Dream Theater United States

A610 Prog402
[Magnificent Musicianship89, Really Awesome Production87, Really Awesome Composition81, Awesome Songwriting84 and Excellent Lyrics68]
added by Mike
Links:PA
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Review by Mike published
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S Original Modern Prog Metal

The second disc (the actual "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulance Suite") is a masterpiece. Musically it's on par with Scenes from a Memory, and I like the fact that it's more concise.

The first disc, while still awesome, is more of a mixed bag though. It contains masterpiece long tracks, but also some "fillers" on a really high level. Frankly, I think they should have published the album as a one disc release with the suite plus Glass Prison and Great Debate, and the rest as a bonus disc / deluxe edition.

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A Blind Faith 10:21
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B Disappear 6:46
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S Overture 6:50
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Review by Mike published
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S Symph Modern Prog Metal

Is this a masterpiece? To many it is. To me it misses that mark, but only because the bar was set a notch higher by some of the earlier DT releases.

The track Octavarium is a masterpiece, the other tracks are a little bit hit or miss. Overall a really enjoyable listen. Oh, and the geometrical mistake in the cover art is (a) hilarious (source of debate).

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Can't get past the cheesiness, and I never liked U2. This track just isn't for me.

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Well done! The obvious references to Muse work well here. I love how the music really channels the feeling of anxiety and panic.

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S Octavarium 24:00

Wonderfully crafted, it all flows from style to style, completing a circle, referencing so many great bands that have been influential on modern progressive bands in general and DT in particular.

Review by Mike published
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S Prog Metal

The key to liking this album is to understand that it is a musical. I like it a lot, some weaker tracks in over 2 hours of music not withstanding. I also think that in hindsight (2023), looking back on all the Mangini-era DT albums, this is the only one that is as creative in the pre-Mangini sense (think Scenes or 6 Degrees). It all flows nicely, the songwriting is REALLY inspired, and the occasional cheesy bit fits in nicely as well, as long as, like I said in the beginning, you appreciate this being a musical.

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Channeling Rush ... great way to kick off the story after the overture.

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A The Answer 1:52
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S Three Days 3:44
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B Ravenskill 6:01
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A Chosen 4:32
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Tragic! However, that last cry at the end is hilarious.

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A Power Down 1:25
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Review by Mike published , edited
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S Melodic Neo Prog Metal

This is actually quite good. Back at the time when it was released it wasn't well received by many fans, being much more accessible and "smooth" than the preceeding Scenes From A Memory, perhaps the most iconic prog metal release ever.

Well, I find myself returning to this album from time to time, enjoying the music without any unnecessary comparisons. It stands well on its own.

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C You Not Me 4:58
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B Anna Lee 5:51
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Review by Mike published , edited
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B Uplifting Eclectic Prog Metal

Not bad - bad also not really great. Granted, I've only listened to the album a few times - but I very much doubt that it will grow considerably on me over time, because the songwriting leaves me unimpressed.

I can't help thinking that Portnoy's absence has moved Dream Theater closer to "normalty" - they still have an "out there" composer (Rudess), but I really miss Portnoy's over the top crazyness and his desire to incorporate an eclectic range of influences (ranging from 70s Prog Rock to modern Art Rock like Muse and Extreme Metal like Opeth) into the music.

On this album the most obvious influence is Rush - indeed, at one time the lyrics mention "restless angels" and I couldn't help thinking of Rush's recent album (Clockwork Angels), since the music was also a good match.

Having said all that, the album is very well made and nice to listen to, all the other DT ingredients are there ... even LaBrie's vocals are much better than usual. Alas, the inspiration for great tunes is sorely missed. I really prefer Haken's 2013 album "The Mountain" - no THAT's inspired songwriting, and musically easily on par with Dream Theater.

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Review by Mike published
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B Prog Metal

So far I've listened to the album three times, and while it is admittedly nice, I think it's one of the weaker DT albums. It's still quite good, but the words "haphazard" and "forced" pop up a bit too often in my mind when I'm listening to the album, particularly in the opening track. Mike Mangini is a great musician, but on this album the drums strike me as largely unimaginative compared to Portnoy's style. Of course one could also say that Mangini simply chooses to stay in the background and let the other band members shine (which definitely plays out well in that regard, particularly with Myung and LaBrie), and indeed I think that there's great potential for a truly great next album that hopefully won' t be recorded under such unfortunate circumstances. The bottom line: a solid album, but ultimately falling short in terms of songwriting and inspired playing (don't get me wrong, there are plenty of inspired moments, it's just lacking compared to other DT releases) and thus a transitional step for the band, pretty much like Feel Euphoria was for Spock's Beard - at least that's my wish(ful thinking).

