Author Topic: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?  (Read 4567 times)

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Offline Elite

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #70 on: April 26, 2021, 11:38:29 AM »
How the heck is ITNOG a "bad songwriting choice"?

Because the entire middle section is completely detached from everything that came before and comes afterwards.
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Offline HOF

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #71 on: April 26, 2021, 12:31:31 PM »
How the heck is ITNOG a "bad songwriting choice"?

Because the entire middle section is completely detached from everything that came before and comes afterwards.

Without claiming it’s good or bad songwriting, I’ll just note that a large number of DT songs have a middle section that is totally detached from what comes before or after.

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #72 on: April 26, 2021, 12:42:52 PM »
And while that may have been what brought me into prog, it's also what puts me off nowadays..

There's a big difference between the middle section in Metropolis, which is all kinds of awesome, and the one in (since we're using this song as an example) ITNOG, where it's a massive solo-trade-off-wankfest that doesn't go anywhere.
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Offline HOF

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #73 on: April 26, 2021, 01:38:47 PM »
And while that may have been what brought me into prog, it's also what puts me off nowadays..

There's a big difference between the middle section in Metropolis, which is all kinds of awesome, and the one in (since we're using this song as an example) ITNOG, where it's a massive solo-trade-off-wankfest that doesn't go anywhere.

I agree there is a line between something awesome and something that is wankery, and yeah, a lot of it comes down to how interesting the instrumental passage is structurally and melodically and whether it seems to build towards something meaningful in terms of conveying the ideas in the song. The prog songs that do that well are magnificent. But it can all go off the rails if you aren’t careful. I do think one of the things DT fell into after Jordan joined the band was wanting to “push the envelope” instrumentally and do bigger and faster and heavier and crazier instrumental passages. ITNOG is maybe a good example of pushing that too far. As I mentioned in the LTE thread recently, I think that sort of thing works better in an instrumental context (like LTE) than when you try to shoehorn it into a song with lyrics.

Offline pg1067

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #74 on: April 26, 2021, 01:41:35 PM »
Without claiming it’s good or bad songwriting, I’ll just note that a large number of DT songs have a middle section that is totally detached from what comes before or after.

Exactly.


There's a big difference between the middle section in Metropolis, which is all kinds of awesome, and the one in (since we're using this song as an example) ITNOG, where it's a massive solo-trade-off-wankfest that doesn't go anywhere.

Well...I like one more than the other, but I don't really see any appreciable structural difference or any sort of difference in the songwriting approach.
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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 #75 on: April 26, 2021, 02:07:24 PM »
There's a lot of truth to this, with Octavarium being the last gasp of the old DT.

Also, all the Mangini albums have the 'issues' you describe.

Two things I don't get with this. One being that Octavarium probably has less in common with their 90s era (other than FII maybe) than their non-TA MM era albums. It's also part of their attempts to modernise, given how the album tries to strike a similar tone to a lot of contemporary alternative rock/metal. How would These Walls, practically a 7 minute Linkin Park song, be at home on Images, Awake or Scenes? Another thing is that, whatver one may think of the quality, the MM era reversed a lot of the trends that people tended to not like about the first two Roadrunner albums. Sure, they're still pretty heavy generally but the nature of that heaviness is different and the vocal character is much more melodic than gritty. The influences are also generally much more closer to the band's roots, with the distinctly Rush esque sound of the self titled being a pretty stark example, with stuff like The Enemy Inside being more of an exception than the rule.

To me, "old DT" is pre-SC, so 8vm is musically closer to Six Degrees than anything that came after it, despite the 'influences on their sleeve' becoming more noticeable here. The big difference with post-8vm DT is the reliance to fall back on their metal leanings, which did NOT go away when MP left. It's all over the Mangini albums. They used to have a better balance between the different styles they bring to the table. I thought Black Clouds was moving in the right direction and that was the closest to the old style over the last 6 albums, especially the last 2 songs. Now, their sound is overly metal with 'arena rock' choruses (for lack of a better term) + a host of other things thrown into the mix, minus a few lighter tunes they've made since.

The structure of their songs is also generally samey as well which is unfortunate but predictable with a band as old as they are who haven't tried to shake things up in that department in over 15 years. Most songs have the same general pop format of intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, solo section, chorus, outro, but with Dream Theater acrobatics of course; JP overpowering Myung Man with one note riffs on top of Mangini's computer drumming and JR playing dark epic chords in choir setting when he's not playing sad piano or Continuum wackanoodles, all while JLB, drenched in effects now, hits notes he can't reproduce regularly in single takes, nor is singing any melody that is memorable with any regularity. JR's solo albums and JP's solo album + their LTE3 performances show me they still have the capabilities to make more original music, but for some reason I feel like they've put on these self-imposed rules of what sounds like DT and what doesn't, even if they're doing a 2 and a half hour Disney spin off to claim that they're "mixing things up". I think they need a producer or something. This is why I said Octavarium was the last gasp of old DT. The album had some of these structure problems I mentioned, but the songs themselves were diverse in sound, and the title track has a vast structure, even if it's one big crescendo with a climax.

I always thought DT would never fall into mediocrity in their later years, like so many bands of the past (all of them?) have, and thought they'd either know when to quit or keep new releases more spaced out. That was years before MP left. Like with Phish, while not into the new material much, I still like em and still keep up with what they're doing. Doesn't mean I can't criticize.

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #76 on: April 26, 2021, 02:10:23 PM »
As others have stated, I would also say "Score" which coincidentally aligns with when I discovered the band.

Offline lovethedrake

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #77 on: April 26, 2021, 02:26:41 PM »
There's a lot of truth to this, with Octavarium being the last gasp of the old DT.

Also, all the Mangini albums have the 'issues' you describe.

Two things I don't get with this. One being that Octavarium probably has less in common with their 90s era (other than FII maybe) than their non-TA MM era albums. It's also part of their attempts to modernise, given how the album tries to strike a similar tone to a lot of contemporary alternative rock/metal. How would These Walls, practically a 7 minute Linkin Park song, be at home on Images, Awake or Scenes? Another thing is that, whatver one may think of the quality, the MM era reversed a lot of the trends that people tended to not like about the first two Roadrunner albums. Sure, they're still pretty heavy generally but the nature of that heaviness is different and the vocal character is much more melodic than gritty. The influences are also generally much more closer to the band's roots, with the distinctly Rush esque sound of the self titled being a pretty stark example, with stuff like The Enemy Inside being more of an exception than the rule.

To me, "old DT" is pre-SC, so 8vm is musically closer to Six Degrees than anything that came after it, despite the 'influences on their sleeve' becoming more noticeable here. The big difference with post-8vm DT is the reliance to fall back on their metal leanings, which did NOT go away when MP left. It's all over the Mangini albums. They used to have a better balance between the different styles they bring to the table. I thought Black Clouds was moving in the right direction and that was the closest to the old style over the last 6 albums, especially the last 2 songs. Now, their sound is overly metal with 'arena rock' choruses (for lack of a better term) + a host of other things thrown into the mix, minus a few lighter tunes they've made since.

