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on 28 October 2004
Well, well, well. I must admit I've never been a fan of this particular brand of hideous dork-rock, but even I was unprepared for the horrors of this masturbatory ego-trip. What makes sweaty lead singer James LaBrie think that I, or anyone else with functioning ears, would want to hear him wheeze out his painfully immature lyrics, to the backing of a band of monumentally stupid, egocentric losers with a degree in soulless soloing? Cries of 'Concept Album' are no excuse - no excuse at all - for the lasting damage this 'masterpiece' has done to humanity.
The poor decisions and inexplicable ideas put into this album are too numerous to mention them all, but here's a taster:
- There is no harmonisation, and no contrapuntal melodies at any point in the whole album. For a band claiming to be expert musicians, this is a slight oversight, no? Instead, what you get is Every Single Instrument playing the _exact_ _same_ melody! This is testament to the band's lack of cooperation and the intense egotism of the musicians. The effect this has is that the music becomes entirely flat and, frankly, sounds retarded.
- Mike Portnoy's drumming consists mainly of thwacking the bass pedal very fast, matching up note-for-note with the solos that every other band member is playing. Thus, the music is rhythmically flat as well as musically uninteresting.
- Roughly half of what you think are guitar solos, are in fact the keyboard player using the pitch-bend wheel to simulate string bending. This I find personally offensive.
- A topic several others have touched on - the lyrics. I honestly couldn't believe, on first hearing, that this was not a comedy album. How anyone, let alone grown men, could write lines such as "Safe in the light that surrounds me, free from the pain and the fear" is beyond belief, and scorns the legacy of such songwriters as Van Morrison, Jeff Buckley and Joni Mitchell.
- Absurd, generic 'influences' pasted in from cultures that this band neither understands nor deserves to associate itself with.
- The utterly incredible (in the literal sense of the word) acting. "<Door Slams> Crunch, crunch, crunch. 'Aaaaagh!'... <BANG>" is the close of the album, and should leave you in no doubt as to what you must do. Get petrol; douse CD and packaging; burn. DO NOT inhale the fumes, for these too are dangerous.
I find it worrying - to say the least - that so many people have given this five stars. I tell myself, 'It's all right. These people are young, they can still learn. There is time for them to change, to grow.' But I know in my heart that for some of them, there is no time. They will leave this earth knowing no better music than DreamTheater. And I weep.
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on 3 August 2004
Where to start?
Obviously, the only people who have reviewed this record so far are die-hard fans, each convinced that only they "get" this album and everyone else misunderstands its intricate, mysterious narrative.
Well, sorry to burst a few bubbles here but this album is absolutely the funniest cheese-metal I have ever had the intense pleasure of hearing. Listening to supremely talented, virtuoso musicians making the most childish, inept music the world has seen brings tears of laughter to my eyes every time. It is actually worth owning because of its humour value - no joke, the album is that funny. I would go so far as to call it life-affirming.
The opening is hideously contrived (beginning with the positively obscene idea of a hypnotist inviting the singer to return to his troubled, manly, tortuous, manly dreams) and nearly put me off the album altogether, until I realised it is but one thread in a complex tapestry of awful that will take you on an epic tour of bad ideas you never would have imagined possible.
DreamTheater (ha!) seem to think that the more notes they can cram into a given time, the better the solo must be. Not so! No more impressive is the positively absurd drumwork of Portnoy, who uses approximately 7 bass drums, 143 snare drums and 415 cymbals in his standard drumkit. He even has a stool on a sliding rail to reach all 7 bass pedals. I think that tells you something important.
If you want all the humour without living with the shame of buying this, instead get tracks 8 and 9. These condense the mirth by working backwards through every single moronic riff featured in the previous 7 songs in what the band presumably thought was a clever, cyclical aspect to the album's structure. In fact, it is a way of meeting the total record time stipulated by their record company. These songs also feature the most mind-bogglingly ridiculous pasted-in solo in the whole album. A Ragtime Piano Interlude. No, that is not a typo - a RAGTIME PIANO SECTION. That is something I could not have comprehended before I heard this album - that any band could so lose sight of the Purpose of music-making, as to insert something so heinous and random, just to prove that their keyboard is expensive enough to have a "honky-tonk" setting in its MIDI bank.
Well, there are of course many more comedy gems concealed in this album (the abrupt insertion of sitars and tablas to show DT's "eastern influences", the laugh-out-loud funny wooden acting at the end, the ridiclous lyrics and complete lack of atmosphere throughout... oh, the memories) I only have 1,000 words and that is not nearly enough to do this album justice.
In conclusion, this is practically a comprehensive guide on how NOT to make music. It proves once and for all that there is not necessarily any correlation between "technical ability" and "ability to make an album that isn't terrible". It should provide a solemn warning to future generations - but in the meantime, let's all just enjoy it for what it is - a monstrously pretentious, thorougly enjoyable piece of pomposity!
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on 10 July 2013
In 1999 Dream Theater released an album which defies belief when you first listen to it.......immediately you know that it is breathtakingly technical, breathtaking in scope, and when it finishes you have no choice but to replay the whole thing to try (in vain) to digest and appreciate all that it is. Much is said of 'The Dance Of Eternity' and rightly so, because it is the most complex piece of rock music ever recorded due to the fact that the time signature changes every few bars. And yet it flows and makes sense the whole time! It is a concept album, and the story and the music are a 77 minute opus and although there are tracks like 'Dance', 'Fatal Tragedy', 'Home' and the magical 'The Spirit Carries On' which can stand alone as songs, it is best listened to in its entirety.

