A new Dream Theater album is about as good as it gets in the world of prog metal for fans of the genre. For the first time in their career, Dream Theater have decided to make an album self-titled, reflecting that they are very happy with where they currently are as a band. "Dream Theater" the album marks the first album with Mike Mangini full integrated into the album creation process, having come onboard during the creation of 2011's A Dramatic Turn Of Events.
The album kicks off with False Awakening Suite, which perhaps more than ever for a DT instrumental piece sounds like it could have come from a classical composition. The listener is quickly returned firmly to the world of prog metal with second track and lead single The Enemy Inside, which is arguably Dream Theater's song with the most mainstream appeal (ballads not withstanding) for several albums. The Enemy Inside has all the right ingredients of a great Dream Theater song and expect this to become a firm favourite for years to come. The wonderful instrumental Enigma Machine also features some trademark John Petrucci guitar work of the highest quality and briefly revisits some of the guitar sections used on Octavarium to excellent effect and the result is a truly memorable instrumental prog metal track.
On the lighter side, tracks like The Looking Glass & Along For The Ride are reminiscent of some of the bands earlier work from the Images and Words and Falling Into Infinity albums, which no doubt will please some fans more than others, but Dream Theater have always had tremendous variety within their progressive metal framework. They have the ability to always keep fans and listeners guessing which twenty five years into their career is something not many bands can say. The album concludes with the feature length Illumination Theory, which whilst not quite on the same level of some of their previous epics such as A Change Of Seasons or The Count Of Tuscany is still likely to be one of the best things you'll hear all year, particularly the majestic intrumental section in the middle and James Labrie turns in one of his best performances of recent albums.
Overall, this is another strong album from a band showing no signs of losing their magic touch. It is the most "stereotypically" Dream Theater sounding record for many years, and with a new member fully integrated into the band that's not a band thing at all. With John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess now primarily guiding the songwriting process the band are in very assured hands. The Dream Theater juggernaut will continue to roll on through the prog metal world for many more happy years based on this evidence.