This highly anticipated Dream Theater recording with new drummer MIKE MANGINI finds the prog-metal veterans in a sonically refined and musically focused state of mind. Lyrically and compositionally, the band maintains its long-running status as innovative explorers, though longtime fans will find the direction here a bit more progressive and somewhat less metal than on other recent DT recordings.
The writing for A Dramatic Turn of Events took place without a drummer—founding member Mike Portnoy had quit, but the band hadn’t replaced him before they began to write—so guitarist John Petrucci programmed demo drums, which Mangini used as a guideline. From a sonic perspective, Mangini’s drums are well placed in the mix. Just as important, his precision and melodic sense are flawless across the heavily complex material. The drummer’s intensity, innovation, and rhythmic complexity are showcased on a variety of epic tracks, including “Lost Not Forgotten,” “Bridges in the Sky,” “Outcry,” and “Breaking All Illusions.”
Mike uses his classical training to dissect the melodic lines within his bandmates’ parts, and he plays many of the complicated passages almost as an orchestral player would, matching pitched voicings on the kit to create rhythmic and harmonic lines that flow in a highly musical sense. Even considering Portnoy’s prog-metal drumming legacy, Mangini raises the bar in terms of sheer outrageousness and ambition. Following the unexpected turn of events in the careers of these founding fathers of progressive metal, the black cloud of uncertainty seems to have produced a silver lining in Mike Mangini. (Roadrunner)