Dream Theatre
Dream Theater define progressive metal in my opinion. I can't even remember how I discovered them, but I do remember that "Images & Words" was the first disc I ever heard by them and it blew me away. Dream Theater are one of the most talented bands to come out in a long time. I sort of put them somewhere in between Metallica, Pink Floyd, and Rush; how's that for a wide variety?

Dream Theater - When Dream and Day Unite (MCA) 1989

1."A Fortune in Lies" (5:13)
2."Status Seeker" (4:18)
3."Ytse Jam" [instrumental] (5:46)
4."The Killing Hand" (8:42)
5."Light Fuse and Get Away" (7:24)
6."Afterlife" (5:27)
7."The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun" (8:05)
8."Only a Matter of Time" (6:36)

This disc was recorded with vocalist Charlie Dominici. I've heard some people claim that this disc is their best. While I would agree that it is pretty darn good, it comes no where near the brilliance, the musicianship, and the power of "Images and Words." Still, this is a great progressive metal album that will always rank at the top of it's genre.

Images and Words Dream Theater - Images and Words (Atco) 1992

1."Pull Me Under" (8:11)
2."Another Day" (4:22)
3."Take the Time" (8:21)
4."Surrounded" (5:28)
5."Metropolis - Part 1 ("The Miracle and the Sleeper")" (9:30)
6."Under a Glass Moon" (7:02)
7."Wait for Sleep" (2:31)
8."Learning to Live" (11:30)

This is simply an amazing album. It combines the best elements of commercial hooks with superior technicality and musicianship and a great production. New vocalist James LaBrie has a great range and in my opinion blows away Charlie Dominici. "Images and Words" is without a doubt one of my favorite albums of any band and the album by which all other prog-metal is measured.

Live at the Marquee Dream Theater - Live at the Marquee (Atco) 1993

1."Metropolis" (9:36)
2."A Fortune in Lies" (5:10)
3."Bombay Vindaloo" [instrumental] (6:48)
4."Surrounded" (6:00)
5."Another Hand - The Killing Hand" (10:30)
6."Pull Me Under" (8:42)

A nice live package. What makes it especially cool is that James LaBrie sings two songs from "When Day and Dream Unite" ("Fortune in Lies" and "Killing Hand") proving that he is one incredible vocalist.

Awake Dream Theater - Awake (East-West) 1994

1."6:00" (5:31)
2."Caught in a Web" (5:28)
3."Innocence Faded" (5:43)
4."Erotomania" [instrumental] (6:45)
5."Voices" (9:53)
6."The Silent Man" (3:48)
7."The Mirror" (6:45)
8."Lie" (6:34)
9."Lifting Shadows of a Dream" (6:05)
10."Scarred" (11:00)
11."Space-Dye Vest" (7:29)

Another monumental prog-metal album, although it contains so much more musical variety than just heavy metal. I don't exactly know what to say about albums that are this good, other than that if you don't already have it, you are missing out. One note though, this disc is a bit less commercial than "Images and Words" which in some people's books, makes it better.

Change of Seasons Dream Theater-A Change of Seasons (East-West) 1995

1."A Change of Seasons" (23:08)
i. The Crimson Sunrise
ii. Innocence
iii. Carpe Diem
iv. The Darkest of Winters
v. Another World
vi. The Inevitable Summer
vii. The Crimson Sunset
2."Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding"-live (10:49)
3."Perfect Strangers"-live (5:33)
4."The Rover/Achilles Last Stand/The Song Remains the Same"-live (7:28)
5."The Big Medley"-live: (10:33)
In the Flesh?
Carry On Wayward Son
Bohemian Rhapsody
Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin
Cruise Control
Turn it on Again

