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Discussion in 'General Music Discussion' started by p0ke, May 23, 2018.
Aside from the production quality, I agree.
Been my favorite band for 11-12 years. As with any band that's been around as long as they have you have people who got into them early who don't like their new stuff, etc.
I tried to get into them with Octavarium. That was a mistake for a kid who listened mostly to thrash and death metal. After that, I heard Systematic Chaos when it first came out, after a friend told me he was going to see them live. That album is still my favorite. It blew my mind at 17. I went to the show, had my mind blown again, and then promptly started acquiring as much of their stuff as possible.
Sure, they have some dud songs every now and then, but by and large there's something to like on every album for every taste. I even eventually came around to Octavarium.
I hear the "Metropolis was their best everything since is garbage" thing all the time and truly don't understand. What they've done since doesn't sound terribly far removed to me. Octavarium was a change, but Systematic Chaos was like Metropolis + 6° to me. Awake/A Change of Seasons and before is what sounds most different to my ears. But hey, a band with 14ish studio albums doesn't have to please everyone all the time . I've liked their material less post-Portnoy but I still like it. They're self-indulgent instrumentally to the point of self parody, but that's kind of exactly the point.
I've seen them live 8 or 9 times (I actually can't keep track at this point, I've gone so often). Yeah, I'm a massive fanboy I guess.
When Dream and Day Unite is so freaking good
I could wax poetic about Dream Theater for ages, so I'll limit this post to an idea I had last week.
I was listening to Martin Miller's Pink Floyd medley recently, and it's really interesting hearing someone who grew up as a huge Petrucci fan interpret David Gilmour's playing, as well as Pink Floyd's music. Although they're an acknowledged influence on Dream Theater, I always feel like the Pink Floyd connection gets overshadowed by comparisons to Rush. Yet it's Pink Floyd that largely influenced the 'atmospheric' element of Dream Theater's music, a characteristic which I feel sets them apart from other progressive metal bands--even today, some ~20+ years after their landmark albums.
I'm more liberal than most when it comes to defining the 'golden age' of Dream Theater's catalogue; I'd argue it extends as late as Octavarium, with Train of Thought probably being the weakest album of that bunch. In my own opinion, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and even Falling into Infinity are right up there with the best DT albums. All the albums in that era feel like different facets of the band's exploration of a coherent musical style that they'd deviate from later on. Yet what unites most of those albums is an indebtedness to many classic prog bands--Pink Floyd among them--that gives the music a really timeless feel. I think Dream Theater has at least 3, maybe as many as 6 albums that could be considered all-time greats, worthy of comparison to the best releases from any of the hallmark bands of rock and metal.
Obviously opinions differ on why Dream Theater deviated from that style...I don't think it can be attributed to any single factor. I'd argue Portnoy was arguably the biggest influence on the 'classic' sound of the band--mostly because he's such an encyclopedia of progressive music and actively plays in prog rock cover groups--but in spite of that, he's often shouldered with the blame for DT's foray into 'edgier' metal starting with Systematic Chaos. Personally, I feel Petrucci contributed as much (or more) to that stylistic shift, since he seemed to be the primary instigator in the band turning from contemporary lyrical themes to fantasy ones, which sort of reoriented the band's entire conceptual focus. But in any case, whatever myriad factors are to blame, I do feel the loss of that classic prog feel is what altered the identity of Dream Theater the most.
To reel this back in, what pushed me down this Rabbit hole in the first place was Martin Miller's guitar playing in that Pink Floyd medley. It was hard to tell where the Gilmour-isms stopped and the Petrucci-isms began, even though overall I'd say Miller is very faithful to the source material in the covers he does. Really, it's a demonstration that Pink Floyd's greatest hits are only a hair's breadth away from Dream Theater's more tranquil sequences, and with only a few minor changes, you can make one band sound remarkably like the other. I mean, even with a change as simple as putting a 5th in the bass of the extended chord voicings (something Petrucci normally ascribes to an influence from Alex Lifeson), you get some very 'Dream Theater' moments in Pink Floyd's more epic songs.
