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Dream Theater - Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory CD (album) cover

METROPOLIS PART 2: SCENES FROM A MEMORY

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

4.29 | 2130 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Nhorf
4 stars Dream Theater was never a band that I liked that much. I only had When Dream and Day Unite and some of the most well known songs out of their other records, but they just didn't sound appealing to me. However, some time ago I discovered the progressive rock/metal realms, so I thought to myself that I should check the other Dream Theater records out. I mean, Dream Theater was one of the first bands to play true progressive metal (along with Fates Warning and Watchtower) and, nowadays, they are considered the epitome of the whole genre, as few bands have a so wide and big fanbase as DT. Anyways, two or three months ago, my girlfriend offered me the Metropolis 2000 DVD (which contains this whole album played live) and I instantly became a huge fan of the band. Obviously, the first step I made, after receiving the DVD, was buy the record, in order to really appreciate the MUSIC on it.

It's funny to see the mixed reactions that all the Dream Theater records cause on the fans. There are people out other that say that Train of Thought is the worst album of the band, but you can easily find lots of other people who say that it is their best. Of course that, with bands with large catalogs, it is easy to find different opinions between the fans, but, hey, with DT this is taken to the extreme. As we're talking about this record, you can search for it on ProgArchives and see the large amount of reviewers there saying that Metropolis is a masterpiece and songs like Beyond this Life are amazing; see the reviews here, on Encyclopedia Metallum, and you'll find the majority of the reviewers saying that the album is just GOOD and that songs like Beyond this Life are killed by the long solo sections.

Indeed, the solo sections are considered to be the biggest problem of the record. Dream Theater are constantly accused to write songs just to show their technical playing, etc, etc. However, I fully understand why the band insisted so much on the solos here: mainly thanks to two different things.

First: Jordan Rudess. The sucessor of Derek is, indeed, an authentic dream of a musician, able to play almost everything he wants to. And so, imagine: you get into a progressive metal band, to fill in as a keyboardist and you know that the former keyboardists of the band were authentic virtuosos. What do you do? You write long solos, in order to show everyone how good you are and why you deserve to be with the band. Simple, isn't it? And who am I to criticize a musician that just wants to prove his talent?

Second: Falling Into Infinity. Yeah, the infamous lost record of the band, constantly called the worst one the band ever wrote, "too pop-ish and soft", they say. Well, I haven't listened to that record yet, but, after it, Dream Theater asked their label to let them do whatever they want (as the sound of the album is often related to the label's wishes to turn the band into pop music). So, what do you make when you are constantly accused to be a sell-out by your fanbase? You show them that you are loyal to your roots. What are the roots of Dream Theater? Progressive music, music played by talented, gifted musicians. So you compose lengthy solo sections, to show everyone how prog you are. Understandable, no?

And, wow, Metropolis is a concept album, another thing very common within the progressive circles. It deals with reincarnation and death, basically a guy begins to dream about a woman and visits a hypnotherapist. The hypnotherapist takes him to the past and he realizes that he IS the woman. Or, at least, he WAS the woman in one of his past lives. Anyways, I won't spoil the storyline further, so, if you don't understand the concept, it's better if you search on Wikipedia about it (the article about this record there is pretty good) or, if you can, get the before-mentioned DVD, which explains the concept very well too. So, lyrically, the songs don't stand very well individually, it's always better to listen to the album as a whole.

Now, let's get to the songs. As I've already said, technical proficiency is what you can expect from the band: John Petrucci is everywhere, even playing some thrashy riffs and leads here and there, Mike Portnoy is the drum monster we all know (and love) and Myung is, during the most part of the record, inaudible (I hate when TALENTED bassists are treated this way). LaBrie no longer sounds like the maniac that made Awake what it is (after all he got his vocal chords broken, for God's sake!), but, in the end, he delivers a pretty solid performance. Sometimes, he sounds like a girl, in order to represent Victoria (the woman that appears in the dreams of the protagonist); that's not the greatest thing in the world, using your vocalist to emulate some woman singing, but it works decently well, after all.

About the songwriting - many songs contain, like I've already said, intricate solo sections, but there is a lot of variety. One instrumental, some epics, some headbangable songs, ballads... very diverse, indeed. Every song adds something to the storyline, which, despite not being the most interesting and cleverest thing ever done on the face of Earth, is pretty consistent and tasteful. However, after I discovered the whole story, I stopped listening to the record: the durability is not the strong point of this piece, in my opinion.

The album is divided in two acts (being the second act a bit more solid than the first, in my opinion) and the acts are divided into scenes (from a memory). So, Metropolis kicks off with a small intro with the hypnotherapist calming Nicholas, the protagonist, down and, err, taking him back to the past. The lyrics of the tune are very, very good, they fit the music well and kind of grab the listener, powerfully, inside the atmosphere of the album.

"Close your eyes and begin to relax. Take a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Concentrate on your breathing. With each breath you become more relaxed. Imagine a brilliant white light above you, focusing on this light as it flows through your body. Allow yourself to drift off as you fall deeper and deeper into a more relaxed state of mind. Now as I count back from ten to one, you will feel more peaceful, and calm. Ten. Nine. Eight. Seven. Six. You will enter a safe place where nothing can harm you. Five. Four. Three. Two. If at any time you need to come back, all you must do is open your eyes. One."

Atmospheric, isn't it? Especially if you are listening to the song at night, before you sleep.

Anyways, the second track, Overture 1928, is an authentic winner. It sums up the whole record, as it contains some parts of the other songs and even parts of Metropolis Pt.1, out of the Images and Words record. One highlight, indeed. Another one is track three, Strange DejŠ Vu, which follows the same structure as the fifth one, Fatal Tragedy: a nice first section, with a catchy chorus, and then a heavy part where Petrucci plays some truly headbangable and catchy riffs.

Beyond this Life is like a beta version of The Glass Prison, and is probably the heaviest song of the record. It's one of the longer songs, together with Finally Free and Home. Home has a very exotic beginning that ends with the beginning of a very catchy guitar riff. It has a middle section filled with some nice solos and some erotic (!!!) screams. Finally Free closes the record, beginning with a very SOMBER keyboard line (Jordan is a God just because of that line, I really love it). It is probably the most obscure song of the record, it kind of involves you in a dark, almost scary atmosphere and it doesn't let you out until the end. And WHAT AN END to the whole concept, the first time I saw (and heard it) on the DVD, it really scared me (I'm just a little boy, you know).

Dance of Eternity also deserves a special mention, being constantly labeled as a song made to show the skills of the Theater musicians. In my opinion, it is no Erotomania or YYZ, but it's a nice track and not boring at all. Anyways, there is a tune on the record that I really don't get why so many people like: The Spirit Carries On. Sure it has a gospel choir (a la Pink Floyd) singing together with James LaBrie, but, hey, the lyrics are too cheesy and the song has a strange happy vibe that I don't like. Meh.

So, this record surely is flawed, I mean, the regular metalhead will not love this stuff, it is too "proggy" for his tastes, but, hey, if you are a fan of progressive metal, this album will be an excellent addiction to your collection. The total length of Metropolis can also be a problem: the album clocks in at 70, 75 minutes, if I'm not wrong, so you will need time to understand and discover all the things this piece has to offer. Nevertheless, the album is solid and not the big piece of pompous crap that many reviewers stated it is.

Best moments of the CD: -Regression. -the transition between Fatal Tragedy and Beyond this Life. -the main riff of Home. -the chorus of One Last Time. -the drum lines of the middle section of Finally Free. -the last minute of the album.

Nhorf | 4/5 |

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