But latter day DT isn't as interesting. I fought with the notion that they're not a prog rock band but a "prog metal" band for too long, but now I gave up. They fully embraced the metal thing (a much more interesting "market"). Now when people ask, I say I like "old DT".
About the vocals: I'm not too big on them either, even though I actually like Geddy Lee's vocals (yeah, I know it's a love-it-or-hate-it thing). I find LaBrie "okay", but I can name many singers I like better than him in bands I like less than DT (DT with Symphony X's Russell Allen on vocals would be fantastic).
About the synth crap: well, I'm a synthcrapist myself, so I'm obviously biased. But one important thing to point out is that DT went through three different keyboardists with very different styles (within DT's constraints of musical wankery, of course). I like the first one, Kevin Moore, way better than the others. He was the most melodic one, and the best songwriter. After he left, it was a slow downhill, I think. He was also the best lyricist of the band, so that suffered as well (the lyrics from their latest albums were a big turnoff for me). The current keyboard player, Jordan Rudess, is technically a wizard, but his showoff runs can get a bit boring.
So, if I were to recommend DT to anyone, I would say: get "Images and Words" and "Awake" (both from the Kevin More era) and if they like that then "Scenes from a Memory". Anything after that can be ignored, unless they're also into metal, in which case I'd say go ahead and get the full discography.
PS: interestingly, after leaving DT, Kevin Moore abandoned the whole heavy-rock-wankering thing entirely and went, err, I'm not very good in coming up with adjectives and subgenre names for mostly-electronic music. Check out his latest stuff at http://www.chromakey.com -- you can hear all his albums on the flash website for free. I recommend "Dead Air for Radios".
i will never understand why rock bands feel like they have to have vocals. ugh. hell, even bela fleck ruins half of his songs with that crap. i mean, if i want to listen to dave matthews sing, i'll buy a fucking dave matthews band cd -- what the hell is he thinking? jazz is supposed to be music for grown-ups, not frat boys!
but i digress. dream theater came highly recommended by a friend of mine on the strength of the guitar, with some reservations about the musical gestalt. i have no complaints about the guitar... except for the fact that it's played in a metal style. when are these whiteys going to learn that you're supposed to stress 2 and 4, not 1 and 3?
[t]rolling retards conversation, period.
Then get "Train of Thought", their most metal and least prog album.
dream theater came highly recommended by a friend of mine on the strength of the guitar, with some reservations about the musical gestalt. i have no complaints about the guitar... except for the fact that it's played in a metal style. when are these whiteys going to learn that you're supposed to stress 2 and 4, not 1 and 3?
I'm not a big fan of Petrucci's style. I can see he's very capable and all, but he's too... mathematical. Even his supposedly "soulful" parts sound (and in fact are, since he performs them note-for-note live) meticulously planned. His solo spot on their first live album particularly pictures this: he goes through a bluesy/rock routine, then a look-how-I'm-fast routine, then some of their instrumental stuff with the drummer (you might want to check their instrumental side-project, Liquid Tension Experiment, by the way), and then some jazzy stuff. The guy clearly can "emulate" all those styles with all the right clichés in place, but from that whole solo I can't get a feel of who the guy really is.
And to a certain extent, I think many rock/metal guitarists, even some established "virtuosos", simply can't improvise. Many of them just spit out a series bland scale runs in random order when they're improvising. Not that I don't fall into that trap, myself. I think I improvise okay, but not at "standard solo speed" -- can't think that fast yet. But occasionally you're required to do the mandatory fast run, so I end up resorting to the "bag of tricks" too, going with some predefined phrases... but I kinda feel like cheating when I do that.
I personally feel that they had it all perfect and together on that work. Musically, and lyrically that disc was the top of there form.
6 degrees tried to follow somewhat in the mold, however it never fully comes together for me.
The next two disc's they seem to have gone for a more metal side, and they just don't fully bring it off in my opinion. "As I Am" is a great song, but its not really DT.