There's no particular thesis I'm trying convey here, and I realise it's hardly a new idea. But sometimes when you go back and listen to Dream Theater's influences, you discover the seeds of what made their own music great.
I never really got into them, even though I've listened to a lot of their stuff.
Some of their songs have good elements to them - usually Petrucci's melodic solos. Problem is, it's surrounded on either side by technical wanking, James' grating voice, and the songs just go on for too long and become repetitive. Although it's technically excellent, I just don't find running chromatic scales at 200bpm in unison with the keyboard to be enjoyable to listen to.
And especially live. I've seen them live a couple of times now and James' voice is just shockingly bad. Last time I saw them, it sounded like bad drunken karaoke. When he couldn't hit a note, he would just yell it. For a band with such incredibly talented musicians, who pay such attention to detail of their sound, I have no idea at all why they keep someone who can't even sing in tune. I appreciate he's getting older, had vocal problems etc - but if Petrucci permanently injured a finger, or Mangini lost an arm, they wouldn't be in the band either. So why is a broken singer still there?
In fact, I MUCH prefer this than actually listening to DT themselves. Some of those solos are absolutely incredible.
Dream Theater is purely kickass. Saw them at the Fox Theater back in October and I couldn't've asked for a better show! I got hooked on them through Images and Words and Metropolis Pt. 2 about two years ago and they are now in my top 10 favorite bands. These guys rock! Can't wait for the new album next year.
For all the trashing Labrie gets, the vocal melodies are a huge part of what makes the songs good/memorable. I don't know if he comes up with all of them, but I'd bet he is responsible for at least some of it! I really don't hate his voice that much, it always seemed overstated. I mean, compare him to virtually any power metal singer and he's less silly/shrill.
FII used to get made fun of all the time back ~2000 on message boards. As time went on and their albums got more uninspired, that one achieved higher and higher status in their catalog to the point where it's widely considered one of their best. This is all based on message board topics, of course, not science
And yeah, most people seem to set Octavarium as the cutoff where the rot set in. It seems like most people like Octavarium, I don't! Seems like it's usually Metropolis 2 or Octavarium that's set as the end bracket.
I don't really dislike anything I've heard of their later albums, it just seems so samey and lacks hooks. Besides, IMO, The Astonishing, which is loaded with catchy melodies over the sub-Symphony X guitar chugging and annoying keyboard/guitar unisons that occasionally plague the later albums (Systematic Chaos being the first I noticed that). Not that I've listened to it that much!!
I think Rudess is a huge contributor to their fall, much more so than Portnoy leaving. Mike Portnoy was the primary source of many of their most cringeworthy stuff, like HONOR THY FATHER or the other songs he did in that vein. They tended to have cool guitar riffs, but man, the lyrics!! And his playing was always entertaining, but I really don't think Mangini is any worse on the S/T and The Astonishing. The first album with him was a bit dry in the drums department, but he was probably trying to be conservative.
But Rudess!!!! I know some people say Kevin Moore was boring, but he was a huge part of the atmosphere mentioned in the Pink Floyd post above. He did have the occasional noodly runs like on Caught in a Web, but a lot of it was loud chordal stuff that created moods. Like, the intro to The Mirror is awesome. Or Metropolis Part I, or Learning to Live, etc. If they'd had Rudess when writing them, they'd probably have just been a stream of obnoxious 16th notes, and probably with that blaring siren of a lead patch he likes using oh so much.
The best album with Rudess on it is LTE2, and then Metropolis II, but despite all the fantastic keyboard work on it (pretty much all the natural-sounding piano, Home's sitar stuff, Dance of Eternity), it also immediately established the biggest problems with him. Like, Beyond This Life especially could have been at least 3 minutes shorter and it would have been better for it, especially without some of those damn keyboard noises. He just kept pushing them more into the technical direction and it all started getting too clinical over time.
