Mike Portnoy Leaves Dream Theater

Mike Portnoy released the following statement in the early hours of this morning (UK time)

“I am about to write something I never imagined I’d ever write.

“After 25 years, I have decided to leave Dream Theater… the band I founded, led and truly loved for a quarter of a century.

“To many people this will come as a complete shock, and will also likely be misunderstood by some, but please believe me that it is not a hasty decision…it is something I have struggled with for the last year or so….

“After having had such amazing experiences playing with Hail!, Transatlantic and Avenged Sevenfold this past year, I have sadly come to the conclusion that I have recently had more fun and better personal relations with these other projects than I have for a while now in Dream Theater.

“Please don’t misinterpret me, I love the Dream Theater guys dearly and have a long history, friendship and bond that runs incredibly deep with them… it’s just that I think we are in serious need of a little break.

“Dream Theater was always my baby…and I nurtured that baby every single day and waking moment of my life since 1985… 24/7, 365… never taking time off from Dream Theater‘s never-ending responsibilites (even when the band was ‘off’ between cycles)… working overtime and way beyond the call of duty that most sane people ever would do for a band.

“But I’ve come to the conclusion that the Dream Theater machine was starting to burn me out…and I really needed a break from the band in order to save my relationship with the other members and keep my Dream Theater spirit hungry and inspired.

“We have been on an endless write/record/tour cycle for almost 20 years now (of which I have overseen EVERY aspect without a break) and while a few months apart from each other here and there over the years has been much needed and helpful, I honestly hoped the band could simply agree with me to taking a bit of a ‘hiatus’ to recharge our batteries and ‘save me from ourselves’…

“Sadly, in discussing this with the guys, they determined they do not share my feelings and have decided to continue without me rather than take a breather… I even offered to do some occasional work throughout 2011 against my initial wishes, but it was not to be…

“While it truly hurts for me to even think of a Dream Theater without Mike Portnoy (hell, my father named the band!!), I do not want to stand in their way…so I have decided to sacrifice myself and simply leave the band so as to not hold them back against their wishes.

“Strangely enough, I just read an interview that I recently did that asked me about the future of Dream Theater and I talked about ‘always following your heart and being true to yourself’… Sadly, I must say that at this particular moment, my heart is not with Dream Theater…and I would simply be ‘going through the motions,’ and would honestly NOT be true to myself if I stayed for the sake of obligation without taking the break I felt I needed.

“I wish the guys the best and hope the music and legacy we created together is enjoyed by fans for decades to come… I am proud of every album we made, every song we wrote and every show we played….

“I’m sorry to all the disappointed Dream Theater fans around the world… I really tried to salvage the situation and make it work… I honestly just wanted a break (not a split)… but happiness cannot be forced, it needs to come from within.

“You Dream Theater fans are the greatest fans in the world and as you all know, I have always busted my ass for you guys and I hope that you will stay with me on my future musical journey, wherever it may lead me…. (and as you all know my work ethic, there will surely be no shortage of future Mike Portnoy projects!)”

This is very sad news for Dream Theater fans, Portnoy was one of the main creative forces in the band, as well as one of the greatest drummers alive, Dream Theater are going to have a very hard time replaceing him.

The band released this statement shortly after Portnoy’s:

“To all of our loyal fans and friends: It is with profound sadness — regret — we announce that Mike Portnoy, our lifelong drummer and friend, has decided to leave Dream Theater.

“Mike’s stature in the band has meant the world to all of us professionally, musically, and personally over the years. There is no dispute: Mike has been a major force within this band.

“While it is true that Mike is choosing to pursue other ventures and challenges, we can assure you that Dream Theater will continue to move forward with the same intensity — and in the same musical tradition — that you have all helped make so successful, and which is truly gratifying to us.

“Fans and friends: File this episode under ‘Black Clouds and Silver Linings.’

“As planned, we begin recording our newest album in January 2011, and we’ll follow that with a full-on world tour.

“‘The Spirit Carries On.’

“All of us in Dream Theater wholeheartedly wish Mike the best on his musical journey. We have had a long and meaningful career together. It is our true hope that he finds all he is looking for, and that he achieves the happiness he deserves. He will be missed.”

