Dream Theater

Following what Mosh and Knicks have written, I am also wondering how the general dynamic is going to end up. Yes, he is a founding member and him returning will definitely give the band a lot of clout now, but before he left, the band was more and more dominated by him in many regards - which is obvious from the switch in sound, songwriting, PR and everything around the time he left. I don't think that's coming back and in fact I hope it isn't - much as my favourite albums are the 2002-2009 ones, I also see where it might lead to and I don't thing that particular charm would be coming back anyway.

Funnily enough, I wrote this in July when I definitely wasn't expecting this

Oh, BTW, the bloke may be a git, but there are three aspects of Portnoy that are sorely missed and haven't been adequately replaced

- the overall flow and structure of the songs - this must have been him, to a degree, because this became significantly worse after he was gone. I mean, look no further than at the first song of the last album - "The Alien" has a lot of good to it, but it's a musical Frankenstein of sorts, the likes of which we've possibly never seen before MP left.

- his lyrical abilities, which weren't always perfect, but consistently probably the best and least cringeworthy of them all (Goodnight Kiss, Home and some others excluded, I don't see the band leaving The Astonishing as-is if he was still in the band)

- the "edge", so to speak, the fighting spirit, the "gut" metal, instead of just the "cerebral" one. Yes, sure, sometimes overflowing into bile, even, but that's an acceptable trade-off.

Also, in a way, I'd compare with Nightwish and their situation. There are replaceable members and irreplaceable members. And it's not just about who's the songwriter or whose contributions to the band's sound are the most unique. It's also about the personal aspect, the cohesiveness of the band.

In Nightwish, although we still have Tuomas and Emppu, the band lost its cohesiveness. I may be in general too harsh on Floor (I still insist she's the "most professional nobody" the band could ever get, but I don't necessarily need to say it in front of people who love her, true), but it's not about her. The band could have managed with her, just like they managed with Anette. But they lost Jukka, they lost Marco (who was himself a substitute, but became a significant part of the band's image), they added Troy (whom I like - in theory - but he also helps the band to feel like it became the "organisation of hired professionals") and something is gone. Honestly, I kinda wonder if it wasn't about Jukka after all - sure, he got replaced by a much better drummer, he still remained in the "background" (now, tell me, how much of Angela Gossow staying in the shadows, in the background, in the managerial aspect of things worked for Arch Enemy?) and to me he was always the least visible member. But maybe he was still the one who remembered the early days. As of his leaving, the majority of people who ever played power metal in Nightwish have already left.
But Marco, too. He was signed under that sodding "open letter", right? (okay, probably not the best example, but you get what I mean)

Now, with DT there haven't been so many changes - they switched the keyboard players, who were obviously replaceable, and then they switched Portnoy, who - and I don't like writing this, I hated the "come back, MP" crowd - was not. At least to a degree. Even when they release good stuff (as they IMHO did with both the last two albums and ADTOE, which is still really high among my favourites), there's just something that feels... off about the band nowadays. As if they were a cover band.

(To go for the hat-trick, I have similar feelings about Opeth. Another band where the main capo di tutti capi remained, but 1. I actually lost count of the personnel changes a while ago, 2. their music feels unrecogniseably different from the glory days. The fact that it's your project doesn't mean, you can do whatever you want. Look at 'Arry, now there's a disciplined dictator if there ever was one :D )

On one hand, I hope the edge will come back, along with the more disciplined and sound songwriting. On the other, I hope time has sanded off some of Portnoy's personality, which used to be quite abrasive, at least from could be seen in general - and I wonder whether the edge hasn't been sanded off as well.

They've declined significantly since then, I think The Astonishing bombing really bummed out Petrucci and had a big effect on the way they've handled themselves since.

I agree - although I've praised the band in the past for doing something so crazy (which is laudable in "big", established bands - I would praise just as much Maiden doing an acoustic record... although I probably wouldn't want to listen to it), in hindsight it was the "jumping the shark moment" which somewhat broke the band and in a way my (and wifey's) relationship with them. I wonder how the obvious burnt out I see from Trucci will influence the dynamics.

On the other hand, LTE signed a 2 album deal when that project was inactive because Portnoy/Rudess/Petrucci were already a writing partnership in Dream Theater. Unless the 2nd album has been made already, it seems kinda redundant at this point.

That said, back in the day there was a certain... LiquidTenseExperimentation of Dream Theater themselves, so I understand why that particular project was put mostly on hiatus - I could see it existing as a creative outlet for the more wankery side of their music (with some overlap with the Trucci solo career) even though the creative partnership might be the same. I wonder if it wouldn't be beneficial for Dream Theater in the long run (and I say that as someone who was very much for the "LiquidTenseExperimentation" and wankery - but I realise I'm in the minority... plus, lately they haven't been able to make it fit properly - The Alien is probably the coldest shower I ever got in the beginning of a DT album)
Now maybe we'll be able to hear The Best of Times for the first time live :) That solo is a killer.

If the new album sounds anything like Black Clouds & Silver Linings where they left off in 2009, I'd be so happy. Count of Tuscany is prob in my top 3 favorite songs of all time.
Time for a DT album Top 5 again?

1. Awake
2. Images & Words
3. Scenes From A Memory
4. Falling Into Infinity
5. Black Clouds And Silver Linings
Scenes and Awake share the number 1 spot for me, after that I just can't decide.
But the 6DOIT, Images, Chaos and Train are probably numbers 2-6.
I'll go with 7. Why? Why not?

1. Black Clouds and Silver Linings
2. Systematic Chaos
3. Train of Thought
4. Octavarium
5. Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
6. Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory
7. A Dramatic Turn of Events
1. Images & Words
2. Train of Thought
3. Octavarium
4. Scenes from a Memory
5. Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
Haven’t done a full discography ranking in awhile, but it’s safe to say that the last three from the FPE (First Portnoy Era) - Octavarium, Systematic, and BC&SL - rank close to the very bottom, just above the debut and Astonishing.

I actually might prefer Astonishing as a whole to any of those three.
We really have an unusually high number of Falling Into Infinity fans here, good to see. It's interesting that a relatively light album is more popular on a metal forum than on prog forums.

I did my list through the preference revealer and I'm not sure where it ended up precisely but once upon a time it was my favourite 90s DT album and even nowadays it's a close second after SFAM.