Song one is another state-of-the-art progressive-metal/rock song that could have easily fit on either of the last two albums. What makes this disc so cool, however, is the last four tracks which are recorded live from a gig at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London, England, where they played nothing but cover songs by some of their favorite bands. (Which also happen to be some of mine.). "Funeral" is by Elton John, "Strangers" is by Deep Purple, and "The Rover/Achilles Last Stand/The Song Remains the Same" is a Led Zeppelin medley. The "Big Medley" covers artists in this order: Pink Floyd, Kansas, Queen, Journey, Dixie Dregs, and Genesis. The one thing that does bug about this disc is that it does not include ALL the songs they played at this gig and leaves off a fantastic Yes medley that included "Machine Messiah", "Heart of the Sunrise", "Close to the Edge", "Siberian Khatru", and "Starship Trooper." What makes it even worse is that Steve Howe joined the band on stage for this jam. Argh! Perhaps someday the rest of the songs will be officially released as now they are only available as bootlegs.

Falling into Infinity Dream Theater-Falling into Infinity (East West) 1997

1."New Millennium" (8:20)
2."You Not Me" (4:58)
3."Peruvian Skies" (6:43)
4."Hollow Years" (5:53)
5."Burning My Soul" (5:29)
6."Hell's Kitchen"--instrumental (4:16)
7."Lines in the Sand" (12:05)
8."Take Away My Pain" (6:03)
9."Just Let Me Breathe" (5:28)
10."Anna Lee" (5:51)
11."Trial of Tears" (13:07)
i. It's Raining
ii. Deep in Heaven
iii. The Wasteland

Hmm, didn't like this one much. As a matter of fact, I never listen to it any more. I dunno, I just think producer Kevin Shirley was the wrong man for the job. "Trial of Tears" probably my favorite song on this disc, however, even it does not compare to "Awake" or "Images and Words."

Once in a Livetime Dream Theater-Once In a LiveTime (East West) 1998

disc one:
1."A Change of Seasons I:
The Crimson Sunrise" [instrumental] (3:56)
2."A Change of Seasons II: Innocence" (3:05)
3."Puppies on Acid" [instrumental] (1:24)
4."Just Let Me Breathe" (5:53)
5."Voices" (10:34)
6."Take the Time" (12:20)
7."Derek Sherinian Piano Solo" (1:54)
8."Lines in the Sand" (13:13)
9."Scarred" (9:27)
10."A Change of Seasons IV:
The Darkest of Winters" [instrumental] (3:17)
11."Ytse Jam"-instrumental (4:09)
12."Mike Portnoy Drum Solo" (6:59)

disc two:
1."Trial of Tears" (14:11)
2."Hollow Years" (7:01)
3."Take Away My Pain" (6:16)
4."Caught in a Web" (5:16)
5."Lie" (6:45)
6."Peruvian Skies" (7:50)
7."John Petrucci Guitar Solo" (8:06)
8."Pull Me Under" (8:15)
9."Metropolis" (6:16)
10."Learning to Live" (4:13)
11."A Change of Seasons VII:
The Crimson Sunset" (3:49)

Very cool, slickly produced live offering that samples songs from almost all of their studio albums. They also insert some parts of songs from some of their musical influences, which was surprising and very cool. "Take the Time" ends with a "Free Bird" jam (Lynyrd Skynyrd) and a bit of Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick"; "Peruvian Skies" includes brief riffs from Pink Floyd's "Have a Cigar" and Metallica's "Enter Sandman." Overall, a great album by one of the best band's to grace this planet. Truly a gift from God!

Metropolis Part II Dream Theater-Metropolis Pt.II: Scenes from a Memory (East West) 1999

1.Scene One: "Regression" (2:06)
2.Scene Two: I. "Overture 1928" [instrumental] (3:37)
3.                   II. "Strange Deja Vu" (5:12)
4.Scene Three: I. "Through My Words" (1:02)
5.                   II. "Fatal Tragedy" (6:49)
6.Scene Four: "Beyond this Life" (11:22)
7.Scene Five: "Through Her Eyes" (5:29)
8.Scene Six: "Home" (12:53)
9.Scene Seven: I. "The Dance of Eternity" [instrumental] (6:13)
10.                  II. "One Last Time" (3:46)
11.Scene Eight: "The Spirit Carries On"(6:38)
12.Scene Nine: "Finally Free" (11:59)

Dream Theatre return to doing what they do best, progressive metal infused with many different influences. I suppose that "Falling Into Infinity" was more of a mis-step than the beginning of a downward spiral. To tell you the truth, however, this album didn't jump out at me like "Images and Words." It took some time to grow on me, but grow on me it did. Simply fabulous. I'm sure in time, as it becomes more and more familiar, it will be one of my favorites. Right now, however I will just have to give it repeated listens as there is so much to digest.

Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence Dream Theater - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (Elektra) 2002

1. "The Glass Prison" (13:52)
* I. Reflection
* II. Restoration
* III. Revelation
2. "Blind Faith" (10:21)
3. "Misunderstood" (9:34)
4. "The Great Debate" (13:43)
5. "Disappear" (6:46)
1. "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (42:04)
* I. Overture
* II. About to Crash
* III. War Inside My Head
* IV. The Test That Stumped Them All
* V. Goodnight Kiss
* VI. Solitary Shell
* VII. About to Crash (Reprise)
* VIII. Losing Time/Grand Finale

Two discs and only six songs. Man, those are some long 'ol songs! Surprisingly, unlike the band's last few discs, I found this disc to be somewhat infectious right away. While the technical, progressive songwriting is still there, I think the band has re-discovered 'the hook'. Disc one starts off with one of the band's most infectious and heavy songs since "Pull Me Under". "The Glass Prison" is probably the band's heaviest song to day, however, it is also the most modern sounding song ever. Certainly DT still sound like DT, but I detect some nu-metal influences here, particularly the "scratching" in the middle of "The Glass Prison" and some of the vocal effects used at the beginning of the song. However, nu-metal this song is not. Despite the presence of some modern influences, this song is 100% Dream Theater-progressive heavy metal.

Actually I could not have said it better than this reviewer,
"Many purists have ripped on the nu-metal overtones...well, for crying out loud, Dream Theater is a PROGRESSIVE band, which theoretically means incorporating a wide range of styles and sounds into their music, right?? All those other modern prog-metal bands (Shadow Gallery, Symphony X, Vanden Plas, etc.) seem to forget that, and basically clone the styles that DT and other classic prog bands have created -- it's almost like "progressive" has become merely a description for "progressive-like", in other words, copying a sound that was highly original thirty years ago but is no surprise to anyone now...in any case, this one song is FAR better than the entire collected works of Korn, Limp Bisquick, Puddle of Mudd and Static-X combined!!! How does that strike you, eh?"
King God Space, The CD Gallery

Kudos! Well said!

The rest of the disc follow suite quite nicely. There are some mellower moments, plenty of tempo and time changes, lots of variety and all the other aspects of progressive metal that Dream Theater and Fates Warning helped to perfect. "Blind Faith" is a grungy, keyboard drenched number that at times reminds me of Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. Petrucci's guitar solo in this
song is awesome! He is such a shredder, but has such a smooth style. "Misunderstood" is a melancholy number that, to me, seems a bit drawn out. This one may take a few more listens to grown on me. As it stands, it just seems a bit to long and drawn out. "The Great Debate" is a song about stem cell research and features a bunch of sample of people discussing the pros and cons of this modern debate. This song, like album opener is quite heavy and is very infectious. Also, despite being almost five minutes longer than "Misunderstood" and clocking in at close to fourteen minutes does not seem drawn out. Once again, the guitar solo in this song will send most guitarist running to the hills. Disc one closes out with yet another mellow, melancholy track called "Disappear," which is also the shortest track on the disc, clocking in at almost seven minutes. Disc two is a forty-two minute song that is made up of eight parts all of which fit together quite nicely. The entire song jumps wildly from Metallica-like heaviness, to the orchestral, symphonic, to Pink Floyd-ish atmospheric parts. There are even a few moments where I swore I heard a Fates Warning riff. The production on this disc is outstanding, as one would expect from a Dream Theater. So, overall, "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" is yet another stellar release from the leaders of modern progressive rock.

