Dream Theater present an album where you need to concentrate on the intensity and the detail, the whole thing is a masterpiece.
Written by: veneto
ARTIST: Dream Theater
ALBUM: Metropolis II – Scenes From A Memory
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: USA
LINEUP: James LaBrie – vocals * John Petrucci – guitars * John Myung – bass * Jordan Rudess – keyboards * Mike Portnoy – drums
TRACK LISTING: 01 Regression * 02 Overture 1928 * 03 Strange Deja vu * 04 Through My Words * 05 Fatal Tragedy * 06 Beyond This Life * 07 Through Her Eyes * 08 Home * 09 The Dance Of Eternity * 10 One Last Time * 11 The Spirit Carries On * 12 Finally Free
WEBLINKS: Site Link
I started listening to Dream Theater right from their first album. I was impressed then and still am now. Originally they were compared with Queensryche, and like their ‘Operation Mindcrime’ opus, DT’s second album ‘Images and Words’ also hinted at a concept album.
With the addition of James LaBrie on vocals, this album represented the definitive DT sound. Though ‘Images and Words’ was not truly a concept/theme album, DT introduced the recurring theme of Metropolis, a theme that has continued in many of their albums.
However this album is all Metropolis. This is a full-on album: don’t listen to this if you want to read a book or chat with friends; if you want background music like latterday Bon Jovi then don’t play this. This is a listening album, you need to concentrate on the intensity and the detail. The whole thing is a masterpiece from the theme to the lyrics. Set like a play with acts and scenes, the music explores the Metropolis story line on a whole lot of levels.
Previous Metropolis melodies are re-examined. DT’s musical ability is exposed as the music traverses from acoustic melodies to what must surely approach jazz-fusion’s version of chaos. Then suddenly, punctuate back to their solid metal roots, and then on to a Pink Floyd style, complete with background voice-overs to further set the scene.
There is a lot of variation on this album, with some passages definitely reminiscent of ‘Mother’ and ‘Is There Anybody Out There’ from Pink Floyd‘s ‘The Wall’. Then onto some very fast and punchy metal in step with the best of Queensryche.
There is not only great individual musical skill displayed here, but also a gelling together of the band as they tie the whole thing together. There is also some definite free-form jazz expeditions going down, along with a sense of humour that pervades an intense assault on both your ears and mind.
You could say that Dream Theater are a music teacher’s dream, with solid melodic vocals, fast bass riffs and character that puts many guitarists to shame. Drumming that crosses all musical genres, keyboards that are both fulfilling, as they are intricate.
All completed with guitar work that pops up everywhere, filling any possible gap that may have been left by the rest of the band while still controlling the overall direction and sound of the track. It’s wholesome and complete.
There are twelve tracks and none are less than five minutes long. But with all the time changes and variation the listener can find many more ‘sub-tracks’. The album as a whole is good with a definite start, middle and end to it. This gives the album a sense of accomplishment.
New keyboard player Jordan Ruddess has, like the rest of the band, enough self-confidence to add what is required without needing to promote himself individually at the band’s expense.
The fact that he has a melodic rock pedigree playing with 70’s band Speedway Boulevard, a stint as a solo artist, as well as an album with Dixie Dregs and Winger drummer Rod Morgenstein adds to his credibility.
If you are new to Dream Theater this is a good starting point, and for all you regulars then trust me you won’t be disappointed. But be aware: just like a fine wine you may need to persevere with this album before you appreciate its finer points; there is no quick fix to this album, this is ‘culture’ not ‘pop’. Enjoy.