As many of you probably already know, Mike Portnoy–drum and compositional demigod–turns 50 in April. Mike, Happy Birthday! We love you, man!!!
I’ve had the great privilege of seeing Portnoy live many, many times, and it’s never anything but an absolute treat. For 25 years, Mike has been driving prog rock forward and bringing to the fans, delight after delight. My wife (who has gone to all of the concerts with me) agrees completely.
This entire two-hour episode of Progarchy Radio is dedicated to the inspired genius of Mike Portnoy. I play the entire twelve-step suite as well as music from Flying Colors, Big Elf, Transatlantic, the Neal Morse Band, Yellow Matter Custard, and the Morse-Portnoy-George Cover-to-Cover project.
Tracks: 1. 6:00, 2. Caught in a Web, 3. Innocence Faded, 4. Erotomania, 5. Voices, 6. The Silent Man, 7. The Mirror, 8. Lie, 9. Lifting Shadows Off a Dream, 10. Scarred, 11. Space-Dye Vest
Some might say that I am unqualified to discuss a twenty-two year-old Dream Theater album, especially since I’ve only been listening to the band for three years. Indeed, I’ve received similar comments on the negative review I wrote of the band’s most recent piece of… er… album. However, I believe my recent discovery of the band allows me to bring a fresh perspective to their catalogue.
I was introduced to the band through their self-titled 2013 album, which I happen to enjoy. I think it is their best “Mangini-era” production. Furthermore, I see that album as being in a special category of Dream Theater’s heaviest albums, alongside Awake and Train of Thought. If it were its own album, I would add the Twelve-Step Suite to this list. Other than the Twelve-Step Suite, however, the other albums on my little list pale in comparison to Awake. This album set the standard for what a progressive metal album should be.
One of the single best things about being a hyperfan of progressive rock music is always dealing with the most interesting of people. When it comes to prog—the musicians, the engineers, and the fans—we’re all basically a bunch of OCD perfectionists. And, I think we understand each other in ways non proggers simply cannot (as in, not constitutionally equipped to do so). In the nearly ten years I’ve been reviewing music online, I’ve met a number of absolutely fascinating people. None less so than Chicago’s young master of all that is melodic metal prog, Zee Baig.
The moment I first found Zee’s music—as first sold through his ep, aptly titled THE PRELUDE—I knew I had to reach out to him. I did, he was responsive, and we pretty quickly established a friendship through email. We talked about war, tradition, music, kids, art. You name it, and Zee and I talked about it. Even though we’re only a three-hours drive from one another, we’ve never actually met in person. Strange, but true. And, here’s hoping, someday soon this will be rectified.
Until that glorious moment, I’m more than content listening to Zee’s astounding music. It, in and of itself, has become a close friend. The band’s first album, SOUNDS OF MAJESTIC COLORS, has remained in my constant listening rotation since it first appeared in 2014. There’s no mistaking that the best of Dream Theater influenced and inspired much of the first album, but Fire Garden takes chances that Dream Theater never would. This is especially true in lyrical content. To be sure, Fire Garden is no clone of DT.
FAR AND NEAR, Fire Garden’s second full-length album, has just appeared on the market, and it’s a stunner, as strong and as good as anything else that has come out this year. This is no small praise when one considers how many greats have come out: from Frost* to Glass Hammer to Big Big Train. FAR AND NEAR stands with those at the very top.
Exciting news for Dream Theater and Mike Portnoy fans everywhere. While many of us have been suspecting it for a while, Mike officially announced yesterday that he is going to play all of the DT 12-Step Suite at his 50th birthday celebration on Cruise to the Edge. The cruise takes place February 7-11, 2017. Find out more info on the cruise here.
For those unfamiliar with the 12-Step suite, it as a series of 5 songs released across 5 DT albums, all intended to make their own concept album. The songs were written by Portnoy after his struggle with alcoholism, and they represent the Alcoholics Anonymous’ 12-step program.
I have been a DT fan from the beginning. This review is spot on. Astonishing was the biggest pile of crap I ever heard. I too got tickets to the show before listening and trusting my fav band would deliver. I was so wrong. They played the entire pile of crap for hours. I was looking around and everyone in audience was trying so hard to get into but just couldn’t. Fan’s faces looked so confused. All the applause was sympathy in my opinion. I think the only way to save this train wreck is for Portnoy to come back and grab the steering wheel!