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The Record Vault: Dream Theater – A Change Of Seasons (EP)

Mike Portnoy was not happy when the song “A Change of Seasons” was pulled from being recorded in the studio for the “Images And Words” album.

So Portnoy kept asking Derek Oliver to provide funding so the band could record it. Portnoy tried to include it with the “Awake” album and again, Oliver said “no”.

And that’s when the fans stepped in. Dream Theater fans started to connect online via the Ytsejam Mailing List and suddenly, a petition was created to convince the label to give the go ahead for the band to record the song.

Yep, Dream Theater was one of those bands to have a direct to fan connection via their fan club and message boards in the early days of the Internet. Mike Portnoy was key here, as a fan of Marillion, who was also another band which kept engaging with their fans via their fan clubs and much later, Marillion were one of the earlier bands to get fans to fund an album before it became a thing.

At 23 minutes, it was their longest song at that point in time, but the way it is written and constructed, the seven parts of the song, can be listened to individually as separate tracks, if you wanted to splice the track. Lyrics are written by Mike Portnoy.

But.

If the band wanted to record this track in the studio, Derek Oliver said the track must be produced by Dave Prater. As described in the book “Lifting Shadows” by Rich Wilson, Oliver believed that Prater really understood what Dream Theater was about and when Prater zeroed in to the bands weakness, the band couldn’t hack it, hence the animosity. Prater was the producer for the “I&W” album and he was having serious run ins with Mike Portnoy over triggered drum sounds and with Kevin Moore over his reluctance to do anything that the Producer asked.

While the band disagreed with the Prater suggestion, they relented. as the only way to get funding was to do it the label way. Since Prater was told to not use triggers on the drums, it meant Portnoy wouldn’t be an adversary anymore and his main adversary during “I&W”, Kevin Moore was not in the band anymore. But Prater and James LaBrie didn’t connect this time around and they started to argue. But, in the end, LaBrie’s vocal performance on the track is excellent, so all the pushing and yelling, ended up in a fantastic vocal take.

The EP was released on September 19, 1995, through East West Records.

Apart from the title track, it has a collection of live cover songs performed at a fan club concert on January 31, 1995 at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London, England. It’s also their first recording with Derek Sherinian on keyboards.

I know what most people are thinking,

23 minutes of a million notes a minute over complex time signatures. If you are thinking that, you are mistaken. The sections are all songs within a song and one thing that producer Dave Prater has going for him was his questioning of why they want to overplay certain parts.

Like when he said to John Petrucci (as mentioned in the book “Lifting Shadows”), “why are you trying to impress Steve Vai” with those fast technical licks as your first improvised take of the lead was way better than the stuff you worked out days later.

I. The Crimson Sunrise (instrumental)

The song begins and ends with an acoustic guitar. A seven string acoustic guitar with the low B and while I am critical of the 7-strings on fast picked stuff, I really like em on groove orientated stuff, and this is what this song is. A Groove Heavy Rock beast with progressive elements.

As soon as I heard the first notes of the intro acoustic riff I was hooked.

Did they try and recreate “Pull Me Under” with this whole intro piece?

Maybe.

Because there is melody, power and aggression here in the acoustics and when the distortion kicks in, you definitely feel it in your bones.

The first 3 minutes is essential listening. All instrumental but never boring.

II. Innocence

It begins at the 3.50 mark.

And how good is that arena rock chorus, that begins with “Innocence caressing me / I never felt so young before / There was much life in me / Still I longed to search for more” and when it repeats the second time, it’s worded a bit different. “Ignorance surrounding me / I’ve never been so filled with fear / All my life’s been drained from me / The end is drawing near.

III. Carpe Diem

It begins at the 6.54 mark with the start of the acoustic guitar arpeggios, almost classical. Portnoy is now referencing the last moments he had with his mother before she left to catch a plane which crashed.

The last few lyrical lines, “preparing for her flight / I held with all my might / fearing my deepest fright / she walked into the night / she turned for one last look / she looked me in the eye / I said “I love you, / goodbye”.

IV. The Darkest of Winters (instrumental)

I’m pretty sure this section kicks in at the 9.47 mark. It’s got metal and a jazz fusion like lead from Petrucci. There are a lot of elements from “I&W” here especially from the songs “Metropolis” and “Take The Time”. The riff at 11.50 would have been a foundation for a song for any other band. But from Dream Theater, it’s just a riff in a 23 minute song.

At 12.54, Petrucci starts the melodic lead that leads into “Another World”.

V. Another World

It kicks in at 13.03. It’s the big power ballad part of the song with LaBrie delivering one of his best vocals and Petrucci on the lead at 15.39 is perfect with his phrasing, delivering big bends and vibrato lines with short bursts of alternate picking.

VI. The Inevitable Summer (instrumental)

It starts at the 16.58 mark. Myung plays this bass groove which allows Petrucci to bring out the Lydian and Mixolydian scales. This section reminds me of the solo section in “Under A Glass Moon” from “I&W”. Even Sherinian gets a solo moment.

VII. The Crimson Sunset

The final section. It starts at the 20.12 section with a melodic lead that should have been harmonised, Maiden style.

“I’m much wiser now a lifetime of memories run through my head”.

Then there is a complete tempo and feel change for the final verse and the intro acoustic guitar riff appears to bookend a masterpiece.

And while everyone purchased this EP for the original song, the live recordings also deserve a mention.

“Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding” (Elton John cover)

I didn’t know about this songs until I heard them here. Written by Bernie Taupin and Elton John. At 10:46, the song was originally recorded by Elton John as the opener on the “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road” album from 1973, which I then purchased after hearing this version.

And it’s even longer on the Elton John version at 11.09, which came as a surprise to me, as Elton John’s 80’s hits are all within the 4 minute range of commercial radio. I can definitely hear how this song influenced Jim Steinman and “Bat Out Of Hell”.

Who said that cover songs take away from the original?

“Perfect Strangers” (Deep Purple cover)

Written by Ian Gillan, Ritchie Blackmore and Roger Glover. It’s the title track from their 80’s comeback album in 1984. This version is very faithful to the original version, and guess what, I went out and purchased this Deep Purple album based on this cover.

“The Rover” / “Achilles Last Stand” / “The Song Remains the Same” (Led Zeppelin cover)

The songs used here for the medley are written by Robert Plan and Jimmy Page. Dream Theater took the best bits of these songs and made a 7.30 minute track that is worthy.

