Poll

...and which one is your favorite?

A Change of Seasons
95 (38.6%)
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
38 (15.4%)
Octavarium
82 (33.3%)
In the Presence of Enemies
12 (4.9%)
The Count of Tuscany
12 (4.9%)
Illumination Theory
7 (2.8%)

Total Members Voted: 246

Author Topic: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics  (Read 7526 times)

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Offline bosk1

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Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« on: March 15, 2019, 09:06:23 AM »
Inspired by a post in another thread.

Vote for which of the DT "mega-epics" is your favorite, and then go ahead and rank them.  For purposes of this thread, I am only going with the huge epics that are 20+ minutes (plus TCOT, because it is SO close to 20 minutes that it might as well be).  I am only including full songs, not suites of separate songs like A Mind Beside Itself or the 12-Step Suite.  But if you want to include those in your rankings, go right ahead.

I'll just say right off the bat that I like all six choices quite a bit.  The two most recent took a little more time to get used to because of their structures.  But I really like them.  Here's my ranking:

1.  Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence:  Really, I could have chosen any of my top 3 as the #1.  But sometimes, more is more.  Even though there are a few moments in Six Degrees that I am not crazy about, there are so many minutes of awesomeness.  And to this day, I love how the end of the song so unexpectedly takes these completely separate, unrelated narratives and not only manages to bind them together cohesively, but does so with an unexpected twist in perspective.  Just a really lovely song.

2.  A Change of Seasons:  This was the mega-epic that got it all started, and I have to give it some extra points for that.  The live version on LSFNY is easily my favorite, and it is one of the primary catalysts that took me from being a casual fan for so many years from 1992 to DT being my favorite band.

3.  Octavarium:  One could write a thesis on all the cool things going on in this song, from the overall structure, to its integration into the overall theme of the album, to the lyrics.  It still fascinates me how a song that is so long can continually build and build and build throughout its entire length to such a breathtaking climax.  And then the full-circle ending...  Just SO well done.

4.  Illumination Theory:  This one took me a while to get into.  The middle section where the song comes grinding to a halt was really jarring and took me out of the song.  I still feel like it goes on for too long and would make the song better if it were shorter.  But I understand and can appreciate why it is there.  The overall structure of the song is brilliant, and there are so many parts that are SO good! 

5.  ITPOE:  Such a huge and fun song.  There really isn't anything bad about it.  It's just a bit less fantastic than choices 1-4.  The decision to split it to bookend the album was an interesting one, and it works within the context of the album.  But I always choose to listen to both halves back to back the way it was originally written.  Like Illumination Theory, it also goes from full speed ahead to stopping on a dime.  But given the themes of the song, it doesn't necessarily feel like it is losing momentum, as IT and TCOT do.  And it remains dark and "doomy" and ominous, and feels like simply a shift in scenes in a story rather than stepping out of the story to momentarily go somewhere else. 

6.  TCOT:  The slow volume swell section in the middle just killed this song for me for the longest time.  Like IT, I still feel that this section, as beautiful as it is, goes for too long, and thereby sucks the momentum from the song.  But I get it.  It took me awhile, but I get it.  And this really helped me to get IT years later.  The song has a few "speed bumps," but is still a winner.  Great music.  Great lyrics.  Great story with a nice twist.  Love it.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2020, 09:48:23 AM by bosk1 »
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Online Zydar

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2019, 09:27:28 AM »
1. Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence - easy choice here for my favourite, I love every "chapter" in this one.
2. A Change Of Seasons - a truly classic DT track, not much more to say really.
3. In The Presence Of Enemies - a cool track with some great and dark moments. Angels fall, all for you - heretic!
4. Octavarium - I find it a bit overrated, but it has some nice moments.
5. Illumination Theory - I see what they were going for here, it has a nice middle section, and James vocals are great in certain parts. But nothing really grabs me.
6. The Count of Tuscany - the whole album is a bit 'meh' for me, including this song.
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Offline jayvee3

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2019, 09:31:05 AM »
I went with Octavarium by a whisker, but gosh, all those options could be so interchangable. The only song I struggle a little with there, is 6 degrees - Iím not as big of a fan of that one as many others, but thatís cool. I also need to listen to a live version if I listen to ACOS these days. If we ever mention drum sounds, the studio version of this one has drum sounds that I really donít care for - sounds like MP is hitting some hollow, tin cans. But itís a great song and the live beef up is my definite go to...

Offline KevShmev

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #3 on: March 15, 2019, 09:31:13 AM »
1. A Mind Beside Itself (I am cheating and including this :P )
2. A Change of Seasons
3. Octavarium
4. Illumination Theory
5. The Count of Tuscany

I do not consider 6DOIT a mega-epic, but a suite of songs, and ITPOE is 2 songs.

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Offline MirrorMask

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #4 on: March 15, 2019, 09:35:06 AM »
We're choosing the best of very hot supermodels, so the distance between 1st and 6th is not actually huge, and it's hard to make a comparison in some cases, but...


1 - A Change of Seasons

The ultimate DT epic. 23 minutes long, and feels like a single song, coherent even if the mood dramatically changes through the various sections, and filled with many memorable musical and vocal moments throughout. An utter masterpiece.