Train of Thought Dream Theater - Train of Thought (Elektra) 2003

1. "As I Am" (7:47)
2. "This Dying Soul" (11:28)
3. "Endless Sacrifice" (11:23)
4. "Honor Thy Father" (10:14)
5. "Vacant" (2:58)
6. "Stream of Consciousness" (11:16)
7. "In the Name of God" (14:16)

As much as I loved Dream Theater in the the early to mid-1990's, I grew bored with them as they began to write albums that seemed to exist simply to prove how diverse, talented and technical they can be. The infectious song writing that was present on "Images & Words" and "Awake". While I still enjoyed their follow-up album, I found that I would grow bored with them rather quickly and they would soon be relegated to dust collectors. When I was in the mood to revisit Dream Theater, I almost always pulled out "Images & Words" or "Awake" before I'd pull "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence " or "Metropolis Pt.II" off the shelf. Well, "Train Of Thought" is yet another proof of the diversity, talent and technicial ability of this band, however, I think the band has succeeded in creating an album that is heavier, slightly more song oriented, but still every bit a progressive jam. Heavier? Absolutely. Petrucci has never sounded so heavy. Jams? You bet! After all most of the songs are over ten minutes in length. Fans of progressive rock and metal probably were drooling over the epic length of these songs. However, even though most of the songs are over ten minutes in length, the tunes flow rather well and held my attention on the first listen. This was bit surprising to me as I usually have to give any Dream Theater CD several spins before I can begin to totally appreciate it. "As I Am" and "Endless Sacrifice" seem to be the standout cuts in my opinion, but the entire CD is a good listen. There was one point in "Honor Thy Father" that I found a bit at odds, when James Labrie did this almost nu-metalish rap thing, however this lasted for only for a few moments. I don't think longtime fans will be disappointed, but I also think that Dream Theater may gain a few new fans as well.

Dream Theater - Octavarium (Atlantic) 2005

1. The Root Of All Evil [vi. Ready, vii. Remove] (8:25)
2. The Answer Lies Within (5:33)
3. These Walls (7:36)
4. I Walk Beside You (4:29)
5. Panic Attack (8:13)
6. Never Enough (6:46)
7. Sacrificed Sons (10:42)
8. Octavarium (24:00)
...i. Someone Like Him
...ii. Medicate (Awakening)
...iii. Full Circle
...iv. Intervals
...v. Razor's Edge

Dream Theater are a band that I love and hate. I mean, when I bought "Images and Words", I swore I'd be a Dream Theater die hard. Yet with each album it seem the band too the "prog" tag a step too far. For me it seemed that the band sacrifice memorability for progressive showoffsmanship. (Is that a word? LOL!) Despite this, Dream Theater seems to have become a fan favorite. In many fans eyes, they can do no wrong. To say anything negative about the almighty Dream Theater is to commit blasphemy in the eyes of the average fan. My problem is mainly that I like their CDs initially, I also find that none are able to remain consistently interesting, thus I loose interest. Because of this, I have put off buying newer Dream Theater albums. This time around it wasn't until after I saw that band on Gigantour that I secured a copy of "Octavarium". At that, I wasn't in a rush because, quite frankly, the band put me to sleep during their performance.

So what of the CD? Well, quite frankly, I am liking it on the first few listens. It seems some of Dream Theater's best songs are on here. "The Root of All Evil" may actually be my favorite song I've heard from these guys in a long while. Whether it remains a favorite is yet to be seen. I think what is working in the band's favor here is that this particular song is pretty much just straight forward metal. The song also offers some heartfelt vocals and lyrics about the pains of alchoholism. "Panic Attack" is a bit more aggressive than the band has been in a while. The ballad "The Answer Lies Within" is another definite highlight. So, on the first few listens, I can say I like this CD. Whether "Octavarium" will hold over time remains to be seen.

