Showing posts with label dream theater. Show all posts
Showing posts with label dream theater. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

video review: 'distance over time' by dream theater

So this was a lot better than Weezer, but I wish I could have loved this one. Good, not great.

Next we're going to Billboard BREAKDOWN - enjoy!

Monday, March 4, 2019

album review: 'distance over time' by dream theater

Am I the only one who feels like something weird is going on with the hype cycle for Dream Theater this time around?

Seriously - I know the band has been long-running and many could make the argument their last truly transcendent album was over ten years ago and that they've just not been the same since Portnoy left and the vastly overpolished but kind of underwhelming 2016 project The Astonishing had pushed many of the casual fans away... but even with that, a new Dream Theater album didn't use to feel like a surprise from out of nowhere!

And yet here we are: maybe I'm just not attuned to the hype cycle but Dream Theater has released their fourteenth album and it's their shortest since 1992's Images And Words. They have described it as a stream-lined release clocking under an hour with only nine songs - which for a band like Dream Theater who will release EPs longer than some bands' albums is indeed a thing. And when you see the amount of critical acclaim the band has received - which absolutely surprised me, given Dream Theater can be a polarizing act in certain substrata of progressive metal - mostly surrounding how accessible the album is... well, maybe the benefit of lowered expectations had won people over? Honestly, I didn't know what to expect with Distance Over Time - a cute way to say 'speed', although the lack of direction means we're not getting velocity - but enough bad jokes, what did we get?

Thursday, February 4, 2016

video review: 'the astonishing' by dream theater

Another one that was long in coming, but I wanted to tackle it regardless. In the mean time, my schedule has gotten frankly insane, so I'm hoping to blow through a few releases fairly quickly. Sia first, then Pop. 1280, Avantasia and The Mute Gods, then Foxes and a few hip-hop releases that I have absolutely zero expectations for.

In other words, stay tuned! 

album review: 'the astonishing' by dream theater

...okay, so maybe Dream Theater was going back to their concept album days. I've been wrong before, I can own up to it.

But just so you all have context - my channel has gotten approximately seventeen times bigger than the last time I talked about Dream Theater in a review - when I covered their self-titled record, I made the comment that Dream Theater seemed to be charting a new direction, at least in terms of how they thematically structured their albums. And that made a certain amount of sense - the self-titled record was considered a return to form, charting a new era for the band.

But let's get real here: it was only a matter of time before Dream Theater returned to the well of a narrative-driven concept record. Hell, Metropolis Pt. II: Scenes From A Memory, which you can make a convincing argument was their best album, was a narrative-driven concept record, and that was seventeen years ago, so why not go for it again? Well, they definitely did: a double album, over two hours, with a full symphonic backing orchestra and dystopian narrative... but unlike on Metropolis, frontman James LaBrie was going to be playing all seven main characters characters. By all accounts, this is one of the most ambitious projects Dream Theater has ever attempted, and with the full support and budget of their label behind them, you had all the reason to believe this could be something really special, from veterans well over twenty years in the industry. Could they pull it off?

Sunday, October 27, 2013

album review: 'the theory of everything' by ayreon

It is one of the most ambitious and fascinating projects ever undertaken in metal - hell, some could make the argument that it's one of the biggest in music as a whole. The brainchild of a genius singer-songwriter multi-instrumentalist with a love of prog rock, psychedelia, and science fiction. A project that has spanned dozens of metal acts, big and small. For me, it has been the introduction point to so many bands to which I've consequently discovered and loved, and the fact that something coherent and engaging could have been made from it is mind-boggling.

