Many love them, many hate them, in my opinion they were always quite ambitious, quite experimental, and often quite innovative, as well as sometimes pretty bad. They made a slew of albums, I know there is no way I have them all, but I do have a few of them, so let's investigate a bit.....
For today let us concentrate on their pre-2000 albums, and in the next part (unsure when, remember I am in the middle of the multi-part Costello thing as well). The band was formed by guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Portney in the Boston area ca. late 1980's......I am not about to go into all of their lineup shifts, Petrucci and Myung being the anchors......the first release was 1989's "When Dream and Day Unite" (note: there also exist recordings from pre-"Where", when the band went by the name "Majesty", I have never seen one) which is fairly standard progish-metal, with strangely poor vocals from Charlie Dominici, who would be let go......it's not a horrendous effort, not anything special either, there are some pretty good tracks here, such as "A Fortune in Lies", "Those Who Help to Set the Sun", and "Only a Matter of Time"......the lists of influences on their sound are too numerous to mention, which, oddly creates a fairly unique sound.
1994 brought us "Awake", which I think is one of their better efforts....harder rocking than the previous sets, yet still retaining the "conceptual" pretensions, (again, no idea what this is all about, but it IS a good effort)....."6:00" and "Caught In a Web" are good examples of tunes which can stand on their own, and then there is the "A Mind Beside Itself" trilogy, which is like the kind of thing that Rush used to specialize in, only listenable.
"A Change of Seasons" is an EP which contains the stunning 23 minute title opus, plus a bunch of live cover material.....the covers, for me, are just pretty much filler, but this is WAY worth it for the title track, it is that length to good effect, as opposed to its detriment, which is what happens so often. Recommended.
"Falling Into Infinity", as best as I can determine, is mostly about the band's frustrations with their record
label.....it's a decent effort, not as good as some, but with this band you honestly NEVER know....as always, sharp instrumentally, as always, maybe not-so-sharp conceptually and lyrically, but you be the judge....EVERY Dream Theater album at least has its moments, and this one contains "Peruvian Skies" and "New Millenium", as well as a few more. Solid 3.5 star album
We will complete this part of our investigation of Dream Theater with "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory", which is a fairly bloated affair, a sequel to "Metropolis part 1" from "Images and Words".....structured like some sort of opera or play, ("Acts" and "Scenes") the story is not TOO difficult to follow, and I do give them props for THAT.....musically it is as technically proficient as the other Dream Theater albums, one guy I know calls this his all time favorite album (by ANYONE), I can't see that, but really, it is a pretty stunning effort.
When we get to the next part, these guys will really go prog-crazy, some for better, some for worse....but, here is the first half of their career, if unfamiliar give it a try, it's not as stodgy as Rush, not as hard rocking as Tool.....as I said, some like it, some hate it.....I think it's pretty good, overall, and I do find it strange that they never reached the mass popularity that I would have predicted for them.....hell Rush earned it, and these guys were certainly better than Rush......anyway, here are the albums, and sometime next week, we'll get to the rest of their stuff.
IMAGES AND WORDS-01 Pull Me Under/02 Another Day/03 Take the Time/04 Surrounded/05 Metropolis part 1/06 Under a Glass Moon/07 Wait For Sleep/08 Learning to Live
AWAKE-01 6:00/02 Caught In a Web/03 Innocence Faded/04 Erotomania/05 Voices/06 The Silent Man/07 The Mirror/08 Lie/09 Lifting Shadows Off a Dream/10 Scarred/11 Space-Dye Vest
A CHANGE OF SEASONS-01 A Change of Seasons/02 Funeral For a Friend-Love Lies Bleeding/03 Perfect Stranger/04 The Rover-Achilles last Stand/The Song Remains the Same/05 The Big Medley
FALLING INTO INFINITY-01 New Millennium/02 You Not Me/03 Peruvian Skies/04 Hollow Years/05
Burning My Soul/06 Hell's Kitchen/07 Lines in the Sand/08 Take Away My Pain/09 Just Let Me Breathe/10 Anna Lee/11 Trial of Tears (I. It's Raining, II. Deep in Heaven, III. The Wasteland
OK, I could EASILLY hate these guys and their ultra-serious approach, but I don't because they have such great musical chops......draw your own conclusions, and as you will see on Part 2 of this (whenever I do it), you will see that they had barely cracked the ice on pretentious seriousness......does fucking ROCK at times though, which to me is what matters most.