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METROPOLIS PART 2: SCENES FROM A MEMORY

Dream Theater

Progressive Metal


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Dream Theater Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory album cover
4.28 | 2193 ratings | 265 reviews | 65% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music


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Studio Album, released in 1999

Songs / Tracks Listing

ACT 1
1. Scene One: Regression (2:06)
2. Scene Two: I.Overture 1928 (3:37)
3. II.Strange Deja Vu (5:13)
4. Scene Three: I.Through My Words (1:02)
5. II.Fatal Tragedy (6:49)
6. Scene Four: Beyond This Life (11:22)
7. Scene Five: Through Her Eyes (5:29)

ACT 2
8. Scene Six: Home (12:53)
9. Scene Seven: I.The Dance Of Eternity (6:13)
10. II.One Last Time (3:47)
11. Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On (6:38)
12. Scene Nine: Finally Free (12:00)

Total Time: 77:12


Lyrics

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Music tabs (tablatures)

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Line-up / Musicians

- James LaBrie / vocals
- John Myung / bass guitar
- John Petrucci / guitars, vocals
- Mike Portnoy / drums, percussion, vocals
- Jordan Rudess / keyboards

GUESTS:
- Theresa Thomason / additional vocals on 7 and 11
- Theresa Thomason, Mary Canty, Shelia Slappy, Mary Smith, Jeanette Smith, Clarence Burke Jr, Carol Cyrus, Dale Scott / Gospel Choir on 11 arranged by Jordan Rudess
- Cast of Characters / Nicholas, Victoria Page, Senator Edward Baynes (The Miracle), Julian Baynes (The Sleeper) and The Hypnotherapist.


Releases information

CD-Elektra-E2 62448-2-USA-1999

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Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a MemoryMetropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory
Elektra 1999
Audio CD$4.17
$0.78 (used)
Right Now on Ebay (logo)
LP awake ~ USD $26.68
LP falling into infinity ~ USD $26.68
LP metropolis pt. 2: scenes from a memory ~ USD $26.68


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DREAM THEATER Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory ratings distribution


4.28
(2193 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(65%)
65%
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(19%)
19%
Good, but non-essential (9%)
9%
Collectors/fans only (5%)
5%
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)
3%

DREAM THEATER Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory reviews


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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by richardh
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 'Prog metal':- an anachronism if ever there was one! On one hand 'Prog' - pompous,symphonic,technical music played by 'musos' while: 'Metal' -thrashy straight forward down the line 'no nonsense' (and ultimately dull IMO) stuff.You put the two together and you get ..... a marriage made in hell perhapsl??? Well there are bands that do it and undoubtedly the greatest exponent is Dream Theater.Cynics will say it is really just metal with a keyboard player tagged on and they may have a point.But here DT manage to create music that is aesthetically pleasing and challenging as well as managing to avoid writing lyrics about booze and sex in the process.Mike Portnoy is a giant of this sort of thing and Jordan Rudess can certainly match any keyboard player you care to name.I can't say I'm that keen on the kind of vocals that come with this music but I'll live with it for the instrumental qualities and decent songs on offer.If you want to dip your toes in the stream of 'prog metal' then this is as good a place to start as any.

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Send comments to richardh (BETA) | Report this review (#11640) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 22, 2004

Review by maani
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Founding Moderator
5 stars In the movie "The Quick and the Dead," director Sam Raimi "pulls out all the stops" and uses "every trick and cliche in the book" vis-a-vis every Western ever made. And an all-star cast - including Gene Hackman, Russell Crowe, Sharon Stone, Leonardo DiCaprio, Keith David, and Lance Henriksen - all deliver "over the top" performances, with Hackman almost literally "chewing the scenery." It is one of the finest subtle parodies ever put on celluloid.

"Scenes From a Memory" is like that. DT pulls out all the stops, and uses every trick and cliche ever used in progressive rock. And DT's all-star cast of superb musicians - Petrucci, Portnoy, Rudess, LaBrie, Myung & Co. - all deliver "over the top" performances, with lots of musical "scenery chewing" going on. And although I am not particularly fond of progressive metal (though I have come to appreciate and respect DT's pre-eminent place in the subgenre), this album is one of the finest amalgamations of prog-rock - and NOT just prog-metal - ever put on vinyl (OK, CD...) Indeed, although the band was clearly progressing over it's first few albums, I'm not sure anything could have prepared even their fan base for this album: it is as if the stars aligned magically to create a gestalt in which everything simply "came together" for the band.

It is almost impossible to review this album "piece by piece": it must be taken as a whole. Ostensibly a murder mystery, the story does get a bit convoluted: although there are a couple of suspects, fratricide enters the picture, as does the possibility of "spirit possession" (saying anymore would "give away the game"). Still, it is very well written, and extremely well-executed.

There ARE some influences here. Rush, certainly; a bit of UK, a bit of ELP, even a whiff of Zappa. Most unexpected, however, were the strong Floydian touches, including the opening track (a gentle "lift" from Wish You Were Here), the opening of "Home," and especially the opening of "The Spirit Carries On," right down to the Gilmour-ish acoustic guitar, Waters-like lead vocal, and female chorus of "oohs." The "Overture" is excellent, and although it is true that "Dance of Eternity" is among the most exciting, even compelling, prog-rock instrumentals in quite some time, the jam at the end of "Fatal Tragedy" is just as good, if not better.

I do have some minor misgivings and criticisms, including that the album is somewhat "uneven"; that sections sometimes seem strung together in a haphazard manner; that Labrie, while an excellent vocalist (particularly here), does not always have the best "timbre" for the material; and that the album could probably have benefitted from a minor "trim."

However, all of that is really beside the point. Because it is impossible NOT to be impressed - VERY impressed - by an album of this calibre: the composition, musicianship and production are all first-rate. Indeed, it is one of a very few things I've heard in the past 15 years that Peter Rideout refers to a "a modern masterpiece of prog."

It is wonderful to know that progessive metal has contributed to the pantheon of must-have masterpiece concept albums - a truly rarified group to be in.

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Send comments to maani (BETA) | Report this review (#11654) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 06, 2004

Review by James Lee
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars "Scenes From a Memory Metropolis Part II" answers the age-old question: what do you get when you cross "The Final Cut" with "Operation: Mindcrime"? No, that's not fair- it has neither the fake suicidal angst of the former nor the fake streetwise grittiness of the latter. It's also much heavier and full of more talented playing than either album. I think I would have preferred the album to start with the acoustic guitar (a la "Pigs on the Wing") rather than the induction. And I can't think of anything less evocative of 1928 (or any other time besides the early 90s) than the metal onslaught that follows. However, Petrucci is always amazing, managing to slip a bit of expression into the fret gymnastics, and the rhythm section is just as impressive as ever. LaBrie is once again decent when he's pushing himself and less so when called upon to compliment a softer segment; "Through My Words" into "Fatal Tragedy", for instance, makes him seem like a second-rate Freddy Mercury imitator- or Waters imitator, on "The Spirit Carries On"...all of which still beats the generic vocals on "Through Her Eyes" and "One Last Time". "Beyond This Life" rocks pretty hard but Petrucci's solo is more often silly than sublime, as are the horrible keyboards. "Home" is also notably heavy, but way too long and chock full of the cliche pseudo-eastern affectations that metal bands always crank out when they want to sound 'exotic'. "The Dance of Eternity" could have been retitled "Everyone gets a little gratuitous solo time, especially Rudess with his honky- tonk piano farce". The gospel choir on "The Spirit Carries On" is just as tacky and bolted- on as the gospel choir on "The Final Cut", U2's a capella "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For", or even the one in "The Rocky Horror Picture Show". "Finally Free" pretty much sums up my feeling when this one was over. Whether they've changed all that much in the last ten years (besides getting a bit heavier and faster with the times) I'll leave for the fans to debate; they sound much the same to me- this school of prog metal always struck me as being mainly about showing off their instrumental abilities whenever possible and this album gives me no reason to change my mind. The songs are still needlessly complicated and yet formulaic and uninspired. The lackluster narrative is presented with artless exposition; they've compromised between using lyrics that fit the song and fitting the music to the story, and as a result everything sounds contrived. I hope Satan isn't reading this review because he'll have a pretty good idea how to torment me for all eternity. Still, the sheer number and dedication of DT fans, added to the band's instrumental proficiency, forces me to give this two stars.

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Send comments to James Lee (BETA) | Report this review (#11656) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Review by Peter
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Given Dream Theater's enormous following, I guess it's high time that I "weighed in" with a review of one of their more popular albums. Before commencing my review proper, however, I feel I should clarify just where I'm "coming from" on this one. Please bear with me.

As a young teen, I was into artists like Black Sabbath, Rainbow, Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, and Uriah Heep for a couple of years, before being introduced to prog, and bands like Genesis, Yes, ELP, and Tull. After that enlightening musical awakening, I never really looked back, though I still listen to Heep and Purple every now and then. (These days, when I want to really "rock out," I tend to turn to "axe-smiths" such as Jeff Beck, Steve Morse, Gordie Johnson of Big Sugar, or Zeppelin.)

Though I have nothing against heavy metal as an art form, most modern metal doesn't do much for me. I don't like screaming vocals, and often find the music of many of the newer acts to be too fast and aggressive for my middle-aged ears. I also tend to have real problems with the typical lyrical subject-matter of newer metal: I simply can't relate to that teen angst/anger and fascination with blood, violence, death and the devil anymore! Just as I soon outgrew horror novels, I now find many metal lyrics to be just plain silly -- dealing as they often do with issues quite beyond my daily concerns, and a supernatural world that I honestly don't believe in.

With that rather lengthy preface out of the way, the reader should understand that I find listening to the overlong SCENES FROM A MEMORY METROPOLIS PART II, in a single session, (and at the volume it demands!) to be a decidedly onerous task. Thankfully, vocalist LaBrie isn't much of a "screamer," though I do find his "average-guy" voice to be distinctly uninspiring. The musicianship, especially the guitar, is also of a doubtlessly high quality, and there is just enough variety in the music to warrant their "progressive metal" categorization. (In my opinion, "progressive metal" has to imply more than just metal with keyboards.)

What really stops me from giving this concept album a higher rating, is, as with Marillion's BRAVE (see my review), the theme of its lyrics. The story centers around a murder-suicide, and the motif is made more "real" with the disturbing sounds of gunshots and the screams of the young female victim. I know that modern American society is very troubled with gun-related violence, and I can turn to American TV news or magazines any time I feel the need to "get my fill" of such depressing, tragic gore. I don't need, or want, to hear this stuff set to music as well! As with BRAVE's suicide theme, I find the concept of "SCENES" to be simply unworthy of my time. I believe that there is a fine line -- perhaps crossed here -- between examining violence, and obsessing upon and/or "celebrating" it.

I believe that confirmed metal/Dream Theater fans would award this disc four or five stars (as it is perhaps "good" for its genre), though for my own middle aged, fatherly tastes, SCENES FROM A MEMORY only merits a two-star rating. Overall, I greatly prefer to be uplifted and/or moved by my music collection, instead of being "brought down" by it. Please don't get me wrong! I realize that some will object to the seeming high-handed, moralistic tone of this review, but I am no prude (quite the opposite!), nor am I a supporter of musical censorship or warning labels. I am merely trying to articulate a personal point of view regarding my preferences in art, which I feel others may share. I don't mind a song that deals with suicide (see my review of Genesis - Nursery Cryme, and "Harold the Barrel" in particular), but when murder forms the entire theme of an album, and is graphically "portrayed" with gunshots and screams, I tend to recoil. Dream Theater, Marillion, and others, have every right to release albums that deal with unsavory subjects. However, as one who tends to focus heavily on words and lyrics, I find listening to this CD to be just a little more enjoyable than viewing images of endless Middle Eastern atrocities, or reading the gruesome details of the latest killings by some gun-toting psychopath. Really not to my taste -- but perhaps to yours.

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Send comments to Peter (BETA) | Report this review (#11657) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 21, 2004

Review by kunangkunangku
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I'm not a metalhead of sort, but, with almost any criteria, for me, this is a five big star progressive metal concept album. There's absolutely no doubt about it.

Here's why:

Firstly, instead of telling an epic story or tackling a grand overarching theme which is common among 1970s prog rock bands, these guys come up with a very intriguing, psychological-mystery regarding a modern man who is haunted by the 1928 murder of a young woman. Apparently these guys want to sit on the shelf with "2112," "The Wall" and "Operation: Mindcrime."

Secondly, dealing with a difficult tale and told the tale in complex fashion (see how there are two acts which separate different parts of the tale) doesn't seem to pose any difficulties for these guys in delivering amazingly, jaw-dropping music. The musicianship, the virtuosity and all are there and so brilliant.

Thirdly, the cohessiveness of the overall composition is so tight in which all the songs flow beautifully into one another, despite intricacies of the structure of several songs.

Because of its nature, in order to be truly appreciated, this remarkable, masterwork album must be listened with every song played in order. I myself particularly like it when the tones of the hypnotherapist, at the beginning, slowly flow into my ears and thrill me and then take me on an audio-induced "orgasmic" ride.

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Send comments to kunangkunangku (BETA) | Report this review (#11658) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars SPEECHLESS. That's what I feel on how I should review this perfect album. I have refrained myself from reviewing it as this album is too great to be rated. I know really well that there is no such thing that I could rate beyond the top as it does not make any sense at all to give say, 6 stars out of 5? Am I going insane? (Oops .. it seems like BLACK SABBATH's song?). I realize that reviewing this album requires not only rational thinking (eg. structural integrity of the composition, musicianship etc.) but also emotional feeling that is something to do with "mind" and "heart". As a listener and an enjoyer of this album, I don't think I am able to review this beautifully, intelligently, and brilliantly crafted album. From "Close your eyes and begin to relax ..." to "We'll meet again my friend someday soon" until the turntable sound shut-off at the end track I am totally hooked! But, I'll give it a try. At least, if my review does not serve the appropriate appreciation in its totality (which I presume it is), I have given my highest appreciation to this seminal work of the band. I sometime ask myself, "How long this band would last?". I'm really afraid of having this band disbanded. Please don't ..

DT music has united classic prog rock lovers (usually older people) with metal lovers (younger). DT is the first who played what so called progressive metal sub-genre and . man .. I come to realize that I've always loved the pioneer's bands. It happened to me when I felt in love with MARILLION (the pioneer of neo-prog sub-genre) in 1983. Creation-wise, "Scenes from A Memory" is similar to MARILLION's "Misplaced Childhood". But, not in the music and composition. "Misplaced Childhood" was a concept album after MARILLION produced several albums. The same thing with "Scenes ..", because this album was created after DT produced several albums as well.

This album deserves FIVE BIG STAR for following reasons: 1. songwriting 2. story telling 3. structural integrity and variety of tempo 4. musicianship 5. production. Too many things hah? That's what I could say. Each song in the album has been carefully written and well thought-of. The lyrics are simple, something that ordinary listener like me can understand and enjoy. It helps us to understand the whole story of the album. You would notice that there are bits of lyrics that we'd like to emulate as we get used to the album. For example: "Safe in the light that surrounds me ." or "Hello Victoria so glad to see you my friend .." or "Headline. Murder young girl killed .." or "If I die tomorrow I'll be alright .." or "We'll meet again my friend someday soon ..". Many of them, I believe.

Structural integrity? I think, this is key question to ask in any concept album. Don't challenge this album with this question as they have it, strongly! This album flows nicely from a relax conditioning set forth by meditating-like narration "Close your eyes and relax ..", moves to uplifting tempo and slowing down, going up again.. and so on. The music brings your mind and your heart through various waves of musical "orgasm" throughout entire album. I recommend you to enjoy it in its entirety. You would notice how perfect this creation is.

No one would argue the quality of musicians in this album. Not that they are brilliant individually, but they are perfect in "pulling together as a team" (sounds like PINK FLOYD's "Have a Cigar" lyric hah? Rock music always inspires my day mannn .!! Rock on, chappy!). It's so intriguing that they play in nice harmony with high speed tempo in some musical pieces. Many segments demonstrate such pieces as to accentuate the story. Am not sure whether or not NEIL PEART of RUSH has ever commented about how dynamic Portnoy drumming is? I also enjoy Myung's dazzling bass play. Petrucci guitar fills and riffs are really wonderful as well. LaBrie is well-positioned in the band. Rudess plays solo in conjunction with lead guitar. It's stunning.

Production-wise, this album has an excellent sonic production. The statement at the end of the sleeve "patiently and expertly engineered by Doug Oberkircher" is true. You know what? The first time I was "hooked" with this album was the last track "Finally Free" as it has a great melody and music composition, combined with touchy orchestration that creates solid nuances of the story and . most importantly . I like the sounds produced in this track. I usually turn my amplifier volume up in the middle where Portnoy's drumming is dominating the music. Really cool. All sounds of igniting car engine, pistol-shooting, screaming, pouring ice in the glass, turning up the turntable are all can be heard clearly.

So, don't hurt yourself by not having this CD in your collection. It's a masterpiece work that you must have in your collection. BTW, you should also have the DVD of this album performed live in its entirety, "Scenes from New York". Am totally excited watching this DVD! - Gatot Widayanto, Indonesia.

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Send comments to Gatot (BETA) | Report this review (#11661) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Review by frenchie
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Dream Theater have been producing unique and incredible albums since 1992's "Images and Words" and easily built up a reputation for releasing masterpieces in progressive rock. Of course it was always suspected that Dream Theater would release another of these masterpieces but when the band followed up their "Falling into Infinity" album, many fans and critics were astonished by how much a band can make the step up by exceeding a previous masterpiece.

This album is "Scenes from a Memory", an 80 minute long progressive concept album that plays almost like a "rock opera" (especially on stage). The lyrics here followed a genius plot and are able to untangle a story involving love and tragedy whilst producing the bands best pieces of music to date. Scenes boasts incredible guitar and keyboard battles, thundering basslines and mouth watering drum work, as well as LaBrie's inspiritional vocals and Pettruci's incredible long and fiddley guitar solos. The foundations of this album are built up by the solid musicianship that the band have built up over the last 10 years, but what separates this album from the others is how the band pushed themselves furthur than their limits to produce a beautiful piece of music that is as close to perfection as you can find.

The record suceeds in blending heavy guitar fury, emotional melodies and mellow acoustic pieces, backed by LaBries wide variety of singing styles and an excellent change of speedy keyboard solos and heart filled slow pieces. This album is also a huge step up on experimenting with music. Scenes from a Memory includes sound effects, scripted characters and a more realistic array of background sounds. These are played alongside the daring use of choirs, female vocalists, orchestral pieces and speaking parts within the songs. This is quite daring and can often drift away from the bands progressive metal background but it is much better to see how many different directions Dream Theater can take on one album.

Although this album is much more mellow and emotional than previous pieces, the album makes up for this by including some of the bands best heavy metal input of their career. "Overture 1928" is a brilliant metallic solo to set the scene of things to come and essentially warm up the album. This alone plays as a brilliant conceptual progressive piece as well as a strong individual instrumental. The astonishing furious guitar and keyboard battle in the middle of "Fatal Tragedy" is one of the best things i have ever heard, alongside Petrucci's incredible weaving guitar solo. "Home" and "Beyond This Life" are also must haves for any metal fans alongside the dark and haunting "Dance of Eternity".

The mellow parts of the album are just as brilliant. Two emotional pieces standout here and show LaBrie's best ever singing quality. "Strange Deja Vous" shows an everchanging pattern in glorious vocal melodies. LaBrie's voice sours ahead of all of his previous work. "Regression" includes a beautiful acoustic ballad but the slow piano fueled piece, "Through Her Eyes" shows off the best moments of Rudess' piano skills. LaBrie and Petrucci's best songwriting skills is seen clearly here (although it is in most of their other tracks too). "Through Her Eyes" is incredibly moving and is a huge improvement on similar pieces from previous albums such as "The Silent Man" and "Wait For Sleep".

Scenes from a Memory is the very definition of progressive rock and this album remains one of the best concept albums and finest pieces of music ever written.

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Send comments to frenchie (BETA) | Report this review (#11664) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Review by penguindf12
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Scenes from a Memory" is the first taste of prog metal I had (aside from the horrible live album "Once in a Live Time" which my brother, a hard core metal fan, really liked), and is a great starter. DREAM THEATER is PINK FLOYD and RUSH meets METALLICA, if you really want to so simply define this band, and they are great.

"Regression" begins with the ticking of a clock in a hypnotherapist's office. Nicholas is getting hypnotherapy because the dreams he has been having concern a girl who lived in the 1920s named Victoria. As the hypnotherapist counts down from 10, a soft acoustic tune fades in and Nicholas begins to dig into his subconscious...

"Overture 1928" is an excellent instrumental track with keyboards and guitars working together very nicely. It goes into "Strange Deja Vu," one of my favorite song on here with lyrics. It describes Nicholas' dreams and how he and Victoria seem to have a strange conncection. But it ends with nothing solved.

"Through my Words/Fatal Tradgedy" is another winner, with a soft piano opener and a heavy metal finish. It reveals that Nicholas is in fact the reincarnation of Victoria! Nicholas sets out to figure out why the memory of her has been plaguing him in his sleep, and discovers that she was murdered by a jilted lover. A short instrumental follows, with a breathtaking conclusion as the hypnotherapist opens the next track...

"Beyond this Life" is yet another wonderous song, describing in excruciating detail the murder by effectively singing the words printed in a (fictional) 1928 newspaper. It seems that murderer killed Victoria, then committed suicide. A witness came to find them both, and called for assistance. This song has the most awkward lyrics of the album, and fails to rhyme or even make sense at times. A good part of this song is instrumental, and a great one at that. Nest is "Looking through her eyes" is a good ballad-type song which looks at Nicholas mourning Victoria's death.

The second act opens with "Home," a fairly good but somewhat overlong song about the Miracle and the Sleeper. As far as I can tell, the Miracle is Victoria's jilted lover and the Sleeper is her admirer (and eventually her boyfriend, I think).

"The Dance of Eternity" is an amazing instrumental song. It is able to switch from heavy metal guitar to classic piano in an instant, and if you listened to "Metropolis Part One," the "dance of eternity" is love. "One Last Time" is a fairly cryptic ballad-type song, I'm not sure what it is about. Maybe about the Sleeper and Victoria's love, or the death of Victoria, but then again, I'm not exactly sure.

Next we have "The Spirit Carries On." It is the sort of song you could play in church, with its faith-full lyrics and soft metal ballad feel. The vocals on here are very Roger WATERS, with sighs and a sort of older feel to them. It sounds like WATERS on "Amused to Death," mainly. This song is about Nicholas coming to terms with the death of Victoria.

Finally there is "Finally Free." It is VERY cryptic, but I think it goes like this as far as I can tell: the Miracle framed the Sleeper for the murder of Victoria, then shot the Sleeper as well and said it was suicide. This means he is the "witness" in "Beyond this Life." Nicholas then supposedly wakes up, and goes home. He turns on the TV, then listens to some music, then the hypnotherapist wakes him up again? I have no clue. Very, very strange ending. I cannot make heads or tails of it.

Pretty cool progressive metal overall.

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Send comments to penguindf12 (BETA) | Report this review (#11678) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Review by Man With Hat
COLLABORATOR Jazz-Rock/Fusion Team
4 stars A rating of 3.5 is much more accurate. However, I've rounded up for the sole reason that if you choose to only own one Dream Theater album this is the one to own.

Overall, there are some splendid songs over these 77 minutes. Overture 1928, Home, The Dance Of Eternity are all top notch. Unfortunately there are plenty of not so good moments to balance these out: Through Her Eyes, The Spirit Carries On, One Last Time. The shorter tracks (Regression, Through My Words) don't really add anything either, as they exist mostly to push the story. The others are somewhere in the middle. Strange Deja Vu is pretty good, but with some pretty poor lyrics, Fatal Tragedy has the same flaws, and the final piece doesn't feel good enough to be the conclusion in this story, even though it has its moments (and obviously wraps up the story).

All and all, this albums has its moments, some of them glorious, but has too many flaws to be considered a "great" album. But, to my ears, this is the best Dream Theater ever did in their career (at least up to 2011). I believe it to be their most progressive (stylistically), their most ambitious, and their most successful. If you want a good comingling of classic symphonic prog and metal this is a damn good choice.

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Send comments to Man With Hat (BETA) | Report this review (#11682) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, November 08, 2004

Review by TRoTZ
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars After the monumental "Images and Words" in 1992, Dream Theater didn't manage to make such a complete album like this one. This album was made to be a masterpiece. And with no surprise, it is the continuation of the unfinished suite from "Images and Words". It has everything an album should have: great instrumental work, good melodies, a great story, good production. And it is a unit: we can figure clearly one beginning, middle and one end. It is possible you won't see the magnificent at first listening, because of the complexity of the music; you have to build the puzzle. It's definitely not fast food. But once you get into it, you'll never quit, believe.

The instrumental work is spectacular, no one finds better than this anywhere! Just for this reason, this album could be a masterpiece. The technical quality of the band line-up is unquestionable. The architecture obeys to an opera rock album; it has 2 acts which subdivide in several scenes. It has an interesting story, about past lives. The main character has repetitive dreams about a girl, who calls him, and he is compelled to make a hypnotic session with a therapist to discover the reason, like he knew he will solve his own life.

So the album starts with Regression - a hypnotic session which makes us, the listeners, get into the ambience of the story. It's an original overture for the album, and it fits so well! The voice of the therapist is perfect: you can feel yourself being relaxed, like you're being prepared to listen to a monumental suite. As this happens, a small and beautiful melody appears slowly, with acoustic guitar, introducing the album. With Overture 1928 the album starts truly. Heavy architecture, resembling RUSH, YES and metal influences. The first guitar solo (1:35), is magnificent. If you like the emotional guitar solo's of PINK FLOYD, you certainly won't regret this. This guitar solo is going to reappear in One last Time of the second act, culminating wonderfully the emotional heaviness of this music. Wonderful crying guitar!

In fact, this album has lot of deep emotional parts. We can find beautiful and complex piano melodies, particularly in the beginning of Fatal Tragedy, on One last time and Spirit Carries On just to mention some. This last is the lyric explosion of the album: Labrie sings "If I die tomorrow I'll be alright because I believe that after we're gone, the spirit carries on" as the character feels death coming. accomplished by a remarkable melody. We can find some good melodies all over the album, like in Fatal Tragedy, Through her eyes (which assents in the album like Floyd's The Great Gig In The Sky in the Dark Side of the Moon) and specially in the last track, Finally Free which ends brilliantly the album, and is my personal favourite. For fans of metal and technique, you can find in the second part of Fatal Tragedy the highlight of the album, with heavy guitar riffs and drums, psychedelic guitar and keyboard solos; but also in Beyond this life, the crazy Dance of Eternity and Home. In this last, Rudess imitates the oriental guitar citara on his keyboard. Perhaps the band took too long their technical experiments in this music (who blames anyway?).

The negative aspects in this album are the excessive technical quality of its members, (they can exaggerate in some parts), by other hand, Labrie's voice can be hard to accept. Though a major force of technicism, feeling and songwriting, the album is not a brilliant force of originality.

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Send comments to TRoTZ (BETA) | Report this review (#11689) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, December 24, 2004

Review by FloydWright
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I am with Brian Adair when I say that some times I like the idea of this album, sometimes I hate it. The thing is, it tends to be that I like the idea when I am not listening, and dislike it when I am. I don't want to imply at all that this album is garbage, or that there's nothing about it I enjoy. I'm not someone who trashes popular albums for the heck of it--but it does seem my tastes are different from some on this site. Nor am I one of those DREAM THEATER-haters who feels a need to trash every album they put out just because it's DREAM THEATER. When they deserve five stars, I'll award it, as I did for Awake. I was also pleased with Train of Thought, even though I didn't think it as strong as Awake, and Images and Words wasn't too bad either. This, however, had some significant problems that get in the way of my wanting to listen to on any kind of regular basis.

