on 29 January 2005
Im lost for words when it comes to describing this album. Alongside Images and Words, it represents the pinnacle of Progressive Metal (or whatever you want to call it) and I find it hard to believe anybody will ever better this. Its an absolutely incredible blend of storytelling, songwriting brilliance and instrumental virtuosity, from what I believe to be the best and most skilled musicians on the planet. Do yourself a favour and buy this. I find it sad that NINA from Moscow decided to write a completely ridiculous and vitriolic review of one of the greatest albums ever made. It was almost as if she was auditioning for a job at the NME. Well Im sure I speak for everyone else who has given this album glowing reviews when I say you can keep your Jeff Buckley, Joni Mitchell and whatever other insipid, boring and bland music you listen to because its "cool" to like it. We'd much rather listen to the inspiring, exciting, incredible Dream Theater.
on 22 August 2006
Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory is, simply put, a contender for the greatest album of all time. Not even Dream Theater's other much-lauded album, Images And Words, can touch it in my opinion. However, upon entering this site to see what other reviewers had made of this incredible work of art, I was disappointed to see that, for the most part, they seemed to be wrangling about the fact that Dream Theater had dared to put out a concept album, instead of on whether or not the music itself was any good. So basically, I've decided to give a track-by-track analysis.
Regression - An unusual start to the album, focused more on the plot than the music. However, once the hypnotist stops talking, the almost singer-songwriter, acoustic feel to the song is immediately good, leaving you hooked on the album instantaneously.
Overture 1928 & Strange Deja Vu - Overture is the instrumental part of this opening 'Scene', Strange Deja Vu is the lyrical part. Both are brilliant, solid guitar-based efforts, well-developed, and introduce you both to the story and the album well.
Through My Words & Fatal Tragedy - Through My Words acts as little more than a beautiful albeit forgettable interlude for Fatal Tragedy, the beating heart of the album. It feels slightly clunky at times, the pace feeling unnatural, but is nonetheless a great piece of musicianship that pretty much tells the story by itself.
Beyond This Life - Solid effort. It lacks something vocally for the first half of the song, but the instrumental perfection of the second half, particularly the astoundingly good guitar, more than make up for it. On any other album, it would be a highlight.
Through Her Eyes - Most beautiful song on the album. The first part of the song is tranquil, branching into almost gospel-like serenity before the steady, calming drum beat kicks in, and James LaBrie proves what a truly excellent vocalist he is. Truly astounding, and somehow manages to be the highlight out of an album literally full of contenders. I cannot say enough good things about this song.
Home - A great descension into chaos, following on from Through Her Eyes superbly, and at times even surpassing it. The chorus is particularly strong, and like so much of this album manages to add to the story yet still stand on its own as a song.
Dance Of Eternity - I'm not so keen on this instrumental as others seem to be, as it feels more like pointless showmanship than a well constructed piece of music. It is certainly impressive to listen to, if nothing else.
One Last Time - Falls into an unusual trap, simply because the length of the song is out of place. With Dream Theater, you get 3 types of songs - short ones that are mere interludes more than anything else; 6 minute songs; and 8 minute + epics. At an unusually normal 4:30 (roughly), it's out of place, as it feels more like a transition than a full song, but is too long to be one. However, this is unimportant, due to THAT piano. The opening to this song is one of the greatest piano solos you'll ever have the pleasure of hearing.
The Spirit Carries On - A beautifully developed, emotional song that is an undoubted highlight. It has an album-ender feel to it, and as such makes the next song even more standalone.
Finally Free - An absolute gem of a song. It is perhaps the most tied to the concept (with the exception of Regression), due to the break in the middle of the song for another 'Scene' - although it's not really a break, because awesome guitar work is in the background - yet it is still very standalone. It has an excellent, peaceful beginning, which is developed well (primarily by the vocals and drums) into a sprawling epic. I particularly love John Petrucci's unusually atmospheric here, and it at times carries this song. My only gripe is the ending, which is a bit of a "...wait, what?" moment. That is minor though, considering the overall fantastic nature of the song, and it is a fitting closer for a superb album.
