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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.
- 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"
- 1999 - Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory: "Home", "The Dance of Eternity", and "The Spirit Carries On"
- 2002 - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: "The Glass Prison" and "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence"
- 2003 - Train of Thought: "As I Am", "Stream of Conciousness", and "In the Name of God"
- 2005 - Octavarium: "Panic Attack", "Sacrificed Sons", and "Octavarium"
- 2007 - Systematic Chaos: "In The Presence of Enemies", "Forsaken", and "Constant Motion"
- 2009 - Black Clouds & Silver Linings: "A Rite of Passage", "A Nightmare to Remember", and "The Count of Tuscany"
- 2011 - A Dramatic Turn Of Events: "On The Backs Of Angels", "Breaking All Illusions"
Official Live Albums to date:
- 1992 - Live at the Marquee
- 1997 - Once in a LIVEtime
- 2000 - Live Scenes from New York
- 2003 - Live at Budokan
- 2006 - Score
- 2008 - Chaos in Motion 2007–2008
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:
- Audience Participation Song: James will often get the crowd into singing along with the band, but that's nothing compared to Portnoy's Audience Participation Drum Solos, complete with call-and-response "Shave and a Haircut".
- The Band Minus the Face: Mike Portnoy founded the band, alongside Petrucci and Myung, wrote most of the music and did the recording, production and most of the interviews, not to mention the backcatalog and bootlegs.
- The Cameo: Jordan has appeared on a David Bowie album.
- Careful with That Axe: Most present before James experienced his vocal injury, like the scream during the build up of "Learning to Live".
- That scream is the F# just below soprano C, and is one of the highest notes James has ever reached in his entire singing career.
- The entire Live at the Marquee album, especially the Charlie Dominici songs, which he sings a whole lot higher just because he can, apparently.
- This YTMND. Listening to it right before or after Live at the Marquee is hilarious.
- Cast Full of Pretty Boys: Back during the Images and Words/Awake era.
- 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.
- Last-Note Nightmare: Jordan's response to Mike leaving the band is in the form of a nice, quiet piano and vocal improv...until he pulls a "Her Majesty" type Scare Chord in the last 10 seconds.
- Neoclassical Punk Zydeco Rockabilly:
- Jordan Rudess has been known to experiment with some interesting instruments, including keyboards that sound like sitars and turntables, keyboard guitars, a Haken Continuum 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 La Brie joined the band before Images and Words, he used his middle name as his stage name to avoid confusion with Kevin Moore.
- 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.
- 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.
- X Meets Y: Emerson Lake and Palmer chops, with Megadeth intensity and Kansas song structures.
- 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
- 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: from a line from "Constant Motion".
Insane random thoughts of neat disorder
- 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, drums are added, followed by bass, then guitar. At the end of the song, these instruments are taken away in reverse order, until only the keyboard riff remains.
- Careful with That Axe: Invoked in the lyrics to "Octavarium" as a Shout-Out to Pink Floyd, in the step 3, "Full Circle".
- Chronological Album Title: Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Octavarium.
- Concept Album:
- Metropolis Pt.2, which tells the story of a man reliving a past life through hypnosis. Beware the Downer Ending.
- Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Octavarium too, although they rely more on thematic connections between songs rather than telling a story.
- Continuity Nod:
- Every song from the Twelve-Step suite, 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.
- Cover Album:
- A special edition of Black Clouds & Silver Linings comes with a disc with six covers.
- There're also two "official bootlegs" composed of covers called "Uncovered".
- Creator Breakdown:
- Many songs came from Mike Portnoy's problems while writing the lyrics.
The "Twelve-step Suite" is a series of five songs in twelve parts wrote by him, which chronicles his experience with alcoholism; also known as the "Alcoholics Anonymous suite". "The Mirror" is also about alcohol, but was written well before he became sober.
"The Best of Times", from Black Clouds & Silver Linings and "A Change of Seasons", from A Change Of Seasons were wrote about his late father and mother, respectively.
"Never Enough", from Octavarium, is a Take That towards DT's Unpleasable Fanbase.
"Honor Thy Father", from Train of Thought, is a Take That towards Portnoy's stepfather.
- Kevin Moore also contributed "6:00" (about getting sick to work with the band) and "Space-Dye Vest", the latter of which is just depressive in general, both from Awake.
- John Petrucci wrote "Take Away My Pain", from Falling into Infinity, after his late father.
Also, "A Nightmare to Remember", from Black Clouds & Silver Linings, is about a car accident where he was involved as a child.
"Wither", also from BC&SL, is about writer's block.
- James LaBrie also has his share of CB:
"Disappear", from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, was written after he observed a young couple in a mall and wondering about what they would do when one of them dies.
"Vacant", from Train of Thought was written about the helplessness he and his wife felt after their daughter suffered a severe seizure.
- Many songs came from Mike Portnoy's problems while writing the lyrics.
- Darker and Edgier:
- 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.
