It’s rare that a band sticks around for more than 20 years and continues to grow while breaking through countless musical barriers. It’s also uncommon for a band to produce music for so long and retain a consistent fan-base while exploring new aspects of each musical genre. After 20 years, it’s almost inferred that every band tends to break up, vanish, or become obsolete as popular music/culture evolves. With the band Dream Theater, these assumptions are clearly negated.
Formed in 1985, Dream Theater released their first progressive metal album in 1989. Now in 2011, “A Dramatic Turn of Events” marks their 11th album, showcasing the band’s continuous musical development and offering an intensely new musical experience for Dream Theater listeners.
Oftentimes when someone discusses the impact of music, they will describe being emotionally moved and inspired. Dream Theater consistently interweaves various musical genres and styles, masterfully manipulates tempo, and carries the listener through a vast range of sensations.
Dream Theater’s tracks generally range from six minutes in length all the way up to 13 minutes, similar to other bands like Between the Buried and Me and The Mars Volta. In the lengthy tracks, Dream Theater creates mostly diverse instrumental breaks. Vocals are included when warranted, but Dream Theater recognizes that constant vocals aren’t necessary to accent the form of their music.
The opening track, “On the Backs of Angels,” is a slower and more languid piece, with guitar lines reminiscent of Opeth’s older work. It steadily builds with an attractive guitar solo and a solid beat on the toms that transitions the piece into a heavier, more energetic work. Rapid keyboard and electronic sounds are interlaced between the guitars and bass before the vocals are introduced.
The vocals are incredibly horrid and nearly ruin the complexity and precision of every song on the album, but this is just characteristic of Dream Theater and traditional metal. The singing sounds more like gruff whining and detracts from every piece. This is a band that I’ve always appreciated for its conciseness and mathematical precision when composing and performing, but the vocals are so atrocious that it’s difficult to ignore them when attempting focus on the instrumentation. My personal taste isn’t meant to create a bias, but the stark stridence of the vocals is undeniable and impossible to ignore.
Aside from the unappealing vocals, Dream Theater has created another masterpiece with “A Dramatic Turn of Events.” Musically, their talent is unrivaled, and has unarguably been inspiration for more modern and progressive metal bands. Providing an explanation of each track is unnecessary; the fluctuation in style and genre occurs flawlessly within each track and can easily spin the listener’s head into a daze, making it difficult to explain every impressive aspect of each song.
“A Dramatic Turn of Events” is sure to impress listeners of any genre, as long as attention to the vocals is negated. Dream Theater would serve better if they were strictly an instrumental band.