I don't know if anybody remembers a book called Fortunately, Unfortunately from when they were little kids, but it will provide a perfect format for this review. ;-)

Fortunately, I do not have the problem with JAMES LaBRIE's voice that some people seem to be having--after I heard his performance on AYREON's album The Human Equation, I was permanently cured of any dislike for his singing. Unfortunately, on Scenes, we don't get to hear all of the different kinds of singing LaBRIE is capable of. Maybe some people who didn't like his screaming on Awake might breathe a sigh of relief, but for me it makes the performance seem like it was lacking some of the dynamics it could've had.

Fortunately, the premise for Scenes from a Memory is a very interesting read, and fun to contemplate. I'd rank it up there among some of the best concept ideas out there, rivaling works by PINK FLOYD and AYREON. Unfortunately, the execution of this concept just doesn't work out anywhere near as well as it could have. The trouble, in my opinion, is the opposite of the problem I have with PINK FLOYD's failed concept, The Wall--instead of the music being lacking and dominated by the concept, Scenes goes for the other extreme: the music gets so far out of control that it ends up interrupting the flow of the story. I find myself wanting to skip ahead to the parts where the story itself is happening.

Fortunately, it's quite evident that DREAM THEATER has some talented musicians. I've heard that on previous albums like the masterpiece Awake, where that lineup produced some truly wonderful, memorable music that has earned a very special place among my collection of prog albums. Unfortunately, there has been a lineup change since those times, and bad things have happened. I know some people are great fans of his, and he was even featured on the cover of Keyboard Magazine, but if I'm to form an opinion from this album, I do not like JORDAN RUDESS prior to Octavarium. He's talented, yes, but I think he is one of the main sources of DREAM THEATER's breakdown in discipline. He simply goes on too long, and I don't always like the tone of the synthesizers he uses. He needed more time to develop as a keyboardist with an appropriate sense of when and when not to play--his best moments are certainly not here.

Fortunately, there are a few good songs that do stick out to me as memorable in and of themselves, and are one of the (few) reasons that at this time I've decided to hold on to Scenes and see if the whole album will grow on me. The first is "Overture 1928", one of the better metal moments on the album (I know, I know, some reviewers don't care for the metal influences, but I seek it) and the second, which meant even more to me, was the inspirational "The Spirit Carries On". I saw one reviewer trash this song for the gospel choir--but I really feel that was unjustified, that the choir is perfectly in context with this song. The best way I can describe "The Spirit Carries On" is (ironically) exactly what that same reviewer alluded to--like one of ROGER WATERS' songs from The Final Cut or another of his solo albums, both in vocals and chord structures...the difference is I mean it as a compliment. This song is so different from the rest of the album that it is instantly memorable. The length--6:38--means that it is among the most restrained of the songs on the album. When this lineup of DREAM THEATER is not straining to be prog, good things happen, and this song is an example of it. (I'll be revisiting this theme someday when I give a positive review to Train of Thought.) I may be a sentimental sap, but the lyrics and delivery of this song just about bring me to tears, and even if I end up selling this album, there's no doubt I'll be ripping this song to keep forever. Along similar lines to "The Spirit Carries On", there is also "Through Her Eyes", which probably gets even sappier, but still, for the restraint and for LaBRIE's vocals, I still enjoy it.

Unfortunately, most of the songs are so bogged down by endless, undisciplined soloing that they're impossible to tell from each other. I have no objections to fast, technically impressive solos. SYMPHONY X pulls it off quite nicely on a regular basis and I love them for it. There are two things, however, that SYMPHONY X does that DREAM THEATER does not, and these make all the difference. 1) SymX keeps the pacing and rhythm of the music fast most of the time so as not to bore the listener as the solos are going on and 2) seems to understand exactly how long they can get away with doing the same type of thing before they need to change instruments, themes, or stop the soloing altogether. This is what I refer to as discipline--knowing how much you can get away with before it crosses the line into self-indulgence, and having the guts to edit the self-indulgent parts out before the album hits the shelf. DT, unfortunately, slows down too much, and I'm convinced that most of the time, slower music just isn't their strong suit. This accentuates the feeling of the album dragging its feet during the solos, too, and makes it all the more clear when they don't STOP when they need to. Sometimes they have a good thing going...I seem to remember a very cool Eastern-inspired riff in "Home", but they manage to make you completely forget the good they did by going on way, WAY too long for their own good.

Ultimately, I think "Fans only" describes this album to a T. I think one has to be a serious DREAM THEATER fan to get into this album, and the way things stand now, I am only a casual fan, and I think they're better off when they tend more towards pure metal, and the metal element is only an occasional visitor here. It may be a little embarrassing to admit all of this, considering the accolades this album gets...but getting into DREAM THEATER with this is like jumping into the deep end of the pool before learning how to swim, and I'm not quite sure I even want to.

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Send comments to FloydWright (BETA) | Report this review (#11695) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, January 31, 2005

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars With the addition of Jordan Rudess on keyboards, the virtuostic appeal of the band came more notable clear here, but it can go overboard sometimes and sounding very hectic sometimes, but otherwise, the song-writing is excellent, following the concept of the "Metropolis" track featured on the 1992 "Images & Words" album. I will not go into any further details here, as this review will get too long if I do that, but I can say that it's very well done conceptually. However, "Through Her Eyes" along with a couple of other parts here are horrible, really poor and drags this album way down. But the other material is very strong musically. 4.5/5

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Send comments to Bj-1 (BETA) | Report this review (#11710) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 31, 2005

Review by The Prognaut
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A true masterpiece. Definitely, this album reached the unthinkable heights of lyrical togetherness, conquered the undeniable virtuosity on its instrumentation and tracked down the sense of perfection merely off limits. Only a couple of years had to go by before it became a point of departure within the pages of Metal Progressive Rock. I'm pretty sure any time you're asked to list down your top five metal prog records, "Scenes From a Memory" will pop inside your mind irremediably. Also, this clean piece of work represents not only committed improvement but extreme awareness. DREAM THEATER certainly surpassed all the possible boundaries and created their ultimate production. It shows conciseness, a renewed style, complete precision and a spirit of its own. The band managed to pull off the impossible by completing chapter one of the "Metropolis" experience condensed through "Images and Words", creating a conceptual sequence that far beyond from being a titanic task of putting together jigsaw pieces one after the other, it reveals this kind of unspoken creativity and imagination that had never been unmasked in previous releases until "Scenes From a Memory" saw the light for the first time.

The album is divided in two acts and nine scenes. First half is as introductory as laconic. It represents the powerful side of the album, that takes right on after the hypnotic prologue in the voice of James LaBRIE, who by the way, I never perceived as devoted to his inner growth like I did in here. Quite convincing I must say. Thus, by experimenting several changes of costumes throughout five different characters, the Canadian front man leads our senses all along the nine scenes in a paused yet anguishing way. The voices, the impersonations, the ambition to display unleashing strength and passion, they all match perfectly to the music and that's what I call dedication. I still don't digest LaBRIE's particular way to perform behind the microphone entirely, but this time the argumentation is well justified. Up to scene five, the tracks run devouringly neat and yet they get to strike fiercely inside your ears, plagued of ease, compassed keyboards, rhythmic and crunchy guitar interludes and of course, thunderous drum beating by Mike PORTNOY. All in all, there's this piece right at the end of act one I don't appreciate completely, which is "Through Her Eyes". The track is just way too mellow, almost intolerable to conceive within the depths of this album, but I think the total running time needed a "missing you" break to take on the ride to come in act two.

And so, act two. Personally, the latter half of the album is better arranged and explained, musically and lyrically. The closing section to "Scenes From a Memory" is totally cathartic, is evidently detached from act one no matter if what we're handling here is a concept album. Firstly, there's this sort of implosion taken away by James LaBRIE along the strident guitar of virtuoso John PETRUCCI. The fact of distilling such powerfulness through the strings of that guitar, forced LaBRIE somehow to measure up to a level of commitment and ravishing composure. Secondly, and clutched tight to that remarkable fact, the performance of Jordan RUDESS on keyboards is exceptional. Under my personal appreciation, he's the best keyboardist (and choir conductor) the band ever lined-up. He managed to easily override Kevin MOORE and Derek SHERINIAN despite the "Images and Words" and "A Change of Seasons" experiences by perfecting a depurated technique that made him set off the rest immediately. Just relate to scene seven, "The Dance of Eternity" / "One Last Time"; just for starters and if you don't take my word on this matter.

By flowing from present to past in its conception, "Scenes From a Memory" is unarguably the band's finest piece of work in my opinion. Devotedly crafted, outrageously executed and exceptionally intertwined. Maybe to many compliments in few lines, but believe me, they are insufficient to describe the quality of this Prog Metal milestone. Mesmerizing, captivating, representative. DREAM THEATER at its best!

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Send comments to The Prognaut (BETA) | Report this review (#11713) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, April 11, 2005

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Subtitled Metropolis Pt 2, this is a concept album about an incident that is revealed through regression therapy. It's also the second DT album I owned, and is what convinced me that despite the high level of musicianship DT's end product wasn't really for me. All the ingredients were in place, but there was a little too much straight-on metal from the band, a little too much shredding from Petrucci and too little keyboards from Jordan Ruddess.

It sounds like an exaggeration but this album goes on for 77 minutes and I can scarely point to the bits of music I enjoyed ... The instrumental Dance Of Eternity (Vaudeville piano and a Myung bass solo!), The Wall rip-off The Spirit Carries On and the concluding Finally Free (which feels like one hell of an ironic title) are the best songs while the arabic moments on Home and a Ruddess solo in the middle of Beyond This Life also caught my ear but certainly there was nothing I hadn't already heard on A Change Of Seasons.

Far too much of the album was monotous and predictable. Surely we turn to prog-rock expecting variety, not formulae? I eventually sold my copy of this album, and I haven't really missed it. ... 26% on the MPV scale

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Send comments to Trotsky (BETA) | Report this review (#11727) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Review by MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This really is a masterpiece, a quintessential modern prog rock concept album. There are many people out there who don't consider Dream Theater to be prog at all. IMHO there are many more who do, and I'm one of those open minded people who have understood that there are many different kinds of prog music.

Dream Theater - generally and on this album in particular - focus on structure and virtuosity. The music is always very controlled, refined and thoughtfully laid out. But with all this technical perfection, this album features beautiful melodies as well.

Production also is nearly perfect, I cannot understand people who say otherwise. However, there might still be a chance that you will not like the album (or Dream Theater) at all: The vocals are not everybody's cup of tea, as are the classical and avantgardistic (ZAPPA) influences and lengthy solos.

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Send comments to MikeEnRegalia (BETA) | Report this review (#11732) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, May 26, 2005

Review by FishyMonkey
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Well, this is it. Dream Theater's trump card. You argue about whether or not Dream Theater is good, you pull out this album. Someone asks you if they can listen to some good DT, you let them listen tothis album. But is all really that good, worthy of all the praise?

Nope, it's not. It comes damn near perfection at some points, and then at others, it falls flat on it's face. Now what is it all about? Scenes From a Memory is a concept album revolving around one Victoria and her relationship with the Sleeper and the Miracle. The story is rather interesting the first couple times, and even has a few good plot twists. Yes, plot twists in an album. But what about the music? Here's where it gets really debatable. I'm gonna go piece by piece, there's really no other way to do it.

First off we have Regression, with some pretty singing and it really makes you feel relaxed when listening to it. Not a bad piece, but it doesn't count for much, so I'm going to include it with Overture 1928. Overture 1928 is a really killer piece, all instrumental .It's got some great melodies along the way, and is one of the most passionate pieces on the whole album. Yup, that's right, without singing. Excellent piece, 10/10.

Next up is Strange Deja vu, the first real song. Here are some more strong melodies, especially th section "Tonight I am searching for it..." is really powerful and effective. Otherwise, Labrie's voice tends to get wearisome, which holds back the otherwise awesome instrumentals. The song kinda meanders along until it gets to a faster section, then goes back to the original theme with a nice piano entrance. It's nice, but Labrie's voice pisses me off, and it does kinda wander along. Don't think it's a bad piece though, because it's not. 8.5/10

Now we have Through My Words and Fatal Tragedy which are basically one song. Fatal Tragedy suffers from the some wandering as Strange Deja vu, but also has basically the same strengths as Strange deja vu. Labrie's voice is much better here though, and the whole thing seems much more focused until about four minutes in, where they solo for a good two minutes aimlessly until it ends. I used to love the solo section cause it's great musicianship, but now it's just wearisome. Other than that, great piece. 9/10

Next up is Beyond This Life, which kicks off with an awesome guitar section and great drumming, until Labrie's voice comes in and starts singing about a newspaper article. This song really has some great lyrics and great instrumentals, and Labrie comes through very well. Too bad about 1/3 of the way through, once again they lose their focus and solo for about the next four minutes, which sucks. In my opinion this song should be about 6 minutes max instead of 9, and it shouldn't be half awesome and half random solo-ing. Ehh...it would get a 10 if there was no solo-ing. 9/10

Through Her Eyes. THIS is a good piece. LaBrie is dead on here and sounds great the whole time. The lyrics are excellent and the song is well-put together, overall, I have no complaints, it's an excellent piece. 10/10

Home, just like Beyond This Life, suffers from overly long solos and self-indulgence, but has great lyrical sections and once again labrie sounds great. Good lyrics too, just furthers the mystery already drawn up. Excellent stuff, heavy too, very powerful, just the damn solos! That's what holds this album back! 9/10

The Dance of Eternity. Blah. Great instrumental piece, chaotic as it should be, just a bit too long. Cut it back to five minutes and you've got one hell of a piece. I like it quite a lot...just a tad too long like I said. 8.5/10

One Last Time...I dunno know about this piece. It starts off pretty average, with Ruddess farting around playing fast for the sake of playing fast, but builds to something amazing with a familiar melody from earlier songs. Labrie sounds kinda bad hear, especially in the beginning. Portnoy is REAL good here, however. At about the 2:20 mark the song picks up and doesn't let up until the end, where it exits with a haunting piano melody that fades right into The Spirit Carries On. I give it... an 8.5/10.

The Spirit Carries On is one of those songs you don't really like at first but it grows on you pretty fast. I still don't love it, but it's a great sing-along song, hehe. The lyrics are pretty good and the melody is nice and soothing. It isn't really that great, but it's not bad at ALL. 8.5/10

Finally Free is the most powerful song on the album, easily. It reveals the awesome climax of the album which you're better off hearing on your own. It's got some nice piano work and has good background sound effects, which is incidentally all the last four minutes is. Fine work, powerful, I love this song, even if about half of it is just story. 10/10

Now, you may be looking at my individual song reviews and wondering...wait, he gave them nothing below an 8.5. What's with the 4/5? This album is NOT perfect. Number one: it gets stale after a couple listens. Because of the overly long story, some cheesy parts and some bad singing by Labrie, you want to move on to other things. The first listen is extremely powerful, and if I was rating it after that first listen, I'd probably give it a 5/5. However, I try to listen to the albums I review a couple times before I do the review, and this is no exception. It loses all of its' sheen after a few listens, and someglaring flaws stick out. Another thing, the songs on a whole aren't up to par with songs from I&W and Awake, but the thing is, they flow together so well that the first listen will be that great. Then, you will be able to discern after a few more listens that the individual songs aren't masterpieces, at least not them all as you probably first though, but simply great or good osngs that flow together extremely well. As an album, it's unbelievable, as a collection of songs, if you catch my meaning, it's not DT's best. That goes to Awake or SDOIT.

All that aside, excellent album, one that still spins in my CD player occasionally. You should definitely get a copy.

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Send comments to FishyMonkey (BETA) | Report this review (#11733) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 27, 2005

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Not a masterpiece - and not Prog - just long

There's a lot of "bling" but no real substance in this album - similarly to "Images and Words", which was the last Dream Theater album I reviewed. In fact, the two are pretty much interchangeable - there's nothing much to distinguish the two from each other, in terms of musical styles and textures apart from the annoying "relaxation tape" section right at the beginning.

It's been a real slog to review this, as it simply does not hold interest. Most times I've switched off somewhere in the middle of song 3 - but I've felt that I should give it a real chance, since it's so highly rated, so I've kept at it over the last year and a half, in order to build up a picture of why it holds no interest, and why I do not find it to be a masterpiece.

Firstly there's the "relaxation tape" bit. What's that about? If it wasn't for the fact that I've heard these kinds of words so many times on old tapes from the 1970s, I'd still hate it for the patronising way the words are delivered.

Before the acoustic guitar enters, a background female voice is apparent - strongly reminiscent of "The Great Gig In The Sky". The vocal is terribly "precious", and the guitar playing precise and without feeling. The music itself is very cliched, reminding me of something from "The Wall", but without the drama.

The first indication of prog is the title of the next piece "Overture 1928". The first issue I have is with the production - it's just too brittle, which gives a clinical sound overall. This, combined with the pristine execution just makes the entire album sound fake and loses a significant amount of musicality.

Then there's the music itself. The main riffs are terribly derived - the first one sounding like it might have come from an early Van Halen album, and the drumming is so precise it sounds like it could have been done via a MIDI drum machine with no quantization. The technicalities and fills are so "in your face" that it's difficult to appreciate the music that underpins the technical trickery.

"Strange Deja Vu" is a very apt title: From which NWOBHM classic does that riff come? Answers on a postcard to... ;o) It all seems so familiar - the only real saving grace is that the instrumental timbres are very "hot". Pity about the vocals and dreadful half-baked harmonies. Structurally, there is nothing exciting going on - typical rock song structure, and the overall effect is that of a standard and forgettable rock song with extended bridge passages. These are quite interesting in and of themselves - but do not either grow from the existing music, or bear any realation to previous thematic material as one would expect in prog rock. The sudden shifts of mood may appeal to some, but I find they disturb the progression of the music rather than enhance it.

At 1:39 the first bridge occurs, and has a smorgesbord of Queen about it. The riff and melodies are good, if not particularly imaginative, and do not really develop, but drop into and out of a soft rock flavoured mush at 1:54, then there's a drop to a quasi-Rakhmaninov piano section - very basic, but quite nice in itself if, again, unrelated.

The tune to "Through My Words" reminds me of "The Living Years" by Mike (Rutherford) and the Mechanics - a very simple pop song, which is utterly unremarkable.

"Fatal Tragedy" - somewhat of a tautology, begins with horribly cheesey grade 3 standard piano overlaid with a snarly Vai-esque riff. There is no real harmonic invention - the safe option is chosen all the way through, and attention is paid to timbre (the sound of it) with various layers. A plethora of cheesey devices lead to a monotonous riffing section at 2:30 ish - but none of this stops this from being a very standard rock song with excessive frills and decoration, which is ultimately derivative and forgettable. There might be a mind- boggling succession of changes, but ultimately, these do not generally serve to drive the music but are wearying, and explain why I've normally stopped listening by now. Some of the pyrotechnics are very good in and of themselves - impressive and immaculately executed, but I can detect no real feeling for musical direction and drama, rather the opportunity to stick together the ultimate collage of bits and pieces.

The main problem I have here is that this piece challenges the analyst in me - in ways that I'd prefer not to be challenged. I don't want to have to piece together the collage myself to view the overall picture - I expect the creators of the work to give an overall coherence to the music that makes analysis difficult, rather than blatantly obvious. When the building blocks of the music are so obvious, it detracts from the overall big picture - and I'm really not surprised as, musically, there isn't one. This is music written to go with a concept - the music itself is non-conceptual and disjointed.

"Beyond This Life" starts promisingly with something that sounds like it came from the old school of thrash, with a nice dark mood - which is spoilt by that horrible keyboard.

I think a final summary is better than a continuing blow-by-blow account, as the "blows" are densely packed - and if you like that sort of thing, then this is probably right up your street, and will make you feel like an analyst listening to it.

If you are already analytically inclined, then you will probably hate this and find it somewhat amateurish - despite the obvious virtuosity, polished performances and production.

It's not really prog rock, as there is nothing organic about the music - on the contrary, there is a profound digital edge to it - which again, some people might find appealing.

It's not really metal either, despite the metal riffs and "hot" guitar sounds. Metal is driven by riffs - they are not incidental.

It's kind of progressive, in that there is a deliberate attempt to fuse a variety of different styles together - even if it doesn't work particularly well, as the whole album ends up sounding very samey on a casual listen.

So you could see it as unique - but it sounds like a soft conglomeration of a lot of other bands work. A kind of nu-prog, I suppose.

It's not altogether bad - there are moments that are really, genuinely enjoyable - but these are few and far between, IMO.

In short, if you're already a fan of DT, you've probably already got this album and completely disagree with every word I've said.

If you're not already a fan, then I would advise buying some real prog. King Crimson are very good :o)

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Send comments to Certif1ed (BETA) | Report this review (#37201) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Review by Tony Fisher
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Frankly, this is not great. The musicianship is extremely competent but for every good idea (and there are some) there is one equally crass and stupid. The Dance of Eternity epitomises what is wrong with Dream Theater; the emphasis is on showing their instrumental virtuosity rather than creating great music. Overall, the lyrics are frankly banal, Labrie's voice grates and the concept is scarcely enthralling. Sure there are great moments (Overture and The Spirit Carries On) but too many tracks are cheesy parodies of prog metal with every possible cliche thrown in. And finally, why can't Petrucci, for all his speed and shredding ability, just SLOW DOWN and inject some emotion and passion into his playing, like Latimer, Rothery, Hackett and Gilmour do? Answers on a postcard, please.

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Send comments to Tony Fisher (BETA) | Report this review (#40187) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 24, 2005

Review by Zitro
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Dream Theater has proven that they could write a highly artistic concept album (about a murder), while not sacrificing their heavy metal sound. This album is a journey that starts with 'close your eyes' and ends with 'open your eyes' which when you hear it, you will realize it is one of the most unique endings of the album.

The Album begins with a relaxing acoustic introduction with warm and gentle singing of LaBrie. Once the listener is drawn in and the story begins ... it is a flowing piece of heavy music of many moods. The quality of the music is Dream Theater at their best, lyrically, and instrumentally. The first half is not extraordinary though, with great but not excellent rockers, a few ballads, and a long song called 'Beyond this Life' which doesn't appeal to me. It depends on a mediocre heavy riff that reminds me of 'america' from Emerson Lake And Palmer. It has an instrumental section of pointless soloing, but the song is saved by beautiful choruses.

The Second Half is stronger than the first half in my opinion. Home is the heaviest track of the album and it floors me every time I listen to it. The main riff of the song is excellent, and the soloing is better than in 'beyond this life'. While The Dance for Eternity is for me the weakest Dream Theater song I know (it has no structure and I do not like the solos), the last two tracks are some of the best songs the band did. The Spirit Carries on is an anthemic sing-along piece of great melodies, and Finally Free has a mesmerizing slow distorted riff and some of the best drumming ever put in record. Once the 'open your eyes Nicholas' is finally heard, you will end up with satisfaction.

1. Scene One: Regression (9/10) 2. Scene TWO: I.Overture 1928 (8/10) 3. II.Strange Deja Vu (8/10) 4. Scene Three: I.Through My Words (7.5/10) 5. II.Fatal Tragedy (8/10) 6. Scene Four: Beyond This Life (5/10) 7. Scene Five: Through Her Eyes (8/10) 8. Scene Six: Home (9/10) 9. Scene Seven: I.The Dance of Eternity (3/10) 10. II.One Last Time (7/10) 11. Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On (10/10) 12. Scene Nine: Finally Free (9.5/10)

My grade : B

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Send comments to Zitro (BETA) | Report this review (#41925) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, August 07, 2005

Review by Yanns
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The time has finally arrived for me to say what I want to say about this album, Dream Theater's magnum opus, Metropolis Part 2. I wanted to let off reviewing this for a little while after I became a collaborator so to fend off the accusations that I might be a "Dream Theater" fanboy, someone that would rate everything they did a 5 blindly out of pure crazed lunacy for "the greatest band on earth ever YEAH!"

So, as is obvious now, I am NOT one of these crazed fans. However, I do recognize Dream Theater as being the best Prog Metal band on earth. BIG difference. Personally, I don't think bands like Symphony X and Shadow Gallery can even compare. Dream Theater has accomplished more in terms of music than any other ProgMet bands can or ever will do.

Now, for this album itself. I'm stating right here that this album is most likely in the top ten albums ever made. I have no shame in saying this. Also, understand that my main focus and love in terms of prog is symphonic prog, not metal! Yet, I feel that when you mention Close to the Edge, Thick as a Brick, Brain Salad Surgery, and all the rest of the prog works of everlasting art, this absolutely must be mentioned along side of them.

You can talk about the band's playing instrumentally all you want to. It's my personal belief that Mike Portnoy is the best drummer on earth as of right now. I don't say this because he is absolutely insane technically. That, of course, has something to do with it, but it's also because he can be very tasteful when needed. Petrucci is technically brilliant as well, and Rudess is the most brilliant keyboardist on earth right now too. Pattern forming? Myung's bass is also as good as you get, even though it could probably be a little louder at points. Finally, guys, stop knocking LaBrie. Yes, his voice can get, well, iffy, when they are live, but in the studio, he's fantastic.

As a five part whole, the saying "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" applies to the max. Dream Theater is the tightest group to ever exist. As my cousin once said, "You kinda get angry after you listen to them. You say 'Ah, how can they actually be that good?' ". Their music can get incredibly complex, but it sounds like one person doing five different things, not five DIFFERENT people doing DIFFERENT things at the EXACT same time, PERFECTION.

However, I do not think this is a masterpiece because of the band's playing. Sure, that helps. But it's mainly due to the pure feeling and sheer overwhelming quality it delivers. In terms of songwriting, Dream Theater cannot be beat, and they know how to tell a story, if you haven't already guessed this is a concept album, what with the Acts and Scenes.

Act I Scene I: Regression - The simple clock ticking opens up the album, and while the hypnotherapist speaks, you can hear a woman in the background, and it foreshadows the rest of the album to come. Gradually, Petrucci's acoustic guitar enters, washing away the hypnotherapist, and LaBrie helps immerse the listener and the main character in his memories. This is how you open a concept album.

Act I Scene II: 1) Overture 1928 - Off we go. Instrumental song that packs everything one would come to expect from Dream Theater plus more. It also introduces some of the themes that show up later throughout the album. Everything is woven in brilliantly. Then, 2) Strange Deja Vu - Same concepts of Overture 1928, plus LaBrie and more. It gives the listener his/her first real inkling as to where this album can truly go with all 5 members in full swing.

Act I Scene III: 1) Through My Words - Very short piano intro with singing and few other elements. Absolutely perfect to calm down the album, even only for about a minute, before it kicks back in again. Get ready, because then 2) Fatal Tragedy - Whoa. It could be the best song on this album. And that would be saying something. It proves that emotion can also be delivered with Dream Theater music. I'm trying to find a word to use other than "brilliant" to use on this album, and I simply cannot.

Act I Scene IV: Beyond This Life - The 5/4 intro gives little hint to what follows. The lyrics here are from a newstory, and it is actually pulled off very well. As with Fatal Tragedy, there are unbelievable keyboard and guitar solos. This song is just pure cool. It's also very good as one of the longer songs on the album.

Act I Scene V: Through Her Eyes - Way way way too many people attack this song. Yes, it's much slower and features female vocals, but that does not mean that it is sappy or bad at all. In fact, I find it to be a very touching song that does well in ending the first half of the album.

Act II Scene VI: Home - The longest song on the album, and surely does not disappoint. It has a slightly Middle Eastern feel to it at points, and overall the effect works. It shows a span of Dream Theater's work. Surely, this album couldn't get better. Right.

Act II Scene VII: 1) The Dance of Eternity - Instrumental, and absolutely insane instrumental at that. It brings back Overture 1928, and then goes in a whole new direction, with every type of solo. The standout solo (for me, that is): the ragtime piano solo. Rudess knows how to play, and this shows that his solos aren't just measures of 64th notes (also listen to the piano solo in the Solitary Shell section of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence). 2) One Last Time - The album is coming to a close, and this starts the ending, full of emotion. LaBrie is indeed fantastic here. This is probably a standout track for him. Then again, every song is.

