I dig the new album, yet it's clearly not their best. To me, it's simply not dark enough and appears far too busy rhythmically where it doesn't need to be. OK..I get it, Managini (the new guy) has great chops, yet Portnoy lays it down harder and locks in to the Petrucci's phrasing differently. I hate comparing musicians since every artist portrays a different view on their instrument - for better or worse, yet after a couple of albums, Portnoy fills this role much better as a Dream Theater member.
Also, is it me, or does this new album sound lighter and more predictable? I find the use of too many keys destroys (especially in final track) DT's darkness - metal aspect in context where JP is almost competing with JR for a more heavier Dream Theater sound. (my favs..Black Clouds, Octavarium, Systematic Chaos era ...and Six Degrees)
Awesome..This album takes me on a encapsulating theatrical ride at intense progressive hyper speeds, while being submerged in a vortex of harmonic permanent waves!! Mangini is superb..No wait..he melts the paint off the ceiling. Thanks for recruiting him into the band JP! Best section - bass funk section after strings bit in Illumination Theory. (reminds me of Cygnus X-1 with a modern twist!)