The structure of their songs is also generally samey as well which is unfortunate but predictable with a band as old as they are who haven't tried to shake things up in that department in over 15 years. Most songs have the same general pop format of intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, solo section, chorus, outro, but with Dream Theater acrobatics of course; JP overpowering Myung Man with one note riffs on top of Mangini's computer drumming and JR playing dark epic chords in choir setting when he's not playing sad piano or Continuum wackanoodles, all while JLB, drenched in effects now, hits notes he can't reproduce regularly in single takes, nor is singing any melody that is memorable with any regularity. JR's solo albums and JP's solo album + their LTE3 performances show me they still have the capabilities to make more original music, but for some reason I feel like they've put on these self-imposed rules of what sounds like DT and what doesn't, even if they're doing a 2 and a half hour Disney spin off to claim that they're "mixing things up". I think they need a producer or something. This is why I said Octavarium was the last gasp of old DT. The album had some of these structure problems I mentioned, but the songs themselves were diverse in sound, and the title track has a vast structure, even if it's one big crescendo with a climax.

I always thought DT would never fall into mediocrity in their later years, like so many bands of the past (all of them?) have, and thought they'd either know when to quit or keep new releases more spaced out. That was years before MP left. Like with Phish, while not into the new material much, I still like em and still keep up with what they're doing. Doesn't mean I can't criticize.


Octavarium sounded to me like a band that had “made it” and just wanted to try to make more money.  They threw the fans a bone with the title track (which was still uninspiring melodically) and hammed in the rest of the album.  I just don’t understand how somebody can call that album inspired and DOT or the astonishing mediocre and uninspired.

We’re all entitled to our own opinions but to me octavarium was an attempt to go mainstream and not make a great cohesive album.

Also... DT self titled is way less metal and modern sounding than any post SDOIT portnoy album outside of the enemy inside.

The astonishing has no metal and although DOT has some metal aspects, it’s got very warm production and James sings more like his 90’s self than trying to sound like Hetfield the whole album.


Offline gzarruk

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #78 on: April 26, 2021, 03:51:32 PM »
Octavarium sounded to me like a band that had “made it” and just wanted to try to make more money.  They threw the fans a bone with the title track (which was still uninspiring melodically) and hammed in the rest of the album.  I just don’t understand how somebody can call that album inspired and DOT or the astonishing mediocre and uninspired.

We’re all entitled to our own opinions but to me octavarium was an attempt to go mainstream and not make a great cohesive album.

Also... DT self titled is way less metal and modern sounding than any post SDOIT portnoy album outside of the enemy inside.

The astonishing has no metal and although DOT has some metal aspects, it’s got very warm production and James sings more like his 90’s self than trying to sound like Hetfield the whole album.

Preach.
It sounds like, "ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk." Instead of the more pleasing kick drum sound of, "gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk."

Offline Enigmachine

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #79 on: April 26, 2021, 03:58:48 PM »
To me, "old DT" is pre-SC, so 8vm is musically closer to Six Degrees than anything that came after it, despite the 'influences on their sleeve' becoming more noticeable here.

Okay I really don't see this. If anything, with the more streamlined song structures and emphasis on lighter textures, it's probably as close to The Astonishing as it is to Six Degrees. The idea that all the pre-SC albums can be grouped together as a unit of "old DT" just feels really bizarre. Images and Words sounds hardly like Falling Into Infinity, Which sounds hardly like Train of Thought, which sounds hardly like When Dream and Day Unite. I don't think Distance Over Time is that much like A Dramatic Turn of Events either, so I think it's fair to say that the trend has continued.

The big difference with post-8vm DT is the reliance to fall back on their metal leanings, which did NOT go away when MP left. It's all over the Mangini albums. They used to have a better balance between the different styles they bring to the table. I thought Black Clouds was moving in the right direction and that was the closest to the old style over the last 6 albums, especially the last 2 songs. Now, their sound is overly metal with 'arena rock' choruses (for lack of a better term) + a host of other things thrown into the mix, minus a few lighter tunes they've made since.

For one, I honestly feel like it's overstated how much emphasis Roadrunner DT puts on metal. Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds and Silver Linings are both very dynamic albums that, sure, have a lot of metal, but they also have The Best of Times, Repentence, the intro and second half of The Count of Tuscany, the mid-section of A Nightmare to Remember, most of The Ministry of Lost Souls and so on. They might be heavier than your average Dream Theater album, but honestly that's just down to the extremes being more intense. The reason for which is probably just because more extreme metal was beginning to take hold in the mainstream a bit more. They fall back on their metal leanings (which I think is a bit of a strange thing to say, given that Dream Theater have always defined themselves as a progressive metal band, it's been the core of their sound since day one) about as much as Awake and WDaDU and much less so than Train of Thought.

With post-MP DT, it's mostly the same story, except all but D/T are arguably less heavy than Six Degrees too. The main difference I noticed from MP to MM era is that, while there aren't necessarily way more softer songs, they have more sonically louder yet dynamic tracks where they still aren't in-your-face heavy (think Breaking All Illusions, Surrender to Reason, The Gift of Music or Barstool Warrior). Even when they do go heavier too, it's generally tempered with keyboard textures or melodic vocals that add a different dimension to the music rather than pure aggression. There's not much like A Rite of Passage, Constant Motion or The Dark Eternal Night on the 4 MM era albums. There are exceptions (like the 2nd verse of AWE or first verse of IT), but... well, they're exceptions and at that point they provide a welcome burst of energy.

Also, if you take issue with arena rock choruses... Octavarium might have quite a few of those, depending on how you'd define them.

The structure of their songs is also generally samey as well which is unfortunate but predictable with a band as old as they are who haven't tried to shake things up in that department in over 15 years. Most songs have the same general pop format of intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, solo section, chorus, outro, but with Dream Theater acrobatics of course;

They've... always had this formula though, at least to some degree. "intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, solo section, chorus, outro" is Pull Me Under, Misunderstood, Under a Glass Moon, Caught in a Web, Afterlife, Voices, Beyond This Life and so on. That's just common structure and it's always been the structure of the majority of DT songs, doesn't mean you can't do a lot with it, as the variety in those tracks shows. Ironically the majority of The Astonishing probably deviates from that and yet you don't seem to like it, while Octavarium is practically fully immersed in that formula other than maybe the last two.

JP overpowering Myung Man with one note riffs on top of Mangini's computer drumming and JR playing dark epic chords in choir setting when he's not playing sad piano or Continuum wackanoodles, all while JLB, drenched in effects now, hits notes he can't reproduce regularly in single takes, nor is singing any melody that is memorable with any regularity.

