While the metal community is wrapping its head around the news from last night that Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy is leaving Dream Theater to pursue, well, anything but Dream Theater, the band have released a statement saying that they’re carrying on without him, and will begin recording the follow-up to Black Clouds and Silver Linings in January of next year. The statement is as follows:

“To all of our loyal fans and friends: It is with profound sadness — regret — we announce that Mike Portnoy, our lifelong drummer and friend, has decided to leave Dream Theater. Mike’s stature in the band has meant the world to all of us professionally, musically, and personally over the years. There is no dispute: Mike has been a major force within this band.

While it is true that Mike is choosing to pursue other ventures and challenges, we can assure you that Dream Theater will continue to move forward with the same intensity — and in the same musical tradition — that you have all helped make so successful, and which is truly gratifying to us. Fans and friends: File this episode under Black Clouds and Silver Linings. As planned, we begin recording our newest album in January 2011, and we’ll follow that with a full-on world tour. “The Spirit Carries On.”

All of us in Dream Theater wholeheartedly wish Mike the best on his musical journey. We have had a long and meaningful career together. It is our true hope that he finds all he is looking for, and that he achieves the happiness he deserves. He will be missed.”

There’s really no reason for them not to continue on. They’ve been a band for well over 20 years, and although Mike Portnoy is the most identifiable member of the band, the other four are extremely talented and have legions of fans. Of course the next drummer they get is really going to have to bring it and will live in the shadow of Portnoy for some time, the band will be able to persevere in much the same way they did when they went through several vocalists at the beginning of their career. Although Portnoy did curate the Progressive Nation tour and serve as the spokesperson for the band, he’s only one piece of metal’s most popular prog band.