For Fans Of
Team Portnoy or Team Mangini? It’s almost reverted to that juvenile sub-plot level, where allegiances are chosen and defined. It was always going to happen. Like it or not. No matter what circumstances that followed the decision to let long-time drummer Mike Portnoy go from the fold, new studio album ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events‘ was always going to revolve around analysing the ramifications and results that followed such a key decision.
So is eleventh studio album ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events‘ any better or worse off for the decision? The long and short of it suggests no. Dream Theater don’t seem in any way less stellar nor do they seem any more evolved. Instead, the progression in sound remains linear and natural. And that perhaps, is the best possible outcome.
When you’ve got a fan base as dedicated, vast and enduring as Dream Theater do then the first major hurdle has already taken care of itself. The interest and anticipation for this full-length was always going to be there. Once again this nine track offering is a marathon not a sprint, clocking in at 77 minutes plus. In a comparative way, ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events‘ seemingly turns the dial back to the early 90’s, with the album structurally similar to the sophomore sounds found on ‘Images and Words‘.
‘On the Back of Angels‘ is respectable sounding like true DT. It’s proggy, rich in production and mixes well melody with understated heavy rhythms. While ‘Build Me Up, Break Me Down‘ begins in one of the album’s heaviest manners before the vocal hooks quickly steer the track back to the harmonic side of things. ‘Far from Heaven‘ is the piano, crooning ballad, with middle track ‘Bridges in the Sky‘ the album’s highlight.
Perhaps ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events‘ is slightly complacent in certain instances but what one may call complacent another may label as comfortable and assured. It’s a matter of opinion.
This album is probably slightly more straight-forward and easier to comprehend but that doesn’t detract from the overall quality. There are some small over-indulgent moments but when your sound revolves around being grand this is to be expected.
The elephant in the room was always going to be the ability of Mike Mangini to make the transition into the Dream Theater sonic landscape. Sure, you can be over-specific and analyse every tom fill, every odd-time passage and every kick drum pattern in comparison to what Portnoy may have brought to the table. But, the music has not suffered significantly and that’s a good thing. ‘A Dramatic Turn of Events’ is another solid albeit typical offering.
1. On The Backs Of Angels
2. Build Me Up, Break Me Down
3. Lost Not Forgotten
4. This Is The Life
5. Bridges In The Sky
7. Far From Heaven
8. Breaking All Illusions
9. Beneath The Surface