Well, it is finally out and I got it. The new Dream Theater album, the first without long-time drummer Mike Portnoy. After finding out that Mike Mangini was the “new Mike”, I was cautiously optimistic. I didn't know much about Mangini's drumming other than he was at one time (and may still be) the world's fastest drummer. Other than that, nothing. All I have to say is holy shit. I am a HUGE Portnoy fan, but I have to admit the drumming on the new album is amazing. Many of his fills are very similar but not an exact copy of Portnoy. His hand work and mastering of odd time is off the chart. Also, I love the album. While I love the Train of Thought-type of DT with its heavy and riff-laden songs, this new album does harken back to earlier DT and at least to me is a breath of fresh air. Is every song awesome, no, but overall you can see that the departure of Portnoy had a direct effect on the direction and execution of the album as a whole. Petrucci wrote most of the music and lyrics and it shows. There is a cleaner sound with more piano with Jordan Rudess taking a more active role in writing the music. I could go through each song and break them down, but that is easier said than done with prog and I just don't feel like it. Go and find the free previews of the songs the band put out leading up to the release date to get a taste. Assuming Mangini stays in the band (if recent interviews are any indication, there are some seriously burned bridges so it looks like he will stay for a while) I can see any subsequent albums being even more refined and “proggier”, which is a good thing. To sum it up, I love the new album. I still love Portnoy and wish him nothing but the best, but DT must go on and have started on a pretty good note.
If you have heard the album, tell me what you think.