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Dream Theater – The Best Prog Rock Band Ever?

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I once watched an interview with the Grateful Dead’s Jerry Garcia, in which he said something along the lines of “The Dead are like black licorice – you either love it or hate it – there’s not much middle ground.”

The same can be said for progressive rock. Many people perceive it to be bombastic, pretentious, and overwrought, and detest it for its symphonic ambitions. Others love the complex compositions, poetic lyrical complexity, and operatic story lines. I am firmly in the second camp, though I can understand the point of view of the first.

One of the first albums I ever owned was Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. I received it at age eleven in 1973 from my English grandmother for Christmas – it was all the rage in England at the time. I was enthralled by Floyd’s use of unconventional instrumentation – helicopters and clock chimes were things I had not previously heard in music – and what I perceived as their visionary lyrics (though I probably didn’t think of it in those terms) held me in sway. At about the same time, Yes’ Roundabout was on the radio, and I saved enough allowance and chore money to purchase the Fragile album, and I was hooked on this new kind of music. More Floyd and Yes followed, along with Emerson, Lake and Palmer, Curved Air, early Genesis, Rush, King Crimson and eventually Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart.

As I grew and matured, I left prog rock behind for a while, delving into the blues and blues-rock, becoming entranced with Peter Green’s Fleetwood Mac, the Allman Brothers, Cream, Muddy Waters and especially Michael Bloomfield. I would return occasionally to the flights of fancy and sci-fi/fantasy illusions of Tales from Topographic Oceans or Air Cut, but the thrust of my musical interest was trying to emulate Clapton, Bloomfield and Peter Green on the guitar (never very successfully, I must admit.)

When I found the Grateful Dead and their peculiar, distinctly American blend of psychedelia and folk music, I was again hooked, and returned to the music of my younger days. Pink Floyd, Yes, ELP and the trippier, more experimental albums of the Dead dominated the time on my turntable, though I never again renewed my earlier love for Rush, as Geddy Lee’s screeching, whining voice drowned out the excellent guitar of Alex Lifeson and the stunning drumming of Neil Peart. Like most adolescent boys, I became a teeny bopper for a while, liking whatever was currently on the radio, but thankfully that phase passed fairly rapidly as my knowledge of music theory and history grew.

In college I enrolled in the music school for a time, and positively devoured my classes in jazz history and classical appreciation, while alternating my personal listening between the blues and prog/art rock. Unfortunately, I was a much better student of music than performer thereof, and switched out of the music school after two years. But the musical melting pot that was Boulder at the time opened my eyes to a wider variety of styles and genres than I had previously experienced, and I briefly took a great interest in what could then be very loosely classified as “very modern jazz,” from Pat Metheny to Return to Forever to George Benson to Jeff Beck to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, some of which remain among my favorites to this day.

I listened to the gentle musings of the Windham Hill artists George Winston and Liz Story, the latin passion of Tito Puente and Al DiMeola, the impeccably precise guitar of Wes Montgomery and the passionate piano of George Shearing. I had the great fortune to have roommates, girlfriends and acquaintances who loved such diverse artists as Allan Holdsworth, John Coltrane, David Bowie, the Dixie Dregs, Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen, The Fixx, Hot Tuna, Jackson Browne, Mannheim Steamroller and NRBQ, and was exposed to a tremendously broad spectrum of musical styles. Not all the styles or artists were to my taste, but I tried to develop an appreciation even for music that I disliked. Still, from time to time I would return for a week, or a month, or a quarter to the fantastic delusions of Pink Floyd, Yes, and King Crimson. It gave me a comfort like going home again.

Several months ago, I was in one of my prog rock periods, and took Wish You Were Here to work one day. A workmate, who knows me best as a jazz and blues aficionado, was very surprised to hear me listening to it, and commented that he didn’t think I liked that style of music. I explained that prog rock had always been one of my favorites, and the next day an unlabelled CD-ROM was laying on my desk with a sticky note attached that said “Listen to this.” I called him on the phone and asked what it was, and he said “Just listen to it without looking it up on IMDB.”

I listened, and was captivated. The music was brilliant, crisp and orchestral, the vocals clear and precise, the musicianship powerful and precise, the lyrics dreamlike and full of fancy. It had a muscle like Rush, guitar playing to rival David Gilmour or Steve Howe but with a harder edge, a vocalist with pipes to push Freddie Mercury, powerful drumming reminiscent of Carl Palmer or Neil Peart, and a steady, creative bass player. The keyboards, though more understated than those of Yes, Curved Air or ELP, weaved a hypnotic progression throughout the length of the disk. And to top it all off, it had a much heavier, more menacing air than any of the prog rock I had previously experienced, bordering at times on heavy metal. The speakers on my work computer are tinny, “out of the box” little pieces of shit from Creative, and didn’t do the music justice, but I could tell I liked it.

I took the CD home at the end of the day, put it in my home computer with Klipsch 5.1 surround system, cranked it up, and was floored. I hit the “Get Info” button to look the CD up on IMDB, and it was Images and Words by Dream Theater. Listening to the music at maximum volume, the joy of discovery swept through me, like the first time listening to Dark Side or Works, Volume One many years before. How I’d missed this brilliant music for the 13 years since its release I couldn’t begin to fathom. The initial thoughts I’d had about the musicianship were magnified by the great sound quality from the Klipsch speakers – the bass lines pounded out of the subwoofer, the guitar lines were more startlingly accentuated, and the keyboards became more evident and took center stage from time to time.

I looked Dream Theater up on Allmusic.com, and was far from surprised to learn that they had all been students at the famed Berklee School of Music, with the exception of the vocalist. The rugged, virtuoso guitar playing of John Petrucci seeped into me as I listened. It made a perfect marriage with James LaBrie’s exceptional vocals and the excellent, tough-guy drumming of Mike Portnoy. Neither the bass nor the keyboards take center stage often, but are indelibly stamped on the music. The compositional character was fairly typical for prog rock – long, drawn out melodies with spacy, dreamy lyrics, mostly approaching ten minutes in length. The compositions themselves reminded me more of the best of Yes than any of the other bands in the genre, with constant interweaving by the main players, unusual bridges and changes in tempo when the listener least expects it. But Dream Theater had uniqueness to them – this band was building upon the art form, not simply copying from their forebears.

As with many new and unique artists, it took me several listens to decide whether I liked the music and the compositions, or just the musicianship. After deciding that the former was the case, I purchased another of their recordings, 2005’s Octavarium. Though the songs on Octavarium are not as catchy, they have progressed light years as composers in the interim, and if anything, the music is even more powerful and muscular, and leans even further in the direction of heavy metal than their earlier Images and Words. Since then, I’ve also picked up 1994’s Awake and 2004’s Live at Budokan.

Being an aficionado of the form and a student of music, I naturally compare and contrast similar bands. Dream Theater stands out in its genre for several reasons. James LaBrie’s vocals are, in my opinion, superior to those of Yes’ Jon Anderson, with a less grating falsetto. He has both pipes and range to rival Freddie Mercury, whom I consider to be the greatest male vocalist in the history of rock, though I’m not a big Queen fan. The other great prog rock bands had serviceable vocalists, but the vocals never stood out as exceptional to my ear. John Petrucci’s guitar wizardry is the equal of that of Steve Howe, with the blazing finger speed of a Satriani or Vai, but superior compositional skills to either. The only thing lacking is the truly memorable, instantly recognizable guitar lines of David Gilmour. While it’s hard to say that any other rock drummer matches either Neil Peart or Carl Palmer, Mike Portnoy is brilliant – flashy, fast, and creative, his percussion is more obvious and muscular than that of Palmer – whether that is because of Dream Theater’s heavy metal leanings is anyone’s guess. Kevin Moore’s keyboards lack the finesse of Rick Wakeman and perhaps the technical virtuosity of Keith Emerson, but are much more flamboyant than most of Wakeman’s work. John Myung’s bass playing is steady, strong and powerful, perhaps lacking Geddy Lee’s creativity or Greg Lake’s subtlety. The band’s lyrics are not as memorable as those of Pink Floyd, or the best of Yes or Rush, but are creative nonetheless.

But progressive rock is all about virtuosity and the interplay between highly skilled, technically proficient musicians, and Dream Theater puts the whole package together better than any of the other bands. Add to that the incredible vocals, and in my humble opinion, Dream Theater is the best progressive rock band of all time.

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About Taloran

  • http://www.livejournal.com/users/djradiohead DJRadiohead

    Greatest ever might be shooting a bit high but they are fantastic musicians. Mike Portnoy might be the best living drummer.

  • Eric Olsen

    excellent review T, but the answer to your opening quesion is “no” from my perspective

  • Taloran

    Thanks for the comments, Eric. Can you expand on your perspective a bit?

    Obviously, they haven’t and probably won’t sell as many recordings as Pink Floyd (then again, who has, in any genre? Can count ‘em on one hand) or Yes. But the musicianship is up there with any other prog rock band, the songwriting is excellent, the tightness of the band and interplay between the musicians is incredible, and they’ve got the vocals all over their peers.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    hmmm…well, there’s prog and then there’s prog.

    i don’t see bands like Dream Theatre being like Pink Floyd or Yes.

    they’re so metal that they seem like compeltely different genres.

    but that’s just me.

  • Taloran

    Mark, to be honest, I don’t see Yes, Floyd, ELP, King Crimson or Rush being much like one another at all. Yet they are all lumped in to one genre together. If the genre were to be called “operatic, dreamlike fantasy rock” rather than simply “progressive rock” then Dream Theater would certainly fit, despite their heavier edge.

    I didn’t coin the terminology.

  • ND

    I&W is their best work IMO. I too was floored after listening to that one album. But many of the others are a bit confusing to listen to – unlike Floyd, who have a lot of good tracks in all studio albums (except Ummagumma). DT’s metallic sound makes me like them much more than Rush. However, no one can match Floyd. The Beatles’ psychedelic numbers are too few.

    If you want something slower (blues) try Ballads & Blues – the best of Gary Moore.

  • Taloran

    I’m a huge Gary Moore fan – my first introduction to him was when “Still Got the Blues” was briefly popular on the radio in 1984 (?). I have about eight of his CDs. And like Dream Theater being called prog rock, Gary Moore, despite his metal leanings (he recorded After the War with Ozzy on vocals) is still considered a blues guitarist.

