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


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.29 | 2752 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars Many regard this as a perfect album from Dream Theater, and while it is certainly very good, it is by no means perfect nor, do I think, a masterpiece at all.

In truth, some of the band's best music is here. The whole album flows and feels like it fits, which is a nice thing for an album to do. Some of metal's most classically proggy songs take place here. The instrumentation is off the wire. James's vocals are better than they've been since Awake. We almost see some budding concepts of harmony among the members of the group. The new keyboardist can play whatever he wants to at whatever speed he so desires. The band has no external pressures from a label or a producer, so they can make whatever they want. And so they do. This entire album is built around noodling (egad, I usually write reviews for one band at a time, chronologically, so I'm going to be using that work more and more--might need to start copying and pasting to save myself some effort). New guy Rudess and old guy Petrucci discovered that they can play really fast at the same time. If it only happened on this album, it would be cool. The only problem is such endless shredding becomes the point of Dream Theater in a few albums from this one, and from there the band's creative force starts to drop. But for Scenes from a Memory, it makes for one crazy exciting release.

Opener Regression sets the stage but does little else. It doesn't really need to. The instrumental Overture 1928 begins the demonstration of Dream Theater's talents, and it also is the first to reprise melodies from the original Metropolis song off Images and Words. It segues into the fast-paced metal tune Strange Deja Vu, a song mostly driven by some vocals by James. Through My Words is a piano and voice interlude, and nothing particularly neat. Finally, Fatal Tragedy hits. This is the first standalone song on the album, and it's one of the strongest. Beginning with that piano and voice, it then moves into a harder rocking bit. The latter half of the song is turned into a strange-timed solo section, complete with wild drums and bass towards the end. Expecting something of a break now, we are instead greeted by the even wilder Beyond This Life, a tune that almost sounds like punk at moments, and features a hugely long noodle-fest in the middle. It's not a bad track, though, just a little long to keep the interest going. Through Her Eyes is a big piece of gentle filler, continuing the plot (notice I haven't talked about lyrical content: if you listen to Dream Theater, and especially this album, for lyrical content, you just might be completely weird). That wraps up the first act.

The second act is much fiercer from the get-go, opening with Home. The track slowly builds for a few minutes until it explodes into some pretty heavy metal moments. James's vocals sound really nice here, too. The guitar solo, though a bit noodly as well, really cooks here and leads into the final chorus nicely. A random bit of exciting full band instrumentation and the music drops (literally) into The Dance of Eternity. This is one of the most fascinating pieces the band has ever done, in that it's about as extreme as prog metal can go--on the prog side. There are over a hundred and twenty time changes in here, most of which are actually pretty subtly transitioned. There are no vocals, just four men hammering out music that makes Gentle Giant seem a little singular and slow-paced. It's a neat track, and a keeper, but it does bother some because of its obsession with being as complicated as possible. Either way, the tracks continue with One Last Time, a straightforward tune with some more catchy vocals. The Spirit Carries On is a slow and mellow song punctuated by a very tasteful and temporarily terrifying guitar solo. Finally, the album concludes with Finally Free, a 9 minute song (the last three or so minutes are sound effects and stuff that is related to a plot that is hard to care about) wrapping up the storyline and showing the murder in full, dark effect. It's actually pretty neat. And the album's music closes with another fading outro that adds in guitar harmonies and wicked drum fills until it shuts off.

This is a pretty cool album by Dream Theater, and it was my first and look, I bought all their albums. So maybe it is a good place to start with the band. However, if you do, work backwards first with Images and Words and Awake, and then move forwards.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |


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