Author Topic: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album  (Read 6240 times)

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Offline TheOutlawXanadu

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Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« on: June 26, 2018, 03:36:48 PM »
Earlier today, I felt the urge to listen to DT12. I then realized that it was released almost five years ago. Looking back on it, what are everyone's thoughts? In my opinion, it is a terrific record that holds a special place in the DT catalog because it has such short songs. It is very listenable on the go, something you can't always say about DT. My personal favorites are The Looking Glass, Behind the Veil, Surrender to Reason, and Illumination Theory. :metal
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Offline Dublagent66

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2018, 03:45:53 PM »
Not too memorable for me.  Mostly disappointing.  Especially the closer.  I like 3 tracks on that album in the following order.

Behind The Veil
The Looking Glass









The Enemy Inside
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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #2 on: June 26, 2018, 03:46:28 PM »
Bottom of the barrel DT for me unfortunately, only made worse by the terrible production. Even on the first listen I wasn't impressed with this one. Illumination Theory has its moments, The Looking Glass is cool, but the production just makes them not fun to hear, and the rest is too boring for me to bother with. I thought ADTOE was a much better album and The Astonishing actually sounded inspired and fresh.

The last Blu-ray with Illumination Theory was really cool, though. That song is neat (in places) and I love the last few minutes to death with the beautiful strings, Mangini's powerful fills, and the lyrics in the last bit.
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Offline krands85

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #3 on: June 26, 2018, 04:38:26 PM »
It falls towards the bottom of my DT rankings. I mean it's still good really, I just have such high standards when it comes to this band.

Illumination Theory is brilliant and a top 10 DT track - I love how it's all put together - but the rest of the album falls a bit short. The Enemy Inside is an enjoyable rocker/single type song and I really like Surrender to Reason and False Awakening Suite too, though I'd have preferred if they were a little longer.

The Bigger Picture and Behind the Veil are decent, but I don't rank them that highly among the dozens of incredible songs the band has written. Along for the Ride is OK, but generally I prefer the other sides/styles of DT.

Enigma Machine is probably their worst instrumental and doesn't really work for me. Finally, The Looking Glass is a song I've never liked for some reason, it's among my least favourite by the band.

Aside from the individual songs, the production isn't great and I'm also not that keen on self-titled albums, unless it's a debut album. I do like the simple album art though.
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Offline KevShmev

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #4 on: June 26, 2018, 05:09:27 PM »
I listened to this a while back for the first time in a while and still loved it.  It is very consistent and easy to listen to from start to finish.  For me, it doesn't have any any top, or even second, tier Dream Theater songs, but it's an album with all 8's and 9's. 

Surrender to Reason was always in my mix of favorite from this, and I think I'd call it my favorite now.

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #5 on: June 26, 2018, 07:28:16 PM »
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But one word....The Bigger Picture is their best song to be produced in the MM era.
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Offline Dream Team

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #6 on: June 26, 2018, 08:41:12 PM »
Earlier today, I felt the urge to listen to DT12. I then realized that it was released almost five years ago. Looking back on it, what are everyone's thoughts? In my opinion, it is a terrific record that holds a special place in the DT catalog because it has such short songs. It is very listenable on the go, something you can't always say about DT. My personal favorites are The Looking Glass, Behind the Veil, Surrender to Reason, and Illumination Theory. :metal

Those are also my 4 favorites. Very good album.

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #7 on: June 26, 2018, 09:08:01 PM »
Love it.  First new DT album I heard from them when I started more of a fan of theirs in 2013.  I even liked Enigma Machine.  Surrender to Reason, Behind the Veil, and The Bigger Picture are really great songs in general.

Offline Lethean

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #8 on: June 26, 2018, 09:35:00 PM »
I love it as well.  Great album from start to finish for me, and the songs (that I've seen) come across very well live.

Offline MirrorMask

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2018, 01:04:33 AM »
Liked it at the beginning, kinda got cooler about it with time. Good album but probably A Dramatic Turn of Events was quite better. All things considered The Bigger Picture and Behind the Veil are my favorite songs.
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Offline the_silent_man

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2018, 01:45:00 AM »
Liked this a lot at first, but as time goes on I feel this is a very DT-by-numbers albums and offers very little new that would make me want to listen to it over other DT albums.
Obviously the production hurt this a lot too.

I will say its one of the most consistant DT albums, though.

Offline Bolsters

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2018, 02:22:04 AM »
It's almost hard to believe it's already five years old. That means I haven't listened to it in at least four and a half years.

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2018, 06:32:35 AM »
It's almost hard to believe it's already five years old. That means I haven't listened to it in at least four and a half years.