- 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)
- 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.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Their Greatest Hit album. Only one of those songs ("Pull Me Under", from Images & Words) became a hit. All of the others were released singles and re-recordings.
- Haunted House Historian
- Heavy Mithril: The band gravitates towards this territory with "In the Presence of Enemies" and "The Ministry of Lost Souls", both from Systematic Chaos. "The Dark Eternal Night", from the same album, is about the awakening of an evil Egyptian God.
- Homage: The band has been known to perform "Album Covers" at their concerts, where they play the entirety of a classic album. Some of these albums are The Number of the Beast, Master of Puppets, Made in Japan and Dark Side of the Moon.
- Instrumentals: Aside of Liquid Tension Experiment, the band has, only counting official studio album recordings:
- "The Ytse Jam", from When Dream and Day Unite
- "Erotomania", from Awake
- "Hell's Kitchen", from Falling into Infinity
- "Scene Two, Part I: Overture 1928" and "Scene Seven, Part I: The Dance of Eternity", from Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a Memory
- "Overture", from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
- "Stream of Consciousness", from Train of Thought.
- Ironic Echo: "Open your eyes, Nicholas"
- Last-Note Nightmare: Some songs have really weird segues at the end of songs:
- "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.
- Mohs Scale of Rock and Metal Hardness: Generally a 7 or an 8, though some tracks on Falling into Infinity may be a 6. 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.
- Murder Ballad: Some parts of Metropolis, Pt. 2 fit under this.
- Such as "Fatal Tragedy" and the first parts of "Beyond this Life" and "Finally Free"
- Nintendo Hard:
- "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.
- One-Hit Wonder: Only "Pull Me Under" charted high enough to be considered a real hit. The band lampshaded this with the title of their Greatest Hits Album: Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs).
- 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).
- Rock Opera: Metropolis, Pt. 2.
- Sdrawkcab Name: "Ytse Jam" is really just the band's first name written backwards. Doubles as Punny Name.
- The "Majesty Demos" bootleg actually has a track on it called "Gnos Sdrawkcab", which is just a reversed recording of John Petrucci shredding for a few seconds.
- Shoot the Shaggy Dog: The ending to Metropolis, Pt. 2.
- Shout-Out: "Full Circle", the third step of "Octavarium", from the namesake album, it's basically a countdown of Shout Outs to every kind of stuff which influenced DT in one way or another.
- In the Once in a LIVETime live album, there are plenty of these. "Trial of Tears", for example, has shoutouts to Close Encounters of the Third Kind, "Xanadu", and "The Trees"; "Peruvian Skies" to "Have a Cigar" and "Enter Sandman"; "Take the Time" to "Free Bird" and "Moby Dick" and "Voices" has a fragment of "Just Let Me Breathe" containing a reference to the Force theme.
- Live Scenes from New York has two shoutouts in "A Change of Seasons" to The Simpsons and Major League Baseball themes.
- Sorry I Left the BGM On: A serious instance, at the end of "Finally Free".
- Stunned Silence: A common response upon first hearing Scenes from a Memory or "A Change of Seasons".
- Take That: "As I Am", wrote by John Petrucci, is directed to Queensryche'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").
- "Honor Thy Father" is basically 10 minutes of Calling The Step-Old Man Out, from Mike Portnoy's part.
- "Never Enough" was wrote by Portnoy as one towards their Unpleasable Fanbase.
- Kevin Moore wrote "6:00", which was about being sick of working with the band.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: TIME! FOR! CHANGE! FIGHT! THE! FEAR! FIND! THE! TRUTH!
- Tomato in the Mirror: The Killing Hand ends with the narrator coming back from the past only to discover that in destroying the Killing Hand, he ended up killing another version of himself.
I laugh at what I've done
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?:
- "Wither" is about writer's block, of all things.
- The album cover for Octavarium features a giant pair of clacking balls, one with the Majesty symbol on it.
- The instrumentation's usually... showy, when it's not completely over-the-top, and the lyrics are frequently ridiculous.
- Where It All Began:
- Played straight in "The Killing Hand".
- To an extent in "A Change of Seasons".
- "Octavarium" is about this trope.
- Xanatos Gambit: 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!
- Animated Music Video: "Forsaken", from Systematic Chaos.
- Wham! Line: "Open your eyes, Nicholas"
- Echoing Acoustics: The electronic snare Mike Portnoy was using on Images and Words.
- 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.
- Rickroll: Never gonna wither you up. It works so well you'll never listen to "Wither" again without thinking of Rick Astley.
- Sdrawkcab Name: "The Ytse Jam", which is the band's original name, Majesty, spelled backwards. Also, the label Mike Portnoy used for their official bootleg releases.
- Not counting releases of Ytsejam Records.
- a keyboard with no actual keys but a single flat strip that is played by touching with the fingers
- "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
- From "Prophets of War".
- From "The Dark Eternal Night".
- From "A Change of Seasons".
- From "Octavarium".
- From "Build Me Up, Break Me Down", natch.