download-poster-new@ Castle Donington, Main Stage, June 14 2009

Perhaps the heaviest, and certainly the most cerebral, of all the bands to play Download’s main stage on Sunday, Dream Theater continue to divide opinion with their diverse array of progressive metal bordering on thrash and classic rock verging on synth-fuelled pop.

But right from the opening chords of Pull Me Under, from the classic Images & Words, the audience would be united in awe. If Dream Theater’s intricate and overblown arrangements don’t always appeal then one thing is for certain, their professionalism never wanes.

A band which specialises in the epic was always going to face a number of tough decisions, working within the tight time constraints of a limited Download showcase. And the US stars could have been forgiven for treating the large contingent of Dream Theater die-hards to a handful of full-length classics, indulging both themselves and the devoted masses.

But Dream Theater are progressive both in the music they produce and their outlook. For the briliant John Petrucci and his pals this set was an opportunity to air at least one future classic in the shape of A Rite Of Passage, culled from this month’s new release Black Clouds & Silver Linings, and it proved to be the standout tune in a sensational set.

To compare Dream Theater’s deep and meaningful compositions with Whitesnake’s double entendre-fest or Def Leppard’s cheese rock would be like comparing black and white.

But Download has long since proved it caters for everyone and without one of metal’s most underrated acts bringing a new energy to the main stage this would have been a good, rather than a great, day.