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Offline bosk1

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #13 on: June 27, 2018, 08:53:26 AM »
Fantastic album.  I still rank it at #4 in their discography, behind Six Degrees, SFAM, and ADTOE, and there are times when I feel it should be ranked higher.  If the ambient section in the middle of Illumination Theory was done differently or was simply shorter, I might rank it higher.  But that said, I'm not complaining about that section either.  5 years later, it still feels jarring and out of place to me.  But at the same time, I get what they were going for and why they did it that way, and it's a cool artistic choice.

It is very consistent and easy to listen to from start to finish.  For me, it doesn't have any any top, or even second, tier Dream Theater songs, but it's an album with all 8's and 9's. 

I don't necessarily agree with the album not having "any any top, or even second, tier Dream Theater songs," but I wholeheartedly agree with the "consistency" and "easy to listen to" points, which is one of the reasons the album ranks so high for me.  If we are defining "top tier" along the lines of a small group of "best of the best" songs, I agree that there arguably aren't any that truly achieve that height compared to the best DT has to offer.  But IMO there are plenty that come close, and plenty more right behind that. 
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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #14 on: June 27, 2018, 08:58:23 AM »
Agree with the Boss(k).  I think because of the number of albums DT have released we get a little accustomed to great music even though it is not "ground breaking".  Had DT self titled come out earlier in their careers, say for instance after Awake, it would be held in much higher esteem.
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Offline Destiny Of Chaos

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #15 on: June 27, 2018, 09:01:26 AM »
Really like the album... but it's #11 out of 13 as far as DT albums go for me.


IT is one of the best songs that the band has ever done.

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #16 on: June 27, 2018, 09:04:22 AM »
How do you guys feel about Surrender to Reason? In my opinion, it is one of the best songs of the Mangini era. As usual, I love Myung's lyrics. There is also so much going on musically.
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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #17 on: June 27, 2018, 09:05:22 AM »
Great album.  Still love it, but it's probably bottom half of album rankings for me.  Not to it's faults, but just because the catalog is so strong.  I really love The Enemy Inside, definitely one of their better singles IMO.

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #18 on: June 27, 2018, 09:06:55 AM »
Still number 3 album for me. When I want a DT Sampler during my hour-long commute, this is my go-to album.

Offline bosk1

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #19 on: June 27, 2018, 09:08:28 AM »
How do you guys feel about Surrender to Reason? In my opinion, it is one of the best songs of the Mangini era. As usual, I love Myung's lyrics. There is also so much going on musically.

Great song.  But as good as it is, it isn't one of my "go-to" songs on the album either.  I put in somewhere in the middle of the pack on that album.  But, again, it's a great song.  Love it.
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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #20 on: June 27, 2018, 09:08:40 AM »
Great, great album. I just whish that that the recording, mixing and overall production of this album were like The Astonishing (I feel the same way about ADToE). The Looking Glass is my favorite of all DT's more commercial songs. I like all the songs a lot, but I love TLG, Enigma Machine, Behind the Veil and Illumination Theory. An honourable mention goes to that smoking solo on Surrender to Reason - very impressive interaction between JP, JM and MM (it should be much more longer!)
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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #21 on: June 27, 2018, 09:14:22 AM »
I think that album has a lot of good stuff, lyrically speaking.
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Offline commanderbob

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #22 on: June 27, 2018, 09:21:23 AM »
All-time classic.

One of the best rock albums ever made.

The album I've been waiting for them to make since Awake came out and I wore the cassette out.

Incredible song writing.

And I love the production AND the drum sound!

Offline nobloodyname

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2018, 09:29:56 AM »
All-time classic.

One of the best rock albums ever made.

The album I've been waiting for them to make since Awake came out and I wore the cassette out.

Incredible song writing.

And I love the production AND the drum sound!

Wow. Genuinely never saw that coming.

For me, it was dull on first listen and remains dull five years later with only the latter half of The Bigger Picture, parts of the Illumination Theory (by far their weakest epic) and the aggression of the opening riff of The Enemy Inside standing out.
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Offline nobloodyname

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #24 on: June 27, 2018, 09:30:58 AM »
All-time classic.

One of the best rock albums ever made.

The album I've been waiting for them to make since Awake came out and I wore the cassette out.

Incredible song writing.

And I love the production AND the drum sound!

Wow. Genuinely never saw that coming.

For me, it was dull on first listen and remains dull five years later with only the latter half of The Bigger Picture, parts of Illumination Theory (by far their weakest epic), and the aggression of the opening riff of The Enemy Inside standing out.
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Offline commanderbob

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #25 on: June 27, 2018, 09:35:25 AM »
All-time classic.