Act II Scene VIII: The Spirit Carries On - Wow. Maybe even more emotion than One Last Time. Here, everything has been brought full circle. Everything comes back here, and the culmination is complete. It might have received my vote for best album closer ever, if it was in fact the end of the album, and if there wasn't another even better closer, which luckily is in fact on this album.

Act II Scene IX: Finally Free - Remember how I said that Dream Theater knows how to open a concept album? Well, this proves that they are even better with closers? This also has the good chance of being the best song on the album. Absolutely incredible. It singlehandedly takes the album in a new direction (in a good way, mind you), and it is also extremely cool, and is also extremely emotional, all at the same time. The middle section with the, well, event going on (I don't want to ruin it) is phenomenal, made even better with the addition of the hypnotherapist saying "Open your eyes, Nicholas" in a very frightening way. Then, of course, he says it again, and after a short yelp, the needle leaps off the record.

Suppose you are a casual prog fan. You know, you have one or two Yes albums, a Genesis album, and a Pink Floyd album. Well, regardless, you should still have this. Let's go one further. Suppose you like music. You know, you have some Led Zeppelin, maybe some other bands. Well, regardless, you should still have this. This album is that good, that everyone should have heard it. I do not think that it is the greatest album ever made (a status that can never be fully realized for any album at all), but it's up there. 5/5 stars.

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Send comments to Yanns (BETA) | Report this review (#50794) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, October 08, 2005

Review by belz
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars 3.3/5.0

"Scene Six: Home" makes me think of quite any neo-prog group. The voice is pretty unemotional (or plain bad) and the keyboards are more annoying than anything else. "Scene Seven: I.The Dance of Eternity" makes me think of a Medley where each part has not any link to the other before or after. It is like if the band had something to prove from a technical point of view. I just can't listen to this without thinking "those guys are show-offs who want to prove something to someone". True, the music is technically advanced, but where is the emotion?

The critics on those two songs are representative of what I think about this album. I don't dislike this album at all. It is a "good, but not-essential" album, which mean what it means: you DON'T have to have this album in your collection if you are a prog fan. This is NOT an essential album, unless you are deep in neoprog, metalprog or "technically-advanced-we-play-guitar-riffs-like-if-we-were-on-acid-progmusic".

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Send comments to belz (BETA) | Report this review (#68589) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 06, 2006

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Dream Theater's fifth studio album sees them dabbling in conceptual territory. The continuation of Metropolis Pt. 1 (from their breakthrough album Images & Words) get a stylish 77 minute treatment and is easily one of the most ambitious projects the group has taken on. Gone are the songs about "riding the red" and in come songs about "shine lake of fire". The album also the first to feature keyboard wizard Jordan Rudess, who also takes the liberty of conductng the choir on the album. The music on the album ranges from melodic and somber to heavy and complex, and with each new composition the band tries to break barriers that they had not before. Petrucci shines on guitar, giving great riffs and leads throughout, Portnoy consistently keeps a beat and also guides the group through the more complicated sections of the album, Myung keeps the rhythm in line and provides a great lower end to the shred of Petrucci, Rudess adds many elements to the sound through the use of his keyboard, and LaBrie brings it all together with vocals ranging from majestic to melancholic. All in all, the band is superb throughout.

The opening of the album, Regression, begins with clocks ticking back and forth and the voice of a hypnotherapist (voiced by Ex-Rush Producer Terry Brown), and is a nice acoustic opener to the album (the theme to this song is repeated later in The Spirit Carries On). Overture 1928 is the first instrumental on the album, and it shows what kind of direction Dream Theater were going in, clever use of chords and themes (some very Alex Lifeson inspired sections are in this song). It's one of the better Dream Theater instrumentals and is one of my favorites on the album. It segues into Strange Deja Vu, which is the first song that revolves around the story (no matter how convoluted it is). It has some powerhouse riffs and piano work and some great vocals from LaBrie. It segues into Through My Words, which has a repeating theme throughout the album. This one minute piano-vocal duet is a perfect mellow theme to the album, but then all hell breaks loose on the next track.

Fatal Tragedy is the "Inspector Gadget rip off" of the album, and it has some great guitar work from Petrucci (some of his best on the album). The mini-jam in the 3-4 minute has some extremely complicated rhythms and ideas that flow so perfectly with one another. The 5/4 intro to Beyond This Life kicks off into full power, with more powerhouse riffing and solos from Petrucci. The instrumental break in the middle has some great keyboard and drum interplay and there are some great sections of unison work between Petrucci and Rudess. It segues into Through Her Eyes, the poppiest track on the album. It has some nice synth drums and soothing vocal from LaBrie. This song is better represented on the Live Scenes From New York live album (which features a full performance of this album). And with the end of this song ends Act I of this album.

Act II opens with Home, possibly the strongest song on the album. By far the heaviest, with it's dropped D tuning to give it that extra punch. This song has a very middle-eastern feel to it (mainly because of Rudess's sitar sampling) and has an overly complex 19/16 outro. The Dance of Eternity follows, and it's another technical nightmare, with revolving time signatures almost every single measure. Almost every type of solo imaginable is featured here, even ragtime piano, yes, ragtime piano. This song segues into One Last Time, which is a nice LaBrie penned song that brings about the final song to the story, The Spirit Carries On. This is one of the most triumphant Dream Theater tracks and is a fan favorite. The Roger Waters type lyrics are complimented perfectly with a Petrucci version of a David Gilmour solo. Finally Free ends the album, and it goes through many different moods, from somber and metallic, to triumphant and majestic.

Overall, this is not an album to be missed. This is one of Dream Theater's crowning achievements, and it surely must not go unmissed. The themes, the solos, the lyrics, everything about this album is magnificent in every way. 5/5.

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Send comments to Cygnus X-2 (BETA) | Report this review (#73495) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars This is a classical Dream Theater album: a long progressive metal record appreciated by many progressive metal fans. Compared to their outstanding "Images & words" album, "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From a Memory" is a bit less spectacular in terms of technical performance; the mellow bits are also less shiny, majestic and romantic here: there are also less lush & colorful streams of modern floating keyboards involved; maybe the "One last time" track evokes a bit more the feeling involved on the "Images & words" album. On the other hand, the compositions of the record here are more elaborated and less monotonic than the ones on the "Ocatavarium" album.

The sound of the rhythmic electric guitar is excellent, being quite razor and sharp. Labrie's lead vocals are excellent, as always. There are some catchy backing vocals like on the "Fatal tragedy" track: the fast, complex & instrumental part on this track is very impressive, clearly reminding the "Liquid tension experiment" band! "Beyond this life" contains some excellent instrumental parts containing trumpet-like melodies and Zappa- esque xylophone-like arrangements. Unfortunately, "Home" seems to have its best best part in the last minute, showing a progressive Middle Eastern-flavored passage; also just notice how excellent the electric rhythmic guitar sound is at the very end of the track: turn up the volume when the sustained final guitar note enters. The best track of the record is definitely "The dance of eternity": it consists in a serious/funny demonstration of instrumental & progressive performance with Jobson-esque keyboards and fully synchronized instruments played at high speed: impressive! The last 1.5 minute of "Finally free" is inspired from Roger Waters' sound effects and from his Final Cut album; I think the really end of the track cannot be more surprising: it seems to be the sound of a turntable cartridge that has slipped out from the vinyl.

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Send comments to greenback (BETA) | Report this review (#78058) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, May 13, 2006

Review by imoeng
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Scenes From A Memory

Scenes From A Memory is Dream Theater fifth studio album and it is based on a concept album idea. Just a little information for you who don't really sure about what is a concept album. A concept album is an album whose recording are unified by some theme whether is an instrumental or lyrical or narrative or compositional. So the key point here is the theme of the album, which then can generates the whole album.

Actually, if we look back at the previous Dream Theater album, Images And Words which released in 1992, there is a song called Metropolis Pt.1 (The Miracle and The Sleeper). After I researched on many sites, I found out that the name (the part 1 thing) is just a joke, or in other words, they didn't intend to make the second part of Metropolis, but regarding the starved fans who ask for Metropolis Pt.2, a great album was made.

In Scenes From A Memory, the concept or the story is about a tragedy, involving a young girl, named Victoria, whose in love with two other casts, The Miracle and The Sleeper. The main cast in this album or story is Nicholas, whose then will solve the tragedy. On the other hand, The Hypnotherapist is just a background cast.

Next, I will discuss about the story behind each song briefly (cause you will probably could find it everywhere) and the musical side of the song itself.

Regression A simple song which was made just for the introduction of the whole album or story. The song is consists of pure acoustic clean section and LaBrie's great vocal. The song is describing about Nicholas who fell into Hypnotic state, and he began to hallucinating. "And as I draw near, the scene becomes clear, like watching my life on a screen."

Overture 1928 This is one of the two instrumental songs in this album. Personally I think this song was made to introduce the next song, Strange Déjà Vu. For me, the best part of the song is the mid-slow John Petrucci's solo, which has deep feeling in it just by listening to the licks.

Strange Déjà vu The continued song from Overture 1928, Strange Déjà Vu has pretty much progressive elements in the song, but we cannot recognize it from the beginning of the song, because its more progressive rock than progressive metal. The "metal" part appears just after the sudden change of the time signature, and the artificial harmonics on guitar section. The best part of the song is the lyrics, "tonight I've been searching for, a feeling that wont go away." This song tells us about how and when Nicholas encounters Victoria for the first time.

Through My Words This is a very short song if we look at every other Dream Theater songs, just 1 minute long. The musical side of the song is pretty much the same with "Regression", clean guitar rhythm and pure beautiful lyric. The story behind this song is that Nicholas is now have known that he holds the responsibility to cover the tragedy behind Victoria's murder.

Fatal Tragedy After some pretty not-so-metal songs, Scenes From A Memory presents a progressive metal song. The best part of this song is the guitar-keyboard solo, which covered with truly amazing progressive elements and virtuosity. The story is about the process of revealing the truth, and Nicholas cannot live peaceful as he did before. "without faith, without hope, there can be no turning back."

Beyond This Life Another metal song by Dream Theater which is also very progressive. Just by listening at the beginning of the song, we can know that it is a true metal song, the heavy rhythm section throughout the song. But nevertheless, Dream Theater always adds some deep nice feeling into every single one of their song, presented in some section of the song. The guitar and keyboard solos are simply amazing, probably the best keyboard solo in other Dream Theater songs. After the keyboard solo finish, there is a very nice, unique, funny tune which is very identical with "Beyond This Life". The song tells us about how Victoria is being murdered in details and about what has happened in the night she was murdered.

Through Her Eyes John Petrucci's typical lyric style, deep feeling and amazing meaning with just using simple-not-very-sophisticated words. The song starts with Theresa Thomason and John Petrucci's vocal guitar solo. Well its just "oh hooh, ohhh" thing, and the guitar section is just some sliding simple notes, but then again, simple yet profound. For me, its one of the most beautiful songs I have ever listened to. Notice how the mood changes when the seventh paragraph of the lyric was sung. "And as her image wandered through my head, I wept just like a baby as I lay awake in bed." And when I play this song (I play guitar), I always wait for this part. Truly a beautiful song. The story is about Nicholas who now can see what has happened behind this dreadful tragedy, through Victoria's eyes

Home After a short break with a clean, cool song, Scenes From A Memory presents Home, a great progressive metal song. The intro of the song is very unique that I read on another website, Home's intro is one of the most recognizable and easy-to-remember intro. As for you who haven't listen to this song, the intro is a guitar wah-wah thing. In my opinion, this is the heaviest and darkest song in this album, looking at a certain part of the song, but once again, I will never tired of saying this, Dream Theater always adds some deep feeling elements into their songs. The story is about Victoria and her love affair.

The Dance Of Eternity This is Scenes From A Memory's another instrumental song, and for me, is the most technical, strange (positive), complex Dream Theater song, with strange and odd time signature. One Last Time One Last Time is pretty much the same with Regression and Through Her Eyes, simple but beautiful song. The story is about the last stage of Victoria's love affair which then leads her to be murdered.

The Spirit Carries On WOW,, there are no other words or sentence that could describe this song, BEAUTIFUL, PROFOUND, AMAZING with deep meaning and great technical composition. Simply amazing, there is no word to describe it, you should listen it yourself. The song is about Nick who feels that the reason all of this happened, the ultimate message, is that death is not the end, but only a transition, as the Hypnotherapist has already pointed out.

Finally Free This song is the closing or the conclusion of the whole story, which as far as I concern, contains One Last Time lyric. Great song with progressive elements which shown by different style and song types in just a song.

In the end, I give 5 stars to this album, if there are 10 stars, I would give 10. And just remember, this album is actually a single song, they just divided it into 12 tracks, notice how each song connected with the song before and after the song itself. Truly Amazing. Timur Imam Nugroho - Indonesia

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Posted Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Review by AtLossForWords
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Scenes From a Memory, the crowning diadem of progressive metal. 71% of listenters submit a perfect five star rating according to prog archives.com. Never has a progressive metal album been so well recieved by so many people. The album despite it's amazing acclaim is actually one of the most polarizing of the genre.

Scenes From a Memory was the most unique and technically impressive of Dream Theater's catalogue at the time of it's release. The addition of keyboardist Jordan Rudess brought an entire new dimension to the band. This was also the band's first album produced by John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy, so the tonality of this album is considerably different from that of previous producers like Kevin Shirley and Dave Prator.

Scenes From a Memory is Dream Theater's most promoted work. The album is a conceptual sequel to an earlier song Metropolis Part I, and is also supported with it's own DVD consisting of the entire set and a live cd. Scenes From a Memory was not only a great success, but the most important success considering the bands mainstream swing with their previous release Falling Into Infinity. Dream Theater had to make another big splash with this album, and they succeeded in doing just that.

As I mentioned earlier the album is a concept sequel to a previous song, Metropolis Part I. Metropolis Part II: Scenes From a Memory clarifys the concept of the song along with adding characters. The concept is of three individuals Victoria, Edward Baynes (The Miracle), and Julian Baynes (The Sleeper). Victoria is killed by Edward after falling in love with his brother Julian. The twins share the same mind, so it was no mystery to Edward. Two other characters Nicholas and a hypnotherapist discover Nicholas true character through the past of Victoria. In short it is discovered at the end of the album Nicholas is the reincarnation of Victoria and the hypnotherapist is that of Edward. The concept jumps between past and present. Dream Theater was quite creative with this using time changes throughout each song and stating the album with the end of the concept.

The album itself is a little of everything. There's hot metal guitar leads, heavy metal rythymns, bluesy solo licks, rich harmonized vocal performances, mind-blowing bass techniques, and in your face drum fills. Dream Theater is the pinnacle of combing great melodic sense with amazing technique. The atmosphere constantly shifts between darker and lighter settings with plenty of variation.

Mike Portnoy delivers an absolutely wild performance. From the opening drum beats of Overture 1928 to the final drum solo of Finally Free Portnoy is dead on the beat playing the most precise fills. The solo in Finally Free is amazing, it features not only a great degree of skill, but also a lot of feel and emotion which is very hard to communcate through drums. Portnoy's job of holding down the rythymn of "Home" is quite impressive as well with all of the intricate rythymns flowing between the drums, guitar, and bass. Portnoy's performance on Scences From a Memory is nothing but legendary.

John Petrucci also gives an excellent performance in a variety of ways. The solos "Home" and "Fatal Tragedy" are examples of some of the best shred techniques in the genre, but Petrucci is also able to impress with slower bluesier solos in songs like "Through Her Eyes" and "The Spirit Carries On". " Petrucci also lays down some of the tightest takes on ryhtymn guitars. There's no mudded space in the guitar mix on this album.

Jordan Rudess is a keyboard wizard. He is able to showcase amazing piano and keyboard skills. Rudess makes effective use of the entire range of the keyboad. He also digs out some of the most inventive and creative keyboard tones in the genre. Rudess synth technology is top notch.

John Myung can groove, but on this album his parts are even tighter than before. The work althroughout the instrumental opus "Dance of Eternity" is mind-blowing. Myung plays in a variety of positions up and down the neck in a variety of keys, showcases excellent tapping skills, and solos with precision. Wait, I forgot to mention Myung's excellent rythymnic sense. The man anticipates mutes and melodies in "The Spirit Carries On" with great ease. He also pulls out a fretless six-string bass for "Through Her Eyes" displaying a tasteful and difficult bass fills throughout the song. His performance alone is worth more than five stars.

James LaBrie, one of the most contreversial vocalist in prog metal nails his parts. The vocal harmonies are excellent on this album. LaBrie sings clearly and enunciates precisely. LaBrie never falls off key or out of tune, this vocal performance matches the technical precision of the instrumentalist supporting it.

I'm not done yet, I still have to talk about the production. Dream Theater's Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci produce this album, eliminating the buffer of a producer. Portnoy and Petrucci engineer this album to the band's strengths. Everything is crystal clear. The drums have excellent reverb, but never ringing out too long into the next beat, a true work of art with the cymbals. The bass is punchy and balanced, with prescence in a variety of ranges. The guitars are light and never overpower the band. The vocals are rich and sustained. The keyboards are amazing. The synth sounds are refreshing and creative breaking away from all cliche's of the genre's keyboards. The production matches the perfection of the album.

You're not asking me to rate this are you?

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Send comments to AtLossForWords (BETA) | Report this review (#80299) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, June 04, 2006

Review by Melomaniac
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars I was a fan of Dream Theater since Images and Words, which, despite it's weak production (especially the over triggered drums), remains my favorite DT album to this day. Awake I really enjoyed, along with A Change of Seasons. Falling into Infinity was 50 - 50, but at least they were still writing SONGS (A New Millenium, Peruvian Skies, Hell's Kitchen and Lines in the Sand are among my favorite DT tracks), whereas on this album... I enjoy technicality when it is well brought within songs, not when songs are only a pretext to show off your abilities. Sure, I admit to have been blown away on the first 20 spins or so by the complexity and skills displayed, but where is the feel, where are the songs ? And those ballads... Yuck ! Also, I think the album drags on for far too long, especially when no memorable SONGS keep my interest.

The bottom line : one of the most overrated albums of all time in my opinion. Technical aficionados will find a lot of stuff of interest here, but personnaly, I need more. I need songs that I can remember, I need feeling (not cheese). Less is more, too much ain't enough. You may think I missed the point with this album, and I respect the fact that everybody is entitled to their valuable opinions. This album is the one I dislike the most from a band that used to be good at songwriting. At least, with 6doit, they came back with one of their strongest albums. Which leaves this one... well, to be their worst...

If you agree with me one some points (especially the songwriting and the well placed technicality), check Symphony X out, especially albums like "The Divine Wings of Tragedy", "V-The New Mythology Suite" and "The Odyssey".

Slap me, kill me, crucify me, bring me back to life and start all over again, I will still give this album only 2 stars, especially in comparison to all their other great albums.

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Send comments to Melomaniac (BETA) | Report this review (#81631) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Review by OpethGuitarist
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars This album is exactly what 2 stars represents. Fans only. If you are a big fan of Dream Theater, than you will find that this album fits in very nicely with your collection. However, this album lacks any real substance for me and a general public.

I think they tried to do too much. They tried too hard. If that's even possible. This album for me highlights for me what Dream Theater is about. 5 musicians who all do their own thing, and though they are all respected in their specific fields, they fail at coming together to make a solid band. Images and Words and Awake are the strong points for this band. They meshed together best on these albums.

Scenes is a great example of how they failed to come together. If you let these guys do what they want, you'd have 5 soloists. To me this album seems like 5 guys having fun with their instruments. There's nothing wrong with that, as I too do enjoy noodling every now and then. However it isn't very good for listeners who want repeated enjoyable listens and real substance and depth.

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Send comments to OpethGuitarist (BETA) | Report this review (#82005) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 26, 2006

Review by Moatilliatta
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars "The band's boldest artistic statement in their 15 year career" read a sticker on the wrapping of Dream Theater's fifth full length recording, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory. The band has taken on the challenge of writing a concept album for the first time. The title and theme are obviously derived from "Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper," off of Images and Words, and many recurring themes both lyrically and musically are found between both the song and this record, as well as within the record itself. As risky as it is to do so, Dream Theater does it perfectly, keeping the album very coherent and tight, without monotony or predictability.

The album revolves around five characters, and deals in both past and present. This, however, is no Ayreon album; LaBrie voices all of the parts, with the exception of a guest gospel-style vocalist Theresa Thomason on a couple of tracks, and a gospel choir on one. The concept, in short, is about a character named Nicholas, who is haunted by frequent, vivid dreams of a girl, Victoria Page. Nicholas enters regression therapy in his pursuit to resolve this that has been haunting him. I do not want to spoil the whole plot, so that is where I will stop. The story in itself is interesting, but there's also excellent music to back it up, as you would expect from Dream Theater.

Keeping the words to a minimum (there are plenty of other reviews that detail the album), this is Dream Theater's finest work (which really says something). Plenty of variety here. The band continues to prove that they are the masters of their craft: each musician displays their seemingly inhuman capabilities without compromising the integrity of the songs. Every note is played with care and surely with emotion. A masterpiece without question.

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Send comments to Moatilliatta (BETA) | Report this review (#82187) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Review by Chicapah
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Since this site is understandably youth-oriented I would like to aim this review at the "older" members and visitors who may not be at all familiar with Dream Theater. Up until a few months ago I was included in that group. If you are over 45 years old then you, like myself, might harbor the opinion that progressive rock is resting somewhere near the Titanic. I adored Genesis, Yes, ELP, King Crimson, Zappa and a host of jazz fusion artists in the late 60s and throughout the 70s. Then I watched and listened sadly as the genre got smothered by the phenomenon that was MTV and never saw it resurface. A few years ago my teen son played me something by this band. Of course, since I know everything, I dismissed it graciously and really didn't give it a chance. Then I found this site and noticed that DT is held in very high esteem by folks who like the same classic prog that I still listen to. I finally took the plunge and bought this album. Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle. This is one helluva piece of music by some of the most talented musicians I've ever heard. I can't recommend it higher. I hear traces of Rush, Styx, Yes and even Zappa in the music but in no way do they sound like any of those. If there's any area of average- ness it's in the lyric content but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt because they were having to work within the restrictions of telling an involved story throughout this cd. Everything else is absolutely amazing and I don't say that lightly. Progressive rock is alive and well, it's just flying under the radar. I have a copy of Rolling Stone Magazine's Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll that is only a few years old and Dream Theater isn't even listed. That's okay, I guess. All I can tell you is that, for the first time in decades, with "Scenes" I put on an album that intrigued me as a musician and challenged my ability to completely absorb the performance on the first five or six listens. It's still in my changer three weeks later. That's what used to happen with a new release from the aforementioned groups and I was afraid those days were gone. I now look forward to hearing and experiencing what else these guys have been up to.

P.S. I have since apologized to my son who rightly responded with "I told you so."

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Send comments to Chicapah (BETA) | Report this review (#83543) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Review by hdfisch
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Just read the last review for this "masterpiece" and I was thinking: "This guy isn't that much wrong though it's ages ago that I listened to this record".So my next action was to put it into my player (just a copy,don't worry,I never bought this highly praised piece of...) and after only listening until "Stange Deja-vu" I thought already: "Damn,this guy is absolutely right,this isn't anything which deserves to be called prog metal!" - Admittedly this record can easily impress newbies to prog, I've been as well when I listened to it the very first time and I was still when I watched it live on video but after a while I forgot completely about it and meanwhile I've listened to 1000's of other things (obviously much more interesting). So today I listened to it once again and I remembered immediately almost every melody line, so what is this kind of stuff? - pop music? - Obviously not, but something similar to that within prog metal genre. I listened right after this one to THRESHOLD's "Hypothetical" (as well after ages) and what should I say? - Though I remembered as well immediately all the melodies it still was appealing to me. Thus a quite simple and rational conclusion: DT might have excellent and talented musicians but the music they're producing does not hold the test of time.It's good enough for a couple of spins, then it gets boring. I just can advice any prog newbie: If you're interested in really EXCELLENT prog metal then try THRESHOLD,POS,OPETH,GREEN CARNATION,IN THE WOODS or RIVERSIDE, but forget about DREAM THEATER, they're just good enough for pop fans who want to show off what kind of sophisticated stuff they're listening to.

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Send comments to hdfisch (BETA) | Report this review (#84702) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 24, 2006

Review by Australian
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars "Scenes from a Memory, Metropolis part 2" is in many ways the album that defined prog- metal as a true genre along with 'Images and Words.' It is also one of, if not the best album from Dream Theater and all prog-metal and it is highly acclaimed by prog (metal) fans. I certainly think that 'Scenes from a Memory' is a very good album and the concept of the album is represented well through the musicianship of Dream Theater.

I'm not 100% sure about the concept behind "Scenes from a Memory" but I believe it is a about a girl named Victoria who was murdered in 1928 by her ex lover. A man named Nicolas is haunted by her ghost in the 20th century. Whether the concept (the murder part anyway) is true or not I'm unsure, but "Scenes from a Memory" portrays it very well. The album is split into two acts and nine scenes which gives the album a theatrical feel. There are lots of strange twists in the story and I always get lost with the story line after the song "Fatal Tragedy", it is a confusing concept.

The musicianship of "Scenes from a Memory" is very good and the guitar work and percussion are the high points. James Labrie is at his very best here are his voice blends with the music well. On reflection I can't think of anyone else's voice that could suite this album, James has the perfect voice for it. There are multiple guitar parts for each song, and I wonder how Dream Theater would sound performing this album live.

There are a few extremely good songs where the band works together as one big happy group, "Fatal Tragedy" and "The Spirit Carries" on both come to mind. There are solos spotted although out "Scenes from a Memory" and both Jorge rudess and Mike Petrucci enjoy multiple solos on several occasions. Like any good concept album there is a backing choir on the climax of the album, which for "Scenes from a Memory" is "The Spirit Carries on."

"The Spirit Carries on" is the greatest highlight on "Scenes from a Memory" and, although it is a rather cheesy song, it is still good. "Finally Free" and "Home" are both very good songs as well and they characterize Dream Theater very well. The guitar work on all these songs is very impressive and John Petrucci is to be commended for his performance. "Scenes from a Memory" is quite a long-running album and it goes for about 77 minutes, hence it is difficult to listen to in it's full length. But on that rare occasion when you do have that much time, it is a rewarding experience.

ACT 1 1. Scene One: Regression (3/5) 2. Scene TWO: I.Overture 1928 (3/5) 3. II.Strange Deja Vu (4/5) 4. Scene Three: I.Through My Words (3/5) 5. II.Fatal Tragedy (4/5) 6. Scene Four: Beyond This Life (4/5) 7. Scene Five: Through Her Eyes (3/5) ACT 2 8. Scene Six: Home (4/5) 9. Scene Seven: I.The Dance of Eternity (4/5) 10. II.One Last Time (3/5) 11. Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On (5/5) 12. Scene Nine: Finally Free (4/5) Total = 44 divided by 12 (number of songs)= 3.66 = 4 stars Excellent addition to any prog music collection

I'm in no way a DT buff, but I respect and greatly enjoy "Scenes from a Memory" and I regard it as one of the best Prog Metal albums. Scenes from a Memory is a very proggy album and it certainly played a role in the development in the prog metal genre. I would recommend on Scenes from a Memory to ALL prog metal fans, it is an essential to you guys. Even if you don't particularly like prog metal it is still an excellent album.

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Send comments to Australian (BETA) | Report this review (#86028) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, August 07, 2006

Review by sleeper
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory is the fifth album by US Prog-metal band Dream Theater and the bands first, and so far only, concept album. It is also the album that saw the debut of new keyboard player Jordan Rudess, having poached him from the Dixie Dregs to replace Derek Sherinian. This album elaborates on the story we were introduced to on the album Images and Words in Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper.