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B Outcry 11:24
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Review by Time_Signature published
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S Prog Metal

Admittedly, the three main attractions of Dream Theater for me have always been Mike Portnoy's phenomenal drumming, James Labrie's unique vocals, and Dream Theater's complex and sophisticated progressive metal and unique sound. With Mike Portnoy out of the band, one of those attractions disappeared, and my concern was that the third attraction would disappear with him. So, my main concern with this album has been "will it sound like Dream Theater at all?". Now, we know that Portnoy is doing well - he's making awesome groovy metal with Adrenaline Mob, he's got a power trio going with John Sykes and an unnamed bassist, and then there is the mammoth prog rock band Translatlantic. But what about Dream Theater, how will they fare? Well, to be honest, I think that "A Dramatic Turn of Events" sounds like... Dream Theater. And that's basically enough for me. I could finish the review here, because I got what I came for. I mean, all the trademark things are there: the long songs, the many moves and twists and turns in every track, Labrie's vocals, the melody, the keyboard wizardry, the technically advanced guitar solos, the quirky things, the odd time signature, the rhythmical ambiguities. Yup, this is Dream theater, and, like most of their other releases, it clicked with me immediately on first listen. There are some differences between this album and other Dream Theater output though, if one holds them up against each other. The previous releases saw Dream Theater slowly being taken in a heavier direction, as the band started implementing elements from heavier and more extreme types of metal with thrash metal elements popping up in several tracks on "Train of Thought", "Systematic Chaos" and "Black Lines and Silver Linings", and there is even some blastbeating in 'A Nightmare to Remember'. Those elements do not figure that prominently on this release which, in some ways, strikes me as having more similarities with 90s releases. Do not get me wrong, there are plenty of heavy and aggressive elements on this release - and more than on the 90s releases - but they do not figure as prominently as on more recent releases. Also, while Dream Theater has always had en epic sound, "A Dramatic Turn of Events" strikes me as being more epic than the band usually is - perhaps as a consequence of there being less aggressive elements on the album. Moreover, the last couple of Dream Theater albums saw James Labrie's role being increasingly marginalized with Portnoy taking up vocal duties, too. I always thought that was a shame, because Labrie has such a unique and characteristic voice (which is an integral part of the Dream Theater sound), so I really appreciate that he fully dominates the vocals aspect of this album. I do not really have any points of criticism - except one. The drums are way too suppressed in the mix. Although he did not contribute to the writing, Mike Mangini is the new drummer of Dream Theater, and he is a renowned and amazingly skilled and talented drummer - therefore I think it would only be fair for the drums to be made much more substantial than they are now. There are a lot of nice details in his drumming that simply deserve to be heard. I also find it a bit disturbing that the electronic beats that pop up every now and then are actually more dominant n the mix than Mangini's drums are. So, I do not think that the drums are loud enough in the mix, but apart from that, I think that the production is quite good, and the musicianship is, of course, top notch. Kudos to the band for carrying on and kudos to Mangini for taking the place as the new drummer in a band, largely known for its old drummer. I am not disappointed with this album! (review originally posted at metalmusicarchives.com)

Review by Time_Signature published
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A Prog Metal

"When Dream and Day Unite" is the the debut album of progressive metal giants Dream Theater. While there had been technical and progressive metal acts before Dream Theater (Portnoy himself quotes Watch Tower, Fates Warning, Iron Maiden, and Mercyful Fate), and while this album undoubtedly is a rough ride, I think it does show that Dream Theater were innovative musicians, and that the band was something special. "When Dream and Day Unite" is musically interesting, and there is a lot of good stuff on it, the production is not very good (too 80s with reverb on virtually everything), and I also think that they keyboards are too prominent - both in the mix and compositionwise.

But, an interesting album, and one that should be in any progressive metal album collection.

(review also posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

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A Afterlife 5:27
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Review by Time_Signature published
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S Prog Metal

According to Mikael Åkerfeldt of Opeth, the "Images and Words" album is the main reason why Opeth sounds like they do, because it was tracks like "Pull me Under" that made him realize that it was possible for him to combine his metal influences and his progressive influences.

