Posts tagged Dream Theater
There’s been a lot of drama with Dream Theater in the last year. Mike Portnoy “quit” (accounts vary 😉 ), and there was a protracted search for a new drummer replete with auditions documented in high-def and the hush-hush worthy of PricewaterhouseCoopers. Mike Mangini, the foregone conclusion of legions of forum trolls, was selected and now the new album has been released. Is it worthy of the build up?
A Dramatic Turn of Events is a great album, for sure. Is it, as the packaging proclaims, “their most powerful album yet”? I can’t say that, but probably only because I’m so partial to the older catalog. A Dramatic Turn of Events is, however, a very strong album and the best of the last several Dream Theater releases. The individual musicians and the band as a whole are as inspiring as ever.
How is Mangini specifically? Has he ruined Dream Theater or made it so much more awesome that fans will forget Portnoy ever existed? Neither. The first time I listened to the album, I was a little disappointed that Mangini didn’t put a giant thumbprint on it. I wanted to hear stuff that really capitalized on his unique talents. Upon subsequent listens, though, I’ve changed my mind and have come to the following realizations:
- Most importantly, Mangini has said from the beginning of his journey that he did not wish to change the band or be a wholesale replacement of Portnoy. The “voice from beyond” of Portnoy can be heard in Mangini’s parts. I believe Mangini accomplished his goal of both serving the music and respecting the vastness of Dream Theater drumming that came before him—and without merely mimicking Portnoy grooves and licks.
- Mangini is a very different drummer, though the differences are in the nuances of the playing rather than in huge fills that sound as if played by an octopus. I would venture to say that, on the whole, Mangini’s playing is slightly more bare bones than expected. Mangini slams into some of the tightest kick-snare-and-hat grooves and locks them in for extended periods. Another thing: the sound of many grooves and fills is deceiving; keep in mind he’s probably doing a lot of stuff with one hand! Further, what sounds like the usual DT gobs and buckets of notes I suspect are more complex than a cursory listen would suggest. I have yet to sit and do a thorough analysis of any of the songs, but the really technical passages and meter changes sound tighter and more rhythmically complex. I’ll be able to say that with certainty once I do a better dissection.
- I think the Mangini fireworks will emerge live and once he’s been in the band for a while. Once he’s lived through an album cycle or two with the band he’ll be more involved in writing and his unique musical personality will be more present.
- Ultimately, the Mangini on this album is Mangini! Despite any sense of obligation and respect, Mangini recorded drum parts he wanted to record. Remove all of his inhuman circus tricks and Mangini is a solid rock/metal drummer playing for the music. YouTube baboons deride him for playing too much, YouTube baboons will deride him for not playing more. The poor guy can’t win.
- Mike Mangini is the new drummer for an established band. He’ll have plenty of spotlight on tour; he wasn’t “owed” a big drum feature on the new album. He does an absolutely masterful job of accompanying his new bandmates and creating a work greater than the sum of its parts.
I do have minor quibbles with the album. I’m not one of those lunks who is dead set against the obligatory DT ballad. “Wait for Sleep” and “Silent Man” are great tunes. That said, I feel two sappy ballads is too many on one album. Yes, defenders will say that each is sandwiched between some seriously heavy and dense DT goodness, and I appreciate that. But I can’t help but start reaching for the Skip button halfway through “Far from Heaven”, and “Beneath the Surface” is an anticlimactic closer after “Breaking All Illusions” just blew you face off.
My only other complaint is the drum production. Portnoy always had an amazing drum sound, and I’m sure effort was made to make Mangini sound different even at the basic sonic level. I find the drums a bit lacking and the cymbals often too shrill in the mix. Part of it is cymbal selection itself. I don’t know which Zildjian hi-hats Mangini used to record, but they occasionally sound too small and not “washy” enough when he’s really laying into them.
Rather than list a bunch of highlights and favorite tracks, it suffices to say A Dramatic Turn of Events is a great album; get it. I love Mike Portnoy; I will miss Mike Portnoy in Dream Theater. But Mike Mangini is such an obvious and perfect fit for the band. I’m even more excited to hear the next album, which Mangini will presumably have a much greater role writing.
There’s been a lot of joking about Dream Theater’s secrecy and Mangini being a foregone conclusion, but there were some serious auditions to fill Mike Portnoy’s slot in Dream Theater. Not only is it incredible to see these absolute drumming monsters auditioning like no-name newbs (and making mistakes), but the production of this three-part documentary by Roadrunner Records is truly entertaining and informative to watch. I do not envy the band having to make a decision. The grand reveal in Episode 3 is a little over-the-top, and they treat it like Portnoy died in some tragic accident, but the series is very much worth watching straight through.
- Mike Mangini
- Derek Roddy
- Thomas Lang
- Virgil Donati
- Marco Minneman
- Aquiles Priester
- Peter Wildoer
Roadrunner has disabled embedding, so here are the direct links:
Episode 1 – http://youtu.be/L609JsPFmmI
Press Release – 7th February 2011
Drum Channel Release Drumming DVDs Featuring Mike Portnoy, Terry Bozzio and Stephen Perkins
Drum Channel’s reputation for working with the Best Drummers in the World continues to grow and they can now announce the launch of three new DVD’s featuring interviews and performances of some of the most incredible drummers of our times.
For the first time Drum Channel has released to DVD the special event where Terry Bozzio meets and talks to Mike Portnoy on his show ‘The Art of Drumming’. This DVD titled Mike Portnoy on the “Art of Drumming” Show with Terry Bozzio, brings you the man responsible for the ingeniously intricate Dream Theater beats in candid conversation with incredibly musical and entertaining drum jams. (RRP $24.95).