“The Rover” is a song from the “Physical Graffiti” album, with a good bluesy groove which is played to lead into “Achilles Last Stand” which is from the “Presence” album. Here we get most of the singing section of the song, the interludes and that progressive like riff which is played during the solo. Finally, the song is rounded out with some sections from “The Song Remains The Same” from the “Houses Of The Holy” album.

LaBrie proves that you can still pay homage to Robert Plant without sounding like him (remember Lenny Wolf) and Petrucci must have made a deal with Aliester Crowley as he is basically Jimmy Page.

“The Big Medley”

The last song. A mash up of songs from a diverse list of artists that clocks in at around 10 minutes.

It starts off with “In the Flesh?” a Pink Floyd cover.

At the 2.30 minute mark, the awesome riffage of “Carry On Wayward Son” from Kansas kicks in.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” from Queen kicks in 4.35 that whole hard rock section after the operatic vocals. Petrucci then goes into the lead break.

“Lovin’, Touchin’, Squeezin'” from Journey kicks in at 6.00. It shouldn’t work here, but it does. Its 12/8 bar room boogie riff works perfectly after “Bohemian Rhapsody”. LaBrie croons as good as Steve Perry and what else can be said about Petrucci who can move between Jimmy Page, Richie Blackmore, Dave Gilmour, Brian May, Kerry Livgren and Neal Schon so effortlessly. And then he covers Steve Morse and Steve Hackett easily.

“Cruise Control” from Dixie Dregs kicks in at 8.11. This music was new to me back then.

“Turn It On Again” (Genesis cover)”

This part kicks in at 9.14. The riff is immediately memorable, yet familiar as I feel that it influenced some sections on “Innocence Faded” from the “Awake” album.

By the end of the medley, I was out and about seeking albums from Genesis, Dixie Dregs, Journey. I already had the Queen and Kansas albums that had those songs.

If you haven’t heard this EP (which by the way is an hour long), press play on it.

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The Record Vault: Dream Theater – The Silent Man (CD Single)

Do you know how hard it is to find a Dream Theater single in Australia?

And as soon as I found one, I purchased it straight away. But I haven’t found any singles since and in the 2000’s I just stopped looking for em in the record shops.

“The Silent Man” is the third EP released by Dream Theater in 1994.

The personnel for the band was Mike Portnoy – Drums, John Petrucci – Guitar, John Myung – Bass, Kevin Moore – Keyboard and James LaBrie – Vocals.

John Purdell and Duane Baron are producing the songs “Eve” and “The Silent Man”.

Eve

I actually purchased the single for the song “Eve”. At the time it was an unreleased bonus track.

It’s an instrumental, but it’s not the kind of instrumental you think with a thousand notes per minute. There is emotion and feel. Kevin Moore on the piano lays down most of the music which belongs to a soundtrack in a film.

His keys and piano riffs dominate the song and then there is Petrucci, who knows which notes to wrestle out of his fingers with his melodic leads. Especially that lead from 4.02. Press play on it.

Close you eyes and let the music take you to a peaceful time. It’s soothing, I could use it to meditate to.

Take the Time (demo)

This demo along with a few other songs, are part of “the” demo tape that got them their ATCO deal for the “Images And Words” album.

The Silent Man

It’s an acoustic song, and man can Petrucci write a complicated acoustic song with unique chord voices.

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The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Awake

Produced and Engineered by Duane Baron and John Purdell who were still riding the wave of success from the “No More Tears” album by Ozzy Osbourne. Dave Prater who produced “Images And Words” was not considered due to the difficult working relationship between the band and producer.

“Awake” is the third studio album but the first album for the band, written knowing that there was an audience for their music. Artists would like us to believe that they write music to please themselves but they are lying. Once an artist experiences public acceptance of their music, their minds want to experience more of it. That in itself leads to a different kind of pressure. And the guys in the band were still young, so they didn’t know how to deal with this pressure and the pressure from the label.

Released on October 4, 1994, the album came out at the peak of the Seattle movement. The heaviness was evident and the label wanted it, but the label also wanted a song like “Pull Me Under” even more, a combination of that Iron Maiden meets Metallica sound. But that song never came.

But with this album, Dream Theater unknowingly went from a progressive rock band with roots in hard rock, to a progressive rock band, with roots in groove metal, paving the way for a fertile new genre known as progressive metal. But the critics were mixed on it and even the fans were split. But the years that have passed have been kind to the album, and now it is seen very differently.

The writing sessions began in February, after a small 4 week break after the “Images And Words” tour. Each song had weird working titles like “Kittens On Crack”, “Blowfish”, “Beach House Reality” and “Squid”. A lot of music was written and when this happens, a band leader would need to decide as to what is kept and what is discarded. Dream Theater had no band leader. So the creative disagreements started.

Once the demos were completed, the tracks were given to their A&R Rep, Derek Oliver to listen to. While the songs were good, Oliver didn’t see a marketability to them, however he still gave the go ahead to record the album, as his boss Sylvia Rhone wanted the album done so she could show orders for the album.

It’s also the last album to feature original keyboardist Kevin Moore, who announced his decision to leave the band during the mixing process of the album.

Larry Freemantle, who had designed the cover of “Images and Words”, provided the artwork for “Awake”. As with “Images and Words”, the band instructed Freemantle to include several lyrical references in the cover, such as a clock showing the time 6:00, a mirror and a spider in the middle of a web.

“It’s 6 o clock on a Christmas morning”.

I’m not sure what I expected from Dream Theater for the follow up to “Images And Words”. But voiceovers saying it’s six o’clock on a Christmas morning was probably not it.

6.00

A Mike Portnoy drum groove kicks it off, rooted more in freeform jazz fusion.

And there is a Rush like groove that reminds me of “Natural Science”.

The lyrics are written by Kevin Moore about routine, duty and commitments in a person’s life, like cutting wood to keep a family warm and working to put food on the table. It’s so far removed from Rat Tailed Jimmy in “Dr Feelgood” or Metallica’s evil Sandman.

Caught In A Web

The 7 string guitar with the Low B string is in action here.

Truth be told, I saw the 7 string as a fad. I never saw a reason why a guitarist would need one. If you wanted a low B, increase the gauge on your strings and tune the E string down to B.

While someone like Iommi tuned down to C# out of necessity to make the strings easier to bend due to cutting off the tips of his fingers in a work accident, I still didn’t get why artists needed to go lower.

Because it sounds muddled when you play fast riffs, but press play to hear the killer lead.

Would you expect anything else from Petrucci?

