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Posts Tagged ‘dream theater’

  1. Have Dream Theater Gone Turbo?

    September 22, 2013 by RedSheep

    Can't stop the world from turning around

    Can’t stop the world from turning around

    Ok, This right here is the mind-dump of a 7 year Dream Theater fan.  I’ve heard all the albums and follow the changes etc that went on up till now.  My opinion may change, but here goes…

    Did Mangini Perform?

    Let’s start where my breath has been held. When Manginni arrived, I Was all for it and when I found out he didn’t write most of the drums for ADTOE, I took the drums with a pinch of salt in that it didn’t have to be perfect, because they were going through a rough change that’s bound to come through in sound.  The drums weren’t bad by any means, but I could sense MP’s spirit still lingering as they tried to imitate his style for all the Portnoy fans with their ears peeled.  This led to a slight conflict of direction in my mind, but I knew it would be all Mangini in the next album. So the question is, is Mangini letting his insane style and charisma out on Dream Theater?


    For his part, Mangini was astounding on this album. I knew if they let him release his style he would be brilliant, and he was.  Thumbs up big guy, now on with the rest of the album.

    What’s with the lyrics?

    James, you’re going to take a bashing on this one, especially if you wrote the lyrics for “Along for the Ride”

    Can’t stop the world from turning around

    Or the pull of the moon on the tide

    I don’t believe we’re in this alone

    I believe we’re along for the ride

    why turning? everyone else says spinning because it gives the image of a sphere spinning, not a girl turning because you just said her ass looked fat.  Did you think “Everyone says spinning, what’s look in the thesaurus?”  quick tip, you could have also used curving, twisting, curling, rotating, oscilating, reeling, whirling or swirling. Or you could have spent 5 minutes thinking of something that’s not a huge cliche in imagery 😉

    The 3rd and 4th lines do not relate to each other.  what does being along for the ride have to do with being alone? in any way?  when you link the ideas with believe you’re setting up the expectation of something related to the first concept.  And holy Jesus, tide/ride? are you 4?  It wouldn’t be so bad only that’s a Chorus! Repeated at least 3 agonising times.  Perhaps it’s because I just took Pat Pattinson’s (Berklee) lyric writing course on Coursea, but that is haenously bad.  Oh and there;s more.

    Blind to the truth, Like hands reaching out in the darkness

    what? because hands have no eyes, or because they’re poor judges of character?  Again, there are a million things not blind to the truth, why hands and not “like bonjela on a mouth ulcer”, or “like feet being nibbled by fish”  Both of those dumb phrases have the same in common with being blind to the truth as some non sentient hands.

    I am not shattered, Out of the ashes I rise

    Ok, you’ve already established you never died or were broken, so why are you now pulling a dead phoenix? have I misunderstood? have you literally covered yourself in ashes and stood up? Again it’s a mixed metaphor, you’re mixing “I’m unharmed” with “I died, but I got better”

    On a side note, I’m not just picking on metaphors here or i’d mention “Finding hope in our hopeless lives”.  There are other’s in there, and for a band that would write gems like solitary shell, In the Presence of Enemies and a Change of Seasons, this is just awful.  The most painful thing about hearing this was knowing what they’ve written before.

    On a wider note, I think this song might actually have more to it than meets the eye.  The world turning imagery marries up with the album cover very well, and seeing as this album is meant to be a rebirth of Dream Theater, I think this is actually a song relating to Mike Portnoy.  The fact that they’re using the word shatter, when MP’s Alcoholics Anonymous suite ended with The Shattered Fortress may be an unintentional jab at the mean machine, but I doubt it.  And “I will not fall prey to your madness” could be some reference to the legal jiggery pokery that went on way back when. I may need to investigate this further, post lashing…

    I’ve always had a problem with the way LaBrie articulates words such that they are easier to sing, at the expense of making them incomprehensible(when it gets really bad).  On the lighter end of the spectrum, words are stressed where they shouldn’t be, and phrasing is generally hashed up in a way that sounds unnatural, and just forced. I believe it comes from the Bel Canto/Operatic tradition, which if true also gave him the soaring vocal prowess also so you take the good with the bad.

    For example, there’s a point where the words are clearly meant to be “the vision’s …” but LaBrie Articulates it as “the visions” This may seem like an arbitrary point, but it’s so easy to add that slight inflection signifying an apostrophe that this was just lazy articulation.  I mean come on, is that so hard?

    And for that matter, why the heck is Another Day being quoted in behind the veil? (I had a friend once in a band called Zealous Veil with the same titled song: Behind the veil)  Chaos, Redemption and Salvation are also making an appearance to remind us of the past, perhaps it’s part of a deeper meaning about leaving their old selves behind and moving on to the next chapter, but it really wasn’t that clear that they were doing an homage.  We’ll leave that one for now, more pressing points await!

