Friday, April 2, 2010

Dream Theater - Master of Puppets

*NOTE: this review was published a few years ago on, but I altered it a little for the transposition here.*

Dream Theater is a veritable musical chameleon, able to take on countless styles, themes and atmospheres. Lining up their catalogue feels completely natural, rather than forced and stilted - it's in this way that they are truly a "progressive" band that never binds itself to any single style and keeps challenging itself, setting aside the often-exaggerated accusations of pointless wankery leveled at some of their music.It's in this spirit that we have Dream Theater's full live cover of Master Of Puppets by thrash metal's most well-known [Gods or clods, depending on who you talk to]. To sum this release up in four words, coming from who is, by his own admission, a die-hard Dream Theater fan: you don't need it.

Unlike the Number Of The Beast cover album where there were neat little touches here and there, this is pretty much a carbon copy of the original for the most part, with less punchy production and some tasteful use of Rudess's keyboard to fill in the gaps left by reducing Hetfield and Hammet's lead/rythm team to a single guitar. Petrucci's playing is immaculate for the most part, albeit lacking much of the punch of the original thanks to the 'official bootleg' style of production. Myung is about as audible as Cliff was on the original recording (Read: not very). Portnoy is solid as ever, no complaints there (lest the giant mech that masquerades as his drum kit will surely devour us all). The instrumental section of the band is what makes this release a treat to own for me.

Ah, James LaBrie. I'm one of those who quite likes his vocal performance, but many DT fans know to approach the Six Degrees/Train Of Thought touring era recordings with a bit of caution - his voice was at a low point there before it swung back up to its old splendor with the Octavarium/Systematic Chaos tours. This recording, however, shows him at his worst - comparable to Once In A Livetime. I can't tell if he has a cold, if he's just tired (This is the second set in a second show of a two-night stand in Barcelona) or if he's trying to do a "tuff dood" thrash voice - but whatever it is, it didn't work. Battery lacks the convincing bite that Hetfield added to his lines, and Leper Messiah sounds less than powerful - but the title track is sung well, and James does seem to get a second wind on Damage Inc. for a nice finish to the cover set. He unfortunately drags the experience down a few notches; if his vocals had been Score-quality, the whole thing would have been brought up.

Well, what you see is what you get: it's 2002-era Dream Theater performing Master Of Puppets in its entirety. Sound good to you? Seek it out, because DT's instrumental take on the album is worth a listen for the intrepid DT fan. Doesn't interest you? Don't bother, because the actual album is pretty much just that. It’s for diehards only – it’s not essential like the Falling Into Infinity demos are. Maybe I’ll get around to reviewing that some day soon.

No comments:

Post a Comment