Innocence Faded

Petrucci wrote the lyrics of “Innocence Faded” with Wikipedia telling me “it was inspired by his deteriorating friendship with Moore”.

When Dream Theater do major melodic rock, they do it well.

Press play to hear the outro.

Petrucci comes in with an outro riff with triads over an E pedal point. And if that wasn’t good enough, he starts to solo over it in a Steve Morse and Paul Gilbert manner.

Next up we have the “A Mind Beside Itself” Trilogy featuring the three separate songs, “Erotomania”, “Voices”, and “The Silent Man”.

Erotomania

An instrumental.

A large section of this song was written for the song “Pull Me Under” however it was removed from the song before they went into the studio to record it. And those sections which were removed ended up in this song.

Voices

The intro. Press play to hear it.

Silent Man

An acoustic song during the unplugged craze. It deserved more attention.

The Mirror

Its heavy courtesy of the 7 string and its ready to challenge all the groove metallers. Here the 7 string works because the riffs are slower.

There is a section in this song, when they play the main piano riff from “Space Dye Vest”. Brilliant.

Portnoy wrote the lyrics to “The Mirror”, describing his battle with alcoholism. He would return to the subject on later Dream Theater albums with the group’s so-called “Twelve-step Suite.”

Lie

It was the leadoff single. Not sure if this should have been the song as lyrically its poor. “The Mirror” was a better choice.

But the lead is killer.

And it ends the same way “The Mirror” started as the two songs are connected. But this time around the heavy groove sets the foundation for Petrucci to solo over.

Lifting Shadows Of A Dream

It began as a poem and two chords brought to the band by Myung. They worked on it, hated it and the next day they liked it.

This is DT being like U2 and Marillion. Myung sets the foundation with his bass riff and Petrucci brings out his Marillion and The Edge influences with digital delay melodic riffs, while Kevin Moore lays a keyboard riff which is sad but hopeful.

Scarred

The blues jazz fusion intro hooks me. For an 11 minute song there are so m at good sections.

Like the Metal verses and the solo and the outro.

Space Dye Vest

Kevin Moore is listed as the sole writer here, much to the protest of Mike Portnoy who in hindsight wanted to leave this track of it.

But it was one of my favorites because it had a soundtrack like quality to it. I could feel the sadness in the music. And James LaBrie is like Peter Gabriel in his vocal delivery.

It’s a style that I liked from em.

To tour they had to find a keyboard player.

Jens Johansson from Yngwie Malmsteen’s solo band was the first to be approached. While the label and management were keen on Johansson, the band wasn’t.

Jordan Rudess was the second and the band were blown away by him at the audition. Jordan agreed to play a small gig with them (which went terribly) and then rejected the offer to join them at that point in time. He had a gig with the Dixie Dregs, a full time job with Kurzweil and a very young family. He chose to be around his family during this period.

Enter the love child of Paul Stanley and Cher (as described by Gene Simmons), the one known as Derek Sherinian. By this point of time, Sherinian had worked with Lita Ford, Alice Cooper and Kiss.

John Petrucci and Al Pitrellil are both from Long Island and they used to teach at the same guitar store. Pitrelli put a call to Petrucci and basically said to him, “you got to hire this keyboard player”. And Sherinian was hired on a temporary basis to begin with.

In relation to the album, the label considered the album a commercial failure, which would lead to the band being pressured to write more radio-friendly songs on their next studio album. For Dream Theater, the label situation was never easy. Their Atco seven album deal was moved to East West Records, a division of Atlantic Records and then to Elektra.

This would lead to more problems. But that’s for another post.

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The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Live At The Marquee

The whole “Images and Words” album was a surprise success as it was released in a market that was very anti-technical. But “Pull Me Under” was not technical at all. It was actually pretty simple, with riffs that could have come from a Metallica or Maiden album.

So when an act is successful, the label is keen to capitalise on more sales. The best way to do that between studio albums is to release a live album.

Enter “Live At The Marquee”, released in 1993, on the back of the failure of the “Another Day” single. The music video for “Another Day” was totally ignored by MTV and never played on the music network.

There would also be a live video release of this period called “Live In Tokyo” from this tour. But that release would be covered a bit later.

In case people are not aware, The Marquee Club is a small venue in London. It’s a rite of passage for a lot of artists to play at The Marquee.

The band is the same as the “Images and Words” album with James LaBrie – vocals, Kevin Moore – keyboards, John Myung – bass, John Petrucci – guitars and Mike Portnoy – drums.

In relation to how live it is. All the music is live as captured on the night and most of James LaBrie’s vocals were actually re-recorded in a studio. In the book “Lifting Shadows”, Portnoy jokingly said the album should have been called “Dream Theater Live At The Marquee But With James LaBrie Live At Bear Tracks”.

The actual set list as found on Mike Portnoy’s concert database is as follows;

  • Metropolis Part I (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
  • A Fortune in Lies (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
  • Under a Glass Moon (not released)
  • Surrounded (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
  • Ytsejam (w/ Drum Solo) (not released)
  • Bombay Vindaloo (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
  • Another Day (only released in Japan, replacing “Surrounded”)
  • Another Hand (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
  • The Killing Hand (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
  • Pull Me Under (released on “Live At The Marquee”)
  • Take the Time (not released)
  • Wait for Sleep (not released)
  • Learning to Live (not released)

Metropolis—Part I: “The Miracle and the Sleeper”

The show opened with this and the CD release also did. The abilities of Petrucci, Portnoy, Myung and Moore are evident here.

The comments I read on a YouTube video of this song all mention the vocal performance of James LaBrie on this track. And it is a great vocal performance, regardless if it was recut in a studio.

A Fortune in Lies

I heard James LaBrie singing the debut album songs before I heard Charlie Dominici. Sort of like how I heard Bruce Dickinson sing the Paul DiAnno songs first.

The production sound of this song is a lot better live than what was captured in the studio. Especially the machine gun snare section before the solo break and then Petrucci nails his lead which has fast tapping, sweep picking, alternate picked lines and legato playing.

Bombay Vindaloo

Named after a vicious curry that played havoc with the band. It’s an improvised instrumental performed live only six times and never recorded in a studio. They really set the mood of India here with the use of exotic scales to highlight the themes of the song.

I’ve read reviews that mention “La Villa Strangiato” as an influence.

Petrucci again shines with his emotive leads as he builds and builds on em, very Al DiMeola like. It’s rare tracks like these, that make these kind of EP’s special.