That just goes to show how influential and how important an album "Images and Words" - Dream Theater's second album, and their commercial breakthrough - is. The production is crisp and lightyears better, and much more balanced, than on "When Dream and Day Unite". Musically, it contains some legendary prog metal anthems like "Pull me Under", "Metropolis Part I", "Under A Glass Moon", and, of course, "Learning to Live". It's really top class. This is technical and cerebral music, and that's what I like about it, so I cannot really apply the "the-music-doesn't-come-from-the-heart" criticism here; especially because one can still rock out to the music.

And then there's James Labrie. He has received a lot of criticism for his style of singing. I admit that I had to get used to it, but now I cannot imagine Dream Theater with any other front man. I like how he hits the high notes and all that.

This is a progressive metal classic that belongs in any progressive metal collection.

(review also posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

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S Surrounded 5:30
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Review by Time_Signature published
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Awake 1994
A Prog Metal

"Awake" is a great progressive metal album, and I think, it contains some of Dream Theater's best songs. It is also a much heavier album than "When Dream and Day Unite" and "Images and Words".

Musically, it continues where "Images and Words" left off, although in a slightly more heavy direction, as mentioned above, with long and complex and genre-transgressing songs and, of course, a complete disregard of the conventions of popular music.

My favorite tracks on this album are the opener "6:00", "Caught in a Web", "The Mirror" (which was probably the "hit" of the album", and "Erotomania" all of which blend technicality and catchy melody.

This is another pivotal progressive metal album that should be included in any progressive metal collection.

(review also posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

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S 6:00 5:31
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S Erotomania 6:44
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S Voices 9:53
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S The Mirror 6:45
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S Lie 6:33
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B Scarred 10:59
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Review by Time_Signature published
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A Prog Metal

Yes, I've heard the criticism before: pretentious title, pretentious artwork, pretentious music, pretentious lyrics, pretentious this and pretentious that. And, I honestly do not care if "Falling Into Infinity" is pretentious or not. I like the album, and I think there are some really strong and interesting tracks on it. And, yes, they may be technical and cerebral, but that is exactly what I like about Dream Theater's music: it is complex and challenging to listen to, yet there is a lot of melody in it, and it is possible to rock along to even the oddest odd time signature parts.

The opening track "New Millennium" is one of my favorite Dream Theater tracks (and I don't think I'm alone on this one), and I also like the heavier "You not Me" and "Burning My Soul". "Hell's Kitchen" is also an interesting song... well, all the tracks have some interesting qualitites to them.

As with the previous Dream Theater albums, I think the "Falling Into Infinitive" is a progressive metal classic (pretentious or not) that belongs in any progressive metal collection.

(review also posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

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S You Not Me 4:58
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B Anna Lee 5:51
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Review by Time_Signature published
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S Epic Prog Metal

"Metropolis, part 2: Scenes from a Memory" is a concept album telling a complex story of love, life, death, the psyche, rebirth and cosmic connections between people. "Typical progressive pretentious lyrical bullsh*t", you might say. Well, if you do not like that, then that is fair enough. Personally, I think that the lofty concept suits Dream Theater's complex music very well.

"Metropolis, part 2: Scenes from a Memory" is one of Dream Theater's very best albums for my money, and it is teeming with music which is pretty much epitomic of progressive metal, blending progressive technicality and comlexity with recognizable melody. Some of the stringer tracks on this album are "Fatal Tragedy" with its (in)famous shrink-n-grow section, the heavier "Beyond this Life" with its catchy choruses, "Home" and "The Dance of Eternity".

Any progressive metal collection that lacks this album is an incomplete one.

(review originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

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Probably one of the best DT pieces ever mainly because of the famous shrink'n'grow structure.

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S Home 12:53
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B Finally Free 11:59
Review by Time_Signature published
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S Prog Metal

"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" is an album that I do not listen to very often. It is not that I do not like it, and it is not that it is not as good as the other releases by the band. It just never caght on with me for whatever reason.

That album itself is probably Dream Theater's most extreme album - not in terms of extreme metal - but in terms of taking everything as far as possible. The tracks are extremely long, the longest one - the epic title track - clocks in at 42 minutes, and the shortest one clocks in at almost 7 minutes. Musically, the tracks are probably equally as technical and complex as on previous Dream Theater albums, but in terms of heaviness, this album is heavier than anything else released by the band previously.