This is quite simply the best album the band have produced yet, and remains that way almost 10 years later (though not for lack of trying). The album starts off with the introduction Regression that sets the scene for this story but it's the opening of Overture 1928 that really grabs you and from then on it never lets go. This album takes you through the raucous blasts of Strange Déjà Vu, Beyond This Life (and others), through the quiet emotion of Through my Words and the almost soulful Through Her Eyes. The big strength of this album is that it flows so well from song to song, just like you would expect from a concept album and as a result this is probably the most emotionally diverse album that DT have produced so far.

Individual performances from the band members is superb, possibly the best that each has ever given in the studio on any of their albums. Petrucci's guitar playing on this album gives everything that you could want from him, the catchy little riffs that you usually find from him, the neat bridges and the impressive solo's, and not just the supper fast ones that he's famous for but a couple of really soulful, slow solo's that catch the attention as well. John Myung adds some real stand out performances, most notably on the instrumental Dance of Eternity were he opens with one of the simplest, but most effective bass intro's I've ever heard and adds a rather impressive solo into the middle of the song as well. His role in general is the usual blend of strong bass lines and inventive rhythmic playing that compliments the guitar and keyboards without trying to overshadow, or being overshadowed by them.

Mike Portnoy gives the usual stunning performances here were he expands on the drummers usual rhythmic playing whilst still holding the back beat perfectly. This all culminates in the stunning solo that he gives to finish of the album, a particularly memorable way to finish it at that. Jordan Rudess was the unknown factor in this album as he had just joined the band. His style of play conveys nearly as much emotion as Kevin Moore's (but just a bit short of that) whilst being better technically. His style also fits in with the band perfectly as you will find on Scenes From a Memory, which was exactly the problem with Sherinian, he didn't quite fit with the group. Rudess's playing on this album is brilliant, conveying the emotion needed and matching Petrucci for technical excellence. On this album James LaBrie makes a subtle change to the way he singes and almost completely gives up trying to do the high pitched screams that marred his performance on Awake. For those that don't like LaBrie, its unlikely you will find anything here to convince you otherwise but for the rest his performance matches that of his band mates.

Its not often that I find an album that I cant find anything wrong with it, even on 5 star albums I will find a small niggling problem, but nothing worth getting hung up over. Here I can find no fault, in my opinion this is the best album that Dream Theater have ever produced and I don't think they will ever beat it, and I'll go so far as to say that it's in my top 5 of all time favourite albums, simply perfect, 5 stars.

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Send comments to sleeper (BETA) | Report this review (#87349) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Review by 1800iareyay
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Scenes For A Memory was a make or break record for DT. After the fairly good Falling Into Infinity flopped, Portnoy and Petrucci took over as producers for hte band's albums and insisted that the label could not force them to make "commercial" songs, which led to FII's failure.The band was on the edge of breakup and their future depended on this album. The result was one of the finest masterpieces of newer prog (neo prog and prog metal). The concept revolves around a man who is hypontized in order ot communicate to his past life. The setting reverts to 1928 and the album revolves around a romantic tryst and murder. Every member shines on this disc.

"Regression" is a spoken word opener much like "I Remember Now" on Operation Mindcrime. It leads inot the first instrumental "Overture 1928." This recalls some passages of Metroplois Pt 1 and creates new ones that will be heard later on the album.

"Strange Deja Vu" is a riffy number that has a nice groove to it, rare for DT, though don't expect it to be danceable. "Through My Words" brings out the Queensryche creepy atmosphere for a suprisingly beautiful piano piece.

"Fatal Tragedy" is where you should really start paying attention to the lyrics, if you haven't already. The instrumental break with Rudess' keyboard riff into Petrucci's solo is incredible.

"Beyond This Life" is an absolute shredfest with a great riff. The latter half of the song belongs to Petruucci, who unleashes a mega solo that winds through time and style changes. Listen for the awesome Zappa-like part of the solo. "Through Her Eyes" is the tribute to Floyd, with the guitar and keyboard ethereality. A great stripped-down song.

The softness fades into Home, which starts with a slowly building guiat riff that is complemented by Rudess' Eastern keyboard and Myung's bassline. THe song erupts into a full headbanger with a heavy riff. The keyboard and guitar solos are some of the players' best.

"The Dance of Eternity" is DT's ultimate instrumental. When it starts, you could easily think that Overture 1928 came back on. The songs soon abandons the similarity and launches inot a six minute tour de force complete with Myung's best bass work yet and a neat ragtime piano break by Rudess. One of my personal favorite songs.

"One Last Time" resumes the story that went on hiatus for the solos. Reverts back to softness after the sonic bludgeoning of Home and Dance. "The Spirit Carries On" is La Brie's moment in the spotlight. He delivers some great voals and Petrucci's restrained solo brings back memories of the great parts of Falling Into Infinity. THis song is DT's second most beautiful after Space Dye Vest. "Finally Free" brings the concept to a close and the band ends their finest studio album on a peak.

In the end, DT manages to write a unique record while still paying obvious homage to their heroes. The only flaw is that the solos of Home and Dance of Eternity steal time away from lyrics, but both are stunners and the lyrics fit perfectly elsewhere so it isn't a problem. This album is the only DT studio record worth five stars (Images and Words is extremely close, plus all live albums except Once in a Livetime and Live @ Marquee deserve five). This album would be bettered on the Live Scenes album with the inclusion of Changes of Seasons, Learning to Live, even LTE's Acid Rain.

This stands as a prog metal masterpiece, to me second only to Operation Mindcrime. Anyone who likes this should check out the aforementioned OM, The Wall, Pain of Salvation's The Perfect Element Pt 1, or Symphony X's V.

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Send comments to 1800iareyay (BETA) | Report this review (#102992) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Review by SoundsofSeasons
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars edit:EDIT: 3/8/2007: O.K. seriously, this is the third time i've re-(re)-written this review... I'm thinking at this point i just WISH I could call this a masterpiece.

...but sadly its SO FREIKING CLOSE but a few things just hold it back from perfection, and in fact, if i didn't have this album for so long, id probably consider this a masterpiece. I did even, for the longest time, but really it's because i forgave its flaws too much, cause i liked it so much. Now-a-days I still really like it, but because i'm so familiar with it, its flaws really expose themself to me. You know what... why don't I just list the positives and negatives...

The GOOD

-Musicianship is astounding... but you knew that already, this is Dream Theater. The alumni of the Berkley school of music. These guys know their stuff.

-Production is great, and as a concept album, it gives you those little theatrical extras (the screams, the gun shots, the tape recorder in the beginning [for better or worse].)

-The Jams, although possibly overextended a bit, are mind-bending and really rock hard thanks to the jazziness, which I happen to like a lot.

-The Lyrics are very simple and at times you will be shouting them out yourself, you'll become very familiar with them.

The BAD

-Musicianship Well... the musicanship is astounding from everyone except James LaBrie, the vocalist. He honestly tries to be more than he is. Yah he is a trained vocalist, but realistically, he can go from very good to embarrassingly annoying in just one song. He tries to hit notes he just can't without screaming, and at that point, he is holding on for his life. He has his moments, and he is talented to a certain extent, but he doesn't know when enough is enough... he isn't as good as he thinks he is. If you want to hear a vocalist in the Prog-Metal genre that really IS that good, try Daniel Gildenlow from Pain of Salvation... now THAT GUY might actually make your jaw drop.

-Production remember how i said, [for better or worse] about the tape recorder track in the beginning of the album? Well, thats because, some of the theatrical extras actually detract from the album, and could be considered almost pointless or laughable.

-The Jams I don't use this word often or lightly, but in this case it is rather negative... the jams become OVER-INDULGENT. Yes, these elite few musicians are fantastic, but the jams really are too long and too much. Most of the time a 10+ minute song could have been cut down by 2-4 minutes by just ending certain jam phrases earlier. If their jams kept having new ideas every 15-20 seconds then i would have no problem with this, in fact I would be amazed. An album that is short (or rather condenced), because they do this well, is Unquestionable Presence by Athiest... in that album they only stay on a single idea for a very short amount of time, and change time signatures so quickly and fluidly it'll leave you wondering where the hell you are, like your strapped in a high velocity rollercoaster with loops and backward drops.

The Lyrics- O.K. so i said they are simple, and thats a good thing, as it's easy to understand where the simplistic story is going. But at the same time... sometimes they are so simple that they are like a middle school student wrote them during lunch on a napkin. Maybe im being a bit harsh, considering this is the Prog-Metal genre, which is notorious for its sub-par lyrics, but honestly... "In loving memory of a child. So innocent eyes open wide. I felt so empty as i cried. Like part of me had died." All sung in a disgustingly aching whine by LaBrie and, "I used to be frightened of dying. I used to think death was the end. But that was before, I`m not scared anymore, I know that my soul will transcend." I mean COME ON... could you pass the cheese please?!?!

So, this is an album that is partly amazing due to it's musicians and high-quality concept album, but its held back by a sub-par vocalist, a lack of discipline, and being overlong.

Scenes from a Memory may not be a Masterpiece as a whole, but large parts of it are. It is absoutely an essential listen, however, for any prog fan. It will probably take multiple listens to hear everything... unfortunately this will expose its weaknesses, but at the same time the positives will become apparent as well.

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Send comments to SoundsofSeasons (BETA) | Report this review (#114608) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 08, 2007

Review by russellk
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars This album is a worthwhile addition to any collection, but it falls well short of masterpiece status.

As other reviewers have noted, this is a concept album. It certainly is, in a most literal sense: you must listen to every song consecutively to decipher the story. By no means are all concept albums like this. Many others are aspects of an overall theme, and can be listened to in any order.

The story is the album's main problem: it is a non-linear story, which jumps about temporally, but is told in a linear fashion. This contributes to the feeling of confusion one feels on the first listen. Associated with this are the dreadfully overwritten lyrics. Good lyrics are subtle, but here DREAM THEATER are at their most embarrassingly trite. Important parts of the story are obscured, while obvious things are stated again and again - in junior-school poetry. I fail to see why a listener needs accompanying notes, and even then to have to refer to various internet sites to work out what the album's on about. I don't mind obscure lyrics if they're meant to be obscure; in this case, the problems lie with the band's inability to write good lyrics. This is not usually a problem for this band, as DREAM THEATER is not about lyrics; here, however, the concept depends on the lyrics. And the lyrics fail the concept badly.

James LaBrie is the other problem. As a trained singer, I can offer the opinion that LaBrie does have an excellent voice, but too much of this album forces him to sing above his register. He resorts to shouting, to 'force' his voice to the higher notes, a trend that mars the otherwise excellent 'A Change of Seasons'. He uses a series of tricks to get to the notes, most of which are even more obvious on DREAM THEATER'S live recordings.

That's a great deal of negatives for such a highly-rated album. But there are some positives. Putting aside the concept and the problematic singing, there are some outstanding compositions on this album. DREAM THEATER flex their progressive wings and, while not all tracks work, others such as 'Fatal Tragedy', 'Home' and particularly 'Finally Free' are magnificent. These three tracks presage the next two albums, which for me is the quintessential DREAM THEATER period.

Flawed, severely so in some areas, but the tragedy is not fatal. I can forgive an album a great deal if it delivers outstanding moments such as those this album brings.

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Send comments to russellk (BETA) | Report this review (#114748) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, March 10, 2007

Review by Fight Club
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Too great to be rated?

That's how I feel about this album. Ladies and gentleman, this is as perfect as progressive metal can possibly get. An absolute masterpiece. Write now I'm sitting how wondering how can possibly review this album. There's so many fantastic things about it I don't know where to start. Seriously, this album is beyond words, there's no logical way mere humans could have written it. Of course we all know the members of this band are no mere humans. Every aspect of this album is as good as it could possibly get. The structure and arrangements all perfect. It's constantly flowing with melody and feeling, yet the band never lets go of the skills that have made them famous over the past 2 decades. Every member is at their highest here. It's just one of the most enjoyable experiences I can think of.

The album just cannot be reviewed song by song, as it is one continuous journey. Scenes From A Memory is a concept album based upon one man (Nicholas) experiencing visions of his past life. The story telling is fantastic here. There's plot twists, action, suspense, mystery, it's like watching a movie. Don't be fooled though, never once is music sacrificed for the story. Throughout the entire album the listener is blown away by the band's virtuoustic talents. Even non metal fans can appreciate the amount of skill it takes to make this album.

Now this album is a masterpiece for countless reasons. Musicianship never ceases to amaze here. Petrucci's solos are so fast they could break the sound barrier. There's enough sweep picking to amaze even the newest guitar players. And well Mike Portnoy is... Mike Portnoy. There's enough polyrythmic displacement to make people spontaneously combust. The ending of Finally Free is about advanced as percussion can be without constantly shifting time signatures. Enough triplets and double bass to impress the most hardcore death metal fans. Rudess and Myung are no disappointment either. It's almost impossible to keep up with the speed and precision these guys demonstrate.

Now with all the technical prowess I've mentioned you must be thinking there's little room left for songwriting. You are mistaken however! The songwriting is powerful as well. The album rarely fails to be melodic and invoke emotion in the listener. As technical as Petrucci is, he proves he can show feeling in tracks like The Spirit Carries On and Finally Free. If anyone ever had a doubt about this, just feast your ears on those songs.

There's so much variety throughout this epic, that it touches on almost every aspect of prog. Don't think of this as just a prog metal album, but it's virtually genreless. This album can be appreciated by anyone no matter what type of music you are into. It has enough catchy beats and riffs to please modern rock and pop listeners and all the time and key changes a prog listener can handle.

My only complaint and it's a very minor one, is the production. It's good, but at times certain things are unclear. Unfortunately, as usual, Myung's bass tone is very low and drowned out. Don't get me wrong, you can still hear all the skill he pumps out of those fingers, but it could have a little more punch considering the heaviness of the album. The production isn't as good as it could be, but nonetheless the rest of the albums strong points are so visible that I can't even subtract a half star.

This is an album that has to be in any prog or metal fan's collection. It sucks you right into the story and composition and it cannot be left until it's heard all the way through. Absolutely essential music! A masterpiece!

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Send comments to Fight Club (BETA) | Report this review (#116368) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, March 25, 2007

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The most important thing a reviewer has to keep in mind when doing his job is never to lose his objectivity.

Now, it's much easier to accomplish that when reviewing other fields and activities of human life than when talking about music, it's much more realistic to expect a 100% objective review of, let's say, the food in a restaurant or the performance of two sport teams in a game than to expect a music lover to leave his heart out of the picture and write an article based on pure cold facts. In the end, it's ART we're dealing with here, and, as much as many people try to make it fit molds and rules, art breaks all boundaries and it takes its definite shape not in the mind of the creator nor in textbooks, but in the eyes and ears of the beholder.

With that into account, I face the difficult task of saying a few words about an album that has a special meaning for me, and I'm in true danger of sounding too condescending or too "fanboy-ish" if I am to actually do it and review the record. I'll do it anyway, but, and this should come as an early disclaimer, I don't promise to write a review only using my brain; this time, it will be impossible to close the door to that other muscle, the one that keeps us alive.

I've reviewed 7 of Dream Theater's 8 albums, plus their EP A CHANGE OF SEASONS. I think I've given them fair ratings, though that could be matter of discussion. I deliberately left their 5th album in the last place, so it will be kind of the "culmination" of my review process of this band's albums, a process that truly has been a pleasure to embark on. So now, I'll share a few thoughts on my favorite recording of all time, the only album EVER the songs from which I rate exactly the same (you will notice), the one that I reserve only to hear when every element, every aspect of my surroundings, both exterior AND interior, fits: METROPOLIS PT. 2: SCENES FROM A MEMORY.

This is the record that came after what many fans considered a low point in the band's career (at that time, of course; they hadn't heard "The Glass Prison" or TRAIN OF THOUGHT yet): FALLING INTO INFINITY. I happened to like that album a lot, but even I had to admit that that album, though very good, was the first by DT that contained a few BAD songs ("Take away my pain", "Just let me breathe".) Also, the famous virtuosism of the group was less evident than in previous efforts, and only in a couple of songs ("Lines in the Sand" mostly) they approached the level they've achieved in IMAGES AND WORDS. Another factor that drove fans away from that record: the keyboardist, Derek Sherinian, though a great musician, departed so far from the style of former marble-hand Kevin Moore that the band's sound was just too different from what they've accustomed their fans to. We can say that SFAM had a lot to accomplish in order to restore faith in the minds of DT fans (not me, as I said, I loved FII anyway.) So they went back to the studio with a new member aboard the ship: Jordan Rudess, who had played with Rod Morgenstein, The Dixie Dregs and Liquid Tension Experiment, among others.

And what were the results like? Well, it's time to actually say a few words about the album itself, isn't it? Let's make a list of what I consider the most relevant elements of the New York outfit's new (in 1999) record.

1. Rudess. - Yes, I put him first on the list because his inclusion was the most obvious change within the DT core. And he delivers in a spectacular way. Not only did he bring the usual virtuosism and speed to the table (two elements that a musician MUST HAVE if he's to be considered for a place in DT), but he also can carry a melody, can create beautiful themes out of nowhere, and can suddenly display his rag-time or jazz influences with the snap of a finger. Whereas Sherinian's style was more atmospheric and lethargic, more effect-driven, Rudess' is more to-the-point, but always making even the simplest of lines sound much more difficult and ornamented than it really is. 2. "Progressiveness".- Let's not start to discuss what the meaning of "progressive" is; I take for granted that DT's music is THE definition of "progressive- metal", that is, metal progressively-enhanced (whatever that meant). And as such, SFAM is the band's most "progressive" record this side of I&W, and in some aspects even more so. For, even though I&W's importance in prog history will never be reached by any other metal album, DT's or not, in SFAM the display of technique, song-writing skills and complexity is much more focused than in that preceding masterpiece, where a cynic listener could even accuse the band of "showing-off" (of course I'd disagree), while in this one that would be almost impossible, as every note, every solo, every harmonic line falls perfectly in place. Take one out, the music will suffer; add one, the music will suffer. 3. Melody. - I just LOVE melody, and good, soul-lifting melody. That's why I have problems with melody-less music, I just can't take my sounds without some charming moment, without my heart ever feeling like the musicians had it in mind, too, without ever sensing that the musicians not only aimed for my brain when they wrote their phrases. And of that I have PLENTY in SFAM. If there's one album where practically every song reaches my pulse-machine is this one; if there's one album when I see a total equilibrium of brains and blood is this one; if there's an album where I can truly say that I know it from heart, is this one. And no, it's not cheesiness or over- sweetened music; it's just that the band can carry a tune, and drive it home choosing any one of the two paths that music lays ahead of them. Actually, they choose another path, a third one, the one of BALANCE. 4. Musicianship.- Well, this point comes as no surprise. We're not talking Limp Biskit but Dream Theatre here, and every one of the band members just dazzles with his performance. Petrucci once again proves he's THE man when it comes to the guitar: lightning-fast solos, accurate scales, but also soaring, enchanting melodies; Rudess, well, I've already talked about him, but let's repeat it: he amazes us; Myung, the eternal underdog, the master behind DT's sound, without him the band wouldn't be what it is; Portnoy, the drum-octopus that at times over-plays music a little bit, in this album his usual pyrotechnics actually DO work, and of course we know he can play fills and create rhythms and patterns that make him one of a kind; and last, but you know that for me DEFINTELY not least, the vocal-fountain that constantly pours the most refreshing of thirst-quenching delicacies in our ears, the true carrier of DT's melody- banner, the actual conveyor of emotions, either love or hate, hope or disdain, James LaBrie. This is probably his best album ever (funny how I think I've said that before.)

For further analysis, I guess it's time to do a song-by-song review of SFAM, and I have to say it again: I've rated each song as part of the whole and as a stand-alone track, and the conclusions I've reached are more than unusual for me.

Scene One: Regression (10/10) The tick tock, the psychologist induces us into what is to become THE dream created by The Dream. The mood is light, melancholic; suddenly, an acoustic guitar serves as background for LaBrie to introduce us to what is obvious is going to be a journey of love, sadness and pain. Perfect intro for the album.

Scene TWO: I.Overture 1928 (10/10) The mood changes. We hear echoes of Metropolis Pt. 1, and at last the main riff of the song unfolds. It's like the opening of a bright gate that leads towards a garden of an unknown nature; a gate made out of beautiful notes, of the melody that LaBrie used to sing at the lyrics "There must be a third and last dance, this one will last forever, Metropolis watches and thoughtfully smiles, she's taking you to your home" in I&W, some hope even before the actual battle has started. Then, of course, Petrucci plays with the feeling that only he can achieve. (I just don't understand people that accuse him or this band of "coldness"). Rudess appears to join Petrucci and steal some of his thunder. And that was it, a magnificent overture with elements that we will find again in the rest of the album.

II.Strange Deja Vu (10/10) The main theme is one of doubt, of worry. Of a man not sure of what he sees or feels. Of haze and fog that stops the adventurer from going any further. Portnoy is on target here. LaBrie announces that he's seen the woman, and then the pre-chorus, the Canadian in falsetto, love, nostalgia, and the chorus, sadness because of finding oneself far away from oneself. A metallic section speaks of anger, of a desire to break free, but the melody comes back again, this is a sentiment that it will be hard to get rid of. Defenseless against something. love? Is it cheesy? No, it is TRUE. For he who hasn't felt weak in the face of his desire deserves not to be listening to music. or any kind.

Scene Three: I.Through My Words (10/10) Only two instruments, the Piano and the Vocal Chords, the little steel strings being hit by hammers and the air going through someone's throat. That's all it takes to make music.

II.Fatal Tragedy (10/10) A burlesque, tragic-comic theme marks the defeat of whoever is telling us this story of love and hate. Then the chorus, an anthem to the need of love. It's in the wrong tempo, in a slow tempo that doesn't re-affirm that it is the energy that drives us through the dark tunnel of life. Calm down, it will be on the right tempo later. We have a repetition of the main themes and then the chorus strikes back, now in the right tempo, in the tempo that cries the virtues and drawbacks of love at the same time. Suddenly the mood gets darker: Rudess goes crazy with chords over very heavy riffing and drumming. Every note, every musical-ornament here is in the exact place on the exact time. Rudess just blows us away and sends the memory of Sherinian to a far, distant limbo. One of the best instrumental parts in all Dream Theater, reason enough to have some respect for the musicians even if the music is not to one's taste.

Scene Four: Beyond This Life (10/10) We're on heavy mode; a fast powerful section leads to the news: death; tragedy; mystery; what happened? This is the kind of riff that DT couldn't repeat in TRAIN OF THOUGHT, simple yet so precise. The cloud of suspense lies high above the listener, and suddenly we enter the land of dreams again, of gray, watery, foggy dreams, that is, when a distorted LaBrie explains something over just effects. An acoustic guitar playing the main riff announce us it's time for some change. Or not? The atmosphere grows more violent, more blood-stained, the black and white letters of a newspaper story, over yellow, faded paper. The chorus comes again, this time lasts twice as much, and abruptly LaBrie takes us over a weird garden of flowers in the middle of all this murder. It doesn't last much. Another outstanding instrumental part will finally explode in the final chorus, this time the second melody played with as much emphasis as the first one. The song ends. It's such a relief when near the end of the track we don't hear the haunting theme again, but the voice of.a woman.

Scene Five: Through Her Eyes (10/10) Yes, this is cold, emotion-less music of course. And the world is a perfect place, too. A soaring guitar with the beautiful voice of a women introduce us to some simple piano chords and guitar. And we forget all of that when James LaBrie SINGS, not yells. One can feel every emotion going through his mind, through Nicholas' mind and, more importantly, HEART. One can hear his breath, the problems he has to tells us of his tragedy without letting his voice break into a endless cry and tears. This touches me so hard, I've heard countless tracks that haven't reached the place this one has inside of me. When I first heard the album, I thought the album could only go downhill from this point on. But no. the first real pause between tracks is upon us. What would the second half bring us?

Scene Six: Home (10/10) Another ambiguous theme announced by the acoustic guitar, the electric ones join to declaim the kind of arabesque, oriental-flavored main theme of this, one of the tracks of all tracks. The music grows restless, we feel something coming, suspense, and then the whole main riff announced with utmost violence. The second theme is the arabesque one. The main riff of the song reminds us of the first riff in Metropolis Pt. 1. Violence, despair, hopelessness, fate, fate that haunts us. Another theme tells us we have to expect the arrival of yet a third one, we can't take it no more, we are going to explode. Petrucci climbs to the heavens and he and Portnoy lead us into one of the choruses of all choruses, one of the moments that made me a progressive rock/metal fan, after years of only listening to another kind of music. After the chorus, the atmosphere turns even less welcoming, and all happens again, the first theme, the pre-chorus, Portnoy playing a weird pattern in his ride-cymbal and china cymbal over double-bass. And, thank DT, again Petrucci rises with ethereal scales to all the glory of the chorus. A brief recollection of the "Metropolis watches and thoughtfully smiles" hits us, this time the word "Victoria" instead of the original song' name. The middle instrumental section is one of pipe-scent, sand, the desert, a snake coming from a pot after the notes that a flute sends into its mind, a women dressed in green, red, yellow, silk. Rudess stops all this opium-dream with some scales that try to take us back to the harsh reality. But no, it's like the rest of the band insists that they have to stay in the oriental region; now it's Petrucci the one that tries; he gets closer but fails; but in the end, all of them join and for one last time ascend the stair that leads to our HOME. A musical HOME. If there was a way to give a song 11, 12, or 13 over ten, this would be the one. PERFECT.

Scene Seven: I.The Dance of Eternity (10/10) This instrumental track is like an altered version of the original Metropolis, with many sections reminding us of the original, the order and structure of the sections pretty much the same as in the original uber-classic. There's even a moment for Myung to play alone (a few seconds) much in the vein of Metropolis famous "Let's give John M. a chance to shine" moment. Rudess has his moment to show us he could be playing on a bar down in New Orleans were DT to fire him for any reason. An authentic "showing-off" piece, perfect where it is, and a necessary moment of relax in the midst of all these heart-wrenching emotions. Yes, this track may be the only one with a little bit of "coldness" to it, but it's in the perfect place at the perfect time. Magnificent. The song starts down a tension path, and what an explosion we have.

II.One Last Time (10/10) Not a pyrotechnics explosion, but an implosion into a ultra- beautiful melody that rudess plays in piano and that the Master carries with more than skill with his voice. The chorus, what can we say but.beauty? LOVE? Give me one last time, don't let this opportunity be the last, don't fade away without seeing the truth behind all these masks. The theme of "Strange Deja-Vu" comes again, it's so obvious we're reaching the end of this tragic story. The music let us know that. It's so well crafted, we can sense the end is coming.

Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On (10/10) Resignation and nostalgia. Resignation leads to acceptance of reality. Acceptance of reality leads to the discovery that, after all, it's just that, reality, nothing we can't face. Hope. Just that. I would know LaBrie is telling me that even if the lyrics were just "blah-blah-blah". A certain naïve, foolish happiness lies behind this resignation. The music is ending. We can feel that. We can also feel that the tragedy is coming to an end, we can get ready to die. We can accept it. Now all that's left is to know what kind of music will play over our body will it ascends. And The Dream doesn't failed me.

Scene Nine: Finally Free (10/10). The psychologist want us to open our eyes. Yes, it's not a fictional character eyes but our won eyes, so good is the music that makes us LIVE and BREATHE this rather simple story. But when all was resignation, low, very low strings announce the final theme. Their sound is interrupted by some arpeggios by the masterful hand of Rudess, quickly joined by the Vocal Chords. And then, finally, free. The theme of all themes. Hope, Love, Happiness, Trust, Devotion all in one theme. The drums and guitars and bass join the music and what's ahead of us is just the best closing ever to any album. Death is not the end, just a beginning. Never had I believed it so much than after this. A brief moment of chaos and terror, violence, murder, it seems it's going to ruin our dream. But the melody of "One Last Time" comes back to utterly kill the monstrous feelings. Petrucci sings, yes, sings with his guitar. The mood is turning bright again. It was just a moment of pain, now we're where we want again. Finally free. Because a life has been found. Because Love has been understood. Because MUSIC HAS BEEN CREATED. The coda of the song closes the masterpiece in the best fashion ever. The haunting theme that once was declared by the low strings plays till exhaustion, till the band can't play no more. And it ends.