Surrounded

The best part of this song is Petrucci’s digital delay lead, however the effect wasn’t as prominent live as it was on the studio cut. And for some reason it sounded very Van Halen’ish this time around.

If you are a fan of Marillion, then you will like this.

Another Hand / The Killing Hand

The newly written major key intro titled “Another Hand” that bridges “Another Day” with “The Killing Hand” is beautiful. Press play just for that.

And LaBrie delivers a great vocal on this. And yes, I don’t care if it was recut in the studio.

Pull Me Under

Could there be a Dream Theater set list without “Pull Me Under”?

Of course not. It’s their title winning MVP.

I have seen Dream Theater perform live on a few occasions in Sydney and they are excellent.

This release captures all of that.

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The Record Vault: Dream Theater – Images and Words

“When Dream And Day Unite” came out in 1989, the label Mechanix did nothing with it.

The band didn’t tour and compared to the sale numbers that other bands achieved in 1989, the album was classed a failure. But it’s pretty hard to sell something if no one knows it exists or if it can’t be found in record stores. A little bit of promo during this time would have gotten the album at least 200K sales worldwide. There was a market for the kind of music that Dream Theater was writing. But the market needs to know about it.

It also didn’t help when the A&R Rep who signed the band, left Mechanix to go to a competitor. And when that normally happens in label land, the label in spite, tries to kill off the acts the Rep had signed. Further to that, Mechanix was being taken over by a larger label in MCA and when that normally happens, labels consolidate and focus on winning projects.

Apart from the label issues, the band decided that in order to be successful, they had to change something that was not working.

Vocalist, Charlie Domicini was let go. He was a decade older than the rest of the guys and his image didn’t fit with the band. But they got their manager to break the news to him.

Even a newly inked tattoo of the Dream Theater logo on his shoulder wasn’t enough to save him. According to the band, his vocal style just didn’t suit. While Portnoy and Petrucci wanted a cross between Geoff Tate and Bruce Dickinson, they knew that finding such a vocalist was not going to be an easy task.

Dominici’s lyrics on the first album, a co-write with John Petrucci on “Status Seeker” and the sole lyricist for “Afterlife” resonated more than all of the other lyrics penned by Petrucci and Kevin Moore.

Being a bit older, meant he had a bit more experience with words and story-telling. But his voice is an acquired taste and he did cop some criticism for sounding like a bad imitation of Geddy Lee. But his vocals on “The Killing Hand” are my go to vocals for this song.

But as soon as Dominici was gone, he was back in for a gig, opening for Marillion, who wanted to unveil their new singer Steve Hogarth for his U.S debut. Portnoy was a massive fan of Marillion, so the opening slot was a dream come true. The band was on fire, but it was too little too late for Dominici who was let go again after it.

At first the band focused on trying to find a new singer as they still had six albums to deliver on the Mechanix deal. This process would take 14 months to happen. The book “Lifting Shadows” from Rich Wilson goes into great detail about the “search for a singer”.

John Arch was the first vocalist the band approached. He was out of Fates Warning after the release of “Awaken The Guardian” album in 1986. They rehearsed “The Killing Hand”, “Only A Matter Of Time” and a cover of Fates Warning “The Apparition”. Arch felt uncomfortable about how the band members wanted the vocals to sound. He felt it was too rigid. But the reason Arch left was family circumstances. He was about to become a Dad, he had a long commute to rehearse and he wasn’t comfortable spending so much time away from his family.

John Hendricks was the second vocalist the band rehearsed with after he sent the band a demo from an ad the band put out.

His appearance was more New Kids On The Block and the live audition in December 1989 didn’t go down well. But they kept him around to do vocals on some new demos called “Metropolis”, “To Live Forever” and “Don’t Look Past Me”. When they went back to live rehearsals, Hendricks still didn’t cut it, but his studio work was exceptional. The band wanted to move forward with Hendricks but label and management weren’t convinced. While Petrucci and Portnoy wanted a Tate/Dickinson style of a singer, Hendricks was none of that, more Pete Gabriel than anything and his image was New Wave compared to the Hard Rock and Metal image of Dream Theater.

Next was Steve Stone.

Stone was from Seattle and he had replaced Geoff Tate in the band “Myth”, Tate’s pre Queensryche band. Stone’s manager at the time was journalist Paul Suter, who sent demo tapes of Stone to George Lynch for the Lynch Mob project, to Steve Stevens for his Atomic Playboys project and to Dream Theater. Portnoy liked Stone’s voice, a cross between Tate and Steve Perry. Stone enjoyed the audition but conversations afterwards with the band made him feel that his creativity would be stifled.

However, they did get Stone to do studio vocal versions on “Metropolis” and “To Live Forever” as Mechanix wanted to hear product.

And then they played live. As soon as Stone yelled” Scream For Me Long Beach” and then kept on yelling it throughout the show, he sealed his axing.

By September 1990, the band was still without a singer and with a label that was losing interest in the band (as if they hadn’t lost it already) but wouldn’t release them from their contract.

Enter Chris Cintron. His demo tape was rejected at first but after Hendricks and Stone didn’t work out, Portnoy called Cintron to an audition.

Cintron’s voice was more Steve Walsh from Kansas and he was also the first singer to sing on a new song called “A Change Of Seasons”. The fact that everything was written and Cintron just had to perform what was written, didn’t sit well with him as well. Image and a few other disagreements with Kevin Moore, sealed his fate.

During this time, they also focused on writing better songs. Most bands normally have 3 months to come out with album number 2. Dream Theater in this case had close to 2 years. Furthermore, their sound evolved from the technical derivative metal sound on “When Dream and Day Unite”, to a more warmer sound, rooted in classic progressive rock with nods to Heavy Metal.

As the singer search took time, the seven album deal with Mechanix fizzled out.

But they had an ally in journalist Derek Oliver. Oliver wrote for Kerrang and he was a fan of the band. As fate would have it, Oliver moved into an A&R role at the same time that Dream Theater found themselves searching for a label who would support them.

Enter Kevin James LaBrie. He was part of Canadian glam metal band Winter Rose during this time and he sent the band an audition tape. After a short jam session, he was named Dream Theater’s new lead singer, and has remained with them ever since.

The band was then signed to a seven-album contract by Atco Records, and shortly thereafter, they began recording their new album in late 1991. The album’s production was marred with tensions, as the band clashed with producer David Prater who was chosen by Derek Oliver.

Enter Dream Theater with “Images and Words”. Released in 1992.

