Rank ‘Em: Dream Theater studio albums

I’ve decided to be a complete whore and do a new feature called “Rank ’em” where I will do my very best to upset all fans of a particular band by ranking all the band’s STUDIO albums in order of my preference. I have to start with my own favorite band, Dream Theater.


There are a couple of reasons that DT makes for a good place to start. One reason is that I’ve been a fan for almost 25 years. I realized when I saw them live a few days ago that I saw them for the first time 23 years ago at the same venue. There’s a bit of symbiosis to all of this. Secondly, Dream Theater is popular as hell so writing anything about them drives traffic. As I said, I am a complete whore.

I should mention that though I have assigned a unique number to each album, some are basically equal with each other. But fuck it! I’ll count them down in reverse order. So let’s start at the bottom!

13. Systematic Chaos (2007)
12. Train of Thought (2003)
I am sure most people assume that I’d put Train of Thought at the bottom. Honestly, the two albums are tied for my least favorite but I decided to give “Train of Thought” the edge strictly on the last 2 songs of the album which I do like. I can’t say that anything from “Systematic Chaos” has ever been a favorite of mine.


11. Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
This album continued a bad string of albums for me. The reason I like it better than the previous 2 mentioned is that the music is actually pretty damn good. Lyrically, this album is really terrible. “Wither” saves the day as I do LOVE that song.



The Astonishing

10. The Astonishing (2016)
This is the album that will probably always divide fans. I do enjoy this album but after some time for it to sit with me AND seeing it live in its entirety, the thing is just too long. I am not a big fan of “literal” concept albums either and this storyline is hasn’t really done it for me either. There are some GREAT songs on here. Had this been edited to one disc, it would rank higher for sure.

Update: the album has NOT aged well for me. I really hate the storyline even more. Too long and yes too much filler. The album drops to 10 but could go even lower.



9. When Dream and Day Unite (1989)
The only thing keeping this album from being as high as number 6 on this list is the mix which is terrible. If it ever gets remixed (get Terry Brown please), it will be a favorite. I love the songs on it. Many are classics.



8. Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (2002)
This is a tough one for me to rank. I love certain songs on this album (“Misunderstood,” “Solitary Shell,” “Blind Faith”) but much like “The Astonishing,” I think it would have been better as a single disc. There are parts of the title suite that really fall flat for me.



7. Falling Into Infinity (1997)
Damn right it ranks this high. There is only one track on this album that I am not keen on (“Just Let Me Breathe”) and yes they cut too many great songs. Had THIS album been a double album, it would rank even HIGHER. Vastly underrated album.



6. Dream Theater (2013)
What I love about this album is that they went back to writing songs rather than overly large pieces, “Illumination Theory” notwithstanding. Honestly this album and the 2 below it in the countdown are really interchangeable for me.



5. Metropolis Part II: Scenes From a Memory (1999)
Yes I know many people rank this as their favorite Dream Theater album. The fact is for me, it really jumps around this list more than any other. The plot to this album was actually good, but still there are some tracks that I really never bother with. While there are other tracks that rank as some of their greatest songs ever.



4. A Dramatic Turn of Events (2011)
This album did everything that I NEEDED Dream Theater to do again. This was the return to form, both musically and lyrically after they had gotten pretty bad for a couple of albums. Mike Mangini was also a nice change to the sound.



3. Octavarium (2005)
An oasis in the middle of the some really shitty albums! HAHAHAHA! This was the album that renewed my faith in Dream Theater. I love every track on it. Some of the songs are among my all-time favorites. It’s very special to me and helped me through some tough times.

2. Awake (1994)
1. Images and Words (1992)
I am sure these two albums aren’t a huge surprise if you know me. I bought “Images and Words” the week it came out without ever hearing a single note of it. It changed my life completely. It’s probably my favorite album of all time by anyone. “Awake” was an excellent followup and cemented them as my favorite band. Though when I heard Kevin Moore was leaving, I was crushed. I thought it was the end of them. It wasn’t thankfully but things were never the same for me. These were special times!

So, feel free to debunk my choices or just give me your choices! It’s funny to think that a band that I assumed would never be more than a cult band turned into one of the biggest bands in prog history. Who are you people???

About Rob

I have been a fan of progressive metal and progressive rock for most of my life. My music collection is insanely large. My passion for life is music...progressive music!
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