13 Incredible Bands Similar To Dream Theater

Written by Dan Farrant

Dream Theater, a pioneering force in the progressive rock/metal genre since 1985, is renowned for its complex compositions, technical mastery, and emotional storytelling.

Their distinctive sound has not only established them as leaders in the music industry but also inspired a generation of musicians to explore this multifaceted genre. This influence reverberates through the music of many bands who have absorbed their stylistic elements.

In the following article, we’ll take you on a journey through 13 incredible bands like Dream Theater. Let’s get started.

Dream Theater by Luca Dell’Orto (CC BY-SA 4.0)

1. Rush

Established in Canada in 1968, Rush was undoubtedly one of the greatest prog rock bands in music history whose main members were Alex Lifeson (guitar), Geddy Lee (lead vocals, bass, keyboard), and Neil Peart (drums, lyrics).

In their 50-year-long career, Rush has been recognized with numerous awards and nominations, including induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1994 and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2013.

During this time, they released 19 studio albums, with 10 exceeding a million copies sold in the US. Some of their most popular songs include “Tom Sawyer,” “Limelight,” and “Closer to the Heart.”

Sadly, Rush ceased touring at the end of 2015. Lifeson announced in January 2018 that the band would not continue. Two years after, Peart passed away from cancer.

2. Tool

Los Angeles-based progressive metal and rock band Tool has been around since 1990. Loved by countless music fans worldwide, the group is known for its experimental approach to music and unique blend of various genres.

Several fans have noted similarities between Tool and Dream Theater due to their progressive nature and intricate musical compositions. Additionally, both bands are capable of delivering powerful performances and incorporating philosophical themes into their songs.

Since their debut in 1993, Tool has released several critically acclaimed albums, including the chart-topping last three albums released: Lateralus in 2001, 10,000 Days in 2006, and Fear Inoculum in 2019.

Tool’s contributions to music have not gone unnoticed. They’ve received multiple Grammy Awards, and their albums have achieved both commercial and critical success.

3. Opeth

Next up, Opeth, a Swedish progressive metal band, has captivated music lovers worldwide since its formation in 1990. The band has garnered attention for their blend of heavy metal and melodic rock and earned comparisons to influential bands like Dream Theater.

With lead vocalist and songwriter Mikael Åkerfeldt serving as the mastermind behind the band’s distinct sound, Opeth has been making stunning music for decades. Albums like Ghost Reveries, Watershed, and Pale Communion have become fan favorites.

Their creativity and musical prowess have earned them a strong international following and respect within the music community. As of 2023, Opeth continues to tour and create music, leaving an indelible mark on the progressive metal scene.

4. Porcupine Tree

Also in line with Dream Theater’s musical style is the English prog metal/rock band Porcupine Tree. Formed in 1987, the band’s sound is heavily influenced by psychedelic and experimental rock and is widely acclaimed by critics and fans worldwide.

Porcupine Tree’s albums are known for their coherence, and many of the songs are related to each other thematically. One of the group’s most notable projects is Fear of a Blank Planet, which received immense praise upon its release in 2007.

The band has been on hiatus since 2010, with each member pursuing separate musical projects. However, they reunited in 2021 and released their first record since 2009, Closure/Continuation, in 2022, a #2 hit in the UK Albums chart.

5. King Crimson

One cannot mention prog rock without mentioning the king—King Crimson, that is. This legendary band was formed in London, England, in 1968. They’ve incorporated various styles into their music over the years, including jazz, classical, and experimental music.

The group’s discography consists of various critically acclaimed albums. Their debut release, In the Court of the Crimson King, is often considered one of the first and most influential progressive rock albums. Other

Despite periods of inactivity and numerous lineup changes, King Crimson has remained a hugely influential force in the world of progressive rock, like in bands like Dream Theater, who has even covered some of their music and can be found in the special edition of Black Clouds & Silver Linings.

6. Symphony X

Founded in New Jersey in 1994, Symphony X is a progressive metal band that consistently draws comparisons to Dream Theater. With their complex compositions, powerful vocals, and skilled musicianship, it’s easy to see why fans of both bands find common ground.

Throughout their career, Symphony X has remained dedicated to pushing boundaries and exploring new territory within their music. Their diverse catalog ranges from hard-hitting tracks with intricate time signatures to sweeping ballads accompanied by lush orchestral arrangements.

Fans who appreciate the richness of Dream Theater’s sound are sure to enjoy the impressive discography of Symphony X! Check out stellar projects like The Odyssey and Paradise Lost to see what the hype is all about.

7. Queensrÿche

A progenitor of progressive metal like Dream Theater is Queensrÿche. The band, formed in 1982 in Bellevue, Washington, emphasizes technical proficiency, complex song structures, and conceptual albums.

Just like Dream Theater, Queensrÿche shares a similar passion for storytelling through their music. Both bands are known for their concept albums, intricate musical arrangements, and thought-provoking lyrics.

One of Queensrÿche’s most notable projects is Operation: Mindcrime. Released in 1988, this concept album tells the story of a young political activist who becomes disillusioned with society and eventually joins a corrupt revolutionary group.

