Posts tagged Mike Portnoy

Lombardo-Benante-Portnoy Train Wreck…


This is disappointing. Mike Portnoy, Charlie Benante, and Dave Lombardo are all early influences of mine. I love so much of what they’ve done. This “drum battle” during Metal Masters 3 at the Key Club in Hollywood on April 12 is pretty rough stuff, though. Fun to see nonetheless…

Here’s a slightly better Charlie Benante duet with John Tempesta:

Steve Moore Gets Portnoyed: The Portnoid Strikes Again


Remember my post “Keeping It Simple”, featuring the infamous video “this drummer is at the wrong gig”? Well, that was Steve Moore, aka the Mad Drummer. Did you see him on “The Office” recently?

Check out Steve Moore’s post on Modern Drummer about his experience on “The Office”.

Steve also talks about the Adams Drummers Festival. “Closing a show of that magnitude, alongside a legend like Mike Portnoy, is not something I’ll soon forget!”

Maybe I’m wrong, but from what I see, this isn’t so much playing with Mike Portnoy as being shoved out of the way by him. Dick.

Review » Dream Theater: <em>A Dramatic Turn of Events</em>


Dream Theater: A Dramatic Turn of Events
Band: Dream Theater
Drums: Mike Mangini
Album: A Dramatic Turn of Events
Label: Roadrunner Records
Release Date: 13-Sep-2011
DD Rating: dd_ratingdd_ratingdd_ratingdd_ratingdd_rating-gray

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.

And the new Dream Theater drummer is…


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.

The Seven

  • 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 –

Episode 2 –

Episode 3 –

Portnoy + Dimmu Borgir = WTF?


I just read this and audibly guffawed: “Mike Portnoy Bashes For Dimmu Borgir”.

Something tells me Mike’s born-again, 12-step preaching will not go over too well with the boys in Dimmu…

Mike Portnoy Dimmu Borgir

I wish I could be more excited by this, but I have reservations. I suppose it’s no more bizarre than Marco Minnemann playing with Necrophagist (2), but it seems like a cosmic dissonance to me. I have no doubt in Mike’s ability to do this gig, though I hope he’s prepared for the YouTube baboons to begin the cackling battle cries. Oh, I can foresee it so clearly: “dude portnoy sux he can on;y ply blast beet @ 210bpm”. Et cetera

New Drum Channel DVDs


Drum Channel DVDs

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!

Drum Channel DVDs are available online at and Alfred Publishing is the exclusive worldwide distributor for retail music stores.

New Book: <em>A Drummer’s Perspective</em>


A Drummer's Perspective
I was asked by author/photographer Dave Phillips to write a post announcing his new book A Drummer’s Perspective. Dave was the head of European Artist Relations for both Pearl Drums and Drum Workshop, and he started his own company, A & R Marketing Limited. I haven’t seen the physical book just yet, but the few photos available on the website look incredible. A Drummer’s Perspective would sure make for a great surprise under the tree this year—not that I’m fishing for gifts…!

Here’s the official press release:


Press Release – 17th November 2010

New book launched ‘A Drummer’s Perspective’

A stunning collection of live action drumming photos

A Drummer’s Perspective is an original and unrivaled collection of over 200 photographs celebrating the world of drumming.

This large format book brings together some of the finest unseen photographs of legendary drummers. It is a unique collection of pictures taken by the author David Phillips, who has been given rare access on stage and behind the scenes to many of the biggest bands in the world.

These images capture the raw emotion and sheer excitement of playing live: You’ll be able to see the view from behind the kit on stage in front of tens of thousands of people, get up close to the action at sound checks and see exceptional shots of some of the most amazing rock concerts and festivals.

The book features over one hundred drumming legends from every type of genre and includes new photos of Dave Grohl, Joey Jordison, Zak Starkey, Ginger Baker, Dominic Howard, Neil Peart, Nicko McBrain, Mitch Mitchell, Roger Taylor, Dennis Chambers, Mike Portnoy, Nick Mason, Alex Acuña, Dave Weckl, Josh Freese, Chad Smith, Joey Castillo, Thomas Lang and this list goes on and on!

Renowned drummer, Terry Bozzio has written the foreword. Each picture is accompanied with details of where and when it was taken, recollections and anecdotes from the author, together with tour memorabilia such as backstage and photo passes.

