OK people, I know most of you are probably familiar with Dream Theater, but I still thought I'll cover them just to keep the list as complete as possible. Concerning the fact the Dream Theater members are entwined with a lot of side projects and other bands, I'll try to keep this one focused on DT. The respective side projects will be covered another time, otherwise this would be way too long. So here goes...
Formed: 1985 in Long Island,New York (USA)
Kevin James LaBrie - Vocals (also in Mullmuzzler, James LaBrie solo band, Winter Rose, formerly in Frameshift, guest vocals for Henning Pauly on the record "Babysteps")
John Petrucci - Guitars, backing vocals (also in Explorers Club, Liquid Tension Experiment)
John Myung - Bass (also in Platypus, The Jelly Jam, Gordian Knot)
Jordan Rudess - Keyboards (also in Liquid Tension Experiment, Rudess Morgenstein Project, Vinnie Moore, Dixie Dregs)
Mike Portnoy - Drums, backing vocals (also in Rising Power, Transatlantic, Inner Sanctum, OSI, John Arch, Liquid Tension Experiment, touring drums for Fates Warning, Neal Morse, Yellow Matter Custard, Hammer Of The Gods)
Chris Collins - Vocals (1985-1987)
Charles Dominici - Vocals (1987-1990)
Kevin Moore - Keyboards (1985-1994) (Office of Strategic Influence, Fates Warning, Chroma Key)
Derek Sherinian- Keyboards (1995-1999) (also in Platypus, Planet X, Yngwie J. Malmsteen, Jughead, All Too Human, Section A, Alice Cooper, Kiss)
1985 - Instrumental 1
1985 - Instrumental 2
1986 - Demo
|1989 - Afterlife (single)|
|1989 - Status Seeker (single)|
|1989 - When Dream and Day Unite (album)|
|1991 - ATCO Demos|
|1992 - Another Day (single) |
|1992 - Images & Words (album) |
|1993 - Images And Words; Live In Tokyo (video; originally released as VHS, reissued as a DVD later) |
|1993 - Live at the Marquee (EP) |
|1994 - Caught In A Web (single) |
|1994 - Lie (single)|
|1994 - The Silent Man (single)|
|1994 - Awake (album) |
|1995 - A Change of Seasons (EP) |
|1996 - Fan Club Christmas CD 1996 (compil.) |
|1997 - Hollow Years (single) |
|1997 - Falling Into Infinity (album) |
|1997 - Fan Club Christmas CD 1997 (compil.) |
|1998 - 5 Years In A Live Time (video; originally released as VHS, reissued as a DVD later)|
|1998 - Once in a LIVEtime (live album) |
|1998 - Fan Club Christmas CD 1998 (compil.)|
|1999 - Cleaning out the Closet (Christmas CD 1999)(compil.)|
|1999 - Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory (album) |
|2000 - Through Her Eyes (single) |
|2000 - Fan Club Christmas CD 2000 (compil.)|
|2001 - Four Degrees Of Radio Edits (Fan Club CD 2001)(compil.)|
|2001 - Metropolis 2000: Scenes from New York (video; DVD) |
|2001 - Live Scenes from New York (live album) |
|2002 - Taste the Memories (Fan Club CD 2002)(compil.)|
|2002 - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (album) |
|2003 - Graspop 2002 (International fan club CD 2003)(compil.)|
|2003 - Los Angeles, California 5/18/98 (compil.) |
|2003 - The Majesty Demos 1985-1986 (compil.) |
|2003 - The Making Of Scenes From A Memory (compil.) |
|2003 - As I Am (single) |
|2003 - Train of Thought (album)|
|2004 - A Sort of Homecoming (Fan Club CD 2004)(compil.)|
|2004 - Image and Words : Live in Tokyo / 5 Years In a Livetime (the DVD reissue aforementioned) |
|2004 - Master of Puppets (live cover album) |
|2004 - Tokyo, Japan 10/28/95 (compil.) |
|2004 - When Dream and Day Unite Demos 1987-1989 (compil.)|
|2004 - Live At Budokan (video; DVD) |
|2004 - Live At Budokan (live album) |
|2005 - Images and Words Demos 1989-1991 (compil.)|
|2005 - The Number of the Beast (live cover album) |
|2005 - When Dream and Day Reunite (live) |
|2005 - When Dream and Day Reunite (video; DVD) |
|2005 - Octavarium (album)|
|2006 - Made In Japan (compil.)|
|2006 - Awake Demos 1994 (compil.)|
|2006 - Old Bridge, New Jersey 12/14/96 (compil.)|
|2006 - Dark Side Of The Moon (live cover album) |
|2006 - Dark Side Of The Moon(video; DVD) |
|2006 - Score (video; DVD) |
|2006 - Score (live album) |
The history of Dream Theater dates back to the time when the original line-up was working under the name of Majesty, a name even at that time too common for a Metal band (even today, there's at least 5 bands named Majesty, and over 20 bands whose names involve the word "majesty".