Well the memorability thing is rather subjective, given that when I listen to any DT album other than maybe the debut, I tend to get like half of it stuck in my head, the newer material is very much included. "Computer drumming" is more down to a jab at the production than the player, which, fair enough I guess, even though it doesn't pertain directly to the music. The point about James hitting notes he can't reproduce regularly in single takes... is just incorrect, given the live albums that have been released in the last decade or so. Possible fixing here and there aside, he's doing pretty good for his age. The keyboard point could honestly be applied to any of their keyboardists, it's not like Kevin Moore had immense sonic range and Derek sure didn't, they just drew from a different (and usually smaller than JR) set of sounds. It also, again, wasn't any less the case on an album like Octavarium or even Scenes from a Memory. The funny thing about Myung too is that he was arguably more present on ADToE, DT12 and D/T than anything else since Six Degrees. I'm not even sure what you're referring to when you say one note riffs (A Fortune in Lies, Metropolis, The Mirror, Fatal Tragedy, The Glass Prison having actual one note riffs once again showing this is nothing new) because if there's anything to knock about modern DT, it probably isn't the guitar riffs.

JR's solo albums and JP's solo album + their LTE3 performances show me they still have the capabilities to make more original music, but for some reason I feel like they've put on these self-imposed rules of what sounds like DT and what doesn't, even if they're doing a 2 and a half hour Disney spin off to claim that they're "mixing things up". I think they need a producer or something. This is why I said Octavarium was the last gasp of old DT. The album had some of these structure problems I mentioned, but the songs themselves were diverse in sound, and the title track has a vast structure, even if it's one big crescendo with a climax.

This feels like cognitive dissonance. How exactly is TA not mixing things up? It's not just a new kind of album for DT, but many songs do indeed have styles not seen before or since by them. Not to mention, most instances of them having external producers has been met with negative attention from both the band and the fans, so I highly doubt that's an avenue they want to be heading any time soon. I'm also curious how LTE3 shows their capacity for original music, given that much of it is pretty much in the spirit of late Portnoy era DT to the point of almost direct quotation. I like the album, but I really don't think it breaks any new ground. As for Octavarium, it may be varied but again, so is TA, probably moreso. I also struggle to think of two songs within the recent albums that are closely alike (well, maybe other than TA by virtue of it having so many songs), so it's not like they've gone musically monochrome. The point about the title track's vast structure could also be extended to Illumination Theory, Breaking All Illusions or even something like Outcry too.

I always thought DT would never fall into mediocrity in their later years, like so many bands of the past (all of them?) have, and thought they'd either know when to quit or keep new releases more spaced out. That was years before MP left. Like with Phish, while not into the new material much, I still like em and still keep up with what they're doing. Doesn't mean I can't criticize.

It's not that I think you can't criticise and you're perfectly welcome to not like new DT, it's just that a lot of the criticisms leave me a bit confused due to what I see as inconsistencies.

Offline darkshade

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #80 on: April 26, 2021, 04:45:45 PM »
Keep in mind everything was a generalization. There are a few songs from the Mangini era I like. Each album has had at least one song I can honestly call a good song, despite the criticisms.

The main issue is the band's sound slowly stopped progressing some time between Train of Thought and Systematic Chaos, and they've just been running with that since, obviously with some tweaks here and there, and a change in drummers. It's all felt like DT by numbers, especially once MM joined. The Astonishing, while a different concept, was musically not far off from the previous album, just presented in a different context. The actual sound of the band is the same, same with DoT. I'm not talking production either, just the general vibe of the band. There is small changes but when I look at the totality of their albums, it's the first 8, which to me, each have their own identity; then the next 6*, which have different production values to tell them apart, but all sound like they come from the same pool of ideas every few years, and it comes off like pumping out another unit off the assembly line to me, with different color ties and bows to make it look different.

*SC sounds different than before but this has been the standard since, minus MP on drums. BC&SL they were already bringing back the major key stuff and the like.

Offline darkshade

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #81 on: April 26, 2021, 04:52:19 PM »
We’re all entitled to our own opinions but to me octavarium was an attempt to go mainstream and not make a great cohesive album.

Also... DT self titled is way less metal and modern sounding than any post SDOIT portnoy album outside of the enemy inside.

The only thing is, from what I recall, Octavarium had no singles, (Panic Attack was a guitar hero or rock band single years later) and it was the last album under their record label at the time and it got little promotion. I think it was more that they wanted to do something that was the polar opposite of Train of Thought, which in my opinion they succeeded. To me, 8vm was the last album where they were a prog-metal band, instead of a metal band that plays prog. DT12 is certainly more metal than any of the first 8 Portnoy albums, except ToT of course.

Online Dedalus

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #82 on: April 26, 2021, 05:09:34 PM »
To me, "old DT" is pre-SC, so 8vm is musically closer to Six Degrees than anything that came after it, despite the 'influences on their sleeve' becoming more noticeable here.

Okay I really don't see this. If anything, with the more streamlined song structures and emphasis on lighter textures, it's probably as close to The Astonishing as it is to Six Degrees. The idea that all the pre-SC albums can be grouped together as a unit of "old DT" just feels really bizarre. Images and Words sounds hardly like Falling Into Infinity, Which sounds hardly like Train of Thought, which sounds hardly like When Dream and Day Unite. I don't think Distance Over Time is that much like A Dramatic Turn of Events either, so I think it's fair to say that the trend has continued.

The big difference with post-8vm DT is the reliance to fall back on their metal leanings, which did NOT go away when MP left. It's all over the Mangini albums. They used to have a better balance between the different styles they bring to the table. I thought Black Clouds was moving in the right direction and that was the closest to the old style over the last 6 albums, especially the last 2 songs. Now, their sound is overly metal with 'arena rock' choruses (for lack of a better term) + a host of other things thrown into the mix, minus a few lighter tunes they've made since.

For one, I honestly feel like it's overstated how much emphasis Roadrunner DT puts on metal. Systematic Chaos and Black Clouds and Silver Linings are both very dynamic albums that, sure, have a lot of metal, but they also have The Best of Times, Repentence, the intro and second half of The Count of Tuscany, the mid-section of A Nightmare to Remember, most of The Ministry of Lost Souls and so on. They might be heavier than your average Dream Theater album, but honestly that's just down to the extremes being more intense. The reason for which is probably just because more extreme metal was beginning to take hold in the mainstream a bit more. They fall back on their metal leanings (which I think is a bit of a strange thing to say, given that Dream Theater have always defined themselves as a progressive metal band, it's been the core of their sound since day one) about as much as Awake and WDaDU and much less so than Train of Thought.

