I went into this with very low expectations due to the departure of Mike Portnoy on drums and the fact that I found the previous two albums barely listenable. Ok so they weren’t that bad but for a band who is adept at producing phenomenal album after phenomenal album they were quite bad. I am still absorbing this new album but as it sits this is easily as good as Metropolis PT2 : Scenes from a Memory. That, from me, says a lot since it is my third favorite album after Train of Thought and Octavarium.
Let me start by saying Mike Mangini did more than deliver he brought it in your house and set it up for you, even gave you a quick training session. I am impressed, I have heard of him in the past but it was hard for me to believe anyone could replace Portnoy. Rudess is in classic form on this album, never much of a complaint when it comes to his performance on the keys after all he is the modern day Rick Wakeman. Petrucci, Myung and LaBrie all bring it together to reseal the void that seemed to be quite apparent in the last two albums.
On the Backs of Angels is the first track and is a perfect example of why these guys are some of the best progressive rock musicians in the world. It has a great mix of well paced guitar and drums, the keyboards are a bit more lively but appropriate.
Build me up, Break me Down is the second track and is a standard sounding DT piece throughout the chorus but the verses are sung by LaBrie through a filter of some sort and it transforms in to an early 2000′s heavy metal track with an almost Disturbed sound to it.
Lost Not Forgotten starts with a piano solo develops into a ten minute long excursion of this joyous genre that is called progressive rock.
This is the Life is a standard ballad style DT song, nothing real impressive here but a good listen for sure.
Bridges in the Sky is one of my favorite songs on the album. We start out with some guttural chanting that transitions to chanting you might hear in a church. Then it’s on with the guitar and complimentary drumming and keys that have always kept DT in a league of their own. (Mike Mangini is a beast) I absolutely recommend you give this song a listen it is epic. Yes I did just say EPIC!
Outcry the song that takes up track 6 and possibly ranks #1 in my heart. This is an 11+ minute song that really puts on display that these guys have not lost their touch in over 20 years of making music. I am not even going to try and describe this song just go listen to it.
Far from Heaven is another ballady type of song and my least favorite on the album. Not much to be said except LaBrie’s vocals are very good on it.
Breaking All Illusions is the longest song on the album at 12:26 and is a decent song until about ten minutes in where it becomes freaking incredible. That crescendo to finale part of any prog song worth its salt is what I live for when I listen to it (that and abrupt changes in pacing).
Beneath the Surface is the final track and is another ballad but a good song, solid acoustic guitar and vocals. I rather like the lyrics to this song reminds me of crappy women……..anyway.
My conclusion is that if you are a fan of music you should pick this up, if you are a long time DT fan who is bitter about their last two albums pick this up you won’t be disappointed. I sure wasn’t.
You go here you buy,