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


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.13 | 1994 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
4 stars For a long time I held off on buying this album given my loathing for Scenes from a Memory and JORDAN RUDESS in particular. But one day I finally got curious and sampled these songs at the local Barnes and Noble, and realized there might be something to this album. Sure enough, it turned out to be pretty good. However, I much prefer the first disc to the second, and overall on the entire album I think there are some poor production choices--DREAM THEATER simply should not self-produce.

Anyway, on to Disc 1. First we have "The Glass Prison". This song probably suffers the worst from poor production--the opening static noise was not a good legacy of Scenes at all, the guitars and drums are extremely muddy, and JAMES LaBRIE's voice is distorted too far at times (though at other times he's wonderfully clear). However, I love the riffs in this song andI absolutely adore the lyrics of the entire AA series (this, "This Dying Soul," and "The Root of All Evil" so far). While some of the time signature changes are clunky, and the monotone vocals in one section are not the best, this song definitely has some treasures. Great work from MYUNG at 9:50 introduces a section that, while sometimes it's too much soloing, does have some great riffs--particularly at 11:00 where RUDESS actually manages to find a cool effect on his synth. The very end is touching to me. I think this is a great song that could've been better executed, and tightened up for length in order to use the good stuff to its advantage.

On "Blind Faith", the production seems improved, perhaps because of the absence of the distorted guitar. The drums are still messed-up, but it's not so obvious. It's really hard to tell what to make of LaBRIE's lyrics, but the best way to explain what I think of them is to say they sound like the words of a "doubting Thomas" in the purest sense-someone who wouldn't mind believing, but would genuinely like some evidence. I don't think this is the hateful stuff found later on his solo album Elements of Persuasion. Don't be put off by the "mainstream" aspect of it--the tune is great and actually has some beautiful sections ("Come Messiah, show us how.") RUDESS" piano and choir stuff around 6:00 shines as well. He's actually not as clunky and out-of-place on this album as I expected, based on Scenes and ToT, but I still maintain that Octavarium is the first time he fit in fully with the band.

"Misunderstood" is my of this disc--and the entire album, no contest. PETRUCCI does a fantastic job lyrics-wise. In fact, the lyrics fit one of my favorite story characters to a T and shows where some of the really "hard", restrained types come from), and LaBRIE handles the delivery of them so well.I don't care what anyone says about him. I'm not sure why, but I particularly love the low note he sings on the first "misunderstood". At first that additional chord during the chorus irritated me, but now I love it. I'd prefer a less mechanical approach to the drum riff to go with RUDESS' more organic synth...JASON RULLO of SYMPHONY X or MARTIN LOPEZ of OPETH would have handled that much better. However, I like being able to hear MYUNG so well. The echoes on the drums and vox are great, and here the Mellotron is a smart it the mood of OPETH's Damnation. But the moment when that chorus hits at full volume is nothing short of amazing! If you're going to snub this as pop, I don't care.I'd rather hear good pop than botched prog. My contention is that DT tends to be at their best when they're more focused on making a good song (prog or not) than when they're trying too hard to be prog. Now I'm going to commit serious prog blasphemy and call that interlude with the lumbering, distorted guitar Marilyn Manson-like, especially at the end where it really resembles the MM song "Man That You Fear". Whatever it is, though, I like it. This is the song I keep coming back to over and over.

"The Great Debate" is very close runner-up to "Misunderstood" because I like the way this one presents both sides of the stem-cell research controversy instead of preaching on which side they think has to be right and any sane person has to agree with. It probably helps that PETRUCCI is at the lyrical helm again, which is generally a good sign with DT. The news clips, the riffs, everything is very well executed. The song invites one to research the issue instead of making snap judgments about what's right, and points out the flaws and pitfalls of both sides. RUDESS and PORTNOY handle the opening extremely well, creating some haunting, catchy riffs. The news clips help keep you engaged through the intro instead of tuning out. I noticed a left/right dichotomy in the clips except for one at the center that asks, "What is the cost? We don't know where we're going." This may seem cheesy, but to me that's good attention to detail. I adore the buildup into the main guitar riff. Again, as LaBRIE sings in a wonderfully distorted way, there is a left/right division as the views are presented, then a return to the middle to present the question. There even seem to be two different choruses: "Turn to the light" of scientific advancement and "Are you justified?" in taking life to save life. Normally I don't give a whole lot of credit to DT for song-structuring in this way, but this one's an amazing surprise as you start to notice the attention to detail. The way this one holds my attention is superb.I didn't even look to see how long had gone by until 7 minutes, and even then it was just for reference in the review.

"Disappear" is an odd, haunting closing.I think LaBRIE tends to do his best writing in soft songs like "Vacant" on ToT or "Smashed" on Elements of Persuasion, not the loud, angry songs. Is it wrong to say this song ought to be in a movie? There's just a simple acoustic guitar and piano, very toned down for both PETRUCCI and RUDESS, and in this there's real strength. Even the chords are simple, and so is LaBRIE's singing. And the lyrics are simple yet touching-about the hope of meeting a lost lover in Heaven? While it seems a little bit PETER GABRIEL-like, it's still obviously its own song. I'm also reminded of "Amsterdam" by Coldplay or something off of RADIOHEAD's Kid A or OK Computer. Again, it's better for DT not to try too hard to be proggy. Oddly enough, the intro sounds a bit like some of the stuff I later heard on Graveyard Mountain Home by former DT keyboardist KEVIN MOORE. This provides a good closer to the first disc, which can stand very well on its own as a separate album, and I often listen to it that way, because 6DoIT itself is almost like a whole other album entirely.

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" proper is extremely similar to SYMPHONY X's The Odyssey.I hate to admit this, but maybe SYMPHONY X took a page out of their book-and then one-upped them in some respects. Compositionally and conceptually this one is not as strong as "The Odyssey", but is stronger in sound-quality terms.RUDESS' synths here are better than PINNELLA's, meaning that they can actually do all they want with synths rather than having to sample as SYMPHONY X did. There is a very 70's/Broadway in flavor compared to SYMPHONY X, though, something like what we hear on "Octavarium". There is a theme about mental differences similar to PINK FLOYD keyboardist RICK WRIGHT's solo album Broken China (although I'll contend that Broken China has much more feeling to it). The Vietnam post-traumatic stress disorder section is a bit awkward with LaBRIE's introduction on the "napalm" line. A bit too much melodrama-overall, while The Odyssey may be the copy, it's also the refinement. It's a shame this track drags down the first disc, because it's O.K., but only O.K.. To its credit, there is a very nice dramatic moment around 4:00 in part 5, the one part that really gives me the chills. At the end, though there's not really a sense of resolution or plot.more of a collage. This wasn't a bad song, but for its running time, it really could've been a lot more.

Overall, I still give this album a 4, but it's certainly not a 4.5 by any means.

FloydWright | 4/5 |


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