Dream Theater is a prog-metal band founded in 1985 by John Myung, John Petrucci, and Mike Portnoy under the name Majesty. They changed the name, but their logo is still known as the Majesty symbol. While not entirely mainstream, they are rather well known among fans of progessive rock. The inclusion of their songs in the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series have increased their fame, but they have still had only one song chart well enough to qualify as a "hit".They are known for the extreme technical difficulty and complexity of their music, which often includes long instrumental interludes to showcase the skills of the band members. As such, much of it veers heavily into Epic Rocking territory. They are also known for their live shows, which are often really long and suitably epic.Current members:
James LaBrie (vocals)
Jordan Rudess (keyboards)
John Petrucci (guitar, backing vocals)
John Myung (bass)
Mike Mangini (drums)
Mike Portnoy (drums, backing vocals)
Charlie Dominici (vocals)
Kevin Moore (keyboards)
Derek Sherinian (keyboards)
Chris Collins (vocals)
Studio Albums to date:
1989 - When Dream and Day Unite: "A Fortune in Lies", "The Ytse Jam", and "The Killing Hand"
1992 - Images and Words: "Pull Me Under", "Metropolis pt.1", "Learning to Live" and "Another Day"
1994 - Awake: "Caught in a Web", "The Mirror", "Lie", and the "A Mind Beside Itself" suite.
1995 - A Change of Seasons EP: "A Change of Seasons"
1997 - Falling into Infinity: "New Millennium", "Trial of Tears", and "Lines in the Sand"
There's a kind of spinoff of the band, called Liquid Tension Experiment, which started as a solo project of Mike Portnoy, but eventually ended with 3 out of 4 members of the band, as Jordan Rudess was incorporated into DT.
This band and its music provides examples of:
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The Band Minus the Face: Mike Portnoy founded the band, alongside Petrucci and Myung, arranged much of the music and did the recording, production and most of the interviews - not to mention maintaining and curating a vast back-catalogue of bootlegs.
Early-Bird Cameo: Jordan played a single show with the band right before Sherinian was hired, and Mike Mangini played a drum duet with Portnoy during a show in 2002.
Fake Band: During their live shows in the Derek Sherinian era, they occasionally exchange instruments with each other and perform some Cover Versions as "Nightmare Cinema". Referenced in the "Full Circle" part of the song "Octavarium" with "Day for Nightmare Cinema" in the lyrics.
Jordan Rudess has been known to experiment with some interesting instruments, including keyboards that sound like sitars and turntables, keyboard guitars, a Haken Continuumnote a keyboard with no actual keys but a single flat strip that is played by touching with the fingers and even the iPhone and the iPad. He surely has a lot of toys.
John Myung has also been known to play with a Chapman Stick instead of an ordinary bass from time to time.
One Steve Limit: Both averted and enforced. John Petrucci and John Myung were founding members of the band, breaking the limit. However, when Kevin James LaBrie joined the band before Images and Words, he used his middle name as his stage name to avoid confusion with Kevin Moore.
Mike Portnoy got replaced by Mike Mangini, so you still have to use a last name to describe Dream Theater's drummer when the context doesn't clear up which one you're talking about.
Put on a Bus: Charlie Dominici and Derek Sherinian. Although both of them returned as guests for the anniversary concert of When Dream and Day Unite in 2004.
Their first vocalist, Chris Collins, got this treatment as well. The band were already pissed at him for his poor vocal range, inconsistent live performances, and bad behaviour on stage, which culminated in an incident where Collins was introducing the band and insulted Myung, referring to him as being "from the jungles of Korea". The band ultimately forced him to leave, and ended up replacing him with Charlie Dominici.
Soprano and Gravel: Mike Portnoy sometimes used a deeper voice than James LaBrie on songs such as "A Nightmare to Remember" and "Prophets of War". The version of "The Spirit Carries On" on both Live Scenes from New York and Score features vocals from Theresa Thomason, and also in their version of "The Great Gig in the Sky".
Supergroup: Each of the members has been involved with one at some point. For fun, look up any of the members on That Other Wiki and check the "Associated Acts" section of the info-box. To list a few (there are a lot):
We Really Do Care: James LaBrie contemplated quitting the band after he got really bad food poisoning, which led to him vomiting his guts out, which led to damage to his vocal cords that were never quite the same. The rest of the band talked him out of it.
Album Title Drop: The only exceptions to this are Falling into Infinity, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Black Clouds & Silver Linings, and A Dramatic Turn of Events, whose titles do not appear anywhere in the albums. Otherwise:
When Dream and Day Unite is a part of "Only a Matter of Time".
Images and Words: from "Wait for Sleep".
Awake: from a line in Innocence Faded.
The faithful live awake
Also in a line in The Silent Man.