  • http://www.thebeautifullull.com Tom Johnson

    Rush is hardly a prog-rock band. They may have had a few entries into that genre, but by and large they are just a rock band, and one of the best at that.

    Dream Theater is so far from being “the best” that I can’t believe it’s even being considered. The majority of their catalog following Falling Into Infinity consists of lifted-riffs from other better bands (Tool and Metallica most frequently, along with plenty of Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, and on this last album, a complete rip-off of Muse’s “Stockholm Syndrome.”) This is an embarassing tendency that has grown into an alarming lack of any originality at all in the past three albums. This fact alone removes them from any consideration as “the best” of anything except maybe theft.

    Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson are undoubtedly the leaders of prog (even though I actually balk at the inclusion of Crimson, because they’re really more jazz-rock than anything else, at least after the first two albums.) One band that should be counted as highly as Genesis and Yes is Gentle Giant, whose music I’ve only recently gotten into. What took me so long, I can’t say, but the wait was certainly rewarding. These guys take off, from a “sounds like” standpoint, from the odd jazzy noodling of King Crimson’s Islands, and they just run with it. Truly an incredible band with musicians that blow away Yes and Genesis, great as they are – but those two bands just never reach the level of complexity and beauty that I’m finding in Gentle Giant’s music. HIGHLY recommended to check out if somehow you were ig’nant like me for so long.

  • Taloran

    I respectfully disagree with quite a bit of what Tom Johnson says in comment 8.

    Genesis was great through the first studio album without Peter Gabriel, Trick of the Tail. The first few albums following were marginal, and beginning with 1980’s Duke, they went to complete pop claptrap. Abacab was a spit in the eye to the masterful earlier work by the band.

    In my opinion, Octopus was Gentle Giant’s finest hour. They produced several wonderful albums in the prog rock vein, and I’m somewhat surprised at myself that I neglected to mention them in my original post. However, like Genesis, they devolved into a predictable, 4/4, 3-chord pop band by the time of the hideous Giant for a Day in 1978. But despite their efforts, the pop drivel of Giant for a Day didn’t have the catchiness of Genesis’ “Misunderstanding” or “No Reply at All”.

    Rush can certainly be defined as a rock band, but the stuff I was into as a youngster was 2112, A Farewell to Kings, and Hemispheres, all of which came out one after the other during the zenith of my prog-rock listening, and which certainly fit into the prog rock mold. I therefore think of them as a prog band, whether or not the label fits their larger catalog. As I wrote above, I stopped listening to them due to Geddy Lee’s insufferable vocals. Perhaps describing them as a rock band with a prog rock period would be more precise?

    Obviously, Tom and I disagree on Dream Theater, and that’s fair enough. I can respect his opinion while disagreeing with it.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~proy1/ Paul Roy

    DT are now on their third keyboardist. Kevin Moore left after their second album awake, and was a huge loss in my opinion. Jordan Rudess may be technically better, but I hate his sound. Dream Theater is certainly the best prog-metal band, but probably not prog-rock.

  • John Summerhill

    I have seen almost all the prog-rock bands at least twice and sometimes more than 10 times (since about 1970). I am sorry, but Dream Theatre is one of the worst sounding bands I have heard. Not at all in the class of Genesis, ELP, King Crimson, Gentle Giant,The Strawbs, YES. In fact, I would say it is a sick joke to even put them in the same category.

  • Eric Olsen

    Tal, I think timing is very important, even if it isn’t fair, and the time of prog rock was the late’60s into the mid-’70s, after that it lost the popular imagination. In addition, I think the freshness of the time did make for the best of the genre, which holds up until today: the best of Yes, ELP, Moody Blues, Nektar, Caravan, Gentle Giant, PFM, etc etc sounds better to me than anything from the genre since.

    I wouldn’t call Pink Floyd prog rock – I see them as first totally Brit psychedelia, then space rock

  • http://livinblog.blogspot.com/ Joe Battista

    Dream Theater are great musicians, but not a great band. I don’t enjoy listening to them the way I do bands like Yes or Alan Parsons. They just don’t have a great catalog of songs to fall back on.

  • http://www.dorksandlosers.com Tan The Man

    Must agree with Joe.

  • Shark

    What EricO said.

    And…

    I have a few suggestions (two of which I suggested Here.)

    The Best “Prog Rock” Band Ever?

    1) Soft Machine (okay, maybe prog, but not rock…) Probably cited as a major influence by more ‘progressive’ musicians than any band in history. Also had the greatest drummer in rock history: Robert Wyatt. There is no debate here, btw. heh.

    2) National Health – (bastard sons of Soft Machine!) They are the best musicians among all the names you folks have tossed out — w/out a doubt. Also — the best composers in the genre. We have a winner! (And it ain’t Yes or the King Crimson… they play fumbling, simplistic kiddie music compared to Nat. Health)

    3) Touch (Don Gallucci) – one of the most “progressive rock” albums ever made — I call it ‘the American Sgt. Pepper” — check it out on the link provided above.

  • Eric Olsen

    yes, there is some Soft Machine I really like, but some solo Robert Wyatt, and especially, Kevin Ayers I like even more

  • Shark

    re: solo Robert Wyatt

    Eric, I love you, maaaaan!

    Wyatt’s last CD, ‘Cuckooland’, might be his best solo CD ever.

    I think it’s a subtle masterpiece (but it takes multiple listenings for that to sink in).

    re. Kevin Ayers —

    How ’bout playin’ with John Cale, Nico, & Brian Eno (June 1, 1974)? Sorta the “Magnificent Seven” cast of Brit prog rock.

    Ah, memories!

  • Brian Garrepy

    Hmmm…. How do I start? I do appreciate Talorans review of prog rock but I have to say that Dream Theater isn’t necessarily rock… With most misconceptions of this band, I can see that alot of these people that have made comments(and I do appreciate their love of music)never delved into the realm of metal.Except for one person’s comment on theft of Metallica’s riffs. (Metallica hasn’t come out with a good album since “Master” and a far from an example that I would use to summon up DT’s Legacy) Anyways, When Dream Theater arose with “When Dream and Day Unite” in 1989, The sound seemed to be heavily influenced by Watchtower(the band) and Fates Warning. But, it was the firing of their first singer which brought James Labrie(From Canada) into the picture with their groundbreaking second release…. My point?? There was nothing like it…EVER!! While everyone was napping with such vile waste of radio like Nirvana… DT pioneered a new vision of Metal with their passion for the Prog jondra.(In which they have played with some of the greats)Since then they have put out ALOT of brilliant work and are one of the best live bands to grace the planet…I feel that if more people came at this topic from the Metal forum they could see alittle more.
    Thank you Taloran for bringing up such a passionate topic.

    Here’s some bands I would recommend if you have the open ears for it:

    Spock’s Beard-“Snow”
    Opeth-“Blackwater Park”
    Ayreon-“The Human Equation”
    Magellan-“Hundred Year Flood”
    Fates Warning-“Perfect Symmetry”
    Athiest-“Unquestionable Prescence”
    Death-“Symbolic”
    WatchTower-“Energetic Disassembly”
    IronChrist-“Getting the most out of your extinction”

  • Taloran

    Evidently, there is considerable disagreement with my opinion, and even amongst the opinions of the commenters herein. Just about every opinion-oriented post I’ve made on Blogcritics over the years has met with vehement opposition, so I’m accustomed to it, and even welcome it. This one seems to have kicked the hornet’s nest nicely. I’ve become quite used to those Blogcritics who seem to believe “my opinion is fact, and since yours is different, it is obviously wrong.” But several of the comments made since I posted this make me chuckle with their contrariness to each other.

    Mark Saleski mentions that Dream Theater is too metal to be considered prog rock. Later, Shark says Soft Machine is the best prog rock band ever, but then says they’re prog but not rock. I think for the purposes of this discussion it would be fair to just call them all prog, drop the rock, and lump them together in one broad genre. People will probably argue with that as well.

    Jon Summerhill, speaking about live performance, says Dream Theater is “one of the worst sounding bands ever.” Brian Garrepy directly contradicts him, saying they’re “one of the best live bands to grace the planet.” I haven’t seen them live, so have no opinion on this particular matter.

    Tom Johnson says that Dream Theater has produced crap since Falling Into Infinity, their 5th studio album. He then goes on to say that Genesis, Gentle Giant, and King Crimson are “undoubtedly the leaders of prog,” but admits that Crimson only did two prog albums. In my opinion, Genesis only recorded four better-than-decent studio albums over four years, from ’71’s Nursery Cryme to the ’76 release Trick of the Tail (recorded in ’75), which makes Dream Theater the longer-lived prog band of the two, if both Tom’s opinion of DT’s music after Falling and my opinion of Genesis’ after Trick are correct. Whether or not the studio albums of Genesis, after Trick, were good (I think they suck), they certainly weren’t prog. Gentle Giant stayed in the prog vein and recorded good stuff for about the same period of time, from their self-titled 1970 debut to 1975’s Freehand. After that their studio stuff is poor or worse, in my opinion. And no amount of argument will convince me that the miserable Giant for a Day is either listenable or prog. I still have it on vinyl, and would put it on my turntable to confirm my opinion, but can’t bear the thought of listening to that horrible crap. Maybe I’ll put on Octopus instead.
    (Note – I went to Allmusic.com to check dates and album numbers for the immediately preceding paragraph.)

  • Sean

    I had a similar reaction to the band Porcupine Tree when I discovered their CD In Absentia a couple years ago (Dream Theater has been a favorite going back to the late 80’s). Based on your preferences and descriptions I think Porcupine Tree will really blow your mind if they are not aready on your radar.

    Sean

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    as you said taloran, you didn’t coin the terminology.

    we’re all here talking about several different kinds of music all labeled ‘prog’.

  • Taloran

    I misquoted Tom Johnson in comment 19. He said “Genesis, Yes, and King Crimson are undoubtedly the leaders of prog”, not “Genesis, Gentle Giant, and King Crimson” as I originally quoted. He then said Gentle Giant “should be counted as highly.”

    I apologize for the misquote.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com Eric Berlin

    Dream Theater hails from my homeland of Long Island, New York. I grew up with a bunch of guys weaned on metal (hair and heavy varieties both) who worship the ground that DT walks on.

