Concept albums, musically and technically, are always a hard balance when a band attempts one. First, they have to write a story that is interesting and, secondly, the music has to back up the story. Dream Theater are no stranger to a concept album having written and released two previously: Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From A Memory and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. They are a band to be used as an example on how to write a concept album with success. When I learned of this album I was somewhat unsure as I knew that it could (personally) go either way: I would either love the album or I would hate it. However I knew that, somewhere along the line, I would find middle ground. Against my better judgement, I bought the album and sat down one night (placing my iPod out of reach for fear of fidgeting) and listened to the entire album back to front. The band released “The Gift Of Music” first merely as a sample, and from what I’ve gathered, it is only the real ‘song’ from the album. Yes this album is very theatrical and I can find similarities towards Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory where the choir comes in somewhere in the background all throughout the album. This is a long album and, noticeably, there are no epic 10-minute songs, which I think is a smart move — it lets the album flow better. There are lots of segue tracks throughout this album which help tell the story well, which in turn, gives you more context about the album. I think that, on the whole, this album is written really well and the concept is delivered in such a way that this album requires multiple listens to really understand the concept. I always felt that this would a big test for the band following Portnoy’s departure back in 2010. In fact I feel it’s the biggest. This time around Petrucci have really stepped up and the band have followed with him, but I feel that this isn’t an album which has grabbed me like the previous few has, and for that, I have to put this aside and simply await to see what the band do next.