Tonight I'm awake (the silent man)
The working title for the Falling into Infinity album, "Stream of Consciousness", does show up in "Lines in the Sand".
Scenes from a Memory: from "Scene Six: Home" (the phrase also appeared in Metropolis Part 1 on Images and Words).
Train of Thought: possibly taken from the song title "Stream of Consciousness".
Octavarium: from, well, "Octavarium".
Systematic Chaos: Possibly from a line from "Constant Motion".
Insane random thoughts of neat disorder
Arc Number/Arc Words: "Octavarium" uses the idea that "everything ends where it began" and uses the number 8 and the octave as examples. What's more is that it's the eighth track on their eighth album and it's length in minutes (twenty-four) is divisible by 8. Various other elements in the song also allude to cycles and/or the number 8.
Hell,the song even references the entire album in one part!
Book Ends: The first song of the Alcoholics Anonymous Suite, "The Glass Prison", begins with the sound of static, followed by the sound of a church bell, then the actual music starts. The last song in the suite, "The Shattered Fortress", ends with the song fading out to the sound of a church bell, followed by static.
"The Great Debate" begins with a keyboard riff. Soon, bass is added, followed by drums, then guitar. At the end of the song, these instruments are taken away in reverse order, until only the keyboard riff remains.
Octavarium ends with the same piano note and sound effects that it began with on "The Root of All Evil".
Subtle musical call back during The Shattered Fortress from 2009's 'Black Clouds and Silver Linings' at 1.44 min the melody if from the intro to 'This Dying Soul' and again at 3.00min the riff is from the same introduction.
Every song from the Twelve-Step suite,note "The Glass Prison", from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence; "This Dying Soul", from Train of Thought; "The Root Of All Evil" from Octavarium; "Repentance", from Systematic Chaos and "The Shattered Fortress", from Black Clouds & Silver Linings barring "The Glass Prison" for being the first, is referenced in the other songs of said suite.
"Wait for Sleep"-"Learning to Live", from Images and Words.
Almost the entirety of Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory by being a Concept Album, both between the songs and the song "Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper", from Images & Words.
The tandems "Vacant"-"Stream of Consciousness", from Train of Thought
Each of the lines in the "Intervals" step of "Octavarium", from Octavarium, refer back to the previous tracks on the albums.
"The Best of Times", from Black Clouds & Silver Linings has "Remember, seize the day". This song was written by Mike Portnoy about the death of a relative... and the previous song that was written by him about the death of a relative, "A Change of Seasons", from the A Change of Seasons EP, contained the words "Seize the day" quite a few times.
"The Bigger Picture" from the Dream Theater album makes a reference to 'The Ministry of Lost Souls', with the line 'And I’ll reach the water’s edge'.
Awake. Due to various reasons such as a decision to take a more metallic approach and especially the growing rift between the band and then-keyboardist Kevin Moore, it's probably the bands second heaviest album after ToT and is definitely the most haunting and darkly atmospheric. This is especially notable considering the general optimism and focus on prog-rock and melodic elements on Images and Words, it's predecessor.
Train of Thought, probably even moreso. Not only are the lyrical themes much darker, but the music itself is much much heavier than that of Six Degrees, the previous album.
"The Glass Prison" was written after Mike and John went to a Pantera concert.
The self-titled album, while not dark thematically, is quite a bit heavier than "A Dramatic Turn of Events" note which, to be fair, was their lightest album in quite some time, featuring an unusual abundance of downtuned guitars.
Epic Rocking: A feature of both this band and its spinoff Liquid Tension Experiment, being Progressive Metal bands, of course. The only album to date not featuring a track longer than 10 minutes was the debut When Dream and Day Unite, and the average song length is around 8 minutes. On the extreme end, there're the following songs:
"A Change of Seasons", from the A Change of Seasons EP. (23:06)
"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence", from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. (42:04, was on its own disc, and was split over 8 tracks)
"Octavarium", from Octavarium. (24:00)
"In the Presence of Enemies", from Systematic Chaos. (25:38 if both parts are considered a single song, which is usually true during concerts)
"The Count of Tuscany", from Black Clouds & Silver Linings. (19:16)
"Illumination Theory", from Dream Theater. (22:18)
The five songs of the "Twelve-Step Suite" add up to 57:16. Add another 6:47 if you count "The Mirror", which is also about Mike's struggle with addiction.
Evil Sounds Raspy: During the verses of "The Dark Eternal Night" from Systematic Chaos, James and Mike resemble an Egyptian God with this kind of voice by singing the melody with heavy distortion on their vocals.
"My soul is yours, dark master. I will fight for you." note From "In the Presence of Enemies Part 2"
Heavy Mithril: Systematic Chaos is full of this, including "In the Presence of Enemies", "Forsaken", "The Ministry of Lost Souls", and "The Dark Eternal Night". All of these were written by John Petrucci.
