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The Five Stages Of Inner Dream Theater Turbulence

Written by: Dane Train
Published: October 16, 2010

I love Dream Theater and they have been my favorite band for over a decade. I have every studio album they ever released; every live album, EP, single and re-mastered/remixed track, the Fan Club releases, rare live recordings, cover song/album, demos and bootleg fill my shelves. My iTunes clocks Dream Theater's music in at 4.8 days. I own all releases from past and present members which equates to a solid week of music. I own a dozen Dream Theater t-shirts, hoodie, hats, wrist bands, posters, signed posters from OSI and Element of Persuasion, and a large collection of official and bootlegged concerts on DVD. I have with a big ol' Majesty symbol tattooed on my left arm to follow all of that up. I have driven over 700 miles to see them in concert. The point is that I have an obsession with Dream Theater!

The Kübler-Ross model describes five stages of processing grief of tragedy. The news came that Portnoy left Dream Theater last week. I experienced all five stages:

The obvious aspect of denial:

"Nah, this is some sort of joke or stunt?right? There is no way Portnoy would leave his band"

It was finally confirmed and I was just pissed off. How could he do this? What about all of the fans? What were the rest of the guys going to do? It won't be Dream Theater anymore! This was followed by:

Bargaining with him and the band:

"Please just finish one last album."
"One more world tour and I can rest easily!"

I sadly couldn't ask him. The depression stage set in and stayed for a while. The next few nights were filled with drunken sing-a-longs of "Another Day," "Space-Dye Vest" and "I Walk Beside You". I stayed barricaded in my cabin like some crazed, disgruntled, ex-Sociology professor.

I finally got that out of my system and it was time to move on. It was time for me to man up and accept the fact that Portnoy is not returning. It was time to me to wrap my head around this news. It was time for me come to terms and look to the future. I contemplated it for a long duration of time thanks to a 12 hour drive from North Carolina to New York. I am actually very optimistic about the whole situation. I am aware that the past decade has not produced the same amazing caliber of music that the 90's did even though I am an avid follower. Maybe this was the change that they needed.

You cannot deny that Mike Portnoy is one of the greatest drummers ever. Their musical talent is undeniable; even those who hate Dream Theater cannot escape this. Portnoy ran so much of the DT show. I have always wondered if that hampered their writing ability. The vast majority of my favorite songs were not written by Portnoy but by LaBrie, Moore and Myung now that I look at their back catalog. This is a good time for other members to start being more vocal on the public face of the band as well as the song writing.
What about the music itself? Where is it heading? There are a few options that come to mind right now. The concept of making the same exact type of music they have been making is the most logical thing which is my least favorite concept. The group always tends to change their sound when someone important leaves the band. One can only imagine that the sound will change if Portnoy leaves. A Portnoy carbon-copy is the last thing we need. Dream Theater needs someone who can keep up with him and add something fresh and new into the mix.

One of the most cliché comments made from Metal bands prior to their newest material coming out is "This is our heaviest release ever!" or something to that effect and that is a very likely option from Dream Theater. Let's face it, DT has never been known for being the heaviest band out there or anything typically associated with Metal stereotypes (which I think was one of my biggest draws to them). But after hearing the new James LaBrie album, Static Impulse, it is something that could work. Sonically a more brutal Dream Theater album could be really interesting, looking back at how dark and pissed off Awake was, something along those lines today might work. Realistically, that is just not who they are and it probably would just come off as a tad lame.

As opposed to getting heavier, there is the very real chance of going softer. Too often we think that when a band, especially within Metal, releases a softer album they get labeled as "sell outs" and become the target of ridicule for the community. While very often this does happen (Metallica's self titled, anyone?) there is a difference between releasing an album that is gentler than your previous works without making it more accessible to the mass markets. Remember that Dream Theater is not just a Metal band but a Progressive band too and in the mid to late 1990's showed that they had a really relaxed side to them that wasn't just ballads. Diehard fans know that 1997's Falling into Infinity was supposed to be a double length album, but the record company wouldn't allow a two CD release so about half the material was cut. The songs were great, and most of them were better than the majority of tracks that actually made it onto the album. That same time was there were a series of acoustic concerts and cover shows which revealed a very different side to the band than what was normally viewed within the Metal community. I am by no means saying they need to do a Damnation-like record, but maybe something a little more laid back and proggy like Marillion or Pendragon.