I think this album would appeal to fans of progressive metal who are not afraid of heavy music, and it might also appeals to fans of heavier types of metal music who are not afraid of complex music.

(review originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

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S Blind Faith 10:21
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B Disappear 6:46
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A Overture 6:50

I don't know if this is a joke or not, but I certainly hope so. I do like the Queen-esque feel though.

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Review by Time_Signature published
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S Dark Shred Prog Metal

A lot of fans of progressive rock, who at least appreciated Dream Theater's previous releases, tend to hate this one because the music is so much more heavy than ever before. Basically, what Dream Theater did was to isolate the heaviness found on "Six Degrees..." and use that as the central force on "Train of Thought". Personally, I love the heavy approach on this album, and I think that the heaviness and darkness (very well reflected in the cover artwork, which might as well have been the cover of a 90s black metal album) that characterizes the album. In addition to being disliked for its heaviness, "Train of Thought" has also received critique for being musically more simple than previous Dream Theater - this was a conscious decision by the band (according to Mike Portnoy, who describes it as the most onedimensional album in the career of the band) to create a contrast to the epic and complex musical multidimensionality of "Six Degrees...". Well, we are not dealing with simple music here. It is still very technical and complex with enough odd time signature sections and genre transgressions to make me happy.

I don't know if the lyrics have been dumbed down. It is true that, in terms of lyrics, this album has been described as appealing to the lowest common denominator of emo teendom by dealing with emotional topics (as in "As I Am", "Honor thy Father", and "Endless Sacrifice"). Well, that may be, but why not? Who says you can't be a progressive metal band and write songs about everyday topics?

Despite being the Dream Theater album that everybody loves to hate and criticize, "Train of Thought" is does have a 5-star rating on iTunes - so I certainly am not the only person in the world who likes it.

I think that fans of heavier types of metal, along with fans of heavier prog metal, will like this album.

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S As I Am 7:47
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B Vacant 2:57
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Review by Time_Signature published
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A Prog Metal

Being less heavy and more complex than "Train of Thought", this album is undoubtedly considered a return to form by many fans who prefer progressive and complex music to heavy music. When I first heard this album, I was, not disappointed, but I honestly thought that it was too soft, and I did not really like it to start with. The more I listened to it, I started to appreciate it more and more, and now I think it is a very good progressive metal album.

When it all comes down, there is a lot of variation on the album, which I appreciate, and there are some strong tracks like "The Root of All Evil", "These Walls", and "Panic Attack".

This album should have a wide appeal to metal fans and non-metal fans alike.

(review originally posted at metalmusicarchives.com)

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S Octavarium 24:00
Review by Time_Signature published
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S Epic Prog Metal

As with "Train of Thought", "Systematic Chaos" is a Dream Theater album which is very unpopular among more progressively inclined fans. The reason is probably that "Systematic Chaos" is almost as heavy as "Train of Thought", anthough I think that "Systematic Chaos" is musically more complex; but, interestingly, there are more commercial-like elements on "Systematic Chaos", such as catchy and simply choruses and chorus melodies.

Personally, I really like "Systematic Chaos". I like how heavy it is, and I like how the complex and tricky parts as well as the more commercial parts blend into the picture very well, creating systematically chaotic progressive metal. I like all of the tracks very much, although I did get a little bit tired of listening to "Forsaken".

This album will probably appeal to fans of heavier progressive metal, and I also think it would be a good entry point into the world of Dream Theater for the "uninitated".

(review originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

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S Forsaken 5:36
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A Repentance 10:43
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Review by Time_Signature published
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S Epic Prog Metal

The first track I heard from this album was "A Rite of Passage" (on one of the Prognosis discs), which starts out sounding a bit like a generic 90s alt. rock tune - something which I heard plenty of back then and which never really impressed me much, so I was a bit disappointed. Of course, the song quickly morphed into a style of progressive metal that was much more up my alley.

