Author Topic: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?  (Read 3386 times)

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Offline Trav86

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #105 on: April 28, 2021, 03:00:41 PM »
One is how Mike described it, and the other is how JP described it. I remember Mike saying that on the MP forum after it was released. Maybe even pre-release. Actually...didnít he say it on the making of Train of Thought doc that was on the CD?
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Offline hefdaddy42

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #106 on: April 28, 2021, 03:15:28 PM »
OK, JP described Train of Thought the way I was thinking (based on crowd response to aggressive songs) on the SCORE documentary ("The Score So Far").

MP, on the Chaos in Progress documentary, described wanting Train of Thought to be a "balls to the wall" album with heavy riffing to appeal to new metal fans.

I don't know yet where the "classic metal album" comment came from, but maybe it was just on MP's forum after all, like Trav86 mentioned.  If it be so, then so be it.
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Offline bosk1

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #107 on: April 28, 2021, 05:13:34 PM »
And in the TOT Demos liner notes that I quoted above.
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Offline darkshade

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #108 on: April 28, 2021, 06:14:50 PM »
I'm pretty aware of DT history, though I've never read their official biography Lifting Shadows. Just going by what I recall reading throughout this site and others over the years.

About Outcry, I don't think inserting a through composed section into a basically simple metal song makes it progressive. I don't think Endless Sacrifice is prog either. Metropolis pt 1 did it first and at least Metropolis pt 1 has a more complex song structure that also has a crazy instrumental section that flows well in and out of the song proper, and feels like it belongs to the same piece of music.

Offline Enigmachine

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #109 on: April 29, 2021, 02:31:00 AM »
It kind of does, though. A through composed section with that many time signature shifts (which btw, just for emphasis again, isn't even exclusive to the instrumental section, listen to the pre-chorus) and other advanced elements makes a song hella prog. It eats up a very significant part of the song's run-time (and imo is a logical conclusion to the build-up of tension of that second verse), so is just as crucial a part of the track as the less musically dense part is.

Endless Sacrifice is also a prog metal song, even with the mid-section being more of a jam on riffs than being through composed. It has time signature changes (I repeat, both in the instrumental section and in the rest), is extended length, is a mix of stylistic elements and is very dynamic, just like Outcry. Whether you think it's well executed is another thing (I do in both cases, but that's beside the point), but that doesn't change what these tracks are. I'm not really sure what your standard for prog metal is if these don't make the grade. Is Train of Thought not a progressive metal album other than Stream of Consciousness and This Dying Soul, now?

And again... Outcry doesn't have a normal structure even if it didn't have that instrumental section. The way the end of the second verse ("The streets are bathed in blood") doesn't lead into the chorus again, as well as the insertion of that pre-chorus ("we've suffered far too long") that doesn't repeat in the same manner, alongside both verses having a different musical backing is not something that happens is a regularly structured pop song, at least not all at once.
« Last Edit: April 29, 2021, 02:37:54 AM by Enigmachine »

Offline Elite

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #110 on: April 29, 2021, 02:59:36 AM »
I'm pretty aware of DT history, though I've never read their official biography Lifting Shadows. Just going by what I recall reading throughout this site and others over the years.

About Outcry, I don't think inserting a through composed section into a basically simple metal song makes it progressive. I don't think Endless Sacrifice is prog either. Metropolis pt 1 did it first and at least Metropolis pt 1 has a more complex song structure that also has a crazy instrumental section that flows well in and out of the song proper, and feels like it belongs to the same piece of music.

Then I'd like to know your definition of 'prog', because both songs are arguably progressive metal. No, they're not 'progressive' in the literal sense that they're actually pushing boundaries and doing something new, but they contain traits and characteristics of progressive metal music. Also 'Metropolis did it first' is demonstrably false, because prog music had existed way before Metropolis was ever written, so by that account Metropolis is not prog either.

At least lyrically I can explain the middle section in Outcry and this song does a far better job at story-telling than Metropolis OR Endless Sacrifice (or a lot of other DT songs, to be honest actually..) So, regarding Outcry (again), I think you're completely missing the point to this song, because as far as I see it, it is NOT a 'simple metal song'. Let's break it down...