    It’s interesting to think another long standing Long Island hero, Billy Joel. A transition from Joel to Dream Theater is a fairly stark one — both rank high on the musicianship scale, however.

  • http://www.magnacarta.net Brian Garrepy

    Well, It’s nice for once to see a group of people who have actually listened to this style of music and actually have an opinion…. I do feel though that because the aforementioned(?) bands are actually no longer producing work(with exception to Yes)that DT is actually doing a great job pushing this type of music into the future… and supporting bands that have the same style. Porcupine Tree’s Absentia was a great album that blended the eccentric with a nice pop sense(easy on the ears) but their new album kinda leaves you wanting more…The cool thing is that Steve Wilson(Vocals-Porcupine Tree) produced Opeth’s “Blackwater Park” as well as the two newer cd’s(drawing a blank). Magellan has some great work and on “Hundred Year Flood”, Ian Anderson played an awesome flute solo.(Suprisingly, no one has mentioned Jethro Tull in this discussion)They also have played with some excellent musicians in the prog genre.
    http://www.magellanweb.com/magband.htm
    Spock’s Beard was definately a band that held true to the prog style and if you haven’t heard “Snow” then you have missed out.But, My last point would have to, again, be that DT has a huge influence from Prog Rock but not as big as the metal scene, so I disagree that we should lump them all together because then noone gets the credit. Watchtower is considered to be the fathers of this type of fusion(No credit) as well as Fates Warning…. Still these two bands never make it in any Top 10 or even acknowleged in Rock history!! So… Hopefully, Because DT has the ability to make the Dramatic,Symphonyesque type of prog that keeps them popular maybe that will shine the light on other bands that don’t get the spotlight… Even Taloran said,”How I’d missed this brilliant music for the 13 years since its release I couldn’t begin to fathom.”

  • http://www.magnacarta.net Brian Garrepy

    One last thing…. in 1991, Athiest came out with their CD,”Unquestionable Prescence” and if you thought DT’s “I.A.W.” was brilliant…You surely missed out on a timeles cd that will probably never be matched again. Granted it was heavier but it truley showed pro-musician craftsmanship in the fusion sense….

    Thanks…Maybe I will catch ya guys later

  • http://www.andrewiandodge.com Marty Dodge

    That, of course, is the trouble with the odd catagory of rock called prog. What exactly the hell is prog?

    I mean many people consider Rush prog some even looks like the awesome Voivod. Are bands like Rhapsody, Porcupine Tree and Blackfield prog or symphonic power metal?

    I think Dream Theater have gotten a bit full of themselves of late. I far prefer stuff like I&M and Scenes from a Memory to the stuff I have heard of late from DT.

    However I have to say that Pink Floyd’s best ie: Dark Side is far better than anything done by ELP, DT or even Yes.

  • http://www.thebeautifullull.com Tom Johnson

    I think an argument could me made for Genesis maintaining a pretty good foothold in prog up through and including Wind & Wuthering, with And Then There Were Three and Duke curbing the prog tendencies with increasing pop-ness. Regardless, when I say that Genesis is undoubtedly among the best that prog has to offer, it’s the Genesis we refer to as prog, and not the grandiose pop Genesis that became a chart-beast in the 80s and early 90s. Same goes for Gentle Giant – while I haven’t heard their late 70s material (nothing later than Interview,) everything they’re really known for is some of the best that prog has to offer.

    And King Crimson should be considered among the currently active bands – they’re still active and are working toward a new album at some point here soon. And what King Crimson is doing so thoroughly blows away what Yes and Dream Theater are doing. This is a band that truly never looks back, which is something that certainly cannot be said for Yes. King Crimson’s remained a vital, important musical act simply by refusing to take steps backwards. It might alienate fans who only want to hear, say, In the Court material, but it’s great for those of us who want to hear bands do truly new things.

  • http://www.markiscranky.org Mark Saleski

    in a live setting Crimson is so good they’re almost frightening.

    it’s like rock groupthink or something.

  • S.bastien

    Taloran, you’ll soon discover that Dream Theater are progsnobs favorite whipping boys. For them, if you claim to like progresive rock, it’s uncool to like DT. It’s worse than fuckin’ high school.

  • Duane

    Actually, it’s OK to like all of it. All of your favorite bands have some stuff you like, some you don’t.

    I think In Absentia by PT has some beautiful and powerful moments. Prog? Nah. Who cares?

    I think a lot of what you like or don’t like has a lot to do with when you first heard it.

    The first time I heard Genesis, a friend sat me down and forced me to listen to a Genesis song. I was studying music theory in college and he wanted to put me to the test. He asked, “What’s the time signature?” Me: “Hmmm … 9/8? Weird.” It was Apocalypse in 9/8 from Supper’s Ready, so he already knew the answer (pat myself on the back). I fell in love with that type of music, then Yes and Tull shortly thereafter.

    I wouldn’t care to pit Yes against Genesis in Who’s the Prog King? contest. They’re different enough. Tony Banks is a genius, I’ll offer that much. Supper’s Ready off the Seconds Out album I consider to be a monument to civilization.

    King Crimson in its recent incarnation (Fripp, Belew, …) has their own style. Prog? I dunno. It’s something. I had the pleasure of seeing them live in LA in their double trio configuration, and I almost had a religious experience. Bill Bruford (Yes and Genesis alumnus) is my musical hero. I love that interlocking guitar stuff. Belew was funny. At one point, he’s standing in the middle of the stage, and starts rocking from left to right, right to left, with a fixed rhythm. For like 5 minutes during a long musical sequence. Thing is, his back and forth rhythm was completely different from what the band was up to, with their polyrhythmic double trio stuff. He was not even playing in time to his body motion. Weird. Just thought I would throw that in.

  • The Duke

    Wow, does this thread bring back memories… How about a couple of more names from the past.

    GONG, UK, both featuring Alan Holdsworth.

    Thanks for the memories.

  • Shark

    Good call on Gong and UK, Duke.

    Note: Alan Holdsworth also played with *Soft Machine, and has one of the tastiest guitar solos ever on a later *album.

    * sans Wyatt and Ratledge.

  • Shark

    also add the great prequel [band] to what would later become and/or contribute to National Health —

    “Matching Mole”
    &
    “Hatfield & the North”

  • Duane

    The Duke and Shark. Holdsworth!? Yes, indeed. I had that album Bundles by Soft Machine years ago on vinyl. It’s long since disappeared. I should probably re-order. But where I think Holdsworth really shines is with the Tony Williams Lifetime. Good Gawd Almighty.

  • http://www.andrewiandodge.com Marty Dodge

    How about Asia? Or are they not prog cause they had a few hits?

  • Theo

    One name needs to be added to all those bands that have been mentioned on this page: The Flower Kings !!!

    Check out those albums if you like:

    – Space Revolver
    – Flower Power (Double album!)
    – The Rainmaker
    – Stardust we are (Double album!)

  • MrMan

    As someone who grew up with Yes, ELP, Rush, Genesis, etc and has also followed (but not as deeply) the progressive metal scene I have these thoughts:

    1. Dream Theater is an exceptionally talented band and has produced some outstanding musice, most notably Images & Words, A Change of Seasons and Metropolis Part II. I agree that the band’s output since Jordan Rudess joined has not been as original or creative (with the exception of Metropolis Part II). Also, live the band is unbelievably tight.

    2. The best progressive band currently making music is The Mars Volta…anyone looking for music that combines modern approach with old-school style will enjoy them.

  • Brian Garrepy

    Really??

    I think the two are completely different. The Mars Volta are very experimental (ex.Latin Lyrics) while DT is very traditional. Mars Volta has the prog rock influence but DT has had more of a Metal influence considering they were the first at what they do.There were bands before them that implemented a technical sense but nothing that fused those styles together so well(Cynic,Atheist,Fates Warning). Dream Theater is a great band and like any band that has had an album that blows your mind it’s hard to keep that up…Come on, DT has been successful for what… 13,14 years? They lost one real member… I think they are holding up fine. Talk to me about The Mars Volta when they have reached that mark…ok??

  • MrMan

    You make some good points….maybe what I should have said is the band currently making the best progressive music is Mars Volta.

    Totally agree that DT is VERY accomplished…I have every thing they’ve done and have seen them several times, so I’m not criticising them. I do think the creativity has waned over the last six years or so…the last three studio releases had nothing they hadn’t done before.

    However, DT was very original when they first started. I see Mars Volta that way now. They are playing obviously progressive music….but have incorporated some of the musical influences (latin, world, tripnotic) that have come about over the last dozen years or so.

    That’s the only point I was making….that MV is creating very innovative, contemporary music that incorporate classic prog elements while DT has basically been doing the same thing for about 10 years now.

  • John Summerhill

    There are 2 aspects to judging a band (or musician of any kind)-their recorded products, and their live performances. Taloran states that he has never seen Dream Theatre-then how can you even have a proper opinion of them? As I earlier stated, I have seen them more than once. When you can’t wait until they get off the stage, you know the performance is poor.The last time I saw them (2004), there were more people at the concessions and in the hallways waiting for them to finish then were sitting listening to them in the seats.This is a band on the long train to nowhere.

  • Brian Garrepy

    John, Are you sure it was DT you went to see?? They are an excellent band live,maybe you just don’t like them anymore. Which is fine. I have gone through bands and comeback plenty of times…Anyways, it sounds like you saw them at the Orpheum in Boston. If this is the case, that’s the only area where you are allowed to smoke. Plus, they are the only band that I have seen that plays for 3 hours with a 15 minute intermission and no opening band…Yeah, they suck*smirk*. I can understand if you don’t like their material(to be completely honest it sounds like you don’t like metal)but you must be on crack to say that their performance is poor!! I saw them on their “Six Degrees…” and “Train of Thought” tours and their are the best band in concert..Possibly ever!!

  • John Summerhill

    To Brian Garrepy: No , I don’t like metal. You sure have missed the boat on this discussion.If they are the best you have seen, then you must be about 18 years old.This discussion is supposed to be about ‘Prog-rock’ bands . Metal does not fit this description. They have opened up for YES a couple of times, which is where I saw them. YES (among others like Pink Floyd, ELP, Genesis, Gentle Giant, King Crimson, UK etc) are a “prog-rock’ band. Dream Theatre is not.It was a bad match. Send Dream Theatre out with Ozzy or Metallica ,or other headbangers who are learning to play their instruments while performing on stage.