    The band as a whole are still technically sound, but with no controlling force(and yes that’s a reference to Portnoy) the band sound all over the place.  There’s no development of parts going on, just out of place sections.

    Gone the way of Malmsteen

    Some solos just felt frantic, unconsidered even.  Going hyper speed should have it’s place, and you don’t need to always start slow, but when the album never really slows down it’s like you’re hearing an immense solo amoung other immense solo’s, making them ironically less immense.  This I guess lack of development was a common thread throughout the album.

    There are different themes, sure, but moments of simplicity were few and far between.  This Ironically led to the album sounding very samey.  I found my mind wandering to if LaBrie would be an agressive person to criticise and that’s a bad thing, because it means that the album had lost me, and through everything else, that was it.  I was bored.

    There was so much mixing(especially on LaBrie’s voice) that there was no soul to the thing.  It’s like there’s a beautiful fresh steak that’s had so many sauces and spices put on that the original meat isn;t there anymore.  Like taking a natural wood finish and coating it in varnish until the wood is glossy and unnatural. Take queen for example.  Even with their extensive harmonies and synth use the natural resonance of the performers was still there.  Even further, they were being enhanced.  Take a listen to The Prophet’s song for exactly what I’m talking about. But here they weren’t highlighting strengths, they were concealing weaknesses(poorly), especially in LaBrie’s voice.

    There was a point where they had a pretty epic ending, and I found myself asking “what exactly are you ending epicly, was there something I missed or were you just putting an ending where an ending might otherwise go?”

    The Piano theme at the end and the string section earlier in the same song was great, I only wish there were more like it, and a bit of continuity between them.

    In Conclusion

    I’ve been a long time fan of Dream Theater and all the otherwise occasional problems of band were at the forefront of this album:

    • Incomprehensible Vocals
    • Long lists of terribly contrived rhymes(though only on 2 songs to be fair)
    • Lack of thematic development
    • Over Production
    • Lack of significant texture changes
    • Lack of prosidy within songs

    Let me say again, I’m a long time fan of DT, and I hold them to a far higher standard than any other band I listen to.  The above flaws have all been very occasional in the DT catalogue, and are at quite a high level, but I’ve never heard them so prominent and obvious as they were in “Dream Theater”. You need a vision or binding element to get across a clear idea.  Perhaps before you had Portnoy forcing the band a certain way, but at least you were being pulled in one direction.  Here it feels like you have multiple members battling for control.  LaBrie’s clearly getting more spotlight but you also have the band trying to showcase Mangini’s drumming as shown by the booming bass drum throughout.  Then you have the occasional “Look! Myung’s getting a solo part now” Which I loved! but, then of course the big melodic guns are coming from Petrucci and Rudess who seem to be in a battle for top spot.  There were some really obvious “Check out my cool Ipad App sounds” coming from Rudess, but even the professional mixing couldn’t blend the sound as well as, oh I dunno, a professional synth.  Do you see the problem here? I’m not mentioning the unity of parts or the way they mix because to my dismay, they don’t!  None of my favourite parts feature teamwork, it’s all a drum fill here, a string section there.  Nothing that really screams “THIS is Dream Theater”

    You have 5 Astounding musicians, but not one astounding band.  (At least not in this album anyway)


  2. An Open Apology

    January 1, 2012 by RedSheep

    Me and major 6ths don’t have a lot in common, and I’ve never given them all that much thought. Like a wallflower or a database administrator they’re not considered much by your average joe musician, and for that mistake, major 6ths, I apologise. I recently got in bed with your sister, the minor 6th and she’s been distracting me

    I’vedone theory to the point that I know you share many of the qualities of a major 3rd, I see you as tasty padding for the octaves. Your jazzy dissonance never really fitted with my rock prog past, and I never really knew what you could help me with.

    It wasn’t until I recently started ear training again that I noticed you there in the corner of this tiny little bar. I heard you and while I could mimic the other intervals via the songs they’re in or by the mood they convey, you always eluded me and even after some real head searching I couldn’t find you in any songs. As I sit here now I believe you were in conquest of paradise

    As an apology I dedicate these 3 pieces to you. All extensively using your skill personality and quality to tantalise and caress my ears. While the other intervals make an appearance for character development, you are the protagonist, thirds be damned!

    I now see you as the secret temptress, you wouldn’t think it by your shy demeanour but once you’re comfortable with someone you don the garters, feathers and corsets and these the listener masterfully. In your element you dance between a perfect fifth and a dissonant seventh with just enough rough to keep it interesting. Jazz heads around the world have fallen for your charms and been sucked in for years, but then there’s also Mario and an old folk tune that took you on to boot!

