For Fans Of
It is interesting that Dream Theater have only now decided, with their twelfth album, to release a self-titled. It is, perhaps, a signpost that the band believe they have perfected their sound? If this is so, then there is no denying the Dream Theater sound is one that is very specific.
The release kicks of with three part track, ‘False Awakening Suite’. The song gives the album a very grand start with strings and a very theatrical feeling, which is maintained once the metal elements emerge. This instrumental sets the album up for great things. However, these are not quite delivered during the remainder of the album.
The following song, ‘The Enemy Inside’ is one of the better tracks. The vocals come in strong and self-assured and there are various attention-grabbing things thrown into the mix, such as carnival sounds just before the more intense and forward guitar solo.
Despite the strong start, there are quite a few tracks like ‘The Looking Glass’, a pretty straight, standard metal track with some rock qualities, and ‘Along for the Ride’, a bit of a metal ballad, which are weaker and do not live up to the hopes, which the earlier few selections set up.
The band seems to be at their best during instrumental moments. ‘Enigma Machine’ is another instrumental track on ‘Dream Theater‘ that is a lot more heavier when compared to opener, ‘False Awakening Suite’. The songs have some, almost electronic sounding, speedy guitar runs and a lot of high register guitar lines. It is a very measured piece of music, with constant returns to the earlier set out motifs.
‘Illumination Theory’, with its many movements, provides an ending as epic as the beginning. Only a quarter of the way through sounds are coming from all over the place and what might be coming next is completely unknown. The extensive track is a deep exploration within a metal framework, but as soon as the first vocal kick in occurs, it seems to detract from what came before. This eventually leads to a lovely strings section about halfway through that is slow-paced and sweet sounding. When the vocal part returns it is very strong and locks in well with the instrumental around it, thankfully redeeming the earlier section. The mammoth piece ends with a solemn, somewhat reflective, piano finale.
The overall Dream Theater sound is an acquired taste and a very specific one at that. However, at the same time, there are portions of this album which anyone who considers themselves a fan of music would be able to appreciate. There are a lot of weaker songs in there, but, there are also many technically and aesthetically great instrumental moments.
1. False Awakening Suite (I. Sleep Paralysis, II. Night Terrors, III. Lucid Dream)
2. The Enemy Inside
3. The Looking Glass
4. Enigma Machine
5. The Bigger Picture
6. Behind the Veil
7. Surrender to Reason
8. Along for the Ride
9. Illumination Theory (I. Paradoxe de la Lumière Noire, II. Live, Die, Kill, III. The Embracing Circle, IV. The Pursuit of Truth, V. Surrender, Trust & Passion)