Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn Of Events
Something had to give within the Dream Theater camp; after a series of disappointing albums that were at best treading water, and a general air of lacklustre drudgery in the live arena that spoke volumes of the wearing dynamics internally, a shock to the system was in order. As one of those in favour of the band taking a break to recharge and reassess, I was relieved that at least something had changed, hopeful that drummer and mastermind Mike Portnoy's sudden public walk out would be the boot up the backside they needed. So does A Dramatic Turn Of Events, a rather fitting title all told, herald the new dawn so desperately needed?
Well, almost. This is certainly a move in the right direction, the sound of a band with a new lease of life, but is not the drastic departure from the path Dream Theater have been blindly barrelling down for the last five years. The distinct impression is that this was done so quickly post split as a show of defiance - and as proof that they could continue, and even be a better band for it.
The most striking aspect of A Dramatic Turn Of Events is that Dream Theater appear to be consciously trying to recapture the magic of Images And Words. Right throughout the record there always seems to be something evoking their seminal effort from 1992, whether it’s the flowing guitar passages of 'Bridges In The Sky' that are so reminiscent of 'Learning To Fly' or the cheesy balladness of 'Beneath The Surface' and the similarity it bears to 'Another Day'.
There is a consistency to A Dramatic Turn Of Events, a cohesive thread running throughout that whilst not a binding cord, hangs the whole piece together as one complete package. This comes across primarily as an intrinsic heaviness underlying it all, not the contrived efforts that were often heard in much of the later parts of the Twelve Steps suite, but a more natural weight intrinsic in many of the tracks. And the freedom now afforded John Petrucci and Jordon Rudess to just go off and play is a hallmark of the album that shows Dream Theater at their very best as the pair trade solos in wondrous instrumental passages during the likes of 'Lost Not Forgotten' and 'Outcry'.
Those worried that recent developments would spell the end of Dream Theater can now rest easy; conversely, those looking for a hugely reforged band will be a mite disappointed with A Dramatic Turn Of Events and the lack of distance it puts between itself and preceding albums. But in truth, this is more a statement of intent, and a beacon of hope for all fans as the band will undoubtedly push on from here; you need look no further than the fantastic ‘Breaking All Illusions’, a highlight truly deserving of that title, to be convinced of that.