Dream Theater – Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory

The best progressive metal album of all time… Or maybe the best metal album of all time period? For a good 70 minutes, these masters of heavy progressive music unfold a tale of murder and mystery, and some of the greatest music I have ever heard. Almost everything is flawless and perfect with this album. Theres nothing I’ve ever heard that’s of quite this quality and inspiration.

What we have here is artwork on two layers. The first (and most apparent) is the music itself. Dream Theater pulls every trick in the book on this album. When they were first conceiving of this album, they opted to in essence make ‘the most prog album they possibly could.’ In this attempt, they created a masterpiece that perfectly blends complexity with memorability, melody with progression and emotion with intensity. From gut-wrenching piano ballads to incredibly progressive instrumental sections typical of the band’s repetoire, this album has it all, and as it result, it enjoys great cohesion and a feeling of completion.

The second layer is that of the lyrics. While alot of lyrics of Dream Theater (especially the ones on the later releases) are incredibly cheesy and detract from the music, the words sung by LaBrie on ‘Scenes From A Memory’ actually serve a purpose, and are done incredibly well. The music tells a story that -considering it is only told through lyrics- is incredibly complex, and each character is relatively well rounded, and intriguing. (The summary of the concept is a bit hard to go through on a review, but believe me when I say it has it’s merits!) By the end of the album, theres a feeling as if the listener has just watched a film; as if the album was merely the soundtrack to a grand tale.

From the brilliantly composed tech-pieces, to the gut wrenching Floydian ballads, this album is one of the most complete pieces of music ever written for the metal genre. While the album is certainly as good (even better) than the band’s classic masterwork ‘Images And Words,’ this album requires a much more focused listener to appreciate to the fullest.

I bought this album on the last day of elementary school, and years later, after hundreds of listens, I still enjoy it greatly, and find my love of the album constantly renewed with each fresh, exhilerating listen.

‘Scenes From A Memory’ is about as essential as you can get, and a favourite of mine for years.

Tracklist:

1. Act I: Scene One: Regression (2:06)
2. Act I: Scene Two: I. Overture 1928 (3:37)
3. Act I: Scene Two: II. Strange Déjà Vu (5:12)
4. Act I: Scene Three: I. Through My Words (1:02)
5. Act I: Scene Three: II. Fatal Tragedy (6:49)
6. Act I: Scene Four: Beyond This Life (11:22)
7. Act I: Scene Five: Through Her Eyes (5:29)
8. Act II: Scene Six: Home (12:53)
9. Act II: Scene Seven: I. The Dance of Eternity (6:13)
10. Act II: Scene Seven: II. One Last Time (3:46)
11. Act II: Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On (6:38)
12. Act II: Scene Nine: Finally Free (11:59)

Line-up:

* James LaBrie – vocals
* John Petrucci – guitars, backing vocals
* John Myung – bass
* Jordan Rudess – keyboards
* Mike Portnoy – drums, backing vocals

* Theresa Thomason – additional vocals, backing vocals
* Mary Canty – additional backing vocals
* Shelia Slappy – additional backing vocals
* Mary Smith – additional backing vocals
* Jeanette Smith – additional backing vocals
* Clarence Burke Jr. – additional backing vocals
* Carol Cyrus – additional backing vocals
* Dale Scott – additional backing vocals
* Terry Brown – hypnotherapist
* David Bottrill – Edward

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