    Yours apologetically


  3. Points Of Interest – Dream Theater’s Influences

    September 13, 2011 by RedSheep

    Dream Theater have openly stated their influences many times, so it’s no surprise that the artists they cite come through in their music.  From Pink Floyd, Muse, Iron Maiden, Yes, Frank Zappa and a myriad of others it’s impressive just how well they can blend them all together.  Never ashamed to use tried and tested sounds in new ways they manage to always sound fresh and keep the surprises rolling.



    A superfantastic buildup dropping to  a cool bass riff and synth?  DT you crafty devils, DREEEEEEEEEEAM ON

    Dream Theater – Learning to Live

    Yes – Heart Of the Sunrise



    The Great Debate’s a fantastic song with some great riffs, but where on earth did they find inspiration for such awesomeness?  I found out unexpectedly going through a little Rush number called Natural Science

    Dream Theater – The Great Debate

    Rush – Natural Science



    Genesis is a funny one, because they’ve got so much variety that the influence pops out at you every so often, check out abacab or turn it on again for what I’m talking about.  DT have inherited Genesis’ ability to flow through changing odd time sigs like the wind.



    Steve Morse

    Ever wondered where Petrucci got his tight unique picking style from?  Well look no further than one of Petrucci’s self-professed Idols – Steve morse.  Check out this short lesson by Morse and you’ll soon hear the influence!

    Morse –

    Petrucci –


    The Lesson From All of This??

    As Newton famously said “If I appear tall it is because I am standing on the shoulders of giants” If the riffs you write sound awesome, it doesn’t matter that it sounds similar to someone else, even better it keeps their music and spirit alive!

  4. 7 reasons to write music on your own

    July 19, 2011 by RedSheep

    Before I begin this I’m not saying you should always write alone, because working with others an important part of being a musician. Though there has to be some time where you develop progressions, riffs and your own sound as an individual.

    1. Music you write is YOURS

    If a band splits up and they wrote all the songs together, who gets to play them after they split? the answer is usually no-one.  If they’re playing a song that is majority yours and you break up guess what, it’s still yours to play again!

    2. You have control over everything

    Great music has the words and music in sync.  If there’s a group of 5 involved there are 5 viewpoints on how the song should sound, but if there’s one person calling the shots on everything there can be more of a definite direction on what’s happening in the song and when

    example Kevin Moore – Space Dye Vest

    This was a song written for Dream Theater by ex-keyboardist Kevin Moore and brought into the studio as a fully finished song.  Mike Portnoy said the song was 100% Kevin’s and has become a legacy for Dream Theater fans.

    3. You’re forced to work through your songwriting weaknesses

    If you have song writing walls and you rely on everyone else to climb over them, what do you do in your next project, when the new group cant help you.  If there’s something you really struggle with, do some research and find out why that might be.  Look for new ways to try it and persevere, it will be worth it

    4. You can play to your strengths

    I find when I’m jamming with people the person most suited to my style… is me! you can come up with jams in the rhythms you’re good with and the styles you’re most proficient at.  I can have a great Lydian/Mixolydian jam to just playing between the I and II chord, or I can mess with a pitch axis and a droning bass note underneath, something that other members may get bored by jamming to.  You can write and play with harmonies without having to teach the theory to another guitarist.

    5. You can spend time on more complex parts to get them right

    I got interested in the idea of pitch axis, which to me is quite tough to immediately jam on with a band.  Trying to write a middle section with lots of time signatures, or playing with chord voicings can get very time consuming to get them just right.  work on them on your own till you have what’s happening really solid, then when you take it to the band you have a clear picture of how the song goes including rhythm, melody and feel.

    example: Not Of This Earth – Joe Satriani

    A great example of the pitch axis theory, where rather than being based around a key the music is based around a single note, this means the chords can switch over E and play in various modalities eg E mixolydian, dorian, aolean while still sounding in key and really interesting

    6. Ideas you come up with on your own can be a great starting point when playing with others

    There’s nothing worse than jamming with a group of people when no-one has anything to play.  For that I always have a few chord progressions or jams that I can pull out whenever we want to jam.  The great thing about pre-scripted jams too is that you can spend time getting the coolest chords beforehand, and  the more you jam it over time the more ideas will sprout naturally.

    7. You develop your own sound as a musician

    When you write with a group there is a tendency to come up with generic riffs and lines.  We’ve all been in a mindless jam that goes nowhere and sounds completely the same as hundreds before.  To get a unique sound with other people you need to come up with a unique sound on your own.  This is a whole topic in itself.  Allan Holdsworth used to try and imitate a saxophone on guitar to develop his style, Vai will spend hours playing with a sound he’s never heard before to develop his style, Vangelis twists knobs on his synthesiser.  Whatever your instrument is, find ways to differentiate yourself, in every way you can