Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory
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DREAM THEATER - Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory cover
4.13 | 160 ratings | 17 reviews
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Album · 1999

Filed under Progressive Metal


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)

Total Time: 77:11


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

- Jay Beckenstein / saxophone on Through Her Eyes
- 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

About this release

Label: Elektra
Release date: October 26th, 1999

Thanks to Time Signature, Vehemency, Pekka, adg211288 for the updates

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Has anyone here, like me, ever liked a band a whole lot in the past and over time acquired a lot of the CDs in their discography, listened to them really enthusiastically at first but gradually less and less choosing other music over them almost not wanting yet still somehow thinking they're better than certain other bands until finally you stop listening to them altogether and your CDs just sit on a shelf collecting dust? Then, you come across them again a while later, give them a refreshing listening, and say to yourself "Wait a second! I don't like this!" That is exactly my experience with Dream Theater, and Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory was the first album by them that I acquired. As it turns out, I think it's their worst.

All the alarms that went off that started to get me think this album isn't as good as I thought it was all went off one at a time over time. I believe the earliest was for the lyrical themes; and to be frank, the story this album follows fucking sucks. Some dude undergoes hypnotherapy for reasons that never are really explained. All I can gather is that he's wondering what his own life is about, which I don't believe should warrant the hiring of a hypnotherapist. Just realize that life has no meaning and nobody is going to miss us when we're all dead; a philosophy like that makes for a happy life. But, he goes through with this anyway and he experiences a past life as a woman who's stuck in a love triangle dilemma with two assholes who happen to be brothers. This story goes nowhere interesting and only ends with two of the three characters dead; a happy ending would have all of them dead, probably from suicide from realize that they're living inside a soap opera. I also don't understand why the dude in the present just had to go back to relive a stupid drama like this. Surely if he had traveled back further in his reincarnation history, he would have come across a Spartan, pirate, viking, or even a prostitute. If this soap opera is the most exciting past life he could get, his other lives must have been filled with Arabian carpet merchants, Irish sheep herders, and Indian garbage men.

Alarm number two came from James LaBrie. I really cannot stand the guy's voice; he sounds like a woman even when he's not trying to be the voice of the woman character in which case such as in the first "Tonight I've been searching for it" part in "Strange Deja Vu" in which he sounds really, really bad. But you know what? LaBrie's voice goes pretty well with the cheesy shitty lyrics, and these two together go well with the crappy music on this album. Crap goes really well with crap and crap, and this leads me to the third alarm that went off which took longer to be heard than before, but after a while I finally realized how poor the music is. Regression is a useless intro that plays into another intro track, "Overture 1928", which contains music that sounds like it was stolen from the opening theme of a show on Home and Garden Television. It's this soft, shitty rock garbage that plays into the first song with lyrics "Strange Deja Vu". From there, the band makes a couple of attempts at a darker sound with two lame results: "Fatal Tragedy" and the horribly bloated, chug laced "Home". "Through Her Eyes", "One Last Time", "Through My Words", and "The Spirit Carries On" are the worst of the worst here where the album is at its softest and most flowery.

And you know what? I feel bad for John Petrucci. The guy can obviously play a couple of good solos. The catch is that they're surrounded by this HGTV themed nonsense so he'd might as well be the guitarist from Men Without Hats. This feeling is not mutual for Mike Portnoy. I have no idea why this blue-goateed twelve stepper is praised so much when there is so little about his drumming performance that is at all special. Nothing he does here stands out.

After a bloated soft rock piece and some sounds of the modern guy walking into his home, you hear this "WAKE UP!" announcement, convenient for those of you who fell asleep listening to this album.

Now, it would be a bit of a far shot, but I believe that this train wreck could have been avoided if they made some of the following improvements during production. First, the lyrics would have to be completely rewritten. This precursor to Twilight is a lost cause, might as well scrap the whole story and begin anew. I'm sure if Dream Theater still wanted to make an album about a guy going back to a past life, they could write up a story about one of his ancestors discovering an elaborate plot concocted by the Knights Templar to take over everyone's minds, so he assassinates key members of this order to deconstruct their plans. You know, a story that actually had meaning instead of something that only spineless support group wankers can appreciate. This would be a key change in the album's turn out considering they'd definitely make the music more interesting instead of matching up with a shitty story. Second, James LaBrie would need to be dumped from the line-up. Bring in Russel Allen or someone else who actually sounds like his gender; I just say Russel Allen because he's had a history of singing about epic tales. Third, you bring in a second guitarist to play rhythm guitar. With the added depth of sound, maybe they can ditch a lot of this soft rock sound and actually write a few interesting riffs. It couldn't be Michael Romeo or anyone else who would greatly overshadow John Petrucci though. Wouldn't want to demoralize him even further. These changes would help pave the way to a more acceptable album.