2 - Octavarium

Another basically flawless epic. Starts with a whimper, ends with a bang. A continous crescendo of intensity and emotion, that explodes in the magnificent Razor'd Edge. Hearing it live it's almost overwhelming, and definitively an eargasm. I will never forget those sensations.

3 - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence

I could swap it with the following song, hard to even find a place for such a mammoth song so unlike anything they've ever done. As a whole it has moments I'm not really crazy about, but it's a huge undertaking and most of its 42 minutes, it works.

4 - The Count of Tuscany

Lyrics are the weak point, but the song is quite good. Too long and in need of some trimming (I have a 12 minutes edit version, made by me, that works just fine, I however had to sacrifice the ambient section which is cool by itself), but it's great and the final section is absolutely glorious. Favorite musical moment when the music builds up after the "I just don't understand" part, and from then on it's just shivers.

Also, trust a fellow italian that's been to Tuscany many time, I can't stress how much JP NAILED the atmosphere of the song. Completely perfect. You hear the intro while you're in Tuscany and it just feels.... right. Absolutely perfect atmosphere.

5 - Illumination Theory

Feels a bit disjointed, it has its moments but as a whole needs some trimming as well. Spectacular ending, they never fail those.

6 - In the Presence of Enemies

As I said, we're discussing supermodels, it's a great song anyway, but the fantasy theme feels weird for them and has a too long intro and a momentum killer solo section "because of course there has to be a solo section" before the majestic ending.

As bombastic as it is, I love a subtle and delicate moment like the low part "Angels fall, all for you, heretic" sang softly, with the piano hinting the "Grand Master" melody.


Basically this goes in three pairs for me.

A Change of Seasons and Octavarium are my clear favorites.

Six Degrees and Count are noy my favorites, but I still dig them a lot.

Illumination and Enemies, well, I enjoy them a lot anyway, but still they can't measure up full with the others.
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Offline Cool Chris

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #5 on: March 15, 2019, 09:38:37 AM »
A Change of Seasons: Missed the EP somehow so got introduced to this via the Live Scenes DVD.
Octavarium: Great song all the way through.

In the Presence of Enemies: I seem to like this more than most on here do. Pt II in the hands (vocals?) of a lesser singer would drag this one down. James proves his worth here.

The Count of Tuscany: Seeing them do this live increased my appreciation for it. Still, it is too long with bad lyrics and wraps up an uninspired album.
Illumination Theory: Cannot connect with this one much.




Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: A few good things on here, but otherwise a massively bloated piece of disconnected boredom.
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Offline MirrorMask

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #6 on: March 15, 2019, 09:45:00 AM »
I do not consider 6DOIT a mega-epic, but a suite of songs, and ITPOE is 2 songs.

In the Presence of Enemies is a single song split as two tracks for pacing reasons.

Six Degrees.... well, that debate could go on and on and on and on. It's less cohesive than A Change of Seasons and Octavarium, but it's more cohesive than an imaginary, Astonishing epic which would include as a single track of 20 minutes Dystopian Overture + The Answer + A Better Life + Lord Nafaryus + A Savior in the Square + When Your Time Has Come.

All the Astonishing songs works better as standalone songs than the various Six Degrees tracks which feel too short when played alone.

We could pose a more "philosophical" question, how long can a song be and still feel as a song, and when the length of the song, unless it's the most repetitive piece of the world, is reached thanks only by sticking together moments that are not found before or after in the song? (such as Solitary Shell for example)
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Offline JayOctavarium

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #7 on: March 15, 2019, 09:45:21 AM »
ACOS
8VRM


---

ITPOE
TCOT
-----
IT
6DOIT
I just don't understand what they were trying to achieve with any part of the song, either individually or as a whole. You know what? It's the Platypus of Dream Theater songs. That bill doesn't go with that tail, or that strange little furry body, or those webbed feet, and oh god why does it have venomous spurs!? And then you find out it lays eggs too. The difference is that the Platypus is somehow functional despite being a crazy mishmash or leftover animal pieces

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Offline Trav86

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #8 on: March 15, 2019, 09:53:05 AM »
1. A Mind Beside Itself (I am cheating and including this :P )
2. A Change of Seasons
3. Octavarium
4. Illumination Theory
5. The Count of Tuscany

I do not consider 6DOIT a mega-epic, but a suite of songs, and ITPOE is 2 songs.

Come at me.  :biggrin:

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Offline The Letter M

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #9 on: March 15, 2019, 09:56:34 AM »
1. A Mind Beside Itself (I am cheating and including this :P )
2. A Change of Seasons
3. Octavarium
4. Illumination Theory
5. The Count of Tuscany

I do not consider 6DOIT a mega-epic, but a suite of songs, and ITPOE is 2 songs.

Come at me.  :biggrin:

The ONE group of songs the band considers a suite (and not a song), you place at number one. And the one mega-epic that the band considers one song, you call it a suite. :facepalm: :rollin

As for my rankings:
1. SDOIT
2. ACOS
3. 8VM
4. ITPOE
5. TCOT
6. IT

SDOIT is my favorite DT album, and the title track is one of my favorite epics of all time. Of course, the classic ACOS is always a favorite, but falls just behind SDOIT for me. Octavarium was the band's first new album for me after becoming a fan, so the title track really stuck out to me; I love all of its various prog-inspired moments and sections. The rest of the ranking just sort of falls into place, chronologically oddly enough for me.

