Opus Eponymous: In the Presence of ‘The Enemy…’

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First things first: the Dream Theater pre-order is now open. But if you’re a fan, you probably know that 😉 With over a month to go the band have released a trailer in the form of The Enemy Inside…

Truth be told, this shows the facet of DT‘s repertoire I like the least. When Radiohead said ‘anyone can play guitar’ they were perhaps being a little tongue in cheek – and certainly not everyone can play guitar like John Petrucci – but this kind of ‘speed metal for radio’ doesn’t really do justice to the embarrassment of musical talent in the DT camp. In spite of protestations that the band have been masters of their own musical destiny – most notably since Scenes from a Memory (1999) – there have been occasional signs that the band have tweaked their sound to appeal to a more mainstream/trendy metal/rock audience – Never Enough (very Muse), The Dark Eternal Night (pseudo-‘Death growls’, A Rite of Passage and strayed from the essence of their sound in the process. This sounds like another one of those times to me. …Enemy… is a very pedestrian slice of metal by DT standards: fast-paced, suitably-shredding, dizzyingly-widdly but finally not that memorable.

Previous excursions into full-on metal – most notably with Awake (1994), Train of Thought (2003) and Systematic Chaos (2007) – remain the weakest episodes in DT’s career to date, in my opinion anyway.

I didn’t miss Mike Portnoy‘s playing on A Dramatic Turn of Events at all, but I do on this song – I think his ‘manic Moon’ splashes and fills would have lifted this song in a way that Mike Mangini‘s precise yet predictable batterie doesn’t. And Jordan Rudess is criminally underused here. When his solo spot arrives at 4.43 my heart almost skips a beat, but then it settles back down pretty quickly when I realise I’ve heard these kinda figures done before, and better.

It’s a shame, because I don’t think this song will either sate the appetite of established fans or win them any new ones. This is a crucial album for them in many ways and they need to impress. Much as the lacklustre A Rite of Passage (accompanied, like …Enemy… by a pretty lame video clip) didn’t put me off pre-ordering Black Clouds and Silver Linings this won’t stop me going ahead and purchasing Dream Theater but it has dampened my enthusiasm a little. ADToE came on the back of two albums that only really shone half the time, sporting a freshness and economy of writing that put it up there with the band’s best work. I’m looking for more in the remainder of the tracks, and I doubt I’ll be entirely disappointed, but lets wait and see…

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4 responses »

  1. I agree with almost everything written here…except for the view on Awake. Sure there are a couple of songs which have a cleaner heavier riff for the metal sound but if you listen to the album as a whole I think it is brilliantly balanced, Erotomania is one of those songs by DT that I think really shows off their creative brilliance and Scarred is also not something to be sniffed at.
    This preview track does disappoint me but we shall see…
    Good review!

    • Thanks for the comment glr. I admit, my brief reference to Awake as exemplifying DT’s heavier mode doesn’t really do it justice; there is nuance on there for sure, and whilst some of the more metal moments aren’t really my cup of tea there is more to it than that, as you say. Truth is I can’t remember the last time I made it thru the album front to back so, inspired by your feedback I’ve just cued it up and I’m enjoying it more than I remembered. 6.00 is a pretty kick-ass opener and Caught In a Web has some nice gritty riffs too. I haven’t got there yet, but I’m looking forward to Space-Dye Vest which is undoubtedly one of my fave DT tracks, and quite the antithesis of a metal shredathon. It’s always good to dig out and reassess old stuff I’m maybe feeling a tad jaded about. Thanks for the reminder 😉

      Out of curiosity, what are YOUR favourite DT albums/songs?

      Andy.

      • Good to hear Andy, it’s well worth the time 🙂 Interesting to hear that Space Dye Vest is your fave, it’s got a very distant feel to it like you’re in some sort of coma while listening to others talk to you in that echoed out of body way. As it happens this is my fave DT album, it was the first I ever bought completely out of random impulse and the others just don’t connect with me on this level. I love Black Clouds and Silver Linings especially The Count of Tuscany…that right there is a masterpiece. I have a strange fascination with Awake, it inspired me to create my first blog about it.
        As for my fave song…its Innocence Faded. I love the way it opens, I love the passion James puts into his vocals (strange though they be in this song) the drumming is well timed and the guitar solo is something I could never grow tired of hearing, such a feel good moment when it kicks in.

        I look forward to reading more of your posts.
        Craig

  2. Pingback: Dream Theater – the Opus is upon us | musicbugsandgender

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