My favorite keyboard work on any Dream Theater song is the middle section of Trial of Tears. Derek Sherinian ruled. Even though he's kind of lackluster on Once in a Livetime.
james labrie is the worst singer of all time and the petrucci shreds videos are the best thing this band has ever produced. this is coming from a former fan
Oh yeah, I've seen DT live twice too. The first time was the Octavarium tour and the second must've been the Systematic Chaos tour. I totally loved Systematic Chaos when it came out, by the way, I had just gotten my drivers license and that record was in the player for a veeeeery long time. On that tour Symphony X opened for them - their set was super short, but I recall them sounding pretty good. I don't think they had any opener on the Octavarium tour, not sure though.
I'll always love Dream Theater, but I haven't really been big into them since Black Clouds and Silver Linings, which is the last album I particularly enjoyed (haven't listened to The Astonishing, admittedly). Unlike most people, I really quite enjoy Falling Into Infinity (minus "You Not Me" and "Burning My Soul"). Scenes From A Memory, though, will always be the best DT album.
Same here. Well, I did enjoy their self titled album a fair bit, but nowhere near the same as BC&SL. I listened to The Astonishing when it came out, but it was just so boring somehow, I just couldn't finish listening to it. My favorite DT album is Train of Thought, I like the heavier vibe it has. My favorite song though, is The Glass Prison, which was the first song of theirs I heard. I actually heard it as a Guitar Pro tab first That was back in the day when MySongBook.com was the place to get tabs, and there was this "highest rated" list where I noticed that tab. The name sounded interesting, so I checked it out, and then I thought "WTF, can this song really be this awesome and long and everything". Then I downloaded the song and that's where my 7-string GAS started.
DT Megathread? I'm in!!
It sounds like I might be in a minority by saying I LOVE Octavarium. And I've had to re-buy the Score DVD as I wore the first copy out. I really like Falling Into Infinity too- except You Not Me- sounds like a bleedin' Bon Jovi song!!
I haven't seen that much activity from the DT Facebook page for some time- are they locked in the studio? Or just touring away?
For me, Images and Words and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence are my favourites. Octavarium does get regular rotation. Couldn't get through The Astonishing yet though- only listened to the first half (twice). You know how classic Beatles albums are about 35 minutes long but sound like epics- because their songs are very concise yet contain a lot of content (14 2-3 minute tracks for the most part)- this is what I got from The Astonishing. Because it was lots of shortish songs, the first disc sounds twice as long as it is (and it's a good 70 mins already!!). I'll give it another go at some point.
I also grew up as a huge fan of the band, I basically like most everything Train of Thought backwards, I think things really started going downhill after that.
I think Portnoy got bad for the band because of all the stupid macho yelly stuff and general attempts to be more metal like his barked vocal parts.
I am also in agreement to Rudess being terrible for them though, he's like this friggin looney tunes character who has to add whistles and other stupid shit all the time just to fill in the blanks.
Sherinian is in my opinion the best keyboard player they've ever had and they honestly didn't give him enough of a shot, not only do I think he tends to make better sounds but also Planet X's Quantum is absolutely mind blowing and in my opinion a better album than most of what DT have ever put out (and yes I know it was also largely co-wrote by Donati) Having Petrucci's tones and phrasing on a record like that would be astounding, that being said I love Garsed a ton too and honestly find myself listening to him, whether it be on Planet X or just his solo stuff, far more often than Petrucci these days.
I think A Dramatic Turn of Events and Dream Theater both had some great songs on them, but were a bit patchy and weaker than previous albums.
Breaking All Illusions is a great track. I love Behind The Veil too- that intro!!
I do think that Rudess does go a bit far. His playing is amazing and I'll never touch it on any instrument, but I do think he needs to remember where to leave the spaces sometimes. Portnoy's singing never really bothered me. I still think the change in the band really shows how much of an influence he had.