  • Taloran

    To John Summerhill: If you are suggesting that the guys in Dream Theater are just “learning to play their instruments,” after attending Berklee and 16 years following their first album, then I know exactly where to mentally file your opinions.

    Speaking of DT’s studio recordings only, and in my opinion only:
    I think Petrucci would blow away just about any other “prog” guitarist (metal, rock, whatever) out there with the exception of Fripp. While Howe’s improvisational skills may be as good, his fingers don’t blaze the way Petrucci’s do. Steve Hackett isn’t close. David Gilmour, as I noted in the original post, composed some of the tastiest, most memorable guitar lines in the history of rock (prog or otherwise) but has never been super fast or extremely technical – Petrucci is both.
    Mike Portnoy is as big a beast on the drums as Bruford, Palmer or Peart, and far superior to Phil Collins, Alan White, or the multi-rotating-drummer approach of Gentle Giant.
    James LaBrie has the best male set of pipes I’ve ever heard in the prog-whatever genre, bar none. Far stronger and more powerful than Jon Anderson or Gary Green, better tone than Geddy Lee (whether or not one calls Rush prog), much greater range than Lake, Gilmour, Waters, Gabriel, or Collins. The only singer close in the broad genre is Annie Haslam of Renaissance.

    I had a college music professor who said “I have a name for snobs who say that Jazz stopped progressing after a certain point – those who say that Jazz died and the music should not be called Jazz after Dixieland, or after Swing, or after Bop, or into the modern period. I call them Moldy Figs.”
    Since most other commentary in this post seems to agree that DT are excellent musicians, and all other comments about the quality of their live performances indicate that they are excellent in concert, and you admit you don’t like metal (I generally don’t either) I must assume that you simply don’t like them, and that you are a Moldy Fig when it comes to prog.

  • John Summerhill

    To Taloran:
    Been watching and listening to just about every type of band and music since 1965. Believe me, once you see DT live (and you admitted you hadn’t) you will know what I mean.Guitar solos on record are quite often over dubbed to give you the impression he is fast-believe me, fast means nothing.In concert, this guy Petrucci comes across as one big blur with no attention to style or detail or conviction.I have seen Hendrix, Beck, Page, Clapton, Alvin Lee, Santana, Al Dimeola, Howe, Fripp, Hackett, Harrison, Mick Taylor and on and on. All more than once.This guy is not in this league.And this band is definitetly not a great band, by prog-rock standards.

  • J. Kelly

    I have to side with J. Summerhill on this issue. I too have seen Dream Theatre live at least twice.Maybe 3 times. This is not a band that I would call progressive rock. More like a poor man’s Deep Purple.The guitarist is sloppy.The drummer only knows one level of playing-too loud. Their sound is annoying. Nothing like the real progressive rock bands like King Crimson, Yes, Genesis and the like.Just because a band may not be around anymore, you cannot forget their contribution to a music category.I am sure someone out there likes Dream Theatre, but just don’t put them on the same as real progressive rock bands.

  • Taloran

    John, since everyone else says they’re excellent in concert, I’ll have to take your opinion with a grain of salt until I see them. I’m not much of a concert-goer these days, as my schedule doesn’t permit it.

    I’ve seen most of the others in your list immediately above (not Hendrix (too young), Harrison, or Taylor (hate the Stones)) and other greats you didn’t mention but probably have seen live – George Benson, Steve Morse, Paco DeLucia, Robben Ford, SRV, Pat Metheny, Albert King, Christopher Parkening, Ottmar Liebert and many others. I also watched a large number of guitarists in very intimate performances in various somewhat sterile venues during my days as a music major (hard to jam out when your professor is grading you).

    I think I understand the distinction between a brilliant concert guitarist and a studio showman fairly accurately. I look forward to fitting a Dream Theater concert into my schedule, and judging for myself.

  • John Summerhill

    I think that is a good idea. Until you actually see a band live, you cannot make an honest judgement on their abilities. So much is hidden in a studio.When someone is a fan of the music ,it is easy to forgive the faux-pas live. I am not a fan of their recorded material, and seeing them live just makes me want to stay away from their recordings.In a way, it reminds me of The Doors and Steppenwolf. Everyone knows their classic recordings, but believe me, they sure never sounded that good live.Yet many sound much better live. Like Zeppelin, ELP, The Who, Genesis, YES.And yes, the Stones were super live in the Mick Taylor era. Much better than the Jones or Woods era.Anyways, enough of this thread on this subject-go see DT and then I believe you will see what I am talking about.

  • Shark

    J.Summerhill: “…Been watching and listening to just about every type of band and music since 1965.”

    AWREET!

    He tosses out the ol’ Seniority Argument Justification!

    Go, John, I got yer back!

    PS: When yall get done, can I reminisce about Soft Machine some more…?

    [sniff]

  • Brian Garrepy

    Hey J.Kelly,
    If it’s too loud you’re too old!!!

    John Summerhill,
    I submit this to you… I am 31 years old. I have been listening to Metal since I was 7(Iron Maiden-“Iron Maiden”) and to say that DT doesn’t have any prog sense sounds very pompous. It’s sad that you say you have been listening to this stuff (prog rock) since the 60’s and you, yourself, haven’t progressed. This thread turned into a discussion about prog rock but it was orignally about how DT stands up against the greats. Also, How the author hadn’t heard of these guys until 13 years after their second release. If you look at the posts, I’m the one who established(on this thread)that they were more metal and it is harder to compare them with the likes of YES,Pink Floyd,ELO,etc..(My personal PF favorite is the Division Bell)The fact that you don’t like metal is very obvious(Ozzy hasn’t been metal since 1982 and Metallica sice ’85) and seeing how you don’t have any experience in that field, you should stick to the prog rock forum.You probably didn’t understand Yngwie Malmsteen either. He was the pioneer for the minor scale in metal history and without him I think Petrucci would’ve had to work harder. Me, Personally…I never said they were any better than the greats and for the most part you could say I don’t know much about prog rock with the exception of Yes and Pink Floyd.
    But, I do understand the progression of jazz in music especially metal. If you want to check out some compelling work on the rock& metal scene then try these bands out:

    Spock’s Beard
    Magellan
    Ayreon
    Cynic
    Aghora
    Portal
    Atheist(New re-release 8/31)
    The Mars Volta

    Special Mention:
    Yngwie Malmsteen’s Rising Force

    I feel that you will be able to appreciate their works…if not then too bad.

  • http://home.comcast.net/~proy1/ Paul Roy

    I’ve seen Dream Theater in concert about five times, from the “Images and Words” tour up too their opening slot in front of Yes last year. They are a very inconsistent band, both with their live performances and with their albums. “Images and Words” and “Scenes from A Memory” tours were phenomenal, just like the albums. The rest is just average at best. I’ve never seen a band with such potential, but they have just not lived up to it after such a promising start. Petrucci used to blow me away. He could do it all – speed, accuracy, melody – but little of his recent stuff is very memorable.

  • John Summerhill

    To Brian Garrepy
    The discussion was about DT being included in the term ‘Prog Rock’. They are not in that category, that is what I am saying.I don’t listen to metal due to its montonous boredom. Different strokes for different folks.But to include DT in the Prog Rock category is wrong.We all know that there have been only a few significant albums produced in the last 20 years, and I would say that this means the general public is force fed a lot of crap now. It is too bad you missed the best years of the latter 60’s and 70’s when significant albums were released almost on a daily basis. Like classical music, there came a point of saturation . Everything has been virtually done and many years ago. That is why a trip to a classical concert involves listening to music that was written 100 and more years ago. Popular music is much the same. Everything that is now new is just a rehash. I assume that is why people are still cuing up in the 10’s of thousands to see the Stones. Somehow , whether you like them or not, I cannot see anyone lining up 25 years from now to see the bands that are producing todays crap.

  • J.Kelly

    Hey Brian Garrapy

    Thought it was all about quality not quantity!I can handle loud when it is good quality music. Dream Theatre just isn’t a good band in my opinion.Maybe because I saw them open for Yes and the quality difference is so vast. I hope that DT took the time after their set to watch the masters at work.By the way, I think in terms of volume, the Rush show I went to last year was probably louder then Dream Theatre but because the music is played so much better, you really do not notice the volume.In fact, it actually seems like an integral part of the overall experience.

  • S.Upton

    This has been an enjoyable and informative pile of discussion.Lots of names being thrown around.Bands I haven’t heard about in years.For the record (got to get my 2 cents in), I saw Dream Theatre last year on the Yes tour.Have to admit-they were awful.I thought it might have just been a bad night, but after reading all the above, I am thinking that maybe they were just badly outclassed by Yes.Two different types of music for sure.

  • Mark B.

    music is a very subjective thing…live performance is not…having attended well over a dozen dream theater performances as well as rush, yes, pink floyd over the years, i can fully say that i have never heard a more precise band live (and after 4 years of ear training and music theory, im a fair judge i think) than dream theater…to play music as consistently complex as theirs for 3+ hours that accurately is astounding…fine, you dont like dream theater? you are more than entitled to that, but to say they are a bad band that are ‘on a long train to nowhere’ is absolutely absurd considering they have been going strong for 15 years now and have a good following…(for the record, i saw ALOT of people leave after dt played and before yes came on)

  • 6:00

    Very nice review, Taloran. I myself don’t think that IMAGES & WORDS is the best DT album (that would be 1994’s dark masterwork AWAKE), nor do I feel DT is the best progressive rock/metal band ever (although they may be my favourite) but I must object to some of the bashing DT has received. I myself have long been outspoken in my frustration with DT’s post-FII releases (SCENES FROM A MEMORY is the most overrated prog release since… I can’t even recall one more overrated actually), but those who deny that they ever were anything special ought to listen to AWAKE. Regardless of their rather over-the-top first two records (the sublime I&W and the severely underrated WHEN DREAM AND DAY UNITE), AWAKE is a reserved cerebral high water mark in the genre and certainly amongst the most masterful albums of the 90’s.

