For me it's almost like 2 albums. The first 33 minutes are pretty good:
1. On The Backs Of Angels - 8/10 (Great song, perfect 'Dream Theater 101', just wish the chorus had a little more to it)
2. Build Me Up Break Me Down - 7/10 (The chorus saves it; otherwise it's just too darn 2001 nu-metal)
3. Lost Not Forgotten - 8/10 (Very good song with great energy; but a bit too much of "Glass Moon" rewrite for it to be truly great)
4. This Is The Life - 7/10 (I love DT ballads, but this one is just too bland. The intro/outro is fantastic, though)
And the next 44 minutes are spectacular:
5. Bridges In The Sky - 10/10 (Just perfect. Possibly their greatest chorus ever, and probably in my Top 5 DT songs)
6. Outcry - 9/10 (Great power and great middle jam that doesn't sound as out of place as others from past albums)
7. Far From Heaven - 9/10 (Outstanding piano ballad with such great emotion)
8. Breaking All Illusions - 10/10 (Along with Bridges, one of the greatest things the band has ever recorded)
9. Beneath The Surface - 10/10 (Now this is a DT ballad. Subtle yet powerful. Great way to close the album)
1) Scenes From A Memory
- This is the album that changed Dream Theater from "one of my favorite bands" to "my absolute favorite band"
- The album that really got me into them. A huge leap forward from any of their work up to that point, and just such a well-crafted album overall.
3) Images & Words
- An incredibly strong breakthrough effort. I simply like the previous two albums better as they sound a bit more timeless to me, whereas I&W production was still full of late 80's gloss.
4) Falling Into Infinity
- Don't get all the hate for this album. The songs are incredibly well-written, the music is full of real emotion and the production is second to none.
5) A Dramatic Turn of Events
- Best effort in over a decade. Music and vocals are really solid, and the majority of the lyrics are the best in years.
6) Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
- I almost ranked this #5 as it's a great album and easily the best of their 2000's output, but there's just something about ADTOE that's a little less tiresome.
- While lyrically not as strong as past work, the album as whole really works musically, and I love that there was still some conceptual thought behind the album without it being a "concept album."
8) Black Clouds & Silver Linings
- On music alone, this album is tops. However, the lyrics and certain Portnoy vocals are just atrocious at points.
9) Train Of Thought
- Loved it when it first came out for the sheer fact that it was the heaviest thing they'd ever done, but in hindsight it's a bit too one-dimensional to be a "classic."
10) Systematic Chaos
- While certain moments are great, the album just doesn't hold up for me. My least favorite of the James era.
11) When Dream And Day Unite
- Hey, they were just getting started. Some really impressive playing for sure, but they just weren't quite there yet. And the production doesn't help either.
Here is what I predict for a 2-hour setlist based on what they played in Europe over the summer, plus the fact that half the set will likely be new album material:
(Intro: "The Dream is Collapsing)
On The Backs Of Angels
Lost Not Forgotten
This Is The Life
Bridges In The Sky
Caught In A Web
Through My Words
Far From Heaven
Breaking All Illusions
Metropolis Pt 1