Let me start off by saying, I am a die hard Dream Theater fan. I will continue to buy every one of their studio albums, live discs, bootlegs, DVDs, etc. I’ve been a fan ever since Images and Words was released back in 92. However, with each release after Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, I find myself having been slightly let down every time.
Musically, I think that Petrucci and Myung continue to evolve with each album as they are both in prime form. LaBrie is solid as well. But with Portnoy and Ruddess, it is more of the same. More over the top drum fills, more pompous key solos with that annoying ‘dive bomb’ thing at the end, and more TERRIBLE Portnoy vocals. While I can ignore these things for the most part (Portnoy’s vocals on SDoIT’s ‘Glass Prison’ actually were cool and I could deal with them on occasion) the one thing that really detracts from this album (and every album from ToT on) are the lyrics. It’s a shame really because Petrucci/Portnoy have proven in the past that they can write some amazing lyrics (A Change of Seasons, Voices, etc). But they seem uninspired these days.
The lyrics are particulary terrible this time around. For all its’ epicness, The Count of Tuscany just comes off really cheesy. It is based on real life events that Petrucci encountered a few years ago. Maybe if I were to hear his story in person, I might get a better sense of why he was so frightened, but the lyrics just come off sounding so overly dramatic. I mean seriously, you listen to the song and think, “really John? So they took you to a castle, told you some ghost stories to give you the heebie jeebies and you really thought you were gonna die????” Gone are the days of I&W, Awake and ACOS. I attribute this to the fact that Portnoy/Petrucci have discouraged Myung from writing lyrics. I have always found his lyrics to be the most thought provoking and the fact that he wrote them prior to writing music really challenged the band to push their limitations. They’ve gotten lazy and as a result they try to fit lame lyrics/melodies into the music and it just comes off sounding cheesy.
I honestly think that in order to give DT the change it so desperately needs, they really need to have a producer guiding them instead of MP/JP co-producing and just stroking their already over-inflated egos.
It’s a shame, this could have been one of their best CDs yet had it not been for such poor lyrics.