50% studio, 50% live classic rock covers = 100% fun
Just Bill | Grand Rapids, MI United States | 11/12/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"A Change of Seasons is noteworthy for a number of reasons: (1) it re-unites Dream Theater with producer David Prater, who made their second album (Images and Words) such a pleasure to listen to; it's the first album featuring new keyboard player Derek Sherinian; and its selection of music is second to none.This, DT's fourth studio album (1995), isn't quite as heavy as the previous release -- the bone-crushingly excessive Awake -- and that's a real blessing. Their talent shows through even more vividly because there are patches of intricate melody amidst the bombast that give one's mind a place to rest.This album divides itself neatly into two halves: the 23-minute title track (sprinkled liberally with Carpe Diem -- seize the day -- philosophies)...and the live second half that's a feast for classic rock fans. DT covers Elton John's "Funeral For a Friend," Deep Purple's "Perfect Strangers," three from Led Zep ("The Rover," "Achilles Last Stand" and "The Song Remains the Same") and what DT calls "The Big Medley," which is one cool song after another -- from Pink Floyd's "In the Flesh" to Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" to Genesis' "Turn it On Again.""A Change of Seasons," the epic-length title track, is well-played, and shows more creative restraint than you'll find on Awake. I like it a lot....but I like the live cover songs even more. One of the biggest challenges any band faces when doing covers is getting the sounds right, especially the guitar tones. Tackling the right notes and getting all the arrangements to sound similar to the original band is tough enough. But getting the right sounds out of the guitars and keyboards can be a real challenge.Yet, I'll be darned if DT doesn't pull it off with their trademark virtuosity. Even guitarist John Petrucci's solo mirroring Brian May's in "Bohemian Rhapsody" is almost note-for-note perfect.You can tell DT was having a great time paying tribute to some of their favorite bands in the live portion of this CD. And their joy is contagious.While A Change of Seasons will never be considered DT's best work, it's still one heck of a fun CD. I highly recommend it."
Dream Theater's best song.
The Wickerman | Austin, TX | 12/24/2004
(4 out of 5 stars)
""A Change of Seasons" contains every quality of Dream Theater's music, compacted into a 23-minute song. It is a thrilling ride of stunning melodies, and exciting instrumentation. A while back, I went through this stage where I considered DT to be the be-all, end-all of music itself, largely because I was so obsessed with technical ability at this time. Well, I've now gotten to the point where pure technical prowess doesn't wow me like it used to (once you've heard all of the fastest and most technical music, it's really not that big of a deal anymore, and you just want excellent songwriting), and as a result, a lot of DT's material (particularly the newer stuff) doesn't hold the same thrill that it once did.
However, this song is still as excellent to my ears as it was on the first listen. Here, you've got the dazzling complexity, but more importantly, you've got great songwriting and melody to balance it out. There's really no point in this song where it sounds like they're just playing for the hell of it, which is impressive considering it's over 20 minutes long. The songs on "Train of Thought" are each no more than half the length of this one, and none of them go by nearly as fast. This is top-notch musicality that's sorely lacking from a lot of their music today. John's solos are melodic and imaginative, and even in the faster parts, never cross into wank territory. Mike's drumming is more compelling, and not as showy and repetitious as it often is today, and Derek's keyboard and piano melodies are just superb. The only really bad thing about this song is the drum sound, which is kind of weak and hollow. It sounds like Mike is hitting tin cans, or something. They need to remaster it, to get a beefier drum sound.
But anyway, this is a fantastic epic, full of twists, turns, and great music. Musically, the band have never sounded better. The covers on this CD are mostly pretty forgettable, and I pretty much never listen to them (except for the Deep Purple cover, which is pretty sweet). The title track is the main thing, and even if you end up hating the covers, this is the important reason you buy the CD. If you like great musicianship, combined with great songwriting, this is a must-have."
