Symphonic Theater of Dreams – A Tribute to Dream Theater

I’ve been waiting for this album ever since I heard the teaser to it close to 6 months ago while searching for backing tracks to a couple of Dream Theater songs. It is exactly as the title suggests, a symphonic tribute to one of the most well known progressive metal bands today.

The idea of a symphonic cover of this band’s music isnt as ‘new’ as you’d think. Dream Theater themselves have dabbled with the idea of arranging music for an orchestra, with Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (although done using an arranger keyboard and VSTs) and performing with symphony live in 2006 in support of the Octavarium album. If you’ve been following the band and its music, you’d have also heard of Eren Başbuğ  who covered and wrote the individual parts of each instrument to Octavarium’s title track to be played live, which caught the attention of Jordan Rudess (and led to the two of them collaborating on writing a concerto).

Coming back to this album, this project was the brainchild of Michal Mierzejewski, a Polish composer and conductor which started off as just something he was casually interested in 3 years ago on one of Dream Theater’s forums, and he began to collaborate with other composers and musicians. It caught the attention of the fans. Mike Portnoy put out a good word. The rest is history, as the project has finally bore fruit. So was it worth the wait?

Yes, and I mean that in every way.

Musically, this adds another dimension to Dream Theater’s music. Stand out tracks for me were Hell’s Kitchen and Sacrificed Sons. They were brilliant layered, the climaxes were hair-raising. Guitar and keyboard solos are interpreted remarkably well, as is the case with the french horns taking up most of the guitar solo work throughout the album.  Beneath the Surface sounds better than the original (at the risk of sounding over-the-top), and the final track sounded exactly as I expected it to. Overall, the album makes for great listening, and has good replay value, as it is a fresh-sounding take on already well known pieces.

My only gripe with the album is that the tracklist should have been longer. At 6 songs, and already clocking at 43:15 minutes, I may be pushing it. But if they had added just one more track to this album, it would have made it even more interesting to listen to. Sacrificed Sons (played live with the Octavarium orchestra along with Dream Theater in 2006) and Losing Time were already written with keeping a symphony in mind. It would have been fun to see how violins, cellos and woodwinds could have tackled another track in the mix.

Having said that, it is a very, very minor gripe. A must-listen for Dream Theater or classical music fans. I’d argue even a casual listener ought to check it out.

Track list:

1. Overture – When Dreams Come True (composition by Michał Mierzejewski)
2. Hell`s Kitchen
3. Sacrificed Sons
4. Beneath The Surface
5. The Ministry of Lost Souls
6. Losing Time/Grand Finale

Rating: 4/5

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