Of course I have to say that many people could find this review a little bit too "hyperbolized". But it's how I understand music. There's music I can dissect, there's music I can talk about without ever giving in to my emotions. That's 99% of the music in all prog-rock/metal. The other 1% is THIS disc. No wonder it is my favorite. I think I've given reasons and arguments to my feelings. This review was not a matter of judgment but of love.

The lyrics? Once I though the story was absurd and rather soap-opera-ish. Maybe so. But it deals with the most important emotions. And I'm glad the New york greats chose such a theme for the album. Political analysis? Deep introspection into the human mind? Good things to talk about. But once in a while I want my heart to be seduced. And this once, it was overwhelmed.

The only album ever that I immediately liked since the first time I heard it.

Recommended for: ?

Not recommended for: ?

As opposed to one of my most famous reviews around here, let me use the same words: if you disagree with what I said about music and feelings, stay away from this. If you agreed with just ONE word, give it a try. Even if you end up hating the album, try to know the album many others consider the top prog-metal masterpiece of all time.

For me, the top prog-rock masterpiece of all time.

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Send comments to The T (BETA) | Report this review (#117342) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Review by micky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
micky avatar
4 stars 'remember the area in the store where all those cheeses were... it has nothing on this album'

Words of logic spoken by my better half as we both sat through this album tonight. I first bought this album, about a year ago, in a used CD store. A couple bucks... why not. I had previous experience with this group in another forum where rabid but well-meaning friends had tried to convert me to the church of DT. Needless to say... the irratating to the ears vocals, non-existant bass, incredibly tasteless and nerve-wracking synth tones, heavy handed drummng, and pointless shredding that said more 'look at me' than anything else, did nothing for me. Thus I remained uncoverted.

Last fall as the symphonic horsemen ran roughshod over the acne-scarred masses and for a time being made even mentioning DT in the public forums a crime worthy of having horseshoe inprints on your rear end, I recieved a request to review the one album I did buy. This one. I gave the album the seven listens, I ALWAYS give an album when seriously evaluating an album. Since the request came from a friend I said I would. Alas I never got around to it. Tonight, after having a fresh listen, I was inspired to finally get around to reviewing it. With Caravan soothing my ears.. I thus proceed.

The problem.. what to say that hasn't been said. We have everything from the uberfayboyism that proclaims this a masterpiece on par with Close to the Edge, Zarathrustra, MDK, YS, and SEbtP....to those who wouldn't have their worst enemy dare listen to it. I tend to fall between them.. though leaning a bit to one side hahah. To help with my problem.. I have decided on a novel approach. Since the previous reviews are so.... verbose and yet to the point. Why not let them say it for me. So I proceed with my thoughts on the album... said so much better by reviewers before me....

'The lackluster narrative is presented with artless exposition; they've compromised between using lyrics that fit the song and fitting the music to the story, and as a result everything sounds contrived.'

'I find listening to this CD to be just a little more enjoyable than viewing images of endless Middle Eastern atrocities, or reading the gruesome details of the latest killings by some gun-toting psychopath.'

'SPEECHLESS'

'Not a masterpiece - and not Prog - just long'

'The musicianship is extremely competent but for every good idea (and there are some) there is one equally crass and stupid'

'I can honestly think of few albums as tedious to listen to as Dream Theater's "magnum-opus" '

'This album for me highlights for me what Dream Theater is about. 5 musicians who all do their own thing, and though they are all respected in their specific fields, they fail at coming together to make a solid band.'

'It sounds like an exaggeration but this album goes on for 77 minutes and I can scarely point to the bits of music I enjoyed '

Anyway... that about sums up what I thought of the album. I couldn't bother with a track by track breakdown since it all ran together and the overall concept bored me and I lost interest in trying to follow the storyline. I was honestly only roused to attention when some overplaying guitar solo, some hair-raising vocal infringement on good taste, or cheesy (see above) synth tone interrupted the stupor I had slipped into.

For the site...5 stars... a masterpiece of prog metal if it is your thing..and my review says enough on that.

For me... 1 star and I will never sit through the album again. I have 100's of 'real' prog albums that emphasize melody, tasteful musicianship, interesting and listenable vocals.

Michael (aka micky)

edit... dropped it a star... .. if I can find a 'classic' Prog Metal album that I DO like. It will get 5 stars. Reserving a 5 star slot for the album that 'grabs' me. This album is regarded as a classic. I just don't like it at all. Not sure if it's the music, or just me.

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Send comments to micky (BETA) | Report this review (#117496) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, April 06, 2007

Review by Prog Leviathan
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars An unstoppable showcase of masterful virtuosity, energetic songwriting, and beautiful melodies-- "Scenes From a Memory" is hallmark of the genre and amazingly enjoyable from start to finish. Very few albums have the power to both send chills and melt faces with such consistency. This is Dream Theater at their uncompromising best, performing addictively catchy and exciting music jaw dropping skill and enthusiasm. Amazing standing on its own, and even more so when compared to many of the group's contemporaries (and perhaps especially their new releases)

There is so much to rave about here that doing so would only make me sound like more of a fan-boy, so lets just say that this album will either make you a dedicated lover of the band, or confirm your disgust of their pretentious, instrumentally self-indulgent stylings.

A must buy for lovers of dynamic, heavy, operatic music. Outstanding!

Songwriting: 5 Instrumental Performances: 5 Lyrics/Vocals: 5 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

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Send comments to Prog Leviathan (BETA) | Report this review (#119225) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, April 21, 2007

Review by sean
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is my favourite Dream Theater album, and at the time, my favourite album of all time. Many people accuse Dream Theater of excessive wankery, but I think the extended instrumental sections just add to the album. This is a concept album dealing with love, betrayal, and redemption. The story is fairly easy to follow, and is very interesting. However, it is the musical parts which makes this album great. The music is very complex yet heavy, with a great variety, especially in "Beyond this Life", which goes from extremely heavy guitars to a Zappa influenced instrumental break. There are not any songs on this album which i do not like. My favourites are Fatal Tragedy, Beyond This Life, Home, The Dance of Eternity, and Finally Free.

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Send comments to sean (BETA) | Report this review (#122250) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Review by E-Dub
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Being a neophyte to Dream Theater, I have heard all of their music and I do reserve the word 'masterpiece' for Scenes From A Memory. Interesting concept for starters, but the music is just so interesting and embodies the spirit of real progressive music and spans far beyond metal.

Very interesting song structures, especially on the "Beyond This Life". Really enjoyable to listen to Myung just rolling over the frets.

The only part that is hard to listen to is "Through Her Eyes", however. Not because it's a bad song, either. On the contrary, it's a beautiful song; but, who knew that Dream Theater was capable of writing a song that just yanks on your heart and emotions. It's almost too painful to listen to and I always think of my daughter whenever I hear it. The pain resonates, but I guess a song that can trigger that kind of emotion is a brilliant song to begin with.

From the beauty of "Through Her Eyes", we're spiraling out of control in a full on assault with "Home". Really is a bit of a surreal onslaught by Dream Theater, but what a powerful turning point on Scenes Of A Memory. A lot of change ups throughout this song with eastern indian influences. Very intense.

"The Dance Of Eternity" is where we really get a taste of that spastic style of Rudess in spots. He's really good at changing the pace, but it can get a bit manic and odd with the rag time section. Still, a very good instrumental.

Scenes From A Memory closes with the somber "The Spirit Carries On" and "Finally Free". Much like "Through Her Eyes", the band slows down and exhibits that they're not just a one trick pony with Spirit. And Petrucci pulls out one of his best solos, which I wish he did a bit more of. It seems like these days he's wanting to shread; but, he's such a multi-dimensional player and Just one of those songs that transcends the band coming from an album that can boast the same.

"Finally Free" begins with a beautiful guitar intro with the voice over of the therapist. The mood quickly changes as the story becomes sinister until it's violent conclusion. A lot of twists and turns with this album, but especially this song.

Scenes was the very first DT I bought and it's still the best one by a long shot. Sometimes I wonder if opponents of Dream Theater have ever heard this album. This is a very progressive album and brilliantly put together. Metal really isn't my thing, but Dream Theater is the forerunner of prog metal for a very good reason. They can change on a dime like Yes, but still have that power like Rush or even Iron Maiden in spots. This disc is absolutely essential for any prog collection. 5 strong stars!

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Send comments to E-Dub (BETA) | Report this review (#124608) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 04, 2007

Review by Mellotron Storm
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars 4.5 stars.This is DREAM THEATER's fifth studio album, and in my opinion the best out of the previous five. Enter Jordan Rudess who had been playing with Portnoy and Pertucci in the band LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT. Good to see Terry Brown involved in co-producing and recording the vocals. I'll leave it up to you to read from the other reviews to understand what the concept of this album is. I'm not sure which is more complex, the concept of this album or the music that the band plays on it. I do feel that the music is sacrificed a little towards the end of this album for the sake of the concept. If it had ended after "One Last Time" this would be a masterpiece no questions about it. It's not that the last two songs are bad or anything, but this is such a long album with those two songs added on. And they don't wow me enough to warrant being there,other than they have to be for the sake of the concept. Still this is better than "Images And Words" as far as i'm concerned.

"Regression" opens with a monologue before reserved vocals and strummed guitar come in. "Overture 1928" opens with some bombastic drums that build before we are treated to some amazing and tasteful guitar work from Pertucci. The synths are great as are the heavy passages in this song. "Strange Deja Vu" continues with the same melody as the previous song and it picks up in tempo after 2 minutes. What a fantastic song ! "Through My Words" features slowly played piano with reserved vocals."Fatal Tragedy" has a heavy intro and I am reminded at different times of QUEEN during this song. I love the drums and guitar 4 minutes in as Pertucci follows this up with some blistering solos. "Beyond This Life" is my second favourite song. The drums are relentless and the guitar is heavy. It settles down as vocals come in, but not for long. Haha. "Through Her Eyes" opens with a female vocal melody with synths as piano comes in with James singing meaningful lyrics. Light drums and soaring guitar all add to the emotion of this song.

"Home" is my favourite tune on this record. It has an Eastern sound to it. It gets very heavy before 2 minutes.The drumming is incredible and check out Pertucci ! We're head banging now. This sounds so good ! "The Dance Of Eternity" is where Rudess really shines. It still gets heavy though. 5 minutes in the sound is amazing ! Then the drums and guitars slow down which is even more amazing ! "One Last Time" is a beautiful song with piano, drums and guitar. "The Spirit Carries On" reminds me of Roger Waters. Some uplifting guitar in this one. "Finally Free" opens with monologue like the first song. Piano melodies and vocals arrive before both Portnoy and Pertucci shine.The ending with the samples of someone walking and starting up the car really remind me of the ending of "A Fine Day To Exit" from ANATHEMA.

I can definitely hear why so many rate this as a masterpiece.To rate this less than four stars is difficult to understand though.

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Send comments to Mellotron Storm (BETA) | Report this review (#126194) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, June 18, 2007

Review by Dim
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars A very good album, but I'm not a fan of speed metal, so my rating may be a bit detered. Before I got this album, the only dream theater I had heard before that was train of thought, and it was excellent. So I was expecting a very very good album, I guess my expectations were a bit to hight, because it was a bit less than what I was expecting.

The downfalls of this album are: Too much overpowering drums, LaBries voice (especially the firs couple of lines of strange deja vu), and Jordan Rudess' terrible keyboard solo's

The Upfalls =) of this album- Great concept, excellent recording qualityy, limber bass lines, and not so annoying guitar work (thank GOD). now heres my reveiw

Regression- Nice intro, Im not going to touch on the concept because that will take WAY too long, anyways, LaBries voice is not apsolutely atrocious on this one! Basically just James and John on acoustic. 4/5

Overture 1928- Great instrumental, the only bad thing is when keyboard does this whole lead part which destroys the metal feel. Also I was kinda disapointed to not here john shred for his first solo. Oh well, everything else is good! 4.5/5

Strange Deja vu- Besides Labries first three appaling line, the vocal harmonies are great and the solo, ie excellent. You can hear a lot of Metropolis part one in this song, especially the chorus and bridge. 4/5

Through my words- Filler, but one of the prettiest DT songs under 3 minuetes, behind of course vacant. 4/5

Beyond this life- The first couple of times you hear this song it's really good, but as the amount of listenings grow, the song gets very boring, very fast. I like the keyboard solo though. and just the jam session in particular. 3.5/5

through her eyes- At this point you realize that after every fast song there is a slow song. Anyways, this song has nice guitar, but the lyrics are quite pathetic, tlaking about a man crying about a girl dying seventy years ago? LAME! Good backing female vocals though. 3.5/5

Home- the darkest and heaviest song, no wonder it's the best, probably wht I like ToT as well. Starts like a 60's phsychodelic song with a phased sitar, but quickly turns into a very heavy jam session. Then some Hetfield vocals (I'm I the only person who actually likes it when James goes Metallica on us?) then some very good guitar, but lame keyboards. The rest of the song flows like that for ten something minuetes. 4.5/ 5

The dance of eternity- better than the overture, but Rudess just plain sucks on this song, there is not a single key that he hits that pleases my ears. Great bass solo, great guitars, Portney shut up! Thank you James for not singing. 4/5

One last time- The first song with all around good vocals, This is my favirote slow song, just beautiful, next to Home and Finally free, my first pick.

The spirit carries on- Good song, too overly packed with typical DT cornyness, and this song is way too slow to shread on. The rest of the song is nice and iconic. 4/5

Finally free- Well the lyrics on The spirit carries on make the story line sound over, but since when was dream theater gonna end with a slow song? Awesome song, I love the little stops and breaks in the middle of the song, and the chorus is awesome! I will give the pony points to portney for this one, the fill he does at the end of the song arent completely over double bassed. 4.5/5

Not the masterpiece everyone says it ie, but excellent none the less!

EDIT

I cant even listen to this anymore, but I use to to be very interested in thi kind of music, and this album helped influence my style of guitar playing.

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Send comments to Dim (BETA) | Report this review (#130132) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Review by Prog-jester
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Here we go! The best DREAM THEATER album so far, the one which must be in Top-10 of all-time Prog masterpieces, their concept story (very confused in almost David Lynch’s vein ;) ), their most ambitious and successful attempt – not that much successful in a popular sense of the word, but in a Prog sense! Every song is filled with wonderful melodies and interesting hooks, level of performing is better than ever, LaBrie is at his finest (later he’ll lose his strength a bit…) and the whole band is awesomely astonishing. From radiohits like “Through her Eyes” to insane rumbling of “The Dance of Eternity”, DT’s most complex instrumental up to date, music reaches heart of every listener…I simply can’t understand how one would not love this album!!!

Best tracks: “Home”, “The Dance of Eternity”, “ The Spirit carries On”

Best moments: 77 minutes of them!

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Send comments to Prog-jester (BETA) | Report this review (#134151) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Review by evenless
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Time after time DT manages to leave me quite cold

Please forgive me, normally I prefer to find my own words to review an album, but this time I'm going to quote fellow Prog Reviewer Bryan Adair: So this is it... prog-metal's magnum opus. The genre's highest rated album on this site, one of progressive rock's seminal albums alongside Relayer, Fragile, Moving Pictures and Red (to name but a few), an album almost unanimously worshipped as a work of art. Wait. What??

Very well put Bryan! Just another quote from fellow Prog Reviewer Tony Fisher: And finally, why can't Petrucci, for all his speed and shredding ability, just SLOW DOWN and inject some emotion and passion into his playing, like Latimer, Rothery, Hackett and Gilmour do? Answers on a postcard, please. Haha; Exactly my train of thought! (to speak in DT terms). DT's music leaves me quite emotionless. And isn't that what music should all be about in the first place?!

Final quote from fellow Prog Reviewer Dieter Fisher: I just can advice any prog newbie: If you're interested in really EXCELLENT prog metal then try THRESHOLD, Pain Of Salvation, OPETH, GREEN CARNATION, IN THE WOODS or RIVERSIDE, but forget about DREAM THEATER, they're just good enough for pop fans who want to show off what kind of sophisticated stuff they're listening to. I could not agree more!

So actually I have to thank Bryan, Tony and Dieter for my review, since they have already said everything what I possibly had to say about DT and about this DT album in particular.

So does Evenless have anything to add? Hmmmm. Well, after reading so many wonderful reviews about DT on PA I decided to buy around 5 DT albums instantly. One mistake I will not make again any time soon. Don't get me wrong, I DO like metal, I can listen to KATATONIA, METALLICA or TOOL all day long. I simply don't "get" DT's music. Seems like pointless playing without putting any emotion into their music to me. Once more I would go on and take Dieter's advice: try THRESHOLD, Pain Of Salvation, OPETH, GREEN CARNATION, IN THE WOODS or RIVERSIDE, but forget about DREAM THEATER!!!

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Send comments to evenless (BETA) | Report this review (#135291) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Review by b_olariu
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I have only one word SPEECHLESS.

Stunning album, everything is perfect here, and is even better then Image & Words (the album that is consider the pinnacle of Dream Theater). Here they surpased every previous albums they've done. One of the best progressive rock album of the 90s and to me is one of the best records ever. Not to mention the skills of the musicians who are beyond belief. Personal i like John Myung who plays at bass like no other, i wonder how is possible to play like this at an instrument. Talking about the music is flawless, the concept behind this album is unmatch in the '90. In conclusion, if you don't have this album, you're only doing yourself a huge favor by running out and buying it as fast as humanly possible. For it is one of the most enjoyable albums to be released in newer times. Simply a must for any fan of music, recommended and 5 stars for sure.

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Send comments to b_olariu (BETA) | Report this review (#137048) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, September 08, 2007

Review by ZowieZiggy
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Some sort of double intros open this album. An acoustic and spacey one gets you into condition for this long theater scenes. The real start is "Overture 1928". By now, you are even more conditioned and the voyage through the scenes can effectively start with "Strange Déja Vu". The metal approach is of course noticeable, but not only. The dual side of "DT" is fully integrated into this song. A good combination of both world : rock and metal. A good start so far.

"Fatal Tragedy" starts where the short "Through My Words" has closed. Acoustic and peaceful (!). This tragedy will of course not remain so. The beat will catch up to reach the rock territories and finally, the so fantastic "wall of music" will hurt the listener after three minutes. This is a beautiful crescendo. But you might know that I am found of this type of song evlotion (from slow to crazy). This is the first (but do not worry there will be more) highlight of this album.

Extremely heavy intro for "Beyoond This Life". One of the ten + minutes songs from this album. You can leave the prog adjective when describing this song. Pure heavy metal. A bit "hard" (!) to digest if you are not really in there. Some relief during some quieter vocal passages (two or three) will allow the listener to break. But the last four minutes just feature a repetitive and very little interesting riff. I was trying to find to which band this song sounds like and actually the vocals are fully Mikael Akerfeldt oriented ("Opeth"). Not the growling ones, but the subtle and wonderful crystal clear ones.

Another great contrast during "Through Her Eyes". A standard "DT" rock ballad. Not really great, I'm afraid, but the band often tried this genre throughout their albums. Some of these songs were good, but rarely great. This one is no exception.

"Home" is just fantastic. Not really prog IMO, but I guess that it is the type of song that really converts you into a "DT" fan. Of course, you have to like the hard, the metal "subtility". Long intrumental guitar breaks, wild rhythm, fantastic Portnoy and great Petrucci. But is it worth to mention these characteristics ? They are so deeply "DT" impregnated...One of my fave "DT"ever. Dynamite and brilliance.

The very average "The Dance of Eternity" does not really hold the comparison of course. But it was almost impossible. The problem by now, is that the next two songs are on the mellowish side. One might say that it gives a break in all this frenzy but I do not really belong to these. I far much prefer when "DT" mixes the genres during the same song and offer these brilliant prog / metal combination within a song ("A Song Within A Song" if you know what I mean).

"The Spirit Carries On" features an excellent guitar solo and a nice melody. I am not sure that this type of songs is really what a true "Dream Theater" is expecting. Maybe more the casual proghead willing to enter their repertoire. But I do not belong to either one of these categories.

This album was my second purchase from the band. I believe that it is a good entry to anyone who is willing to enter the "DT" catalogue. The closing number is another highlight. Again, the structure is pretty much a crescendo one. It works very efficiently. Somewhat mellow again during the intro but extremely pleasant. Most of "Dream Theater" aspects are hold here (except the heavy and metal ones).

"Scenes" is a good album. But I can hardly go over three stars for this effort.

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Send comments to ZowieZiggy (BETA) | Report this review (#140094) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, September 23, 2007

Review by Tarcisio Moura
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars My second favorite Dream Theater album. This is an ambitious concept album that only a very talented and skillfull band coudl go through and come out unscathed. And they were a band like that. Dream Theater magnum opus was a quite surprising affair, since the group seemed to be a little lost after releasing their masterpiece Images And Words. Metropolis put them back where they belonged: one of the most interesting and creative prog metal bands of all time.

For this album the band concentraded once again on using their instrumental virtuosity to work on songs and feelings. They often had instead used songwriting as an excuse for a general display of technique (and those guys CAN really play their instruments!). On Metropolis they are not much restrained either, but they now use their knowledge of music to work for the concept: you still get open mouthed by their sheer capacity of playing difficult, elaborated instrumental passages with such ease you wonder if they were just jamming (they are not, as the DVD of this tour shows). But there´s still some simplicity (an important part of the music they frequently forget to put in good use), song structures and the band never misses the point all the way through the engtire CD. It´s virtuosity aplied when the music calls for it. Also there is a lot of passion and guts. They were quite inspired for this one!

The story is also complex. Miracously it works as much as the music itself. Metropolis is not as accessible as Images And Words, but its sheer power is amazing and has many excellent melodic parts. You´ll have to hear more than once to get all the subtleties and nuances. But once you get into it, youlll find a fantastic work of music. A real prog masterpiece, no less. Highly recommended.

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Send comments to Tarcisio Moura (BETA) | Report this review (#143179) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Review by rogerthat
COLLABORATOR Crossover Team
4 stars Many reviews have been submitted already on this album but as one of the few (or so I think) hardcore metal fans on the forum, I thought I might as well give my perspective (especially since it has been a little amusing to read how metal is viewed through the window of non-metal ears :P ). You may feel as someone who listens to metal, I would give prog-metal a ready embrace. Au contraire, it is metalheads who have the hardest time digesting prog metal because it is metal so dressed up and watered down it comes off as pretentious and indulgent - AND perhaps the underlying assumption that metal muscle can be a bad thing hurts too :P. In fact my favourite progressive albums are clearly NOT on the metal side - Thick as a brick being the alltime most favourite and Mirage, Selling England, Meddle and Hemispheres coming close behind. In Absentia and Orphaned Land's Mabool are among a few modern progressive albums that I found impressive....because the instrumental prowess was never allowed to overpower the heart of any music from any genre - emotion.

That has been my biggest grouse with Dream Theater - like a modern day EL&P, they are too hellbent on displaying their virtuosity ad nauseum..but they also lack the sense of fun and adventure that the Karn Evil 9 suite had, perhaps because like Master of Puppets Metallica, they are wanting to say a lot and "cement their place in metal history" and blah blah. This is why this specific album is however a lot more palatable. For a change, the band got down to write great songs, or atleast try to. The seemingly endless solos are gone, or almost...hell, Petrucci doesn't even have a solo in Strange Deja Vu..whoaaa!!!! The other thing is that the songs are eclectic too and with their seemingly boundless instrumental prowess, the band has no problems in pulling off this wide repertoire. So...the foundation has been laid for an intelligent, varied and interesting dose of prog.

However, there is one other problem that Dream Theater need to address and haven't to date. It is La Brie's vocals. Although I am, or I believe I am, quite proficient in English, it is not my native language. Hence, I am not given to poke fun at weird accents, amusing pronounciation of words, poor selection of words (possibly due to deficient knowledge of English) and so on. I sympathize with European or Latin American or Asian bands who make an effort to express themselves in a medium that can be universally embraced. Even then, I have serious issues with La Brie's handling of English, more than anything else. It is not just the way he pronounces words but the tone of his voice that almost always seems out-of-whack with the mood of the song. It may be that the aforementioned European guys just sang their hearts out and were not conscious of "English" issues, so it was easier for me to overlook these problems. La Brie is decidedly conscious of every line that he delivers and this makes listening to the album a very painful exercise, because if the singer doesn't lose himself in the musical journey, how will you find it inviting??? In the same light, he shows great range, versatility, power et al but the final output falls short of convincing. The biggest La Brie bloomer on this album is doing a Roger Waters impression on Spirit Carries On, but in a bad way, trying to be the Waters who wallows in self-pity and desperately reaches for stars well outside his limited vocal horizon (Nobody Home, Don't Leave Me Now) rather than the Waters who laces his lines with dollops of irony and badass attitude(Mother, Empty Spaces).

Above all that is the sympathy factor that we allude to frequently in metal circles. When a band seemingly profess their desire to be the best in the business, outdo everyone, change the world, blah blah and perhaps are too businesslike about the ART of composing music, they leave a sour taste in the mouth. But how does that affect my impression of the music?? Well, like Master of Puppets Metallica again, it evidences itself in a rather tight and dispassionate execution of the songs that is technically flawless but doesn't quite touch your soul. On the other hand, albums with flaws and quirks may win you over easily if the band's passion for their art comes through. Example: When Geddy Lee of Rush hits that high note in Freewill, he is wailing despairingly and makes you cringe and yet the sheer energy exuded by him makes you gloss over it.

In toto, seeing as there are a number of irritants for me in this album that may not exist for others on the forum, I will err on the side of caution and give a slightly higher rating than I would give it for my consumption.

3.80

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Send comments to rogerthat (BETA) | Report this review (#149507) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, November 08, 2007

Review by ProgBagel
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Dream Theater - Scenes From A Memory 4.5 stars

Is this the magnum opus of prog-metal.I think not. This is an awesome album, but it certainly lacks punch in some areas that I'll really detail out because the rest is great. I would recommend maybe 3 or 4 Dream Theater albums alone more then this one, but the genre as a whole? I stand on top of my computer chair holding 'The Perfect Element' and 'Second Life Syndrome' skyward (to name very few). Anyway, Jordan Rudess replaces Derek Sherinian on the keyboards for this album and his presence was instantly felt. Jordan Rudess to me is the modern day Keith Emerson meaning for those uninformed, he is a wizard on the keys. Unfortunately after this album I began to dislike Rudess, but that's a topic I'll save for the later albums. This album has a great amount of flow to it and as such I really don't think I will do a track-by-track analysis. This is a conceptual work after all.

From a lyrical point of view, this album is perfect. I won't topsoil the story (yes, story), in any way, but it has to do with the spirit, reincarnation, after-life, then the joys and pains of the physical realm like murder, love and betrayal. Everything is done so perfectly.

The instruments are outstanding. The guitar work is as good as it has ever been, Myung is like always, kept secret. Jordan Rudess brings the virtuosity to a new level, his keyboard solos were extremely technical, but still retained a great amount of feeling. The guitar and keyboard also bring a sort of new 'element' to the Dream Theater sound. Rudess and Petrucci sort of mimic each other at times and other play the same exact solo on top of one another. While this was good for this particular album, this overused novelty plagued DT's later albums to oblivion.

The sound is outstanding.but this is where the flaws are embedded in. There are no flaws in my opinion until 'Through Her Eyes' came in. Dream Theater certainly failed to deliver on the slower songs. This is pretty hard to believe, especially after releasing the outstanding soft and melancholic album, which was 'Falling into Infinity'. 'The Spirit Carries On' is one of my least favorite Dream Theater tracks simply because the vocals and instrumentation lack the emotional punch that these two songs were supposed to portray, thus lowering my rating down half a star. The guitar solo in 'The Spirit Carries On' was the only thing that really gave the expression that was needed to be heard.

Besides the two aforementioned songs.every other one is outstanding. If I had to recommend a few tracks to definitely check out, they would be 'Fatal Tragedy', 'Beyond this Life', 'Home', and 'Finally Free'. These songs are some of the most sophisticated of all prog-metal songs and they contain the most intense virtuostic work yet.