With post-MP DT, it's mostly the same story, except all but D/T are arguably less heavy than Six Degrees too. The main difference I noticed from MP to MM era is that, while there aren't necessarily way more softer songs, they have more sonically louder yet dynamic tracks where they still aren't in-your-face heavy (think Breaking All Illusions, Surrender to Reason, The Gift of Music or Barstool Warrior). Even when they do go heavier too, it's generally tempered with keyboard textures or melodic vocals that add a different dimension to the music rather than pure aggression. There's not much like A Rite of Passage, Constant Motion or The Dark Eternal Night on the 4 MM era albums. There are exceptions (like the 2nd verse of AWE or first verse of IT), but... well, they're exceptions and at that point they provide a welcome burst of energy.

Also, if you take issue with arena rock choruses... Octavarium might have quite a few of those, depending on how you'd define them.

The structure of their songs is also generally samey as well which is unfortunate but predictable with a band as old as they are who haven't tried to shake things up in that department in over 15 years. Most songs have the same general pop format of intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, solo section, chorus, outro, but with Dream Theater acrobatics of course;

They've... always had this formula though, at least to some degree. "intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, solo section, chorus, outro" is Pull Me Under, Misunderstood, Under a Glass Moon, Caught in a Web, Afterlife, Voices, Beyond This Life and so on. That's just common structure and it's always been the structure of the majority of DT songs, doesn't mean you can't do a lot with it, as the variety in those tracks shows. Ironically the majority of The Astonishing probably deviates from that and yet you don't seem to like it, while Octavarium is practically fully immersed in that formula other than maybe the last two.

JP overpowering Myung Man with one note riffs on top of Mangini's computer drumming and JR playing dark epic chords in choir setting when he's not playing sad piano or Continuum wackanoodles, all while JLB, drenched in effects now, hits notes he can't reproduce regularly in single takes, nor is singing any melody that is memorable with any regularity.

Well the memorability thing is rather subjective, given that when I listen to any DT album other than maybe the debut, I tend to get like half of it stuck in my head, the newer material is very much included. "Computer drumming" is more down to a jab at the production than the player, which, fair enough I guess, even though it doesn't pertain directly to the music. The point about James hitting notes he can't reproduce regularly in single takes... is just incorrect, given the live albums that have been released in the last decade or so. Possible fixing here and there aside, he's doing pretty good for his age. The keyboard point could honestly be applied to any of their keyboardists, it's not like Kevin Moore had immense sonic range and Derek sure didn't, they just drew from a different (and usually smaller than JR) set of sounds. It also, again, wasn't any less the case on an album like Octavarium or even Scenes from a Memory. The funny thing about Myung too is that he was arguably more present on ADToE, DT12 and D/T than anything else since Six Degrees. I'm not even sure what you're referring to when you say one note riffs (A Fortune in Lies, Metropolis, The Mirror, Fatal Tragedy, The Glass Prison having actual one note riffs once again showing this is nothing new) because if there's anything to knock about modern DT, it probably isn't the guitar riffs.

JR's solo albums and JP's solo album + their LTE3 performances show me they still have the capabilities to make more original music, but for some reason I feel like they've put on these self-imposed rules of what sounds like DT and what doesn't, even if they're doing a 2 and a half hour Disney spin off to claim that they're "mixing things up". I think they need a producer or something. This is why I said Octavarium was the last gasp of old DT. The album had some of these structure problems I mentioned, but the songs themselves were diverse in sound, and the title track has a vast structure, even if it's one big crescendo with a climax.

This feels like cognitive dissonance. How exactly is TA not mixing things up? It's not just a new kind of album for DT, but many songs do indeed have styles not seen before or since by them. Not to mention, most instances of them having external producers has been met with negative attention from both the band and the fans, so I highly doubt that's an avenue they want to be heading any time soon. I'm also curious how LTE3 shows their capacity for original music, given that much of it is pretty much in the spirit of late Portnoy era DT to the point of almost direct quotation. I like the album, but I really don't think it breaks any new ground. As for Octavarium, it may be varied but again, so is TA, probably moreso. I also struggle to think of two songs within the recent albums that are closely alike (well, maybe other than TA by virtue of it having so many songs), so it's not like they've gone musically monochrome. The point about the title track's vast structure could also be extended to Illumination Theory, Breaking All Illusions or even something like Outcry too.

I always thought DT would never fall into mediocrity in their later years, like so many bands of the past (all of them?) have, and thought they'd either know when to quit or keep new releases more spaced out. That was years before MP left. Like with Phish, while not into the new material much, I still like em and still keep up with what they're doing. Doesn't mean I can't criticize.

It's not that I think you can't criticise and you're perfectly welcome to not like new DT, it's just that a lot of the criticisms leave me a bit confused due to what I see as inconsistencies.

:clap: :clap: :clap:

Offline Ben_Jamin

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #83 on: April 26, 2021, 06:22:58 PM »
There's a lot of truth to this, with Octavarium being the last gasp of the old DT.

Also, all the Mangini albums have the 'issues' you describe.

Two things I don't get with this. One being that Octavarium probably has less in common with their 90s era (other than FII maybe) than their non-TA MM era albums. It's also part of their attempts to modernise, given how the album tries to strike a similar tone to a lot of contemporary alternative rock/metal. How would These Walls, practically a 7 minute Linkin Park song, be at home on Images, Awake or Scenes? Another thing is that, whatver one may think of the quality, the MM era reversed a lot of the trends that people tended to not like about the first two Roadrunner albums. Sure, they're still pretty heavy generally but the nature of that heaviness is different and the vocal character is much more melodic than gritty. The influences are also generally much more closer to the band's roots, with the distinctly Rush esque sound of the self titled being a pretty stark example, with stuff like The Enemy Inside being more of an exception than the rule.

To me, "old DT" is pre-SC, so 8vm is musically closer to Six Degrees than anything that came after it, despite the 'influences on their sleeve' becoming more noticeable here. The big difference with post-8vm DT is the reliance to fall back on their metal leanings, which did NOT go away when MP left. It's all over the Mangini albums. They used to have a better balance between the different styles they bring to the table. I thought Black Clouds was moving in the right direction and that was the closest to the old style over the last 6 albums, especially the last 2 songs. Now, their sound is overly metal with 'arena rock' choruses (for lack of a better term) + a host of other things thrown into the mix, minus a few lighter tunes they've made since.

The structure of their songs is also generally samey as well which is unfortunate but predictable with a band as old as they are who haven't tried to shake things up in that department in over 15 years. Most songs have the same general pop format of intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, solo section, chorus, outro, but with Dream Theater acrobatics of course; JP overpowering Myung Man with one note riffs on top of Mangini's computer drumming and JR playing dark epic chords in choir setting when he's not playing sad piano or Continuum wackanoodles, all while JLB, drenched in effects now, hits notes he can't reproduce regularly in single takes, nor is singing any melody that is memorable with any regularity. JR's solo albums and JP's solo album + their LTE3 performances show me they still have the capabilities to make more original music, but for some reason I feel like they've put on these self-imposed rules of what sounds like DT and what doesn't, even if they're doing a 2 and a half hour Disney spin off to claim that they're "mixing things up". I think they need a producer or something. This is why I said Octavarium was the last gasp of old DT. The album had some of these structure problems I mentioned, but the songs themselves were diverse in sound, and the title track has a vast structure, even if it's one big crescendo with a climax.