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Offline bosk1

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #10 on: March 15, 2019, 09:59:19 AM »
I do not consider 6DOIT a mega-epic, but a suite of songs, and ITPOE is 2 songs.

Come at me.  :biggrin:

Eh, no need to "come at" you.  You are entitled to "consider" them whatever you wish.  That doesn't change what the author said they are or wrote them to be.  They are what they are.  But from the listener's perspective, what they sound or feel like is pretty subjective, and as I said in the OP, the thread allows for that.  So have at it however you wish.  You certainly aren't the only one to feel that way.  :tup

4 - The Count of Tuscany

...

Also, trust a fellow italian that's been to Tuscany many time, I can't stress how much JP NAILED the atmosphere of the song. Completely perfect. You hear the intro while you're in Tuscany and it just feels.... right. Absolutely perfect atmosphere.

That's so cool to know.  As a complete outsider in that regard, I would say that the song feels like would I would picture the Italian countryside to be like.  But as someone who is from far, far away, and not from there, that means little.  It's cool to know from someone that lives there that that is exactly right.
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Offline TheGreatPretender

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #11 on: March 15, 2019, 10:02:06 AM »
1. Octavarium - I always liked it to some extent, but it took some time to fully grow on me, but now, yeah, it's one of the most enjoyable listens for me from DT, through and through. My favorite of their mega-epics.

2. In the Presence of Enemies - This is just one that I think is incredibly awesome and consistent, moment to moment, and all the way through. I don't mind that it's divided into 2, bookending the album, but in general, that does make me treat it as two different songs.

3. Illumination Theory - This is like the opposite of In The Presence of Enemies, I feel like that silent break in the middle could have warranted splitting it into 2, even though in terms of how it flows, it does feel like one cohesive whole, at least lyrically. Either way, I listen to it quite consistently, and really enjoy it.

4. A Change of Seasons - Now, here's one that's like a ringer for the epitome of DT's mega-epics, and after I first heard it, I worshipped it as much as any standard DT fan. But over time, I've grown a bit more lukewarm to it. The only part of it that I really absolutely love is Another World. Everything else is pretty okay, the main riff is nice. On its own merits, it is an amazing epic, but it's far from their magnum opus. They've topped themselves time and again since.

5. Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence - The problem with this one is that it's so big, and each part brings so much variety, that statistically speaking, it's very easy for one or two parts of it to not fully click with someone, and that inevitably brings the whole thing down. While About To Crash (+ Reprise), Solitary Shell, and Losing Time/Grand Finale are fantastic, and War Inside My Head is pretty cool, but for me The Test That Stumped and Goodnight Kiss (especially being back to back), really bring the whole thing down. They're not awful, but the lyrics and the execution don't stand up to the other parts. And it's unfortunate that the Overture wasn't done with real instruments. It does sound a bit inorganic.

6. The Count of Tuscany - The red-headed stepchild of the mega epics. Its best musical moments are amazing, but those are mostly the melodic, acoustic ones, i.e. the intro and the outro. The heavy parts have some cool moments, but overall, it's heavily underwhelming all around. And I'm not even one of the people who has a problem with the lyrics, just musically. Portnoy's backup vocals bring it down a great deal, but the vocal melodies in general just weren't very good or interesting. The riffs and other parts were a bit underwhelming too.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 10:16:03 AM by TheGreatPretender »
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Offline KevShmev

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2019, 10:08:02 AM »
I do not consider 6DOIT a mega-epic, but a suite of songs, and ITPOE is 2 songs.

In the Presence of Enemies is a single song split as two tracks for pacing reasons.


Correction: it was a single song that was then split into two songs. I cannot call two tracks one song when they are not even back to back on the same studio album.

The ONE group of songs the band considers a suite (and not a song), you place at number one. And the one mega-epic that the band considers one song, you call it a suite. :facepalm: :rollin


Eh, no need to "come at" you.  You are entitled to "consider" them whatever you wish.  That doesn't change what the author said they are or wrote them to be.  They are what they are.  But from the listener's perspective, what they sound or feel like is pretty subjective, and as I said in the OP, the thread allows for that.  So have at it however you wish.  You certainly aren't the only one to feel that way.  :tup

Not to get into a battle over semantics, but I do not subscribe to the line of thinking that the author alone gets to say how their work is defined.  John Petrucci could come out tomorrow and say that Viper King is a rap song, but that wouldn't make it so just because he said it.  While that is an extreme and unrealistic example, the logic still applies.  When I listen to the 6DOIT suite, I do not hear a single song; I hear eight songs that mostly run together to make a suite, similar to how concept albums are often filled with songs that mostly run and/or fade together.

Offline rab7

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #13 on: March 15, 2019, 10:09:38 AM »
SixDOIT - This to me, is DT in a nutshell. You have the grandiose 6 minute intro, virtuosity and prog throughout, heavy sections, soft sections, changing time signatures, and it's 42 minutes long.

