DREAM THEATER - A Dramatic Turn Of Events
September 13, 2011, 8 years ago
Like clockwork, DREAM THEATER builds and delivers a massive construct and scribes struggle with new things to say, as would presumably Mike Portnoy, his vague dissatisfaction being confirmed. Of course, there’s a dramatic turn, in the departure of Portnoy – he of the rare drummer-leader breed – to be replaced by bubbly, agreeable, gee-whiz wiz Mike Mangini. Did you think it would really make any difference? No, it doesn’t, with A Dramatic Turn Of Events featuring so many overpowering, energy-showered performances, he is just a superman where there already was one, whacking the underside of a long-ago raised bar. One abstract I might venture: this is a proggier Dream Theater than usual (both in the heavy and the old school prog “rock” bits), a little more textured, subtly, by Mangini and by Rudess, with James underscoring the creeping delicacy of it by singing like a church boy, no growls. And prog, of course, is characterized by rapid change, life changes loosely being the theme of this album of impassioned, real world lyrics, as evidenced on piano ballad respite ‘Far From Heaven’ and the superior, orchestrated ‘Beneath The Surface’, arguably the band’s best ballad (Rudess sealing that deal with his eccentric and therefore very human Tormato solo). But then I question the midrangeyness of the production, most of the disappointment being in Mike’s toms, snare, bass drum… that don’t leave much. Maybe that was the idea, but the muscular expense of say Six Degrees or Train Of Thought… that weirdly ain’t here, replaced by a frantic race to the middle, I guess, metal ego put aside for the origami of prog politeness. Final thought for ya: I think with Portnoy gone, LaBrie has come to the fore, A Dramatic Turn Of Events sounding like the best of LaBrie solo, bombarded with rocket attacks from Liquid Tension Experiment, in other words, touching but intriguingly loose, messy, even chaotic or at least not so discussed or planned, just like the lyrics might get across to you about life itself.