Check out the song: “On The Backs Of Angels”

Losing a band member often comes as a tremendous shock. Someone you’ve just spent literally years of your life with, day and night has now decided that they’ve had enough and want to move on. Some rock groups have viewed losing a member as such a blow (i.e. Led Zeppelin) that they decide to call it quits altogether, but most decide to soldier on.

Progressive metal band Dream Theater found themselves unsure of what to do when suddenly, founding drummer Mike Portnoy decided that he wanted out for a while due to feeling burnt out and disillusioned after years on the road. Faced with Portnoy’s feelings, the rest of the group decided that an extended hiatus was not something any of the other DT members were interested in, which precipitated Portnoy’s departure. They were eager to continue on with the band and continue writing, recording and touring behind a new record.

While Portnoy’s exit was difficult, every end equals a new beginning. About a month after, the band started to audition for new drummers in New York City, bringing in a list of highly talented individuals from the world of metal, including American drummer Mike Mangini, Derek Roddy formerly of Hate Eternal, stOrk’s Thomas Lang and Darkane’s Peter Wildoer.

The auditions were fairly intensive, consisting of three hour-long sessions including a jam session and a three song test which candidates only had a few weeks to master. In terms of skill and who fit in the best, Mangini won out in this difficult competition, despite the fact that Portnoy soon reconsidered his feelings and asked if he could rejoin the band. Having already resolved to move on, the rest of Dream Theater turned Portnoy down and were ready to set out and write a new record with Mangini behind the kit.

Check out the song: “A Rite Of Passage”

It didn’t take long for the band to find a personal comfort with Mangini as their new drummer as he fit right in like he’d been there all along. Even with Mangini not fully in the mix yet, DT entered Cove City Sound Studios to begin recording the band’s eleventh studio record in early January 2011. The writing process was quick and fruitful as the music itself was essentially finished by the beginning of March with lead vocalist Jame LaBrie tracking his vocals by April. As per usual, LaBrie tracked his vocals close to home in Midland, Ontario while the band remained in the U.S. doing the rest of the work. While it’s not a concept record, many of the songs examine the theme of change, from changes in one person’s life all the way to large-scale societal changes.

You could call A Dramatic Turn of Events the perfect Dream Theater record for this day and age. It shows a progressive side to the band’s sound and serious subject matter reflective of our world today. To coincide with the release of A Dramatic Turn of Events, Dream Theater recently embarked on the “A Dramatic Turn of Events Tour” with dates in the U.S. and Canada through the Fall before a full-scale European trek scheduled for the New Year. With so much going on these days, it’s a good time to be a Dream Theater fan. It’s certainly refreshing to see a band able to change with the times, no small feat for a metal band that’s been around since the mid-1980s.