ITPOE - Fantastic balls to the wall 25 minute banger. I love all the melodies and how it starts immediately, and ends with an epic reprise of the overture.

IT - It is very disjointed, but the violins and the final vocal verse makes me cry. This was playing at the end of a 5-mile run, and usually I give up and walk the last quarter-mile because I'm tired, but when I heard the chords of the final section, it motivated me to sprint the whole way home.

ACOS - Not much to say here. I love the melodies in certain parts, but don't enjoy the sound quality.

Octavarium - This used to be my favorite, but when I look back now, there's not a lot that I truly truly love about it. There's too much calm in the beginning from Someone Like Him through Medicate. The part between Medicate and Full Circle, along with the long instrumental before Intervals are amazing.

I personally don't count TCOT as a mega-epic, just one very long song. Mainly because it doesn't have defined sections. Trial of Tears and False Awakenings have defined sections, but they're too short to be mega-epics in my opinion. I think a Mega-Epic needs to be both longer than 20 minutes and have defined titles for each"I, II, III, IV, etc."


Offline bosk1

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #14 on: March 15, 2019, 10:13:12 AM »
@Kev:  I'll just say that I will agree to disagree and leave it at that.  No need to bog the thread down with, as you rightly say, what boils down to a battle of semantics.  I think I am demonstrably, unequivocally right.  You feel the same.  At the end of the day, we're only debating about music, not solving the weightier problems of the world.  And we're talking about music that we both enjoy, so who cares?  I'm okay with you looking at it differently than I do.  :tup
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Offline Buddyhunter1

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #15 on: March 15, 2019, 10:18:30 AM »
1: Octavarium - 10/10
2: ITPOE - 9/10
3: The Count of Tuscany - 8/10
4: ACOS - 8/10
5: Illumination Theory - 7/10
6: 6DOIT - I don't even consider this a single song tbh, and the only part of it I really like is The Test that Stumped Them All.
...in my opinion

Offline KevShmev

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #16 on: March 15, 2019, 10:19:40 AM »
@Kev:  I'll just say that I will agree to disagree and leave it at that.  No need to bog the thread down with, as you rightly say, what boils down to a battle of semantics.  I think I am demonstrably, unequivocally right.  You feel the same.  At the end of the day, we're only debating about music, not solving the weightier problems of the world.  And we're talking about music that we both enjoy, so who cares?  I'm okay with you looking at it differently than I do.  :tup

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Offline The Letter M

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #17 on: March 15, 2019, 10:22:44 AM »
I do not consider 6DOIT a mega-epic, but a suite of songs, and ITPOE is 2 songs.

In the Presence of Enemies is a single song split as two tracks for pacing reasons.


Correction: it was a single song that was then split into two songs. I cannot call two tracks one song when they are not even back to back on the same studio album.

So I assume you don't consider "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" or "I Am The Sun" to be single songs as well, since they are also split and bookend their respective albums? In the case of ITPOE, at least it was played live as a single song, so does it count then? Or is the studio album the one and only canon when it comes to how songs should be considered/listened?


The ONE group of songs the band considers a suite (and not a song), you place at number one. And the one mega-epic that the band considers one song, you call it a suite. :facepalm: :rollin


Eh, no need to "come at" you.  You are entitled to "consider" them whatever you wish.  That doesn't change what the author said they are or wrote them to be.  They are what they are.  But from the listener's perspective, what they sound or feel like is pretty subjective, and as I said in the OP, the thread allows for that.  So have at it however you wish.  You certainly aren't the only one to feel that way.  :tup

Not to get into a battle over semantics, but I do not subscribe to the line of thinking that the author alone gets to say how their work is defined.  John Petrucci could come out tomorrow and say that Viper King is a rap song, but that wouldn't make it so just because he said it.  While that is an extreme and unrealistic example, the logic still applies.  When I listen to the 6DOIT suite, I do not hear a single song; I hear eight songs that mostly run together to make a suite, similar to how concept albums are often filled with songs that mostly run and/or fade together.

That's fair. As Bosk said, listener interpretation is pretty subjective, which is why I consider SDOIT a single song. I've always heard it as such, and the Overture links everything together, and there are recurring themes throughout the whole thing, so for me, it's just one long song with 8 movements.

I personally don't count TCOT as a mega-epic, just one very long song. Mainly because it doesn't have defined sections. Trial of Tears and False Awakenings have defined sections, but they're too short to be mega-epics in my opinion. I think a Mega-Epic needs to be both longer than 20 minutes and have defined titles for each"I, II, III, IV, etc."

That's interesting, though the song definitely feels like it has sections. You get an overture-ish opening, the section with verses and choruses, then the ambient/LTE-inspired middle section, then the outro. Years ago, I created names for each of TCOT's "movements" but I forget what they were. So do you not consider something like Neal Morse's "Seeds Of Gold" as a "Mega-Epic" as it doesn't have any of his trademark movement titles (which he has used since The Light)?

-Marc.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 11:11:00 AM by The Letter M »
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Offline TheCountOfNYC

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #18 on: March 15, 2019, 10:24:04 AM »
Thereís a clear ranking for me, but all six songs are in my top 50, so I love all of them.

