Location: Fair Oaks, Ca.
Member #: 174,491
Got ADTOE yesterday; Epic, Cinematic and brilliant; i can hear JM in the mix more- the band sounds more like a band & everyone turns in nothing short of stellar performances. My favorite DT album, maybe ever!
Member #: 173,772
Taken straight from my post about the album on JR's forums. I have since gotten into the album a bit more and the bits I didn't like I am liking a bit more, but here's my critique anyway:
Got my copy on Tuesday and have listened a few times. First time through, if i'm honest, I have to say I wasn't impressed. Second time through though I really warmed up to it. I have a few comments:
Great sounding album, definitely reminds me of Images and Words in terms of sound, although the album definitely has a distinct 'sound' to it; just like you can just "tell" when a song is off Awake, or off Train of Thought, I feel this one is the same. I quite liked the new direction. Perfect blend of the heaviness and the progginess. Ballads are also very strong.
A few issues I did have with it though is that EVERY chorus on the album sounds EXACTLY the same (with the exception of FFH and BTS). They all have the same sort of chord movement (resolving to the minor, but using the relative major chords a lot), the same epic choir + strings sound (which was WAAY overused on the album), and the same harmonies and almost the same melodic line. That bugs me, because it doesn't make a song's chorus memorable. I hear it, and I just think "oh look, another ADTOE chorus". They're still good, but that did bug me. I also felt the album didn't flow as much as it could have. Unlike other DT records, to me, this one felt more like a collection of songs than an album, even including, dare I say it, filler tracks, which I felt came in the form of This is the Life. Well thats just my 2 cents about the things that bugged me, but besides that each song is great. I definitely don't like this album as much as some other efforts (Octavarium, Black Clouds and Silver Linings), but its definitely up there.
Another thing that would have been better for the album IMO is if Mangini could have written his own drum parts. I feel like the drums just sit there as background to everything else here (which they obviously are). It does work, but I would prefer it if i could feel Mangini injecting his creativity into the songs.
In terms of the songs, On the Backs of Angels is great, but enough has been said about that already.
I LOVED the riffage in Build Me Up, Break Me Down. Excellent metal tune for the album. James sounds great, and the chugginess is fantastic. The electronic drums and the intro just made me think of Disturbed though, which I think is a risky move for the band, but I liked it anyway :)
Lost Not Forgotten has a great intro. Very Under a Glass Moon. The instrumental sections are pretty good too. Keys are superb in this track too. Some of the verse riffage gets a bit old quickly though.
As I've already said, This is the Life does not stand out to me at all. I reckon if I have a few more listens though I'll warm up to it.
Bridges in the Sky is GREAT. My favourite song off the album to be sure. Once you get over the weirdness of the shaman singing at the beginning, it's actually kinda cool. The Gregorian Choir is AMAZING. Great moment. And then the smack straight into the super heavy 7 string riffage: I loved it. Great moment. The chorus is very memorable to me on this one (unlike some of the other ones) and I liked the lyrics in this one a lot too.
Outcry has great lyrics, but the musical elements of this one were lost on me a bit so far, because they don't really stand out as different to me. I reckon give it a few more listens and I'll warm up to it though.
Far From Heaven is another stand out moment on the album for me. BEAUTIFUL ballad, James sounds amazing. The vocal melodies are equally amazing, and Jordan has finally learnt sublety in his piano work lol! Sometimes I feel he can just put too many notes in, but here he's got a perfect balance.
Breaking All Illusions is another favourite track of mine. The instrumental section is probably my favourite off the album, and I loved the JMX lyrics. James once again sounds amazing. There's a really cool moment in the instrumental section where suddenly it goes all ala Disco Queen, which I quite enjoyed :P.
Beneath the Surface is a nice way to cool down the album, and probably the point on the record where James sounds the most amazing. His vocals here are so strong and so smooth, it sometimes sounds even better than his voice back on Images and Words. The one thing I have a problem with though is that the lyrics are so depressing lol! It's all about repressing bad memories and emotions! To me, thats a really depresing way to end an album, but i think in a way it works.
Tl;dr: Pretty good album, not as good as others. Plenty of great standout moments, but same-samey stuff brought the album down for me.
Despite the bad points, still looking forward to hearing it live!
Location: West Deptford, New Jersey
Member #: 174,679
Is that the Budweiser frogs in Bridges in the Sky!!!