Although "Black Clouds & Silver Linings" has received mostly positive reviews and ratings on MMA, it has also received a lot of criticism, one of the points of criticism being that the album lacks innovation, and that the band just keeps treading a worn path stylistically. I disagree. I think that there are in fact many interesting elements on this album that show that Dream Theater are indeed evolving. For instance, Mike Portnoy makes use of blast meats on "A Nightmare to Remember" (being Dream Theater, they are, of course, in a triple meter), and the band also draws extensively on Gothic metal, which is also unusual for Dream Theater (true "Train of Thought" was dark in athmosphere, but never really Gothic, and "Forsaken" was a song about vampires). Of course, there are the Dream Theater trademarks of odd time signatures, instrumental virtuosity, genre transgression and compositional complexity.

The three disc version contains a disc with cover tracks on it, which is also a very interesting listen.

I'd recommend this album to fans of progressive metal who are not afraid of musically dark athmospheres, as wel as more adventurous fans of gothic metal.

(review originally posted on metalmusicarchives.com)

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B Wither 5:25
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- Stargazer Bonus 8:11
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- Odyssey Bonus 8:00
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- To Tame a Land Bonus 7:15
Review by OpenMind published
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S Prog Metal

Dream theater definitely has the most powerful spot between the bands that took the progressive music to the 21st century. The band, that almost broke up after their 3rd album tour ("Awake"), and the constant pressure from the record company to produce hits, has made the musician pretty unstable. As a last minute move, they have turned to the company's management and demanded artistic freedom to their next project - and if this demand will not be fulfilled, they have threatend to end their career. The management have surrendered, and the band started the long & hard process of creating the album... Since then, "Scenes" became the most valuable album ever created by Dream, and most importantly - a perfect figure of Progressive Metal.

"Scenes From A Memory" is a complicated, ambitious rock-opera, 77 mins long. It was called as "Metropolis Part II". The first part, was in "Images & Words" - on track no. 5. But the first part was lyrically weak on the same subjects (Life after death, eternal love, etc.), and in fact Dream have came back to the beginning and tried to continue from the place that seemed right, artistically.

Maybe the fact that all of the line-up is built from new yorkers, you can feel the influence from Broadway's musicals. It comes to an expression in the work of Jordan Rudess, the virtoaus keyboardist (who was a new joiner at that time), which enriched Dream's music melodicly (classic motifs), harmonically (right chords moves), rythmically (not keeping with the cliches of Rock/Metal), and acoustically (additions of sounds such as piano, choir & strings). Rudess balanced & challenged Petrucci, that always went - as a guitarist - to metal. With that, it's important to say that all of the members' name are on the composing, so it is pretty likely a team effort. I've got to mention, that one of the great specialnesses of this album is the brilliant instrumental improvisations, between the melodic instruments - Rudess-keyboards & Petrucci-guitar, who have a great work together and create healthy competition between wonders of players in the rock world.

As you can expect from a band that called itself "Dream Theater", were dealing with a modernic opera (or a musical...), that motorize itself by a dream - according to the story - with the technique called "Regression Therapy", you can hypnotize the patient, bring him back to different reincarnations, and to find out the meaning of problems & complexes in the present. Nicholas, our hero, is a normal guy that is troubled by dreams which include a girl (Victoria) and a house. He turns to a psychologist and realize that Victoria's soul is trapped inside his body (praticullary - in his head). Victoria's story brings him back to 1928 and to a famous murder that was made, it turns out, after the break of a romantic triangle between herself & two brothers - Jullian & Edward. The duty of revealing the past becomes an obsession - trying to find out the truth, no matter the price. It ends, traghically, in a traghedy.

Building a 77-minute long album ain't easy. There is an important need for a link between the seperated parts. It is hard to find the right balance between slow, acoustic tracks, sub-chapters that was meant to promote the plot, improvisations & instrumental inventions, effects, and brief explanations about the advance of the story. Dream Theater have definitely did the job well, and created a wide variety of so-called opposed genres: Blues Rock, Romantic, Heavy Metal, Gospel, Broadway and even Indian music.

I can easily call "Scenes" a revolutionary album, it is an exciting masterpiece, strong & well polished. The recordings are full of little & interesting details, and can testify the hard work in the studio. All the composings are well made, The instrumental performance by the trio (guitar, keyboards & drums) are just breath-taking, and the dramatic plot really expresses in the vocal delivering (by James LaBrie) and in the musical production level. Dream Theater have really built a milestone in the prog rock history, which i can bet that will remembered many years from now... In my opinion, Dream has succeed to compare itself and even uplift the spiritual fathers of the 70's.