I very much agree about LaBrie's vocal melodies- they are really important to the songs, though he has become a touch samey on recent albums in this regard...
Sherinian got the short end of the stick. Kevin left the band by his own decision, and they recruited Derek, toured and recorded an EP and one regular album with him. That one regular album was a fan least-favourite, and Derek's parts on it, particularly, took a lot of flack. Rather than work with him, they dropped him like a GE stock portfolio when Ruddess became available. While I do think that Ruddess is an overall better fit for the band than Sherinian, but Kevin Moore obviously was the most "musical" and sensible keyboardist they've had. I think if Sherinian had been reigned in a little bit on some of the more "out there" tones, things would have been much better in the long run. By the way, Planet X is freaking great, too...
It took me a while to come around to appreciating LaBrie's role in the band. Images and Words was a great album, IMO, but the vocals are easily identifiable as the thing that turns away the most listeners. The drums were replaced with cheesy samples, which, especially for the time period, I believe, was a forgivable sin; but Portnoy's creativity was bold and I think most people dig the patterns and fills. The guitar and bass playing were both top notch, and the keyboards, IMO, are just perfect. LaBrie has some moments where he sounds like a rock band vocalist, but, most of the time, he seems to be approaching his role more like he's in a talent contest or a musical. I think he overcorrected that on Awake, as the most cringey moments are LaBrie's "tough guy" vocals. After that, he seems to have reached equilibrium, but, even as a longtime fan, I'll be the first to admit that their lyrics aren't always so great. I guess, lucky for me, that I rarely focus on those.
We've heard LaBrie sing some of Dominici's songs, but I do sometimes wonder if Dominici would have grown into his role more comfortably over time. Chris Collins sounded, well, "interesting" when he was screaming, but the general tone of his voice when singing regular parts just sounded so weird and unnatural. I get the feeling that, early on, they were looking for a singer who sounded like Bruce Dickinson/Rob Halford, and I wonder if they would have been more open minded in just getting a good solid singer, someone like Russell Allen, if they would have attained better mainstream success.
But LaBrie is their singer, sort of the "face" of the band, and I think he does a decent job as such, even if he is controversial.
Say what you will about Dominici, but when LaBrie takes over, the lyrics all turn into mush. Also, LaBrie seems like he is really struggling to try to harmonize with Dominici...
Like we wouldn't all rather listen to this than have to hear LaBrie:
edit: I wonder if we can get him to play Dark Eternal Night on that thing
Haha, my friends and I used to make fun of Portnoy's vocals all the time even way back in ~2000. Going HYPOCRITE!!! in a constipated voice was the usual impersonation. We all enjoyed when he basically stops the performance of Fatal Tragedy to sing YOU CAN EAT MY ASS AND BALLS, though, because we were idiot teenagers.
I've never listened to Planet X. Maybe I heard their first album? Sounds like I need to check out Quantum for sure.
I used to have an HD version of that video bookmarked, it made me happy no matter what my mood was.
I'll start my post by admitting I am a big DT fan and have been seen I first heard "IAW" in the early 90's.The one thing about DT for me is most albums take a few listens to digest.Albums like "Falling into Infinity","6 degrees" and "Octavarium" were to me initially disappointing,but grew on me after a while.The last few releases have not been great to me,but each has had at least a few songs I really dug.
"Lost not Forgotten" is still to this day one of my fave DT songs ever.My fave album is "TOT",I just dig the heavy vibe.
Now with all that said,I just can not get into "The Astonishing" no matter how many times I've listened to it,I tried.The songs seem to be solid but I just can't.There is just something about it I can not put my finger on,that really turns me off!
Not sure if it got answered, but to the OP question on Nightmare to Remember, I believe they played it on the Iron Maiden tour back in 2010. I could be wrong though.