After 15 years of a long break since the release of Suspended Animation, here we are talking about the new album by John Petrucci; Terminal Velocity. John collaborated with two legendary musicians on this album, Mike Portnoy (Ex-Dream Theater, Transatlantic, Winery Dogs, Sons Of Apollo) on drums, and Dave LaRue (Dixie Dregs, Flying Colors) on bass.
John Petrucci is one of my all-time heroes with his musicianship, personality, and innovative thinking. My semi-professional musical career started with my discovery of Metallica when I was in the fifth grade. And it was Dream Theater who opened another big window in my perspective, understanding of music and changed my life forever. I am here today, still making music, writing about music, and working in the music industry thanks to them. I grew up listening to Dream Theater, watching their live materials such as Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York, practicing on guitar while watching Rock Discipline, etc. I remember selling my Ltd Explorer guitar and buying an Ibanez in high school only because I was so inspired by John. He has always been an example of a true artist, a mentor, and a guide for me since then and surely made me a better guitar player. The early Dream Theater period when Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, Kevin Moore, and John Myung were together will always be the ultimate Dream Theater period for me. It probably was about their overall feeling, the excitement they were channeling through their music at that time. They were young, passionate, playing like no one else can, making phenomenal music, and looking much more badass (especially Mike Portnoy, with his long hair and old-school thrash metal tank tops on Lie music video).
I have been making music for a long time, and I believe in the crucial role of that special energy and understanding when you are playing together with your true partner. They say playing together with the right band member is like having the chemistry with your woman in bed. That chemistry, which makes a gigantic difference, also exists between musicians. And I am fascinated to see my all-time favorite heroes Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci playing together since Mike’s departure from Dream Theater on September 8th, 2010.
Terminal Velocity is a phenomenal album with nine super progressive songs where John Petrucci experimented and blended many different ideas from early-prog, modern-prog, blues, traditional rock, flamenco/Spanish guitar, and country-rock music. The general mood of the album is quite positive, in other words, happy. In his interview with Ola Englund, John also mentioned that he wanted to give positive, happy vibes to people through his music, especially during these difficult times. Before watching the full interview session, I also thought that this positivity thing had become one of John’s characteristics. He has a well-earned and well-deserved happy life, and this naturally reflects to his music.
My favorite song of the album is the fourth track, GEMINI, mostly because of its diversity. It has old-school progressive rock elements as well as technical and some old school Dream Theater vibes. When I listened to Gemini for the first time, it immediately reminded me of some parts from my favorite Dream Theater songs such as Change of Seasons, Voices, and Erotomania. Also, John has his special part where he melts every single listener with his beautiful melodic solo as he usually does. He is one of the greatest guitarists in history, but his melodic and emotional side is what makes him “the best.” Also, the idea of adding some Spanish Guitar/Flamenco elements made everything richer. Gemini’s structure was the clearest in my mind after listening to the whole album a few times on repeat. I loved the collectiveness of instruments a lot. It is very dynamic but emotional at the same time, a bit more minor compared to other songs, more powerful sounding sections (intro and outro), and of course, the beauty of John’s soul where he played that beautiful solo (1:47).
Another thing that caught my attention throughout the album was, of course, the harmony of John and Mike. They took me back to my childhood, brought back so many memories from those beautiful days. Many sections reminded me of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Metropolis, Pt.2: Scenes from a Memory albums. Sometimes, it was the overall vibe/feeling, sometimes the riffage, pattern, energy, and song’s traffic. That beautiful nostalgia is on every second of this album, which immediately grows a stronger connection in you.