1) Octavarium: Iíve said everything that could be said about it. My favorite song of all time.
2) The Count of Tuscany: Perfect way for my favorite Dream Theater lineup to go out.
3) A Change of Seasons: It set the tone for Dream Theater epics, and still holds up over 20 years later.
4) Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: Brilliantly composed and touches on a subject that people are still afraid to talk about.
5) Illumination Theory: The song that made me fully accept Mangini as Dream Theaterís drummer.
6) In the Presence of Enemies: Amazing song, just wish the band wouldnít have split it up on the album.
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Offline JustDefyYou

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #19 on: March 15, 2019, 10:46:55 AM »
Easily Octavarium, then ACoS, TCoT & Illumination Theory. Since 6 degrees and ItPoE aren't single tracks I don't ever consider them as epics but if those two went head to head ItPoE would be cowering in the corner.

Offline RAIN

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #20 on: March 15, 2019, 11:25:36 AM »
 1 - A Change of Seasons:  They still haven't topped the original, and maybe because it was the first it will always hold that special place...good times back then.
 2a - In the Presence of Enemies: Tight call between this and Octavarium...This one gets the edge because I find it slightly harder...
 2b - Octavarium: Amazing, beautiful, and proggy...
 3- Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence:  Just listened to this back to front the other day, and still get's me every time...but the outro is a little long (and I don't mean the silly 2 minutes)
 4 - The Count of Tuscany:  I guess where we draw the line of "Epic" is kind of in the sand, but I can see how this can count.  I love the song (not the lyrics), but it's at the bottom because I never considered this an Epic but rather just a really long song...again, I guess lines in the sand eh?
 5-  Illumination Theory:  Great song...but the wonders of modern editing abilities, I just delete out the centre 6 minutes, which I consider boring and useless, and make a much better 17:43 minute song.  It doesn't lose momentum and gets to the point. 

Shouldn't "A Mind Beside Itself" count at all?  Clocking in at 20 minutes and designed to be the centerpiece epic?

Offline pg1067

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #21 on: March 15, 2019, 11:31:15 AM »
This is pretty easy.  The only tough call was between Octavarium and IT.

1. ACOS - Aside from it being the oldest/original, there are just no low points.

2. SDOIT - I won't touch the "single song" versus "suite" debate (except to say that the band's opinion on this means little to me in this regard).  Regardless, disc 2 of SDOIT (the album) is an epic in every sense of the word.  It works so well as a whole even though it has a couple low points (relatively speaking).

3. Octavarium - The biggest problem with this song is that its lowest points are at the beginning.  I just can't bring myself to listen to the continuum/steel guitar intro and will almost always fast forward to the point where the full band comes in.  Sometimes I'll even fast forward to Jordan's synth solo around 12 minutes in, but that's only when I have limited time.  The second half of the song, however, is more than enough to make this a real epic.

4. Illumination Theory - Other than the "tag" (or whatever you want to call it) at the end, I love everything about this song.  When I first heard it and got to the "Disney" keyboard break, I was very concerned that it was too much like TCOT and distinctly recall thinking that the section better not go on too long.  It didn't.  It's an appropriate length and is one of the more hauntingly beautiful things in DT's catalog.  The instrumental break right before that section is another one of my favorite moments in the catalog.

5. TCOT - Lots of good stuff going on here, but also some low points.  I don't have much problem with the lyrics, but parts do stick out sorely, and I'm not a huge fan of the verses.  I also fast forward through the interlude section (which I think is continuum) almost always.








6. ITPOE - I know a lot of folks love ITPOE, but it's never worked for me.  I recall putting SC in the CD player the first time and thinking the intro was really cool and some what reminiscent of the 5's and 7's section from Metropolis.  After a few minutes, I was thinking, ok, now lets get somewhere with the song, and just as I thought they were about to do that, they kicked it up a notch with the "Flight of the Bumblebee" section, which just made my eyes roll.  WAY more wankery than I wanted.  And the song never recovered.  Every so often, I give it another try, but it's never done anything for me.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 11:59:39 AM by pg1067 »
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Offline bosk1

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #22 on: March 15, 2019, 11:36:42 AM »
1 - A Change of Seasons:  They still haven't topped the original, and maybe because it was the first it will always hold that special place...good times back then.

I want to take a second to comment on this because I love posts like this.  In a way, it seems odd to say a song "deserves" some sort of special recognition.  But clearly, some songs do.  Doing a 23-minute epic was a landmark in the band's history, and was kind of a landmark in prog metal history as well.  That, combined with just how good the song is, really give it a special status, and I think it's cool to see that recognized.  :tup

4 - The Count of Tuscany:  I guess where we draw the line of "Epic" is kind of in the sand, but I can see how this can count.  I love the song (not the lyrics), but it's at the bottom because I never considered this an Epic but rather just a really long song...again, I guess lines in the sand eh?

