with "Repentance", which is split up into 2 parts and features a lot of sappy spoken word parts(featuring the voices of Mikael ┼kerfeldt, Jon Anderson, David Ellefson, Daniel Gildenl÷w, Steve Hogarth, Chris Jericho, Neal Morse, Joe Satriani, Corey Taylor, Steve Vai, and Steven Wilson). Also didn't really care for "Prophets of War", I just really didn't like the vocals or the lyrics. Then there is "The Ministry of Lost Souls", a 15 minute song with some pretty fantastic guitars but the vocals and the lyrics kind of kill my buzz. There is some pretty deep storytelling going on with the lyrics but it just kind of comes off a little corny on this one.
Then there is In the Presence of Enemies part 2, split up into 4 parts, III Heretic the slow building intro that grows over the first 6 minutes. IV. The Slaughter is where the song starts to get juicy, I lose track of time and don't recognize when the next 2 parts begin or end but this song gets really awesome the longer it goes. I love the keyboards and just the overall structure changes that the song goes through towards the last 7 or 8 minutes. The drums there later on in the song are superb. Then they drop into that solo and it's so money, the drum beat behind it and the shredding itself is so awesome to me. The guitars just go off the deep end and they bring back the crazy fast part that they opened the album with in the first part of this song, and I'm just like... wow man. Love those keyboards in the end. I wasn't so crazy about the final part, the Salvation part where the lyrics/vocals kick back in. I think that is my only gripe about this album is the vocals, some of them are pretty cool and some of them I really didn't like. But the music itself is money, the guitars, bass, drums, and keyboards are all pretty damn great. I never knew just how good these guys were until now, I definitely want to check out some of their other albums very soon. 4 Stars