One of the best rock albums ever made.

The album I've been waiting for them to make since Awake came out and I wore the cassette out.

Incredible song writing.

And I love the production AND the drum sound!

Wow. Genuinely never saw that coming.

For me, it was dull on first listen and remains dull five years later with only the latter half of The Bigger Picture, parts of the Illumination Theory (by far their weakest epic) and the aggression of the opening riff of The Enemy Inside standing out.

Yeah, I didn't see it coming either; especially after all of those years. I think the reason that it happened was the intersections of self-editing, musical emotion and lyrical emotion created a powerful effect.

Offline TheOutlawXanadu

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #26 on: June 27, 2018, 09:55:09 AM »
Back in the mid-2000s, I remember a lot of fans asking for more "self-editing". Albums like Train of Thought and Black Clouds had a lot of soloing, to the point it was almost too much for some people. A Dramatic Turn of Events dialed things back a bit, and then the self-titled album dialed it back even more. I love that approach because DT do short songs well.
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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #27 on: June 27, 2018, 10:14:54 AM »
I still love the album.  I remember after a couple of listens, my impression was that it was a good fit for a self-titled album, as they created a "dream theater" - a great cinematic experience.  The tracks take you through all you would experience during a great cinematic epic: action, intrigue, mystery, love, nostalgia, self-reflection, conflict, resolution.. all with that epic climax with soaring heights, and then even the closing credits at the very end.  They did this all with songs that weren't really tied together thematically, which I thought was an interesting concept.  I dug it then, and I still do.

I think it's great that so many enjoy their music by trying to figure out where songs and albums rank and compare, and how that changes over time, but I just don't do it that way.  I usually don't listen to Dream Theater unless I have time for a whole album, and I try to immerse myself in it and hopefully get something new from it each time.  I'm still enjoying this album and finding new experiences, or at least re-discovering moments.

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #28 on: June 27, 2018, 10:24:30 AM »
I still love the album.  I remember after a couple of listens, my impression was that it was a good fit for a self-titled album, as they created a "dream theater" - a great cinematic experience.  The tracks take you through all you would experience during a great cinematic epic: action, intrigue, mystery, love, nostalgia, self-reflection, conflict, resolution.. all with that epic climax with soaring heights, and then even the closing credits at the very end.  They did this all with songs that weren't really tied together thematically, which I thought was an interesting concept.  I dug it then, and I still do.

I like how the flow of this album is like how one could structure a one-hour DT live concert given those songs.

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #29 on: June 27, 2018, 10:43:08 AM »
It's almost hard to believe it's already five years old. That means I haven't listened to it in at least four and a half years.

Honestly, same thing for me.

The Enemy Inside was easily the best track, and I think Enigma Machine is top 3 along with The Bigger Picture. I didn't really care for any of the other songs.
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Offline Plasmastrike

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #30 on: June 27, 2018, 11:05:21 AM »
I find myself revisiting a lot of the songs. I tend to listen to the HDTracks version.. sounds smoother.

Absolutely love Enemy Inside, Bigger Picture, Surrender to Reason, Illumination. Especially Illumination. It's a tear-jerking song when you play it loud.

DT12 along with TA are just beautiful man.

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #31 on: June 27, 2018, 11:18:05 AM »
It's my least favorite of theirs. I'm sure my opinion of the album will be considered controversial, but that's okay. I'm glad some fans really enjoy it. Let me provide a backstory, which may help to make more sense.

By the time MP left DT, I had already kinda lost interest in the band's direction, as I was very disappointed with SC and BC&SL - and, to clarify, both those albums had brilliant moments, but as a whole, were very disappointing. So, when they announced Mangini as the new drummer, it kinda got my attention again (having been a fan of his since his work with Steve Vai). Then, they put out ADTOE - I was blown away. It was the first Roadrunner era album that felt fresh and inspired to me, and there seemed to be a much better balance between heaviness and prog. The instrumental sections made a lot more sense, flowed naturally, and didn't feel like they were randomly inserted into the songs. So, ultimately, that album was a breath of fresh air, and sparked my interest in the band again. I started paying attention to their social media posts, overall band news, tour dates, etc. This means I was also, for the first time in a long time, eagerly awaiting the next album.

When "The Enemy Inside" was released (I believe they released it as a single?), I remember sitting there and just really being annoyed. Now, I've never considered DT a "metal" band, even though many others do. To me, they've always been progressive rock, and at times, progressive hard rock. I don't equate "heavy" with automatically being "metal". So, listening to "The Enemy Inside", it just annoyed the hell out of me. It was, once again, everything I couldn't stand from SC and BC&SL. It was that very forced, overly commercial-sounding metal track, as if trying to appeal to Hot Topic teenagers.