So, does this mean Portnoy will be joining A7X full time?

“I BEG of the fans to please not hold A7X responsible for my decision… they are just as shocked as you guys.. I has been contemplating this and desiring a “break” (not split) as long as last year…everything else is fully explained in the press release… Thank you for all your support and understanding…this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.”

By the looks of things, Portnoy will continue to play with A7X until their tour schedule is complete, what happens next for Portnoy is anyone’s guess.

Personally, I think he will return to Dream Theater at some point down the line, but maybe that is just wishful thinking…

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Stars Pay Tribute To Dio

Some of the biggest names is rock and metal have commented on the tragic passing of Ronnie James Dio.

Gary Holt (Exodus):

“What more can be said about Ronnie that hasn’t been said by so many others. He was the kindest, most humble metal god I’ve ever had the pleasure and honor of touring with.

“I first met him at Foundations Forum about two to three weeks before our tour with them during the Dehumanizer tour, for about ten minutes while he waited outside for his cab. I introduced myself, said it was an all time honor to meet and tour with him and said see you soon. Fast forward to the first day of the tour, and he sees me and says, ‘How are you doing, Gary?’ I would not have been offended if he never knew my name the whole tour, but he remembered it from a ten-minute chat around three weeks earlier.

“We had many golden moments hanging out with him, while he allowed me to relentlessly badger him for stories about Richie Blackmore and the time spent singing for my favorite band, Rainbow.

“R.I.P. Your impact on me won’t ever be forgotten.”

Nikki Sixx (Motley crue):

“Ronnie was one of the kindest souls I have ever met and his talent was beyond inspirational to so many of us. I still have this image of him standing on stage in front of 100,000 belting out Man on the Silver Mountain and remember the shivers it sent up my spine. He will be missed by all of us.”

Robb Flynn (Machine Head)

“Dio was a true gentleman.

“Machine Head had the opportunity to open for Heaven & Hell in May of 2007, and having never met or toured with Ronnie James Dio, it was a HUGE honor for all of us.

“On the first night of the tour in Phoenix, Arizona we celebrated, uh, quite heavily, and though the Dio dressing was heavily fortified with an army of security, I somehow managed to bullshit my way in and say hello. He had no idea who I was, but acted like we were old friends. After that, he always made a point to poke his head in our dressing room and say ‘hi,’ or give Dave shit about ‘his San Antonio Spurs choking,’ or sometimes just to give us a $100-dollar bottle of wine they were going leave in their dressing room. All class.

“He was a powerhouse singer. Incredible tone, and grit. His voice onstage was FUCKING LOUD!! Shockingly loud!! We were lucky enough to watch from side stage almost nightly, and all of us were blown away by how loud his voice was.

“His memory was staggering. He remembered my wife’s name almost a year later, after only a brief one-minute introduction, and it charmed her to no end. He remembered my name a year after touring with him, in a crowd of people, without missing a beat, and asked how my kids were and kissed me on both cheeks when we said goodbye. I turned to my friend and was like, ‘Dude, Dio just remembered my name and kissed me on the cheek, fuckin’ High 5!!’

“When my parents moved to Fremont, California as I began the seventh grade, it was a pretty lonely time for me. I became friends with a girl named Lori Kibby who played me the first heavy metal record I would ever hear. It was Black Sabbath’s Heaven And Hell. It terrified me, enthralled me, captured me entirely. The imagery, the name, the title, it made me want to listen over and over and over again, in particular the songs Heaven And Hell, Children Of The Sea and Die Young. My first garage band, (the awesomely-named Inquisitor) covered Stand Up And Shout.

“Would I have found metal without him? Maybe. But man, I feel so very fortunate to have had Ronnie James Dio as my first guide into the awesome world of metal.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you for everything you’ve done for music, Ronnie.

“Horns.”

