Dream Theater - Dream Theater (Roadrunner)

Effortless brilliance from the prog veterans...
Release Date: 
22 Sep 2013 - 11:30pm

Like a comfortable pair of old slippers, or a favourite family relative, Dream Theater will seemingly always be there for you.  So dependable you don’t always  have to take much notice of what they’re doing, safe in the knowledge that should you need to call on them they’ll deliver, they go about their progressive business impervious to modern mores and peccadilloes. You know you can leave them alone and come back in a decade and they’ll still be churning out the high quality aural schmutter come what may.

That’s pretty much what I did with this band; I was ecstatic upon hearing first album When Dream and Day Unite all the way back in 1989, and similarly please by the results on my ears provided by 1992’s Images in Words. But then I decided I’d gone as far as I could go with the band, dipping in and out of their career through the late nineties and early noughties without getting too excited – like I say, they did what they did, and did it well, but it never grabbed me. But latterly, I’ve come back to the band, interest piqued no doubt by the seemingly impossible situation of drummer Mike Portnoy’s unceremonial dismissal and an interest to see where the band would go without their publicity-hungry metronome and mouithpiece…

Which brings us to 2013 and a self-titled new album. I’m sure you can read a lot into the fact that the album is called, simply, Dream Theater. A bald statement of ‘this is who we are!’? A new, still Portnoy free band and a new, definitive beginning? We couldn’t think of a decent name this time round? A combination of all three? Possibly, but one thing stands tall amidst the wreckage of controversy and adversity, of uncertainty and strife – whoever’s behind the kit, this band is still capable of delivering the goods in fine, fine style.

Put simply, Dream Theater is a staggeringly good album, a colossal melding of all the bits you like about the band with all the flab and grandiosity (almost) eradicated in favour of simply producing the most thrilling sixty eight minutes and one second of music it’s possible for a small group of human musicians to produce. Choc full of ear-bothering melodies and heart warming musicality (the Tom Sawyer-recalling The Looking Glass and the sweepingly emotive The Bigger Picture in particular will set off your body’s swoon receptors like nobody’s business), as well as the usual bombastic, virtuosity-laden tour-de-force showpieces, DT is an absolute joy to listen to from start to finish.

You want heaviness to add a bit of ballast to the filigree? Have a listen to the superbly dramatic start of Behind the Veil, wherein guitarist John Petrucci unveils some superbly adamantine riffage before vocalist James LaBrie conjoins with his most bileful passage of delivery on the record. And then, just to remind you that they’re on top form, the band transition seamlessly into another gorgeous hook, and another bout of hair-raising excitement awaits the listener…

You don’t need me to go on. If you like anything this band has done before, you’ll love this – and if you don’t, give this a try – you might be surprised at just how good Dream Theater are when they’re in this frame of mind.