I always thought DT would never fall into mediocrity in their later years, like so many bands of the past (all of them?) have, and thought they'd either know when to quit or keep new releases more spaced out. That was years before MP left. Like with Phish, while not into the new material much, I still like em and still keep up with what they're doing. Doesn't mean I can't criticize.

I actually think they went into Mediocrity with Systematic Chaos. When they signed with Roadrunner and started making Music Videos again.


For me, Their peak was 6DOIT.

Then they decided to just go full on Metal with Train of Thought, and that is the album where they really incorporated the LTE style Instrumentals and solos. And also, incorporated it live by extending Beyond This Life with a jam, and actually releasing Instrumedly that had LTE songs within it.

The sound and style of ToT, made the guys (mainly MP) want to make the next album more in the proggier/pop, light, and warm, style and sound of album. Kind of like making the parallel album to what ToT is, the dark, Metal, cold, style and sound. And we ended up with Octavarium, which I do enjoy because of the theme of the musical octave, and the title track including those passages from the other songs, each going down that octave, and this isn't including the incorporation of the "Nuggets"...Also for it being the end of the Meta-Album run, which makes Octavariums ending hit even more harder, because the link between the albums ends, and just repeats being trapped inside the Octavarium.

Systematic Chaos, is where the band had no idea of what they wanted it to be, and being not on a label, and free of their last record contract, were able to basically, do whatever. Something, I think they haven't had since When Dream and Day Unite, and it kind of feels like this. Even the sound of it, but with better production.  I do not mind the songs on this album, but it's where I feel the band began showing a bit of a rut. Where they started doing the usual, Verse-Chorus type of structure with the usual Keyboard/Guitar back and forth solos, which is why I don't really enjoy Constant Motion as much, even though that guitar solo bend is awesome, and the energy of the song is great live. I actually enjoy what they did with Prophets of War, and I even don't mind the lyrics, but the energy of the song doesn't translate that well live, that is from the live videos I could find of it, and MP not doing those vocals live ruins that energy for me.

Black Clouds and Silver Linings, I feel was sort of a step in the right direction, but then you have songs that feel like they had to make singles. A Rite of Passage and Wither. The real meat is in the longer length songs. Each of those songs has sections that really elevate them. The Count of Tuscany, even though it has some cheesy lyrics, has some amazing music behind it. The ending is really beautiful, and the lyrics there fit really well, and having a sing-along ending even enhances it even more, if people actually sing along live that is...

This is why to me, the band peaked at 6DOIT, and finally came back slowly with ADTOE, and coming pretty close to it with D/T. We'll see how this new album sounds, and based off of their interviews, It may possibly hit that same high.
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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 #84 on: April 27, 2021, 02:51:41 AM »
I do agree with the idea that the reason that Octavarium was the way it was wasn't because of a desire to go mainstream, they already knew that the label wouldn't be having anything to do with that.

Keep in mind everything was a generalization. There are a few songs from the Mangini era I like. Each album has had at least one song I can honestly call a good song, despite the criticisms.

The main issue is the band's sound slowly stopped progressing some time between Train of Thought and Systematic Chaos, and they've just been running with that since, obviously with some tweaks here and there, and a change in drummers. It's all felt like DT by numbers, especially once MM joined. The Astonishing, while a different concept, was musically not far off from the previous album, just presented in a different context. The actual sound of the band is the same, same with DoT. I'm not talking production either, just the general vibe of the band. There is small changes but when I look at the totality of their albums, it's the first 8, which to me, each have their own identity; then the next 6*, which have different production values to tell them apart, but all sound like they come from the same pool of ideas every few years, and it comes off like pumping out another unit off the assembly line to me, with different color ties and bows to make it look different.

*SC sounds different than before but this has been the standard since, minus MP on drums. BC&SL they were already bringing back the major key stuff and the like.

Well again, bit of a contradction given that you say that SC has been the standard since, yet BC&SL was already a break from that. I don't know, can you really say that DT12 is that close to SC or that ADToE wasn't a significant shift from BC&SL? Like, it's an entirely different energy on there. Along for the Ride, The Bigger Picture, The Looking Glass, Surrender to Reason would all sound completely out of place. If you don't think TA is a huge deviation from their usual sound then I kind of don't know what to tell you. Brother Can You Hear Me, A Life Left Behind, Three Days, Chosen, Lord Nafaryus, Hymn of a Thousand Voices... do not sound like DT12, it just doesn't have that same overwhelming Broadway/musical influence. That's not really me cherrypicking either, because I'm struggling to think of what songs would fit, because even Moment of Betrayal, which has a relatively similar structure to something like The Enemy Inside, does something distinctly different with that structure. Even a track like A Better Life which has a bit of guitar chunk in the verses, it has much more of an operatic Savatage vibe than it does the Rush inspired prog metal of DT12. Even with D/T, Room 137 is kind of a new beast even if it's still metal, S2N's grooves would absolutely not fit on any prior album and Pale Blue Dot's dark spacey grandeur doesn't really have a parallel. I mean, if the albums didn't sound so musically far apart at times, then people probably wouldn't rank them so drastically different sometimes.

The only thing is, from what I recall, Octavarium had no singles, (Panic Attack was a guitar hero or rock band single years later) and it was the last album under their record label at the time and it got little promotion. I think it was more that they wanted to do something that was the polar opposite of Train of Thought, which in my opinion they succeeded. To me, 8vm was the last album where they were a prog-metal band, instead of a metal band that plays prog. DT12 is certainly more metal than any of the first 8 Portnoy albums, except ToT of course.

I don't think DT12 is heavier than Awake or Six Degrees. It's loud, but comparatively rarely aggressive. It has False Awakening Suite, The Enemy Inside, Enigma Machine, Behind the Veil (other than the intro) and parts 2 and 4 of Illumination Theory but the rest of the album is pretty tame in that regard. Even then, nothing consistently has the sheer grit of The Mirror, Lie, Caught in a Web, The Glass Prison or War Inside My Head. Hell, even WDaDU is probably about level with it, given tracks like Afterlife, Light Fuse and Get Away and A Fortune in Lies, the production being the only thing holding it back from sounding as punchy as it could've. The distinction between prog metal and a metal band that plays prog is also strange given that... the latter is called prog metal. Progressive music has never been a genre unto itself, but more of a modifier for existing ones and given that Dream Theater's roots are the likes of Iron Maiden and Metallica alongside the more prog rock material, they've always shown that right from the start.