    As for being a bad live act, they’re not that exciting to watch but their playing is pretty much impeccable and LaBrie gets better all the time.

    In any case, thanks for the entertaining read.

  • http://jack@hotmail.com don sanchez

    “Guitar solos on record are quite often over dubbed to give you the impression he is fast-believe me, fast means nothing.In concert, this guy Petrucci comes across as one big blur with no attention to style or detail or conviction.I have seen Hendrix, Beck, Page, Clapton, Alvin Lee, Santana, Al Dimeola, Howe, Fripp, Hackett, Harrison, Mick Taylor and on and on. All more than once.This guy is not in this league.”

    Uh…this is crap. Petrucci IS a fast guitarist—it’s silly to argue otherwise. He’s also a very good live performer. And as for those guys being better, well, that’s your opinion, but I will say that Page is stupidly sloppy live. Go listen to Heartbreaker on How The West Was Won. Yeesh!

  • J. Summerhill

    Who cares how fast a guitarist is? What does that have to do with music? Absolutely nothing. This isn’t the Olympics. Passion,conviction and truism to the music is what matters.DT just does not cut it. Sorry.That is why they are still an opening act after 15 years.

  • http://john@hotmail.com don sanchez

    From the way you worded that post, you seemed to be implying that Petrucci only gives the impression he is fast in the studio. And if you don’t emote to DT’s music, then cool, but don’t neglect that many do.

  • J Summerhill

    As stated earlier, different strokes for different folks. This discussion was about DT being a prog rock band.Someone even opened this saying they were the best prog rock band ever-that is a farce. I maintain that they are not a prog rock band. And if they are, they are not a good prog rock band. They may be good in some category,I am sure, but certainly not prog rock.

  • Luke Smith

    “Sorry.That is why they are still an opening act after 15 years.”

    Yeah, because not only does DT never headline shows, they don’t even do shows where they only play by themselves. Gimme a break.

  • http://draven99.blogspot.com Chris Beaumont

    I’ve never seen them as an opening act. Where did you get anidea like that?

  • nugget

    They’re pretty good. Nothing I’d want to listen to for more than 20 minutes, but technically impressive. The emotions fashioned by DT seem a bit, i dunno, 14-year-oldish to me, however.

    They are freakishly clever though. They mix and eq like pros. My advice to DT would be this:

    “Hey guys, today we’re going to learn about MAJOR Keys! You know, Happy sounds!!”

  • J Summerhill

    To Chris Beaumont

    They have been an opening act many times. I saw them open for YES at least 2 or 3 times over the years.

  • http://www.slb.org df

    It’s official–they suck.

  • Karl

    For some reason I am always drawn to discussions like this, ridiculous as they are…IMO, the word “best” has no place in any music discussion.
    It is so amazing to me how pretentious people become when they latch on to certain performers, bands or genres. Emotional ties to music can make some of you very intellegent people say pretty stupid things. Pushing opinion as fact is so commonplace in discussions like this with musically intellegent prog fans, one would think we would know better.

    Just remember, we are all marching to the beat of a different drummer here. As far as the US is concerned, the Yin-Yang twins and Tim Mcgraw are much better than any band we have mentioned here – on that note – I would hope you would think twice before trashing musical tastes of others and promoting your own opinion as supreme: Great musicianship, feeling, and progressiveness can be found in every kind of music out there.

    Here is my two cents on DT: They have a history of drawing heavily from other band’s sounds. They can be pretentious. But in numerous, inspired moments Dream Theater has created some of the most awe-inspiring, powerful, and beautiful music I have ever heard.
    If DT doesn’t do that for you, that doesn’t make you stupid. But if you insist that Dream Theater shouldn’t do that for me, than you are a fool.

  • J. Summerhill

    To Karl:

    Again, these comments are off topic. Somehow I think you don’t understand the term’Prog rock’.The discussion was about DT being in this category. I stated that they are not and I maintain this stand. If you like Tim McGraw (personally, I liked his father better) , then that is fine. But don’t say he is the best ‘Prog rock’ artist.He is CW, and that is where he makes his living.If he is your favourite CW artist, that is cool. But this discussion was really on the subject of DT’s category.

  • Borlag

    It’s quite interesting to read how opinions on what is prog vary from person to person. To some people “prog” is merely a shortened word for progressive, which atleast used to mean pushing the boundaries and not limiting yourself to a certain mold. Both bands like King Crimson and bands like Dream Theater fit into this category. To other people “prog” is merely a word to describe the sound of the classic prog bands such as Yes, Pink Floyd, Genesis, King Crimson etc. Sounds like many people who have commented here, seem to think this way.

    Then what exactly is rock? Back in the 70’s bands like Black Sabbath and Deep Purple were considered heavy metal, by todays standards many consider them to be hard rock or classic rock. Dream Theater for the most part isn’t heavier than old Sabbath, thus shouldn’t it also be considered rock? Then when you really think of it, alot of what King Crimson have done is much heavier than what gets called metal, thus shouldn’t King Crimson be classified as the first prog metal band?

    As for the technical abilities of Dream Theater, they are all top notch musicians. Do they make errors on stage? Of course they do, but so do everyone else, to claim otherwise would be just foolish. They’ve been openers for bands like Yes, Deep Purple, Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Queensrÿche…and so on and so on, but the majority of their gigs are solo gigs, or “evening with” gigs as they tend to call them. Those consist of 3, sometimes close to 4, hours of live music.

    So…basically, times have changed, music has evolved. If you don’t like what it has turned into, that’s all fine and good, everyone has the right to their own opinion. But as it is currently, Dream Theater is quickly becoming the biggest progressive rock band there is. You may label them as metal, and they do have their metal side, but along with that, they do have their poppy side aswell, along with the progressive side.

  • http://italyson91@hotmail.com Nasser

    AWESOME article.. DT is truly a mix of the best prog ever.. hence they are the BEST PROG BAND EVER.

    :D

  • Taloran

    Borlag, thank you for those comments. I agree with your assessment of a wider definition of prog “pushing the boundaries and not limiting yourself to a certain mold,” than the narrower, or perhaps more particular, view of Mr. Summerhill. I tried to say something similar in comment 43 with my explanation of my old music professor’s term “moldy fig.”

  • Taloran

    Thanks, Nasser. Glad you enjoyed it.

  • http://www.fortimir.com Fortimir

    I cannot believe some of the comments I saw.

    I have been listening to Dream Theater for seven years… and I have seen them live four times… and they are consistantly the best live band I have ever seen.

    Don’t get me wrong, I listen to classic progressive rock religiously, but I always spin my Dream Theater when I get the chance.

    It’s fine to say they are not the best prog band ever (whether they are or are not, they are my favorite), but to criticise their musicianship or their tightness is silly.

  • http://www.pippensqueak.blogspot.com gypsyman

    Wow and I thought political posts could be a minfield. Nothing compared to the music wars. Damn now I can’t remember who wrote the original post, sorry about that Taloran had to run back up the page to check.

    Thanks for this review, here’s something odd, I had only known Petrucci from his work with G3, never having been either a metal or prog. rock fan. (more than four or five chords this poor simpelton gets confused, its been punk and folk for me)

    When I reviewed the latest G3 D. V. D. Live In Tokyo, the one who I enjoyed the most was Petrucci, I thought he was the cleanest and more interesting than either of the other two. His solos were spot on without a note out of place, his finger work is precise and accurate, and his sound is amazing. What really impressed me was that he didn’t hide behing toys. Unlike a lot of guitar heroes who use fuzz and distortion to hide mistakes, you could hear every note he played.

    anyway thanks for the good intro to Dreamweaver.

  • tom

    ok, first off im a huge fan of dream theater, not that any of you care but whatever. dream theater happy sounds? what the fuck? sure the keyboard is a little..how do you say…misplaced at times, but still, im sure you can all agree with me when i say truely remarkable musicians, especially john petrucci, who made me pick up a guitar and play. one of the best, and in this age,(meaning post pink floyd) the best.

  • HB

    Definitely the most talented prog rock to hit the scene. To those who dont agree with them being the BEST out there right now melodically and creatively, listen to Metropolis Pt 2 and Train of Thought front to back, I’m sure your opinions will change.

  • http://maniax ioji

    the best prog rock band ever?
    i think it could be d.t but what do you say about hawkwind in the golden age?

  • http://bobcerm.blogdrive.com Bob Cerm

    Todd Rundgren’s Utopia is the Best Prog Rock Band of all time!

    Listen to the ‘Ikon’.

    Bub

  • J Blah

    okay my friends and i seem to see, that there is a disease floating around called dream theaterism in which people who listen to dream theater think lowly of everyone else that likes them. Maybe it’s not new, but i’ve seen it a lot more in fans of dream theater…but John Petrucci is a god, but they were put to this plane of existence to teach us. Well I do know one thing, I love rock, and I love good musicians, I listen from everything to Janes Addiction to Morbid Angel (Extol and Tourniquet too!) I like good musicians, Steve Vai is a egoist too about his guitar work, but he’s not as robotical as dream theater seems. Either way I’m trying to say that those of you that like Dream Theater, just remember there are generations who think you’re extremely weird for liking dream theater (their occasional barbara streisand moments are unsavory to say the least to the rock elitests (who also like blues, jazz, and a whole sorty of music).).).(where does this period go). Keep the rock high and loud, dont let yourself make fun of people because of “music” (unless it’s michael bolton or kenny g…sorry i can’t do that).

  • Ryan

    In regards to Summerhill, I have to respectively disagree with you. I have seen DT three different times in thier career. They are extrmely tight. Petrucci is an amazing guitarist with the clearest guitar playing I have ever heard live. Although I have not seen some of the “greats” that you claim to have seen, I have seen some of them and there is no comparisan. DT are amazing musicians period. While I have to admit that a couple of thier albums have not lived up to DT standards, the music and compostions are still amazing. If DT is “Prog” they are truely one if the not the very best ever.

  • Dave

    DT is simply the best band ever…just check the verstality, talent and glory in their music…

  • Franco

    “Dream Theater . the best prog rock band ever?”

    No, never

  • Nathan

    In regards to Portny on the drums, he is a monster. but, being a drummer myself, i stumbled across a group recently and heard a drummer that blew me away. try listening to dilinger escape plan.