When Dream and Day Reunite Dream Theater - When Dream And Day Reunite (Ytsejam Records) 2005

1. "A Fortune In Lies" (5:23)
2. "Status Seeker" (4:38)
3. "Ytse Jam" (6:10)
4. "The Killing Hand" (12:30)
5. "Light Fuse And Get Away" (8:29)
6. "Afterlife" (5:45)
7. "The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun" (7:53)
8. "Only A Matter Of Time" (7:34)
Bonus Encore:
9. "To Live Forever" (4:54)
10. "Metropolis" (14:20)

Dream Theater get accused of many things, but one thing they are not is a sloppy band. This one time performance of Dream Theater's debut album "When Dream And Day Unite" performed in its entirety is simply outstanding. I'm not even sure I don't like this live version better than the official studio version with vocalist Charlie Dominici. Frankly, I hadn't actually give their debut a spin in some time but upon listening to this live release it reminded me of just how good that debut was. The album was recorded in Los Angeles on March 6th 2004 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the release of "When Day and Dream Unite". Also included from this historic evening is the two song encore featuring former DT members, vocalist Charlie Dominici and keyboardist Derek Sherinian. The live version of "Metropolis" is outstanding and worth the price of admission by itself. This "official bootleg" was released independently by Dream Theater and sold on their web site. Despite the "bootleg" tag on the album, it is a high-quality release, factory pressed on high quality CDs (not CDRs) and includes a nice full-color, 8-page booklet containing photos from this show as well as a short write-up about the release from Mike Portnoy.

Dramatic Turn of Events Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events (Roadrunner) 2011

1. On the Backs of Angels (8:42)
2. Build Me Up, Break Me Down (6:59)
3. Lost Not Forgotten (10:11)
4. This is the Life (6:57)
5. Bridges in the Sky (11:01)
6. Outcry (11:24)
7. Far From Heaven (3:56)
8. Breaking All Illusions (12:25)
9. Beneath The Surface (5:26)

DISC ONE (Instrumental mixes)
1. On the Backs of Angels (8:42)
2. Build Me Up, Break Me Down (6:59)
3. Lost Not Forgotten (10:11)
4. This is the Life (6:57)
5. Bridges in the Sky (11:01)
6. Outcry (11:24)
7. Far From Heaven (3:56)
8. Breaking All Illusions (12:25)
9. Beneath The Surface (5:26)

The Spirit Carries On - 60 Minute Documentary

"A Dramatic Turn of Events" is so named because of some dramatic changes within the band before this record. The biggest was the departure of drummer Mike Portnoy, who has been on of the visible faces of this band since the beginning. Portnoy also had a big hand in the band's recordings and writing, so Dream Theater albums have always been a percussion heavy. With his departure the band have created an album that is less percussive heavy but every bit as good as anything they had recorded in the past. In fact, "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is a brilliant, melodic, technical, progressive rock album. The band weaves a musical tapestry that is both memorable and complex at the same time.

The albums lead off track "On the Back of Angels" reminds me of "Pull Me Under" from "Images and Words" because it has that near perfect blend of progressive complexity and memorable hooks. This is exactly what I loved about those early Dream Theater albums. Perhaps the loss of a key member gave the band a renewed sense of purpose and really helped fuel their fire. "Lost Not Forgotten" starts off with a beautiful piano introduction before building into a technically efficient prog song with some killer riff in the instrumental section. Other standout cuts are "Bridges in the Sky", "Build Me Up, Break Me Down" and "Breaking All Illusions". In fact the only real dog on this album is the piano/vocal ballad "Far From Heaven", which seems to completely stop the momentum this album build to that point.

As much as I thought that Dream Theater had lost me in the mid-2000's, albums like this really have regained my attention. "A Dramatic Turn of Events" is a fantastic album.

My copy is a 2CD+2LP+DVD box set. The DVD contains a 60 minute documentary film of the search for a new drummer, entitled "The Spirit Carries On". The second CD of the box set contains instrumental mixes of the entire album. The box set also includes a Dream Theater branded custom turntable slipmat and a lithograph of the album cover.