The strongest attribute the album has is its flexibility - for the most part, you can listen to the songs by themselves and be wowed by them, as individually they are almost without exception fantastic. However, the true wonder is when you listen to the album completely, as the tracks flow together majestically, creating a soaring, epic tale that is so well-told in such an emotional - yet still hard - manner that it is almost frightening at times. It could have been a pretentious flop, and instead it is a genuine contender for the oft-thrown around "best album of all time" moniker. I would strongly recommend "Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory" to anyone who is a fan of excellent instrumental ability, solid story-telling and having their emotions stretched to the limits - you know, MUSIC.
on 14 October 2008
Up to this point, Dream Theater have somewhat been known as "One hit wonders". Their only siginficant song, "Pull Me Under" has brought them to the attention of many people, but as yet they have not been able to produce an album worthy of such attention.
This, however, changes everything.
"Scenes from a Memory" is by far their best album, and i will go so far as to day it is one of the definitive albums of modern Prog Metal/Rock.
No song is out of place. Each song spills into the next with such grace you're left breathless and wondering how, if possible, it could get any better.
The album deals with a man called Nicholas who keeps having the same recurring dream - he sees a strange girl in a mirror on an old house. Throughout the album this dream is explored and you discover the true story behind his dream.
Now, you would expect that an album with a story to it would be underdeveloped, with the band focussing more on music than having something for the fans to remember story wise. However, Dream Theater do not do this. The story, although not worthy of a Booker Prize, does compliment the music on the album very well.
Two songs deserve special mention for their inclusion on the album. The first one is the seventh song, called "Home". It comes directly after a soft, meliodic song that fades out with LaBrie's vocals. The song then starts off with John Petrucci playing what could be described as "Indian like". The song then becomes classic heavy Dream Theater - excellant musicians working in harmony. The lyrics are also well developed - talking about drug addiction of a man and his attempts to win a girl into his life.
The second song is "The Spirit Carries On". I won't spoil it for you - simply put, it's the song i want to be played at my funeral and Petrucci's solo in the middle part of the song it to jaw dropping proportions.
Overall - Dream Theater have produced a masterpiece of an album that will be talked about for years to come. Make no mistake, this is truely awesome.
on 15 May 2006
Well, when I first heard this album, I, with a heavy heart, resorted to borrowing it off of my friend. I don't regret that decision, but I wish I had managed to purchase it.
Anyway, the first song I heard, "The Dance Of Eternity" sounds, to me at least, a two fingered salute to the rest of the music community.
"You have your music, but we do it *so* much better than you."
Including a personal favourite of mine, a rag time section, followed quickly by, quite honestly, one of my favourite speed metal sections on my computer.
Including, as well, a quick reversed section from Metropolis. (Again, they seem to be making a parody of themselves later with an even *faster* bass part.)
Another song which I heard before I fanally managed to piece together the album, "Strange Deja Vu" was one of the first Dream Theater tracks which focused on vocals (I hadn't heard any other concept album tracks bar "The Test That Stumped Them All" on Six Degrees, which I felt was more about including instrumental points at periods of high emotion) which really surprised me, but again, they didn't disappoint.
The opening to "Strange Deja Vu" is quite a rushed affair, with none of the Dream Theater trademark beating around the bush before really getting into it. But still, all the work that has gone into this song has really payed off, with it even nearly reminding me of another song, but never being able to quite put my finger on it.
The song is almost unremarkable in itself, but put into context with the album really brings it to life after the opening couple of songs.
The next song, Fatal Tragedy, is another Dream Theater instrumental extraveganza, with teh opening piano and vocals giving way to a crash, and then continuing with the song.
The story is almost fully explained within this part, almost really beginning the album.