Offline darkshade

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #85 on: April 27, 2021, 06:36:46 AM »
I do agree with the idea that the reason that Octavarium was the way it was wasn't because of a desire to go mainstream, they already knew that the label wouldn't be having anything to do with that.

Exactly. If anything, that's what Systematic Chaos was. MP said they needed more "balls and chunk" and they were trying to be more relevant in the modern metal community.
On the contrary, Train of Thought was their take on a metal classic like Master of Puppets or Vulgar Display of Power, and 8vm was "another album by that band who had that song 'Pull Me Over' 20 years ago." not to mention the record label stuff (the same label more or less they had to deal with during FII)

Offline darkshade

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #86 on: April 27, 2021, 06:42:01 AM »

Keep in mind everything was a generalization. There are a few songs from the Mangini era I like. Each album has had at least one song I can honestly call a good song, despite the criticisms.

The main issue is the band's sound slowly stopped progressing some time between Train of Thought and Systematic Chaos, and they've just been running with that since, obviously with some tweaks here and there, and a change in drummers. It's all felt like DT by numbers, especially once MM joined. The Astonishing, while a different concept, was musically not far off from the previous album, just presented in a different context. The actual sound of the band is the same, same with DoT. I'm not talking production either, just the general vibe of the band. There is small changes but when I look at the totality of their albums, it's the first 8, which to me, each have their own identity; then the next 6*, which have different production values to tell them apart, but all sound like they come from the same pool of ideas every few years, and it comes off like pumping out another unit off the assembly line to me, with different color ties and bows to make it look different.

*SC sounds different than before but this has been the standard since, minus MP on drums. BC&SL they were already bringing back the major key stuff and the like.

Well again, bit of a contradction given that you say that SC has been the standard since, yet BC&SL was already a break from that. I don't know, can you really say that DT12 is that close to SC or that ADToE wasn't a significant shift from BC&SL? Like, it's an entirely different energy on there. Along for the Ride, The Bigger Picture, The Looking Glass, Surrender to Reason would all sound completely out of place. If you don't think TA is a huge deviation from their usual sound then I kind of don't know what to tell you. Brother Can You Hear Me, A Life Left Behind, Three Days, Chosen, Lord Nafaryus, Hymn of a Thousand Voices... do not sound like DT12, it just doesn't have that same overwhelming Broadway/musical influence. That's not really me cherrypicking either, because I'm struggling to think of what songs would fit, because even Moment of Betrayal, which has a relatively similar structure to something like The Enemy Inside, does something distinctly different with that structure. Even a track like A Better Life which has a bit of guitar chunk in the verses, it has much more of an operatic Savatage vibe than it does the Rush inspired prog metal of DT12. Even with D/T, Room 137 is kind of a new beast even if it's still metal, S2N's grooves would absolutely not fit on any prior album and Pale Blue Dot's dark spacey grandeur doesn't really have a parallel. I mean, if the albums didn't sound so musically far apart at times, then people probably wouldn't rank them so drastically different sometimes.

I brought up BC&SL because many fans of the new stuff cite ADTOE or DT12 as to when the band "went back to their old sound or brought back the beautiful sections and stopped being super metul". SC/BC&SL began the trend of "we must have heavy/riffy songs on every album" but I'm not saying the sound of those 2 albums is completely identical to the last 4, Mangini's drums do change the sound overall, JP's rhythm tone when playing riffs is a lot different on the Mangini albums as well. Throughout the albums, there's moments where I go "that reminds me of _____ DT album" and it's almost always recent DT stuff that I'm reminded of. Even on the new LTE album there were a couple of riffs that reminded me of Systematic Chaos and ADTOE. As I said earlier, similar pool of ideas swirling around these days, with no new methods of presenting them, as there are some 'new' ideas out there among the 4 Mangini albums. The exception being TA, but that was so long-winded that sticking to what they know is at least better so many their out of ideas or MP was the guy for creative stuff like that?
« Last Edit: April 27, 2021, 06:49:05 AM by darkshade »

Offline lovethedrake

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #87 on: April 27, 2021, 07:34:25 AM »
I do agree with the idea that the reason that Octavarium was the way it was wasn't because of a desire to go mainstream, they already knew that the label wouldn't be having anything to do with that.

Exactly. If anything, that's what Systematic Chaos was. MP said they needed more "balls and chunk" and they were trying to be more relevant in the modern metal community.
On the contrary, Train of Thought was their take on a metal classic like Master of Puppets or Vulgar Display of Power, and 8vm was "another album by that band who had that song 'Pull Me Over' 20 years ago." not to mention the record label stuff (the same label more or less they had to deal with during FII)

These walls?  I walk beside you?  The answer lies within? These are not even almost proggy songs...  even the root of all evil and panic attack just sound like modern metal. 

Never enough sounds like a muse song.

Octavarium and sacrificed sons are proggy.

Maybe that’s what I mean by “going mainstream”. 

None of the bands they were emulating were prog bands in any sense of the word and since the early 70’s going away from prog generally means getting more mainstream.

Offline Enigmachine

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #88 on: April 27, 2021, 07:47:12 AM »
Exactly. If anything, that's what Systematic Chaos was. MP said they needed more "balls and chunk" and they were trying to be more relevant in the modern metal community.
On the contrary, Train of Thought was their take on a metal classic like Master of Puppets or Vulgar Display of Power, and 8vm was "another album by that band who had that song 'Pull Me Over' 20 years ago." not to mention the record label stuff (the same label more or less they had to deal with during FII)

I mean, nah. If they were able to get the label to cooperate, there probably would've been videos for a couple tracks on Octavarium which could've easily made them look like they were making a play for stardom. I think they pay attention to what the fanbase thinks, but if they wanted a quick ticket to mainstream metal relevance, there are more obvious ways to do that than SC, a pretty varied 78 minute album with pretty vast stretches of more spaced out, lighter material. Mike Portnoy did say he wanted a more modern and aggressive sound, but he also didn't write the majority of the music and didn't tell the rest of the band during the process of creating the album.

These walls?  I walk beside you?  The answer lies within? These are not even almost proggy songs...  even the root of all evil and panic attack just sound like modern metal. 

Never enough sounds like a muse song.

Octavarium and sacrificed sons are proggy.

Maybe that’s what I mean by “going mainstream”. 

None of the bands they were emulating were prog bands in any sense of the word and since the early 70’s going away from prog generally means getting more mainstream.

Yeah, I do think that's fair. Stylistically, Octavarium is probably one of their least musically progressive efforts, arguably in both senses of the word. The material is largely very streamlined and is highly derivative of other bands.


