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


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.30 | 3096 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.


rogerthat | 4/5 |


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