Review – Dream Theater – On The Backs Of Angels

Dream Theater
On The Backs Of Angels

As mentioned early this week, this single was conspicuously released the same day as Mike Portnoy’s Adrenaline Mob made their EP available. Now I’m not here to take sides, with anything that took place, and I want to mention that as a drummer I loved the audition footage that the band made available a few months back. I also thoroughly enjoyed Black Clouds and Silver linings and so I have attentively been waited to hear what the band does next.

If you’ve seen the aforementioned audition footage, you’ll have heard part of this track. My first impression is for as much as there was made out of these auditions, and as much as Mike Mangini’s incorporation has been talked up, his playing is buried in the mix. This to me a complete shame, especially after seeing his emotions pour out in his playing during the audition footage, and in his comments after being given the spot in the band.

Aside from that the track is very generic. It isn’t a bad track, but their last leadoff single Rite Of Passage had a certain energy about it, the mix, the various transitions, it got you pumped for the album, it made you want to hear the rest of the album. On The Backs Of Angels isn’t bad, the issue is we’ve heard all of this before by the band. The track really makes you conjure up all types of questions regarding the album, and band. Some people may ask why I gave Adrenaline Mob a “pass”, but to me it offers something different, something that at least to me is entertaining. This track is just ok, again, we’ve heard most of this already from the band, and you expect something big out of the box. Guess we’ll have to wait and see how the album shapes up, hopefully the full length has been mixed differently to make Mangini’s playing feel less contained.

Rated: C+

With regards to the Dream Theater versus Mike Portnoy issue, I understand what both parties have been trying to get across. Dream Theater has a core audience that the band wants to continue to satisfy. But be careful of you wish for. Will the band’s treatment of their audience be the same? Will they provide fans with a varying setlist as they have in the past? This made things very personal between the band and their fans, this made being a fan of the band “special”. Early indications are they that they will not, as their setlist has not varied all that much from one show to another on their current tour. Will this back fire on the band?

Dream Theater and their audience might have benefitted from the band talking a few years off. You can look at all of the bands Mike Portnoy mentioned (Motley Crue, Rage Against The Machine, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, etc.) but take a look at one specifically, as I feel they match up closest to DT’s audience. The band is Rush, after several years away the band is now bigger than ever, constantly doing well in a live environment, and even venturing over to Europe, something they haven’t done in ages. Saturation is not a good thing, and Dream Theater has been able to saturate the market, and their fans, with their presence. Their fans have allowed for this, due to the personal aspect I mention above, but this can all get shot to hell real fast if they are no longer going to go out of their way to give their fans what they want. Although some may see it as a detriment, not having any radio hits per say may actually benefit the band in the long haul. These are all just a bunch of hypothetical questions/points, we’ll have to see how it all plays out.