I brought up BC&SL because many fans of the new stuff cite ADTOE or DT12 as to when the band "went back to their old sound or brought back the beautiful sections and stopped being super metul". SC/BC&SL began the trend of "we must have heavy/riffy songs on every album" but I'm not saying the sound of those 2 albums is completely identical to the last 4, Mangini's drums do change the sound overall, JP's rhythm tone when playing riffs is a lot different on the Mangini albums as well. Throughout the albums, there's moments where I go "that reminds me of _____ DT album" and it's almost always recent DT stuff that I'm reminded of. Even on the new LTE album there were a couple of riffs that reminded me of Systematic Chaos and ADTOE. As I said earlier, similar pool of ideas swirling around these days, with no new methods of presenting them, as there are some 'new' ideas out there among the 4 Mangini albums. The exception being TA, but that was so long-winded that sticking to what they know is at least better so many their out of ideas or MP was the guy for creative stuff like that?

Wait... but there are heavy/riffy songs on every DT album. Octavarium has The Root of All Evil, Panic Attack and Never Enough while even Falling Into Infinity has Burning My Soul and Just Let Me Breathe. SC might have more heavier tracks but it's not like it's incessant or obligatory. Hell, there are even a decent amount of parallels between the two albums, like These Walls and Forsaken, Never Enough and Prophets of War, Panic Attack and Constant Motion, Sacrificed Sons and The Ministry of Lost Souls etc. so in a way, it's kind of like a compromise between the streamlined accessibility of Octavarium and the aggressive and complex material of Train of Thought, while also bringing some new things to the table.

With regards to newer albums reminding you of other new albums, that may very well be just because Dream Theater's stylistic shift has generally been a gradual one. Even with early albums, Innocence Faded wouldn't sound out of place on Images and Words, nor would Under a Glass Moon sound that jarring on the debut. Train of Thought models itself on the kind of reaction The Glass Prison got and the titular epic of Six Degrees feels very much in the spirit of Scenes from a Memory. I think the issue is that as new albums come out, we recognise their stylistic fingerprint more and more, so we may percieve them as being closer together than they really are.

Offline hefdaddy42

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #89 on: April 27, 2021, 10:08:42 AM »
On the contrary, Train of Thought was their take on a metal classic like Master of Puppets or Vulgar Display of Power, and 8vm was "another album by that band who had that song 'Pull Me Over' 20 years ago." not to mention the record label stuff (the same label more or less they had to deal with during FII)
Train of Thought was 95% heavy and aggressive because they had just come off the 6DOIT tour where they featured a lot of heavy and aggressive songs in the setlist, and noticed that those songs had the best crowd responses, so they wanted to make a whole album of songs like that.

They didn't have any record label issues after FII, so I'm not sure what you mean by that.  Beginning with SFAM, they self-produced, and the label basically never heard anything until the albums were done.  No influence, no meddling.
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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 #90 on: April 27, 2021, 05:58:41 PM »
On the contrary, Train of Thought was their take on a metal classic like Master of Puppets or Vulgar Display of Power, and 8vm was "another album by that band who had that song 'Pull Me Over' 20 years ago." not to mention the record label stuff (the same label more or less they had to deal with during FII)
Train of Thought was 95% heavy and aggressive because they had just come off the 6DOIT tour where they featured a lot of heavy and aggressive songs in the setlist, and noticed that those songs had the best crowd responses, so they wanted to make a whole album of songs like that.

They didn't have any record label issues after FII, so I'm not sure what you mean by that.  Beginning with SFAM, they self-produced, and the label basically never heard anything until the albums were done.  No influence, no meddling.

It was still their attempt at making a classic metal album.

As far as I recall, the label did not do much promotion for their new albums, thus why they shopped around for a new label that would, like Roadrunner. Putting out your last album with a label that tolerates you but doesn't promote your albums doesn't help your chances of being able to hit the mainstream. As I said, I don't think they were trying to do that with 8vm, merely they were trying to make an album that was the antithesis of ToT, with an epic closer because they were going to do big 20th anniversary celebrations. But after creating more metallic music for an album cycle, I think the band lost something that only Octavarium the song kept alive for one last time. The Count of Tuscany has kind of been the only thing to come close to classic DT material for me since.

Offline Enigmachine

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #91 on: April 28, 2021, 03:45:45 AM »
Maybe ADToE is getting lost in the discussion here, because the last 21 minutes or so of that album are not very metallic at all, other than pretty much just the second verse of Breaking all Illusions. On the Backs of Angels may be more metallic, but it's also very restrained and a good chunk of it is far more prog rock than prog metal, same goes for a song like Outcry, not to mention the chilled vibes of This is the Life. That really just leaves 28 minutes of consistently metal material (BMUBMD, LNF and BitS) on a 77 minute album. That's... not a ton. Even if we give the benefit of the doubt and add those two tracks to that, that's around 47 minutes and 60% of at least kind of metal material, with the rest being pretty unambigously not, barring about a minute.

By comparison, SC is around 58%, which is also not really a lot. Awake... has a whopping 71% of songs that are predominantly metal, while WDaDU has 76%. Images is a bit milder at 57% and Scenes at 54%, with Six Degrees at a surprisingly low 42% (I guess I keep remembering The Glass Prison and The Test That Stumped Them All and associate those tracks with the rest) and Octavarium at a predictably low 33%. Black Clouds would count at 74%, but I'll cheat a bit and remove half of The Count of Tuscany, considering it's such a long song and that the metal pretty much disappears after the first half unlike ITPoE and get 61%. ToT is a very predictable 95% of course, while FII is the lowest at 32%. As for the MM era:

-DT12 has 58%, again cheating a bit and taking a 5 min chunk out of Illumination Theory due to the hidden track and The Embracing Circle
-TA has 42%, which might be surprising to those who thought this was the softest DT album, but is still relatively low
-D/T has 76%, somthing which should probably surprise nobody

That means that in order of most to least metal in terms of the minute count of tracks that have it as its focus, it goes: ToT, WDaDU and D/T tied, Awake, BC&SL, ADToE, SC and DT12 tied, I&W, SfaM, SDoIT and TA tied, Octavarium and finally FII. Everything from Black Clouds to SfaM is within 7 percentage points, so that's pretty much within the normal levels. Everything Awake and above, as well as SDoIT/TA and below is really the outlier here, given that there's over a 10 point jump either way. Everything from SC to DT12 was in a pretty comfortable balance, with two extremes following that run. In conclusion I guess, it's not so much that they over rely on the metal since SC and more that they found a pleasant middle ground and mined that for a while before being a bit more daring in their focus again.

Offline darkshade

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #92 on: April 28, 2021, 06:56:16 AM »
Outcry is not prog. It's a pop structured rock anthem song with a through-composed middle section that has nothing to do with the song.

However, many of the reasons you cite is why I think ADTOE is still the best post-MP DT album. Since then it has been a case of diminishing returns.