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S Home 12:53
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S Finally Free 11:59
Review by OpenMind published
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S Prog Metal

Prog rockers Dream Theater tallied 16 years as a band with the release of Octavarium, but in listening you're apt to suspect otherwise. As a collective they remain as tight as they were on 2003's obsessively dark Train of Thought (like all music-school outfits, they've exacted an all-for-one formula that doesn't allow a single player more than his share of swagger), but a post-hardcore edge — call it a leap into 2005 — has invaded their pledge of allegiance to theatrical heavy rock. Hear it on "I Walk Beside You" and "The Answer Lies Within," both of which, at under five minutes, play like charming haikus from a band known for its epic poetry, and also on the orchestra-backed 20-plus-minute final cut, which skips around from Pink Floyd to Rush to Yes influences, stopping off every so often at a place fans of My Chemical Romance might find familiar. As with all the band's discs, guitars loom large and both doom and redemption seem no further than the next twisted verse. What's changed is Dream Theater's commitment to carrying on their reputation as underground progressive rock's classicists, and it seems well-timed.

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S Octavarium 24:00
Review by OpenMind published
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A Prog Metal

My first taste of Dream Theater, and still stands out as the most solid of their albums. Starting with the perfectly paced build-up of the intro to "Pull Me Under", this contains some immaculate examples of musically interesting (prog, if you like) heavy rock. The instrumental interplay and restless changes of time and tempo are held together by a driving energy, and it never descends into wankiness. "Pull Me Under" and "Take the Time" hold the first half together in this way, the latter having some breathtaking rhythmic surprises. The longer pieces in the second half are no less imaginative, even if they might bore those without the patience for band instrumentals. "Learning To Live" is particularly colourful - a Spanish guitar sets off a rapid journey through several contrasting sections of soloing and group play, without ever getting bogged down.

Less interesting are the moments of plain big-hair stadium rock, such as "Another Day". "Surrounded" starts off in the same way, but contains just enough variety of mood and tempo to save it. The most successful "ballad" piece is keyboard player Kevin Moore's "Wait For Sleep", with a hypnotic, slinky piano theme.

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Review by Mike published
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Awake 1994
S Virtuose Modern Prog Metal

This is my favorite DT album. Images & Words and Scenes are equally perfect from an objective standpoint (if I had to recommend one I wouldn't know which to choose) but this one is best balanced IMO. Scenes has that Rudess influence which moved DT a tiny bit closer to ELP, Images & Words is a tiny bit less "metal" than Awake. On Awake you have it all ... and I really like Kevin Moore's contribution, which adds an - if even only on the subconscious level - experimental and slightly avant-garde feeling, not only on Space-Dye Vest.

In a nutshell this album has all which makes Prog Metal the wonderful genre which it is - if you're into this sort of thing. Of course there are many reasons to dislike it ... outstanding musicianship, crystal clear production, amazing bandwidth of musical styles from soft/acoustic to heavy/thrash, you name it.

The only problems I have with the album are a few passages where LaBrie sings in registers which are on the fringes of what he's capable of - it's a bit better than on I&W though - and the track Lifting Shadows Off a Dream, which is perhaps the earliest example of DT honoring U2 and is simply not a particularly noteworthy song IMO.

But that still leaves us with over an hour of pure masterpiece.

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S 6:00 5:31

What an amazing way to start an album. A perfect track.

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A very well rounded track ... and it starts with a wonderful rhythmic pattern (3/4 in 16th feel).

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A really nice track, but the last minute is nothing short of amazing!

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S Erotomania 6:44

This would later be one of the key points of the "Instrumedley". Is it overplayed? Yeah, maybe. But that's the point! It's way over the top, but at the same time they play it so effortlessly ... especially live it always has that "jar-dropping" effect on people who witness it for the first time. And I dare to say that even with all this virtuosity they play it with feeling.

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S Voices 9:53

A very beautiful track, and a perfect counterpart to the very dense Erotomania. It's simply awesome to listen through Erotomania and then there's this spacey, atmospheric with the effects-ladden keyboards and guitars ... eerie, surreal are attributes which begin to describe it.

And then comes ... the second half. "This isn't reality" ... quite true, this is indeed a Dream Theater.

6.

A very nice acoustic piece, together with the previous two tracks it forms an epic of sorts called "A Mind Beside Itself".