James LaBrie does not disappoint with vocals on this, proving his almost *excessive* range. My favourtie part of the song is almost the lull in the storm with "Without hope..."
Unfortunately, I found the rest of the song past the vocals, towards the solos, to be quite distracting, and I had to keep checking back to see if I was still listening to the same song, or even album! It really did take some getting used to having to be patient, and, as I now hate iTunes, I tend to leave it when it is playing something. This is not an album you can lean back to and listen. To get the full experience, play freecell and it really brings out the real album, a busy, fast paced, frantic affair of a murder and a troubled soul.
Okay, that aside (it really does sum upt he rest of the album)
Until you reach "Finally Free", that is.
A quite happy, almost celebratory beginning quickly gives way to a haunting and harrowing tune, as teh truth is finally revealed. The first time I heard this, it was three in teh morning. I'd just watched Battle Royale for teh first time. That's not an experience I want to repeat, believe me on that.
Apparently, the story takes an even more sinister twist. I'm not going to spoil it, but anyway...
"This feeling, inside me
Finally found my love, I'm finally free"
could be interpreted as a happy moment, but trust me on this, by the album. It's great. Aside from theonstant need for something to do.
on 20 April 2001
This is some of the strongest material from Dream Theater in a long time, and with the new virtuoistic keyboardist -Jordan Rudess- joining the band, it is arguably the strongest line up of the band in it's history. They went for the 'concept album' approach, so this may not be the best album for a new fan to get introduced to a band because of the complexity of it, and the lack of the 'single song' approach. Each song is connected, telling a story and revealing more about the plot, split up with amazing instrumentals, and having a wide variation of musical styles shown throughout the album. It takes a few listens to understand and appreciate where they are going with this album, but once you are familier with it, it's a true masterpiece. It is one of the few albums I can listen to from start to finish many times and not get bored of it.
Musical talent is one of the stand-out points of Dream Theater, with each member being incredible on their instrument, and this is shown throughout this album. A great thing about this band is they not only have the talent in terms of musical ability, but they also have great song and lyric writing talents.
Full marks for this album, although probably not the best CD to get 'started' on Dream Theater. I would reccomend Images & Words or Awake over this album for somebody not familier with this band, but for a fan of Dream Theater, or progmetal in general, this is a must-have album.
on 16 July 2007
dream theaters fifth album released in 1999 is a concept album if ever you hear one,in fact this album can be viewed as an opera,there are characters inmvolved and the album tells a complex enough story about a guy named nicholas who under hypnotherapy finds out about a woman called victoria and the tortured life she led and indeed is there a connection,each character gets a chance to tell their side of events through the singing voice of john labrie,it all ties into together.
The album is an extension of metropolis part one which was on the classic album images and words and each song includes a segment from that one song,yes this is a classy album thought through with devout detail.
Dream Theater are a prog band so the songs can be very twisty and very detailed and this of course wont suit all,they play heavy music but also rely on strong ballads with lush instruments and female serenading.
The album is broken into two parts much like a play and is packed with truly epic wonderful songs,if im going to throw a stone at this album it would be directed at the fact that the odd song rattles on for a minute or two longer than it should but thats prog for you ladies and gentlemen,there are some stunning catchy moments here that will haunt your memory,all in all this is a challenging album,77 minutes of album in fact but its an album that can be served in one sitting or broken down although for full effect its best to listen to it in one go due to the subject matter,yes this is a great album.
on 11 July 2016
I don't give many 5s, but this is a 5. Stunning prog metal. Brilliant playing & singing. (Although probably not everyone will like James Labrie !) And its a concept album, as good as any from the 70s, and this is from 1999. There are musical themes that reappear through album. If you haven't heard any DT before, try "Home". As good as any Rush.