The powerful images and text give a fascinating insight to drummers, their playing and their world. This coffee table book retails for £29.99 and can be purchased exclusively from . It will go on sale from December 6th 2010 and pre-orders can be placed via the website before this to reserve your copy in time for Christmas.

Mike Portnoy Leaves Dream Theater!


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.

You can view these on the official DT site here and here.

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.

Now to the real question: who replaces Mike? Nick D’Virgilio or Mark Zonder might be obvious choices. Or Virgil Donati? Maybe some completely unknown phenom.

Good luck to both Mike and Dream Theater.

Avenged Sevenfold: “Nightmare” video


Read my quick review of the new album here.

Review » Avenged Sevenfold: <em>Nightmare</em>


Avenged Sevenfold: Nightmare
Band: Avenged Sevenfold
Drums: Mike Portnoy
Album: Nightmare
Label: Warner Bros.
Release Date: 27-Jul-2010
DD Rating: dd_ratingdd_ratingdd_ratingdd_ratingdd_rating-gray

Like many metalheads, I was a fan of James “The Rev” Sullivan and was saddened to hear of his untimely (and preventable) passing last December. The Rev’s influences were identifiable in his playing, but he was nonetheless a uniquely creative and talented drummer in a genre full of forgettable imitators. City of Evil and Avenged Sevenfold have earned a place among my favorite metal albums.

It’s always slightly bittersweet to hear that a band plans to forge ahead after losing a member. Part of me would prefer that more bands would do what Zeppelin did:

We wish it to be known that the loss of our dear friend, and the deep sense of undivided harmony felt by ourselves and our manager, have led us to decide that we could not continue as we were.
– Led Zeppelin*

That’s just a general comment and in no way a judgment against A7X. I, for one, am very happy they’re still making music.

But how is the new album, Nightmare, without The Rev? It’s great. I don’t think it’s a strong as City of Evil or some of the tracks on the self-titled album, but it’s a headbanging good time. At just over an hour in length, A7X maintain their form with tracks consistently longer than 5 minutes. This is so atypical of most metal bands, and it allows A7X to have much more of a developmental arc to their songs. Vocalist M. Shadows, lead guitarist Synyster Gates, rhythm guitarist Zacky Vengeance, and bassist Johnny Christ all tear it up on Nightmare and further their exploration of compelling musical textures and moods. M. Shadows in particular continues to hone his talents and find more nuances in his delivery.

But the question most of us have: How does Mike Portnoy fit in? I would say quite seamlessly. As to be expected, his signature hand-and-foot combinations punctuate most tracks. There are some neat fills for sure, and Mike’s footwork and “thrash” style are on display, but there aren’t many unique Rev-like moments. I suspect it was more a case of Mike respectfully “toning it down” than a lack of creativity. One minor beef I have is the slight overuse of Octobans. There are some instances that work, but sometimes those high-pitched pops juxtapose the surrounding heaviness a bit too much. The kit sound itself is much tighter than on Dream Theater recordings. I prefer the DT sound, but it would not have fit in with the production on Nightmare. I am very curious to see the kit Mike uses on the tour. From the recording it sounds scaled down, though for Portnoy this might still mean a trailer full of gear.

There isn’t a dud on the album, but there are standouts. The title track opens the album with a solid kick and actually bears a similarity to the last album’s opener, “Critical Acclaim”. “Buried Alive” is a good example of a song that develops over its nearly seven-minute length from a Metallica-esque ballad to a rocker with great guitar solos. “Natural Born Killer” features a brief blast beat and a fast-footed Mike Portnoy. “God Hates Us” is a dark, abrasive track that harkens back to the band’s sound on Sounding the Seventh Trumpet. Surprisingly, one of my favorite tracks might be “Fiction”, the oddest cut on the album. Its piano runs, half-time 12/8 feel, and vocal melody somehow remind me of King for a Day-era Faith No More. The eleven-minute closer, “Save Me”, is yet another showcase of dynamics that ultimately builds to Portnoy’s biggest fills on the album, including one that sounds straight out of “Pull Me Under” (from Dream Theater’s Images and Words). I see a transcription of this in the near future…

Nightmare isn’t anything shockingly new for Avenged Sevenfold, but it’s a further maturation of a sound developed over their five albums. Highly recommended.

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