Fri, Jan 20, 2006 - Page 14 News List

Metal-heads dream on

By Gavin Phipps  /  STAFF REPORTER

Dream Theater is going to rock you so hard your nose is going to bleed.


Long-serving heavy metal combo, Dream Theater will be treating local metal-heads to a three-hour extravaganza tomorrow night when the Taiwan leg of its 20th anniversary world tour takes to the stage at Hsinchuang Stadium (新莊體育場).

Formed in New York by guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung and drummer Mike Portnoy -- all of whom were graduates of the Berklee College of Music -- in 1986, the combo has since become one of the most bootlegged metal bands of all time.

Starting life with the name Mirage, the combo was forced to change its moniker in 1987 in order to avoid being confused with a very un-heavy Las Vegas based act that played to punters in the lounge of the gambling Mecca's Mirage Hotel.

The four-piece made its vinyl debut in 1989 with When Dream and Day Unite, an album that critics likened to Rush and Yes, but slammed due to the less than heavy and, some said disappointing, vocal prowess of the band's original lead singer Charlie Dominici. Dominici was fired shortly thereafter and the combo was without a vocalist until 1991, when it hired ex-Winter Rose frontman James LaBrie.

LaBrie made his Dream Theater debut on 1992's Images and Words, an album that saw the band branching out from the tried-and-tested format and venturing into more complex multi-layered musical fields. The album proved an instant hit and while mainstream chart success eluded it the album went gold in February of that year after clocking up sales of just over 500,000.

Now in its 20th year the band may still yet see major chart success -- its best selling album to date was last year's Live at Budokan, which sold over 1 million copies world wide -- but its fan base continues to grow.

"Demographically the fans are aged between 17 and 50 years old. And pretty much anywhere we play we see this," LaBrie said.

"We're pulling in the kids, which doesn't make [me] feel old. I find it inspiring. Who cares about age? It's about having a cool a time and the music."

Although the band has become syno-nymous with the genre of "heavy metal," Dream Theater is in fact far more musically versatile than many of its more aggressive brethren. The combo's ability to mix it up with many differing genres such as prog-rock, neo-classical rock as well as more standardized forms of heavy rock music has enabled it to perform alongside a wide range of acts.

Several contrasting bands of note that Dream Theater has toured with over the years have included such metal-based icons as Deep Purple, prog-rock originators Emerson Lake and Palmer as well as thrash metal acts like Megadeth and more stereotypical heavy metal combos, inclu-ding Iron Maiden.

"Most of our songs are based on constructions and moving on from one complex point to the next. Our priority is to create strong songs. One element might be prog-rock, but the next could be neo-classical, heavy metal or even pop," LaBrie said. "There are many very different dimensions [and contrasts] to Dream Theater."

For its upcoming Taiwan performance the band will perform alone and while some may lament the lack of a support act, Dream Theater will still be putting on one hell of a show. According to LaBrie, the three-hour set will feature a smorgasbord of material ranging from early heavy rock inspired tunes like 6:00 to more thea-trical material from its recently released album, Octavarium.

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