When they joined Roadrunner - so much changed, from one album to the next. I mean, just the band promo pics themselves...ugh. All of the sudden we had music videos again (after the stand they took against it back in the FII era, and then proceeded to put out four of the most amazing, creative albums I've ever heard). It was like they drastically changed course, and instead of truly being progressive, they were writing almost as if to meet a pre-established criteria that fans were expecting. Kinda like, "Hey, long songs with lots of odd time-signatures is kinda our thing, so we need to do that. Also, we need to make sure to include lots of trading solos and unisons." I can't remember which forumite said it, but recently someone posted - in the early years, it seemed like they didn't have rules for themselves when it came to their writing sessions - it was sort of "anything goes", or something to that effect. That is what made them so captivating, and set them apart. That's what stood out to me - every album was different from the previous, and from the next. THAT, to me, is the essence of being progressive. To me, it was never about long songs, or odd time-signatures, or super technical soloing - that's all well and good, but to me, it was about trying new things every album.

After Octavarium, in my humble opinion, that stopped. The first eight albums all sound drastically different from one another, but moving forward, not so much. SC was very much a mixture of "everything we're known for". It was very "been there, done that, a thousand times". Same with BC&SL. So, ADTOE was a VERY welcome album. But, after that, hearing "The Enemy Inside"....I was just like...what the deuce? My mind just went "oh well...so much for that awesome course-correcting album, I guess it was a fluke."

The self-titled album, to me, feels like a direct result of having been nominated for a Grammy on the previous record. All of the sudden, we have an album full of shorter, more concise songs (most that have a cringe-worthy, sappy chorus). You've got your album's worth of short, commercial sounding tunes - but, wait - we've got to include the obligatory long epic track, and of course, the "betcha can't play this" instrumental track! No, no, no, and more no. Again, you're no longer writing freely - you're writing within these set parameters that you've established for yourselves, and that the fans have come to know you by. But, hey - fuck the fans! You are Dream Theater, for god's sake! You are already legends! Just write what you want to write, and who cares about the fans? There will always be an audience out there who likes what you do.

I know some people would argue that they did write what they wanted to write on that album, and that's fine. I can respect that. To me, it doesn't feel that way, but that's okay. If they really were trying to write more commercially, to see if they could win a grammy that time around, that's okay. It's not something I would've done, but that's alright.

Enigma Machine is probably their worst instrumental track. Obviously they're all virtuosos, and obviously they can all play, so of course it's not going to be done poorly. Musically, however - compositionally - it's incredibly boring. The whole track screams of "the rest of the album is short, hopefully radio-friendly tunes, so we need to include this balls-to-the-wall instrumental track, to remind everyone - HEY - it's still Dream Theater!". It's obvious that the track was included to showcase their playing ability, and honestly, this far along into their career - we all know they can play. I would've rather had something that was musically sound, and interesting to listen to (like Hell's Kitchen, or Erotomania - both those tracks showcase playing ability, but they are also beautiful to listen to, and very mature sounding). Enigma Machine just feels like something a band would write for Guitar Hero.

Illumination Theory, ah yes, the obligatory epic. Remember when back in the day they only had ACOS? It was, a stellar track, beautifully done, perhaps my favorite track of theirs...and part of what made it so special, was that it stood alone, a giant among mere mortals. But, then we had more, and more, and more epics... so, it just kinda got MEH and BLAH. Not interested. It just got predictable. Again, yet another example of "We need to have these epics, because fans expect it from us". My biggest problem with Illumination Theory, apart from the recycled riffs from the SC writing sessions, and the very incoherent transitions, and the randomly inserted soft middle section, which had already been done in TCOT and ITPOE....oh wait, yeah, those are all the problems I have with that track. Best part of that track? The hidden easter egg nugget of truth and justice, at the end. Beautiful piano and guitar lead. That's baby makin' stuff, right there. MORE OF THAT, PLEASE.

I will say, I really, really like Surrender to Reason. Maybe it's because it sounds like Breaking All Illusions, Pt. 2, and I love Breaking All Illusions.

I like The Looking Glass okay; it's a solid Rush tribute song.

The production is, as others have pointed out, absolutely terrible. The few times I have tried to force myself to listen to it all the way thru in the car - I can't. My ears literally ache, and are left fatigued. The guitar tone is muddy. The keys are too low. The drums sound...well...just...bad...very bad...the vocals have a weird effect on them, and the bass sounds awesome, which is the only good aspect, in my opinion.