As it stands now though, Scenes From a Memory is a boring album that should be avoided. This is an album that I used to really like, so you can't say that I didn't try to like this. But that just goes to show how pathetic I was in early high school before growing up and getting myself a booster shot of pride and self-esteem. Now, this album doesn't mean anything to me but bad music that is unfortunately considered to be good by a large number of people.

DREAM THEATER's fifth studio album is their best one up to that point in my opinion. I would only rate "Train Of Thought" higher when it comes to their studio recordings. Enter Jordan Rudess who had been playing with Portnoy and Pertucci in LIQUID TENSION EXPERIMENT. This is a long album at around 77 minutes and it does lose some steam for me near the end. In fact i could do without the final two tracks, but overall i still have to give this a solid 4 star rating. Cool to see they recorded some of this at Metal Works Studios in Toronto which is owned by TRIUMPH's drummer Gil Moore. The Toronto theme continues with Terry Brown helping out as well. This is a concept album with a fairly complicated story-line. "Home" is my favourite track as Portnoy and Pertucci really shine. Without question this is one of DREAM THEATER's best.
What can I say about a true masterpiece? If I were to list the top 10 Progressive Rock albums EVER...this would be in the top 5. I would want to put it at #1 myself, though in the end historical perspective would win over. However, this is perhaps the most important album in the history of Dream Theater, as it was the point in which they finally made some headway in their careers. This is a brilliant masterpiece of musical storytelling, with musical themes being reused and expounded on. On top of this, the complexity is amazing. I actually bought a book of Dream Theater scores, to see if it would help me figure out the time signatures in The Dance of Eternity. Even with the book in front of me, I just can't count it. And I LOVE this piece for that very reason! Absolutely, without a shadow of a doubt, 5 stars.
Dream Theater make something of a comeback on Metropolis Part II: Scenes From a Memory, which also sees Jordan Rudess join the band on keyboards. With three quarters of Liquid Tension Experiment onboard, you expect a certain level of technical flashiness, and personally I feel the band take this a little too far, often showing off for the sake of showing off rather than because the compositions demanded it or because it was necessary for their narrative. Also, much of the time the cheesy spirituality expressed through the music and lyrics simply turns me off - The Spirit Carries On, in particular, never fails to make me gag. However, if the daft story doesn't put you off and you like technically flashy prog metal, you may as well give this album a shot.
Well, whats there to say about this album? Way to much actually. It's a story, an experience, it's the music, and the words. It's a perfect combination of all of the things metioned. The album has without doubt the best production out of all the DT albums ever made.

The music itself on the album is like i said before amazing. It's a great combination of story, and incredible musical highlights, as can be heard with Regression and Overture 1928, which is a smooth transition between story and incredible musicianship. And so the story carries on, and after a few tracks we get to the "nightmare" MP once called it, called Dance Of Eternity, which is one of the best and most interesting pieces DT has ever written. After that we move into The Spirit Carries On, which proves DT can write and record awesome, simple ballads. The song is without the highlight on the album, after this we close the album, leaving a great feeling, and the feeling that you just need to listen to it again. 5 stars, without doubt.
Time Signature
The spirit carries on...

Genre: progressive 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.
Conor Fynes
'Scenes From A Memory' - Dream Theater (10/10)

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.

Scenes From a Memory is the Magnum Opus of Prog metal legends Dream Theater and I must admit I first heard this on the brilliant live Scenes from New York 3 CD epic. I had become quite used to the way it was played live so it was quite a surprise to hear the variations on this studio recording. The first thing I noticed was the incredible production and how clear the audio is in comparison to the live version. The transitions between songs works exceptionally well and the copncept is stronger with the spoken narrative. The way the CD ends with the 'wake up' call is chilling and is an excellent denouement to the overall story.

Highlights are the wonderful Learning to Live and the last 5 tracks that blend together in a masterful symphonic multisuite movement.

It is definitely one of the best the band has to offer along with Images and Words, Octavarium and the amazing classic 6 Degrees of inner Turbulence. One of the best prog metal CDs you will ever hear. Deep lyrics, complex time signatures and an encapsulating concept - this is pure bliss and a must if you love progressive metal
Phonebook Eater

"Scenes From a Memory" is one of the best prog metal albums of all time, that contains the perfect prog metal sound.

After almost ten listens, after so much effort for trying to appreciate this album, I now consider SFAM one of the greatest prog metal albums of all time. Certainly they were a couple of songs that I loved immediately, ( all the heavy ones). I just couldn’t get the ballads and the slower songs, such as “Spirit Carries On” and “Finally Free”. Now I realize how perfect this album really is.