Next up is the re-mastered magical Terry Bozzio: Melodic Drumming and The Ostinato, Vols. 1, 2, and 3. This 3 DVD set shows features over four hours of Terry Bozzio at his very best in stunning 5.1 surround sound quality. It strips down groundbreaking ideas, demonstrates revolutionary approaches to drums, contains hundreds of ‘how to’, examples and exercises. Each radical technique is clearly explained by Terry himself. (RRP $39.95).
The third is Stephen Perkins: Hands*Feet*Mind*Soul. Stephen takes you through eleven classic Jane’s Addiction tracks, breaking down the drum parts, analyzing the beats, and explaining why he chose each one and how it sets the foundation for each song. Also included with this double DVD is a downloadable workbook and play along tracks featuring bassist Tony Franklin. With over fours hours of footage, this DVD represents incredible value for money and retails for $24.95!
The rumor mill is churning overtime about Mike Mangini. I heard some inside info that “it” is happening. You know what I’m talking about… I’ll put up another post when it’s official.
But the real updates…
Check out these vids. Not sure how I didn’t stumble across them before now. I have also added the following content as an addendum to my post “Mike Mangini Clinic 04.09.10” so that it’s all in one place.
Yes, shocking news: Mike Portnoy and Dream Theater are Splitsville. Here’s Mike Portnoy’s press release:
Wednesday September 8th 2010
I am about to write something I never imagined I’d ever write:
After 25 years, I have decided to leave Dream Theater….the band I founded, led and truly loved for a quarter of a century.
To many people this will come as a complete shock, and will also likely be misunderstood by some, but please believe me that it is not a hasty decision…it is something I have struggled with for the last year or so….
After having had such amazing experiences playing with Hail, Transatlantic and Avenged Sevenfold this past year, I have sadly come to the conclusion that I have recently had more fun and better personal relations with these other projects than I have for a while now in Dream Theater…
Please don’t misinterpret me, I love the DT guys dearly and have a long history, friendship and bond that runs incredibly deep with them…it’s just that I think we are in serious need of a little break…
Dream Theater was always my baby…and I nurtured that baby every single day and waking moment of my life since 1985…24/7, 365…never taking time off from DT’s never-ending responsibilites (even when the band was “off” between cycles)…working overtime and way beyond the call of duty that most sane people ever would do for a band…
But I’ve come to the conclusion that the DT machine was starting to burn me out…and I really needed a break from the band in order to save my relationship with the other members and keep my DT spirit hungry and inspired.
We have been on an endless write/record/tour cycle for almost 20 years now (of which I have overseen EVERY aspect without a break) and while a few months apart from each other here & there over the years has been much needed and helpful, I honestly hoped the band could simply agree with me to taking a bit of a “hiatus” to recharge our batteries and “save me from ourselves”…
Sadly, in discussing this with the guys, they determined they do not share my feelings and have decided to continue without me rather than take a breather…I even offered to do some occasional work throughout 2011 against my initial wishes, but it was not to be…
While it truly hurts for me to even think of a Dream Theater without Mike Portnoy (hell, my father named the band!!), I do not want to stand in their way…so I have decided to sacrifice myself and simply leave the band so as to not hold them back against their wishes….
Strangely enough, I just read an interview that I recently did that asked me about the future of DT and I talked about “always following your heart and being true to yourself”…sadly I must say that at this particular moment, my heart is not with Dream Theater…and I would simply be “going through the motions”, and would honestly NOT be true to myself if I stayed for the sake of obligation without taking the break I felt I needed.
I wish the guys the best and hope the music and legacy we created together is enjoyed by fans for decades to come…I am proud of every album we made, every song we wrote and every show we played….
I’m sorry to all the disappointed DT fans around the world…I really tried to salvage the situation and make it work…I honestly just wanted a break (not a split)…but happiness cannot be forced, it needs to come from within….
You DT fans are the greatest fans in the world and as you all know, I have always busted my ass for you guys and I hope that you will stay with me on my future musical journey, wherever it may lead me….(and as you all know my work ethic, there will surely be no shortage of future MP projects!)
Your fearless ex-leader and drummer,
Dream Theater’s press release in response:
To all of our loyal fans and friends: It is with profound sadness — regret — we announce that Mike Portnoy, our lifelong drummer and friend, has decided to leave Dream Theater. Mike’s stature in the band has meant the world to all of us professionally, musically, and personally over the years. There is no dispute: Mike has been a major force within this band.
While it is true that Mike is choosing to pursue other ventures and challenges, we can assure you that Dream Theater will continue to move forward with the same intensity — and in the same musical tradition — that you have all helped make so successful, and which is truly gratifying to us.
Fans and friends: File this episode under “Black Clouds and Silver Linings.” As planned, we begin recording our newest album in January 2011, and we’ll follow that with a full-on world tour. “The Spirit Carries On.”
All of us in Dream Theater wholeheartedly wish Mike the best on his musical journey. We have had a long and meaningful career together. It is our true hope that he finds all he is looking for, and that he achieves the happiness he deserves. He will be missed.
This is quite disappointing. Dream Theater and Mike Portnoy were profound influences on me as a young musician, as I wrote in another post. How many people can say they’ve done anything for 25 years, let alone endless touring and recording cycles with one band? They certainly owe the fans nothing.
Mike is justified in leaving if he’s lost the passion for the band. The remaining members of DT have every right to not have their band torpedoed by one member, though part of me doesn’t want to see them carrying on without Mike as Dream Theater. But the name has brand equity and two of the three founding members remain.
Good luck to both Mike and Dream Theater.