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Dream Theater - 'A Dramatic Turn Of Events' (roadrunner) 3.5/5

More prog metal now, and this times it's Massachusetts outfit Dream Theater who enter the spotlight with A Dramatic Turn of Events, their eleventh studio opus and the first since the departure of their long term sticksman Mike Portnoy.

Now Dream Theater fans, and there are a lot of them, will find nothing out of the ordinary on offer here. There are nine tracks, all but two weigh in at 7 minutes plus, four are ten minute plus epics and all are typical DT fayre. Slick, complex, perfectly penned, performed and produced. All the hallmark sounds are here as well, opener On The Backs of Angels is your standard Maiden meets Fish era Marillion type of thing, Build Me Up Break Me Down has  touch of the Queensryches about it (old Queensryche, not the sad ghost of a band they are now), Lost Not Forgotten features a tasteful piano intro from Jordon Rudess before launching to some fairly self indulgent widdling interposed around a Megadeth influenced riff; This Is the Life has a bit of Hogarth era Marillion simpers about it with a solo from John Petrucci that is pure Steve Rothery... and so it continues.

Now I can't help feeling that I've heard it all before. As good as this album is, it's still the same sort of stuff Dream Theater have been serving us up for the past few albums, and whilst I have no problems in bands sticking to their tried and trusted formulas, when your dealing with musicians of this caliber I can't help but feel there is a wee bit of laurel resting going on here. Don't get me wrong, there are parts of this album that are just brilliant. Take the first couple of minutes of Bridges in the Sky with its huge choral sound, or the instrumental section in the middle of Outcry, with its complex interplay of rhythms, or Nektaresque conclusion to Breaking All Illusions as just three examples.

But we are talking sections of tracks here rather than full songs. I just can't put my finger on what it is, but I just don't get a wow factor here, not one that lasts anyway. Maybe it's cos Dream Theater have been at the top of the prog metal tree for years, they have always been a band I've admired greatly and their albums have never failed to blow me away before; but recent releases from the likes of Opeth, Spires and especially Arch / Matheos have hit me with a bigger punch and left me with a bigger buzz than this album does.

Apparently Mr Portnoy left because he felt the band should take a bit of time out and refresh themselves before they started going stale, the rest of the band disagreed and so he left, and after living with album for a while I can't help but feel that Mr Portnoy is being proved right.

For hardcore DT fans only

for fans of...Queensyrche, Fates Warning, Awake, Opeth etc...

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