In 1999, after a few albums behind them, Dream Theater release their ultimate masterpiece, a landmark album for progressive music and most definitely for metal music generally speaking. It’s a concept album, with a complex story of love, past lives, and murder. A little cheesy, if you ask me: in fact, what really made the album in my opinion was the music itself.

All the heavy songs have outstanding musicianship and technique, without even exceeding, excellent, catchy melodies, mind blowing time changes and odd time signatures: basically the perfect prog metal sound. The ballads (The Spirit Carries On, Through Her Eyes) have a touching, heart warming melody, nice vocals by James LaBrie, and some good experimentation here and there. I really don’t understand how I didn’t get them previously.

The structure of the album, since it is a rock opera, is unique for rock music: divided in two acts, which are divided as well in different scenes ( nine scenes in total, five in Act 1, four in Act 2), being in this way similar to a classical opera. There’s only one interlude, which means that the band at the time had many ideas and didn’t need too many fillers. Although, as it happens many times in concept albums, some melodies, ideas, riffs, are repeated pretty frequently, even though they’re always slightly different than the original. I never liked much this songwriting method typical of concept albums, but this album, as well as Phideaux’s “Doomsday Afternoon”, “Quadrophenia” and “Tommy”, makes an exception.

Everything starts with the ticking of a clock, followed shortly by the psychiatrist, one of the story’s characters, speaking. Soon after, an acoustic guitar plays along with James LaBrie a soft, warm melody that reminds Pink Floyd’s “Pigs On A Wing” a little. This Is “Regression”, the intro of the album. The Overture is fabulous. Who could have known that in only a few minutes something like this! Like all overtures, this one is instrumental, with many fast tempos, some slowdowns, some excellent virtuosity, and, of course, a nice, singable chorus.

“Strange Déjà vu” is connected with the Overture, so it seems like it’s one entire song (they form the second scene). The first three minutes are formed by the Overture’s main theme, although this time vocals are present. It’s incredible how a song can remain amazing even adding to it another instrument, or vocals. After the “Overture repetition”, there’s a new part, unbelievably catchy and cool. The song gets slower towards the end of the song, so it can connect to the following song, “Through My Words”, the calm, one minute interlude.

“Fatal Tragedy” has an original theme, a lot more different: an intriguing verse, played also with the piano, other than the guitars, a catchy, slow chorus, and a mind blowing second theme towards three quarters of the song: a complex keyboard driven piece, probably one of the highest moments of the album.

“Beyond This Life” is one of the long songs (eleven minutes). For almost the whole song they keep the same, catchy and heavy riff, even this time completely original. There’s also a nice, calm chorus, and a great bridge towards the end of the track. Another highlight of the album.

“Through Her Eyes” actually is the only 100% ballad of the album. It is always calm, relaxing, with a nice warm melody, very accessible and singable. Despite these things, though, this is the song that I prefer the least, since it also took me a long time to appreciate it like I do now.

I always loved the following track, “Home”, the longest of the album (almost thirteen minutes). Like in “Beyond This Life”, it maintains always the same riffs, with of course some variations, such as time changes. Interesting the sitar used every once in a while, as well as the sound of a woman having a sexual intercourse that comes out at half time.

“The Dance Of Eternity” is one of my favorite DT songs. Definitely their best instrumental song ever. So many time changes, so many mind blowing solos, it just always gives me a grip. All of the musicians are at their highest peak: Portnoy’s complex drumming, Myung’s lightning fast bass solo, Rudess’s amazing rag time piece, and, of course, Petrucci’s shredding action. A must listen to for whoever plays an instrument.

“One Last Time” is a semi ballad, very short, but with a brilliant chorus. Here we can find some repetitions from previous themes.

“The Spirit Carries On” was the song I hated for so much. Now I love it. Probably because it has a very simple, kind of cheesy melody, but after a while it grew on me. Now it even gives me goosebumps! Brilliant chorus, especially when the gospel choir comes in, bringing it to a whole new level.

“Finally Free” was also a downer for me. Just like the previous track, it grew up on me. It’s twelve minutes long, and, just like the other two long songs, it almost alays maintains the same riff and melody. Exception made when the chorus of “One Last Time” is repeated. After almost ten minutes the music stops, and we hear some noises, like a TV, or some footsteps, and, at the very end, the sound of a radio with no signal.

As a conclusion, I repeat that it took a long time for this to grow up on me, but now, it finally did. A masterpiece, an essential album for whoever loves prog rock and metal: your music collection will be incomplete without “Metropolis Pt.2: Scenes From a Memory”.
The T 666
The most important thing a reviewer has to keep in mind when doing his job is never to lose his objectivity.

