A Dramatic Turn of Events is the eleventh studio album by Dream Theater, released on September 13, 2011. It is the first one to feature Mike Mangini on the drums after former drummer Mike Portnoy's departure just over a year prior to the album's release. The first single, On the Backs of Angels, was released on June 29, 2011. In August, Dream Theater began releasing minute-long snippets of songs from the album, beginning with Bridges in the Sky on August 11th and continuing periodically until the album's release. Dream Theater toured Europe in support of the album from July 4th to August 4th and toured Canada and the United States from September 24th to October 27th.
Petrucci felt he had a responsibility to fans following Portnoy's departure, and so some songs on the album have specific purposes. For example, On the Backs of Angels was a throwback to Dream Theater's signature sound, the heavy Build Me Up, Break Me Down was used to contrast the progressive aspects of the album, Outcry served as the album's anthem, Breaking All Illusions was an epic song that challenged traditional songwriting methods, and the closing track Beneath the Surface was the ballad.
According to Jordan Rudess in an interview, he said the band underwent a musical change, re-evaluating and restructuring "who we are and what we do." In an interview for The Mirror, Petrucci said the album,"tells a story... not literally but emotionally" and likened the experience to a "roller coaster ride." and LaBrie said that, musically, the was melodically driven. Many people, including Rich Wilson in the Dream Theater biography Lifting Shadows, say that the album is "spiritually reminiscient" of past albums like Images and Words and Scenes From a Memory. Thiago Campos, a Brazilian musician and leader of a Dream Theater cover band on YouTube, went a step further saying that certain songs are structurally similar to counterparts on Images and Words, for example the lead single, On the Backs of Angels, is almost structurally identical to the lead single from Images and Words, Pull Me Under.
- John Petrucci - Guitars, backing vocals, producer
- John Myung - Bass
- James LaBrie - Vocals
- Jordan Rudess - Keyboards, continuum
- Mike Mangini - Drums, percussion
- On the Backs of Angels (Petrucci) 8:46
- Build Me Up, Break Me Down (Petrucci) 6:59
- Lost Not Forgotten (Petrucci) 10:11
- This is the Life (Petrucci) 6:57
- Bridges in the Sky (Petrucci) 11:01
- Outcry (Petrucci) 11:24
- Far from Heaven (LaBrie) 3:56
- Breaking All Illusions (Myung, Petrucci) 12:25
- Beneath the Surface (Petrucci) 5:26
The album was very well received by critics, receiving 8.5 out of 10 Stars on Ultimate Guitar, and 88% on Metal Archives. Many hail it as a decisive comeback after the departure of a creative driving force. Prog Sphere claimed it was "Their best album in a while," however "The more I listened to it, the less it's seemed like a 5 star to me."
Many fans critisiced it for the numerous stylistic changes made to the music, namely LaBrie's layered vocals, the emphasis on melody rather than progressiveness, and its structural similarity to Images and Words. Others praise the return to form evident in the music.
The lead single, On The Backs of Angels was nominated for a Grammy award in 2011.
- "Bridges in the Sky" was originally titled "The Shaman's Trance". According to James LaBrie, the new name is derived from the song's lyrics.
- The album times at 77:05, making it Dream Theater's fifth-longest album, trailing Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Systematic Chaos, Falling Into Infinity, and (by one second) Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory.
- John Petrucci wrote the lyrics to seven songs on the album, the most any individual member has written for a single album in the band's history.
- "Breaking All Illusions" is the first track with lyrics from John Myung since "Fatal Tragedy" from Scenes from a Memory.