Dream Theater – On the Backs of Angels

It’s finally happening. Earlier today, Roadrunner Records released the first single for the upcoming Dream Theater album, entitled ‘A Dramatic Turn Of Events’. With Mike Portnoy having left the band late last year and a new drummer taking his place, there is great anticipation to hear what this new incarnation of Dream Theater sounds like. Although fake leaks aplenty were circling the internet, ‘On The Backs Of Angels’ is the first we get to hear of the real thing, and coming from someone who has been a huge fan of the band for the better part of a decade, the single has not disappointed. At nearly nine minutes in length, ‘On The Backs Of Angels’ really isn’t what I would normally think of when it comes to a single. And going with the territory, there are plenty of instrumental sections for the band to really strut their stuff with the new drummer, Mike Mangini. Although the music here is nothing new for Dream Theater, I have not been disappointed; this song is excellent.

It begins with some proggy mellow guitars that lead the song into something much heavier; a nearly symphonic progressive metal that really underlines the dark sounds the band has started gravitating towards in order to compete with other bands. Instrumentally, the band is in top form here, and its much what one would come to expect of this band. The real focus here is on Petrucci and Rudess, who have quite a few moments to the two of them where they really shred, but it all feels intentioned and composed, rather than shallow technicality like many of the band’s detractors would attest to. Coming as a bit of a disappointment is Mike Mangini’s drum performance here. Although the drums were written by Petrucci, Mangini’s performance doesn’t feel like anything particularly excellent here, save for some interesting accents he makes towards the introduction of the song. Vocally, James LaBrie’s voice begins somewhat blandly, but it makes up for it later in the song where he takes control of a brilliant chorus, and some very effective harmonies here and there.

‘On The Backs Of Angels’ is a very promising start to the upcoming record, and now that the time is getting so close, I’m really beginning to feel excitement for this.


01. On the Backs of Angels (08:40)


* John Petrucci – guitar
* Jordan Rudess – keyboards
* James LaBrie – vocals
* John Myung – bass
* Mike Mangini – drums




  1. D Wave

    July 3, 2011 at 7:18 pm

    I have been a fan of DT since the 1999 when “Scenes From a Memory” came out (my favourite album of the band still!).

    I agree with you, the real focus here is on Petrucci and Rudess: it seems infact that they have been taken the lead of the DT compositional process.

    I think in this song Dream Theater show their best progressive side, the one we have seen in Octavarium and Falling Into Infinity. Definitely a band that renews itself in every album without losing its identity.

    Feel free to pop by my blog for a complete review of the song: http://www.dwaveonline.com/?p=252&lang=en

    Cheers and…As Jordan Rudess always says: “see you…on the road!!” :-)

    P.S. really nice site anyway!

  2. Graham Troup

    July 17, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    I agree with D Wave, the song did focus on Rudess and Petrucci.

    I’ve been a fan for a few years now and as time’s gone on I’ve noticed their sound progresses and gets smoother with each album. I feel like the sound on this one Is just too damn smooth, and not in a good way.

    It sounds like Dream Theater, but not NEW Dream Theater. They’ve always pushed the boundaries both technically and content wise but this song just doesn’t hold up for me, and I know the new Mike’s capable of much more challenging drum lines, (check out the Fire Garden Suite)

    I read LaBrie’s interview saying that the band is more balanced and working as a unit now, when I read that I heard bland. balanced doesn’t make the music any better, look at Guns and Roses or Queen! When you listen to Deep Purple you think Blackmore, not the balanced Morse. When you think Sabbath, you think the dark lord Ozzy, sorry Dio.

    That said I’m still optimistic for the album, on paper some of the finest musicians in the world are in on this.


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