Really good progressive rock
Derrick | Armonk, NY United States | 03/18/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a longtime fan of Yes, Pink Floyd, ELP and other such "classic prog" rockers, I usually find it hard to find such intelligent music as that of Dream Theater. Though this is not their most prog-oriented album (that would be their masterpiece, Scenes from a Memory), it is still a whopper of an album, at least the 23 minute, seven-movement epic title piece. The title track is hugely ambitious, artistically done, compositionally unconventional and intriguing (with more mixed meter changes than I care to count), superbly played and just damn good. From the moment its ominous acoustic guitar line bursts into the crunching opening riff, it captures you and holds you until the very end. Although some of the sections do not have smooth transitions, for the most part "A Change of Seasons" plays like a single song - a feat that some prog bands sometimes fail to do (think Spock's Beard, good as that band may be). The theme, about acceptance of mortality, is seemingly dark but has an uplifting message, characteristic of progressive themes. Buy the album for this song alone, if anything.The covers that take up the rest of the album seem somewhat like filler. They are certainly well played, of course, as Dream Theater seems to have some of the music industry's most prolific musicians today, but most are straight-ahead covers with little variation. I liked the Elton John cover more than the original, and I love the Deep Purple cover, but being a HUGE Led Zeppelin fan didn't help my opinion of their cover of said band. The medley at the end did not really impress me either. As was said in another review, there are tons of tracks on Napster that weren't released on CD, many of which are better (check out the Rush and Yes medleys they do - apparently Steve Howe can really crank up the distortion when he wants to). This is a good album for the title track; if you're looking for a perfect 80 minute album, get Scenes from a Memory, but if you already have that and want some more progressive goodness, this is a good choice, moreso than their other "masterpiece," Images and Words. Also, if you like this album, consider checking out Transatlantic (which drummer Mike Portnoy founded), Spock's Beard (which is a bit more poppy but still good), or the Flower Kings (more psychadelic but still great)."
Dream Theater's magnum opus.
Lord Chimp | Monkey World | 04/13/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"We can thank the bootleg The Dance of Eternity for this fantastic release. The Dance of Eternity was recorded during the I&W tour, and at that show they played "A Change of Seasons" in its entirety. As the bootleg was distributed, demand grew for an official recording of the band's magnum opus. The band finally conceded and released the song a few years later with some bonus live material.This 23-minute track encapsulates Dream Theater's greatness. Emotionally powerful, often heavy, sometimes beautiful, audacious, and technically challenging music. The production here is very good, perhaps Dream Theater's best studio recording from that perspective. More importantly, the band understands how the write a captivating epic that never seems boring...in fact, it's so enthralling that you barely realize it's over. Written in seven movements, the seasons parallel an semi-autobiographical story about growing up and coming to terms with mortality. It is very touching at times, especially with the heart-wrenching licks of Petrucci's solo on "V. Another World." The virtuosity also makes an impression, especially the lightning fast solo on "IV. The Darkest of Winters." LaBrie's vocals never miss their mark, and he further establishes himself as one of progressive rock/metal's most emotive singer. What you have here is perhaps the best song by progressive metal's greatest band.The bonus live material is great. It's very cool hearing an Elton John song (of all things) that gets Dream Theater's magic treatment. I'm no Elton John fan, but the cover is incredible! "Perfect Strangers," (Deep Purple) is a perfectly fitting song for DT to play, while the Led Zeppelin covers and the "Big Medley" are also great stuff. They had a bunch of room left on the disc, so I'm disappointed that they didn't include more songs from this show. I would have liked to see Metallica's "Damage Inc." and Tori Amos' "Winter" included here, and maybe the excerpts from Yes' "Starship Trooper" and "Siberian Khatru." Ah well...there's always the bootleg...(Ignore people griping about the covers. Like them or not, it's just bonus material...concentrate on the actual song from which the EP draws its name. It's inappropriate to judge an album based on bonus material.)Quite simply, you cannot qualify as a Dream Theater fan until you add this disc to your collection."
This is great.
Edward Gordon Brown | 04/12/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"It's so hard to highlight one of Dream Theater's songs as a favorite. There are so many that are just too good. A Change of Seasons is musical virtuosity tweaked to the maximum. It really is an impressive song. The song itself I believe, makes this CD worth the price of admission. In saying that I am not saying that the rest of the CD isn't worth it...because it is. These guys just constantly amaze me. DT is the classic example that good music still exists... thank you guys so much."