We start with an intro, outlining the main chorus melody in the keys, but it's unfinished.
In come the other instrument, the entire chorus is played in Bm, without vocals.
Some sort of main riff comes afterwards.
We have the verse on syncopated low B's
Second half of the verse ("the rebel in us all...") over odd time signatures
The 'Pre-Chorus' the suddenly gets quiet, as a means to build up to the chorus
Aaand here it is. But what? It's in a different key! The chorus is played in E instead of in B as heard before.
Here's that 'main riff' thing after the chorus, although played slightly different. And this time, the vocals go over this one, instead on the syncopated Bs. While harmonically similar, this riff drive the vocals more forward.
"The streets are bathed in blood" section (similar to 'the rebel in us all').

And maybe now's a good time to actually take a loot at the lyrics and what they imply. They're about the various uprisings in the middle east, and some Middle Eastern influence is actually clearly audible in the instrumental section. If you consider the last lyrical section, which I'll copy below for your convenience, I think it's pretty damn clear that the entire instrumental is actually a musical depiction of a struggle, a rebellion, or uprising. The jagged rhythms, the seemingly incoherent parts, it's almost as of the musician's are in a battle with each other as well. To me, this instrumental section makes so much more sense than some of the other instrumental parts in DT's songs that really seem to be put in just to be there. This one actually has a purpose,

"The streets are bathed in blood
Time to step down and time to walk away
You'll never rule me now
Though you may stand upon my grave"

---

After the battle is over, we get to a piano break, the 'aftermath' so to say, followed by the "Freedom's worth the fight" lyrical section that's almost bleak in nature. James's vocal delivery here portrays the hopelessness of the situation, but then we get to what's arguably the best part of the song, which is the last time the chorus comes in.

This is not a triumphant return to the the chorus, one that's even more exaggerated by the fact that it's repeated twice. Having heard the chorus just once so far (in Em) at the beginning, it may have felt glorious back then, empowering, with high vocals to back that up. This version at the end is a fourth lower, in Bm. I'm absolutely sure that this is an intentional song-writing choice. Playing this chorus lower than the original emphasises that the entire situation is hopeless, though the rebellion is till trying. The last lines of lyrics further drive this point home. "Locked in a kingdom of fear, as our children die."

---

Quick recap, without even dissecting the instrumental section:

Intro
Intro Pt. 2 (Chorus Riff)
Intro Pt. 3 (Main Riff)
Verse 1
Verse 1 Pt. 2
Pre-Chorus
Chorus
Verse 2 (over 'Main Riff')
Verse 2 Pt. 2
Instrumental Section
Break
Different Pre-Chorus
Chorus in Bm (twice)
Outro

That hardly looks like the structure of a 'simple metal song', unless you'll twist that definition.

---

I know I said in a post above that Outcry might be the 'most progressive' song Dream Theater have written since MP left the band and while I of course can't be certain of that, I think it's worth noticing that this song is actually about some meaningful, a real-life event and it tries to depict that musically as well as lyrically. A lot of the so-called 'prog music' (DT often included) often doesn't do this and plays stuff for the sake of playing, with lyrics tacked on to the track that don't really mean anything, or seem like an afterthought. I know that's generalising, but I hope you get the point. Outcry though, is a synthesis of both the music and lyrics and the more I think about this, this song is far better than people give it credit for.
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Offline Enigmachine

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #111 on: April 29, 2021, 04:03:01 AM »
*snip*
Fantastic breakdown of the track. Emphasises how much thought was put into Outcry (and the extent to its progressive nature) very well, I think it's one of DT's modern masterpieces for the reasons described. It's just so incredibly evocative and cinematic in its structure.

Offline hefdaddy42

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #112 on: April 29, 2021, 06:48:02 AM »
And in the TOT Demos liner notes that I quoted above.
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Offline Dream Team

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #113 on: April 29, 2021, 08:24:37 AM »
*snip*
Fantastic breakdown of the track. Emphasises how much thought was put into Outcry (and the extent to its progressive nature) very well, I think it's one of DT's modern masterpieces for the reasons described. It's just so incredibly evocative and cinematic in its structure.

Yup. Thanks Elite, I don't have the musical knowledge to write what you did. The only thing holding back this amazing song and others on ADToE is the shitty production.