Berklee students Petrucci, Myung and Portnoy decided to form a band together in September 1985, and got their highschool buddy and keyboarder Kevin Moore to join , as well as singer Chris Collins.
They recorded "The Majesty Demos", already showing surprising success, with Collins departing shortly after in 1986.
While looking for a new singer, they worked on instrumental versions of songs for their first album release.
In November 1987, Charlie Dominici joined Majesty and got them signed to Mechanic Records, a small US label.
"When Day And Dream Unite" was then already recorded and ready to be realeased, but a band also called Majesty from Las Vegas forced them to change their name.
Howard Portnoy (Mike's father) suggested they name themselves after a closed down movie theater in California called "Dream Theater".
They then released the album in 1989, parting ways with Charlie shortly after.
It wasn't until 1991 that they found a replacement in James LaBrie from Canadian band Winter Rose. They were so impressed by LaBrie's performance that they flew him out to New York to record the ATCO demos, featuring "To Live Forever","Learning To Live" and "Take The Time".
ATCO immediately signed them and released the famous sophomore "Images And Words" in 1992, selling over 600.000 times during the rise of Grunge.
Orginally intended to be released on "Images And Words", "A Change Of Seasons" was released on a seperate EP. This 24-minute epic is undoubtedly one of Dream Theater's milestones. Never have 24 minutes appeared to fly by that fast.
They then tried to broaden their fanbase and released the more mainstream-sounding "Awake", turning out to be a commercial failure and being criticized by some fans. Although the album features a lot of good songs and some interesting instrumentation ( 7 string guitar, bass harmonic intro, 5/4 instrumental as well as the legendary beginning of "The Mirror", pioneering the use of simple staccato riffing in Prog Metal (and Metal in general, actually)), Dream Theater probably didn't have enough "credibility" to release such an album; the band was yet too young to enjoy creative freedom being accepted by hardcore fans.
On the other hand, the songs were still to heavy and complicated, but also too Old School for the now very grungy mainstream, so ATCO was disappointed with the sales figures.
This was the beginning of the "Dream Theater Downward Spiral": their good friend Kevin Moore left and was replaced by Derek Sherinian, ATCO went through a lot of personnel changes, so all of Dream Theater's contacts in the company were gone and the company, due to the sales figures, cut the budget for the follow-up release, "Falling Into Infinity".
This album, although not plain crap, is in my opinion the by far weakest Dream Theater album; the album apparently attempts to establish Dream Theater as a pop band, while getting rid of their trademarks such as overblown soloing, song lengths spanning over 10 minutes, odd time signatures and such. The songs are just way too slow, way too short, too simple and too soft (I know this is a Metal fan talking here, but I also enjoy some of their less heavy stuff as long as it's progressive and interesting); in one word: boring.
As if it couldn't get worse, James LaBrie suffered from a food poisoning he caught during vacation on Cuba, badly damaging his vocal chords while vomiting and jeopardizing his future as a singer. He said "I'll never forget that day. It was December 30th 1994. It took 8 years for my voice to fully recover."
The band also came to have internal problems, because Derek Sherinian, a guy always desperate for attention and always wanting to control everything, tried to dethrone Petrucci and Portnoy from being the creative leaders of the band.
Due to the stress caused by that, Dream Theater had to let Sherinian go, replacing him with the gifted Jordan Rudess they knew from the instrumental collaboration in Liquid Tension Experiment (a post about that will follow).
They then recorded what I see as their masterpiece: "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory".
Their first concept album, was, title as well as music, a reference to the song "Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper" from the "Images And Words" album; parts, riffs and rhythms from that song are constantly recurring throughout the album. Music genres and stylistic devices are blended skillfully to achieve a varied but homogeneous music experience; I mean, who has ever heard a riff that sounds somewhat like punk played in 5/4 (Beyond This Life)?
