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Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory

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(673 Reviews)

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  • I assume that if you are not already familiar with Dream Theater’s music you wouldn’t be reading this. What I can say quickly about this album is that it was the album that I always knew Dream Theater could make.When I started listening to DT I bought “Images and Words” and immediately I was impressed with how hard it was while still being melodic. My favorite band before that was Iron Maiden and after hearing the first track of Images (“Pull me Under”) I knew that after 5+ years they would be toppled. I am a guitar player who has listened to all of the shred bands, metal, etc… and I immediately fell in love with DT.The “Awake” album is very very good, the older live album from Europe is good, “A Change of Seasons” is awesome, but I disliked “Falling into Infinity”.Scenes hits back with a ruthless vengence. The first time I listened to it I was driving to work and it made me cry for about 5 minutes. Whenever I play it on my stereo at home it makes me cry about 3-4 times per spin. It really is that good. Everything good about their previous stuff has been incorporated. On the “Awake” album the Erotomania song is similar to the overture on Scenes in that it introduces many of the main themes of the album (or song trio in the case of “Awake”). John Petrucci is awesome on the guitar. Besides being a technical wizard on the guitar his musical tastes are very similar to mine in that he likes all types of rock all the way up to thrash metal riffing like Pantera (listen to Lie from Awake). The song “Fatal Tragedy” on Scenes is incredible because it is so hard but at the same time still melodic.The Steve Morse school of 1 note on hellaciously distorted electric guitar = 1 power chord is adhered to in many places, opening up a very different style of hard music because the typical power chord is abandoned.

    Posted on February 15, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • An oustanding album. This is where Dream Theater’s musicianship shines best. Of course, many people already know that this is a concept album based on a murder mystery that is solved while a character named Nicholas is hypnotized. It’s 77 minutes and is a rock opera in a literal sense as it is metal meets opera (Think, Queen/Queensryche/Metallica) sorry for the comparisons. While a great album, it is VERY grand and large-scale so at tmes, it can get tiring, and you must be in the mood for something like this (as with anything).

    Every track on here is dripping with jaw-dropping playing from every member of the band, but if I had to pick favorites, I would choose the following: “Overture 1928″; a heavy, theatrical instrumental. “Fatal Tragedy”; one of the strongest tracks on here. The clip here on amazon lets you sample only a crumb of the track, as it starts off heavy and slow, then progresses into a fast paced metal frenzy with crazed guitar solos, crazed keyboard flourishes and whacked-out drumming. I also love how it has great melodious vocal overdubs. “Beyond This Life”; continues the story, once again with crazed musicianship, featuring a guitar/keyboard section reminiscent of Frank Zappa. “The Dance Of Eternity”, is a 6-minute instrumental and probably Dream Theater at their most impressive musicianship-wise. It’s a frenzied track with tempo and time changes that are insane (it has 13/16 and 14/16) with music ranging from jazz, ragtime and classical to the obvious metal. “One Last Time”; a slower, absorbing piece that ends on an operatic note. Beautiful. “Finally Free”, is where the story really unravels, but I’m not going to spoil the ending, but you will find it on this track. “Home” (the longest track on here) is the track I never really liked that much; the Indianesque musings I found not to work well with Dream Theater’s brand of music. It just seemed a bit tacky and contrived.

    Overall, an entertaining piece of work which is recommended for those that like music made on an epic-scale.

    Posted on February 14, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • There are a lot of great progressive metal bands around these days. There’s the symphonic and stylish Symphony X, the increasingly evolving Fates Warning, the original and daring Pain of Salvation, the technical powerhouses Power of Omens, and many others.But among them all, Dream Theater remains the best. To me, no one else defines progressive metal like these five brilliant musicians. They strike an incredible balance of power, technique, emotion, and melody with a unified vision possible only with the remarkable degree of chemistry these guys share. And, in many ways, Scenes From A Memory is their best work.Here’s the skinny: It’s a 78 minute concept album whose story stems from the original “Metropolis” mystique from their breakthrough album Images And Words. This is the album Dream Theater wanted to make all along, with no pressure from their label, and no regard for commercial success. It’s a feast for the music lovers, with a good enough ear for composition and melody that the technique never overshadows the song. Dream Theater’s critics love to attack them for going overboard with solos and instrumental sections, but it’s never bothered me simply because they play with a lot of heart. John Petrucci is an outstanding guitar player who never restrains his technical ability, but most importantly he plays with a tremendous amount of soul. The encouraging heroics of his solo on “The Spirit Carries On” encapsulate this idea better than anything. It’s pure beauty in music.DT may not be able to repeat the greatness of SFAM, but if they continue to make the music they love, there will never be another good-but-flawed Falling Into Infinity. They will continue to take great strides beyond their peers and continue crunching the mold to their image while making some of the best music out there.

