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


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.13 | 1842 ratings

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Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars It is sometimes difficult to decide if this double-decker surpasses the brilliance of Scenes from a Memory: Metrpolis Part II or not. It definitely vies for the title of my favorite Dream Theater album. This is partly because it is so rare to find a two-CD album that is completely devoid of filler, so musically solvent and lyrically challenging. Variety also abounds here, not just in traces, but in downright rich eclecticism. Present are the obligatory heavy metal, gentle acoustic passages, catchy pop tunes, and full-blown symphonic rock all in one unique package.

"The Glass Prison" Picking up where the previous album left off (with the static of a record player), Dream Theater's next amazing work begins with a powerful riff played by the ever-competent John Myung and John Petrucci. Jordan Rudess's keyboard weaves its way over the riff before things get heavier really quickly. After some low vocals from Mike Portnoy (who drums furiously through the verses), James LaBrie surprises with what in my opinion is one of his best vocal performances ever. The chorus is phenomenal and very memorable, with very creative rhythms and drumming. Myung sneaks in a little bass solo that brings in the next heavy hitting instrumental section, over which Petrucci solos with his wah pedal and Rudess does his thing on his guitar-sounding synthesizer. This song is really one of the strongest progressive metal openers out there (I think the one on the previous album overshadows it, but I'm not complaining). Fans consider this to be the first three parts in what is dubbed the "Twelve-Step Suite," which describes Portnoy's experience with alcoholism, as several themes from this song will be revisited in future tracks on future albums.

"Blind Faith" Myung takes the lead on this one while Rudess adds light keyboard touches. Petrucci's guitar solo is one of his best, because even though its speedy, it maintains my attention and fits in perfectly with the music. Rudess's lovely piano interlude is a pleasant surprise, and then there's another one: An equally fabulous ride on the organ, followed by the snake-like writhing of his synthesizer lead.

"Misunderstood" Acoustic guitar with effects gently doubled behind it start this third and elegant piece. It begins as the softest song on the first disc, but builds into an excellent translation of the velvety instrumentation to heavy metal ecstasy. A repetitive chord progression degenerates into noisy ravishes of electric guitar and gradually fades back in.

"The Great Debate" Political pundits' speaking out about stem cell research, which gradually become inaudible and almost madness-inducing, are panned hard on the right or the left (appropriately enough), and even the initial vocals follow suit. While I think the position the band takes on the subject is rather clear, I feel they give a pretty fair and balanced description of the conflict. For once on this album, the music takes a backseat to the controversial lyrics, even though Rudess dazzles listeners with another stellar keyboard solo. Myung on bass almost outshines Petrucci during the latter's guitar solo. The voices from the beginning return with new (and not so new) arguments.

"Disappear" Haunting piano and other sounds starkly begin the shortest track of the disc. It takes a while for the music to become full, but as a largely acoustic track, this is brilliantly dark and a testament to Dream Theater's ability to craft incredible soft music despite being the quintessential progressive metal band.

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: Overture" A stunning and majestic piece of symphonic rock by one of progressive metal's greatest bands, the first time I heard this, I could have sworn I was not even hearing Dream Theater. There are heavy guitars to be sure, but this delightful overture is dominated by strings and other orchestral-sounding instruments. Six degrees of inner turbulence references six different psychological disorders. Keyboardist Rudess wrote this part, and the band expanded upon it to create this tour de force of progressive rock music.

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: About to Crash" Regal piano begins the second movement of this heavily inspired work of skill. After the band enters, LaBrie begins to sing, reintroducing a beautiful motif. Petrucci has a shining moment on lead guitar toward the end of this second piece. The alternating lyrics describe bipolar disorder.

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: War Inside My Head" This is a heavy movement, full of dark, powerful guitars, bass, and drums and sinister keyboards. The vocals are gritty and unpleasant- befitting for a segment describing shell shock (or, as the psychobabblers prefer, posttraumatic stress disorder).

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: The Test That Stumped Them All" The theatric and varying vocals are indicative of schizophrenia, the theme of this heaviest movement.

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: Goodnight Kiss" Deliberately ambiguous lyrics reference some manner of post-partum depression. Whatever the case, the vocal melody is simply gorgeous, and this may be one of LaBrie's greatest moments on a gentler song. Petrucci's tonal nuances during his solo are simply stunning. There are medical sounds, as well as laughter, weeping, and wailing in the middle section, which could describe a real event, but more likely the mother's fears or even a recurring nightmare. Whatever the case, it is unsettling.

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: Solitary Shell" Apparently based on Peter Gabriel's "Solsbury Hill" (even the title seems similar), this has excellent acoustic guitar work (both on rhythm and lead), breathtaking synthesizer work, and a fantastic vocal melody with impressive lyrics about autism.

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: About to Crash (Reprise)" Relayed in first person, the bipolar sufferer in the second movement has a say. The music is very similar, and drives home some of the memorable themes from this epic suite. There's a powerful, Tony Banks-like synthesizer solo (it reminds me of Genesis's "Riding the Scree").

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence: Losing Time / Grand Finale" I don't understand why this track was lumped together with the finale, but oh well. The lyrics seem to describe loneliness, perhaps as a result of multiple personality disorder. In six lines during the grand finale, LaBrie passionately recapitulates the lyrical themes of this song. A long chord is sustained for two full minutes, bringing this album to an end, but inviting the beginning of the next one.

Epignosis | 5/5 |


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