Offline hefdaddy42

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #93 on: April 28, 2021, 07:27:30 AM »
It was still their attempt at making a classic metal album.
What do you mean, and where did you get this?  That's not what they said at the time, and I've never seen this said by them.
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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 #94 on: April 28, 2021, 07:31:30 AM »
Outcry is not prog. It's a pop structured rock anthem song with a through-composed middle section that has nothing to do with the song.

However, many of the reasons you cite is why I think ADTOE is still the best post-MP DT album. Since then it has been a case of diminishing returns.

...uh, what? Outcry does not have a pop structure just because it has verses and a chorus (the only two repetitions of which are like 5 minutes away and in a different key). Aren't through composed middle sections like... a very prog metal thing to do and pretty much disrupt the notion of it being a pop structure in and of itself (the key to pop structures being the quick gratification of hooks, mind you)? Prog metal is often about the components that make up a whole, not always the sound of one of its parts in and of itself. You've basically just said "it's not prog, apart from the explicitly prog aspect of its structure that I'm going to ignore by saying it doesn't count" which, surely you can see how that runs into a few issues. By the same token, King Crimson's Starless is just a rock ballad with an instrumental section "that has nothing to do with the song" afterwards, until the reprise at the very end. A very similar logic could be applied to something like Sacrificed Sons or Blind Faith.

Maybe it's just me as well, but doesn't having an instrumental section like that fit pretty well with the themes of revolution, like a musical display of the chaos of unrest? Thamatically, I'd say it has a lot to do with the song. But, if you're not claiming it as a prog metal track and instead as a "pop structured rock anthem song", then you ironically prove my point even more that ADToE isn't exactly overwhelmingly metal at 47% of its songs having it as its predominant feature, less than Images and Scenes.

The thing is, after ADToE you have one fairly heavy album, but not really much more than average, then one that's really not that metal at all, then one that's much heavier than average. I don't know, it sure seems like their supposed idea of "we must have heavy/riffy songs on every album" is very inconsistently applied over the years. It's not really any different to the sort of variability they had in the past in that regard, so I'm not sure this is what your issue with the newer material is.
« Last Edit: April 28, 2021, 07:45:51 AM by Enigmachine »

Offline geeeemo

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #95 on: April 28, 2021, 08:31:57 AM »
I remember James said in an interview, that Outcry is a pure prog metal song...

Offline hefdaddy42

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #96 on: April 28, 2021, 08:32:17 AM »
Outcry is not prog. It's a pop structured rock anthem song with a through-composed middle section that has nothing to do with the song.
The song was based on uprisings in Egypt and the Middle East, and the instrumental section definitely has a Middle Eastern feel, so not sure what you mean by that.

It's as prog as something like Endless Sacrifice.  Take that for what it's worth.
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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 #97 on: April 28, 2021, 09:04:29 AM »
Yeah I've got to emphasise, "Outcry is not prog" is probably one of the most bizarre DT-related takes I've ever heard. Other than Breaking All Illusions (and at a stretch... maaaybe Bridges in the Sky, but I still think Outcry has the edge in this regard), it's about as prog as it gets on the album and in the runnings for being one of the most prog DT songs of the last 10 years. Extended length, odd time signatures (even outside of the instrumental section), extremely dynamic and has a non standard structure with plenty of light and shade. Sure, it has an anthemic chorus, but there's nothing saying that a song can't be anthemic and progressive.

Offline Elite

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #98 on: April 28, 2021, 10:13:46 AM »
Outcry is not prog.

I'd argue the other way round and say that Outcry is actually the most 'progressive' song, both in structure and lyrically, that Dream Theater have done since MP left the band.
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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 #99 on: April 28, 2021, 10:22:02 AM »
It was still their attempt at making a classic metal album.
What do you mean, and where did you get this?  That's not what they said at the time, and I've never seen this said by them.

Portnoy said it back in the day. I thin ‘classic metal album’ is the exact phrase he used. Then he would reference Master of Puppets and Number of the Beast because they had just covered those. Like...that’s the kind of album they were going for.
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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 #100 on: April 28, 2021, 10:58:12 AM »
It was still their attempt at making a classic metal album.
What do you mean, and where did you get this?  That's not what they said at the time, and I've never seen this said by them.
Portnoy said it back in the day. I thin ‘classic metal album’ is the exact phrase he used. Then he would reference Master of Puppets and Number of the Beast because they had just covered those. Like...that’s the kind of album they were going for.
Correct.
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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #101 on: April 28, 2021, 12:15:19 PM »
If ToT was an attempt at making a classic metal album, then the disaster was greater than I remembered.

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #102 on: April 28, 2021, 12:16:58 PM »
Well, fine.

Do you remember the context?  Like, is that what they thought after they recorded it?  Because I distinctly remember them saying it was based on the kinds of songs they had played on the tour and the responses to them (not just the Metallica and Iron Maiden covers, they were only done once or twice).  I don't remember the intention to make a "classic metal album", so I'm just curious about the context of the comment.
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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #103 on: April 28, 2021, 01:40:55 PM »
I don't think either of you are wrong, because I don't see those as being inconsistent with one another.  I do remember Mike making that comment, and probably more than once (or it may simply have been repeated so much that it seemed so).  But I don't remember where (too long ago).  The general context was him describing the mindset when they went into the studio, which was basically, "we went into the studio wanting to make our own classic metal album, like our own Master of Puppets or [I forget what other album(s) he may have mentioned]."  That's my best paraphrase.

You may also be remembering how he put it in the liner notes for the TOT demos, where he said:  "After covering two 'classic metal' albums on the 2002 tour (Metallica's Master of Puppets and Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast), we were in the mood to try and write a similar type of album of our own."  To me, that is, again, in line with what both of you are saying.
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Offline HOF

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Re: What Era/Album do You Consider to be Dream Theater at Their Peak?
« Reply #104 on: April 28, 2021, 02:40:10 PM »
I don't think either of you are wrong, because I don't see those as being inconsistent with one another.  I do remember Mike making that comment, and probably more than once (or it may simply have been repeated so much that it seemed so).  But I don't remember where (too long ago).  The general context was him describing the mindset when they went into the studio, which as basically, "we went into the studio wanting to make our own classic metal album, like our own Master of Puppets or [I forget what other album(s) he may have mentioned."  That's my best paraphrase.

You may also be remembering how he put it in the liner notes for the TOT demos, where he said:  "After covering two 'classic metal' albums on the 2002 tour (Metallica's Master of Puppets and Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast), we were in the mood to try and write a similar type of album of our own."  To me, that is, again, in line with what both of you are saying.

Yeah, there are two senses of the word classic at play. They were inspired by those “classic metal” albums, and they wanted to create their own metal album that might be considered a metal classic someday. But clearly they were also trying to sound more like a modern metal band than just sound like Metallica or Maiden.