You have intense instrumentals, well though-out story and concept, excellent composition and a great melody. The only problem is the slower works that did not make this album a complete masterpiece. This album is highly recommended for any fan of prog- metal.

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Send comments to ProgBagel (BETA) | Report this review (#154818) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, December 09, 2007

Review by progrules
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars This release by DT is supposed to be their best effort where the studio albums are concerned. In a way I can understand why but I do not totally agree with this outcome. SfaM is a very interesting concept album, a very good one too but it's not my personal favourite. In fact it's almost the same story as Awake which used to be one of my all time fav's by any band but didn't stand the test of time and faded from me in a way. This is also the case with SfaM but just not as vehement.

SfaM still has an impact on me but eight years ago I thought this was sensational and that feeling has gone. I was never too thrilled about the first few tracks nor as I was about the last few. The songs in the middle always worked best for me, especially Beyond this life and Home but even these two don't make me go into raptures anymore. They are just good songs to me now. The audience favourite Spirit Carries on never was my thing (despite the great guitar solo by Petrucci) because of the lyrics. I don't believe in life after death and stuff like that so it never appealed to me.

So all in all I recognize the greatness of this album but I prefer a few other albums by DT personally. I still think it's good enough for 4 stars though.

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Send comments to progrules (BETA) | Report this review (#154955) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, December 10, 2007

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I can sense that this is one of Dream Theater´s most loved albums viewed by the reviews here on Prog Archives and listening to the album I understand why. Well at least partly because there are also parts of this album that I don´t like much.

One of the good things about this album is that it is way better than it´s predecessor Falling Into Infinity which must be said to be Dream Theater´s weakest album at least to my ears. The hard rock edge that marred that album is fortunately gone on Scenes From a Memory. This means that the prog metal feeling and playing are very much present again on this album. The melodies are much more intricate and exciting than the more simple vocal lines on Falling Into Infinity.

The bad things about the album is first of all the production. Portnoy and Petrucci has taken over this duty on Scenes From a Memory. This is a great example of why musicians shouldn´t produce their own work ( Jimmy Page from Lep Zeppelin is another). The mix isn´t very good, and especially the drums have a very weak sound. I liked the more artificial drum sound on their earlier albums Images and Words and Awake. Portnoy and Petrucci sings background vocals on the album, which to my ears is just a horror.

Well the bad things aside this is still a great album, and songs like Scene TWO: I.Overture 1928, II.Strange Deja Vu, Scene Three: I.Through My Words, II.Fatal Tragedy and Scene Four: Beyond This Life are excellent and classic Dream Theater material. Exciting song structures, tempo and time signature changes as we´re so used to from Dream Theater are of course very present on Scenes From a Memory. I think they should have stopped the album after Scene Seven: I.The Dance of Eternity though as especially the last two songs are very weak in my ears. Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On is a cheesy and really unworthy song to be included on this album. Scene Nine: Finally Free is too repetitive and not exciting enough for me. These two songs drag the album down a bit. It´s still excellent though, but I wouldn´t call it a masterpiece.

The lyrics are a concept story which I will not go into further detail with. Personally I normally don´t like concept stories because I think the storytelling lyrics destroy the flow of the melody lines. This is to some extent also the case here. But it is a bearable flaw to me as lyrics generally don´t interest me much.

I remember thinking that this was one of the best albums I had ever heard when I bought it, but my excitement has somehow cooled a bit over the years. It´s still an excellent addition to any prog rock collection though and highly recommendable. A sure 4 star album.

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Send comments to UMUR (BETA) | Report this review (#160410) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, February 01, 2008

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Prog's spirit carries on.

After (arguably) rekindling the progressive fire with their first three albums, Dream Theater finally hit a major snag in the road when they attempted to take the more conventional path on their 1998 album 'Falling Into Infinity'. Not ones to be held back by such a let down, the band decided to regroup, find a new keyboardist and move back into more familiar grounds. Enter Jordan Rudess, and the need to make something great.

Metropolis Pt 1 was always a popular track by the band, and by now they must be eternally grateful to themselves to have put that Pt 1 at the beginning. Apparently there was never any plan to make a pt 2, and when they titled the original with a 'pt 1' it was more of a sick joke. Fortunately for them they were able to make an album off of what would become pt 2 while being able to recycle themes, a couple riffs, soundscapes and credibility from their masterpiece, Images and Words. Luckily, the album doesn't come off as a blatant rip-off of their own material and what used to be a very confusing muddle of words in Pt 1 is fleshed out into an incredibly complex story in pt 2.

This (as to be expected) is a concept album and rock opera from start to finish. The tracks run together to form two acts which in turn run together to make the album into one giant song. While the album does, at times, suffer from the ''Wall of sound'' effect thanks to it's repeated motifs and themes it does still manage to keep interest thanks to both the story and skilled playing of each member. While Dream Theater sometimes takes flak for being a little bit to ambitious on their instruments, here they seem to have done everything right. The instrumentation actually comes off as part of the story and advances the plot while keeping the audience entertained.

It would be pointless to go into this album and give track by track thoughts because really each blurb would entail me typing the same thing over and over again (not to mention that this is the 600th review for the freaking album) -- So I'll do it as a whole. How does the album sound? Dark, moody and fast with blinding solos, a couple good slow parts and a lot of flat out creepy moments when it comes to story line. In terms of story, it's very complex and difficult to work out. Basically, it's the story of a man who experiences strange visions in his sleep so he goes to a shrink to figure out what they all mean. Though hypnosis the man discovers about a young girl who was murdered back in the 30s and has to figure out the real reason why it happened. The ending really will surprise you, even if you fancy yourself someone who doesn't care for Dream Theater lyrics.

Conclusion:

Not Dream Theater's best album as many may claim it to be, mostly thanks to it's inaccessibility as a 75+ minute album that really sounds completely the same the first couple listens. This is still a great album featuring great playing and writing which will almost definately make a great addition to your collection -- 4 stars.

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Send comments to Queen By-Tor (BETA) | Report this review (#164856) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, March 24, 2008

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
5 stars Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory was the first Dream Theater album that really made me gasp!

Although I would soon find out that there was much more from where it came from, I still consider this album and especially the performance on Scene Six: Home to be their crown achievement. It would be completely unjustified to go into an early retirement after delivering such a gem of a composition but unlike many other bands Dream Theater managed once again to outdo themselves with the release of the next couple of albums

When listening to the album I tend to skip the intro track Scene One: Regression which, although sets the mood for the album, isn't really as great of an intro as the instrumental intro of Scene Two: Part I. Overture 1928. The only criticism I can think of is the albums length, but that can be applied to most of Dream Theater's albums, especially the newer releases. I think that a CD, no matter how great, should not be longer than 60 minutes (not counting bonus tracks and such), but that's just my general opinion of the album format as such and not so much criticism for this particular release.

After this short rant I honestly have no more criticism to add and so you should just assume that everything else about Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory is completely flawless!

***** star songs: Scene Two: Part I. Overture 1928 (3:37) Scene Two: Part II. Strange Deja Vu (5:12) Scene Three: Part II. Fatal Tragedy (6:49) Scene Six: Home (12:53) Scene Seven: Part I. The Dance Of Eternity (6:13) Scene Nine: Finally Free (11:59)

**** star songs: Scene Three: Part I. Through My Words (1:02) Scene Five: Through Her Eyes (5:29) Scene Four: Beyond This Life (11:22) Scene Seven: Part II. One Last Time (3:46) Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On (6:38)

*** star songs: Scene One: Regression (2:06)

Total Rating: 4,58

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Send comments to Rune2000 (BETA) | Report this review (#175915) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Review by CCVP
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Scenes from a Memory: after the traumatizing Falling Into Infinity, Dream Theater rids itself from the 90's sounding and release a terrific comeback that sets the pace for the new age of the band

Let me start off saying that this was the album that finally consolidated my love for Dream Theater, the love for this ever changing and innovative progressive metal band that i will probably only have for them. This was THE album that made my jaw drop for the third time and from the first time i listened it until right now, since i am listening it while i am writing this very review, and also was the fourth Dream Theater album i ever heard (being the first Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, which made me love the band and made my jaw drop for the first time with the 42 minute epic, the second Falling Into Infinity, which is the weakest Dream Theater album in my opinion, and the third was Octavarium, that made my jaw drop for the second time with the 25 minute epic).

This album is also one big turn of the tide for Dream Theater. It was the debut of Jordan Rudess as a member of the band (they wanted Jordan on the band since Kevin Moore left, but he was too busy with the Dixie Dregs in 1994 and other projects of his own after that)and, because of that, it is the biggest change of musical direction so far, inaugurating the modern Dream Theater sound that has even more progressive influences than before and is more progressive, besides being more metal also. This album also finally detaches Dream Theater from the 90's music but still don't have the new millennium sound, meaning that this album is timeless, since its music don't relate to any specific decade, like all true masterpieces. That detachment may have been caused by the excess of material they had at the time, mainly from the Falling Into Infinity demos, so they could choose what to use, how to use and the way to use and develop the material they had (the most important piece of music for this album was the unreleased Metropolis pt 2 epic, recorded on the Falling Into Infinity demos and which later became this album).

Other interesting feature of this album is that it is a concept album which tells a very interesting story. How this concept develops is also very good: since the story is on psychological time (that means that the story don't follows the time line straightly, going to past and present all the time inside the mind of the protagonist), it has awesome turns, being very fun to discover everything that happened accurately.

Another interesting feature of this album is that it starts a unofficial Dream Theater trilogy, when the end of an album is the beginning of another: This album's end is the beginning of Glass Prison and the end of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence is the beginning of As I Am.

I think that the final proof of this album's quality is the highly controversial rating of the reviewers and honorary collaborators of this site: every quintessential album of progressive rock on this site (like Dark Side of the Moon, for example) gets a lot of bad or middle grade reviews from those guys and this album is not different from the rest of them.

About the songs, musicianship and other features, there are some things i would like to state:

Well, those five guys are all excellent musicians and this album shows that quite well. Both the composition and the playing are terrific in this album, showing most of the different faces of Dream Theater: the poppish, the metal, the proggy, the prog metal, as well as the feeling DT and technical DT. So, Scenes From a Memory shows us basically most of Dream Theater's faces.

One great thing of this album is that Jordan Rudess still not played most of the time in unison with John Petrucci and John Myung like on more recent albums like Train on Though, Octavarium or Systematic Chaos, what increases significantly the quality of the songs played. Also, most of the album is sung in James LaBrie best vocal range, what stops him from singing out of tune live, when the auto-tune is not turned on.

The highlights here stay with the whole album, since it has to be listened as a whole to be understood, and also the music deserves to be listened from beginning to end because of its quality, being the only drawback the song Through Her Eyes, that becomes pale when compared to the rest of the album.

Grade and final Thoughts:

Well, this one here is by far my favorite Dream Theater album, i just had to write something to mark the 630th review of this terrific album myself. So, what better opportunity to write a great review to a great album of my favorite band?

Also, the masterpiece sign fits well for this great and highly influential album. The influence of this album is already being evident in albums like Astral Entrance from Pagan's Mind (a band HEAVILY influenced by Dream Theater), released only three years after Scenes From a Memory.

Keep us rocking Dream Theater!

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Send comments to CCVP (BETA) | Report this review (#176189) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, July 06, 2008

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Symphonic Team
5 stars My first review here is also one of the great prog MASTERPIECES. Scenes From a Memory is the Magnum Opus of Prog metal legends Dream Theater and I must admit I first heard this on the brilliant live Scenes from New York 3 CD epic. I had become quite used to the way it was played live so it was quite a surprise to hear the variations on this studio recording. The first thing I noticed was the incredible production and how clear the audio is in comparison to the live version. The transitions between songs works exceptionally well and the copncept is stronger with the spoken narrative. The way the CD ends with the 'wake up' call is chilling and is an excellent denouement to the overall story.

Highlights are the wonderful Beyond This Life and the last tracks that blend together in a masterful symphonic multisuite movement.

It is definitely one of the best the band has to offer along with Images and Words, Octavarium and the amazing classic 6 Degrees of inner Turbulence. One of the best prog metal CDs you will ever hear. Deep lyrics, complex time signatures and an encapsulating concept - this is pure bliss and a must if you love progressive metal.

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Send comments to AtomicCrimsonRush (BETA) | Report this review (#176488) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, July 11, 2008

Review by crimson87
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Over the last weeks this album got a lot of outstanding reviews , so I thought I should put my point of view on the screen.

This album is often called the pinnacle of progresive metal , and in my opinion if this is the pinnacle then I have nothing to expect from the genre.The album has several flaws , First of all , it's length which can make one to lose attention (especially during the long instrumental sections).Secondly , the lyrics are somewhat cheesy and uninspired , and last but not least the fact that the ballads are terrbily bad and they seem to be ripping Roger Waters off.

Having said that I also think that the album with all this major flaws is still quite good.Overture 1928 is one of the best instrumentals I have ever heard , in which Petrucci delivers two touching solos (not very usual in the guy).Also , in Home he writes a very good and cathy riff which makes the song hearable no matter it's 13 minute length.Also the simplicity on the lyrics department can be a positive aspect if we consider that this is a concept album and it's important to follow the storyline (That goes for The Lamb).

So , to end this review I think this album is a good , but not escential one because it's quite easy listening , in spite of all the wanking Petrucci and Ruddess deliver.Iwould like to add that I enjoyed the very bashed carnival interlude on The dance of Eternity by the way.

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Send comments to crimson87 (BETA) | Report this review (#177342) | Review Permalink
Posted Saturday, July 19, 2008

Review by poslednijat_colobar
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Probably the best progressive metal album of all time.Tremendous album with extremely completed theatrical elements,excellent story,unique solos and so much feelings!The order of the songs is well estimated and the transition between them is flowing.The quality of music...just 5.It is shame for the album,that it didn't sell several millions of copies around the world!!!

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Send comments to poslednijat_colobar (BETA) | Report this review (#178059) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, July 24, 2008

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars I was murdered a long time ago

When Dream Theater appended the notation Part 1 to a track called "Metropolis" on their second album "Images and words", it was intended as a sort of private joke. The fans however kept asking when part 2 would be recorded, so while the band were in the studio to record "Falling into infinity", they set about doing so. The piece bludgeoned from a mere track to a complete 20 minute suite, the intention being to make "Falling into infinity" a double album with "Metropolis part 2" occupying the second disc. The record company however would not sanction a double album, so the suite was held over. When the band came to record their next album a couple of years later, the piece was used as the basis for the album, with additional material being added. Thus, while the album includes the "Part 2" notation, there is no album called "Metropolis Part 1".

The line up is substantially unaltered, but this is the first Dream Theater album with Jordan Rudess on keyboards. The concept tells the disturbing tale of a character called Nicholas who in a past life went under the name of Victoria. With the help of hypnotherapy, Nicolas delves into his former life, discovering that he/she was murdered. It is advisable to keep the lyric book handy to follow the tale, and especially to help with understanding which character is narrating or being portrayed. I would also recommend the website /faq.dtnorway.com/question/1032 for a fine analysis of the story.

Thankfully, Dream Theater do not make the mistake of allowing the concept to dominate the album to the exclusion of all else. This is by any standard one of their finest albums. After the rather corny spoken intro where the hypnotherapist induces the trance and the gentle introductory "Regression", the instrumental "Overture 1928" sets the scene perfectly, with Rudess immediately adding some fine keyboard sounds. The track draws in themes both from the rest of the album and indeed from Part 1.

As the story unfolds, the instrumental sections help to build on the narrative lyrics. In general, the band avoid the temptation to be over literate, the concise nature of the vocal passages allowing plenty of space for some fine guitar and keyboard breaks.

While the album has plenty of the hard edged riffs and the racing drum infused runs we associate with the band, there is to a welcome undercurrent of subtlety throughout. This is perhaps at its most poignant on the quite stunning "Through her eyes" which closes "Act 1"; surely one of the finest ballads by a prog metal band ever. While James LaBrie (assisted by Theresa Thomason) offers a truly great vocal performance here, it is the sympathetic guitar of John Petrucci which sets the track apart.

It is probably futile to talk of track lengths, as this is very much a complete concept, and as such a singe track in various sections. Nevertheless, I will do just that as Act 2 has just four tracks, three of which run to 10+ minutes. The lengthy nature of these tracks contributes to an album running time of just under 80 minutes, yet the time seems to pass in the blink of an eye, the band ruthlessly curtailing any temptation to prevaricate.

In all, for an album which was developed in rather piecemeal fashion, it is pleasing to report that this is probably Dream Theater's most coherent effort. The emphasis on melody and the strength of the concept are major contributors to the overall attraction of the product, recommended.

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Send comments to Easy Livin (BETA) | Report this review (#183503) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, September 25, 2008

Review by LiquidEternity
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.

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Send comments to LiquidEternity (BETA) | Report this review (#185275) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, October 10, 2008

Review by MovingPictures07
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars The most revolutionary progressive metal album of all time. this is a concept of reincarnation, hypnotism, and murder. This is my favorite metal album and for good reason. It has the perfect combination of emotion, musicianship, and intellect.

A track by track analysis on this album actually seems a bit odd to me, as I always think of the album as one large piece. I could assume my usual format here, but it simply doesn't feel right, and I'll make this review more succinct.

James Labrie's vocals are at the top of his game, and the drumming, bass, keyboards, and guitar are all absolutely stunning. There's no way you can deny the outstanding musicianship of this quintet, but does that make the album alone? Of course not.

The concept is done SO well that I was so intrigued by it when first hearing this album. I actually looked up all the lyrics, read up on explanations behind them, and then speculated on them myself. Not only that, but unlike many other concept albums (i.e.: The Wall, but that's another story.) where the story dominates and the music gets pushed on the back burner, Scenes from a Memory is composed with intensity and sheer genius.

From the slower, absolutely moving moments of Through Her Eyes and The Spirit Carries On to the amazing instrumentally tight Dance of Eternity to the ultimate closing Finally Free, this album is an emotional roller coaster. Not in a bad way though! The last thing that comes to my mind when I listen to this album is soulless or too technical, despite those being criticisms of Dream Theater specifically.

Genius. If you haven't heard this, buy it now. Just beware if you do not like metal and/or are closed-minded.

This is one of the most powerful pieces of music I own. A masterpiece of progressive rock and THE cornerstone of the progressive metal genre.

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Send comments to MovingPictures07 (BETA) | Report this review (#191139) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, November 30, 2008

Review by J-Man
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars This is absolutely incredible. If someone needs an example of superb progressive metal, look no further. This is Dream Theater's (arguably) most popular album, and in my mind, is their magnum opus. There are so many incredible things about this album. It is first to include Jordan Rudess (probably the greatest keyboard player of all time), it tells a remarkable story, has some of the best jam sessions ever done by Dream Theater, and shows the incredible skill of all the band.

Without spoiling it too much, the story is better than any other I've heard in music. It's about a guy named Nicholas, and is mostly about a murder, and his love, who is in a different world. It has a huge twist at the end, and the story, even without the incredible music, is still worth listening to by itself.

ACT I:

The album starts out with a man talking, and goes into a beautiful acoustic section, which will later be reprised in THE SPIRIT CARRIES ON. Next is the overture. It starts out similar to METROPOLIS PT. 1, and then introduces many new themes. This flows into STRANGE DÉJÀ VU which has superb key changes from light strings to heavy guitars, and it works really well.

Scene 3 contains THROUGH MY WORDS and FATAL TRADGEDY. It starts out with light piano chords, and suddenly changes key, and is awesome from there. It has a really great jam. Scene 4 is BEYOND THIS LIFE. It is really awesome, and is arguably the best song on the album. Scene 5, THROUGH HER EYES, recycles the chords from THROUGH MY WORDS, it is a lighthearted piece with Theresa Thompson on vocals occasionally. She has an absolutely incredible voice. Petrucci's guitars also sound really good here; even if it doesn't show his complete capabilities.

ACT II:

Scene 6 has the incredible song HOME. The opening is really cool, and slowly progresses into an awesome riff with an incredible distortion on the guitars. HOME also contains the most notable relations to Metropolis Pt. 1. Scene 7 contains two distinctly different sections, yet they flow very smoothly. THE DANCE OF ETERNITY is like a jam session that is absolutely incredible. The transition into ONE LAST TIME is awesome. ONE LAST TIME is a ballad that is full of emotion, and builds really well. THE SPIRIT CARRIES ON, Scene 8, is a rock anthem with one of the greatest guitar solos ever. It highlights John Petrucci's true skill, and how he can shred and be melodic at the same time. Scene 9 contains FINALLY FREE. It has a great opening that is very ominous. It uses the theme from ONE LAST TIME, at a tragedy in the story. It is a medley of themes that were used in the past, and some new ones. It is an incredible ending that makes me listen to this 2 or 3 times in a row.

There is no reason this shouldn't be in your collection. There is not one flaw in this album, and is one of the few albums that is actually "perfect". If you're one of those people who says they don't like metal, therefore, won't like prog metal, this proves them wrong. This is a masterpiece, and is one of the finest albums ever made.

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Send comments to J-Man (BETA) | Report this review (#202206) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, February 09, 2009

Review by Conor Fynes
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 'Scenes From A Memory' - Dream Theater (10/10)

The best progressive metal album of all time...Or maybe the best metal album of all time period? For a good 70 minutes, these masters of heavy progressive music unfold a tale of murder and mystery, and some of the greatest music I have ever heard. Almost everything is flawless and perfect with this album. Theres nothing I've ever heard that's of quite this quality and inspiration.

What we have here is artwork on two layers. The first (and most apparent) is the music itself. Dream Theater pulls every trick in the book on this album. When they were first conceiving of this album, they opted to in essence make 'the most prog album they possibly could.' In this attempt, they created a masterpiece that perfectly blends complexity with memorability, melody with progression and emotion with intensity. From gut-wrenching piano ballads to incredibly progressive instrumental sections typical of the band's repetoire, this album has it all, and as it result, it enjoys great cohesion and a feeling of completion.

The second layer is that of the lyrics. While alot of lyrics of Dream Theater (especially the ones on the later releases) are incredibly cheesy and detract from the music, the words sung by LaBrie on 'Scenes From A Memory' actually serve a purpose, and are done incredibly well. The music tells a story that -considering it is only told through lyrics- is incredibly complex, and each character is relatively well rounded, and intriguing. (The summary of the concept is a bit hard to go through on a review, but believe me when I say it has it's merits!) By the end of the album, theres a feeling as if the listener has just watched a film; as if the album was merely the soundtrack to a grand tale.

From the brilliantly composed tech-pieces, to the gut wrenching Floydian ballads, this album is one of the most complete pieces of music ever written for the metal genre. While the album is certainly as good (even better) than the band's classic masterwork 'Images And Words,' this album requires a much more focused listener to appreciate to the fullest.

I bought this album on the last day of elementary school, and years later, after hundreds of listens, I still enjoy it greatly, and find my love of the album constantly renewed with each fresh, exhilerating listen.

'Scenes From A Memory' is about as essential as you can get, and a favourite of mine for years.

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Send comments to Conor Fynes (BETA) | Report this review (#202432) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Review by Sinusoid
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Dream Theater to me has always been a frustrating band that I could never grasp the euphoria that their diehard fans seem to understand. SCENES FROM A MEMORY is considered one of their best albums, so I thought it would revitalise my interest in Dream Theater. That album was my fourth Dream Theater album, and I have not picked up another one of their albums ever since.

There's no denying how skilled instrumentally and vocally the members of Dream Theater are. The underlying problem is that it's compositionally stiff. Every song is either way too simple when there are vocals on top or way too instrument skill focused elsewhere. Particularly, ''The Dance of Eternity'' is just a slab of solos that really don't go anywhere or do anything. I give leeway to ''Beyond This Life'' and ''Fatal Tragedy'' for having a couple of interesting sections, but there really isn't a song as a whole that makes me want to put the album on repeat.

That's when the story and lyrics rear their ugly heads. A vast majority of the lyrics sound cringeworthy, especially when the music supporting them sounds unimaginative e.g. ''Strange Deja Vu''. It sounds as if Dream Theater really wanted that ''mandatory'' concept album that all good prog bands do at some point in their career, but unfortunately that idea overshadows everything else on SCENES FROM A MEMORY. In my mind, this album is a novelty that wears out faster than socks on a concrete floor.

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Send comments to Sinusoid (BETA) | Report this review (#206755) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, March 12, 2009

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Eclectic Prog Team
5 stars What turned me off from progressive metal for such a long time is the fact that I'm a guitarist, and while I certainly don't mind playing fast if the context of a given piece warrants it, normally I don't care for shred or constant musical aggressiveness. This, and the fact that I once shared a house with someone who worshipped John Petrucci, practicing all day the same speedy passages, and while I certainly respect that dedication, it drove another housemate and me insane. For the longest, what is labeled as progressive metal irritated me. But this album in no way falls into that category. Metropolis II: Scenes from a Memory is a powerful piece of work, with beautifully revisited themes and passages, excellent vocals, and impressively tight musicianship. There's enough variety to make this more of a progressive metal album, including elements of symphonic rock and even country music. Even though the low end of the sound spectrum is mixed almost too loudly (Mike Portnoy's foot unable to stop tapping on the bass pedals, apparently), John Myung's bass work is nearly inaudible. Another minor flaw is that the long jams can become a tad boring after a while. I love Jordan Rudess's lead tone throughout the album, and sometimes it's difficult to distinguish it from Petrucci's guitar. I'll restrain myself from commenting on the story itself, because the story is compelling enough to belong on the silver screen. This is one of the greatest concept albums ever made.

"Regression" Not merely an introduction in which a hypnotist gives instructions and counts backward from ten, there is a short acoustic prelude. Once the song is over, however, the dark synthesizer cues the next one, as though the lights surrounding the speaker have suddenly gone out.

"Overture 1928" Whenever I'd reluctantly put this album on, and "Overture 1928" begins, I immediately remember everything I love about this album. I am reminded that the composition is strong throughout the album, and I love the motifs that creep in at various places. There are also riffs from "Metropolis Both Petrucci and Rudess get an opportunity to include some exquisite solos.

"Strange Déjà Vu" Coming quite naturally from the previous track, James LaBrie delivers one of his best vocal performances ever. The section just over two and a half minutes in reminds me in a way of Rush, particularly the song "One Little Victory," even though musically they are different. Together with "Overture 1928," this is my favorite Dream Theater moment.

"Through My Words" Flowing directly from the previous track, there is quiet piano and LaBrie singing soothingly.

"Fatal Tragedy" The track marker almost seems like it was deliberately misplaced since the first thirty seconds or so sound like part of the last track, and then the band is rocking out again as LaBrie continues his first-person narrating. I love the dark and heavy atmosphere of this track as the murder scene is mentioned, juxtaposed as it is with one of the lyrical and musical cornerstones of the album ("Without love, without truth, there can be no turning back"), which changes from a straight rhythm to a shuffle so effortlessly. The jamming at the end is excellent, and gives way to the psychiatrist's voice.

"Beyond This Life" This is one of three lengthy tracks. It begins with the singing of the headlines and further narration over mind-boggling music. Much of the alleged story is revealed in the first part of this piece. The gentle acoustic section halfway in is always a surprise to me every time I hear this album, even though I've heard it many times, and even though it flows quite naturally. The last segment is a tightly constructed jam with some stranger sounds from Rudess.

"Through Her Eyes" Unbelievably, this country-like song sounds precisely like an Eagles tune, and LaBrie even sounds like Glenn Frey. The melody is terribly derivative of "The Boys are Back in Town" by Thin Lizzy. While not a bad song, it's rather unoriginal, and at least adds variety to the album.

"Home" The longest track on the album begins with dark acoustic instrumentation and a sitar. It soon gets heavy, and the verses sound just like a great Alice in Chains song. Soon enough, LaBrie is back to his glorious self, singing so clearly against a backdrop of a tightly cooperative band. The Near Eastern flavors return in various places. Rudess cuts loose with another blazing synthesizer solo. Then it's Petrucci's turn, who demonstrates his more creative side when it comes to the electric guitar. Myung's bass can be heard loud and clear in this track.

