Dream Theater Albums Ranked
In this list, we are going to choose the best Dream Theater albums. Additionally, there are classified all of Dream Theater studio albums, from F tier to S tier, which is the same as from worst to best. Notwithstanding, I believe there is not a single bad album in their entire discography, yet there are several of them which do not reach the standards of the level of their musicianship.
History of Dream Theater
Dream Theater is an American Progressive Metal band known for their intricate musicianship, complex song structures, and technical proficiency. The band was formed in 1985 and has released a total of 15 studio albums to date, with their debut album When Dream and Day Unite being released in 1989. Their most successful album to date is Images and Words, released in 1992, which features their hit single Pull Me Under.
Throughout their career, Dream Theater has received critical acclaim for their musicianship and technical skill, with members frequently cited as some of the best in their respective instruments. They have also been praised for their live performances, known for their extensive sets and improvisation. The band has undergone some lineup changes throughout the years, but have consistently maintained a high level of musicality in their recordings and live shows.
Overall, Dream Theater has solidified their place as one of the most influential and revered bands in the progressive metal genre, with a dedicated fanbase and a legacy of innovative and technically impressive music.
Dream Theater Album Tier List
It is neccesary to take into account that the album which is on the right side of a tier category, is the best of that level. Without further ado, let’s dive into the classification: (I put a link on the image in case you want to make your own list).
Dream Theater Albums Ranked: from worst to best
Which piece will be considered as the best Dream Theater album?
When Dream and Day Unite – 15º
The album debut is a far cry from what Dream Theater has become. Not having James LaBrie is kind of strange. This correct album deserves the last place, in a few words.
Falling into Infinity – 14º
It happens more or less the same as the previous album: this is not a bad album. However, it does not make it to reach higher places in this ranking. It is true that the development of the album was influenced by the music industry, emasculating the essence of the band, but there are still some interesting features which are noticeable on some songs as “Peruvian Skies” and “You Not Me”.
Train Of Thought – 13º
At least this album has a better level in terms of musicality in comparison with the lower ranked of this list. Nevertheless, the formula used here is not my favourite… Forgettable album.
However, there is such a decent compilation of riffs. Here you can have the guitar tabs.
Dream Theater Self Titled Album – 12º
This is the first album of the Mangini´s era and it was not bad as it could have been. “Illumination Theory” and “The Enemy Inside” are the best tracks in it. Overall, this is a correct album but not so memorable.
Black Clouds & Silver Linings – 11º
Such a weird album which we have here with Black Clouds & Silver Linings… It is in the mix of styles and sounds that I build my opinion. Also, it has a dark aura which is remarkable all across the album. I reckon the farewell of Mike Portnoy after lauching the album was not the perfect one and could be much more epic if they had created other type of album. In a nutshell, average album with a lack of memorable songs.
Distance Over Time – 10º
Great beggining with tracks as “Untethered Angel”, “Paralyzed” and “Fall into the Light”, but then, it is difficult to continue listening utterly appealed. It is more like a desire to finish the album than a desire to keep on listening, which are two different goals. The production is quite good by the way. Hence, this is a correct album which, at least, the fondest progressive metal fans will enjoy it, but I am not sure if a large amount of listeners will.
The Astonishing – 9º
Undoubtedly, this is a masterpiece in terms of effort and intention: they have created a metal musical with orchestral elements that lasts two hours. Although the duration of the album might seem astonishing (such an adequate adjective for this), when you dive into the album for the first time, you will not notice it. For instance, my first listen to The Astonishing was pretty enjoyable. Nevertheless, I never came back. That is the reason why this album is ranked relatively low on the list. The topic of the album is also a huge con: too cliche. “Dystopian Overture”, “Brother Can You Hear Me?” and “The Path That Divides” are quite remarkable songs, but among the other 34… It is arduous to locate them!
A View from the Top of the World – 8º
Created with the Dream Theater automatic pilot or Chat-GPT DT version (just joking), this is a solid correct album. All tracks are on the same level and, in particular, I often come to this album to chill out. Not so dynamic, not so mellow… It is properly balanced. “The Alien” and “Sleeping Giant” are really good songs.
Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory – 7º
Many hardcore Dream Theater fans will kill me. Notwithstanding, I must say that, in spite of the fact that I have listened enough times to this album so as to make an honest review, I have no choice but to tell I did not enjoy it. Nevertheless, from an objective point of view, maybe this album is one of the greatest of the progressive metal genre. The concept is really interesting and intricate too. Finally, as I previoulsy said, this is an amazing album but for me, is not my ideal choice.
A Dramatic Turn of Events – 6º
This is the perfect example of “less is more”. Plenty of serious great songs here, but there are some which poisons the overall feeling. While “On the Back of Angels” and “Breaking all Illusions” are incredibly good, the ballads “Beneath The Surface” and “Far From Heaven” kill the vibe. Overall, this album is pretty well-rounded and adeaquate to newbies. It is neccesary to say that, although ADTOE is in sixth place, from now onwards including this album, all are similarly great except the ones which are in S tier, which are even a level higher.
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence – 5º
Here we have the Dream Theater´s pure concept album as itself. From the beggining to the end, your mood will change like a rollercoaster. However, the vibe of the album is quite sad, as it covers topics related to mental illnesses. There are some quite memorable and poignant moments such as “Goodnight Kiss” guitar solo. “Losing Time / Grand Finale” is the perfect end for such a ride. To sum up, maybe this is one of the concept albums which should be listened at least once in your life.
Octavarium – 4º
The concept and the imagination which is behind of the creative process of Octavarium is mindblowing. I really appreciate the raw and obscure component which is omnipresent in every track, it provides an interesting appeal to the whole album. I reckon that the self titled song Octavarium is the most significant musical composition ever produced in progressive metal. It utterly dismayed me in a musical way. “The Root Of All Evil” and “Sacrified Sons” are excellent songs also.
Awake – 3º
Finally, we reached the top 3. If you ask me, Awake deserves the bronze medal for many reasons. For instance it has a jazzy / night café vibe which mixed with the progressive metal component, turning the sound into an enjoyable and brilliant miscellanea of sounds. It gives me a similar impression as Blood Sugar Sex Magik from Red Hot Chilli Peppers did, specially because of the funk / jazz bass lines of John Myung. Moreover, the sensation I feel while listening to all tracks is so fresh that I can smell the inspiration from miles away and years apart. “Caught In a Web” and “6:00” reflect perfectly my previous point. Nevertheless, the lyrics and topics in general are a bit dark (and, for me, the best ever written by Dream Theater), while their sound does not give that sensation at all. Only in “Space-Dye Vest” the sound is remarkably daunting. This album was the last with the genious Kevin Moore, who sadly left the band after the launch of the album (you can notice my preferences). In conclusion, the third place for Awake is fair and it closes the A tier with honors.
Systematic Chaos – 2º
The title reflects perfectly what will happen once you click on the start button. Systematic Chaos is a memorable ride with dangerous curves and serene moments. There are several songs which amazed me in an incredible way. Notwithstanding, the main characters here are John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy. Their instruments combined in this particular album showcase a clear musical partnership between them. Tracks like “The Ministry Of Lost Souls” and “In The Presence Of the Enemies Part I” support my point. While Petrucci is performing his best guitar solos, Portnoy is holding them in a subtle yet effective way with his smart drumming. Systematic Chaos has not a great production, but it is part of the concept of the album. Sadly, this album is sometimes overlooked or underrated, but for me, it is a masterpiece which is awarded with the silver medal fairly.
Images and Words – 1º
Gold medal for one of the best Progressive Metal album ever made. In addition to this, Images and Words redefined the musical scene at the moment, serving as an inspiration for many bands. It is in the concept and in the musical complex strucutres that make this album a true masterpiece. The freshness which is imbued all over the album is contagious. Objectively and subjectively, this album should be in every Dream Theater ranking, at least, in the top 3. Hence, this is a majestic composition from the beggining to the end.
Dream Theater Best Album: Conclusion
This band has managed to consistenly create albums which are worth listen and, for sure, they made their mark not only in the metal scene, but also in the music industry in general. However, the title of the best Dream Theater album is deserved by Images and Words.