"Misunderstood" from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence is notable due to the last third or so of the song fitting under this.
"This Dying Soul", from Train of Thought, also had a very sudden false ending, then about forty seconds of crazy soloing. (Not really a nightmare, just... weird)
Octavarium, from Octavarium, has several in there for symbology. The entire album is full of fives and eights, and the weird endings are the five dead spaces that represent the black notes on a keyboard.
Metropolis, Pt. 2 features the protagonist, Nicholas, going home, pouring himself a drink and listening to some calming music, before promptly being murdered by the hypnotherapist to the sound of a surprised yelp, the record being dislodged from the player, and static which leads off to....
The Glass Prison which starts off Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence starts off immediately where the last song in Metropolis Part 2 ended off (with gramophone static).
Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Their 90's material is generally a 6 (Surrounded, Innocence Faded, Hell's Kitchen, etc.) or a 7 (Pull Me Under, Metropolis Part 1, 6:00, etc.), while their 2000's material is generally a 7 (The Great Debate, The Root Of All Evil, etc.) or an 8 (The Glass Prison, As I Am, etc.). 2011's A Dramatic Turn Of Events is mostly a solid 7. Their softer songs are generally in the 3/4 range (except for Level 1 songs such as "Wait for Sleep", from Images and Words, and "The Silent Man", from Awake).
Some instrumental sections (like the blastbeats in "A Nightmare To Remember") get as high as 9.
On the whole, it can be hard to classify their songs on this scale due to prevalence of Epic Rocking in their work and their corresponding habit of having different sections of their songs fall all over the scale. For example, "Pull Me Under" has sections that get as heavy as 8 (the chorus sections and the coda, most notably) and others that drop down to 1 or 2 (the midsection, the intro). Overall, this songs still is around a 7, though. This is a common problem for Progressive Metal bands, not surprisingly.
"Constant Motion" in Rock Band. "Pull Me Under" from Guitar Hero isn't quite as bad on guitar, but bass and drums can be painful. "Panic Attack" is really killer on drums and bass. Both are really not in the absolute top tier of difficulty on drums though.
For that matter, playing any of this band's music in real life, which is why most of the actual covers and tributes don't make true justice to the originals.
John Petrucci said in an interview that one of the ways he keeps himself motivated to improve as a musician is by writing parts he can't actually play. Considering he's a gamer himself, this makes a lot of sense.
Not Christian Rock: On occasion, most prominently with "The Spirit Carries On". "The Bigger Picture" and "Surrender to Reason" have a few such moments, too.
The Plan: In Metropolis, Pt. 2, Edward kills Victoria and Julian, then leaves a suicide note in Julian's pocket, making it appear as if Julian shot Victoria and killed himself. In other words, Edward literally gets away with murder. And it's not over yet! When Edward finally dies, he is reincarnated as the Hypnotherapist; at the end of the album, he murders Nicholas, the reincarnation of Victoria!
Power Ballad: Quite a few, the best known being "Another Day", "Hollow Years" and "The Spirit Carries On".
Precision F-Strike: Generally, the band avoid swearing in their songs, which makes the line "I wish I weren't so fucked" in "As I Am" a classic example of this trope, made even better with the emphasis James LaBrie puts on "fucked". "Honour Thy Father" also has the lines "And have the balls to blame this shit on me" and "So fucking blind to the damage he has done", as well as a borderline Cluster F-Bomb in the spoken word section in the middle of the song (though slightly muffled by the music in parts).
Live Scenes from New York has two shoutouts in "A Change of Seasons" to The Simpsons and Major League Baseball themes.
Spoken Word In Music: Featured heavily. Notable songs include "Take the Time", "6:00", "Voices", "Space Dye Vest", "A Change of Seasons", "Regression", "Finally Free", "The Great Debate", "Goodnight Kiss", "Honor Thy Father", "Sacrificed Sons", "Repentence", and "Breaking All Illusions".
Start My Own: Charlie Dominici, former vocalist (though only hardcore fans even know they had a vocalist other than James), started his own band called Dominici in the early 2000s.
Take That: "As I Am", wrote by John Petrucci, is directed to Queensr˙che's Mike Stone. Specifically, it was written after Mike tried to give John some tips on playing guitar (hence the line "Don't...tell me how to write").
Echoing Acoustics: The electronically-triggered snare and kick Mike Portnoy was forced to use on Images and Words by producer David Prater.
Fan Community Nickname: European fans refer to themselves as "Dreamers". North American fans are the "North American Dream Squad" (shortened to NADS).
Homage: There is a suspicious similarity between the story told in "In the Presence of Enemies" and the plot of the Korean comic Priest... comparison of the Forsaken EP CD cover with one of the comic's volume covers might also help.
Not to mention the fact that John Petrucci outright admitted he was inspired by reading Priest.