7.
S The Mirror 6:45

The heaviest track on the album - and the intro is just ... cool, with the drums changing the rhythm while the underlying guitar riff remains unchanged. The only thing that tops this is how the song segues into then next track.

8.
S Lie 6:33

Simply gorgeous how the track slowly chugs on in a "verbose" 16th rhythm while Moore's distorted keyboards play slow bends in the background. The song is very heavy, but also very cool and laid back ... especially in the middle part (I guess you could call it a bridge) where the drums suddenly change the grouping (from 4-4-4-4 they change to 6-6, from binary to ternary). Then a short quirky interlude, solo and back to the original track.

9.

I don't like U2 too much ... and this song owes a lot to them (Where the Streets Have No Name/I Still Haven't Found ..., anyone?). Add to that LaBrie's struggle with the high register notes ... my least favorite track.

10.
S Scarred 10:59

Petrucci plays the Blues ... I like it very much. The licks he plays in the intro are tasty, very melodic. Then of course the main verse kicks in and the Blues is gone. Still, an unusual DT track, the riffing reminds me a bit of what they later did on Falling Into Infinity. The only problem is that it's a tiny bit too long, which is due to the repetitive outro.

11.

Pure Brilliance. Dream Theater goes Depeche Mode / Experimental Dark Wave. Many people would have liked to hear more Kevin Moore influenced work with DT, but it wasn't meant to be. Of course quite some years later Portnoy and Moore would get together again for a very nice project (OSI) which really reminds me of Space-Dye Vest a lot - not so much the actual music but the slightly subversive and dark mood of the piece.

Review by Mike published , edited
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S Ominous Virtuose Modern Prog Thrash

This is a good example of a band that made a decision (in this case to make a heavier, more straightforward album, which nonethless is still on a high musical level) which split their fan base in two. Of course it didn't decrease the number of their followers, because even those who were pissed off at first would eventually find some nice aspects in the music, and now that Octavarium is about to be released, the wounds are healing nicely.

Now what do I have to say about the music of TOT? It has a very unique charm, but takes more time to settle. I'd say that after 20 times listening to the album from beginning to end, the patient listener will be rewarded, and the killer melodies that strike you instantly on albums like SfaM will become apparent on TOT as well. If you get bored along the way ... you don't have to like this.

This is more metal than prog, but with many twists and the usual stellar musicianship!

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A As I Am 7:47
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A Vacant 2:57
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Review by Mike published
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S Virtuose Modern Prog Art Metal/Rock

This really is a masterpiece, a quintessential modern prog rock concept album. There are many people out there who don't consider Dream Theater to be prog at all. IMHO there are many more who do, and I'm one of those open minded people who have understood that there are many different kinds of prog music.

Dream Theater - generally and on this album in particular - focus on structure and virtuosity. The music is always very controlled, refined and thoughtfully laid out. But with all this technical perfection, this album features beautiful melodies as well.

Production also is nearly perfect, I cannot understand people who say otherwise. However, there might still be a chance that you will not like the album (or Dream Theater) at all: The vocals are not everybody's cup of tea, as are the classical and avantgardistic (ZAPPA) influences and lengthy solos.

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S Home 12:53
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S Finally Free 11:59
Review by Mike published
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S Lively Creative Classic Prog Metal

This IS prog ... but not traditional Progressive Rock. It is a form of Progressive Metal, but in the years to follow this release, bands like Pain Of Salvation stretched the boundaries of that genre much further. Yet this is an excellent release, featuring a wide bandwidth from soft pop ballads (Another Day) to ultra prog (Metropolis). I don't think that this type of music qualifies as Speed or Power Metal, as others suggested, because it's just so much different than other releases from those genres. Your typical Speed Metal fan would not listen to Dream Theater. Instead, he might consider it too progressive ...

But I have to admit that progressiveness in itself was probably not what the band had in mind when they created Images And Words. I think they really just wanted to create music that is interesting for the listener, and fun to play for the band. It may lack the seriousness of King Crimson, and the vocal arrangements of Gentle Giant, there's not even a mellotron ... but each track except the ballad has truly progressive elements.

The one outstanding track on this record is Learning To Live. It's really a good summary of all the other tracks, and it's a track the band almost always includes in the setlist. And of course Metropolis Pt.1, the first part to their masterpiece Scenes From a Memory, which was initially "just" a follow up song to Metropolis Pt.1 and then became a full concept album.

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A Surrounded 5:30
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