“It’s like a T-Rex made out of chocolate cake”: John Petrucci issues update on new Dream Theater album, promising the “Mount Rushmore” of guitar tones – and a special treat for Tonemission users

John Petrucci onstage in Norway with his signature Ernie Ball Music Man JP Series signature guitar
(Image credit: Per Ole Hagen/Redferns)

John Petrucci has broken cover to over a tantalising update on Dream Theater’s forthcoming album, revealing that all of the guitars are tracked – and promising that his tone on the record is “like a T-Rex made out of chocolate cake, lit on fire!”

Sporting a boxfresh Majesty 6 in a Mystic Dream “flip-flop” finish – a first for the six-string version of this signature guitar – Petrucci looked demob happy, like a man who couldn’t wait to get these songs out and into the record store. And he took to Twitter/X to share some details on the recording process that are sure to get longtime Dream Theater superfans excited.

Not that they wouldn’t have been already – this is the venerable prog metal institution’s first album since 2009’s Black Clouds & Silver Linings to feature co-founder and returning drummer Mike Portnoy

As Petrucci explains, that gave them the idea to dig into Dream Theater’s past, call up an old friend and collaborator, and source a piece of primo studio gear that sounds like it was the secret sauce behind Petrucci’s electric guitar tone.

“We contacted our long-time friend and engineer Doug Oberkircher, who recorded Dream Theater classic albums such as Images And Words, Scenes From A Memory, Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence, Train Of Thought, and it turns out that Doug still had the original Neve preamps that he used to record the guitars on those records,” says Petrucci. “so we contacted Doug and we acquired the preamps and, man, we got all the gank, all the aggression, but it still sounds really warm, smooth top end, expressive, layered.”

And yes, just like a tyrannosaurus rex chocolate cake, lit on fire. Petrucci says this was his goal from the outset. He and engineer James “Jimmy T” Meslin wanted to create the “Mount Rushmore of guitar tones” and Petrucci says they’ve done that. In time, maybe you can too, because if Petrucci’s entire signal path for this album is captured and will be released in an IR suite via his Impulse Response guitar software company Tonemission. 

Petrucci launched Tonemission in July 2023, debuting with the John Petrucci IR Collection: Vol. 1, which collected IR captures of his tones for his last three studio albums, Terminal Velocity, LTE3, and A View From The Top Of The World.

At the time, Petrucci admitted he was a late convert to digital guitar plugins and VSTs.

“For most of my career I’ve only known the world of physical guitar amplifiers and cabinets and admittedly, I scoffed a bit in the past at digital representations of these things,” he said. “However, with incredible advances in capture techniques and resolution being made over the past several years, I now find myself a believer and a user. 

“The goal was to make these IRs available commercially and share them with other guitar players and creative people who I just knew would love them as much as I did.”

Well, it sounds like we will be seeing more from Tonemission in the not too distant future, and all of these impulse responses captured at Dream Theater’s Long Island studio, DTHQ. 

Now Petrucci has done his bit with the guitars, it is John Myung who is up to bat, with bass guitars to be tracked next. There is no release date on the follow-up to 2021’s A View From The Top Of The World. No title either. It’s DT16, for now. But as Petrucci says, it is well on the way.

Jonathan Horsley

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.