Yes, yes, I may seem nitpicky...but so are most DT fans lol.

I was very pleased with The Astonishing. Who in their right mind puts out a double-disc full-blown rock-opera concept album these days? Fuckin' Dream Theater, that's who. It was a brilliant, absolutely beautiful work of art. Cheesy story? Sure, but who gives a shit. Musically, it was TIP TOP. Can't really complain about the album. I LOVE that it's their softest album. We really needed that, after the several album span of "hey, we are a badass bunch of metal guys, and don't fuck with us" looking promo shot ridiculousness. It's a cryin' shame that so many fans hated it. Although, I have a feeling they are mostly the younger Hot Topic teenager fans who didn't like it. All the DT fans I know personally love it, and they are, for the most part, older fans like me; dinosaurs from the Cretaceous period, if you will.

So, since Mangini joined, we've had: an amazing return-to-form album, a very cringey generic "the spirit of SC and BC&SL has come back to haunt yoU!" album, and a very beautifully written, symphonic masterpiece of an album.

So, here we are folks. Eagerly awaiting for the next. If the above pattern is to continue, this next album would fall under the "generic and forced" category. Now, it's just a coincidental pattern, and it would be absurd to actually put faith in it. BUT...I am concerned, especially since they said it's heavy and aggressive, so far. I'm not into metal. I don't listen to metal. Back when I was a teenager in the 80s, I listened to metal. But, like a lot of teenagers, it was a phase. It gets old, repetitive, predictable, and the overall attitude of most metal seems very adolescent and childish. Dream Theater have always been heavy, but in a very mature, classy, sophisticated kind of way, like Steve Vai.

I am concerned. I'm okay with heavy...it just depends on how it's done, I guess. Look, these guys aren't youngsters anymore. If you ask me, it'd be a shame for them to put out something that feels like it's trying to stay relevant with the times, or be trendy, or that feels like it's them trying to be "badass metal guys". I mean, I'd like for them to age gracefully. If I were JP, for instance, I'd feel like, "look, we've already established a legacy, let's forget about what's trendy or current, and just write whatever we feel like writing! We don't owe anything to anyone, and don't have to prove anything. We've already put out a ton of critically acclaimed albums, so let's not worry about fans being disappointed." True artistic freedom, and integrity. Not to keep mentioning Steve Vai, but one of the things I love about him, music aside, is his work ethic. He does whatever he wants, on his own time, and on his own terms. He's not worried about fans disliking an album, lol, and you can clearly hear it in his music. A lot of it is perhaps a little too abstract or bizarre, but that's okay. The point is, he is satisfying his own urge to create, and finds it fulfilling! And THAT, is where it's at, and all about. True artistic freedom and integrity.

Yeah, yeah...I know...they have to pay their bills, and of course the fans matter, and blah blah blah...

There will always be plenty of folks who DO like what they put out.

Anyway, I'm excited for this new album, but I'm also cautious...I guess we'll see if they give us a heavy, super awesome, super sophisticated, classy sounding album, something that is free from rules and trends and expectations, and that fucks our minds in a good way.... or if they give us a very forced, commercial-metal album for the Hot Topic teenagers....

EDIT - I hope none of the above comes across as rude or disrespectful to the band - I have the utmost respect and admiration for these guys, but, at the same time, I don't worship them unconditionally or think that they can do no wrong. They are just guys, and we root for them, and know what they are capable of! It's like with your favorite sports team - sometimes you may feel like they haven't put out their best, and you feel they could do better - but you still love them. Anyway, controversial as my opinion on the self-titled album may be, I hope it didn't come off as disrespectful :)
« Last Edit: June 27, 2018, 11:31:17 AM by Stewie »
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Offline Podaar

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #32 on: June 27, 2018, 11:29:41 AM »
I love DTF, where every fan's opinion is projected on to the band members as their motivation for writing a song/album.

Offline Stewie

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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #33 on: June 27, 2018, 11:32:53 AM »
I love DTF, where every fan's opinion is projected on to the band members as their motivation for writing a song/album.

Well, I do have an opinion, and was just sharing it along with everyone else. No, I can't say for certain as far as the band's intentions, obviously. I was just sharing how it came across to me. I'm sorry my opinion wasn't expressed to your liking :)
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Re: Five Years Later: Self-Titled Album
« Reply #34 on: June 27, 2018, 11:41:30 AM »
I agree with a whole lot of that post, Stewie, and I appreciate that you took the time to write at such length.
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