Author Topic: [Music] Dream Theater - Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a Memory  (Read 1584 times)

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Offline TheOutlawXanadu

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NOTE: I listened to SfaM for the first time in ages last week. Afterward, I went back and read my original review of the album. Although my opinion of it hasn't changed drastically, I realized that the tone of that write-up was overwhelmingly negative, even though I like the record quite a lot. So, I recently re-wrote it. Its content is almost identical, except that I don't sound like I want to shred the thing.


Dream Theater - Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a Memory
Progressive Metal

Do you hear ragtime playing in the distance, folks? That’s the sound of a paradigm shift, and in the case of Dream Theater, the arrival of one Jordan Rudess, who wasted no time in leaving his mark on the band’s legacy. Having joined after the firing of Derek Sherinian, Rudess brought both immense technical ability and under-the-radar classical training to the table for their sixth effort, a concept album, Metropolis: Part II - Scenes from a Memory, and helped to take it to sometimes otherworldly levels, reviving the band’s career in the process.

In fact, Mike Portnoy has gone on record as saying that, if Scenes had failed, Dream Theater would’ve broken up. I’d argue that, because the album saved them and brought about arguably more praise than they’d ever achieved, it was, effectively, the album that destroyed them. Perhaps ‘destroyed’ is a bad word; more accurately, it established the blueprint that they would follow for the remainder of the twenty-first century, and have yet to stray from to this day, for better or for worse. Suddenly, the solos were shreddier; albums didn’t just have one or two over-the-top instrumental breaks, but three or four, and the keyboards became a little too goofy at times.

The break in “Beyond This Life” is a good example, a song that starts as a thrasher but transitions to a four minute jam session complete with trumpet patches and self-proclaimed ‘stripper section’ soloing. I must admit that it is entertaining, the sheer skill of all the musicians making it so, but after one encounters several more sections just as wild, it wears on you a little bit. The middle of the album, in particular, with a huge instrumental break in the otherwise masterly “Home” and the instrumental song “The Dance of Eternity”, is all over the place, and can become tiresome if one is not in the right mood.

That being said, there are moments of grandeur achieved throughout the record that hold up strongly – sometimes stronger – than anything else the band have ever done. Its final three tracks, in particular, are tremendous. “One Last Time”, which opens that run, sums up everything good about the album. You’ve got phenomenal melodies coming at you from every angle, James LaBrie performing wonderfully despite not hitting all the high notes some have come to associate him with, and subtle musical references to “Metropolis – Part One”, of which the disc’s concept is based, sprinkled throughout.

I commend the group, and especially Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci, for deciding to try to write a concept album at that fragile point in their career. Although I’ve often thought of the move as being risky, it was actually brilliant; exploring an alternative they’d never directly explored before but basing it around one of their most heralded works that would be sure to please long-time fans. Diving deeper, one wonders if the band had not tacked on the ‘Part One’ to “Metropolis” when naming the song whether or not they would’ve ever tried to compose Scenes the way they did, seeing as the original song’s title served as inspiration for its conception in the first place. It’s funny how that one addition, which was originally a joke, was a substantial contributor to their eventual survival. It’s a stretch comparison, I know, but such is the nature of a Dream Theater fan’s thought process: Way overdone.

But alas, that is I, and I must say that although musically the record works flawlessly in regards to the “Metropolis – Part One” references, the lyrics miss the mark. They’re not bad, but they make an otherwise simple story quite difficult to follow. They’re certainly not a deal sealer like the lyrics were to Operation: Mindcrime. The meat of it, however, is excellent, even if it doesn’t age as well as, say, Falling into Infinity. What you get from it over the course of your first few listens is about as much as what you’re going to get over the course of the next few, unfortunately. That being said, the feelings evoked by the chaotic outro to “Fatal Tragedy” or the dark resolution to the story, “Finally Free”, the first time around are priceless, no matter how well they age or how long they last.

***1/2 (out of five)
:TOX: <-- My own emoticon!

Offline icysk8r

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Re: [Music] Dream Theater - Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a Memory
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2009, 12:50:38 PM »
We can write our own reviews in this thread.  Correct?



Online orcus116

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Re: [Music] Dream Theater - Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a Memory
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2009, 01:38:44 PM »
No. Add them in the forum.

Offline Nick

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Re: [Music] Dream Theater - Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a Memory
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2009, 02:04:19 PM »
TOX, I've seen this and could just add it to the table of contents, but since you post a lot of reviews I will say now to please read the stickies and follow the instructions. :)
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Offline j

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Re: [Music] Dream Theater - Metropolis Part II: Scenes from a Memory
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2009, 01:07:57 PM »
Great review.  For the most part, I share both your criticisms and praises of this album.  I really like it, but I don't consider it the flawless masterpiece that most seem to: DT have done at least three or four better albums in their career.