  • zingzing

    as far as actual prog goes, i’d have to go with either robert wyatt or brian eno as the leading lights for the whole genre. both actually moved the genre forward (and what is more progressive than that?) on several levels, not in just instrumental proficiency or song length or number of guitar/drum solos or any of that bullshit. they changed the sound, the content, the ways to write a song…

  • zingzing

    guppus–i’d wondered where you’d gone…

  • zingzing

    as for today’s music, i don’t think one could say that a band that peaked 10-15 years ago is still “progressive.” music goes in far too many different directions these days… progressive as a genre has lost its true meaning. there is not much progressive about “prog” these days. (ex. latin lyrics are not really a step forward… just ask a latin band… or the pixies…). other genres, like noise, minimalism, experimental techno… that’s where you find the outer limits…

  • LiquidShadow

    For those of you that think that Dream Theater is a sloppy live band, you have to be out of your mind. They are one of the most proficient live bands that I have ever seen, and I have seen a bunch.

    Summerhill, how can you sit their telling other people that they are off topic when you continue to trash their live playing, Petrucci’s skills, how boring they are, etc. Stay on topic yourself, buddy. Also, stop trying to enforce your opinion as fact. No one cares if you saw Jummy Hendrix. It doesn’t make you more knowledgable about music than anyone else. You are telling people that they don’t know the definition of prog. Stop being a pompous prick. Music genres can often be very broad. Dream Theater just sold out Radio City Music Hall (over 6,000) for their 25th anniversary. The fact is that Dream Theater is growing in popularity and gaining more and more recognition every day.

    Also, for anyone who is just getting into Dream Theater, take all the complaining and bashing with a grain of salt. If you read these posts, you would think that Dream Theater is a terrible, boring band with no fans. The fact is that topics like these always attract negative posters and nay-sayers. They believe that another band is the best so they will discredit and bash any other band that someone else suggests is great. Don’t get the wrong idea. More people love Dream Theater than hate them. I think some of these guys are just upset that Dream Theater is consistently putting out better material than their favorite bands.

    Whether you wanna call it prog-rock or prog-metal, (IMO) Dream Theater is the best. ;)

  • Bconxept

    In my opinion, being a lover of prog, I know that there is NO best in prog. This is simply because prog falls into so many different categories that one band cannot possibly be considered THE BEST. BUT, in prog metal, DT are arguably the best and whoever had said their live perfomances are poor is sadly mistakened. DT are the dictionary definition of technical perfection in music, live or studio.

    I have been to 4 DT shows and I know what I speak.
    The only show i went to that was a bit “under-par”
    was their gigantor performance.

    Anyone interested in more displays of technical perfection should listen to Alan holdsworth, Pat Metheny, and the great Frank Gambale.

  • Mikey

    OK, OK. Here it is, like it or not. This blog was beased on an opinion, not fact. Dream Theater will probably never sell as many albums as Floyd. That is not a goal for the band either, by the way. Album sales have NOTHING to do with skill level or techniques of the band. Sales are just popularity results. I hope DT never gets huge, because their obscurity is what knocks people to the floor when they hear them for the first time. Thay can’t believe their music is not more popular. I have honestly NEVER played a DT song for someone “new” and had a negative response. It is not for everyone, but if you love music for what it is, and you can HANDLE classically arranged, highly technical pieces, DT has the planet beat. I have been following progressive rock and progressive metal bands (they share common ground) and DT always, always winds up on top in my list of preferences. Their sound is genuine, not copied. They are totally unique. I can’t think of another band that will have so many different time signatures in an album- let alone one song. They are master musicians. They are composers. Virtuosos! They make people like us agree and disagree on what we perceive the music to be! The facts are simple. There will NEVER be another dand like Dream Theater. The voice, the guitar, the bass (why is John M. so under-rated???? Listen to As I Am!!) I couldn’t agree more that DT is the best Prog-Rock or Prog-Metal band in existance today. Overall they are completely untouched. If you disagree, do yourself a favor and listen to some real classical music. stuff with complicated time signatures and major changes, baroque or whatever. then listen to DT. They are classical masters utilizing modern day instruments and playing them with the utmost precision. I have seen them several times live, I met Mike P on three seperate occasions, and I once have doubted they were even human…..if you disagree…can YOU play like that?? Thought not. Maybe an excerpt here and there….I have never heard anyone sucessfully pull off a song from DT without making “convenient” changes to the structure. Individually, Jordan Rudess is crazy. He is a session musician with a full time job now. The fact that his fingers still move is amazing in itself. Watch the Budokan DVD! Mike Portnoy…what else needs to be said? He writes, he sings, he plays guitar (yes he does!) and is the undisputed master of the drumset. Neil and Chester and Duke and Buddy have all had their time with their proficiencies. It’s Mike’s turn to throw his new ideas into the mix. You don’t make it to the drummer’s hall of fame if you can’t play. John Myung is the most subtle master of the four, six or twelve string bass I have ever heard! I know Stu Hamm sold a bunch of records, and rightfully so. The sound he pulls from four strings by utilizing perfect harmonics and precision timing is off the hook. Watch Budokan. John Petrucci. Doy. Who else do you feel competes? Who else takes a classical approach to every song, every lick or chord? I have never before witnessed faster, more precise fingers. The timing is unbelievable between him and Jordan. They are truly a remarkable band. Top it off with James’ vocals…who to this day practices with his long time classical/opera vocalist. His voice is great because he can nail the falsettos as well as the grungy, angry vocals. He harmonizes so many times and so well with guitar in their songs, it almost goes unnoticed. He has also guest appeared on several other band’s albums. Well, that is pretty much all I have to say. My opinion is DT will never have a true rival. There is not another band out there like them.

  • Kestyn

    lol, well I was gonna put my 2 cents on DT, but Mikey said it all. Good job man. I am also a very big fan of the classics too, since I’m only 24 I know all about the good stuff from the late 60’s and 70’s. YES is one of my favorite bands of all time including Electric Light Orchestra which is mainly just Jeff Lynn who is a god. But yeah DT for the win !!!

  • nick

    ok, so for those of you who think dt sucks, read what mikey had to say
    i think they are THE best band ever, (alongside pink floyd) now, i’m only 15, and i’ve only been listening to these guys since november of 05
    but these guys are the best of the best in whatever style of music they choose for whatever album they make
    they are talented musicians, who are masters of many different genres of music, which range from classical to blues to jazz to rock to metal, and they have the most unique sound
    while most bands stick with only one sound, these guys constantly change sounds, getting better and more experianced with each album.
    in my opinion, each one of these guys are the best at their insturment, and each one of them is in the top five (including james labrie, i think)
    the only people who match them in my opinion are the following:
    James LaBrie on vocals, David Gilmoure for vocals (pink floyd) because both of them had a wide range of vocals, and could do many different types, such as soft, low, high, heavy
    plus they both have a lot of passion, which makes a singer
    David Gilmour matches John Petrucci on guitar, because gilmour and petrucci both have those passionate solos; gilmour crushes petrucci in the popularity of his solos, and sometimes in the creativeness
    However, petrucci kills gilmour in speed and flare
    Portnoy is matched only by the famous Neil Peart (Rush), in both speed, style, creativness and perfection of using the right fill’s at the right time (But portnoys drum set kicks peart’s ass in size)
    Ruddess (i say ruddess because i think he destroys sherinian and moore on keys) is matched by no one in speed, but in creativeness is tied with richard wright (pink floyd)
    Finally, Myong is tied with Geddy Lee on bass, because of creativity
    Myong kills Geddy in speed of course
    Now, all that is my opinion, but i do play guitar, keyboard and drums, and am pretty good on all of them for my age
    as songwriters they are up there in creativity with the rest of prog artists, both metal and rock
    plus, they are insanely fast, i mean come on
    how many other bands do you know that have every insturment in the band playing solos at that speed, at the same time??? and they do some long solos
    plus, think about how hard it is to make epics that long… octavarium: 24 mins a change of seasons: 23:30 6doit: 42 mins
    i cant think of musicians who do songs that long that well
    and they may not be the best stage preformers, but they are good, and everyone i show dt to agrees that they are amazing, and i’ve shown almost 20 friends of mine dt
    so for those of you who hate dt, consider all that
    ps sry for the insanely long post

  • nick

    btw i cant believe that even though dt tries a new sound each album that there are still people who dislike them
    pompous narrow minded people like you piss me off, and need to get some more variety in your musical taste

  • nick

    one last comment for today; i’ve been reading some of the earlier posts, and it seems everyone is comparing dt to other prog greats: ie genisis, yes, rush, crimson king, floyd, ect
    you gotta remember that prog rock/metal is not about sounding like other bands, its about having a new and unique sound
    while dt does cite those bands as inspiration, and while there are subtle similarities in their music, dt is unlike any other band both technicly and musicly, and you shouldn’t be comparing them to older prog bands, or any prog bands for that matter

  • regal begal

    great read thanks guys,my 2 cents,we’re talking progression,right.ok,starting with sgt pepper listening to every band mentioned and ending with dt’s last(octavarium)my how music has certainly progressed,and 4 the better,y,cause dt has what all those bands had and refined it with pop/rock/metal(of their own)to create the ultimate sonic experience.sure they have their boring momments(which band honestly doesn’t)and la brie is far from a great vocalist(paul rodgers is the cream)but i listen to their classics more than any other bands so 4 me overall their no 1.

  • Matt

    Scenes from a Memory is possibly one of my favorite albums ever.

    Can’t everyone just like who they want to like and not care who some else likes. It’s not nessecary to put down other muscians and think your band is better.

  • Abenk

    dream theatre is the greatest band ever like rush etc. i don’t care what are people say about dream theatre. i just know that dream theatre makes prog-rock mores than ever anyone…

  • Dan

    I can’t believe you guys hate Geddy lees voice, i don’t see it.

  • Marcelo

    I saw Dream Theater in Chile, with 22 thousand people and it was the best concert in my life.

    But i think pink floyd is the best prog band without doubt

  • Dave

    Rush are far superior to Dream Theatre. Sorry, but nothing will change my mind on that. As for Gary ‘Geddy’ Lee’s voice… Well, it was only a true falsetto until about 1978, then it began to deepen. Listen to the 1982 album Signals and tell me I’m wrong.

