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Dream Theater - Metropolis Part 2 - Scenes from a Memory CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.29 | 3024 ratings

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Elliot Saint
5 stars What to say about a record that influenced as much the prog rock/metal scene since its inception as it did "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory" released back in 1999 by the band Dream Theater?! Many could say that all topics are already well explored and further analyses are either: redundant, lacking of interest, out of context, or simply put, obsolete. This tentative review could as well fall into one of such categories as you will be the judge of that, but I hope that you keep an open mind and acknowledge new ideas and incorporate them to your own approach and vision of this regarded masterpiece at your suiting.

It is well known that the name of this album and its concept come from the fan-revered track "Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper", included in the band's classic album "Images And Words", which in itself is a pure display of creativity generated within a superb technical proficiency by its virtuoso composers. When the band first named the song, despite its obvious title, they didn't really intend for it to have a continuation. However, after the commercial failure of "Falling Into Infinity" and the inclusion of the then new member Jorden Rudess, the band felt revigorated and confident of their technicality, and obtained authorization by their label to freely produce their next album. Since this work consisted in a continuation of the cited song, and for all of its meaning behind, they tried to keep it a secret from fans and were particularly excited about this new project.

It turned out that the "surprise" the band planned was anticipated and the record's track list and consequent release date ended leaking in the internet some time before its official release. But one could say that the real surprise was well preserved in its essence and it was revealed to be an awe-inspiring, evocative audio-experience, in the form of a concept album about after-life. The whole piece, comprised of nine scenes and distributed in twelve tracks, deals with a story that takes place in both past and present and is narrated in the first-person by a character, Nicholas, who has this recurring dream about an intriguing woman, Victoria, and his quest to solve the mystery within this dream as he embarks in an journey triggered by an unexpected chain of events whose script will be omitted in this review for the sake of your experience with this remarkable masterpiece.

The album, whose main influence is, for the most part, the refered Metropolis Pt. 1 song, starts with an intro, which is also the first scene, with the appropriate name "Regression". Here, we hear a clock ticking and are taken to a regression therapy session where Nicholas is present as the patient. This track is also the first to include James LaBrie's famed vocals, which start really mellow, where he portraits the character Nicholas greeting Victoria as he finds her in his subconscious. Then, the "real" intro kicks in at the following track "Overture 1928", which is an instrumental piece with musical references from Metropolis Pt. 1, cleverly and beautifully constructed to lead to a new track where you barely even notice the transition. In this new track, "A Strange Déjà Vu", we again greet Labrie's vocals which are brilliant throughout the whole album with its full scale range and are mildly supported by fellow band mates' backup lines here and there, as well as the occasional intervention by a gospel choir group which blends perfectly in this concept's atmosphere.

The whole album is very progressive in its core and you will find both, mellow and aggressive, calm and speedy, simple and complex, harmonic and dissonant parts in many songs portrayed in it. This duality is clear in its intention and critical to the album's dynamic and dramatic feel. There isn't really an instrument's absolute dominance over the others as they all complement themselves brilliantly, if not perfectly. If there is a stand out of any nature here, that would be the work of recently added keyboardist Jordan Rudess combined with guitarist John Petrucci. They are at their prime here, creating some of the best melodies ever heard by this band, but there are moments where the other musicians also shine, including bassist John Myung. The album is also supremely supported by drummer/percussionist Mike Portnoy who takes the rein himself a few times along the way as well.

The songs present, all deserve their heed and they serve their purpose perfectly, incorporating musical references and elements from Metropolis Pt. 1, mimicking some parts and further exploring others almost in a way that seems as if an already brilliant song was simply a raw sketch from this album. Moments like "Through My Words", "Through Her Eyes", "The Spirit Carries On", are really emotional and can bring you to tears while others like "Fatal Tragedy", "The dance Of Eternity" and "One Last Time" shimmer of progressive creativity and ingenuity and can lead you to a musical orgasm at some point. But in terms of progressiveness, if you forget the album as an entire song and consider it instead a pack of individual songs, the highlights are themes such as "Beyond This Life", "Home" and the outro track "Finnally Free". These are amongst the best ever DT's songs and, to resume, this is a very special album with everything you can expect from it and some more: wonderful melodies, superb orchestration, fantastic solo work, solid riffs and licks, amazing piano and synths, beautiful vocals and lyrics.

As a last statement, or appeal, if you will, I must say that not for one single moment you will feel that one song is dislocated, too short or too long, or displaying exaggerated technical skills without purpose, for they all have a clear sense of being part of a whole piece where the flowing of the story is adamant, much like a film or a play is conceived. Furthermore, the whole album could be viewed as a cycle in itself, which makes even more sense for a replay of the record and is so addictive and attaching that you may find yourself emotionally connected to it for a long time. If really there is any case where one could apply six out of five stars for a music record, this would be it. With Metropolis Pt. 2, Dream Theater truly materialized a dream into substance, gifting us with their undeniable talent that is hard to put into words and giving us one more opportunity to realize that reincarnation may be a possibility and not just a fantasy after all. Perhaps life and death are indeed just one cycle that repeats itself throughout the space and time continuum?

Final Evaluation: 6/5 ? More than epic, a truly transcending experience!

Elliot Saint | 5/5 |


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