Yes, folks, I'm talking about Ayreon, the multi-album megaproject masterminded by Arjen Lucassen. Started in 1995 with The Final Experiment, the Ayreon 'story' spanned seven albums, all of them which are good and a few are goddamn classics. In that respect, it's a little hard for me to be heavily critical of this project, partially because it played such a huge role in my discovery of progressive metal and partially because it's so goddamn great. I guess if I was going to try here, Arjen Lucassen's closest analogue in another field would be Kenneth Branagh, in that both men are fiendishly ambitious, produce highly cerebral material that can toe the line between epic and camp, and that they both have unbelievable clout in their ability to recruit players from all across their field. You want a short list of bands from where Lucassen has called up performers? How about After Forever, Blind Guardian, Dream Theater, Avantasia, Epica, Kamelot, Nightwish, Gotthard, Iron Maiden, Lacuna Coil, Rhapsody of Fire, Within Temptation, The Flower Kings, Yes, King Crimson, and even Genesis! And really, I left a whole slew of acts off the list - that's how much clout Lucassen has, and it's kind of incredible how he can call up so many different prog and metal performers to work with him time and time again.

But for those of you who don't know, the Ayreon project had its concluding element with 01011001 (the binary term for Y) in 2008, with Lucassen finally setting it aside to go onto other projects, like the follow-up Star One album and the fascinating experimentation of Guilt Machine. Yet, this year, he announced he was calling together a whole new crop of musicians to come work with him on an album titled The Theory of Everything. And as an Ayreon fan and a physics grad, I was more than intrigued by what Lucassen would be able to create from his insane vision and fetish for weird science. Joking aside, this has been my most highly anticipated album of the year thus far. So, did he pull off another classic?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

video review: 'dream theater' by dream theater

So glad I could finally get this out. Took a lot of work to get to this point, but I'm really happy this worked as well as it did. Still holds my record for the biggest nitpick I've ever indulged in.

Next up... god, I've got no clue. Hopefully it'll be Ayreon, although I might save that for the weekend. Maybe some retrospectives, we'll see. Stay tuned!

album review: 'dream theater' by dream theater

If you know progressive metal, you know Dream Theater. It was one of the flagship bands to come out of the late 80s to adapt progressive elements into metal, and it was one of the few to do it as successfully as they did. Along with Queensryche, Fates Warning, and Tool, Dream Theater was one of the progressive metal acts that actually managed to achieve some measure of critical acclaim and commercial success, albeit most prominently in the 90s. They're a band with a reputation for incredibly long songs, instrumental excellence, and several fantastic albums throughout their career that are required listening for getting into the progressive metal genre. That's actually one of the reasons why this review is a month late - when hearing that the band was releasing a new album this year, I took the opportunity to relisten through the band's entire discography, and combining that with my regular review schedule (plus, you know, I have a full-time job), it took until now to finally talk about the band.

And really, the band has such a storied history of excellence that I'm a little lost at where to even take this review other than establish my feelings about the band: they're great, but I would never quite say they're my favourite. While production in Dream Theater's early days was inconsistent at points, they've managed to iron out those issues almost a decade ago, and for the most part, the instrumentation is incredibly complex and interesting across the board. Initially I was skeptical how well the new drummer Michael Mangini would fit with the rest of the band (and I did think A Dramatic Turn Of Events did suffer a bit as Mangini worked to find his place), but he turned around surprisingly well. I still don't think James LaBrie's voice is great in a more hardcore vein, but he's incredibly melodic and powerful when he needs to be, and he's a very compelling and emotive singer. I guess if I were to nail down an consistent issue I've had with Dream Theater, it'd be that I don't always find them good 'technical' songwriters. Oh sure, they've written incredible songs with deep themes and beautiful symbolism, but there are occasional moments of lyrical clumsiness that do irk me at points. But really, I'm nitpicking here and Dream Theater has long ago reached the stage of being one of the elder statesmen of the prog metal genre. 

With all of that being said, however, I did take pause at Dream Theater releasing a self-titled album for their twelfth - it's just a pet peeve, I know that, but it did forewarn me that Dream Theater weren't exactly going back to their concept album days. But the positive critical buzz the album has received over the past few months did reassure me this album was indeed better than the last, and I went in with some high hopes. Did Dream Theater's Dream Theater turn out?