Re: Mike Portnoy
If I might be able to interject a different point of view, one from the other half of a rhythm section.
There seems to be a lot of different points of view regarding his technique, technical prowess, and comparison to other drummers. I find this all to be fairly moot. Mike has never laid claim to being the best drummer, the fastest, the cleanest or the most complex. Those monikers were bestowed upon him by fans and fellow musicians. However everyone is a critic, everyone has opinions, and thats why people are here bagging on Mike on a forum as opposed to say.... touring Europe, Japan, putting on clinics, recording instructional DVD's, making tribute albums, collecting endorsement checks from Tama, Promark, Remo, and Sabian.
I'm not going to sit here and pretend I know the first thing about drumming technique but from a bassists perspective, he is the perfect compliment to a great progressive metal band. His playing is tasteful, it's diverse, fits the music to a T, and most of all TIGHT. His comprehension of time signatures is mind boggling. If you don't believe me, go listen to Take The Time off of Images & Words. There are over 22 time signature changes during the song, but you never feel it. Many bands who try to write like that fail miserably, the song sounds chunky and in shambles.
I love Dream Theater, but I'll be the first to say that Mike is no Neil Peart, Vinnie Colaiuta, or Stuart Copeland.
To close, I want to say I find it amusing that people bring up the "ripoff" topic in a thread devoted to a dummer. I will say that one of my largest issues with the band is they let their influences show too much when they write an album. Tool's 46&2 on Home, one that people may not catch is Solsbery Hill by Peter Gabrial on Solitary Shell off of Five Degree of Inner Turbulance.