Let's start by saying that Dream Theater has had their fair share of 'controversial' news coverage over the past year with the departure of founding member/drummer Mike Portnoy. Rewind a few months: Dream Theater members didn't appear to waste any time looking for a replacement when they were hit with the news about Portnoy wanting to leave due to differences he felt were not going to be solved.
After Mike Portnoy withdrew and then later attempted to come back to Dream Theater, the members had said they already began the search for a replacement. Bringing him back would not be the correct move on their part. Hence, Mike Portnoy is no longer a member of Dream Theater, and Mike Mangini has taken over percussion duties.
The album—yes, I still say album—starts off with a very melodic, mellow intro which quickly escalates into the technical groove beats and riffs that make Dream Theater post - Metropolis so great. Just two minutes into the album within 'On the Backs of Angels' already got my blood flowing with a great off-beat rhythm overlayed by some great double-bass kick to keep the momentum going. James LaBrie's vocals kick in with high and low octaves, and steady paced leads.
Mike Mangini gives a great introductory performance on drums and keeps up, with what seems no difficulty whatsoever, with the other technical playing of the band. With a resume like his, I didn't expect any trouble. 'On the Backs of Angels' finishes off back to the original groove riff and layers on some synth and operatic vocals to complete this first track.
Onto track two: 'Build Me Up, Break Me Down' starts off with an unexpected dance vibe, but quickly turns into another heavy base riff to keep us listeners interested. The first verse shows more of the great vocal effect changes that Dream Theater has been experimenting with over the last four albums, which is a refreshing change.