The album was unique and innovative to remain rooted to the prog rock niche that Derek Oliver spoke about in 1989 and it was familiar enough to cross over to the hard rock audience, looking for something new and exciting.

Dream Theater originally intended to release a double album, but that plan was rejected by ATCO, causing several songs to be omitted from the album. One of these songs, “A Change of Seasons”, would later be re-recorded by the band and released on an EP of the same name in 1995.

A Billboard review didn’t have great things to say about it;

“Power rock band’s Atco debut shows its members did plenty of listening to Yes, Boston and even Black Sabbath while growing up.

While the material is all well delivered, lead vocalist James LaBrie has a voice that stretches to fit the many different styles represented here, the main problem is the music, which sounds like it was written in the 70’s.

However given that the bands potential fans probably weren’t born until the end of that decade, it shouldn’t serve as any great detriment.”

Pull Me Under

Music composed by the band and lyrics written by Kevin Moore.

The lead single, “Pull Me Under”, gained the band a lot of commercial success with its airplay on MTV and radio, garnering them a top 10 hit on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. When the album was released, it sold at a steady pace, helped by an extensive world tour.

Its original working title was “Oliver’s Twist” as it was a last minute song written at the request of Derek Oliver. The original version also had the unbelievable solo section from “Erotomania” in it.

“Pull Me Under” was so good, that John Petrucci used the 1st verse riff of “Pull Me Under” in “The Count Of Tuscany” 1st Verse from the album, “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” released in 2009.

He also used the structure and dynamics for the song “On The Backs Of Angels” from the album “A Dramatic Turn Of Events” released in 2011.

As soon as the first three notes of the acoustic arpeggio are played, I was hooked. Then Portnoy started with his drum build. Metallica used an approach like this on “Enter Sandman”.

Another Day

Music is by the band with lyrics written by John Petrucci.

It’s like a hard rock ballad, but the guitar playing and the choice of chords by Petrucci is excellent. And the Soprano Sax solos are just perfect.

But press play to hear Petrucci on the lead break. It’s well worked out, it flows brilliantly, its melodic and cruisy and then he steps on the pedal and then brings it back to cruisy.

Take the Time

It’s a team effort on the lyrical front with Moore, Petrucci, Mike Portnoy and John Myung contributing.

How good is that start? The fast riffing is a cross between Van Halen and Metallica.

Then the verses go into a Rock Funk groove.

And the Chorus, its melodic hard rock.

As a guitar player, this song is like a Chord Book on complex chords.

Surrounded

It’s listed as words and music by Kevin Moore.

It starts off as a piano ballad, before it builds up to a funky blues rock tune.

But press play to hear the digital delay lead break from John Petrucci. It feels like The Edge from U2, but a lot better.

Metropolis—Part I: ‘The Miracle and the Sleeper’

It’s a monster of a song that every Metal and Rock fan would enjoy.

The pulsing intro alone is head banging material.

But those verses. Petrucci plays fast palm muted chords like the “Darkness, imprisoning me” part in “One” and keyboardist Moore outlines the chord progression with his riffs, while Portnoy plays a “Kashmir” like beat.

Perfection to my ears.

Under a Glass Moon

What an intro, pushing the envelope of what metal and rock should sound like.

But press play for the groove in the Verses from Petrucci and Myung, while Moore outlines the Chord progression with his keyboards.

And then wait to hear Petrucci on the solo.

Wait for Sleep

A brilliant piano piece from Kevin Moore. It’s like a haunting soundtrack. The main piano idea from here appears in “Learning To Live” and when it comes in, its brilliant.

Learning to Live

At 11.30 it’s the longest song on the album. The music is written by the band and lyrics are written by John Myung.

If I had to recommend one song to a new Dream Theater fan that typified the progressive rock leanings of the band, then this song would be it.

The song is that good, that Dream Theater rewrote it and called it “Breaking All Illusions” for the “A Dramatic Turn of Events” album in 2011.

The Kevin Moore keyboard intro kicks things off with a wicked 15/8 time signature. This same passage re-appears and this time it is played over alternating time signatures, starting off with 14/8 for 2 bars, then 13/8 for one bar and back to 14/8 for another bar. Then it goes back to 13/8, 14/8, 13/8, 7/8.

In between you get a very metal like passage in the vein of “Immigrant Song” from Led Zeppelin, that moves between 7/4,6/4,4/4 and 5/8 time signatures over F#m, C#m and Em root notes. It doesn’t sound forced. It is very fluent like.

The verse is unbelievable. Myung holds it all together with an unbelievable groove over a 7/4 and 6/4 time signature, that is supplemented by Kevin Moore’s choir like voicing’s outlining the Em9, Cmaj9, Amadd9 and Em9 chords. Myung paraphrases the novel “Atlas Shrugged” from Ayn Rand.

There was no time for pain, no energy for anger
The sightlessness of hatred slips away
Walking through winter streets alone, He stops and take a breath
With confidence and self-control

I look at the world and see no understanding
I’m waiting to find some sense of strength
I’m begging you from the bottom of my heart to show me understanding

Petrucci and Portnoy build the song nicely into the chorus. Petrucci begins with normal volume swells, while Portnoy locks in with Myung. As Petrucci’s guitar gets busier with harmonics, chords and arpeggios, Portnoy’s drumming becomes busier.

The second verse has a great progressive groove that keeps within the 7/4 and 6/4 time signature of the first verse. This time it’s all power chords and its heavy as hell. Chugging along on an E5 power cord, Petrucci enhances the riffs by chucking in B5, Bflat5 and F power chords, utilising the devil triton to maximum effect.

The 90s bring new questions
New solutions to be found
I fell in love to be let down

Then when you think they are going to go into the Chorus again, they go into a bridge part with a simple 4/4 groove and then the instrumental break starts. Petrucci is now playing what Moore played in the intro.

The flamenco passage at 5.30 kicks things off. From 6.30 it gets progressive and then the woo ohh ohhs kick in and Petrucci takes over at 7.10 in one of the most heartfelt solos Petrucci has laid to tape. Those bends remind me of Dave Gilmour in “Comfortably Numb”.

The whole “Wait For Sleep” segment that begins at 7.30 and ends at 9.35 includes brilliant jazz bluesy solos from both Moore and Petrucci and the main piano riff from “Wait For Sleep”. It then segues back in to the Chorus.

