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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

4.28 | 2190 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars I was murdered a long time ago

When Dream Theater appended the notation Part 1 to a track called "Metropolis" on their second album "Images and words", it was intended as a sort of private joke. The fans however kept asking when part 2 would be recorded, so while the band were in the studio to record "Falling into infinity", they set about doing so. The piece bludgeoned from a mere track to a complete 20 minute suite, the intention being to make "Falling into infinity" a double album with "Metropolis part 2" occupying the second disc. The record company however would not sanction a double album, so the suite was held over. When the band came to record their next album a couple of years later, the piece was used as the basis for the album, with additional material being added. Thus, while the album includes the "Part 2" notation, there is no album called "Metropolis Part 1".

The line up is substantially unaltered, but this is the first Dream Theater album with Jordan Rudess on keyboards. The concept tells the disturbing tale of a character called Nicholas who in a past life went under the name of Victoria. With the help of hypnotherapy, Nicolas delves into his former life, discovering that he/she was murdered. It is advisable to keep the lyric book handy to follow the tale, and especially to help with understanding which character is narrating or being portrayed. I would also recommend the website /faq.dtnorway.com/question/1032 for a fine analysis of the story.

Thankfully, Dream Theater do not make the mistake of allowing the concept to dominate the album to the exclusion of all else. This is by any standard one of their finest albums. After the rather corny spoken intro where the hypnotherapist induces the trance and the gentle introductory "Regression", the instrumental "Overture 1928" sets the scene perfectly, with Rudess immediately adding some fine keyboard sounds. The track draws in themes both from the rest of the album and indeed from Part 1.

As the story unfolds, the instrumental sections help to build on the narrative lyrics. In general, the band avoid the temptation to be over literate, the concise nature of the vocal passages allowing plenty of space for some fine guitar and keyboard breaks.

While the album has plenty of the hard edged riffs and the racing drum infused runs we associate with the band, there is to a welcome undercurrent of subtlety throughout. This is perhaps at its most poignant on the quite stunning "Through her eyes" which closes "Act 1"; surely one of the finest ballads by a prog metal band ever. While James LaBrie (assisted by Theresa Thomason) offers a truly great vocal performance here, it is the sympathetic guitar of John Petrucci which sets the track apart.

It is probably futile to talk of track lengths, as this is very much a complete concept, and as such a singe track in various sections. Nevertheless, I will do just that as Act 2 has just four tracks, three of which run to 10+ minutes. The lengthy nature of these tracks contributes to an album running time of just under 80 minutes, yet the time seems to pass in the blink of an eye, the band ruthlessly curtailing any temptation to prevaricate.

In all, for an album which was developed in rather piecemeal fashion, it is pleasing to report that this is probably Dream Theater's most coherent effort. The emphasis on melody and the strength of the concept are major contributors to the overall attraction of the product, recommended.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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