David Ellefson (Megadeth)

“Of course our bright beam from the tour’s glow was dimmed today when we learned of the passing of Ronnie James Dio. He was truly one of the ‘good guys’ in this business and a consummate pro, someone we can all take a que and learn from. We are all fans of his and he did many great things for Megadeth and its members, starting starting as far back as his Dream Evil North American tour in which we were the support band during the So Far, So Good… So What tour. . . I’m very thankful to have gotten to know and tour with him in both Megadeth and with Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens. Wendy Dio looked after Ripper’s European tour where we played several shows with Heaven & Hell and we got to have many good moments with Ronnie during that tour. He is missed by us all.

“Our prayers go out to him and his family at this time.”

Shawn Drover (Megadeth)

“I am at an absolute loss right now upon hearing that Ronnie has passed away. I had the pleasure of touring both Canada and America in 2007 when Megadeth toured with “Heaven and Hell” (Black Sabbath in my eyes) and I swear to you he is 1 of the nicest human beings I have ever met, period. Many a night on that tour, Glen and myself would have amazing conversation’s with Ronnie about his career, etc. fully knowing he had probably told these stories 10,000 times to people and yet he answered every question I had with a big smile. I can recall so many times making eye contact with Glen sharing the exact same thought – “Dude, I can’t believe we are hanging with RONNIE JAMES DIO!!!!!” If you are lucky enough in your lifetime to actually meet 1 of your idols (let alone tour with them) and they turn out to be even nicer than you could have envisioned, that is something you would truly treasure. Lucky for me, I will cherish those memories forever……………….”

Lars Ulrich (Metallica)

“Dear Ronnie,

“I just got off stage in Zagreb. I was met with the news that you’ve passed on. I’m kind of in shock, but I wanted you to know that you were one of the main reasons I made it onto that stage to begin with.

“When I first saw you in Elf, opening for Deep Purple in 1975, I was completely blown away by the power in your voice, your presence on stage, your confidence, and the ease with which you seemed to connect to 6,000 Danish people and one starry-eyed 11-year-old, most of whom were not familiar with Elf‘s music. The following year, I was so psyched when I heard the results of you joining forces with my favorite guitar player. You guys sounded so right for each other and I instantly became Rainbow’s #1 fan in Denmark.

“In the fall of 1976, when you played your first show in Copenhagen, I was literally in the front row and the couple of times we made eye contact you made me feel like the most important person in the world. The news that you guys were staying in town on your day off somehow embedded itself in my brain and I made the pilgrimage to the Plaza Hotel to see if I could somehow grab a picture, an autograph, a moment, anything. A few hours later you came out and were so kind and caring… pictures, autographs and a couple minutes of casual banter. I was on top of the world, inspired and ready for anything. Rainbow came to Copenhagen a couple more times over the next few years and each time you guys blew my mind, and for a good three years were my absolute favorite band on this planet.

“Over the years I’ve been fortunate enough to run into you a half dozen times or so and each time you were as kind, caring and gracious as you were in 1976 outside the hotel.

“When we finally got a chance to play together in Austria in 2007, even though I may not have let on, I was literally transformed back to that little snot-nosed kid who you met and inspired 31 years earlier and it was such a fucking honor and a dream come true to share a stage with you and the rest of the legends in Heaven & Hell.

“A couple of weeks ago when I heard that you were not going to be able to make it to the Sonisphere shows that we would be sharing this June, I wanted to call you and let you know that I was thinking of you and wish you well, but I kind of pussied out, thinking the last thing you needed in your recovery was feeling obligated to take a phone call from a Danish drummer/fan boy. I wish I’d made that call.

“We will miss you immensely on the dates, and we will be thinking of you with great admiration and affection during that run. It seemed so right to have you out on tour with the so-called ‘Big Four’ since you obviously were one of the main reasons that the four bands even exist.

“Your ears will definitely be burning during those two weeks because all of us will be talking, reminiscing and sharing stories about how knowing you has made our lives that much better.

“Ronnie, your voice impacted and empowered me, your music inspired and influenced me, and your kindness touched and moved me. Thank you.

“Much love.”

Richie Blackmore (Former Deep Purple, Rainbow)

“Ronnie had a unique and wonderful voice. He will be sadly missed in the rock and roll world.”