Following the profound success of this release, the band has continued to release several albums, including Empire and Promised Land. Today, they are adored by millions for their skilled musicianship and unique sound.

8. Fates Warning

Another band that has helped shape the progressive metal genre is Fates Warning. Founded in Connecticut in 1982, they quickly became one of the most influential bands within the metal scene, along with Dream Theater and Queensrÿche.   

Lucky for fans old and new, this band has an extensive and stunning discography that spans over three decades. One of their most critically acclaimed albums is Awaken the Guardian, released in 1986, which showcases their multifaceted approach to music and songwriting.

If you’re searching for groups similar to Dream Theater, Fates Warning should definitely be on your list. Both bands are renowned worldwide for their technical prowess and innovative song structures (and understandably so).

9. Haken

A much younger progressive metal band compared to Dream Theater, we have Haken, founded in 2007 by Richard Henshall, Matthew Marshall, and Ross Jennings.

The band’s debut album, Aquarius, was released in 2010 and was quickly followed by Visions. Both albums were well-received by fans and critics alike, establishing Haken as a notable name in the progressive metal scene.

Their subsequent albums, including The Mountain (2013), Affinity (2016), and their latest release, Virus (2020), have further cemented their reputation for innovative and ambitious music.

Interestingly, Haken has toured with Dream Theater’s drummer, Mike Portnoy. In 2017, along with guitarist Eric Gillette (of Neal Morse Band), they performed Dream Theater’s Twelve-step Suite album.

10. Spock’s Beard

Recognized as one of the top acts in the progressive rock revival movement of the 1990s, Spock’s Beard was initially established by brothers Neal Morse (lead vocals, keyboards, guitar) and Alan Morse (guitars, backing vocals), who teamed up with Nick D’Virgilio on drums.

Spock’s Beard debuted in In 1995 with The Light, which didn’t chart, but was successful nonetheless, laying the foundation for subsequent releases. They continued releasing well-received albums and hit it big with The Oblivion Particle in 2015. This album landed in the top 15 of the US Heatseekers chart.

Spock’s Beard, much like Dream Theater, makes creating complex, skillful music seem like a walk in the park. They’ve got a magical touch that mixes old-school progressive rock with modern vibes, and it’s been a game-changer in the prog-rock world.

11. Liquid Tension Experiment

Next up is Liquid Tension Experiment, a highly-regarded instrumental progressive metal supergroup that deserves a spot on your playlist. It was established in New York in 1997 by Mike Portnoy, who served as Dream Theater’s drummer at the time. 

Over the course of their career, Liquid Tension Experiment has released various remarkable records that have garnered both critical acclaim and commercial success. Two of their most famous projects to date are Liquid Tension Experiment and Liquid Tension Experiment 2.

Given its close ties with Dream Theater both in terms of personnel and music styles, it comes as no surprise that Liquid Tension Experiment is considered one of the top bands similar to the iconic progressive rock group. 

12. Circus Maximus 

Formed in 2000, Circus Maximus is a Norwegian progressive metal band worthy of your time and attention. They quickly gained recognition for their unique blend of symphonic and power metal, with a heavy emphasis on synthesizers.

They released their debut album, The 1st Chapter, in 2005, instantly garnering critical acclaim and establishing a reputation as a promising progressive metal act. Since then, they’ve released various outstanding albums, successfully showcasing their growth as musicians and creating rich sonic tapestries.

With its memorable melodies and thought-provoking lyrics, Circus Maximus has become a respected name in the progressive metal genre. They have gained a loyal fan base worldwide and continue to push the boundaries of their music, creating captivating and engaging experiences for listeners.

13. Transatlantic

Another band that shares similar musical characteristics with Dream Theater is Transatlantic. Established in 1999, this multinational progressive rock supergroup comprises four seasoned musicians: Neal Morse (ex-Spock’s Beard), Mike Portnoy (ex-Dream Theater), Roine Stolt (The Flower Kings), and Pete Trewavas (Marillion).

Transatlantic has released numerous albums over the years, with some of their most notable projects being Kaleidoscope and their 2021 album The Absolute Universe. Characterized by lush melodies, breathtaking vocal harmonies, and layered instrumentals, their sound effortlessly takes listeners on a musical journey.

Similar to Dream Theater, this group strongly prioritizes precision and technicality. So if you’re looking for some exciting new progressive rock music, Transatlantic has got you covered!

Summing Up Our List Of Bands Like Dream Theater

We’ve just talked about bands echoing Dream Theater’s sound. From the mad skills of Rush to the cool mix of sounds from Transatlantic, we’ve checked out a bunch of different styles in the world of progressive rock and metal music.

We really hope this article has given you some new tunes to add to your playlist. Each band we’ve discussed brings something different to the table, but they all share a kind of sound that fans of Dream Theater will enjoy.

There’s a whole lot of music out there, and we might have missed some other bands that should be on this list. Let us know who, and we’ll add them here. Until next time, enjoy your music!

Photo of author

Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. He plays the guitar, piano, bass guitar and double bass and loves teaching music theory.