You raise a good point, so I'll comment on it.  There are a lot of different criteria we could use to define what is or isn't an "epic."  A lot, and perhaps all, of that is subjective.  And a lot of it depends on the context of the song too.  I mean, most Queensryche fans would consider Anybody Listening? to be an "epic" because it has a huge, epic sound, really takes the listener on a journey, and is a good deal longer than the typical QR song.  But it's also a good deal shorter than, for example, the typical DT song.  Even on an album like d/t, which is an album of "short" (by DT standard) songs, it would be on the shorter side.  But song length CAN be a factor.  To me (and I don't know many who would disagree), it the song approaches 20 minutes, I think it's safe to consider it an "epic," regardless of other typical "epic" factors maybe not being present.  They are "factors," not hard and fast rules.  But even if someone out there doesn't consider it a "true epic," that's fine.  I do, for purposes of this poll only.  People can either include it in their rankings or not, and it's all fine.  :tup
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Offline The Letter M

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #23 on: March 15, 2019, 11:47:49 AM »
1 - A Change of Seasons:  They still haven't topped the original, and maybe because it was the first it will always hold that special place...good times back then.

I want to take a second to comment on this because I love posts like this.  In a way, it seems odd to say a song "deserves" some sort of special recognition.  But clearly, some songs do.  Doing a 23-minute epic was a landmark in the band's history, and was kind of a landmark in prog metal history as well.  That, combined with just how good the song is, really give it a special status, and I think it's cool to see that recognized.  :tup

Definitely a landmark song in prog metal history, for sure, but after looking up the discographies for Queensryche and Fates Warning (the other two bands often cited as being a part of the "Big 3" of prog metal, along with DT), I see that FW released a 22-minute epic back in 1988, "The Ivory Gate of Dreams". I'm not into FW at all, but I wonder how this compares to ACOS, and does it stand up to FW fans in the same way that ACOS does for DT fans? I wonder if FW doing an epic in '88 influenced DT to pen ACOS just a few years later.

-Marc.
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Offline rab7

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #24 on: March 15, 2019, 11:54:21 AM »


I personally don't count TCOT as a mega-epic, just one very long song. Mainly because it doesn't have defined sections. Trial of Tears and False Awakenings have defined sections, but they're too short to be mega-epics in my opinion. I think a Mega-Epic needs to be both longer than 20 minutes and have defined titles for each"I, II, III, IV, etc."

That's interesting, though the song definitely feels like it has sections. You get an overture-ish opening, the section with verses and choruses, then the ambient/LTE-inspired middle section, then the outro. Years ago, I created names for each of TCOT's "movements" but I forget what they were. So do you not consider something like Neal Morse's "Seeds Of Gold" as a "Mega-Epic" as it doesn't have any of his trademark movement titles (which he has used since The Light)?

-Marc.

I'm not familiar with Neal Morse besides TSOAD, so I can't really judge.

I hate to sound like I'm moving the goalposts here, but while I agree that there are definitely different sections to TCOT, they feel more like sections than actual movements (which may or may not be a semantic thing, but I'll try to explain).

There are 4 distinct parts as you say: The Intro, the heavy part with the verses and choruses, the ambient section, and the finale.

To me, The Count of Tuscany is just one very long song structured as Intro, Verse 1, Chorus, Verse 2, Chorus, Bridge, Final Section, which matches the structure of a lot of their other songs (Barstool Warrior comes to mind immediately), and it is a structure that none of the other epics have. TCOT's vocal lines are contained entirely within section 2 and 4. 8VM has vocals in all 5 parts, and they are all completely different. All of ITPOE's vocal sections are different from each other too. IT has the least amount of vocals, but all the sections are about different things. 6DOIT is 6 different stories told in 8 movements, and ACOS is a journey through life in 7 movements.

I don't know if I can ever change anyone's mind, but that's my reasoning


Offline RoeDent

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #25 on: March 15, 2019, 12:01:03 PM »
Stick Illumination Theory in between Octavarium and ITPOE and the poll order is my ranking.

Offline pg1067

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #26 on: March 15, 2019, 12:10:11 PM »
1 - A Change of Seasons:  They still haven't topped the original, and maybe because it was the first it will always hold that special place...good times back then.

I want to take a second to comment on this because I love posts like this.  In a way, it seems odd to say a song "deserves" some sort of special recognition.  But clearly, some songs do.  Doing a 23-minute epic was a landmark in the band's history, and was kind of a landmark in prog metal history as well.  That, combined with just how good the song is, really give it a special status, and I think it's cool to see that recognized.  :tup

Definitely a landmark song in prog metal history, for sure, but after looking up the discographies for Queensryche and Fates Warning (the other two bands often cited as being a part of the "Big 3" of prog metal, along with DT), I see that FW released a 22-minute epic back in 1988, "The Ivory Gate of Dreams". I'm not into FW at all, but I wonder how this compares to ACOS, and does it stand up to FW fans in the same way that ACOS does for DT fans? I wonder if FW doing an epic in '88 influenced DT to pen ACOS just a few years later.

-Marc.

The Ivory Gate of Dreams is cut from the same mold as Rush's 2112 and Hemispheres (Book II), whereas ACOS is more similar to songs like Close to the Edge and Gates of Delirium by Yes or Supper's Ready by Genesis.  I became a fan of FW not long after No Exit (the album on which TIGOD appears) was released.  From the moment I first heard TIGOD, I LOVED it, and I still feel the same way.  While I can't say whether TIGOD had any sort of direct influence on DT writing ACOS, I think it's pretty well known that FW influenced DT and that the members of DT were fans of FW.  FW and DT also did a co-headlining tour back in 1994 -- shortly before ACOS was recorded -- but ACOS was written before then.
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Offline krands85

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #27 on: March 15, 2019, 12:13:19 PM »
I have one clear favourite and one that I don't really care for, with the other 4 all very closely matched and not that far behind my favourite.

