Very promissing to hear. I thought they had lost their prog edge recently. Most of their songs were either METAL or SOFT ROCK. Ultimately, Dream Theater started as a band that walked the line between Hard Rock and Metal, stylistically: driving, hard, but not really aggressive. Sorta like Iron Maiden, or a heavier Rush. More recently, they've taken on a split personality, neither of which I typically appreciate. Either their material is outlandishly aggressive, or yawningly slow and cheesy. I think they're best when their combining drama with drive, instead of trying to separate the two.
I've just been listening to LTE1 for the last few days, and missing the hell out of the turn of the century DT. In some ways, those were their finest days. As much as I LOVE Images & Words, I'd say that the material from Awake through 6 Degrees is the stuff that I was hoping would become the anchor for their stylistic development. Unfortunately, I think Train of Thought became that, a mediocre nu-metal foray that they've been recreating ever since. But LTE1 (and LTE2 as well), were just amazing works of brilliance, especially between Petrucci and Rudess. Universal Mind, Kindred Spirits, Biaxident... so much brilliance, so much drive, so much FUN! I think that's what they've been missing ever since 6 Degrees, is the shimmering brilliance and FUN: Blind Faith, Hell's Kitchen, Lines in the Sand, Dance of Eternity, 6 O'Clock, Solitary Shell. There's just something really magical about the material from those albums, something playfull, interesting, and sophisticated. Unfortunately, their playfull side died and became idiotically goofy, their sophisticated side became trite, and their interesting side became bland and repeatitive.
Every DT album since, I TRIED to look for a glimmer of the charm that they once had. Black Clouds was the first in a while that had glimpses of that playfullness, but it was still a far cry. At least it wasn't the disaster Systematic Chaos was.
But, I recommend going back and listening to LTE. There's something magical about those albums. Maybe it was because it was one of the first prog albums I got (along with Images & Words), but I think it more had to do with the unbriddled fun that the guys were having with eachother. I miss that. Maybe this new album, having a change in social dynamic, will help to revisit some of that spark.
I'm causiously hopefull... something I really couldn't say since Train of Thought.