Dream Theater 2018

Dream Theater

On my blog I usually I write about overlooked bands. This is in most part because I would like them to be recognized and their work to be appreciated the way I think it deserves to be. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t listen to more popular bands. On the contrary, in my collection you will find records that were sold in hundreds (or maybe less) as well as those sold in millions.

My favorite band since 2003 is Dream Theater, a real superstar amongst contemporary Progressive Rock bands. I’m a fanboy, there’s no denying. They are absolutely mind-blowing in every aspect, unmatched in the level of excitement and and joy I get from their music.

Being a fairly popular band they receive a lot of different feedback from their fans. Amongst one of the most often recurring opinions I encounter, either on the Internet or from people I meet, is that they were great during the first 15 years of their career (from their debut in 1988 to about 2003) but then became stale and self-repeating.

I completely disagree with this opinion! Dream Theater’s music is of impeccable quality throughout their entire career. This doesn’t mean that I like all their albums the same way, but overall they are as excellent as ever. I often wonder where these harmful opinions come from. I think that there might be two reasons for that.

First is that DT has a very stable sound. They don’t change their style over time as much as other bands, but that doesn’t mean that they are repeating themselves. Each new album has abundance of new ideas, approaches and unexpected connections. After all this is what Prog Rock is all about, right? So my idea is that first group of malcontents are people that don’t listen to a lot of music in general. These kind of people would say that they get tired of DT’s sound, because they have too little other types of music to “distract” them.

My answer to them is this: if you have enough of DT, listen to something else for a time and surely after couple of months or years you will want to go back. And surely there will be a new DT album waiting for you to discover, or some older album that you haven’t discovered yet. DT is the best, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to it all the time. There are plenty of other great bands that can keep you busy. During these last 15 years I did many such iterations and each time I returned to DT I rediscovered the same truth: that they are simply the greatest band ever.

The second group of malcontents are people that in general think that ‘old times’ were much better than today. It’s a known phenomenon that people tend to see the past in brighter colors, forget the bad things and remember only the positive. And music is very strongly associated with places and events in our lives because it’s a perfect carrier of emotions. So it is obvious that a new album will not have such memories attached to it once it comes out. It needs time to grow. Once you realize that, it becomes easier to appreciate new music.

As a side note: my personal belief is that the music industry in general is not deteriorating as many people suggest but it becomes more polarized. Popular music becomes more and more mass-produced and washed from creativity while the community of people with more sophisticated tests separates itself from mainstream and thrives. I think this is how it has to be and I accept that. From my point of view there is more and more great music being released each year and I’m very optimistic about the future. I would like more people to switch to the light side of the Force and it’s always worth trying, but you won’t turn everyone.

Back to DT. Obviously in recent days I’m rediscovering them again, partially in preparation for their 14th studio album “Distance Over Time” that is scheduled for release on 22nd of February 2019. This is a very exciting time especially that their last double album “The Astonishing” completely blew me away.

To me “The Astonishing” is, by far, the best pieces of music ever created, period. And these guys, they created it after nearly 30 years of being on stage when almost everyone say that their best days are long gone. Currently this album has an average rating on progarchives of 3.41 out of 5, much below their average and I just can’t possibly understand why.

As a way to unload my frustration I decided create this subjective list of top 10 DT albums. Maybe for someone this will be a nice relief from all the endless complains about where the best band on earth is heading.

Album Year Score (0 to 10)
The Astonishing 2016 11
Metropolis Part 2 – Scenes From A Memory 1999 10
Images And Words 1992 9.5
Train Of Thought 2003 9.5
When Dream And Day Unite 1989 9
Awake 1994 9
Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence 2002 9
A Dramatic Turn Of Events 2011 9
Dream Theater 2013 9
Systematic Chaos 2007 8.5



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