As if this weren't enough, the most technically gifted musicians in their field decided to take the music out on the road, and play the complete album from start to finish at each concert!! I saw them perform it at Shepherd's Bush Empire in London - and I swear I did not detect a single mistake or bum note by any member of the band throughout the whole performance. It was utterly mesmerising.

The live performance of the album on 'Scenes From New York', the 3CD set of a 3 hour concert at the end of said tour, showcases this music plus versions of other tracks from their back catalogue such as 'A Change Of Seasons' and 'Learning To Live'. Once again the whole show was recorded for this CD set.

When Mike Portnoy shockingly left the band, the drummer auditions required that the candidates learn and play 'The Dance Of Eternity' as well as other tests, and the documentary 'The Spirit Carries On' shows how even the very best would-be replacements....all top-drawer players....had to raise their game to come through the auditions.

All in all, in my view, the best Dream Theater album by a long way (from Train Of Thought in 2nd place), and I will be very surprised if even musicians of their calibre ever equal or better it! However, I always await a new release with childish excitement and anticipation, because if anyone can surpass it, it will be Dream Theater that do it. Roll on Sept 24th 2013!
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on 27 April 2017
They say an animal is most dangerous when backed into a corner, and that could not be any more evident than Dream Theater recording their magnum opus, 'Scenes from a Memory'.

With record label pressure and the business side of the music industry taking its toll on the band (and most specifically on drummer Mike Portnoy) during the release and touring of previous album 'Falling Into Infinity', it was now a time to go hard or go home. Dream Theater wanted to be left alone to write their own music, that would appeal to their own fan base, without the interjection of any record label executives who didn't understand the band, their fans, or their genre of music. It was do-or-die as the band stood on the brink of self-implosion, but they stood tall and delivered an album that is highly regarded as not only their finest work, but one of the greatest albums progressive metal has to offer.

Based around the story of a man who is a reincarnation of a girl who was murdered, and how he revisits his past life in his dreams (or something like that!), the concept is highly ambitious and complex, especially with all the different characters being voiced by James LaBrie. But it doesn't detract from the quality of the music, and with the usual awe-inspiring prowess you'd come to expect from progressive metals most famous band, this is an album where the band fire on all cylinders.

'Home', 'Fatal Tragedy', 'One Last Time' and 'Strange Déjà Vu' are some of many highlights on this album, although it's hard to pick just a few, as the album from start to finish is one giant highlight reel. And of course, the absolute peak of Dream Theater's technical ability, instrumental track 'The Dance of Eternity', will encourage listeners to throw away whatever instruments they're learning as they slowly realize how they'll never be this good.

A record that belongs in any metal or prog collection, 'Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory' started the upward momentum that truly put Dream Theater's careers and lives in their own hands, and has endured as one of the greatest concept albums of all time.
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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.
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on 24 January 2018
“Scenes From A Memory” is a concept album, telling a story of Nicholas, who visits a hypnotherapist for past life regression therapy. He discovers he was a girl named Victoria who was murdered, and is determined to solve the mystery. In between the band members showing off their technical prowess (and there is a lot of that), the songs often sound like a play. When it comes to Dream Theater, people often talk about time signatures and general music complexity, and you can definitely hear it on this album. All the band members are on fine form, but I think Portnoy’s drumming is simply astounding. The sound of the instruments is superb with so many tempo changes, and there’s so many moments that are so good; I cannot help but grin. To me, the music doesn’t seem mindless; it sounds wonderfully crafted. Despite the 77 minutes in length, it doesn’t seem to drag. I think there’s a nice balance of songs so you have mellow moments like “Spirit Carries On”, “Through Her Eyes” and “Finally Free”, but then you have songs such as “Strange Déjà Vu”, “Beyond This Life” and the epic sounding “Home” which pick up the pace. I think this is the best Progressive Metal album, and my favourite album of all time.
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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.
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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.
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on 25 June 2017
So, my first album by Dream Theater. I am following LEAH and she said that one of her inspirations are these guys. I googled the best of the albums and this popped up. Metropolis Part 2....(Part 1 is on Images and Words album in case you were wondering like I was).
I have to say i was enthralled, and, when playing it I was reading reviews and found out, as I though, that it tells a story.
The story is, from what I gather, about a man troubled by dreams. He goes to a Hypnotherapist who regresses him into a past life.....It turns out that he is a Murdered Woman and the story goes on through there, including love, sacrifice and murder...EPIC.
I absolutely love the song 'Through Her Eyes - Scene Five' really sets the feel for the album.
The album is an absolute steal and you won't regret it, I didn't.
Once you realise there's a story being told, I think it enhances the album massively.
I fully recommend this album....ENJOY!!
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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.
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