At the end of the day I need to take a step back and remind myself that this is not my band. I don't play or sing for them. Albeit I have met them before, none of them would remember me. My voice in the end doesn't mean anything to them. They'll continue to write the music they want to write and play the songs they want to play. While I felt like I lost something huge when Mike left it is nothing compared to what the other four (especially the Johns) are missing.

I am a fan. That is all I ever will be. Their music has deeply reached me in a way no other band has. Whenever I put on Images and Words there is something magical going on. Every time I see them in concert I am in awe. There really is no vocabulary to express how important this music is to me. Whatever the future holds for the band I know I can always look back and smile and think about my high school days driving around with friends and blasting Scenes From a Memory as loud as our little car speakers would let us. No matter what the future holds, Dream Theater's music is part of my life and I am thankful for that.

"If I die tomorrow
I'd be all right
Because I believe
That after we're gone
The spirit carries on"

Special thanks to Kap'N Korrupt for giving me the title and edditing this.

Written on 16.10.2010 by Dane hails from Asheville, NC which is Beer City, USA. When he is not drinking various craft and micro brews, Dane fronts the Stoner Doom Metal band, The Quick. He also has a massive collection of Hellboy comic books.


Comments: 30   Visited by: 388 users
16.10.2010 - 06:27
Au Pays Natal
Wow...fucking epic man, I love your enthusiasm
16.10.2010 - 09:14
Thumbs up!!!
16.10.2010 - 10:35
I loved reading this. I felt some of the things you felt. I still feel some of those things. And besides, you express it beautifully.

Let's see what the future holds, I did see myself thinking about Dream Theater while listening to Static Impulse, it obviously takes you back to DT. But somehow I don't think they'll go heavier, I don't know. I might be totally wrong on this one. Either way, I'm eager for more Dream Theater music, even if it won't be the "dream band" anymore.
Written by BloodTears on 19.08.2011 at 18:29

Like you could kiss my ass.

My Instagram
16.10.2010 - 10:39
Your feelings matched exactly mine, Dane Train. At this point, I am just excited and nervous to hear what they have planned, because as you said, thier music changes drastically when something like this happens to the band. Looking back, Im just really happy I got to see them live with Portnoy. I traveled from Lexington,Ky to Chicago in '06 and it was worth every second. Their show was many many times better than anything I have ever experienced before.
16.10.2010 - 11:34
Dark Blood
The Avenger
I'm with BloodTears about loving reading this article.

I gotta confess I am not that of a big fan of Dream Theater (well, considering that you seem the nr. 1 fan, it would be almost impossible), but they always had my respect and they've grown within me over the years, specially after Scenes From a Memory (which was probably the best album I've heard in my life, and still is).
After I read the news about Portnoy leaving the band I had the same reaction: Denial. I thought it was some sort of joke or some late April 1st. But well, it's his decision and whatever results the band can make without him, they'll not lose my respect just for that.
It is humanity who must pay homage to the greatness of the Universe... not the Universe to the human narcissism.
16.10.2010 - 11:47
Great article man! Loved reading this one
16.10.2010 - 13:05
You should Publish a novel man:thumbup:
16.10.2010 - 16:52
A great piece of writing. I thought you're gonna overreact and get too dramatic, but you wrote it sensitively and yet very mature and sober. Good job.
Li'ed - Prog-Metal from Jerusalem
16.10.2010 - 17:18
Great writing indeed.

Dreams are made so we don't get bored when we sleep
16.10.2010 - 17:47
Nice article Dane.

Where does one even begin...

I've always been a huge fan dating back to the very beginning when they went from obscure to well known. I've always enjoyed the darker, heavier side of Dream Theater as there are plenty of bands doing ballads and slower numbers, so many in fact I'm not sure why Dream Theater even bothered, but that's neither here nor there. The point is I've always liked their music because it pretty much shreds the hell out of anything in the same category. These guys are musicians musicians and are so dedicated to the level and quality of the music that they inspire even the most jaded listener. Their skills are pretty much unmatched in the realm of progressive metal. It seems like they took the queue from early Fates Warning and ran with it all the way into today. Kudos to Dream Theater for keeping progressive metal in their hearts and in their music this entire time.

