Progressive Metal: Why Dream Theater Is Important


Born in the year 1985, Dream Theater was formerly called Majesty.  In now celebrating almost 30 years being in the music business, they have developed a huge underground fan base and some mainstream attention.  Allow me to explain.

When Dream Theater released their first studio album, “When Dream and Day Unite,”  it did not receive much attention due to the growing fan base of many other musical groups such as Megadeth, Slayer, Metallica, and even Nirvana.  However, the release of “Images and Words” led Dream Theater to huge critical reception by music critics and fans.  Even better, the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) certified the album gold for selling over 500,000 copies. In  “When Dream and Day Unite,” you are able to find out what they had to offer, but the second was better.  More melody and harmony though was more noticed in “Images and Words.”  You can hear the true riffs and playing of guitarist John Petrucci in the song “Pull Me Under.”  The awesome power chords and complex guitar riffs ranked this song as one of the best known tracks from the giant progressive metallers group.  Quite frankly, “Images and Words” would become the foundation album that led Dream Theater to what they became known for, a large progressive influential band.


In 1994, Dream Theater released “Awake,” third studio album that delivered more darkness in songwriting and heavier playing of music.  A great deal of that music came from group like Metallica, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, and Yngwie Malmsteen.  Speed and aggression are highly noticed in songs like “The Mirror,” “Lie,” “Scarred,” and “Erotomania.”  The first two songs mentioned are typically played at Dream Theater concerts, especially the one that Dream Theater was completing this year, “Along For the Ride Tour.”  One amazing thing about “The Mirror” is the way John Petrucci plays triplet chords to play a song with a dark theme.  The other fascination of this song and even “Lie”, seven stringed guitar playing.  With one extra string added to a guitar, all fun can break loose.  1995 was the time the group hit the release of “A Change of Season,” which was technically an EP and another album would come out two ears later “Falling Into Infinity.”  The EP only had one song from Dream Theater “A Change of Season.”  Meanwhile, it featured songs from various groups including Deep Purple, Dixie Dregs, Journey, and Queen that influenced Dream Theater.  Despite Dream Theater creating “Falling Into Infinity” as more of a radio friendlier artwork product, it was an utter critical and commercial failure.  I must say though, some pretty good songs are found including instrumental “Hell’s Kitchen” and “Trial of Tears.”  Both of them can exhibit both Petrucci and Derek Sherinian’s playing.  Even then, Sherinian would appear only on this studio album and leave.  Thus, Jordan Rudess filled keyboards and he would stay there for the rest of the future Dream Theater release albums.


Dream Theater however managed to rebound by releasing studio album five “Metropolis 2: Scenes From a Memory.”  Great influences of Rush, The Who, Pink Floyd, and Yes are found in the album.  “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence” and “Train of Thought,” bringing more of Dream Theater’s heavy playing and occasional cross bounds with symphony music.  These two albums that Rudess, Mike Portnoy, and Petrucci could work as teams in songs that contain complex melodies.  “Octavarium,” “Systematic Chaos,” and “Black Clouds & Silver Linings” would become key albums that drove the band to more notoriety.  Specifically switching from over 10 years with Atlantic Records to Roadrunner records.  unfortunately, Portnoy would see his last days with DT in 2010.  Mike Mangini took the vacated drumming spot.

Remembering that Mangini is now part of the Dream Theater crew, two released albums feature  him, “A Dramatic Turn of Events” and “Dream Theater.”  A large meat of the songs in them provide the elements of hearing music drawn from Metallica to Rush.  This would be noted largely in the heavy riff parts of “On the Back of Angels.”  Other forms of style of playing include Steve Vai, Eddie Van Halen, and Malmsteen by Petrucci who possesses speed on the guitar in “Illumination Theory.”  You can check out the song below.

The overall conclusion is Dream Theater is a continuing growing band that has gotten mainstream attention.  Millions of people are fans of this giant progressive band.  Even slightly notable bands including Symphony X, Animals as Leaders, and Biomechanical have praised the group.  Hopefully with the recent announcement of DT working on a new studio album starting in February, they will come up with more creative ideas to get their music more widespread.

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