1. Octavarium - I just love how this whole song is crafted and feel like its whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Razors Edge to the end though, is especially brilliant. 8VM was the first DT album I heard and I probably needed a little time to digest a 24-minute song, coming from a more metal background, but it's been right near the top of my rankings since.
2. IT - The clear high point from an otherwise disappointing album. I smoothly edited out the ambient/sound effects section, but I love everything else about the song, especially the climax again. Really enjoyed Erwin's (I think) analysis of the song too
3. ITPOE - I love the dark vibe of this one, great instrumental work but also a brilliant performance from James. I don't mind that they split it up for the album and it works quite well, but unless I'm listening to the album as a whole I'll always listen to it as one piece
4. ACOS - Again I love the whole thing, incredible lyrics and emotion throughout. I miss a couple of instrumental bits from the earlier versions of the song, but the rest of the changes were for the better. It's also a bit of a shame it came after James' injury, though he still puts in a brilliant performance.
5. TCOT - Similar to IT in that it's a clear standout from a disappointing album. Lyrically it's a bit dodgy, but somehow that doesn't seem to detract from the song. Musically it's brilliant and I still remember the goosebumps from the first time I heard the "could this be the end?" part
6. 6DOIT - I'm with Kev on this one. It has always felt like separate songs to me and maybe that's why I don't rate it as highly as most others do. Or maybe it's the other way round and it feels like separate songs because I don't like it that much. I would never say others are wrong about it being one song, I'm just going by how I feel about it. It still frustrates me that the album as a whole has never clicked with me as it has with so many others :(

I found it really tough to separate 2-5 and in the end just went to an old playlist I had of my favourite DT tracks and listed them as I had them in there. I guess I added IT in there when it was still really fresh, otherwise it may have been slightly lower. But either way, the first 5 are all in my top 10.
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Offline The Letter M

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #28 on: March 15, 2019, 12:25:57 PM »
1 - A Change of Seasons:  They still haven't topped the original, and maybe because it was the first it will always hold that special place...good times back then.

I want to take a second to comment on this because I love posts like this.  In a way, it seems odd to say a song "deserves" some sort of special recognition.  But clearly, some songs do.  Doing a 23-minute epic was a landmark in the band's history, and was kind of a landmark in prog metal history as well.  That, combined with just how good the song is, really give it a special status, and I think it's cool to see that recognized.  :tup

Definitely a landmark song in prog metal history, for sure, but after looking up the discographies for Queensryche and Fates Warning (the other two bands often cited as being a part of the "Big 3" of prog metal, along with DT), I see that FW released a 22-minute epic back in 1988, "The Ivory Gate of Dreams". I'm not into FW at all, but I wonder how this compares to ACOS, and does it stand up to FW fans in the same way that ACOS does for DT fans? I wonder if FW doing an epic in '88 influenced DT to pen ACOS just a few years later.

-Marc.

The Ivory Gate of Dreams is cut from the same mold as Rush's 2112 and Hemispheres (Book II), whereas ACOS is more similar to songs like Close to the Edge and Gates of Delirium by Yes or Supper's Ready by Genesis.  I became a fan of FW not long after No Exit (the album on which TIGOD appears) was released.  From the moment I first heard TIGOD, I LOVED it, and I still feel the same way.  While I can't say whether TIGOD had any sort of direct influence on DT writing ACOS, I think it's pretty well known that FW influenced DT and that the members of DT were fans of FW.  FW and DT also did a co-headlining tour back in 1994 -- shortly before ACOS was recorded -- but ACOS was written before then.

 :tup Thanks for the response. Interesting that you say ACOS is more like those Yes epics or "Supper's Ready", because I definitely get some "2112" vibes as well. I've added TIGOD to my YouTube watch later list, and I'll give it a spin this weekend when I'm off work. Now I am intrigued by it from how you describe it. I do recall that members of DT did say they were fans of FW, but like you say, we can't be too sure if they were influenced to write a prog metal epic after FW did in 88, but I'm sure they were itching to at some point given their classic prog influences.

-Marc.
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Offline Vmadera00

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #29 on: March 15, 2019, 12:28:50 PM »
To me it goes like this

1) ACOS: This one is flawless to me. Everything in this piece screams awesomeness.
2) SDOIT: This is was the first time got the DT feeling of music taking to many different places. It's a close 2nd to ACOS.
3) ITPOTE: The guitar work on this piece and the composition make it an amazing piece.
4) Octavarium: Really good (I wrote a paper about this piece in college  :metal ) it's just not as seamless as the other pieces.
5) IT: Pretty good piece, but nothing unique about it.
6) TCOT: As weird as the story is, I actually enjoy it. Just not as epic as the other pieces.