    Posted on February 14, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • This CD is jaw-dropping! Hearing 5 guys play music like this is astonishing! Compare this talent to any other group and Dream Theater will blow them away. To really appreciate this masterpiece, an understanding of music and knowledge of all its complexity is beneficial. Yet those who do not fit into this category will still love every minute. Not only does the music blow you away..the storyline accompanying it is also well-written..the style of the stanzas…the mystery it leaves the listener to decipher..all truly adds to the hard work and thought put into this album. “Scenes From a Memory” (Metropolis Pt. II) continues the story left off from its predecessor, Metropolis Pt. I, which was on DT’s 1992 release, “Images and Words”. This isn’t some “oh i bet i can play that” album that any garage band could replicate..this takes chops! Each member owns their instrument…dominates it. Mike Portnoy’s “head shaking” drum patterns, John Petrucci’s “eye-widening” guitar solos, John Myung’s blazing bass licks, Jordan Rudess’ complex, yet melodic piano wizardry, and James LaBrie’s breath taking vocals all make this piece of art a must for any music lover, not just the progressive rock audience. Fans of Pink Floyd’s “The Wall” will certainly appreciate “Scenes From a Memory”. Albums of this caliber are few and far between.

    Posted on February 14, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • In a time when most bands have stopped trying, Dream Theater continues to challenge themselves. Simply put, no band has Dream Theater’s bombastic musical audacity…at least, no band with signed with a major record company. After nearly breaking up following the stressful recording of Falling Into Infinity, the band managed to convince their label to let them produce the record they wanted all along. As a result, the band has made their finest work.Extrapolating the saga of Images And Words’ “Metropolis Pt.1″ is the stunning concept album Scenes From A Memory, an epic suite divided into twelve parts. The original concept was delightfully obscure and nebulous…almost mythical. The band has taken the concept and fleshed out the core ideas, producing a slightly generic two-act murder mystery. Lyrically, the album sometimes comes across flat. Judging from earlier albums, we know Dream Theater can shine lyrically, but given the story approach, their diction is straightforward, generally lacking the profundity of their earlier lyrical work. In terms of writing, this is no Operation: Mindcrime. Nonetheless, the tale is reasonably compelling, with a striking revelatory moment when the listener unravels the mystery of the plot. Despite the prosaic style of writing, between the plot, story, and music, it’s barely a fault.Musically, the band seems to be going all out. The album begins with a tepid acoustic number “Regression” but then floors the listener with the stunning instrumental “Overture 1928.” From there, the album’s 77 minutes of music covers plenty of ground, from heartfelt piano ballads to eastern chord progressions, from furious assaults of shredding to orchestral sections and a gospel choir. All the musicians make an impression, particularly on the insane instrumental, “The Dance of Eternity.” This frenetic six-minute flurry of notes that changes time signatures every bar (with weird stuff like 19/16 and 15/8), swaps between piano and guitar leads, stuns with a mind-boggling bass solo, and a seamlessly incorporates a ragtime piano section. (Fans with keen ears will even pick up a section from Metropolis Pt.1 played backwards.) Scenes From A Memory does an outstanding job establishing musical cohesion by intermittently using familiar riffs, both from this record and Metropolis Pt.1. This is an important artistic choice as it forms continuity, and it is done with notable success here.Special mention goes to Jordan Rudess, the band’s new keyboardist, recruited after Petrucci and Portnoy worked with him on Liquid Tension Experiment. Whereas most keyboardists (in progmetal) do little other than offer a string synth and occasional solo to support the guitar, Rudess is the most original keyboardist around…he shares the spotlight with the guitar rather often. He exacts a the perfect tone during solos (it almost sounds like guitar), which eliminates the “cheese” sound often attributed to the instrument. He employs sitar samples, genuine sounding orchestral synths, stunning piano, and other quirky sounds (like this strange trumpet thing on “Beyond This Life”). His technical brilliance is superlative…seriously one of the best keyboardists on the planet. The album enjoins a gamut of emotional reactions from the listener. Particularly distinct are the emotions in the respectively heartbreaking and joyful ballads “Through Her Eyes” and “The Spirits Carries On” as well as the underscored anger and hopelessness in “Home” and “Finally Free.” This is mainly attributable to vocalist James LaBrie’s emotive performance. Compared to his earlier works, his vocals here are less high-key but very refined and expressive. I get uncontrollable chills whenever he sings the final section of “Through Her Eyes,” or The Miracle’s sinister soliloquy during “Home.”Finally, I will quickly address the accusation that Dream Theater cares more about showing off than writing good songs. This is absolutely untrue. As a metal band, they can be intense, but a solid melodic element is intact. Their solos are not masturbatory; they inject the songs with a high-point of emotion or intensity. Even moments of striking dissonance prove to be engaging.I think it’s understood by now that I regard this album with reams of deference. It’s completely awesome. Buy it…it’s astonishing.

    Posted on February 14, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now