on 6 January 2005
i know it's just my opinion but i don't believe anyone can fault dream theater at all in terms of talent. how can you say mike portnoy's drumming is rhythmically flat?? it's some of the most incredible drumming ever, the guy's an absolute genius, throughout the album there are constant time signature changes and the whole band keep in tight together with it. i'd like to see you tell that to a guy who's been voted best drummer in the world 3 years in a row by drummer review...
yes, listening to it on face value, the lyrics are pretty cheesy, but when you listen to the whole thing as a concept album and follow it, it's great. it all hangs together so nicely and unfolds consistantly.
all the band playing the same melody does not at all show a lack of cooperation, it in fact shows incredible skill and precision when considering the melody they are actually playing. and i must add that dream theater do plenty of harmonies too.
i didn't once think any of the keyboard solos were guitar solos. you are obviously not very musically minded and that is why you don't appreciate this album as much as the rest of us on here do. it's a shame that ignorance and snobbery has got in the way of your enjoyment of this. it's not a matter of people being young and unaware, true, that is the sad reality of most music 'fans' nowadays, buying absolute trash, but dream theater is definitely a place where you can find true talent. i really can't see a problem with them showing off as they do because they are talented enough to have the right.
this album is fantastic, a masterpiece no less, i urge everyone reading this to give it a try, musicians and true music lovers will not be disapointed.
on 18 September 2012
This Dream Theater offering from 1999 was the second album I'd heard by them. With it's crazy, complicated past-life regression storyline, extended jams and songs that overlap seamlessly into one another this is as full on as a progressive concept album can get. It's no coincidence that it came number one in Rolling Stone magazine's top ten Prog Rock readers poll. Extra Prog Rock points for the entire album being the sequel to a song on an earlier album (Images and Words).
The plot (as far as I can make out) involves a gentleman named Nicholas who'd been having recurring dreams and goes to see a hypnotherapist about it. The hypnotherapist puts him under and he regresses back to his past life as a lady named Victoria who'd been murdered in the 1920's. Victoria seems to have been involved in a love triangle with two brothers, one of whom eventually kills the other two. As he learns more about Victoria's life he also learns about his own and the knowledge of this past life teaches him not to fear death as there is always the next life. There's a couple of neat twists in the story - it's best to listen to it and find them for yourself.
In line with most concept albums there's plenty of sound effects and voice overs (only on a few songs and not too intrusive) and nods to other albums (such as the Overture on the Who's Tommy).
This album really demonstrated just how versatile and masterfully Dream Theater can be with music. No matter how wild the jams and solos get, it always feels like you are listening to one whole rather than a collection of random songs thrown under one album title.
Scene Six: Home is a real stand out moment that starts with a very eastern inspired intro before the pounding verse riff stomps all over your ears. Following that you get Scene Seven pt 1: The Dance To Eternity. This is quite possible one of the craziest extended jams you will hear. They've thrown everything into this one; a mix up of different sounds, styles and even time signatures. The fact that they can play this insanity live is just another testament to how good this band are.
As a whole this album is definitely worth your time if you like bands that are not only completely fearless when it comes to throwing everything they can think of into songs, but can also do it with an ease that other bands can only aspire to. The sound production is very well done, although the only complaint I have about Dream Theater albums is the mix on John Myungs bass. For some reason it always seems buried in the music to my ears and I wonder if anyone else has this problem. Bass sounds just fine and prominent on all the other bands I listen to so why not here?
To sum up this is an excellent album that any Progressive Rock/Metal fan should own and anyone else who likes listening to bands that constantly strive to put everything they can into their music.
on 13 August 2007
It's taken me 8 years to get round to writing this review, better late than never as they say.
This is definately the best album I bought in the nineties and has to rate as one of the best albums I've ever heard.
I can't say anything more than any of the other people who have written 5 star reviews on these pages. This is a truly brilliant album in concept and delivery. From the hypnotists clock ticking at the start to the ultimate twist in the story at the end this will have you hooked. Put this on for the first time and you will have to hear it all the way through.
If you're thinking of getting into progressive rock/metal start here, it's one of the very best.