Article - Portnoy v/s Mangini: who's gonna win the battle
By: Cynthia Hajal
Dream Theater and Mike Portnoy: who had thought this would end one day? It all started in 1985, when John Petrucci (lead guitarist), John Myung (bassist) and Mike Portnoy (drummer) all met at Berklee College of Music in Massachussets. All three started a band named Majesty and were joined a few years later by James Labrie (vocalist) and Derek Sherinian (ex-keyboard player). Later on, the first trio left college to focus fully on the band and never graduated. Derek Sherinian was replaced by Jordan Rudess, leading to a huge success and more than ten albums in the market.
In 2010, Mike Portnoy left the band to go on a tour with the famous band Avenged Sevenfold whose drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan passed a few months ago. This “Dramatic Turn of Events” led to some changes in the band. Auditions for new drummers began…
Then, what happened to the famous band Dream Theater? How did these changes affect the band’s reputation? Did it meet their fans expectations?
In early 2011, Dream Theater made public their auditions for a new drummer, through a documentary named after their famous song “The Spirit Carries On”. Mike Mangini, the first drummer auditioned, who played for James Labrie, Steve Vai, Extreme and Annihilator, clearly seemed to fit the band’s expectations.
The first part of the audition, which involved playing three Dream Theater songs: “A Nightmare to Remember”, “The Spirit Carries On” and “The Dance of Eternity”, went well for Mangini. The band liked his style and he interacted well with them. In the second part, the band along with Mike Mangini jammed for roughly ten minutes. Mangini’s style was rather smooth and flowing. In the last part, the drummers auditioned had to be creative and use their imagination to compose beats for a “typical Dream Theater song” involving odd meters and changes in the rhythm and techniques. Mangini’s technique was appropriate and he was able to play on the whole song without stopping.
Mike Mangini seemed to fulfill all their requirements. Out of the seven drummers auditioned, he was the closest to meeting Dream Theater’s expectations. However, his style is different from Portnoy’s style. It gave Dream Theater’s new album a different touch and somewhat did not meet the expectations of some of Dream Theater’s fans. Having discussed the matter with some Lebanese drummers, I heard a lot of them complaining about Mangini’s style, saying that it is not really based on rhythm and techniques.
One main difference we could notice in Portnoy and Mangini’s playing is related to their intensity of playing. While Mangini appears to play with strength, Portnoy seems more focused on techniques and odd beats. However, this doesn’t mean that Mangini doesn’t have his own value and power.
Mangini seems to relate with Dream Theater’s members well, the band harmony is reestablished, after few months without any drummer. Jordan Rudess expresses his thoughts about Mangini’s playing by saying that: “The thing that stands about Mike Mangini is that he [plays] with such intensity and direction and power, and that was very engaging.” Mangini seemed to have grabbed the band’s attention and aroused their interest to play and compose with him.
Even though Mike Mangini seems to be the right drummer for Dream Theater, their new album “A Dramatic Turn of Events” made in collaboration with him raised various critics.
Now let’s raise the debate: what do YOU think about Mangini’s playing? Does it fit Dream Theater’s style? How did you react when you heard about Portnoy leaving the band after so many years together? Did Mangini meet your expectations?
Leave a comment to give your opinion and get ready for a heated debate!