Singer James LaBrie of progressive metal giants DREAM THEATER has spent the past few weeks in the studio with Canadian producer/engineer Richard Chycki laying down vocals on the band's much-anticipated new album, tentatively due this fall via Roadrunner Records. Chycki writes on his blog, "I gotta tell ya, new DREAM THEATER drummer Mike Mangini (ex-EXTREME, STEVE VAI, ANNIHILATOR) is a monster player on the album. I worked with him on LaBrie's solo album 'Elements Of Persuasion' in 2005 and he was frightening (in a good way!) in the studio back then."In a recent interview with Music Radar, DREAM THEATER guitarist John Petrucci and keyboardist Jordan Rudess were asked if Mangini contributed to the songwriting on the band's forthcoming CD. "Mike didn't write with us," Rudess replied. "Basically, we got in the studio and did our thing. We wrote songs and sent them to him. He came in and just nailed his parts. He's incredible. I'm finishing my keyboard parts right now, and I'll go to the computer to see how things are lining up, and I'm just speechless. The guy doesn't mess up!" [laughs] "We had the demos, had them fully written out, and he learned them and added his own stuff," Petrucci stated. "But every time he would do something, if I said, 'Hey, can you do that again?' he'd do it, and it would be perfect. The guy is he's out of his mind! [laughs] People are not going to believe how great he is." "But what's really special about him is, he's not just a technician," Rudess added. "Yes, he plays his parts perfectly, but he comes at everything as a total musician. Everything he does has real soul and a depth of feeling." When asked how not having Mike Portnoy in the recording and writing process changed the band dynamic, Petrucci replied, "It was a lot quieter. [laughs] Mike Mangini's playing style is different. He plays very hard, but he's got a very deep groove. He almost plays behind the beat just a little bit even through he's right on the money. He's extremely locked in, but if he does do something technical, he's still right there."