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


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.30 | 3095 ratings

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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.

FragileKings | 5/5 |


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