The way that your heart beats
Makes all the difference in learning to live

Just when you think the song is over, the outro kicks in, again led by an unbelievably groovy and very funky Myung bass line. Then Petrucci joins in with the Natural Harmonics and then the monk style voices take over. As a listener I just sit back with the head phones and allow myself to be taken away. A brilliant song and a brilliant piece of work.

Mike Portnoy has gone on record saying how much he hated working with producer David Prater and the use of drum midi triggers. Portnoy feared that the triggers would make the album sound dated and seen as another generic hard rock album.

One thing is certain.

The album still sounds fresh and current in 2022 as it did back in 1992. As Rush’s “2112” laid the groundwork for what was to come for Rush, “Images and Words” did the same for Dream Theater.

The tour finished in November, 1993. Overall they played 194 shows in 17 countries. “Images And Words” was certified Gold in the U.S. Everything they worked hard and persevered with, had finally happened.

The pressure for a successor was intensified.

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The Record Vault: Dream Theater – When Dream And Day Unite

It was 1992 and the music scene was changing. The record labels started to abandon the music I grew up with and the writing was on the wall for a lot of the hard rock bands, especially the ones that got marginalised as “hair metal” or “glam metal”.

I saw a Geffen ad that promoted White Zombie, Nirvana, Roxy Blue and Guns N Roses. It was a smart marketing move from Geffen. Promote different acts on the same page and see what sticks. I think Galactic Cowboys also appeared on it.

While I was angry that it was getting hard to find releases of bands I liked, I was also a bit lost as to what new music I should spend my money on. At this point in time the CD had overtaken the vinyl LP as the favourable format, so the second hand record shops had a lot of vinyl stock which I was purchasing at insane cheap prices. At first I was buying all the 80’s records I didn’t have money to buy when I first saw em or decided to buy something else instead of that. Like I purchased WASP instead of Britny Fox. Once that 80’s fix was satiated, I went back even further and got my 70’s fix from acts like “Free”, “Bad Company”, “Styx”, “Kansas” and many more.

Then Dream Theater came into my life in 1992.

It all started with the “Images and Words” album and the song “Pull Me Under”. Most of the music I got into was because of friends and family. My cousin Mega (his nickname because he loved Megadeth) was 4 years older than me and he spent every cent he earned on getting new music. He wanted to be known as the guy who had it first and shared it with others. My fandom of Dream Theater is because of him. And Megadeth. And Metallica. And Twisted Sister. And Fates Warning.

The whole intro from “Pull Me Under” is worth the price of the album. And I thought it was the debut album from Dream Theater, until my cousin Mega told me differently. A week later I was back in the record shop to buy the debut. But it wasn’t there nor was it available to buy locally. The only way to get it was via an expensive US Import.

It wasn’t until “Awake” came out in 1994, that I got “When Dream And Day Unite”. At a $27.99 price.

“When Dream and Day Unite” was released on March 6, 1989, through Mechanic/MCA Records. There is a story about how this album came to be and why Dream Theater couldn’t use the Majesty name, but that is for another post, when I get to the release of “The Majesty Demos” release as my Dream Theater record vault is based on release date instead of where the releases fit in.

The production from Terry Date is thin compared to “Images And Words” which Portnoy actually hated because producer David Prater used triggers on his drums, which Portnoy saw as a relic of the 80’s hard rock and glam rock movement. And Date at the time was also making a name for himself as a groove metal pioneer with the “Cowboys From Hell” from Pantera.

The band for the debut is Charlie Dominici on vocals, John Petrucci on guitar, Kevin Moore on keyboard, Mike Portnoy on drums/percussion and John Myung on bass.

The cover art from Amy Guip looks bizarre with “The Majesty” logo being branded into the male model and from what I have read, there are versions of this album out there with “The Majesty” band name. They got a cease and desist from another act called “Majesty” just as the record was getting ready to ship.

All music is by the band members.

A Fortune in Lies

Lyrics are written by John Petrucci.

When I first heard it, I thought it was about writers block, and not being able to write the song to get them a record deal which is basically a contract promising a fortune but with a lot of lies in between.

Then I read the book, “Lifting Shadows” from Rich Wilson and he described it as an “acquaintance of John Petrucci’s who was arrested for theft and Petrucci’s subsequent experiences after that”.

Check out the middle section homage to “Forgotten Sons” from Marillion.

Status Seeker

It was the last track written for the album with lyrics by Charlie Dominici and John Petrucci.

The Rush influences are strong on this. Think of “New World Man”.

I would have liked them to flesh out those kind of pop elements on this however the song is loaded with extra riffs and fills just to make it sound progressive.

The Ytse Jam

Its Majesty (the former name of Dream Theater) spelled backwards.

An instrumental, written by John Petrucci, John Myung, Kevin Moore and Mike Portnoy.

If you like “YYZ” from Rush then you would like this. The intro is excellent and make sure you check out the section in the middle which has the keyboards playing the intro guitar riff, while the guitar plays arpeggios.

The Killing Hand

There are five parts, to this 9 minute song with lyrics written by John Petrucci.

“I The Observance”, “II Ancient Renewal”, “III The Stray Seed”, “IV Thorns” and “V Exodus”.

The acoustic intro in “I – The Observance” is excellent. The middle parts are cool and the keyboard solo from Moore in “IV – Thorns” is worthy, but the last two minutes and thirty seconds of the song which is “V – Exodus” is the best part. The movement between sections is very similar to what they would do on “A Change Of Seasons”.

Light Fuse and Get Away

Lyrics are written by Kevin Moore. The intro is progressive and at the 38 second mark it moves into a Rush like groove, something which they would do similar on “Learning To Live” on the follow up album.

But press play for the riff between from 1.37 and 2.12. It then moves into the verse riff and in between you hear you hear a little bit of a progression that would be used on “Take The Time” and “Home”.

Afterlife

The best song on the album for me as it reminds me of the first two Queensryche albums.

Lyrics are written by Charlie Dominici and maybe the band should have gotten Dominici to write more of the lyrics as they make sense compared to the stuff that Petrucci and Moore were dishing out.

Make sure you check out the guitar lead from Petrucci on this as it’s another Guitar Hero moment which then morphs into a harmony lead with the keyboards.

The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun

The surprise track on the album with lyrics written by John Petrucci.

Press play to hear the intro on this, with the keyboard riff and the natural harmonic bass riff.

Then Portnoy comes in with a drum groove, while Petrucci plays a “Mirror” like riff and Moore plays an exotic keyboard lick over it.

Only a Matter of Time

Lyrics are written by Kevin Moore and I like the intro on this.

