Thursday, November 09, 2006

The Dance Of Eternity ...

Dream Theater is one of my favourite bands, though it took me a while to get into them (for full story click here). But when I did, I couldn't get enough of them. "Metropolis part II: Scenes From A Memory" is the bands 5th studio album and continues in the traditional DT style, but with more of a theatrical feel. That's probably because it is a concept album. From what I understand, the band never intended to do a follow up to "Metropolis Part 1" off of "Images and Words", but with a little bit of pressure from fans what was going to be just a song turned into a full album. And I must say what an album it is.

After the mediocre release that was "Falling Into Infinity" which I waited patiently for 2 years for (More on that story, when I do my review at a later date) and was not, let say, blown away by, "Metropolis Pt.2" was a welcome return to memorable epic, chaotic song structure and nice sense of growth for the band without losing their unique sound. The story is about Nicholas who has a recurring about a girl in a mirror and sense that something terrible had happened. He goes for hypnosis for help and discovers that his soul is connected to Victoria's (the girl from his dreams). Once out of hypnosis, Nicholas begins to seek out the truth of what happened to Victoria and uncovers a tale of love, deceit, murder and suicide. I chose this album for review partly because it's spooky and is a good way to transition from my Hallowe'en theme, but mostly cause Anonymous Jones mentioned it in a comment and essentially gave me the idea ... thanx! ...

"Metropolis part II" is broken up into acts and scenes and therefore some of tracks are shorter than Dream Theater's usual epicness. This is where the theatrical feel lies, with a number of transitional pieces. The album is not without DT's signature chaotic instrumentals, but the album does have strong foundation and feels like one long song. That foundation is "Metropolis part I" whose melody and lyrical references are peppered throughout. Some may think it's a cop out, but this is a part 2, and even though it was never really intended as one Dream Theater stepped up and proved their songwriting skills with one of their most ambitious efforts.

The album begins with the hypnotist putting Nicholas under to the sweet sounds of an acoustic before LaBrie enters with melodic vocals to introduce the story. And like "Erotomania" from the album "Awake", "Overture 1928" gives us an instrumental medley of the album. "Through My Words" and "One Last Time" continue with the narrative feel and "Fatal Tragedy", "Beyond This Life" and "Home" feature the chaotic instrumentals and Dream Theater's core style. "Home" has a very ethnic sound as well I should note, one of the heaviest riffs Dream Theater has ever played about 2 minutes in. I fast forward through the track just for that bit. "The Spirit Carries On" and "Finally Free" are memorable with great melody and shows us that the band can simply blow us away with straight forward song writing.

Trying to pick stand out Dream Theater
songs is like trying to pick the best thingy from a bunch of great thingy's ... it's hard and this album is the hardest of the lot. I've narrowed it down to "The Dance Of Eternity" which is named after a line from "Metropolis pt. I" and is all chaotic instrumental. It jumps from Goth like guitar chunking to Gershwin/ western saloon style piano playing. All while not loosing focus. That is one thing that makes Dream Theater stand out themselves is that they can wail away with a song for 5, 12, 23 minutes and it always sounds like one song. "Finally Free" begins sweetly melodic and turns freaky with a killer guitar riff. Add in the recreation sound effects of the night of the murder and one chilling scream and the feeling is spine-tingling. I had this song cranked on my iPod while walking through a quite tunnel to work and when the scream and screeching wail of the guitars crescendo people were looking over with a what the hell ?!? look and it was sweet.

My favourite track is the ballad "Through Her Eyes". I love all of Dream Theater's ballads. Every one of them is emotionally moving and passionate and this one my second favourite of the bunch (the first is "Hollow Years" off of "Falling Into Infinity". Sorry, I spoiled the surprise.) The song starts with a female vocalist singing a sweet melody flourished with Petrucci solos before the song pounds us with an acoustic/piano mix that tears at the heartstrings. LaBrie just shines here and the thematic guitar solo throughout is very moving.

The whole album has a haunting feel and the darkest sound since "Awake". There is no doubt this is a Dream Theater album, but it was a riskier move for them and I think it paid off. I'd like to see them do a soundtrack for a movie or TV. That would be cool. "Metropolis pt II: Scenes From A Memory" is also the studio debut for
new keyboardist Jordon Rudess. DT seems to go through keyboardists quite a bit. After the initial vocalist change after "When Dream And Day Unite" DT are now on their third keyboardist. Maybe it's the blistering solo work. Burning them out.

Up next I will further my transition from horror to folk metal with an album about Witch Trials by The StoryTeller ...

4 Comments:

Blogger Chana said...

i don't know names..titles..or anything that labels anyything..Joe can asked me, do you like so and so and it it's not extremely obvious i will answer "no..i think..", but you wouldn't believe how much music i actually love and like to listen too..much to his surprise quite often..so i'm wondering now, my first instinct to say one more time, nope never heard of them and i stopped for who knows. i might just surprise you and me too, ;p

hope the family is well..

ps..i know you have your hands full as it is..but maybe someday you can put clips of the music to share..just a thought..never mind..the other's know i guess exactly who you speak of, :)

9:55 PM  
Anonymous SkeptiC said...

I have some Dream Theater, that is superb HIGH QUALITY prog metal. Does that mean you're a fan of Fates Warning? In 2003 John Arch and some of the old Fates members (which I believe had something to do with Dream Theater), put out a 2 song E.P. Extremely good prog metal. I can almost say, my 2 favorite songs of all time. The album is...

John Arch - A Twist of Fate

As a Dream Theater fan, you will love this too.

11:44 PM  
Anonymous SkeptiC said...

Here are a couple of links that talk about that John Arch album...

http://www.progressor.net/review/john_arch_2003.html
http://www.nolifetilmetal.com/johnarch.htm

7:56 PM  
Blogger anonymous jones said...

I'm just amazed at the quantity of stuff those musicians had to remember for this album! Also, the kind of endurance it would take to play and keep playing on and on and on... . There are 'band-players' and then there are real musicians like these guys: amazing!

I would have liked to have seen the bass taking a more prominent role at times, though, but that's just me, I guess. Myung has a great technique and very versatile employing his whole right hand on the strings. This album still seriously creeps me out!

6:02 PM  

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