On the Backs of Angels

"On the Backs of Angels" is a song by American progressive metal/rock band Dream Theater, featured on their 11th studio album A Dramatic Turn of Events. The song was written by the band's guitarist and producer John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and keyboardist Jordan Rudess.

"On The Backs of Angels"
"On The Backs of Angels" Single by Dream Theater.jpg
Single by Dream Theater
from the album A Dramatic Turn of Events
ReleasedJune 29, 2011
FormatDigital, CD
GenreProgressive metal[1]
Songwriter(s)Lyrics - John Petrucci
Music - Petrucci, John Myung, Jordan Rudess
Producer(s)John Petrucci
Dream Theater singles chronology
"Raw Dog"
"On The Backs of Angels"
"Build Me up, Break Me Down"

"On the Backs of Angels" was released as A Dramatic Turn of Events' lead single via YouTube on June 29, 2011.[2] A music video for the song was released on September 14, 2011.[3] The song was nominated for Best Hard Rock/Metal Performance at the 2012 Grammy Awards, eventually losing to "White Limo" by Foo Fighters.[4][5]

In composing "On the Backs of Angels", on the advice from one of their fans and co-writers, Dream Theater tried to illustrate their signature sound.[6] From the start, the band envisioned the song as an album opener that, according to Petrucci, would make their fans "feel at home". Clocking in at 8:43 long and with numerous time signature changes, the song is mostly played in 4/4 and 3/4 time. Its introduction features a moody and foreboding arpeggiated guitar pattern that was written by Petrucci and inspired by the music of said fan favorite, Pink Floyd.[7] At 5:51, the song breaks down into a piano passage that was improvised by Rudess.

Music videoEdit

A music video was released for the song. It features shots of the band playing the song live, along with gears turning, the White House, various American cities, temples, and money. The video ends with the sun rising.

Rock Band 3Edit

It was made available to download on November 29, 2011, for play in Rock Band 3 'Basic' and 'Pro' mode which utilizes real guitar/bass guitar, and MIDI-compatible electronic drum kits/keyboards in addition to vocals. It is one of the few songs available through the main store that is rated 'Impossible' (the highest difficulty) on 8 out of 10 instruments, and is the hardest song available for Keys and Pro Keys.


  1. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muBfZoIsQoA
  2. ^ YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oasnbzEMV08&ob=av3e. Published 06/28/11. Retrieved 07/29/11.
  3. ^ Warner, Brett. Watch This: “On The Backs Of Angels” By Dream Theater. Oology. http://www.ology.com/music/watch-“-backs-angels”-dream-theater[permanent dead link]. Published & Retrieved 09/14/11.
  4. ^ "DREAM THEATER, MEGADETH, MASTODON Among GRAMMY AWARDS Nominees". Blabbermouth.net. November 30, 2011. Archived from the original on December 3, 2011. Retrieved December 1, 2011.
  5. ^ "54th Grammy Awards Winners". indiatoday.in. February 13, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2012.
  6. ^ DREAM THEATER - A Dramatic Turn Of Events Track by Track Interview. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tuw-25y6GC4. Published 08/16/11. Retrieved 10/19/11.
  7. ^ Bosso, Joe. Dream Theater's A Dramatic Turn Of Events: full album preview. Music Radar. http://www.musicradar.com/news/guitars/dream-theaters-a-dramatic-turn-of-events-full-album-preview-488940/2. Published 08/17/11. Retrieved 10/19/11.

External linksEdit