Offline KevShmev

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #30 on: March 15, 2019, 12:29:17 PM »
So I assume you don't consider "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" or "I Am The Sun" to be single songs as well, since they are also split and bookend their respective albums? In the case of ITPOE, at least it was played live as a single song, so does it count then? Or is the studio album the one and only canon when it comes to how songs should be considered/listened?

ITPOE Part 1 was also played quite a few times as the single song that it is, IIRC, so there is that.  Shine On... and I Am the Sun are not single songs, no, although I know cheated years ago when I did my TFK top 50, putting both Garden of Dreams and I Am the Sun as single tracks, partly for simplicity's sake at the time, and partly because I would have had no clue how to break up the Garden of Dreams songs and then rank them among the rest of their songs.

By and large, I think studio albums are the best way to judge these things (which are subjective, of course), since we could point to the live renditions of I Am the Sun and say that end of Part I and beginning of Part II are not real parts of the "single song" since they never play those parts live.

That's fair. As Bosk said, listener interpretation is pretty subjective, which is why I consider SDOIT a single song. I've always heard it as such, and the Overture links everything together, and there are recurring themes throughout the whole thing, so for me, it's just one long song with 8 movements.

That is true, but albums like Similitude, The Great Adventure and Testimony all have an overture that links it all together and then recurring themes throughout, and I can't imagine calling each of those albums a single song.


Offline nattmorker

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #31 on: March 15, 2019, 12:30:20 PM »
Actually I love all of these songs, but I can say that Octavarium is my favorite of them all and I hope I get to see it live one day. The first 4 places are total perfection for me:

1. Octavarium - Absoultely perfection!
2. Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence - I love it, but Octavarium is better IMO.
3. A Change Of Seasons - The classic DT mega-epic!
4. In The Presence Of Enemies - I love this song, I really like the lyrics and it's quite the trip.
5. The Count of Tuscany  - I love it but i could do without the slow middle part. I don't have any problem with the lyrics.
6. Illumination Theory - I really love the parts where the full band is playing, I'm not so keen on the middle ambient part. Actually I edited the song and erase the ambient/strings part. After this edit I absolutely love the song, but it's not a mega-epic anymore.

Offline pg1067

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #32 on: March 15, 2019, 12:33:10 PM »
:tup Thanks for the response. Interesting that you say ACOS is more like those Yes epics or "Supper's Ready", because I definitely get some "2112" vibes as well. I've added TIGOD to my YouTube watch later list, and I'll give it a spin this weekend when I'm off work. Now I am intrigued by it from how you describe it. I do recall that members of DT did say they were fans of FW, but like you say, we can't be too sure if they were influenced to write a prog metal epic after FW did in 88, but I'm sure they were itching to at some point given their classic prog influences.

I'll look forward to reading what you think.  If you're interested, this is the literary basis for TIGOD:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gates_of_horn_and_ivory

My best guess is that that ACOS was more influenced by the Yes and Genesis songs because, to me, ACOS feels more like a metal version of that type of song -- a single song with various section.  On the other hand, each of 2112, Hemispheres and TIGOD feels more like 6-7 separate but related songs that fit together with a common theme.
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Online lovethedrake

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #33 on: March 15, 2019, 01:31:55 PM »
I really consider Six Degrees as a makeup of several different songs... they even did tracks for them. 

However,  If I had to consider it as one song (which I know it is) I would rank like this:

1. Six Degrees  -  Amazing -  Such an incredibly fun and vibrant 42 minutes.   It has everything you can possibly want from DT.
2. Change of Seasons - Amazing - I basically had to decide between "eclectic or cohesive" and I chose eclectic.  However, Change of Seasons is just as good as SDOIT IMO.    Some of James' best vocals, "clock on the wall" "sick of all you hypocrites", just amazingly brilliant stuff and the guitar work is stunning.  I wish Portnoy used a different drum kit, but other than that a total classic.   Huge drop off from here to Octavarium.



3. Octavarium - Something is missing to me, I don't like the production and the vocal melodies are "eh".   Still great overall though.
4. Count of Tuscany- I love this song... the get into my car part is pretty weak but the intro and outros are amazing.


5. Illumination Theory- I love a lot of this song... but I don't revisit it that much for some reason.   I think James came out of his Solitary Shell on this one.... best vocals since Six Degrees :)... and then they got better on TA and even better on D/T.






6. ITPOE - Boring, Stale, ugly.  Worst lyrical production of all their albums.   The intro is pretty cool but the rest is just "Meh".

Now, I am grading these on a DT curve... ITPOE part 1 and 2 are still pretty cool compared to most music.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2019, 01:45:13 PM by lovethedrake »

Offline SeRoX

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Re: Rank the Dream Theater mega-epics
« Reply #34 on: March 15, 2019, 01:33:14 PM »
I'll have to agree with Kev about SDOIT. I know it's one song but it sounds like it's a thematical indivicual songs telling a story overall. But I think it doesn't matter ITPOE parted two songs it feels completely connected and sounds one.

My ranking is

1- Octavarium
2- A Change Of Seaons
3- In The Presence Of Enemies
4- A Mind Beside Itself (Yeah I cheat too.)
5- The Count Of Tuscany (Sorry I don't like lyrics.)
6- Illumination Theory (It's so disconneted between passages. AMBI even feels more connected than that.)
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