I've always considered Mike Portnoy the busiest guy in the music industry. I've never seen anyone with more projects inside and outside of the music from directing to coordinating to writing, all the way to playing with such an insane level of skill it makes beginners quit before they ever get started. Mike is an absolute dynamo on the kit and his genius is unparalleled. Having said that, all of this stuff may have been the catalyst to push him over the edge into leaving the band he formed. How many external projects in and out of the music can one man handle before his dedication and loyalty to where it all began start to wane? I think we finally have an answer.

I don't blame Mike for wanting time off and to do something new. It's human nature to want change and sometimes it's a life-altering one. I know because I've been through a few. It doesn't mean Dream Theater is dead by any means. Quite the contrary. In a band the size of Dream Theater, the drummer, keyboards, and bass are the most likely to be replaced. LeBrie is the voice and Petrucci is the sound, the rest provide the missing pieces that make Dream Theater the behemoth that it is in the progressive metal scene. Dream Theater will move on and hopefully take this opportunity to reflect and find someone with a unique style (Martin Lopez), who has more than enough skill (Martin Lopez), and who has something special to offer the band (Martin Lopez). One can only hope they look in the direction of Martin Lopez...

I'll be totally honest here and state that I haven't listened to any Dream Theater since Mike made his announcement. I've got all the cds, every dvd including side projects, and my precious ticket stub from the show in Rio which I was almost thrown out of for having too much fun. I love the band. I love most of the music with the exception of the sappy crap. I think Dream Theater will go on and produce great music in the future without Mike, but his contributions and the memories he's given the fans will last a lifetime.

If it hadn't been for Mike Portnoy, Fates Warning probably never would have remastered their earlier work nor brought the god, John Arch out of retirement for one last cd. Thanks for your contributions Mike and good luck with whatever you plan on doing in the future.
16.10.2010 - 20:53
Account deleted
Wonderful writing guys!

Never been so emotional like when i read that Portnoy was quiting, couldn't understand it at all. And now I still don't know if Dream Theater will ever be DT again in my opinion. Hope they get a good replacement. (Aquilles Priester)
16.10.2010 - 22:37
Walter Iego
A band is like a relationship with a women, sometimes wonderful, sometimes hell, sometimes you decide to work it out, sometimes you don't...
17.10.2010 - 05:35
Great stuff
You found god? If nobody claims him in thirty days, he's yours

Walk with me in hell
17.10.2010 - 05:52
Hope they get a good replacement. (Aquilles Priester)

yeah aquiles sounds good..but i think he's not appropiate comparing to the sound and abilities..aquiles as we know who former drummer of angra and drummer of hangar now is more to power metal genre..yes..he's so good in technic and there will be no problem if they replace portnoy with him.but one thing for sure..DT will never sound the same again IF (BIG IF??) aquilles take the place.believe me..
17.10.2010 - 09:16
Account deleted
I've never been a big fan of Dream Theater, but this was thoroughly enjoyable to read. Thanks!
17.10.2010 - 12:25
Valentin B
This article made me listen to "Pull Me Under", one of my favorite DT tracks in history
18.10.2010 - 02:50
Amen brother. I never cared about anyone's new album being "heavier", especially when it just means downtuned guitars. : "The Best of Times" is a good recent example that DT can still rule even when they play "softer" music. With Kevin Moore, of course, they excelled at both.

