The runaway success of 2011’s A Dramatic Turn Of Events, Dream Theater’s first Grammy-nominated release, overturned a commonly held theory: namely that the US-Canadian band could not exist without the presence of Mike Portnoy, the drummer, songwriter, co-producer and publicity dynamo who had resigned so shockingly a year earlier.
The quintet’s 12th studio album sees Portnoy’s replacement, Mike Mangini, contributing much more than the remarkable percussive skills that were revealed last time out. With the ex-Steve Vai/ Extreme/ Annihilator man fully integrated into the creative team, its 69 minutes confirm that …Events was no fluke.
The opening instrumental flurry of False Awakening should be featured in a blockbuster adventure movie soundtrack, while standout moments include The Looking Glass – with shades of axeman John Petrucci’s heroes Rush – a wonderful slice of introspection titled The Bigger Picture, and, best of all, the album’s 22-minute swansong. Illumination Theory is broken down into five separate suites that include a luscious orchestral segment, a false ending delaying the final, glorious dénouement.