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

SIX DEGREES OF INNER TURBULENCE

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

4.13 | 1477 ratings

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LiquidEternity
Prog Reviewer
4 stars This album can be one of the most or one of the least satisfying Dream Theater records, depending on what you are looking for here.

First off, if you are interested in highly skilled and fast drumming, this is the album. Mike Portnoy beats his drums like they owe him half a city. It's absolutely mesmerizing. Or, if you are into really fast guitars, this is a great place to look. John Petrucci plays some of his fiercest and fastest solos and riffs on this album. If you like keyboards that can outpace even the guitarist, Jordan Rudess has got plenty to offer you here. James's voice sounds fantastic. If you love bass guitar, Myung's got a couple of moments where he gets to stand out and shine, like the beginnings of the first two songs. However, if you are looking for a band chemistry that puts five musicians in a song together and ever comes up with a whole that's greater than it's parts, you will have difficulty. Also, like most Dream Theater albums, it's very focused on a single line at a time. There is very little harmony ever, and very little atmosphere in most of the songs. The noodling is at full force on Six Degrees (well, maybe not quite full, as they get even fuller-forced on the next album).

It all begins with The Glass Prison. This thing is huge. Fourteen minutes of shred and chunk and crazy metal and unhappy vocals. Beginning a multi-album suite about Alcoholics Anonymous that includes to date This Dying Soul, The Root of All Evil, and Repentance, this track kicks in with a cool heavy riff after a bass-based intro. A long sweep-picked solo by Petrucci then segues the song into singing, but the singing is merely a cover for more really fast instrumentation. An extended solo sequence continues the noodling. In short, if high-powered and high-speed musical playing is your thing, this song will likely kick your nose pretty fiercely. Blind Faith starts off more atmospheric, culminating in a few weak choruses. And, yes, there's a wild instrumental section in the middle which focuses on the ivory noodling of Jordan Rudess, which is neat, but doesn't really fit the song very well. Misunderstood, oddly enough, is the first song that really works as a whole. A moody buildup kicks into a catchy and well-written chorus. The post-chorus, though, is an experimental sort of section with heavily modified instruments and backward noises. This bothers a number of people, but is actually a step in the right direction for Dream Theater.

Only, they don't keep that up. In the vein of the rest of the songs on the album, The Great Debate builds up from quietness on the outset, featuring increasingly complicated drumming until the full band kicks it together. All about the stem cell research debate, this song features a unique dual-chorus system that makes it neat. However, and big surprise, there is a good noodling bit of keyboards towards the end that does not fit the general feel and flow of the song. Without this, it all would have been much more impressive and effective. Disappear seems to be Jordan Rudess's answer to Kevin Moore's Space-Dye Vest. Some computerized sounds and some neat piano patches bring an impassioned vocal performance to a head. There are a lot of Beatles vibes on this track, I must add, which is not surprising but still strange for Dream Theater. Incidentally, this is about the only case of the band using harmonies effectively, so kudos to them for that.

The second disc is one song--that's how the band wrote it, that's how the band recorded it, so that's how I listen to it. It opens with a slightly overlong orchestral bit that is neat but plays a bit too long. From there, the song turns really into more of a suite of different parts that are linked only thematically and segue into each other. There are some really heavy parts, there are some really mellow parts, some neat guitar solos and some neat piano parts. Nothing very surprising, really. A fun long track, but not a great song or epic like the band made with A Change of Seasons or Octavarium.

All in all, a musically impressive album with enough experimentation on it to merit four stars. Still, the band's decline into perpetual noodling is getting severe, and after this release, they do fall into that trap of speed and technicality equaling progression. But this one is a good release, the last great album from the band, after a pretty solid ten year run.

LiquidEternity | 4/5 |

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