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Dream Theater - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.13 | 1991 ratings

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Steve Hegede
Prog Reviewer
5 stars The first major prog-related release for 2002 is DREAM THEATER's "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence". By now, the immediate question that comes to mind after a new DT album release, is whether they managed to surpass their previous work. Aside from "Falling into Infinity", a failed attempt at a commercial album, this well-loved 5-piece band has consistantly gone up in quality with each new set of songs. But after 1999's masterpiece, "Scene from a Memory", most fans realized that the boys would have a hard time outdoing themselves with the follow-up album. So, has DREAM THEATER managed to beat "Scenes from a Memory"?

Well, first, let me give you some info on the new album. "Six Degress of Inner Turbulence" is a 2-CD, 6 song, album. CD 1 consists of 5 songs, while CD 2 consists of one, 40-minute, track (made-up of 8 sections). CD 1 starts off with a bang with the METALLICA (And Justice for All-era) drenched monster, "The Glass Prison". This 14-minute track ranks as one of the band's best compositions. Besides the obvious METALLICA influence, which begins to get you wondering why the band decided to copy instead of inventing, the listener is assaulted by gigantic metal grooves, and intense playing by Petrucci and Rudess. After a great start, the question about whether DT managed to surpass "Scenes..." is quickly answered. The next 3 tracks, frankly, have their moments, but fail to really shine. "Blind Faith" starts off with a rather bland vocal melody, and only begins to gain momentum 5-minutes later. "Misunderstood", a catcy yet so-so track, has a noticeable modern-metal touch of "cool", while offering DT's brand of symphonic grandeur. "The Great Debate" features some great instrumental work, but the realistic lyrics about stem-cell research tends to turn me off alot (I like listening to DT to get away from everyday stories on the news). Overall, tracks 2-4 leave you feeling underwhelmed. The final track on CD 1 entitled "Disappear", on the other hand, is among DT's finest work.

The band claims that they were trying to write a "ballad", yet went for a more experimental approach. What we hear is a mixture of RADIOHEAD, Ennio Morricone's prettiest, yet minimalist, melodies, added with drama that can rival the melodic approach of some of the modern Italian prog bands. My only complaint with this track is that at 7-minutes, it's too short! Overall, CD 1 features the highest of highs, plenty of bland moments, and countless sections that will remind you of METALLICA, MEGADETH, TOOL, and RADIOHEAD instead of DREAM THEATER. I think with music editing software, most listeners could chop off several minutes from tracks 2-4 and come up with a kick-ass CDR of CD 1. CD 2, on the other hand, is an absolute shocker! The first thing that came to mind as "Overture" started playing, was whether the band got a hold of a few CAST albums (including Al Vidales's classical-sounding work). According to Portnoy he's been listening to alot of MARILLION.

Yet the modern style of prog during some of the first few sections of the 40-minute epic, to my ears, sounds closer to some of CAST's newest albums. As "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" unfolds, many sections go on to sound like mini-tributes to early GENESIS, Rick WAKEMAN of YES, SLAYER, and a variety of other classic prog/rock bands (Bruce Hornsby included!). The melodies throughout are excellent, but listeners can still expect a few cheesy sections (mostly from the lyrics, and James's macho-less moments) which are part of every DREAM THEATER album. Overall, as good as the music is on CD 2, you're mostly left wondering why DREAM THEATER decided to sound like other bands rather than continue to push their unique sound forward. I'm sure after "Scenes from a Memory" the band wanted to have fun this time around. But most listeners will also begin to wonder if DREAM THEATER reached the limits of their sound.

The next album will probably feature less excess, and hopefully a return to a more original style. As fun as it is to hear DREAM THEATER sound like TOOL, I would rather hear DREAM THEATER sound like themselves. Overall, with 90-minutes of new music, most fans will find plenty to enjoy here. Prog fans will enjoy CD 2, while metal/prog metal fans will enjoy CD 1.

Steve Hegede | 5/5 |


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