Dream Theater’s last effort, “A Dramatic Turn Of Events,” was, as usual, welcomed by many and likely shunned by just as many, for different reasons. Whether fans wanted to hear more of the heaviness from previous efforts such as “Black Clouds And Silver Linings” or “Systematic Chaos,” or if they were predisposed to not like any Dream Theater effort without co-founder Mike Portnoy behind the kit, “A Dramatic Turn Of Events” might not have been their cup of tea.
I certainly didn’t share that sentiment. The balance Dream Theater struck between the heavy and the melodic on nearly every track of “A Dramatic Turn Of Events” – even with the obvious (and oft-written) comparisons to the song structures from their landmark “Images And Words” album – was music to this DT enthusiast’s ears who actually was tiring of the increasingly heavy music from the DT camp. Though he didn’t have a hand in the songwriting process, Mike Mangini provided a musical jolt not unlike what we saw when Jordan Rudess made his DT album debut on “Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence” with the type of pyrotechnics reserved for clinics and rarely on major album releases.
The band recently announced their self-titled follow-up to “ADTOE,” which will be released in September, but they soon followed up that announcement with news that the first single, “The Enemy Inside,” the second track from the forthcoming album, would make its debut via USA Today’s online music section.
The opening 25 seconds of “The Enemy Inside” is a full-on assault starting with a blistering riff by John Petrucci, soon joined by bassist John Myung and Mangini thundering away. A second riff gets things going but left me wondering where Rudess was (likely answer: doubling Petrucci with a guitar patch on keys?), but he arrives in the main intro to the song with a string part floating over the rhythm section thundering away. On first listen, it’s a “classic,” heavy DT riff setting up vocalist James LaBrie’s first verse.
The chorus is soaring – a perfect counterpoint to the thunderous verse sections – and it immediately grabbed me in the same way that “On The Backs Of Angels” did from “ADTOE.” It’s then followed by a keyboard riff very reminiscent of a run from “ADTOE.”
Following another verse and chorus, a B-part verse breaks things up with its half-time start, which then builds to the solo sections. Rudess and Petrucci start things off with one of their usual dizzying solo runs that builds and leads to a Rudess keyboard solo with a percussive patch, followed by Petrucci matching Rudess in intensity and melody with his own solo, then back to the chorus for a short time, leading out to a reprise of the intro riff to finish us off.
“The Enemy Inside” features all the elements of a classic DT song in a concise format (just over six minutes; short by DT standards). To these ears, it’s not a groundbreaking track but also not a regression to the heavier metal edge that began to disinterest this fan prior to “ADTOE.” The track does exactly what it’s supposed to do: Get me fired up for the album release this fall. Done!