Liquid Tension Experiment - 1
Magna Carta
Progressive Metal
13 songs (72:04)
Release year: 1998
Liquid Tension Experiment, Magna Carta
Reviewed by Jason
Archive review

Shall we do some mathematics?

Please show your work for the following question.

Question #1.

(John Petrucci + Jordan Rudess + Mike Portnoy + Tony Levin) + (1 week) = ?

I would have accepted the following answers: Liquid Tension Experiment, mind-blowing musicians, or a hell of a Prog album.

Being one of my first and perhaps favorite Progessive Metal albums, it has always been a thorn in my side knowing that we don’t have a review for this one. Excuse my rather simplistic use of words, but this album is just way too friggin’ awesome to pass up reviewing. I mean how often do you see some of the most talented musicians in the whole music industry team up for a side project, write, and records an album in a week? Not often, but it would sound like a great idea for the Fox network’s newest reality show: “On the next episode of American Prog Album… Will the album be finished in time!? And will Mike Portnoy profess his everlasting love for John Petrucci?? Tune in next time!!”. No, that won’t happen.

Dream Theater love affairs and jokes aside, this is one heck of an album that definitely isn’t for the musically impatient, or for anyone who doesn’t enjoy anything purely instrumental (that’s right, no vocals). Listeners are even warned on the back of the album with an asterisk that reads: “*Caution: Three Minute Warning is not for the musically faint-hearted, impatient, or critics of extreme self-indulgence. If you Fall into any of the above categories, please hit the stop button on your CD player after track #8.” While the warning may be right about the gargantuan track clocking in at 28:31 broken into 5 parts, the same should be said about the whole album. The first think I said when I heard a few of LTE’s MP3’s a few years back was “Boring!!”; but, slowly but surely the album that I once considered a bore-fest has managed to manifest itself as one of my favorite albums (same goes for Liquid Tension Experiment 2).

First things first, if you play an instrument and get discouraged easily, lock it up before listening to this album. You may feel compelled to use it as target practice shortly after hearing the first track Paradigm Shift. Every band member shreds up their instrument on this track with such precision and technicality that you are left in awe until it begins slowing down with a deep, soulful, and ambient interlude that features a psychedelic bass line grace of Tony Levin; using either his normal bass guitar or NS electric upright bass (can’t tell which one). Paradigm Shift, like all the other tracks exceeding 4 minutes, explores such a wide variety of styles, sounds, and speeds that half way through each tune you’ll be wondering if you’re still listening to the same song. If you aren’t interested by what is playing at the moment chances are 2 minutes later the song will have smoothly morphed into something a little more interesting.

Though I can’t really say they are out of place, songs like The Stretch and Chris and Kevin’s Excellent Adventure are simply bizarre. They feature some interesting, yet cracked-out, rhythms that will likely leave you confused.

The indisputable highlight of the album is the 28 minute Three Minute Warning which is entirely improvised. Don’t believe me? I didn’t either at first, but after reading the booklet I had to bite my tongue. Mike Portnoy describes the tune as “a half hour jam of 100% completely improvised insanity”, and by golly he is right. If you haven’t used your instrument as target practice by the time this tune rolls around, then bust out the 12 gauge. I’m not even going to begin to describe the mechanics of this song, because its everything. Its Metal, Rock, elevator music, Progressive, Jazz… you name it, and chances are the song has it. The solos, bass lines, keyboards, and drum passes are simply stellar, and truly make you question how these guys can be so talented and so frightfully synchronized at the same time.

If Progressive Metal is your thing, you’ll definitely be happy with this album. The astonishing musicianship and rich sound are just too pleasing to the ear to pass up, thus buying this album is definitely money well-spent.

Killing Songs :
Paradigm Shift, Universal Mind, Three Minute Warning (All 5 Tracks!!)
Jason quoted 89 /100
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