Musically, the song has a lot.

I remember reading an interview with Lars Ulrich and James Hetfield, when they were writing the earlier songs for Metallica, and how they would just chuck in riffs to make the song longer.

Well there are plenty of riffs here, but so many different ones and sometimes for a short amount of time so it’s hard to have any familiarity with any of em. Hence the song gets lost.

There is this section between the 4 minute and 6 minute mark which reminds me of Marillion.

The best way to describe this album is as a mix of progressive rock and 80’s arena hard rock and early US metal is the best way to describe this debut. Rush and Marillion are here.

Queensryche and Iron Maiden are here. Metallica is here as well. And very different to acts like Ratt, Bon Jovi, White Lion and Motley Crue, who did great business on the charts.

Derek Oliver from Kerrang gave the band a glowing review and it wasn’t forgotten either, when a few years later, Oliver was the A&R Rep who signed them to their ATCO deal (which then became Elektra).

Charlie Dominici copped some flak for his vocals. Portnoy wanted a hybrid Tate and Dickinson, and got more a Graham Bonnet. The songs that Dominici wrote lyrics to like “Afterlife” and “Status Seeker” also have the best vocal melodies, which makes me wonder how the other songs would have sounded vocally if Dominici was allowed to write the lyrics and melodies instead.

The national and European tour promised by their label Mechanic Records didn’t eventuate, as Mechanic lied about providing funding. The band was left to do a 5 date regional tour in their own state and a small support slot for Marillion when they toured their hometown.

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The Week In Destroyer Of Harmony History – July 19 to July 25

4 Years Ago (2017)

All death is tragic.

David Z, Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington passed away. Ivan Moody was in a dark place at the time.

So many people make money from artists, and some make way more than the artists. The vicious cycles that artists are on from labels and management is borderline negligence.

The show must go on but there is no show when there is no artist.

The Jungle Giants is a band that plays a form of pop rock with dance/techno elements. I’m not a huge fan but in 2017 they were an unsigned artists that racked up over 50 million streams on Spotify. Those stats are impressive and a lot more than artists who actually have label deals.

It’s hard work controlling your own destiny. But you have the freedom to decide what path to take.

And Album number 4 just came out.

When is inspiration/influence just that and when is inspiration/influence copying? 

It is possible to borrow without “stealing”. When ideas appear in ones mind, quite often they are unconsciously inspired by a piece of music the artist has heard.

And it’s perfectly okay and very common to take an existing idea and turn it into something new. 

According to manager Barry McKay, Steve Harris stole an idea. I don’t know how you can steal an idea, but hey it happens.

Legal streaming music at the time was hurting.

Streaming companies need to license music from the legacy players for a substantial fee and then pay royalties to these organizations when the songs are listened/viewed.

And these organizations like the labels and publishers keep the bulk of these payments and pay cents to the artists they represent. 

Then they remain silent when Spotify gets sued for having music on their service.

But.

It was these organizations that approved Spotify to license their catalogues.

And I compared music streaming to Netflix who at that time had no problem growing its subscriber base and making profits, however it produces its own content, which earned it over 90 Emmy nominations.

And it’s monthly fees are identical to music subscription services, even though it costs a lot more to create a TV show or a movie than a song/album.

So how is Netflix profiting and Spotify losing?

8 Years Ago (2013)

I was trying to figure out what the hell was going on in Australia.

Corporations and Unions run this country. The Courts have been compromised by money. The mainstream media is all about half-truths and likes. No one reports with any substance or an opinion anymore as they had served whoever paid them the most.

Game Of Thrones was the most pirated show in the world, with Australia leading the way.

Why?

Unless we pay $300 plus for a PAY TV subscription, we couldn’t watch it.

Nine years later nothing much has changed. We’re still a mess. We can’t get our population vaccinated and we have a leader who just looks for the photo opportunity and has best friends who run QANON sites.

I’m an Amazon Prime Video subscriber and due to a deal they have with another PAY TV provider in this country, I couldn’t watch Bosch S7 on Amazon.

So I downloaded it.

Imagine that. I’m a paying legal subscriber and I couldn’t watch a show that the service created on their platform.

Why did guitarists like Yngwie Malmsteen, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Eric Johnson, Alex Skolnick, John Petrucci and Paul Gilbert rise above all the other shredders of the era that came on the scene between 1984 and 1994?

Guitarists like Tony MacAlpine, Greg Howe and Vinnie Moore are all great guitarists, however they are still relatively unknowns outside of their guitar instrumental niche market.

Someone like Vinnie Moore played with Alice Cooper and is holding down the fort with UFO. He’s been there since 2003, 18 years. Michael Schenker only did 11, his first stint between 1973 and 78 was only 5 years.

But a lot of people still don’t Moore.

Jon Bon Jovi seemed to be pissing off his fans.

Perseverance is a massive skill. Especially when it comes to life as a musician in an internet era with information overload each day.

And success happens when you contemplate giving up.

Dream Theater almost called it a day, between 1988 and 1991, when months rolled by and no suitable singer appeared.

Quiet Riot during the Randy Rhoads years, couldn’t get a U.S deal. After Randy left to join Ozzy, Kevin Dubrow persevered under his own surname, only to resurrect the Quiet Riot brand after the death of Randy Rhoads and turn it into a Number 1 act.

George Lynch auditioned for Ozzy’s band on two occasions, losing out to Randy Rhoads once and then to Jake E. Lee. One of his earlier bands “The Boyz” had a showcase gig organised for Gene Simmons to attend. Van Halen opened the show and the rest is history. Gene even said to Lynch, to consider changing his name as he will never make it.

Ronnie James Dio spent 18 years paying his dues before finding success with Rainbow in 1976.

How many musicians starting out today, would put in 18 years of service to music?

Don’t chase trends because what is here today will be gone tomorrow.

The Record Labels aren’t worth much if they don’t have acts. And Artists really don’t need a label deal anymore.

Of course it’s more difficult going your own way, however that is the future. If you are successful you will get label interest and a deal that suits you, because without an artist, there is no profit from music for the labels.

But.

The major labels want radio hits so they find artists that are easy to sell and easily expendable.

The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy was one of the funniest movies I had seen that year.

I provided my thoughts on the Metallica “Death Magnetic” DVD which included footage on the making of the album. It came with the Coffin Edition of the album.

James Hetfield still rules. As much as the documentary tried to paint Lars as this hands on kind of guy, if James didn’t agree or say yes, the musical idea wouldn’t be part of the song. Bob Rock once said that the problem with “St Anger” was that the main songwriter wasn’t there mentally. You can see that he is back for “Death Magnetic”.

