“Suspended Animation” came out in 2005. I purchased it from his website straight away and I’ve lived with this instrumental album for a long time. Just recently it appeared on Spotify as well, which makes it easier for me, as I didn’t have to rely on my CD rip on Apple Music for listening.
On “Suspended Animation” he had enough hooks and catchy melodic passages that I could sink my fingers into and let’s not forget the brilliance of “Glasgow Kiss”, a tour de force in itself, especially that middle breakdown section, when he plays arpeggio chords over the open E and B strings and then that emotive lead.
And I have lived with “Suspended Animation” for a long time.
A long time.
Fifteen years later, “Terminal Velocity” is thrust upon us, in a world overtaken and overrun by a virus which spreads easily, kills and keeps mutating.
And fifteen years, it’s a long time in a songwriters life.
So many things change.
You get older, you have different family dynamics and your music listening habits keep evolving or devolving or they end up in an echo chamber, listening to the same stuff you listened to when you were growing up.
And if you have a practice routine to keep up your chops, you will get technically better at playing your instrument. It’s that old saying, get better every day by a ¼ of a percent and over the course of 365 days your 91% better and over 15 years you are 1368% better.
Well, John Petrucci is so good technically that I feel like breaking my guitar trying to learn stuff from him.
Petrucci assembled the band that he did G3 with around 2006, which is Mike Portnoy on drums and Dave LaRue on bass. It’s an awesome band and being a long time DT fan, it’s cool to hear MP drumming to JP riffs again.
“Temple Of Circadia” is my favourite, especially that clean tone section which kicks in before the 3 minute mark and the lead break which follows.
This is what JP said on Twitter; “The ending to “Temple Of Circadia” is also a highpoint for me in the all-out jamming nature that ends the song and I also thought finishing the album with a guitar cadenza like I did was the perfect way to put an exclamation point on the entire record”.
“Happy Song” with the major key vibe is like the commercial song on the album, especially that Americana Rock vibe in the melodic lead. Petrucci said on Twitter that the main chorus melody is one of his favourites and I agree.
And just listen to the outro. Its finger breaking stuff and still melodic. This song has appeared live on his G3 tours and at his Guitar Universe camp.
“The Oddfather” sounds like a track that could have come from “Black Clouds And Silver Linings”. And one of the melodic tremolo leads sounds like a Muse lead however Petrucci in his Twitter post said he was trying to mimic the sound of a fast alternate picked mandolin.
“Terminal Velocity” has that major key vibe in sections that remind me of this Arcade game called “Turbo Outrun”. It’s the first song he wrote for the album and it was an archived riff from a while go.
And that major key vibe is energetic and uplifting, while Petrucci uses the E Harmonic Minor mode for the main theme and melody to create a dark and mysterious type of sound, as per his Twitter post at the listening party.
“Out Of The Blue” is a blues fusion track.
“Glass Eyed Zombies” brings the metal. It’s heavy, its groovy and MP is having a ball with it. There is this lead break section, like a verse, that sounds like those TV themes from Danny Elfman.
And that outro again, melodic progressive metal with Petrucci nailing a brilliant lead to finish it off.
“The Way Things Fall” is like a Rush track in the intro, but then this melodic rock riff comes in and I’m all in. Once the melodic lead comes in, which acts like a verse, it’s perfect. You just need to listen to it.
“Gemini” is a song I have had for ages as a bootleg. I don’t even know when it was recorded or where it was recorded. But this song has been around for a long time and its very Dream Theater like from the Portnoy era. There are sections in this song that have appeared in DT songs and LTE songs, albeit with some variations.
“Snake In My Boot” was going to be called “The Stomp” and if you’ve heard “The Stroke” from Mr Squier you will know why it has a similar title, but the first impression I got from this was a Queen like vibe.
And on Spotify, he is getting some great numbers.
Over the course of just a week, he is already over the 120K number for each song with the pre-album release songs like “Terminal Velocity” at 360K and growing. So people are listening to the album over and over and over again. And that’s a good thing.
And these numbers, just don’t happen magically.
Petrucci has done something which I didn’t think he would do. He had a Twitter listening party and as he was listening to the album, he tweeted bits about each song, little nuggets here and there about certain sections and how they came about and how hard it is to play. He was connecting with his fans in a way he hasn’t done before.
And its resonating.