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This is definitely the most discussed release of the year. It is needless to point out the facts that lead to this, as what is more important in my opinion is the album itself. After all, Dream Theater is more than a great band, it is an organisation that works on high speed always, having no room for rest or having no chance to look back at what happened. It saddens me a lot to know that some things are not as they used to be but I was more than rewarded for being patient and letting myself express when the album would be out. The album is finally out and it is a triumphant return to how we got to know the band in their first years, mainly pointing out the first decade and all the albums included, until ”Scenes From A Memory”. The aura of their ’90s period flows through the speakers in these nine songs lasting 77 minutes and the final result leaves only smiling faces,even after the first listening of the album. Yes, it is so clear that once it is over, you’ll have the urge to push the play button again and discover from the beginning what you just listened.

”On The Backs Of Angels” was the first sample of the album, which made us consider we would have to do with a rather interesting release. One of the most ‘serious’ DT songs in history, it develops its way softly and smoothly through your ears and though it might not impress you at first, after many listenings you realize you are dealing with an excellent song, for which an excellent video has been shot also. Then comes the duo of ”Build Me Up, Break Me Down” and ”Lost Not Forgotten” that makes the condition critical. The first one is maybe the best song of the year 2011, full of point and exact heaviness combined with all the characteristic DT elements. The second closes the eye on the more progressive direction we have got used from the band all these years and in something more than ten minutes, the initial smile turns into certainty that you witness in front of you the ressurection of Dream Theater, taking for granted that their last three albums after ”Train Of Thought” (album of the ’00s definitely) caused a lot of controversy to the fans.

It is no secret that people got disappointed by the direction of ”Octavarium” (too soft after an excellent album), ”Systematic Chaos” (a great ultra heavy album, which many saw just as riffs connected in random order) and ”Black Clouds & Silver Linings” (also a solid album which didn’t stand the test of time for the fans, mainly because of the long songs, despite being good ones). ”A Dramatic Turn Of Events” wins the impressions from a very early point, and songs like ”Bridges In The Sky” and ”Outcry” prove this undoubtedly. Lasting both more than eleven minutes, they show us that the band sounds kinda relieved from all the things that recently happened and decides to move on. The portrait is ready and DT simply put the last details on it, in order to be nothing less than a new masterpiece. Also, the ambitious song of the album, ”Breaking All Illusions” (being the longest one also), sounds as if it is going to be the future direction of the band, if we look at the signs of the previous years, though they have never released two same albums in a row.

Of course, in such an album, melody and emotion couldn’t be missing, and though I am not the one to judge things, the two ballads of the album ”This Is The Life” and ”Far From Heaven” sound a lot better than similar songs on the last albums, more focused for sure, bringing out a sweet feeling and bridging the old DT with their new version. ”Beneath The Surface” closes the album perfectly and once it is over, you can’t say you miss your favourite old drummer, as Mike Mangini does a tremendous work, showing why he was the perfect fit from all candidates to audition for the place behind the drum kit. In this album we deal with a fully inspired John Petrucci in terms of songwriting, riffing relentlessly where needed and keeping the balance inside the songs, an out of control Jordan Rudess on keyboards and compositions, a monstrous rhythm section by John Myung and the newcomer mentioned before, and last but not least, James LaBrie’s most mature performance ever. A pleasant but also very welcome surprise, raising the album’s worth much higher.

And here comes the things I must get myself against at, as I am very sad that they decided to change their direction in such a way, bringing out the feeling that the person not among them anymore was the one responsible for the much heavier direction of the last decade. In a group, everybody is taking decisions, as long as they respect themselves and not just follow the initial plan. Also, it sounds like a step back and a safe solution to bring out the early feeling of the ’90s era, showing that this time they had to prove something. And I find this a little annoying, because in my heart, DT have nothing to prove to anyone, as they reached their status simply because they were such charismatic and daring through the years. These are the only reasons for which I find this album NOT perfect, though it could be. But I know that it is the start of new adventures and discoveries. One of the best bands of all times returned in such a way that noone can deny, and once again everybody is staring at the backs of angels. And so they will in the future also… For what others dream and think, the theater of dreams just accomplishes.

Track List Line Up
01. On The Backs Of Angels
02. Build Me Up, Break Me Down
03. Lost Not Forgotten
04. This Is The Life
05. Bridges In The Sky
06. Outcry
07. Far From Heaven
08. Breaking All Illusions
09. Beneath The Surface
John Myung – Bass
John Petrucci – Guitars, Backing Vocals
James LaBrie – Vocals
Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
Mike Mangini – Drums