Beginning with an introduction to the story and the furious instrumental (Overture 1928) to follow, one notices later on that it's an actual overture: musical themes are foreshadowed, riffs are introduced that carry the music later on. This torrent of incredible music instantly grips every Prog fan (I've even shown it to non-DT fans - and all of them loved it!).
The inclusion of Jordan Rudess definitely had a part in that; his style, established in his earlier efforts, can also be found on that album.
Sadly, the live album accommodating that record caused problems due to a very unlucky coincidence; the album was set for release on the 11th September 2001, and the album, entitled "Live Scenes From New York", had cover artwork featuring a New York skyline against a backdrop of flames. I guess that explains it.
But the band that went through already so much wouldn't be stopped (especially since it was truly a coincidence what became evident soon) and recorded the very experimental "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence". Although the album features some really interesting ideas, I have to admit that I never really liked it, especially because I just don't enjoy the 45 minute title song. I don't really know why. I just don't.
Just one year later, Dream Theater unleashed their heaviest effort to date: "Train Of Thought".
The advance single, "As I Am" caused skepticism (I also think it's the weakest song on the album), but the full release proved them wrong. Countless solos, chunky riffs, odd time signatures, almost all songs surpassing the 10 minute duration mark: this is a true Progressive Metal release. The responses were almost 100% positive, fans hailing the energy and furiosity of the album, some even calling it the best Dream Theater release. My favourite Dream theater album is a tie between Scenes From A Memory and Train Of Thought, but I can still relate to those fans.
After extensive touring, they released a live recording from their performance at the Budokan in Japan, famous for its legendary concerts by i.e. The Beatles.
The only problem was: LaBrie's voice was in very bad condition and they almost had to cancel the show, but he took on the challenge of a 3 hour show anyway. The result is a not 100% correct but authentic live vocal performance. A focus on the Train Of Thought album, a medley of their instrumental and the keyboard/drum jam in the middle of "Beyond This Life" contribute to that recording.
After the tour, Dream Theater entered the halls of the famous Hit Factory studios in New York, being the last band to record an album before being shut down for good.
They spent unusually long in the studio, working on the songs a lot while recording.
The result goes by the name of "Octavarium", released 2005. The album is, according to the band, to focus a little more on the Pop influences and to create a varied album.
Varied it is, indeed; the first song, "The Root Of All Evil", that actually goes back to back with the last song on "Train Of Thought" (In The Name Of God), is a song unusually straight for Dream Theater, featuring a reprise of Train Of Thought stuff.
The song "I Walk Beside You" is a song that sounds a lot like U2, while the next song "Panic Attack" is a typical heavy Dream Theater song, and the following "Never Enough" sometimes reminds the listener of the band Muse.
I don't really like the album personally, but I have to say that it's a great recording. The songwriting, sound and vocals are some of the best Dream Theater ever did, but I rather enjoy them playing a lot of solos, dropping conventional song structures and playing songs longer than 8 minutes.
Again, a live album was released. but not an ordinary one: half of the set is played by Dream Theater, and for the second half, they're joined by "The Octavarium Orchestra". And for what band would it make more sense to play with an orchestra than Dream Theater? Forget those half-assed attempts by Metallica, Kiss, and the mid-90s-Rage at appearing to be sensible. This is a new dimension of a fusion of Metal and orchestra. Alone hearing "Metropolis Pt. 1" performed with an orchestra - incredible.
That release is called "Score: 20th Anniversary World Tour", released in 2006.
I guess this is where their biography stops for now, but I'm sure I'm gonna have to make revisions to it soon; especially Portnoy is a workaholic! Rumor has it he's working on another band with Porcupine Tree's Steve Wilson and Opeth's Mikael Akerfeldt...
Dream Theater's Official Website
Video directory at mikeportnoy.com(go here for some cool videos)
Audio directory at mikeportnoy.com
Dream Theater at myspace (fansite) (go here to listen to 3 songs)
Videos at youtube.com:
Dream Theater covering Metallica's "Master Of Puppets" live:
Video clip for the song "Lie" (off of "Awake"):
Instrumedley live at Budokan:
"A Change Of Seasons" live:
Something funny: an "interpretation" of the lyrics of "Innocence Faded":
"Metropolis Pt. 1" live with orchestra:
Bands already featured:
(just search this blog or look in the archive for the band you're interested in - scroll up to the top)