Five Stages ... sounds like something a DT song could be about, a cathartic epic in five parts of course.
19.10.2010 - 07:08
Evil Chip
I second the idea of Aquiles Priester, I hope they don't bring some kind of metalcore young drumme. That would really suck.
19.10.2010 - 12:12
Weeping Heart
OMG dude, that almost made me cry

whoever the replacement will be I don't expect any repetition of the old DT soul which made us enjoy every single song.
The older I get.........The faster I was

Smurfilator -- back when Smurf Metal existed :'(
20.10.2010 - 08:36
Whoever replacing portnoy place,DT will never be the same!!
21.10.2010 - 02:54
Damn man.. I can't belive Pornoy left! I just saw them this summer with Iron Maiden and its sad to think that no one else can see them! D:
I think I might cry
22.10.2010 - 10:01
Great emotion Dane. I enjoyed reading it!
30.10.2010 - 01:38
I appreciate your stance greatly, because I feel almost exactly the same way. I haven't been a DT fan for as long (only about 4 years), but I too will go after anything slightly affiliated with the band and its current or past members. I'm glad that I had a chance to see them live, back in 2008, and saddened at the fact that if I get a chance to see them again, it probably won't be with Mike Portnoy. I'm sure a lot of die hard fans said the same thing, back when Kevin Moore left, and then again when Derek Sherinian was replaced by Jordan... and maybe further back, also, when Charlie Dominicci was replaced by James.
I will say that it took a bit to get into all of the music, and not compare one musician to another, but I finally reached that point that I realized that no matter which album, which musicians... Dream Theater always does a damn fine job as a unit, and creates a product worth enjoying many times over.
I also hope that Mike, although not with DT anymore, fares well with whatever direction he takes, as I've enjoyed his solo efforts already, along with those of other members... It wouldn't be fair to think any less of the man.
15.11.2010 - 16:05
I just hope they don't go "soft". Cause if you ask me, "Falling into Infinity" is their worst album... Though I think Mike was the force behind their more agressive albums...
"Nothing kills the spirit like the repulsion for obscure ideas"...
20.11.2010 - 20:47
Fat & Sassy!
Written by growling_one on 15.11.2010 at 16:05

I just hope they don't go "soft". Cause if you ask me, "Falling into Infinity" is their worst album... Though I think Mike was the force behind their more agressive albums...

I'm in the opposite camp. Personally, I'm sick of their "heavier" sound on their last few albums. James has a great voice when he sings softly. A more prog-rock album would make me much more interested in DT again. :/
28.11.2010 - 19:52
Dane - great article. Summed up my exact thoughts about what's happening with DT currently.

I think the point is, I look forward to anything that they as a band or they as individuals put out when it comes to music. All of those guys are unbelievably talented in their own right.
06.01.2011 - 22:59
Written by MeTalRea|istiK on 16.10.2010 at 09:14

Thumbs up!!!


Nice article. Let's hope everything works out well. DT has already entered the studio, like they planned back when Mike was still in the band.
"Reality is almost always wrong."
20.02.2011 - 19:24
Enjoyed the read except where you said their last 10 years weren't as great. I don't know why but it irks me so much when people knock on their last 10 years. Yes their entire catalog is amazing but I don't know how anyone can't say the last 10 years have been some of the most amazing if not thee best for Dream Theater. They have so many epic songs from the last 10 years it's amazing how far they've come. Songs like Sacrificed Sons, Root of all Evil, Count of Tuscany, Shattered Fortress, Train of Thought I mean I could go on. They all have a distinct absolutely f*ing epic sound to them with unparalleled writing quality. To say they need to step it up from the last 10 years of production is just absolutely mind boggling to me. I can pop in Images and rock out to Learning to Live or Surrounded or Another day and then go and pop in Black Clouds and head bang to A Nightmare to Remember and either way the material I'm listening to is beyond epic and in no way lacking at all.

I'm 100% satisfied with the last 10 years of DT and if they continued producing nothing but what I've heard in the last decade I'd be way more than satisfied. But ya other than that, great article man ;-) And no worries their sound will be amazing in the years to come. The major song writers are Petrucci and Rudess for laying the foundations, Portnoy was more logistics, keeping in touch with fans, and setlists etc. An extremely important member in the band but they will absolutely survive without him sadly =( Anyone that thinks DT won't be the same without him, well...I respect their opinions but they aren't very well informed DT fans.
23.09.2011 - 17:40
gloom cookie
So... from this distance, what do you think of the new stuff, and the press fight?
7.0 means the album is good
26.09.2011 - 16:30
Great stuff!

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