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


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.13 | 1845 ratings

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Cesar Inca
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars After the phenomenal reception of the master opus "Scenes From A Memory" (quite deservedly so) among fans and reviewers over the world, Dream Theater's next task was a double one: to keep the momentum going with a follower that should at least match the inventiveness and tightness levels; to confirm the position that Rudess had quickly gained as both a newcoming performer and a creative mind. So, "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence" is the title of this task incarnated in a double CD that was recorded during the latter half of 2001 and released in early 2002. So, was the double task achieved? My answer is yes, and in fact, I happen to believe that this double effort surpasses the monumental concept-album that preceded it in terms of progressive thinking and compositional refinement. It is abundantly clear that Rudess has become a major force within the band's line of work, especially regarding the keyboard-dominated orchestrations that appear in several places of the namesake suite. But I'll get there later. Another factor is the influence that the band received from Tool and Radiohead for the conception of this new repertoire. The former reference allowed them to refresh their metallic side (an essential one, indeed), in this way giving a bit less room to thrash metal attacks and more room to other experimental metal tricks. The latter reference, on the other hand, gave them a new insight on dealing with the more atmospheric ideas. The album's opener 'The Glass Prison' (the first song in Portnoy's AA series) is a showcase for the revitalized metallic thinking that I have just mentioned. I find it perfect in structure, dynamics and duration: the last minute is a lovely climax indeed. Another metallic showcase is 'The Great Debate' (even Portnoy's drumming shows the Tool influence more strongly in some passages), although this time I have to say that the thematic expansion takes a bit longer than necessary. Between these two patently ambitious tour-de-forces are 'Blind Faith' and 'Misunderstood'. I really love these tunes. The former is a song about religious zealotry, cleverly elaborated in a framework of calculated energy. Somewhere in the middle, a powerful interlude emerges, including one of Rudess' best synth solos ever. The latter also leads with a topic related to religion, namely, the human side of Jesus Christ. Just like the preceding track, this one bears a reflective mood, but the instrumental delivery is more adventurous concerning the DT standard. The heavy use of psychedelic ambiences, the grayish languid passages and the repetitive sinister closing motif (predated for the interlude) make it build up a sense of emotional restlessness in an effective manner. The aforesaid closing motif states an unusual Crimsonian vibe in the front side, perhaps through the Tool filter. All in all, IMHO, the volume 1's gem has to be 'Disappear', one of the most beautiful DT ballads ever, and also one of the most haunting vocal performances by LaBrie ever. This slow, gloomy ballad whispers its Radiohead influence ("OK Computer"-era): the song's constrained scheme makes it breathe its soft sadness in a way that it gains a different kind of power to the listener's ears. If you really get to like this track, it haunts you for hours after you turned out your CD player. Oh my, it haunts me while I think about it at this point of the present review. Well, moving to volume 2, there is the 42 minute namesake suite ? an ode to various modes of mental illness. This monumental piece met its definitive version in the "Score" show (with a backing orchestra), but it doesn't mean that I dismiss the original studio version at all. In fact, just by listening to the 'Overture' (a link of anticipated motifs, as usually prog rock overtures do) you can feel that we are on the brink of witnessing pure musical greatness. The orchestral feel is awesome, and so is the first sung section 'About To Crash', which displays an attractive melodic development where the band's symphonic side continues to prevail. Sections 3 and 4 are more leaning toward the metallic side, especially 4, which takes the stamina to humanly impossible levels at times. Yes, the fire of 'War Inside My Head' serves as a preparation for the massive bombast of 'The Test That Stumped Them All', which should be described as thunder (the rhythm duo) and lightning (vocals, guitars and keyboards) translated into prog-metal sound. 'Goodnight Kiss' is a moment of emotional rest, even though the lyrics' subject deal with something as stressful as post-partum depression. The relaxed desperation (properly delivered in LaBrie's vocalizations) makes the band return partially to the Radiohead pattern, before the instrumental section speeds things a bit into a well-constructed progressive scheme. This is where the 'Solsbury Hill'- inspired 'Solitary Shell' enters and brings a more colorful palette in the suite. Once again, the instrumental section brings a turn to a faster tempo and a whole different motif. The stage is set for the reprise of 'About To Crash', reshaped in a powerful metalized fashion. The 'Losing Time / Grand Finale' section closes down the suite with a compelling mixture mellow bombast and emotionally-charged energy. The whole section sounds like a mixture of classic Kansas, "The Wall"-era Pink Floyd and mid-70s Wakeman. An amazing closure for an amazing suite, and while I'm at it, let me end this review by saying how much in awe I am of this amazing double album. For their 6th album, Dream Theater seemed to be standing on a permanent peak.
Cesar Inca | 5/5 |


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