On Dream Theater's highly anticipated upcoming album, A Dramatic Turn Of Events, the undisputed kings of modern-day prog rock emerge from what might have been a career-threatening blow - the loss of drummer and founding member Mike Portnoy - better, stronger and more daring musically than ever.
"Going into this album, I felt a tremendous sense of responsibility," guitarist John Petrucci tells MusicRadar. "When Mike Portnoy left the band, I think it put a big question mark in the minds of a lot of fans because they saw him as a very big figure in Dream Theater. So I owed it to those people to show them that everything was grounded, intact and extremely creative within the band.
“As it was the first time I was the sole producer for Dream Theater, it presented a challenge. But I thrive on challenges – I feel as though that’s when I do some of my best work."
A Dramatic Turn Of Events also marked the first time that Petrucci contributed the bulk of an album's lyrics, an opportunity he relished. "I’ve been wanting to write an entire album of lyrics for a long time now," he says. "The process of connecting music to a message is so gratifying, especially when I have a singer like James La Brie, who can make words come to life in ways that are spine-tingling."
'Spine-tingling' is a term that can be applied to the whole of the album, MusicRadar can report after hearing an advance preview of Dream Theater's stunning new masterpiece, which sees the band - Petrucci, LaBrie, bassist John Myung, keyboardist Jordan Rudess and new drummer Mike Mangini - performing at the top of their game. Mixed by Grammy Award winner Andy Wallace (Nirvana, Rage Against The Machine), it's a sonic wonder that keeps revealing surprises even after multiple spins.
“I’m so happy when I listen to the record," says Petrucci. "We had goals in mind, and we achieved them. All of the conversations everybody had about what kind of album we wanted to make had meaning because we accomplished what we were aiming for. I only hope that everybody enjoys the record as much as I do.”
Dream Theater's A Dramatic Turn Of Events will be released on 13 September (12 September in the UK). On the following pages, John Petrucci walks us through the album track-by-track.