On September 8th, 2010, Mike Portnoy announced he was leaving Dream Theater. Talk about shock of shocks. After all, Mike was one of the original, founding members of the band. Likewise, he has seemed to be taking a more and more active role in the band (for better or worse), writing more lyrics, contributing vocals, and just generally being the public face of the band. (To his credit, he has been, for many years, very interactive with fans on his own website).
But the reasons behind his departure are, in my mind, the most uncomfortable part of the entire drama. His press release is very clear in stating that he did not want to leave the band, rather just wanted things with Dream Theater to slow down a bit. It would seem he just wanted a break. However, the rest of the band apparently was not content with this idea, and wanted to continue on, with or without him.
It looks like it will be without him.
This really is sad news. While my interest in Dream Theater's music has waned over the past few releases, there is no doubt that albums such as Images and Words and Awake (and to a lesser degree Scenes From a Memory) are seminal, essential progressive metal releases. They really are the band that introduced me to "progressive metal". And throughout it all, Portnoy's very technical, impressive (at times too impressive) drum work has been the back bone of the band.
After so many years, it just seems sort of cheap of them to ignore his wishes to take a break. If that take is the truth, it is pretty low class. I wish Mike the best in his endeavors (did anyone else realize he was now the official drummer for Avenged Sevenfold?). As for Dream Theater, I think I will pass on their next album (again). Unless Gavin Harrison or Mark Zonder is announced as the replacement. Then I won't have a choice but to listen, as I will listen to whatever either of those two do.