  • http://www.dt3k.com Duff

    I can’t even believe this is being talked about, Dream Theater blow everyone else away, They are the greatest BAND ever, not just prog band.

  • ossa

    dream theater is the gratest band ever, it hast the best instrumntal stuff o the whole world and everytime u listen it u feel full of power, instead, listen to solitary shell from six dergrees of inner turbulence

  • dci1812

    I have been into prog rock (albeit unknowingly) since I first started listening to music. As a Rush enthusiast growing up, I really started to get burned out on them. I found that I didn’t care much for what they put out after Moving Pictures, and found myself unable to find anything to stimulate me musically…Until Dream Theater.

    These guys breathed new life into me musically. I thought good music was dead, and that I was destined to listen to 4/4 for the rest of my life.

    As a side note, I am a drummer who always thought that (Rush excepted) no self-respecting band would be caught dead with a keyboardist in their lineup, but that all ended with hearing Jordan Rudess. His contribution to the band continues to make life justifiable.

    There will never be another band that can even hold a candle to the imagination, technical wizardry, and true musicianship (read: also knowing when NOT to play “busily”) offered by Dream Theater. I feel my life is better for having heard them.

  • jbIII

    The best prog rock band ever? Happy The Man.

  • sanju

    i just listen to octavarium my first Dream Theatre’s that i listened that i got the lyrics very strong n gives the guidence forward

  • http://www.hurlinginvective.com Timothy Greathouse

    I think that Dream Theater was the greatest prog-rock band ever. But truthfully, I think that Falling Into Infinity was the beginning of the end for them, in terms of my adoration of them. They’re still good and they still write great tunes, to be sure, but they just don’t grab me the way they used to. I listened to I&W, Awake, Change of Seasons and Live @ the Marquee religiously… FII was just ho-hum for me… Metropolis Part 2 and Six Degrees I thought lacked imagination… and Train of Thought I just didn’t get at all.

    I can’t speak on Octavarium, though, as I haven’t heard it. Can anyone tell me if they made something of a return to early-mid 90’s DT that I loved?

  • TheHarm

    I’d say before you start arguing who is the best prog rock band you have to list what characteristics make a band prog rock, and then decide which band fulfills those characteristics best. It has to be objective to make any sense. If you’re going to measure everything subjectively you’re all going to be right. Anyways, that’s at least a start…

  • kiko

    Your the first to call them proggressive rock, I’ve always heard them as progressive metal. For goodness sakes man, they are known for founding prog metal!

  • STM

    They should learn to spell theatre the proper way, though … phillistines

  • duane

    Then wouldn’t it be Deram Theatre? And it’s philistines, not phillistines.

  • STM

    “Deram Theatre” … great name for a band, that.

    “Phillistines” … top moniker for their new album

  • http://bobcerm.podomatic.com Bob Cerm

    From: Sea of Tranquility

    The year was 1974, and former Nazz member Todd Rundgren, who already had a few successful solo albums under his belt, put together a full-blown progressive rock ensemble named Utopia, and set forth to compete with bands such as Yes, ELP, and Genesis. While Rundgren had flirted a bit with the prog genre on a few songs from Runt, Something, Anything, Todd, and A Wizard, a True Star, it was here with Utopia that the singer/guitarist let his songwriting take him to worlds he had yet to fully explore. Joining Todd were three keyboard players, Moogy Klingman, M. Frog Labat, and Ralph Schuckett, bassist John Siegler, and drummer Kevin Ellman, forming a formidable array of talent that helped showcase the guitarist’s new, extended songs. There’s no short pop ditty’s on Todd Rundgren’s Utopia, instead, the album is filled with long form jaunts of space age prog-rock, littered with extended guitar and synthesizer explorations that surely fit well alongside albums like Relayer from Yes, or ELP’s Tarkus.

    The opening track, which was actually recorded live at the Fox Theater in Atlanta, Georgia, is a blistering piece of hard driving, complex rock music, with more than a hint of fusion interplay and prog atmosphere. Rundgren’s guitar work is raw and powerful, and paired with the huge wall of keyboards and the muscular drum work of Ellman, provides for perhaps one of the musician’s classic moments. Here, searing guitar solos mesh with intricate and multi-layered synth passages, bringing to mind Return to Forever as much as it does Yes.
    At just over 30-minutes in length, “The Ikon” is art rock at its finest, bringing to the table the fusion muscle of bands such as the Mahavishnu Orchestra and Return to Forever, as well as prog legends such as Yes, ELP, Camel, and Focus. Here, the three keyboard format works to its fullest, as Klingman, Labat, and Schuckett add in layer after layer of varied keyboard sounds using Moog, Fender Rhodes, and organ, creating a huge wall of sound over which Rundgren’s vocals can soar. The song takes many paths, changing tempos and moods often, at times broken up by a searing, effects laden guitar solo from Rundgren, a wild Moog passage from Labat, intricate rhythms from Siegler and Ellfman, or an atmospheric section made tranquil by multiple keyboard sounds. Again I am going to reference Relayer by Yes, and there is a reason why. Many of the passages on this song have that frantic, progressive fusion vibe that Yes really hit home with on that album, and the interplay between the keys and guitar is quite similar in both instances.

    However, it’s Todd Rundgren’s Guitar playing that once again stands out, as during his first extended solo he starts off with melodic and chorus laden legato lines before ending with some fast picking triplets dripping with funk passion. There’s also a furious Moog workout from Labat about mid-way through the piece, which then eventually leads to a wild battle between Rundgren’s guitar, Siegler’s bass, Ellman’s drums, Klingman’s Fender Rhodes, and Schuckett’s synth, done in a style that Chick Corea would later make famous with The Elektric Band, and Rundgren would also reprise on the Utopia album Ra. While this extended piece is perhaps best appreciated with headphones, where you can really digest all the varied sound that are assaulting your senses, it’s also a piece that sounds great cranked up to 11 on your stereo (oops, sorry for the Spinal Tap reference folks!) for a huge wall of sound.

    ‘The Ikon’ is one of prog’s best epics!

  • http://sportsblogbybubb.podomatic.com Kelly

    Bub,

    WOW! I just listened to ‘The Ikon’ on your podcast! I have to admit that although I do like ‘Dream Theatre’, I now agree with you that

    ‘The Ikon’

    is the Greatest Prog song ever recorded, period. Technical Perfection with Rundgren’s Flawless Production. Talk about Incredible sound!

    & I thought John Mclaughlin was the Ultimate guitar God, not until I heard Todd Rundgren’s Guitar insanity on this!

    And the song ‘Utopia’ is also the Greatest ‘Live’ recorded song I’ve ever heard as well, just like you said!

    Thanks for the Link!

  • Fan

    Dream Theater is my favorite band of all time so my opinion might sound a bit bias.

    If you guys have listened to popular music within the past 10 years, progressive rock or metal or whatever you want to call it is almost non-existent. If you want to compare bands like Tool to Dream Theater, you are out of your mind. Tool’s songs are almost all constructed the same way. 7/8 time with tempo variances and throw in “we use math in our music” in an interview and you’re good mentality is no where near the aptitude of Dream Theater’s mechanics, musicianship and progression they’ve gone through throughout their years of playing. You want to lump them out of the progressive rock category because Train of Thought was heavy? I’ll have to say, I’m going to have to consult Mr. Ruddess on that one and see how much he knows about music. I almost forgot, he has a Bachelors from Juliart.

    Dream Theater is one of the best prog bands to day, in my opinion. I know a lot of people disagree with me probably for the sole reason of stirring argument. Either way, I agree with what the journalist Taloran had to say about the issue. If anyone doesn’t like their music, that’s their opinion, but it’s hardly true to say that their compositions and musicianship are anything but spectacular. Sorry for the ranting, but I take this issue to heart.

  • Anthony

    Well after reading the comments on this i have to say the people bashing Dream Theater dont have much to back it up. Heh reading one guy say “Thats why they are still are only openers live” how wrong can you get. Dream Theater plays for 3 hours with no opening band. DT has been headlining for quite a few years now. Hell they have been headlining since Images and Words.

    DT is one of the best bands in history. Maybe not THE best but they are sure as hell pretty close to being the best. Not many people can match the skills of Petrucci, Rudess, Myung, Portnoy, and LaBrie. DT HAS admitted their influences and working off them has only made them better.

    Scenes From a Memory is In my opinion the greatest album ever made.

  • MJH

    It is interesting to read the opinions of misinformed people. I would like to say we are all objective, but that is not reality. I can only speak for myself and say that I have tried to always truly listen and appreciate good music. I play bass myself and grew up fans of Rush, Sabbath, Priest, Floyd, Maiden, etc. All incredible bands. However, the talent did not stop with these bands. Newer bands (bands in the last 20-30 years) like Tool and Dream Theater are absolutely awesome. I have every piece of music that Dream Theater has produced and, yes, not every song is a favorite, but ALL of their music is absolutely top of the line. Mike Portnoy is arguably the best drummer alive; John Petrucci is the full package, end to end best prog rock guitar player still making music, Jordan Rudess (to correct the original article that quoted Kevin Moore who has not been with DT for the since before 2000) is absolutely the best keyboard player, John Myung, despite his low key, non-limelight personality, is unbeleivable as a bass player, and James Labrie has the voice capacity beyond most singers today. All together as a band they are unmatched. I have seen them over 15 times live to include meeting them over 10 times. Their shows are perfection and, yes, they headline shows globally to include some venues selling out 2 nights in a row. They easily play for 3 hours a show and better yet, the drummer, Mike Portnoy, ensures that every single show is different as he changes the set list for each show.. Yes, this means they do play songs from throughout their career and not just the new stuff.

    Everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I only ask each of you doubters to make an informed statement before writing your comments. I would ask any of you to try to find a band that could match the talent and stamina of Dream Theater. Go to a show and judge for yourself. Even easier.. spend the $20 or less and buy the latest CD that comes with the “making of” DVD. Watch the DVD from their studio sessions and tell me if you do not think they are unbeleivable. One of their CDs, about 2 CDs ago, they recorded in only 2-3 months.. with most of it all completed via live jamming in 3 weeks. That alone will communicate their level as a band. Lastly, go to their website Dreamtheater.net and find their official bootleg site to get a hold of their full album covers they have done live at some of their, yes, 2-show in a row venues where they played for not just 3 hrs but 4 hrs to include and entire encore of a full album from a prior influence.. such albums as “Number of the Beast”, “Master of Puppets” and “Dark Side of the Moon”.. unreal.

