Most helpful positive review
Overall A Success
on May 12, 2004
Where do you go? You just made one of the best albums of all time, and for my money THE BEST album DT could ever make, in "Metropolis 2, Scenes from a Memory." It was all an evolution up to the most mighty and magical concept album possible. So what next?
Answer: a near-45-minute-long-song.
When I first heard about it when they were in the studio, I didn't flinch. "Yeah," I thought, "that's all they know how to do and it probably will lack some focus." Nobody can touch them for their virtuosity, but those who've got the Transatlantic, LTE, and Explorers Club stuff are well aware that this family of progrockers doesn't have to work quite as hard as, let's say, Blink 182 or Matchbox 20 (that's my little joke), to bypass radiofriendlyness and do a song that lasts for a half hour or so. I'm all about epics, and GIVEN that the mighty DT's release is guaranteed to squash anything the majority of kids are picking up these days (another little joke, I'm only 23), I'm only finding flaws with DT on the hardest of grading criteria. You'll notice this double set is still an easy 5 stars, according to me. But a 42 minute long song in and of itself isn't immediately guaranteed exemption from scrutiny...
AND...I don't know how they did it, but they did it. The epic 8 movement song is a near masterpiece afterall. ESPECIALLY when held up against Metropolis 2, Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence isn't a whole lot weaker than the former. Still not quite as good, but so much better than I would have thought possible. They really did "do it again."... Again Mike, Jordan, James, and the Johns have the maturity to balance excessive overplaying with songwriting, yielding the ideal scenario from virtuosic performers: strong compositions.
The overture is amazing, quite suited for a filmscore really, but it displays Jordan's multitalented brain, as he doesn't just do a good job playing, but he's got great arranging skills as well! "Goodnight Kiss" is my favorite of the movements, as it is paced perfectly, the timbres are experimental yet not "Ladies and Gentlemen, The 21st Century and Ms. Spears!", and the chords are to die for. It molds slowly into "Solitary Shell," a song that proves good music CAN be catchy, and builds to one of my other favorite moments, a blues-tinged solo from Petrucci that seems to pay homage to Slash and his work in GNR's epic "Coma." Oh so soulful! James's climax at the end is a bit underclimactic after all the buildup (42 minutes for God's sake!) but it doesn't ruin anything either.
Oh, right, the first disc.
Well, to be honest, it's not all that great. If that were all there was, I would be MAJORLY disappointed. Except for a few obvious spots (the last song was defintely inspired by Bartok), there's not a whole lot of creativity or soul, and the recurring theme of mental illness sounds more intellectual than heartfelt. "Glass Prison" really baffled me, as it's a real bad way to lead off the album; lack of originality is bad enough, but to drag it on for too long is even worse. That said, all of the songs on the first disc are still good, just not like the level of DT one would have been hoping for.
Nonetheless, I am very amazed at how good and relevent this whole offering turned out, especially given the shoes of 3 years back that had to continue to be filled. Also this band is extremely patient and humble. They aren't clamoring for mainstream success, but they wouldn't mind it either. In another 10 years, maybe enough people will know them so they will debut PAST the 40's (where this one was)! If anyone deserves mass recognition, it's Dream Theater. But either way, in a world of so much turmoil, things are looking up; good music is alive and well.