"The Dance of Eternity" Beginning with a sample of "Metropolis part 1" played backwards, this is a fantastic instrumental with a bewildering groove. One of the few places I never cared for was Rudess's honky-tonk piano bit, but given the erratic nature of the piece, I find it more and more fitting each time I hear it. Also, Myung gets in a frenzied bass solo. The piece jumps right into the next one.

"One Last Time" Rudess does a fine job embellishing on a creative melody, and LaBrie's vocals are far mellower here, even when hitting the high notes. Petrucci reprises a main theme on his electric guitar, giving way to even more dramatic singing from LaBrie. The best part about this song is what attracted me to it the first time I heard it (it was one of the first Dream Theater works I had ever heard): Even though the song is a relatively short one, there are several distinct sections that are not repeated, but manage to flow together seamlessly. Rudess ends the song with some eerier piano work.

"The Spirit Carries On" My opinion here is that the piano and vocal melody are not unlike something Pink Floyd would have done circa The Wall or The Final Cut. Those two aspects of the song are characteristic enough of Roger Waters to make this one a trifle banal, but once again, I appreciate the contextual variety and the ties to the acoustic bit on the first track, and in it's own way, it's perfect for an "epiphany" track. Petrucci's solo is out of place, though, because he fills nearly every measure not with the soulful fret work the song was calling out for, but again gives in to his trademark tendency to play hundreds of notes a minute. That said, it's excellently executed.

"Finally Free" Again, the psychiatrist speaks, this time over soft acoustic guitar chords. Dark strings perform over various sounds related to the story, including a car driving off and a thunderstorm. This song contains the final revelations of the story. The main lyrics of "One Last Time" are repeated, as is one of the musical motifs. The last few moments conclude the story in a rather unsettling way.

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Send comments to Epignosis (BETA) | Report this review (#214348) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 08, 2009

Review by TGM: Orb
PROG REVIEWER
1 stars Dream Theater, Metropolis pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory, 1999

To nick half an opening line off a fellow reviewer, '[Metropolis pt. II: Scenes From A Memory] is not only Dream Theater's most overrated release, nor is it prog metal's most overrated release', it's awful.

First off, the 'concept' part of 'concept album': a good concept album surely needs the following: a good concept, and preferably a well-written one, a strong relationship between the lyrics and the music, appropriate vocals and more importantly, to me, a depth to actually keep the listener coming back to the concept... it's the difference between Foucault's Pendulum and the light-hearted The Redemption of Althalus, both are good books, but one is much deeper and consequently more rewarding... in the context that you hope, surely, to listen to an album more than once, the former approach is more valuable.

Now, does Metropolis Pt. II, Scenes From A Memory, which has more depth in its title than the entire damn 70-minute monstrosity, fulfil any of those requirements? Me, personally, I, myself and further I, don't believe it does. The plot is a gaping hole, in which things happen in spasms, things are very occasionally revealed in between the main character's angsty soliloquys, conclusions are drawn and a concluding twist is ruthlessly inserted. Unfortunately, these things need connections and arrangement ' is there really any emotional content in someone believing 'The spirit carries on' because they've been hypnotized into thinking about their (obviously real) previous incarnations? Or is there any point in the 'Sleeper' and the 'Miracle' 'metaphors' for two of the cast characters? Themes and ideas are introduced, but there is just no depth to these ('Without faith, without hope/there can be no peace of mind'...  the why for this precise, repeated line isn't there, as far as I can see... it just appears to be an underlying assumption of the speaker). If you genuinely like the plot of this one, I'd recommend action sci-fi film The Core. It's probably on much the same level.

Now, well-written, obviously not: 'She wanted love forever/but he had another plan/He fell into an evil way/She had to let him down/She said 'I can't love a wayward man', and (Exhibit B, your honour), 'Now that I've become aware/And exposed this tragedy/A sadness grows inside of me/It all seems so unfair' are representative cuts, and the overall impression isn't helped by the predictable alternation of the two parallel stories (well, one of them isn't even happening, it's just a commentary with an event at the end) 'past event happens' and 'Nicholas comments in an angsty/happy way on the past events, with no sympathetic motivation'.

So, we have remarked that it is a wafer-thin plot, following the travails of wafer-thin characters, direly written, and with a sort of pretence of dual depth (past and present), which , when examined, is unconnected, and, regardless, nothing of interest happens in plot B until the very end. Dire stuff. Now, why does this matter so much? Well, one, it's a concept album and it's pushing the concept... it annoys me for the same reason that The Wall's stress on the Hitler rally does... it doesn't make sense, and what is presented as if it were a strength is built on the sand of pretence. It doesn't help either that Labrie is obnoxious to the extreme in his presentation here... his voice is clearly meant to convey an average, normal person most of the time, but, on the other hand, it's plain irritating.... the occasional efforts at a smoother or more aggressive vocal style, rare though they are, are a welcome relief. He also adds an 'a' sound to every word in some sections, which is a pet peeve of mine. So, basically, he's over-presenting a hollow, irritating plot in a hollow, irritating way.

OK, I think you've probably worked out I don't like the concept by now, so that's out of the way... now the album part. Here Dream Theater seem to be hell-bent on alternating the pacey metal riff with the tingling acoustic ballad... unfortunately, they're not particularly good at either of those. The number of good, memorable riffs in these seventy minutes is in the 0s (well, there's one salvaged off I&W, but I'm hardly going to count that), and moreover Petrucci is just a lousily generic and tedious acoustic guitarist... if your introduction to progressive rock included the acoustic features of Howe, Hackett and Fripp, you'll probably hold very, very little affection for the harmless ding-DING-ding (simple acoustics, not always a bad thing, but it's the difference between a writer with a knack for good melodies and one without... Dream Theater don't benefit from this difference being so highlighted) we get from such an admittedly capable electric soloist... again, Petrucci's guitar work, when on an electric, when in a lead role, when soloing, is phenomenal. Unfortunately, at any other given time, he can be unimaginably dull... for instance, for the majority of Scenes From A Memory.

Now, onto the rest... Rudess sort of fits the band, and has to his credit a gimmicky ragtime solo and a generally unoffensive vibe... admittedly his piano parts as a rule don't seem to add a lot to pieces, and occasionally the synth sounds simply don't come off. Portnoy, in addition to being technically sharp and complex, is a bore (though not as much so as on Images And Words), and I hear on good authority the brotherhood of the Sacred Ear to this day have a bounty on John Myung's basslines, so if you can actually hear them on this one, you could be in for the big bucks. There are, musically speaking, two pieces I sort of like on here, and I can remember literally only fragments of them, it's not a well-written album, in my view, and while the more technical-masturbation-themed songs are definitely a bit more interesting for me, I fail to remember more than seconds of any individual piece, and it says a lot that those seconds are generally the gimmicky ragtime solo or the sitar sampling. So, in short, not a compelling metal album (in my opinion... now, I'm not a metalhead, but there are metal albums I like [by Opeth, especially Blackwater Park, Iron Maiden and Arcturus, to name a few]... this just isn't one of them... and I can't say it has the more appealing qualities of those artists I mentioned earlier), not a good progressive rock (indeed, progressive more in derivation than in innovation... a melting pot of styles, rather like making a paella in a mould-encrusted pan) album, not particularly a good album in any sense.

OK, so, I haven't even discussed the individual tracks, and I've explained why I think this is a lousy concept album. I've also written 1123 words already, so it's probably time to bite the bullet and spin the damn album again... I might be brief on individual tracks, because spending this much time writing about Scenes From A Memory when it could be spent giving enjoyable albums such as Awake, Molignak, Darwin! or Skin a small boost in PA's collective consciousness is probably unneeded.

OK, so we have the spoken hypnotherapist intro, complete with ticking... then an exceptionally vapid acoustic-and-voice number with some warbling synth in the background. Thankfully pretty brief. Paragraph merge, because I can. OK, we have a quote from the admittedly neat Metropolis pt 1, which, while just about unrelated (in the same way as the two Cygnus books blatantly are), is probably the best ten seconds of the album. Some nice soloing from Petrucci is probably the key feature of the instrumental Overture 1928... the occasional foreshadowing of later music by collecting themes is clearly an effort , but at the same time, I don't like that later music either, so it's hardly a plus for me. Now, onto the first real vocal number, which, in addition to the thick layers of mind-numbing suffering brought on by Labrie's voice,  has (presumably Portnoy) providing atrocious backing vocals. The drum part is precise, but trapped by its own precision, so often being rigidly unpredictable in the same fashion that the 'unpredictable' bit of it fails to impress, Rudess's short piano bits are neat, his synth parts don't seem to have a lot to them... Myung, when audible, is neat.

The following Through My Words is too safe a piano-and-voice number to really criticise, and if you can ignore the lyrics, that and the opening of Fatal Tragedy are actually quite nice. The latter moves on with some AOR (that?s right, you heard that) choruses and the standard riffing interspersed with some fantastic solos and the occasional organ tone. I'm sort of torn about whether I like the prog-metal thing at around four minutes... very energetic (and I like the shredding, and I think Petrucci, when soloing, has a fantastic tone, though it seems to go out the window on the riffs), actually sort of cool, but it feels so blatant, and really holds no relation to the rest of the song other than having the same track number. OK, out of hypnotherapist talk, we get a riff. Wow. That was really unexpected.

Beyond This Life is the first real engagement with the 'Past' story. Unfortunately, it's terrible. OK, the riff is slightly better than most of those on the album, and when Labrie's vocals are under that weird effect thing, and I can pretend he's singing about hobbits and wizards or something, I can pretend I like this one. There's some surprisingly atmospheric Rudessage here. I like that. Unfortunately, the lyrics are so badly written, they make the opening virtually unlistenable and Labrie is trying so hard to specifically irritate me. OK, he does the occasional neat operato-aggressive thing, which is good, but otherwise, he's mechanically and systematically irking my vocal hates.

OK, Myung comes to the surface halfway through, albeit with a completely harmless part. A random bit of daft production fiddling (Dream Theater are just too calculated to do a Hendrixian interlude, sorry guys) leads into what is actually a really neat bit of bluesy guitar before another superb Petrucci solo. A dire brass synth takes us on... well, let's just say Rudess's solo showcase here is nailbitingly tasteless with the sounds. Portnoy doesn't really add anything to my enjoyment, but he's alright here. It's a pity that Myung's remarkable exit to the daylight from the world of very-low-in-the-mix isn't remarkably good. Bits of this could be really good if I could hear them without hearing the other bits of this soon after.

Some heavy handed Dark Side Of The Moon references (guitars, howly female vocals), complete with an almost hymnal set of keys, followed by a little piano part and the lousy ballad that is Through Her Eyes. Portnoy barely contributes to this bit, obviously, because it's a soft song. Petrucci strums, yawn. Labrie amazingly manages to mess up even this vocal style on occasion... and his incessant vibrato (is that the word?) is a pain. Rudess is a bland piano note every once in a while, and Myung, still on his exercise hour from the prison of the regular production provides the only thing about this song that's actually enjoyable (well, the occasional electric burst isn't terrible, but that's mooted by the acoustics). So bad I feel like going to youtube and listening to a high school band's cover of Video Killed The Radio Star to clean my ears.

Home is a rare thing: Dream Theater dabbling in diversity and also a good song on this album. A vaguely sitar-flavoured thing , with an embryonic riff beneath it, and the occasional precise roll from Portnoy, and suddenly, BIAO-BAO, this absolutely fantastic riff with spiralling guitar work coming off it comes in... Rudess has pulled his tones together, I can barely hear Myung, but I assume he's doing something nice, there's a sharp metal riff... and now, Labrie, L there goes that run, lads... OK, the lyrics are actually not too terrible, more reminiscent of Pt. 1, but his vocals, at least to start with, are unpleasant. OK, then he pulls together and we get shockhorrorscandal a catchy melody... what's going on? Has the spirit of 10cc taken over my stereo player for a few seconds? Did I just like that? Yes... well, whatever witchcraft is going on, Labrie again layers his voice with effects over a menacing, Indian-flavoured riff, and The Miracle's vocal section is slightly less generally irritating... now, if we get past the generic sexual-noises, which would clearly have some sort of effect on me if I didn't hate the concept so much, the sampled-sitar/electric interplay is nice, and even if the solo bursts of the last three minutes are the definition of forgettable, the points where the band pull together make up for it. Anyway, whatever Dream Theater were aiming for with the rest of the album, they somehow managed to just about hit it here.

The Dance Of Eternity opens with some nervous collective shuffling, all laboriously united by little re-echoed solo bits, and double-kick-drumming covers the whole thing. On the other hand, aside from this opening demented soundtrack thing, there is just about enough of the gimmick to keep this one alive, whether in silly synth things, crazed intensity, little dah-dum-dah-dum  bits, something that reminds me of a particularly theme, but I'm not sure which (James Bond, I'm thinking..., maybe I?m wrong), and a random ragtime piano, which is admittedly a gimmick, but a relatively good one... still, I liked this one at first, but I'm finding less and less to like about it. Then, there's a tiny, tiny nice bit with piano and band on before the band goes on into crazy dramatics with only the guitar and piano providing any pleasant reprieve from the dumbfounding, soul-crushing irksomeness of Labrie's vocals on One Last Time.

OK, my ears have switched off by this point... but I'll try to listen to the following The Spirit Carries On (doncha love concept non sequiturs) despite Labrie's presence... there's a lot of reference of things from The Wall, here, I think... the piano is reminiscent, and Labrie takes on an almost Watersy edge... and there's the classic Eclipse (Dark Side, admittedly) organ chord... OK, so a laboured Petrucci solo, which I don't particularly enjoy, and Portnoy in full flow and yet failing to make any impression on me... OK, gospel choir... yeah, right, no reference to a certain band's crowning moment there? Labrie is trying. Yes, very trying (sorry folks, had to be done). OK. Bland rock with half a million Floyd references... I suppose that's progressive in itself... Floyd were never bland :p

Finally Free... well about bloody time... could've done with that seventy minutes ago. Hypnotherapist again, direly bland synths, an unimpressive Petrucci part, sound effects which are indicating the change in the plot... dun dun dun... OK. There's not a lot I like about this tacky cartoon stuff... so I'll say there's a smooth piano in there, and then Labrie comes in again revealing the GRAND CLIMAX of this grand sham. Victoria's bit is actually quite nice at times... seems odd that Dream Theater would bring in a female choir just to reference Pink Floyd but shy away from getting a female vocalist to take the female lead on this one, still... 'Then came a shot out of the night' is possibly the most undramatically delivered line I've heard in a while, which is odd given how much drama Dream Theater can throw in when the lines don't merit it... OK, murder sound effects, wow... what next? Grandiose conclusion with particularly lousy vocals. OK... turning back to the comic dramatics... some noodling blandness (me, personally, I like content, having a story doesn't preclude having that), followed by some more hypnotherapy and a squib which is evidently significant to the story's grand twist. I dislike it intensely. Very intensely. So, to illustrate the style of lumping this together as a concept album, I'll mark the thing by 'Scenes' and give you an average grade. Novelty shift in style. Of course, it will have no relevance on the final grade/star thing I give it.

Scene One: 1/15, Scene Two: 3/15, Scene Three: 6/15, Scene Four: 4/15, Scene 5: 1/15, Scene 6: 12/15, Scene 7: 6/15, Scene 8: 1/15, Scene 9: 3/15. Averaged out, we have 4.111etc./15, which would be a one rather than a two.

So, on the final grade: I cannot possibly give a three to an album from which I really enjoy only one song, and which is conceptually so terrible. Whether one track in a seventy minute album and the occasional glimpse of pleasantness qualify an album for the glorious second star is questionable. It's getting the one from me, which is, admittedly, on the harsher side of justice, but I can see myself very happily not connecting this one to the CD dock again, and once Home is safely ripped to the computer, this will be 'put out to stud' (i.e. collect dust as a glorified coaster).

Rating: One Star, I think 4/15 is actually the mark I'd have given it anyway. 3 if I couldn't skip tracks. Favourite Track: Definitely, definitely Home.

So, what have we learned from this review (well, I say we, I mean I):

Don't buy Scenes From A Memory Metropolis. Unless you really feel like you need to have Home. Or are a Dream Theater fan and think Mike Portnoy is the best drummer ever, at which point you already own the album, most likely. Anyway, not a wise introduction choice, in my opinion, at least, compared to the decent Images And Words and Awake, which is great stuff... if you really like other Dream Theater or you feel like a good, nervous, horrified laugh, go forth, DT fans, and multiply.

A concept is not necessarily a good concept.

Writing about albums you don't like can be fun.

You can write three thousand words about anything.

Credit goes to topofsm... his review was the one my opening line sampled.

OK... there's a line in there where I trailed off, but I can't remember what exactly I was complaining about, and changing it would ruin the 'exactly 3000 words of review excluding title and footnotes' thing I've got going on.

Edit: said line clipped. No longer exactly 3,000 words.

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Send comments to TGM: Orb (BETA) | Report this review (#218413) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Review by The Quiet One
PROG REVIEWER
2 stars Scenes from a Memorable Story, though from Forgettable Music

Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory is no doubt a classic Progressive Metal album for it being full of shred solos and leaving you breathless complex-wise, as well as being dark and a bit agressive very ala classic heavy metal, also for it being pretty original and innovating from the metal-side of music this deserves the 'classic' status, however for Prog this has been done before back in the 70's, which many bands managed to pull-off very complex music, however unlike Dream Theater, they managed to give those complex arrangements a direction and thus making it digestable in the least.

Metropolis Part 2 for me is the begining of Dream Theater's downfall; the begining of Petrucci's and Mike's dominance in the music is just something I really can't stand; the end of the well-equilibrated band, in which each member had their moments of brilliance, that is something worthwhile, Images & Words and Falling Into Infinity were some brilliant well-equilibrated albums.

Dream Theaters calls Jordan Rudess to replace Derek Sherinian on the keyboards. Jordan while definitely being capable of playing anything you give to him, his own style is rather tasteless, thus not enjoyable. Have in mind that having fired Derek, that slight eclectisism he gave to the Dream Theater sound has gone with him. Anyways, Jordan isn't heard much on the album to judge correctly, this is due to the already mentioned issue of John Petrucci over-taking the whole album with his nuclear guitar riffs and aimless speed-of-light solos. What we can listen from Jordan it's his either ultra-fast synth solos which burn your speakers completely, or very ballad-esque piano chords, any of the two bore me to death.

As for the rest of the members, you should already know they're also highly proficient at their respective instruments, notable proof is The Dance of Eternity, however aimless complexity is not enjoyable but mainly annoying, and like I mentioned before the only members really standing out are Petrucci and Portnoy. James Labrie on the other hand for this album he has restrained his high-pitched vocals from their previous albums, but for me this just makes it worst, he just doesn't seem as present and powerful nor as distinguished as in the four previous albums(counting the EP). The only musician on board which I haven't talked about yet is John Myung, is that a surprise, really? No, it shouldn't be, he's nowhere to be heard other than in the repeated sections from the original Metropolis song featured in Images & Words, and unfortunately he will barely be heard in future albums. Compositionally: this album lacks of that word sincerely, it's almost impossible to figure out the structure from a song out of here, due to the focus on aimless complexity and endless soloing, something that any of the previous albums notably didn't have.

The fact that Scenes from a Memory is a concept album gives it a(if not, the 'only') bonus fortunately, may sound cheesy for some, but for those who like The Wall for it's dark themes, this may result a very interesting listen, in fact it does for me. However, like most story-driven albums, the plot dominates the album's moods and unfortunately the result of creating some dark moods, there's also the apperance of some un-inspired cheesy ballads: Through her Eyes and ''Through my Words''.

To sintetize, this is an album FULL of guitar solos, some manic keyboard ones, plenty of menacing drum fills, some horrifying sound effects for your understandment of the story, never-ending compositions with James' now undistinguished vocals.

2 stars for the songs. 0.5 bonus for the concept and it being the most original Dream Theater from the Rudess-era as for now. 2.5 stars it is.

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Send comments to The Quiet One (BETA) | Report this review (#219154) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, May 31, 2009

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JazzRock/Fusion Teams
4 stars This is probably the best album Dream Theater has ever recorded. It is definitely the best Dream Theater album I've heard. The songs are varied and dynamic. The schmaltzy parts are there to further the story on this concept album. And Mike Portnoy doesn't drown out the rest of the band with his ham handed drumming.

The concept is an interesting one. A hypnotist has a man in a trance, where he remembers a past life as a woman who gets murdered. The music is peaceful when it needs to be, and absolutely frenzied at other times. And the story, in music, is well told.

The music itself, while being pure Dream Theater, appears to be heavily infused with nods to Pink Floyd. The intro and inteludes are reminiscent of passages from the Wall, and the finale has a choir and vocalist that bring to mind Dark Side Of The Moon.

As concept albums go, this is one of the better ones.

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Send comments to Evolver (BETA) | Report this review (#233153) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, August 20, 2009

Review by jampa17
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars Speechless... mmm... not really...

No matter what all the haters say about this album, the recognition of this production as the true Masterpiece of the late 90's generation is undeniable... and as much a lot of people claim about too technicall and emotionless, Scenes remains as the best f*cking album I've heard in the last 10 years of my life...

If you come without knowledge of prog-rock (like I did) you will feel speechless at the end of the first spin... It's just impressive how they manage to travel through so many different atmospheres and sounding without you notice... the slow moments are really a breath on the rain, fresh and deep while the hard moments -which are the 70% of the album- are really like the most intimidate wall of hard rock and complex compossition...

It's a Concept Album... maybe The Concept Album that lead the 2000... is the second part of a song wrote in early 90's and maybe 'cause of that is so great. Jordan Rudess take the control on the Keyboards and shows us that he's the most talented Key player out there right now... as it was a theme based album, he didn't do nothing fancy, just stay at the level of the band and thats why he's so great here while in the rest of the albums he kind of try too hard... but in this particular album, he did a great job... as for the orchestration and quality of performing, there's no doubt... they're the best of it... amazing solos, tight performing, great sound and everything...

Labries voice is a little lay back and fit really well here... and as for the production... it isn't that great but still worth for a 5 star review... well... on in on... I recomend this album to anyone... you could hate their extremist soloing, or the Labries performng... that's kind of subjective... but the true value of the production is there... the highest symbol of prog-metal... the masters showing they can write a 80 minutes great story... if you're new in prog rock, you really can start right here... if your'e a prog fan... how do you live your life on ignorance so far... take this album, right now... "Right time is always now..." please... don't denied yourself of these pleasure... it is THE MASTERPIECE of this generation... for sure...!!!

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Send comments to jampa17 (BETA) | Report this review (#241431) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, September 25, 2009

Review by EatThatPhonebook
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars 9/10

"Scenes From a Memory" is one of the best prog metal albums of all time, that contains the perfect prog metal sound.

After almost ten listens, after so much effort for trying to appreciate this album, I now consider SFAM one of the greatest prog metal albums of all time. Certainly they were a couple of songs that I loved immediately, ( all the heavy ones). I just couldn't get the ballads and the slower songs, such as "Spirit Carries On" and "Finally Free". Now I realize how perfect this album really is.

In 1999, after a few albums behind them, Dream Theater release their ultimate masterpiece, a landmark album for progressive music and most definitely for metal music generally speaking. It's a concept album, with a complex story of love, past lives, and murder. A little cheesy, if you ask me: in fact, what really made the album in my opinion was the music itself.

All the heavy songs have outstanding musicianship and technique, without even exceeding, excellent, catchy melodies, mind blowing time changes and odd time signatures: basically the perfect prog metal sound. The ballads (The Spirit Carries On, Through Her Eyes) have a touching, heart warming melody, nice vocals by James LaBrie, and some good experimentation here and there. I really don't understand how I didn't get them previously.

The structure of the album, since it is a rock opera, is unique for rock music: divided in two acts, which are divided as well in different scenes ( nine scenes in total, five in Act 1, four in Act 2), being in this way similar to a classical opera. There's only one interlude, which means that the band at the time had many ideas and didn't need too many fillers. Although, as it happens many times in concept albums, some melodies, ideas, riffs, are repeated pretty frequently, even though they're always slightly different than the original. I never liked much this songwriting method typical of concept albums, but this album, as well as Phideaux's "Doomsday Afternoon", "Quadrophenia" and "Tommy", makes an exception.

Everything starts with the ticking of a clock, followed shortly by the psychiatrist, one of the story's characters, speaking. Soon after, an acoustic guitar plays along with James LaBrie a soft, warm melody that reminds Pink Floyd's "Pigs On A Wing" a little. This Is "Regression", the intro of the album. The Overture is fabulous. Who could have known that in only a few minutes something like this! Like all overtures, this one is instrumental, with many fast tempos, some slowdowns, some excellent virtuosity, and, of course, a nice, singable chorus.

"Strange Déjà vu" is connected with the Overture, so it seems like it's one entire song (they form the second scene). The first three minutes are formed by the Overture's main theme, although this time vocals are present. It's incredible how a song can remain amazing even adding to it another instrument, or vocals. After the "Overture repetition", there's a new part, unbelievably catchy and cool. The song gets slower towards the end of the song, so it can connect to the following song, "Through My Words", the calm, one minute interlude.

"Fatal Tragedy" has an original theme, a lot more different: an intriguing verse, played also with the piano, other than the guitars, a catchy, slow chorus, and a mind blowing second theme towards three quarters of the song: a complex keyboard driven piece, probably one of the highest moments of the album.

"Beyond This Life" is one of the long songs (eleven minutes). For almost the whole song they keep the same, catchy and heavy riff, even this time completely original. There's also a nice, calm chorus, and a great bridge towards the end of the track. Another highlight of the album.

"Through Her Eyes" actually is the only 100% ballad of the album. It is always calm, relaxing, with a nice warm melody, very accessible and singable. Despite these things, though, this is the song that I prefer the least, since it also took me a long time to appreciate it like I do now.

I always loved the following track, "Home", the longest of the album (almost thirteen minutes). Like in "Beyond This Life", it maintains always the same riffs, with of course some variations, such as time changes. Interesting the sitar used every once in a while, as well as the sound of a woman having a sexual intercourse that comes out at half time.

"The Dance Of Eternity" is one of my favorite DT songs. Definitely their best instrumental song ever. So many time changes, so many mind blowing solos, it just always gives me a grip. All of the musicians are at their highest peak: Portnoy's complex drumming, Myung's lightning fast bass solo, Rudess's amazing rag time piece, and, of course, Petrucci's shredding action. A must listen to for whoever plays an instrument.

"One Last Time" is a semi ballad, very short, but with a brilliant chorus. Here we can find some repetitions from previous themes.

"The Spirit Carries On" was the song I hated for so much. Now I love it. Probably because it has a very simple, kind of cheesy melody, but after a while it grew on me. Now it even gives me goosebumps! Brilliant chorus, especially when the gospel choir comes in, bringing it to a whole new level.

"Finally Free" was also a downer for me. Just like the previous track, it grew up on me. It's twelve minutes long, and, just like the other two long songs, it almost alays maintains the same riff and melody. Exception made when the chorus of "One Last Time" is repeated. After almost ten minutes the music stops, and we hear some noises, like a TV, or some footsteps, and, at the very end, the sound of a radio with no signal.

As a conclusion, I repeat that it took a long time for this to grow up on me, but now, it finally did. A masterpiece, an essential album for whoever loves prog rock and metal: your music collection will be incomplete without "Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From a Memory".

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Send comments to EatThatPhonebook (BETA) | Report this review (#279600) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Review by Flucktrot
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Complete with an interesting plot, lots of catchy melodies, and piles of outstanding musicianship, Metropolis II is the best Dream Theater album (although you could argue that they have better musical moments on other albums, depending on your perspective).