KISS

“We mourn the tragic passing of the great Ronnie James Dio. In addition to his powerhouse vocal ability, Ronnie was a true gentleman who always emanated great warmth and friendship to us and everyone around him. We will miss him.”

Judas Priest

“We are filled with great sadness at the terrible news about our friend Ronnie James Dio.

“Our condolences and love go to Wendy and Ronnie’s family.

“Ronnie was a wonderful man and will be sorely missed.”

Mike Portnoy (Dream Theater)

“Rest in peace, Ronnie James Dio… one of the greatest of all time.

“Looks like Dime, Randy, Cliff and Bonzo just scored the ultimate singer.

“This is one of the saddest days in metal ever.”

Also, Andy Copping, organiser of the UK’s Download festival, has announced that the second stage will be renamed the Ronnie James Dio Stage in his memory.

God Of War: Blood & Metal EP Review

God of War

God Of War: Blood & Metal

Roadrunner records have teamed up with Sony and Playstation to release this EP of songs from Roadrunner artist, paying tribute to the game.

First up is Killswitch Engage with My Obsession. This is a standard Killswitch song, they’re not breaking new barriers, but it’s still a great song, and if you are a fan, you will definitely love this track. I know a lot of people were disappointed with the last KsE record, and this is them back on top form, it’s much better than most of the tracks on the self titled album.

Next is Trivium with Shattering the Skies Above. On this track the band return to the style of their earlier albums, Ascendancy in particular. At first, I didn’t really like this track, as I wasn’t a big fan of Ascendancy, but after a few plays it really did grow on me. It has a fantastic chorus and the guitars are nice and heavy, with a great solo.

Dream Theater rarely disappoint on record, especially on an instrumental, Raw Dog is no exception. This is a fantastic metal track with great riffs and excellent musicianship, but this is expected from some of the greatest musicians to walk the planet.

This Is Madness by Taking Dawn is an ode to 300, with the lyrics borrowing from lines from the movie: “This is Spartaaaaa!” and such.  even though this song has brilliant subject matter, it does sound a little raw compared to the rest of the tracks on this EP, it sounds more like a demo. It is more “metal” than any of the tracks on their album however and is still a great song.

Opeth offer a break from all the heaviness with their track The Throat Of Winter. It’s a more acoustic affair, but it somehow still fits in with the rest of the EP. This is a beautiful track, and a great addition to Opeth’s stunning back catalogue.

The EP ends with The End by Mutiny Within, which is another great track and a superb way to finish a superb EP. This song would fit in perfectly with Mutiny Within’s début album, it has great musicianship and brilliant vocals, plus a chorus to die for.

In all, this is a great EP, the only downside is that its only 30 minutes long!

9.5/10

Iron Maiden Album Title Revealed

The new Iron Maiden album is to be called The Final Frontier and it is set to be released late this summer.

The band will also be on tour in the states and Canada with support from Dream Theater.

The only thing I don’t like about this is the album name… Final… Let’s hope not.

A7x New Album Drummer Revealed

Avenged Sevenfold have announced that Mike Portnoy of Dream Theater will play drums on their upcoming album:

“We want our fans to know that with Jimmy in our hearts, our journey to record has officially began

Jimmy helped leave this world an amazing gift and now it’s our job to make sure to deliver that gift to our fans.
We asked Jimmy’s all-time favorite drummer Mike Portnoy to record on behalf of him. Mike said it would be an honor and without question that’s what Jim would have wanted.

It’s comforting to us that someone like Mike, who is undoubtedly revered as one of the best drummers in the world, held such respect and adoration for the Rev’s abilities.

Even though it will never be the same without our brother by our side, his essence lives in our hearts and through the music he helped create. He was a legend before any of the success or any of that bullshit and we are fucking excited to lay this down for our fans, and especially for Jimmy.”

More Details About God Of War EP

The rest of the bands have been announced for the God Of war EP, it will be released by RoadRunner, so it is all RoadRunner artists.

Killswitch Engage, Opeth and Taking Dawn will be featured aswell as already confirmed Trivium and Dream Theater.

Dream Theater – Wither Video