    “To those who understand, I reach out my hand.. To the doubtful, I demand, take me As I Am” Quoted from DT’s As I Am.

  • regal begal

    dream theater have announced an australian tour for the 1st time.there is a god!

  • http://www.addabazz.sitesled.com/ Criminal Mastermind

    Progressive Heavy Metal & Dream Theater .. its oke ..

    DT is da best ever .. No Doubt …

    i Just love in it .. :-P

    n love mike a lot .. :D

  • Gray Hunter

    Did anyone mention Queensryche? They and Dream Theater have always seemed similar to me.

    I agree with all the comments that credit Portnoy for being the ‘best living drummer.’ That guy is unreal.

    Years ago I watched Queensryche’s Mindcrime concert. Scott Rockenfield showed some good stamina, too. They played that whole album, no breaks. It was cool. He was a great drummer, too. Of course, of late the ‘Ryche has turned into a Vegas lounge act but that’s just my opinion.

    Portnoy rules! Dream Theater is an outstanding band!

  • Rob K

    Have anybody EVER heard these two great (lesser known) Hungarian progressive bands, Solaris and Omega?? The first one is much like Dream Theatre, except better composed (try listening their double “Live in LA” cd that was recorded at the ’95 progfest)… and Omega is like a mixture of Deep Purple and Uriah Heep with their own special sound. They’ve been playing for over 40 years, but any of their 70’s albums are awesome. Both have released albums in both Europe and the USA…

  • http://drdreadful.blogspot.com Dr Dreadful

    You know, I believe I may actually own an Omega album. My Dad used to come home with some off-the-wall stuff sometimes that he’d found in some backstreet record store. I inherited his record collection but it’s in deep storage and I haven’t played that particular LP since he died, which was over 20 years ago. I can’t be sure of the name of the band but I know they were Hungarian and I think the idea of a rock band from behind the Iron Curtain was what piqued his interest. I seem to remember a Greek letter on the cover and the name Omega sounds very familiar.

  • Rob K

    To Dr. Dreadful,

    All I can say is if it wasn’t for the “Iron Curtain”, Omega would be a MUCH better known name today in Prog Rock. I accidentaly came across their music while on a vacation in Europe, but I was hooked instantly! Once you get a hold of and listen to their 1977 release “Time Robber”, you will know what I’m talking about. Synthetizers, guitar riffs, bass and awesome vocals are everywhere. Kind of a mixture of Uriah Heep, Deep Purple and Pink Floyd. They are definitely on par (or even better) than the forementioned bands. VERY Unique and awesome! Actually, any of their mid-late 70’s albums are fantastic. Go and get some of their cd’s on Ebay or check them out at their website in Hungary (Omega.hu) or in Denmark (Gammapolis.de)

  • http://Ty the bone

    OK OK OK!!! All very valid opinnions but to the haters and skeptics, DT is BY FAR the BEST Prog Metal band we’ve had the privilage to experience for 20 straight years! They give all the elements to all the other bands mentioned to include the metal aspect, the symphonic aspect, technical aspect, and inteligent lyrics. All the other bands may have one or two elements or variable to the equations…not all as DT has and provides album after album. I respect everyone opinions but the haters are truely off the wall to say it nicely. They must be death, grind, or black metal fans. DT is absolutely perfect live, like your seeing a show that has been edited for TV but it happens right in front of you. Yes, just like everyband, not every single song is a master piece or liked…depending on your opinion, there has only been a couple albums EVER to accomplish such a feet. Also, there are literally too many bands out there today that are talented and are putting out good songs here and there…DT does it with every album for 20 years!! Who else has done this?? That is correct, noone but DT. So lets just be intelligent about the whole genre talk and no that it is hard to pinpoint any one band per all the different opinions but DT IS A F^&%ing prog metal band and YES they are the best of ALL TIMES HANDS DOWN! What prog bands TODAY can compare? Lets look at the albums from the beginning of WDDU, YTSE Jam, and Afterlife are a great segway for their future albums. I&W, Metropolis Pt 1 and Learning to Live are master pieces. Awake, Voices, Space Dye Vest, and Erotoimania are exceptional. A Change of Seasons…enouch said. FII, Peruvian Skies, Hells Kitchen, and Trial of Tears are tasty. Scenes from a Memory, considered the best concept album of all time. Six Degrees, who else can do a 42 minute overture after 24 minute change of seasons and a concept album…DT can! Train of Thought, the whole album is good…As I Am, This dying soul. Octovarium and System of Chaos are incredible. They keep the technical side alive with a great metal edge and precision timing. Ya, think about it…not even close after 20 years their fan base keeps getting bigger and bigger world wide. DT is the best prog metal band this generation has ever been able to witness.

  • Brw

    Have you guys ever heard of Liquid tension experiment (1 and 2)? Tony Levin, John Petrucci, Mike Portnoy, Jordan Rudess superceeded DT!

  • Damien from Melbourne

    Wow loved reading the blog as I to, was given ‘Images and Words’ from a friend and started listening to it.

    THEY ARE AMAZING!

    To me, defently the greatest ‘complete’ band I have ever heard. I find myself always listening to ‘A Change of Seasons’ and lying down or going for a run listening and living off all 23 minutes of this masterpiece.

    My top 3 songs by DT:

    – A Change Of Seasons
    – Learning To Live
    – The Glass Prison

  • John

    I have been a Dream Theater fan since their early days and consider them to among the most technically sound musicians of any genre of rock. Everyone is entitled to their opinions of course and that is what makes music such a great art form. I have seen most of the bands listed in the above comments and as far as talent, I would say that John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy are as good as they come on a guitar or percussion. As for using other Band’s music, they do all of this as tributes to their musical heros, not to steal others creations. They definitely have a solid place in my personal R&R Hall of Fame. That includes ALL sub-genres!

  • John

    I would like those who doubt DT’s abilities to check you tube and watch some of their DVD performances, such as Live Scenes From New York or Live in Bucharest….WOW!!!

  • Austin

    Scenes from a Memory By Dream Theater is mabey the best album ever. These guys know how to write songs, and play music very well. Its hard to say any bands can play better then DT. I own all of the bands albums exept the first one and they are one of the best bands ever. I get to see em live later this month, I cant wait!

  • DaveJ

    You are correct. Dream Theater is the best prog band ever.

  • Moose

    I would rate The Flower Kings and Transatlantic above Dream Theater. I like DT and own almost all their CDs. But, I am not waiting in anticipation for a DT album as I am for “The Whirlwind” by Transatlantic right now.

  • Moose

    And, no, DT is not better than Floyd, Yes, ELP and Rush! Or for that matter King Crimson, Genesis, Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa, et. al. DT is just today’s Big Mac!

  • Tristan

    You need to listen to ‘scenes from a memory’ as that is easily DT’s best album, it is absolutely brilliant in every way telling an amazing story to. This is their masterpiece and one of the best progressive albums of all time.

  • Peter O’Malley

    I have to disagree with you… Dream Theater is not by any chance the best progressive rock band in all time. Although all the musicians in the band are great playing their instruments their compositions are repetitive and honestly just to show how good they play. Sometimes the best progressive rock is not the most complicated one but the one that innovates the most. You should try listening to Porcupine Tree, Tool, Opeth (Watershed specially), Oceansize, The Mars Volta and even Radiohead (that is not considered by many as a progressive rock band but they have amazing ground-breaking music like their album Ok Computer).

  • steve

    dt are progressive metal…not prog rock

  • John Carter

    Dream Theater is the best at what they do for now. The modern day Prog Metal band Between the Buried and Me are on the same level of instrumentation and song writing. You do have to get used to the singer growling

  • bourbon

    petrucci un guitarrista tecnico? es muy bueno , pero guitarrista tecnico por dar un ejemplo es fripp.

  • bourbon

    Como se puede considerar la opinion de alguien que dice que dream theather es una banda de rock progresivo? first learn about music then you can give an opinion about this.

  • Taloran

    @bourbon (comment 134), who says in Spanish “How can the opinion of someone who says DT is a progressive rock band be considered?” I assume what bourbon is NOT saying is “Dude, like, Dream Theater is like, Prog Metal, not, like, prog rock. Dude!” And to the myriad other folks like steve 131 who indicate similar sentiments, I counter that Metal is NOT its own unique, distinct genre of music but one of many sub-genres of Rock. While one can certainly discern a distinct break between the blues and rock, though the two do continue to cross and blend, there is no such distinct break between Rock and Metal. Therefore, if a band is labeled Prog Metal, that band is simply performing a darker, heavier, possibly more bombastic brand of Prog Rock than others.

    When someone can describe thoughtfully and articulately the difference that separates Metal from Rock, as its own unique and distinct genre of music, I will gladly consider the possibility that Prog Metal may indeed be a breed of critter distinct from Prog Rock.

    Until that time, however, I will continue to refer to bands and performers who play a heavier brand of Prog Rock than say, Yes, early Genesis or Gentle Giant simply as Prog, Prog Rock, or Prog Metal, as the mood takes me.

  • WTF

    Sorry, but DT is all about copying old prog stuff, adding some meshuggah and telling kids it’s new music. By no means it s not as original as Genesis, King Crimson, Gentle Giant, Frank Zappa, ELP and many, many more stuff.

  • Ex Dream Theater Fan

    Well, I feel very sad to say that Dream Theater used to be the greatest Prog Rock band on the planet in the Kevin Moore Images and Words Era. The garbage which they have vomited out over the past 10 years is a disgrace to music in general and I have gone from being a die hard Dream Theater Fan boy to embarrassed to even know them.

  • Ian

    I’ve always been a huge fan of DT. I think if you take the prog label out of it though and a lot of the other bands would make peoples top 50 and top 100 lists of all time all genre. I don’t think Dream Theater would make that cut which by default drops them down the prog list. Just my opinion. I also feel Pain of Salvations The Perfect Element Part 1 trumps all Dream Theater albums.