Offline Dream Team

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #114 on: April 29, 2021, 08:28:39 AM »
After reading the discussion from the last 2 pages, it seems one of the main arguments is whether DT is incorporating their instrumental genius into the flow of the songs and not have it be an unnecessary distraction. I happen to feel they are accomplishing that extremely well since MM joined, because they don't lose focus on melody.

Offline Trav86

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #115 on: April 29, 2021, 10:11:35 AM »
After reading the discussion from the last 2 pages, it seems one of the main arguments is whether DT is incorporating their instrumental genius into the flow of the songs and not have it be an unnecessary distraction. I happen to feel they are accomplishing that extremely well since MM joined, because they don't lose focus on melody.

This. If there is a connection with the MM albums and classic, pre-Jordan, albums itís this.
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Offline Setlist Scotty

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #116 on: April 29, 2021, 10:56:45 AM »
OK, JP described Train of Thought the way I was thinking (based on crowd response to aggressive songs) on the SCORE documentary ("The Score So Far").

MP, on the Chaos in Progress documentary, described wanting Train of Thought to be a "balls to the wall" album with heavy riffing to appeal to new metal fans.

I don't know yet where the "classic metal album" comment came from, but maybe it was just on MP's forum after all, like Trav86 mentioned.  If it be so, then so be it.
One other thing I distinctly remember MP saying was that they wanted all the songs on ToT to be heavy hitters - not just in heaviness - but also an album of songs that really got the crowd going. Songs that always got a great response like Home, The Mirror and Pull Mu Under. They viewed Master of Puppets, Number of the Beast and Rush's Moving Pictures as examples of what they wanted to achieve, even if not stylistically the same.
As a basic rule, if you hate it, you must solely blame Portnoy. If it's good, then you must downplay MP's contribution to the band as not being important anyway, or claim he's just lying. It's the DTF way.

Offline Enigmachine

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #117 on: April 29, 2021, 11:46:38 AM »
To be fair, you can see it in the album's structure too. As I Am bears a resemblance to Enter Sandman in being the catchy mid-paced lead off track, Endless Sacrifice as the Fade to Black / One style half-ballad and Stream of Consciousness being the contemplative lengthy instrumental in the vein of Orion.

Offline ReaPsTA

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #118 on: May 18, 2021, 01:17:53 AM »
I&W obviously most commercially successful

IMO I&W + Awake were artistic height

But SFaM - 8vm was where the band cemented their legacy.
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Offline Wim Kruithof

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #119 on: June 07, 2021, 01:04:05 AM »
Being a Metallican growing up, I didínt know Dream Theater until a couple of years ago. Therefore, memorizing album releases related to your own history is remarkable short for me. Althought I dived in a lot, red Lifting Shadows and listened to all albums over and over.

To me, I think when Portnoy left the band, althought the founder and one of the masterminds leaved the building, there also became more balance. Rudess filled the void (and did so with verve) and there was less arguing Ďbout lyrics and chords.

The style is still DT without a doubt, but they seemes to have reached a harmonic state of mind. Therefore, to me, ADTOE and DT12 is there best era. Breaking the Fourth Wall is a absolute masterpeace from start tot finish.

I red the book The Astonishing and that helped me a lot in appreciate the album more.

Offline Kotowboy

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #120 on: June 10, 2021, 04:02:44 AM »
Scenes - Octavarium.

Offline darkshade

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #121 on: June 11, 2021, 04:48:19 PM »
Thinking about it some moore, I think they peaked with Kevin Moore during IaW-Awake era, then peaked AGAIN with Rudess, from Scenes to Octavarium. The Moore era just happened to be their most commercially successful period, but 99-06 might be their most critically acclaimed era.

Offline Kotowboy

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #122 on: June 12, 2021, 03:35:40 PM »
I got into DT around 2006. Everything from Scenes to Octavarium just felt like magic. Like perfect music. Without doubt their best run of 4 albums.

I could never get into the first 3 albums. And they lost something on Systematic Chaos onwards which I felt they didn't get back fully until Distance Over Time.

I have High Hopes for DT15. I think it will be the form they rediscovered on Distance Over Time - but maybe even more so.

I think the Mangini era is their second best 'era' with ADTOE - D/T their 2nd best run of 4.