To be honest
with you I always had my doubts about how much could DT do without Mike
Portnoy… and after almost one year, I have to opportunity to figure it out.
focused, connect my headphones to the player and push the play button ready to
witness this dramatic turn of events…
with ‘‘On The Backs Of Angels’’ which
fortunately from its beginning shows a marked improvement in sound from what we
listened on youtube, especially the drums. This song was already well-known. It
needs just two minutes to make you understand that’s gonna be something big. Rudess
achieves a superb performance, Myung is once again in the first line of the
squadron drawing the sound rails, and Mike Mangini proves that he’s the right
one and this is serious. With a lot of contretemps and polyrhythms DT brings
back that progressive sound form the 90’s and this first track is the beam that
dispel the black clouds…
second track, ‘‘Build Me Up, Break Me
Down’’, is more direct and more coherent with the last works of the band
(Particularly with Systematic Chaos). It’s a structured heavy-industrial tune
with a melodic chorus, and its most valuable element comes from Petrucci, not
as guitar player but as producer, because succeed in giving a fresh sound to a
band that has spent 25 years making music.
great intro, in which Petrucci says present with a brutal guitar solo, ‘‘Lost Not Forgotten’’ makes you forget
the radial structure of the last song. This track has a bit of everything…groovy
rhythms, a vertiginous chorus, a lot of rhythm changes and a great instrumental
section with amazing solos. Definitely it’s the most dynamical song of the
album, but unfortunately its power is diluted among so many variations.
break comes with ‘‘This Is The Life’’,
the first ballad of the LP. When it starts reminds you Wither (… and hence to
Mike Portnoy), but soon (I
don’t know if by coincidence) Mangini and Petrucci add a differentiating power
continued by piano chords and LaBrie’s voice. Is obvious the comfort of James
for this kind of songs and his ability to interpret to perfection.
It’s a beautiful song with so
A new dramatic turn is what ‘‘Bridges
In The Skies’’
brings. Such a beginning! Something really new. When I thought I’d heard the
heavier side of this album in the second or third track… I was wrong. This song
is pure power… mike Mangini sounds furious and absolutely coupled to the band,
Myung sounds loud and clear, LaBrie shines with a very theatrical performance
and Petrucci and Rudess are a blast in the instrumental section. Great song.
The next one is a beast. ‘‘Outcry’’ just blows you mind
away. Petrucci did an amazing job for this one (producing and playing guitar).
Here you will find a lesson of how do instrumental sections for a song. At this
point we can note that at the time of writing, these
guys had plenty inspiration and freedom.
is the second ballad, but this time is much more intimate, melancholic and
melodic. Only LaBrie and Rudess in the air, sounding like one in this beautiful
moment. The capacity of both to convey feelings through the music is just
this two brilliant song I was wordless… and then, totally opposed to its title,
started to sound ‘‘Braking All Illusions’’.
What if I tell you that is like go back to the early 90’s? what if I tell you
that here you’ll hear those voiceovers of A Change Of Seasons; the progressions
of Learning To Live; that atmospheric keyboard sound of the first releases; and
a guitar solo with the feeling of the darkest of winters? And all this in over
track is simply the highest point of the album and of the last few years…
this monster is time to end the act… and the responsible for doing it is ‘‘Beneath The Surface’’, a light song in
which strangely the band cedes center stage to the voice for closing the album.
Despite the lyrics, the song has a sense of new beginning, turning into a
perfect closure for this new release.
have the answers for my doubts… This is still DT, even more than in recent
years. The album sounds classical and fresh at the same time. It seems to be
that the dramatic event lived a year ago turned into the biggest inspiration
that Petrucci, Rudess and company could have had.
By Joan López Duarte
01. On The Backs Of Angels
02. Build Me Up,
Break Me Down
03. Lost Not Forgotten
04. This Is The Life
05. Bridges In The Skies
07. Far From Heaven
08. Braking All Illusions
09. Beneath The Surface