Black Clouds Dream Theater - Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Roadrunner) 2009

1. A Nightmare to Remember (16:10)
2. A Rite of Passage (8:36)
3. Wither (5:25)
4. The Shattered Fortress (12:49)
5. The Best of Times (13:09)
6. The Count of Tuscany (19:16)

DISC TWO Uncovered
1. Stargazer (Rainbow cover) (8:11)
2. Tenement Funster / Flick of the Wrist / Lily of the Valley (Queen cover) (8:18)
3. Odyssey (Dixie Dregs cover) (8:00)
4. Take Your Fingers From My Hair (Zebra cover) (8:18)
5. Larks Tongues in Aspic, Part 2 (King Crimson cover) (6:32)
6. To Tame a Land (Iron Maiden cover) (7:15)

DISC THREE InstruMental Mixes
1. A Nightmare to Remember [instrumental] (15:39)
2. A Rite of Passage [instrumental] (8:36)
3. Wither [instrumental] (5:28)
4. The Shattered Fortress [instrumental] (12:47)
5. The Best of Times [instrumental] (13:20)
6. The Count of Tuscany [instrumental] (18:47)

I was one who discovered Dream Theater with their awesome 1992 album "Images and Word". I thought it was a brilliant mix of technical prowess and memorable songwriting. With "Awake" that trend continued and I was still a fanatic. Having seen the band live several times, I was even more enthralled. However, as the 1990's rolled into the 2000's, my interest began to wane. The band seemed to be falling closer to the "technical" side of things and were forgetting about the memorable songwriting. As such 2005's "Octavarium" was the last album I purchased as a new release. To top it off, I saw the band on Gigantour and they were uninspired and, frankly, boring. Vocalist James LaBrie would leave the stage for significant amounts of times as the band continued to play on in extended jams. Half the crowd left to go to the restroom or get a beer.

So, in 2015 when the beautifully packaged "Black Clouds" box set made it's way into my collection I didn't approach it expecting much. Well, with this album the band has once again figured out how to balance their tech-y side with solid songwriting. I was seriously hooked with the very first spin as I drove down the road, CD player cranked. The overall sound is rather dark and surprisingly heavy. This is especially true of the sixteen minute "A Nightmare to Remember". Now this song brings back thoughts of hearing "Pull Me Under" for the first time. After a short, eerie piano opening the song kicks off with a heavy riff and some fast double bass work. The song takes some wonderful twists and turns with the guitars and keyboards weaving a musical tapestry. As might be expected of a sixteen minute song, there are also some extended instrumental parts that never get boring. The vocal melodies throughout this song are fantastic. The song is about the horrors of a car accident that Petrucci suffered as a kid. This seems to be the trend throughout the album with each song being nearly as good as the next.

"A Rite of Passage" was the single from the album. Despite being one of the shorter songs on the album, it clocks in at over eight minutes long. "Wither" is one of the mellower tracks on the album and is also the shortest song, clocking in at just over five minutes. A simple ballad with a big chorus and lush keyboards.

"The Best of Times" is a song that was very personal to drummer Mike Portnoy, being a tribute to Mike's father. The intro is very beautiful, with wonderful piano work from Jordan Rudess and a very somber violin accompaniment. From this point the song goes into what I would describe as "Rush mode". Being a huge fan of the Canadian power-trio, I thought it was great hearing Dream Theater allow one of their biggest influences to shine through.

Disc two is all covers, and as with 95's "A Change of Season", I found these covers every bit as enjoyable. My favorites are the awesome "Take Your Fingers From My Hair", originally by Zebra and the three song medley from Queen's "Sheer Heart Attack". The Zebra track in particular stands out as it's a great song by an underrated band and Dream Theater really do the song justice.

The deluxe collectors’ edition boxed set is packaged in a silver foil-embossed black velvet box and includes the 3 Special Edition CDs, a pair of 180-Gram Double LPs, a DVD with isolated audio tracks for each instrument, a lithograph of the album cover and a mouse pad. Apparently there are 100 of the lithographs autographed by Hugh Syme, mine is not. 14,000 copies of the box set were pressed.

Related collections:
Platypus | Fates Warning

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