There are a number of pieces where I've had to rewind multiple times simply because I hadn't heard anything quite like it before. For example, the frenetic unison ending to Fatal Tragedy, the Indian-influenced close of Home (in double-time, no less!), and the part in Dance of Eternity which apparently was written to simulate what it feels like to be in a particle accelerator (you'll know it when you hear it--I don't quite how to properly describe it). You know it's good prog when you get impressions like this!

Sure, Portnoy totally goes over the top on the double bass, but isn't that part of the experience? And to focus entirely on that would ignore the fantastic cymbal work he provides. Petrucci is solid throughout, and Rudess for the most part adds great variety (I just love his piano intro to One Last Time. And Myung? Well, he's solid as always, at least when I can hear him (such as in Home or Dance of Eternity).

On the other hand, this is not a masterpiece due to the extended filler in places (Exhibit A: Beyond this Life) and the not-unexpected Dream Theater cheese (Through Her Eyes). Also, Labrie's vocals often detract, particularly when he goes into ultra slow motion mode. In some places, such as in Home, it sounds like the band is doing double time while he's literally doing one word per meter. Needless to say, it's not optimal, and it's a shame, because there is so much to capture your attention beyond the vocals. To be fair, I must admit that LaBrie sound great to my ears in places, such as in Strange Deja Vu.

Altogether, a great effort from the Dream. I didn't like this for a long time because I didn't like metal, but once I made the conversion, I've been hooked for good. I think there is enough material on here to be a masterpiece, but the execution and length bring it down a tad.

Still, I would classify Metropolis II as a must-have.

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Send comments to Flucktrot (BETA) | Report this review (#281998) | Review Permalink
Posted Friday, May 14, 2010

Review by Andy Webb
FORUM & SITE ADMIN GROUP Site and Forum Admin
5 stars Perfection.

Usually once in a music lover's lifetime, he will find an album or song that has such a striking impression on him that his entire listening path is altered. I can easily say that this is very much the case for me with Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory. I heard this album sometime in 2004/2005. My entire vision of music at the time, which was hip hop, rap, classic rock and some classic metal (Metallica and the works) was changed forever. This is the type of album that is so profoundly wonderful that I am having a hard time even coming up with the words in which to say. It is perfect. It is sublime. It is the ultimate composition, a Magnum Opus for the band, and the crowning achievement of progressive metal. I really can't say any more. The concept is fantastic and creative, the music is fresh and intense, as well as melodic and soothing, inventive and groundbreaking, and so much more. The entire albums just speaks perfection in every aspect, from the crushing power of the Overture to the massive closing piece that ties the knot on the concept, every track has a superb feeling and atmosphere, radiating the band's supreme talent, which is some of the best in the business.

To be honest, I can't say anymore with sounding like I'm rambling. This album is perfect. It is truly the best progressive metal album out there. Get it, if you don't have it. Now. 5+++ stars!

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Posted Saturday, August 14, 2010

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Prog Metal Team
3 stars There seems to be little or no middle-ground when it comes to this DT album. The spectacular list of ratings for this album can be roughly divided between loads of 4-5 stars and the occasional 1-2 star ratings from non-believers, of which some went to great lengths to state their point in the most respectable way. Going through both these points of view feels like watching a tennis game between two opponents where I can't take sides.

So let's try to walk the middle-ground here. First of all, this is a long Dream Theater album with everything you expect from the band: lots of metal, lots of technical playing, interesting instrumental parts, vocals of varying quality, and tons - really tons - of cheese. The songwriting, or should that be riff-sequencing, is of good quality, the band is in fine form, the production is great, and the guys' sweaty long hairs will fly you around the ears. This is at least a good album in its style!

But it's nothing more then just good for me, and the best way to argument why I feel so is by going through each band member and dissect their contribution to this musical artifact.

Let's start with Labrie, the singer that always eats a lot of dirt when DT critics have their way. I can't find much fault with his performance here, but he's just too much of a classical metal singer for me, high-pitched, technical and too clean, studied and lacking real emotion and balls. Instead he's got lots of cheese indeed.

On the keyboards we have one Jordan Rudess about whom I don't have an opinion. It's something that doesn't happen a lot and frankly, it's not a good sign. Mr. Rudess just 'is', nothing what he does makes him remarkable. The same goes for John Myung, who - as with most metal bands - is hard to hear under the layers of guitars. Probably a live context is a better place to spot him.

I like drums, I really like them a lot, and mr Mike Portnoy has lots of drums, rooms full of them I guess. As I've stated somewhere before the man probably even drums in his sleep, he's a drum animal, a true busy-body, hitting at least three toms if one would have sufficed. But I enjoy listening to him, and he provides at least half of the fun here. Petrucci is another matter. He's the guy that swings much DT music in the wrong direction for me. I find him stellar as a rhythm guitar player, but I rarely enjoy his solos. Too many notes sir, just too many notes. But he's very well-behaved here, playing a very functional role throughout this album.

If you like DT you will adore this album. If you like 90s prog-metal you will be in awe. If you like technical symphonic Prog like Yes and ELP mixed with metal you'll have the thumbs up. So the 4 and 5 stars here are perfectly logical. But if you can't stand the cheese that comes with this sort of melodic metal it's just 3, and that's where I stand.

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Posted Thursday, November 11, 2010

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Post/Math Rock Team
4 stars After Images & Words this is the second DT album I have heard. Although that album was influential, I don't feel it has aged very well. This album, on the other hand, sounds more contemporary. I think that has less to do with how 'ahead of it's time' this is, and more to do with how little Prog Metal has changed in the past ten years. Metropolis Part 1 of course is a song on I&W. This album is divided into two acts and nine scenes(hence the title). A concept album about some guy remembering the murder of a woman in 1928(?). It's pretty confusing to me, but I'm not a fan of concept albums anyway.

This is the first album with keyboardist Jordan Rudess. Some people complain about LaBrie's vocals or Petrucci's guitar w*nkery, but the problem I have with DT is the ready-for- radio piano ballads they like to put on their albums. Another thing I don't like on this album is the Whitney/Mariah wannabe vocals on a few songs. Those kind of vocals work for some songs, but not the ones here. The songs I enjoy the most here are the ones that generally don't have piano or female vocals.

I like the use of the hypnotherapist's voice on the album. "Overture 1928" is a great instrumental that not only reprises parts of "Metropolis Pt. 1", but has bits and pieces of other songs on this album. Well done. I love the transition between "Overture" and "Strange Deja Vu"; the first few times I listened to this album, I didn't notice the song had changed. Again, well done. "Strange" is one of the better songs on here.

I don't know why "Through My Words" and "Fatal Tragedy" were seperated into two tracks. I don't really like either song but the instrumental part of "Fatal" isn't too bad. I generally don't care for digital synths, but Rudess has a nice tone at the start of "Beyond This Life." It's the third longest song but some moments are better than others. "Home" makes some good use of Indian instruments along with Indian sounding guitar playing. The harmony vocals here are good. Interesting drumming and samples in the middle. Probably the best vocal song.

It doesn't surprise me that the instrumental "The Dance Of Eternity" is my favourite song on the album. Nice use of backwards effects and samples. Great playing from all involved. I like the ragtime/honky-tonk piano part, reminds me of ELP. At one point you actually hear Myung's bass. Until that part I forget they even have a bass player. "The Spirit Carries On" sounds like Wall-era Floyd at first. Later some of those godawful Whitney/Mariah wannabe vocals. "Finally Free" has nice faux orchestra sounds. After 4 minutes gets more interesting with the mix of music and samples. That riff around 8 minutes reminds me of the riff in the Beatles song "I Want You(She's So Heavy)."

At the end we get the best part of the whole album: where you hear "open your eyes Nicolas...AARGH!?!" I don't think that part is supposed to be funny, but I can't help laughing every time I hear it. Overall I think this is a good album. An edited version of "Home" is all I knew from this album before I heard the whole thing. I think "Overture" and "Dance" are great instrumentals and I almost wish every song they did sounded similar to those two. I would give this a 3.5 but I'm gonna round it up to 4 stars.

"Opens your eyes Nicolas...AARGH!?!" Kills me every time.

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Send comments to zravkapt (BETA) | Report this review (#407584) | Review Permalink
Posted Thursday, February 24, 2011

Review by Starhammer
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Some memories are best left forgotten...

After the (supposedly) disappointing Falling Into Infinity, Dream Theater returned with a new album and a new band member.

The Good: This release marked the arrival of Jordan Rudess, the keyboardist who had already recorded two excellent Liquid Tension Experiment albums with Messrs. Petrucci and Portnoy. I was interested to see if that musical chemistry would continue, and it became clear within the first few minutes of Overture 1928 that this was most definitely the case. I won't bore you with the particulars of the individual tracks but suffice to say that this album contains some of the most exciting, most memorable and most badass musical passages that Dream Theater have ever written!

The Bad: There once was a time when I would have considered this album to be anything less than perfection as sacrilege. But tastes change with time, and sometimes when it is suggested to us that we should like something, we will adjust our 'opinions' to conform to that. I love Dream Theater. Scenes from a Memory is considered by many to be their magnum opus. Ergo I should agree. And for a long time I did, but more recently I have noticed enough flaws in it to justify not giving it the full five stars.

This is a concept album. I like concept albums. Whilst I prefer the sort which have a more subtle, underpinning theme, I do still enjoy a good story every now and again, take Operation Mindcrime or Into the Electric Castle for example. But the keyword here is good. The story behind Scenes from a Memory is not good. It is terrible. I've never been a huge fan of post-Awake Dream Theater lyrics but these ones just takes the biscuit.

With lines like "Feeling good this Friday afternoon, I ran into Julian, said we'd get together soon", and the underlying idea that a girl is reincarnated as a man only to discover that his/her murderer is their own hypnotherapist, its almost laughably bad. And the cross gender confusion continues into their next album where James LaBrie mistakes himself for being "just a poor girl, afraid of this cruel world". I sometimes wonder why they didn't go the full distance and release an EP cover of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert the musical.

Unfortunately, these conceptual shortcomings translate to the music, and whilst Scenes from a Memory is instrumentally and technically superb, I find that a handful of the album's tracks only exists in order to further the story.

The Verdict: Perfection's second cousin.

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Send comments to Starhammer (BETA) | Report this review (#438613) | Review Permalink
Posted Sunday, April 24, 2011

Review by Negoba
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Ambitious Intentions with Mixed Execution

SCENES FROM A MEMORY was the first Dream Theater album with their most long-lived lineup, featuring technical keyboard wiz Jordan Rudess. This lengthy concept album was meant to be a sequel to the popular track Metropolis from their seminal IMAGES AND WORDS. The album tells the story of man going through regression therapy to look into a past life. This moderately interesting setting in fact leads us only to a half baked and extremely poorly written murder mystery whose lyrics are sometimes comically bad. Further, how the music contributes or aligns itself with the story is anyone's guess. It is obvious the music was written without the lyrics in many places and so we often get awkwardly sung lines struggling to keep up with the band.

However, I think almost all DT fans had learned to at least partially tune out James Labrie's generic cheese metal vocals long before SfaM came out. Paying attention only to the music and excluding the vocals, there is in fact some very strong prog metal material on this album. My favorite is "Home," which despite it's obvious Alice in Chains / grunge allusions has some great riffs, nice instrumental sections, and a little sitar / oriental flavor. Labrie actually follows a few melodic themes that add to the music on that song. Or maybe it's the orgasmic moans that left an impression.

Rudess plays enthusiastically, and this is the first album where we get what became the DT signature of Pertucci guitar and Rudess keys trading and interweaving shred solos. They're both very good, if unoriginal, players, and it's a joy to listen just in appreciation of their sheer craft. The only real songwriter to ever play in DT, Kevin Moore, is long gone by now, and like all of the later albums, the point of listening is the experience of "Wow that sounds cool." It happens enough on this album for a reasonably enjoyable listen.

Good, but non-essential. There are MANY better prog metal albums out there, and a few of them are by this band. Don't believe the hype and start here. Get one of the Kevin Moore albums and if you really like what you hear branch from there.

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Send comments to Negoba (BETA) | Report this review (#458182) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Review by Wicket
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I've always held admiration to this wonderful concept album.

But there's just something about the production of it that just....didn't feel right.

Out with Eastwest records, out with Sherinian. In with Elektra, in with Rudess. This massive overhaul was to be completed with a concept album that defied all odds, rejected every concept album released before. This was a record that was supposed to shatter the possibilities for progressive metal. And it did.

Jordan Rudess, a Julliard grad, is obviously the more classically trained of the three keyboardists, which opened up numerous possibilities to expand the band's overall sound, a sound that would develop further and further to today's sound.

"Regression" is a very unique and interesting way to start the album, and the story. It's basically a mental prediction of the story that will follow, a man from the 21st century witnessing a killing of a young girl in the 1920's. "Overture 1928" is the culmination of this new formula the band developed after the commercial folly that was "Falling Into Infinity", and the success of this album would lead to "Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence", one of my favorite albums of all time. As a classical enthusiast as well, I've always been a fan of the overture, as it summarizes the entire story to follow in a few short minutes, and it's the way it's done that will be repeated and echoed throughout the band's next albums.

"Strange Deja Vu" continues this suite, slowly opening the curtains on the actual story that LaBrie slowly brings to life. The songwriting and compositions from this album is absolutely phenomenal. Movie ready. No doubt about it. "Through My Words" is just a nice little segue to "Fatal Tragedy", where the story truly unfolds, and the album becomes more than just music. It becomes a story, a movie through the human ears.

"Beyond This Life" breaks up the suite, which kind upset me a bit, as I would've preferred the entire album to segue through each other, just like a movie continues scene by scene and doesn't stop for a commercial break in between scenes. Even so, this song is absolutely phenomenal. Storywise, this is after "Victoria" is killed, which sort of unleashes the anger experienced by the main character here. Not to mention this is where Rudess shines over all others, which is unusual compared to most new members in the past. It's a great song that's even better live, before it segues into "Through Her Eyes" which is a truly touching ballad.

Then the mood changes again in "Home". My favorite track of the disc, the song is filled with numerous Middle Eastern elements and chord progressions, and it's nice and heavy too. This, coupled with "The Dance Of Eternity" makes this the best section in the entire album. An emotional track like "Home" followed by this great instrumental....there's absolutely nothing better from this outfit.

"One Last Time" sort of ties the story together, followed by a wonderful ballad in "The Spirit Carries On", one of the best Dream Theater has ever made. Finally, the album concludes with "Finally Free", which concludes the story in epic fashion, except the very end with the record, the main character sitting down, "Open your eyes, Nicholas" and the static ended the record.

It's a wonderful album, but I feel that the production just takes away the true magic of it, and the way the album ends....it could've been better. That's why it's a better album in "Live Scenes In New York", where that static is replaced by "Overture 2000" and continues quite possibly one of the greatest live albums of all time. I just wish it was truly seamless and just better produced, but other than that, this is a phenomenal album and the best concept album I've heard in a long time.

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Send comments to Wicket (BETA) | Report this review (#523367) | Review Permalink
Posted Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Review by lazland
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars A band that people either love or hate, there really is no middle ground for this lot at all, at least if the comments they attract on this and other sites are to be believed. I take a far more pragmatic view. I like Dream Theater, I acknowledge their importance in terms of attracting many new fans to the prog field, and, say what you like about them, nobody could possibly doubt their musical prowess technically.

This is, of course, their highest rated album on the site, and the one generally acknowledged as their masterpiece. I can see why. My only other DT review was for Systematic Chaos, which I felt was far too much of a "metal by numbers" album to qualify as an excellent prog album. More than one person wrote to me afterwards suggesting that, to redress the balance, I should really review an album that did not attract such a statement.

Well, this one certainly passes the test. It is, of course, very heavy and metal in places. After all, this band were at the forefront of this particular sub genre. It does, however, in parts, bring to the fore, in a very welcome way, the band's obvious progressive symphonic influences and loves.

The one thing I will say is that I cannot, for the life of me, understand the criticism brought against James LaBrie's vocals. I think his performance here is superb, and, indeed, I enjoy listening to him on the relatively rare occasions I revisit this band's music. Equally comfortable with the "traditional" metal vocals as he is on the more gentle tracks, this is a strong, accomplished performance. For no better example of the way he manages to combine both, listen to Beyond This Life, and his performance on Strange Deja Vu is staggeringly good.

New boy is Jordan Rudess on keyboards, and the stability and quality he brings to the band as compared to predecessor albums is instant and clear.

Elsewhere, the rhythm section is particularly strong, pounding the album along, and Petrucci is his usual efficient self on guitar.

There are many highlights on this album. I especially love Through Her Eyes, a gentle delicate ballad, with exceptional vocal and musical performances, alongside a very solid female vocal. The longest of the epics, Home, completely changes the mood after a deceptively quiet start, and fairly thunders along. It is, by the way, metal of a quality that equals the best of any of the classic acts. Having said that, there are more than enough symphonic nods to the likes of Yes included in this track to keep the prog purists very happy.

This is, however, an album to be listened to and enjoyed as a whole, as with all the best concept albums. taking one or two tracks out of the sequence completely destroys its effect.

The concept itself is an interesting story of a man living a previous life through the still popular method of regression therapy. I like it, mainly because its a subject I have always been fascinated with, but I would also make the point to those who state it as being a bit silly that you could apply this to almost any concept album really.

This is an excellent album, of that there is no question. Having been a long standing fan of classic metal, I am reticent to place it within the masterpiece category, but it really isn't that far off. If you are reading this, and have tended to stay away from the band for whatever reason, I would recommend that you get this. There is certainly more than enough here for fans of classic heavy rock, heavy and symphonic prog to thoroughly enjoy.

Four stars. An excellent addition to any prog rock collection.

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Send comments to lazland (BETA) | Report this review (#568239) | Review Permalink
Posted Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review by Warthur
PROG REVIEWER
3 stars Dream Theater make something of a comeback on Metropolis Part II: Scenes From a Memory, which also sees Jordan Rudess join the band on keyboards. With three quarters of Liquid Tension Experiment onboard, you expect a certain level of technical flashiness, and personally I feel the band take this a little too far, often showing off for the sake of showing off rather than because the compositions demanded it or because it was necessary for their narrative. Also, much of the time the cheesy spirituality expressed through the music and lyrics simply turns me off - The Spirit Carries On, in particular, never fails to make me gag. However, if the daft story doesn't put you off and you like technically flashy prog metal, you may as well give this album a shot.

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Posted Sunday, February 19, 2012

Review by FragileKings
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars I bought this a few weeks after my first Dream Theater purchase Images and Words and only shortly after getting Clockwork Angels by Rush. I found DT's music interesting if not a little typical of times in sound, and I was really captivated and intrigued by the story concept of Clockwork Angels. So Metropolis PT.2 seemed an ideal album to purchase.

From the first listen I was into it, but by the fourth listen I was seriously hooked. The two big reasons are my interest in the story and much of the music presented here. As I also really like The Wall and used to listen a lot to Queensryche's Operation: Mindcrime, I found the sound effects and spoken voices added colour to the audio story-telling. The real clincher was when I read about the storyline on Wikipedia. I really had to listen to the lyrics, music and sounds to see how well the story was delivered.

Scenes from a Memory is about a man named Nicholas who has recently been having dreams where he is in a house and sees a young girl (woman) in the mirror but can't quite make out her face. The dreams reoccur and so he seeks to learn the meaning through hypnosis, which is where the album begins with the perfectly suitable voice of Terry Brown (producer of the first 9 Rush albums)! Through his sessions, Nicholas learns that the young woman is Victoria, a murder victim in a famous case back in 1928. As the story progresses, Nicholas pursues learning more about Victoria in both his conscious hours and during regression. It seems Victoria wants him to know about how she was murdered because he was her in his pass life. We learn what the newspapers reported, that Victoria was shot by her lover, Julian and then he apparently shot himself, leaving a suicide note in his pocket. A witness came to the scene after Victoria was shot and tried to help but the killer then shot himself. But the story is not quite so simple.

Victoria knew two men, Julian, her lover, who fell into gambling and cocaine use, and Edward, Julian's brother. It seems Victoria fell out with Julian and ran to Edward, who then fell in love with Victoria. However, Edward was much more the possessive man and wanted to make Victoria his wife. As Julian gambles away at the casino, Edward and Victoria get jiggy. Nicholas learns that there is more to the story that Victoria wants him to learn and soon the dark truth is revealed. Julian and Victoria plan to meet for one last rendezvous in secret but Edward finds out and surprises them. There is a struggle and Julian is shot, then Victoria. Edward flees only to come back as the witness and write the suicide note for his brother. This scene is played out with the sounds of the struggle and gun shots while ominous and grave heavy music plays.

At last, Nicholas has learned the truth of his past and he feels free. He drives home and enters his house to have a drink and put on a record. But as the music plays, footsteps and a door opening are heard. Suddenly the hypnotist's voice says, "Open your eyes, Nicholas." Nicholas gasps, the record player is bumped and static from the stylus is all we hear. Interestingly, at the end of the final regression session, the hypnotist also said, "Open you eyes, Nicholas," and what's even more interesting is that just before shooting Victoria, Edward said, "Open your eyes, Victoria." Does this hint at what happened at the end? If you've seen the Kenneth Branagh movie Dead Again, you'll recognize the story and guess why the hypnotist appears in Nicholas's home.

The music covers the usual Dream Theater palette with galloping heavy metal, quick tempo changes and blistering guitar solos, switches between delicate parts and heavy parts, and lengthy instrumental passages. What I enjoyed on this album that was not on Images and Words is the Floydian acoustic tracks like the first one Regression, which sounds a bit like Pigs on the Wing, and The Spirit Carries on, which starts off a bit like Goodbye Cruel World. James LaBrie really does a good job of mimicking Roger Waters' vocal technique on The Wall and The Final Cut. There is also some great keyboard playing by Jordan Rudess who had joined just recently (catch the 1920s rollicking piano playing in The Dance of Eternity. One other track I like is the very beautiful but sad Through Her Eyes. A nice thing about this album is that since the story is important the very clean singing style of LaBrie is well- appreciated. Growls and shouts of other metal vocalists just wouldn't have worked here.

Overall, I have to say that for my personal taste, this album merits somewhere around 4.6 and 4.8 stars. So, if you like concept albums with a storyline and can take some fast-paced metal this album is sure worth checking out. I'll give it 5 because I think the music and story are very well-thought out and presented.

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Send comments to FragileKings (BETA) | Report this review (#797189) | Review Permalink
Posted Monday, July 30, 2012

Latest members reviews

2 stars DT were, according to history some kind of pioneers in this genre. And they can play their respective instruments. Still I think this band and, especially this album, is seriously overrated. That does not mean I find it completely uninteresting. I just think that there are many albums in this gen ... (read more)

Report this review (#1295402) | Posted by gavharr | Thursday, October 23, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#1286316) | Posted by Obsidian Pigeon | Tuesday, September 30, 2014 | Review Permanlink

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5 stars Well, where to start with this album by Progressive Metal Giants Dream Theater... It actually was created in a crusial time for the band, after Falling Into Infinity, the band's effort to be commercial in order to satisfy the company they had contract with... And while Falling Into Infinity w ... (read more)

Report this review (#1112041) | Posted by greenblooded | Friday, January 10, 2014 | Review Permanlink

3 stars I am probably in the minority of Prog Archive reviewers. I don't think Metropolis 2 is a masterpiece or near masterpiece. I really enjoy Dream Theater's music, but this isn't DT at their best IMO. I would pick Awake or Images or Words, which I awarded 4 stars, to listen to first. Since thi ... (read more)

Report this review (#1080648) | Posted by thwok | Saturday, November 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Coming back to this album in order to write a review, I must say I ended up enjoying it much more than I remember. Of course, it's full of great prog metal songs, with "Overture 1928 / Strange Deja Vu" and "Fatal Tragedy" being excellent songs, and "Home" and "Finally Free" being among the best ... (read more)

Report this review (#1040530) | Posted by Dellinger | Friday, September 20, 2013 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Dream Theater released their first concept album in 1999. It was their fifth studio album and was entitled "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory" so it is the prosecution of the song "Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper" which was released on the band's second studio album "Image ... (read more)

Report this review (#1028946) | Posted by Lord Anon | Wednesday, September 04, 2013 | Review Permanlink

3 stars A progressive rock band stuck in an 80's hair metal body. DT is a band that came out 10 years too late. They would have ruled the 80's if they came out with their first album in 1982. I always viewed Dream Theater as the ultimate tribute band. A band capable of playing all of their hero's work ... (read more)

Report this review (#1017289) | Posted by ster | Monday, August 12, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars In my opinion, the greatest concept album of all time. "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory" is my favourite Dream Theater and progressive metal album. Beginning with the instantly recognisable ticking of a therapist's clock, the album starts very definitely. A voice then says "Close your eye ... (read more)

Report this review (#984581) | Posted by Xonty | Sunday, June 23, 2013 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Dream Theater "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory" 9/10 This incredible composition of the art that is arguably one of Dream Theater's best is my entry into the world of progressive metal. It was the summer of 2004, and my father put it on saying a buddy of his recommended it. This aweso ... (read more)

Report this review (#850021) | Posted by IcedPorcupine | Sunday, November 04, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars After the inconsistent mess that was falling into infinity, Scenes for a memory brings us back to the greatness of the first album. The metal is back as are the progressive compositions. Jordan Rudess gives the album a different sound than Images and Awake. Instead of having the keyboards as more of ... (read more)

Report this review (#771376) | Posted by Mr. Mustard | Friday, June 15, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars What can I say about a true masterpiece? If I were to list the top 10 Progressive Rock albums EVER...this would be in the top 5. I would want to put it at #1 myself, though in the end historical perspective would win over. However, this is perhaps the most important album in the history of Dream ... (read more)

Report this review (#717414) | Posted by dtguitarfan | Sunday, April 08, 2012 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Dream Theater is one of the pioneering bands of Progressive Metal, and is critically acclaimed to be one of the greatest of the prog metal scene, and this album will show you exactly why, this album was sort of a surprise to me personally, I never read any reviews when I got this album, I didn't kno ... (read more)

Report this review (#577379) | Posted by ianj1234 | Monday, November 28, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This album has a very interesting story behind it, about an old man who gets hipnotized and gets to see his life in the past. Personaly this is one of my favorite albums, it has from realy calm songs like "spirit carries on" and "through her eyes" and all the way to a variety of metal masterpie ... (read more)

Report this review (#551511) | Posted by alvaroqueso | Sunday, October 16, 2011 | Review Permanlink

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: red ... (read more)

Report this review (#520431) | Posted by Elliot Saint | Sunday, September 11, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars First of all, what can I say about Dream Theater: -Great musicians -Wonderful albums (So far) -Original sound And most importantly... ...The creation of Scenes From A Memory. For me this is one of the best concept albums ever created in Progressive Metal category because it evolves a great ... (read more)

Report this review (#495942) | Posted by gerdtheater | Wednesday, August 03, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This is the pinnacle of Dream Theater, where they truly peaked. Previous albums all seemed to build up to this one and the albums that followed lack the inspiration and level of execution displayed here. 'Metropolis: Part 1' was the jewel of the band previously so it is only fitting that its ... (read more)

Report this review (#451853) | Posted by Gyges | Wednesday, May 25, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars This could very well be one of my favorite albums of all time, and yes, I said OF ALL TIME. Every second of this album is just absolutely gold, and without question the best Dream Theater Album, yeah, I really do think this beats images and words by a bit, a very well made concept album as well! ^ ... (read more)

Report this review (#449204) | Posted by FireLink | Tuesday, May 17, 2011 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Dream Theater's label destroyed their plans and made out of a promising record a mostly cheesy and commercial trash called "Falling Into Infinity". Now, with a new label and a new record the band put a lot of ideas they had for the last record and had to dismiss into this album. Instead of just comp ... (read more)

Report this review (#379067) | Posted by kluseba | Wednesday, January 12, 2011 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I think this is the best work from Dream Theater and by far the one I here the most. I feel like these formidable musicians here are centered on writing and performing songs, not only on show their extremely magnificient habilities. But let me say that all the band is here in top form, including ... (read more)

Report this review (#338908) | Posted by migue091 | Tuesday, November 30, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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