And they went on a two year victory lap touring behind the album. They released DVD’s from shows, for the French and Latin America markets. They released live EP’s for certain markets. In Australia we got the “Six Feet Down Under” EP’s part 1 and 2.

When that died down, they orchestrated the “Big 4” shows and the “Orion” festival. They played the summer festivals around the world.

Then they celebrated their 30 years anniversary with a week of shows in San Francisco. When that died down they released the “Beyond Magnetic” EP, which had 4 songs that didn’t make the final cut. Then they released “Quebec Magnetic” and at that point in time they were doing the “Through The Never”movie.

So did anyone remember the debacle of “Lulu”?

It was old news, history. It’s like it never existed.

What a difference two years make?

“The House of Gold and Bones” by Stone Sour was becoming a favorite so I posted my review here and a review of a song “The Uncanny Valley” here.

At the time I was reading about how artists deserve to be paid for their creations because they put their blood, sweat and tears into those works.

Once upon a time, artists created music and that Record Labels looked to profit from this relationship with the artists. It didn’t always happen as making money in any occupation is a tough business.

And that’s another wrap for another week.

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A Nightmare To Remember

“Black Clouds and Silver Linings” is Dream Theater’s last album with Mike Portnoy.

The opening track “A Nightmare To Remember” is 16 minutes plus. Four songs in one to sink your teeth into.

The opening 2 minutes could have come from a black metal act or a thrash metal act. But it didn’t. It came from these Jersey dudes. Then from about 1.50 to 2.20 some of the best hard rock bands in the world wished they were writing head banging riffs like this.

The first verse riff is palm muted, with the swagger of Guns N Roses “Appetite For Destruction” album. Then John Petrucci brings out the wah wah pedal, showing Kirk Hammett how it should be used and the. its back into the head banging verse riff.

And the song’s music just keeps morphing as the lyrics detail a car accident that John Petrucci’s family had when he was young.

I really like the clean tone section from the 5 minute mark. It’s very “Diary Of A Madman” and it connects immediately. It’s like a different song, and that chorus like section when James LaBrie sings “hopelessly drifting” is super melodic.

And by 8.30 that clean tone part is done, as Petrucci moves into a jazz fusion solo, then Jordan Rudess starts to solo on the keys and the instrumental section of the song is before us.

They trade solos until the 10.30 mark and the song is back to the black metal style intro with a lot of chromatic style soloing. Portnoy takes over on the vocals here, bringing a growl element to it. It was hated by reviewers and elitists but we liked it. As I’ve said before, you need to accept the cheese elements with Dream Theater.

Then at about 12.10 it moves to another instrumental section. This section has got more of a “Learning To Live” vibe from “Images And Words” which I like.

And at 13.20 its back into the singing, before it moves into a few familiar riffs played throughout the song and then back to the intro black metal riff to close the song off. This time, Portnoy brings out the blast beats.

And at 16 minutes, the ride is over.

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The Best Of Times

This song has three distinct movements that grab me.

The excellent melancholic intro which comes in again as a sad and tragic symphony around the 6.20 minute mark.

If you like Rush, you will like this song. That riff that comes in at the 2.45 mark, reminds me of “The Spirit Of Radio”. And you can’t escape the Rush’isms in the first verse vocal delivery and phrasing.

That Petrucci solo from the 10 minute mark to the end. It’s emotive, it’s sad, its hopeful, its classical and from the 10.50 minute mark, he shows why he is one of the most formidable guitarist when he decides to step on the pedal, ease off, and step on it again, to ease off again. And after 13 minutes, the song ends.

The lyrics are written by Mike Portnoy for his dad Howard Portnoy as he was dying of cancer. This song has never been played live by Dream Theater. When Portnoy was in the band it was too emotional for him to play it and after he left, it hasn’t been included in a set list without him. There is a demo version as well with Portnoy actually doing the vocals. It appeared as a the B-side to the “Wither” single.

But as a guitarist, I need to mention again, the ending solo from Petrucci. It’s emotional, it’s got shred, and a lot of melody. Basically you don’t want it to end.

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A Rite Of Passage

“A Rite Of Passage” is the second track on the “Black Clouds and Silver Linings” album released in 2009.

The music is written by John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy, Jordan Rudess and John Myung. The lyrics like “The Count Of Tuscany” are written by John Petrucci.

There are always accessible songs on each Dream Theater album. Accessible in Dream Theater’s language is shorter.

The main riff on this song is a metallic masterpiece. The riff moves between the E major and E minor scales.

Actually John Petrucci recorded this song using a 6-string guitar tuned 1 whole step down (D-G-C-F-A-D) so even though you play the riff like you would play it in standard tuning, the actual tone is D major and D minor.

And the song is filled with so many good bits like;
– The heavily palm muted verse riff.
– The pre chorus riff and the vocal melody.
– The chorus riff and the melodic lead break over it and the vocal melody. It’s an AOR arena rock chorus.
– Then when we go back to the next verse, the foundation chord progression is the same, but Petrucci decorates it with fast arpeggio and single note lines, before it moves back to the familiar pre chorus and that excellent Chorus.

After the Chorus, the intro riff is back and in your face.

Then it goes into this Megadeth style riff, like how they do in “Holy Wars” for the solo section. And man, John Petrucci brings it. Especially that chromatic little section with sweeps and single note lines.

Then Jordan Rudess makes chicken noises and gets a chance to throw another million notes at us, but I wanted Petrucci to take this one. It was perfect just for the guitar to shred over.

And then the solo section abruptly ends as it goes back to the intro riff for 10 seconds before it moves into the Chorus.

Did I mention that the Chorus is excellent?

And it ends the same way it started, with the bone crushing intro riff which fuses major and minor modes in E, but it’s in the key of D because Petrucci down tuned.

Lyrically the song is about secret organisations, like the freemasons.

As the lyrics state, “a brotherhood of wisdom, strength and dignity, its rituals and secrets, remain a mystery.”

These kind of organisations are shrouded in conspiracy, and are either up to good or evil. Just think of Dan Brown’s novel – ‘The Da Vinci Code’.

And these kind of organisations have so much power, but not a lot of people know much about them. There was a quote from a documentary I watched which said, there is a very high chance that a person would have had dealings with a person who is a freemason, and they wouldn’t have known it.

Beneath an ever watchful eye
The angels of the temple fly

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