Now, it's much easier to accomplish that when reviewing other fields and activities of human life than when talking about music, it's much more realistic to expect a 100% objective review of, let's say, the food in a restaurant or the performance of two sport teams in a game than to expect a music lover to leave his heart out of the picture and write an article based on pure cold facts. In the end, it's ART we're dealing with here, and, as much as many people try to make it fit molds and rules, art breaks all boundaries and it takes its definite shape not in the mind of the creator nor in textbooks, but in the eyes and ears of the beholder.

With that into account, I face the difficult task of saying a few words about an album that has a special meaning for me, and I'm in true danger of sounding too condescending or too "fanboy-ish" if I am to actually do it and review the record. I'll do it anyway, but, and this should come as an early disclaimer, I don't promise to write a review only using my brain; this time, it will be impossible to close the door to that other muscle, the one that keeps us alive.

This is the record that came after what many fans considered a low point in the band's career (at that time, of course; they hadn't heard "The Glass Prison" yet): FALLING INTO INFINITY. I happened to like that album a lot, but even I had to admit that that record, though very good, was the first by DT that contained a few BAD songs ("Take away my pain", "Just let me breathe".) Also, the famous virtuosism of the group was less evident than in previous efforts, and only in a couple of songs ("Lines in the Sand" mostly) they approached the level they've achieved in IMAGES AND WORDS. Another factor that drove fans away from that record: the keyboardist, Derek Sherinian, though a great musician, departed so far from the style of former marble-hand Kevin Moore that the band's sound was just too different from what they've accustomed their fans to. We can say that SFAM had a lot to accomplish in order to restore faith in the minds of DT fans (not me, as I said, I loved FII anyway.) So they went back to the studio with a new member aboard the ship: Jordan Rudess, who had played with Rod Morgenstein, The Dixie Dregs and Liquid Tension Experiment, among others.

And what were the results like? Well, it's time to actually say a few words about the album itself, isn't it? Let's make a list of what I consider the most relevant elements of the New York outfit's new (in 1999) record.

1. Rudess. - Yes, I put him first on the list because his inclusion was the most obvious change within the DT core. And he delivers in a spectacular way. Not only did he bring the usual virtuosism and speed to the table (two elements that a musician MUST HAVE if he's to be considered for a place in DT), but he also can carry a melody, can create beautiful themes out of nowhere, and can suddenly display his rag-time or jazz influences with the snap of a finger. Whereas Sherinian's style was more atmospheric and lethargic, more effect-driven, Rudess' is more to-the-point, but always making even the simplest of lines sound much more difficult and ornamented than it really is.

2. "Progressiveness".- Let's not start to discuss what the meaning of "progressive" is; I take for granted that DT's music is THE definition of "progressive- metal", that is, metal progressively-enhanced (whatever that meant). And as such, SFAM is the band's most "progressive" record this side of I&W, and in some aspects even more so. For, even though I&W's importance in prog history will never be reached by any other metal album, DT's or not, in SFAM the display of technique, song-writing skills and complexity is much more focused than in that preceding masterpiece, where a cynic listener could even accuse the band of "showing-off" (of course I'd disagree), while in this one that would be almost impossible, as every note, every solo, every harmonic line falls perfectly in place. Take one out, the music will suffer; add one, the music will suffer.

3. Melody. - I love melody. And of that I have PLENTY in SFAM. If there's one album where practically every song reaches my pulse-machine is this one; if there's one album when I see a total equilibrium of brains and blood is this one; if there's an album where I can truly say that I know it from heart, is this one. And no, it's not cheesiness or over-sweetened music; it's just that the band can carry a tune, and drive it home choosing any one of the two paths that music lays ahead of them. Actually, they choose another path, a third one, the one of BALANCE.

4. Musicianship.- Well, this point comes as no surprise. We're talking Dream Theater here, and every one of the band members just dazzles with his performance. Petrucci once again proves he's THE man when it comes to the guitar: lightning-fast solos, accurate scales, but also soaring, enchanting melodies; Rudess, well, I've already talked about him, but let's repeat it: he amazes us; Myung, the eternal underdog, the master behind DT's sound, without him the band wouldn't be what it is; Portnoy, the drum-octopus that at times over-plays a little bit, in this album his usual pyrotechnics actually DO work, and of course we know he can play fills and create rhythms and patterns that make him one of a kind; and last, but for me definitely not least, the vocal-fountain that constantly pours the most refreshing of thirst-quenching delicacies in our ears, the true carrier of DT's melodic-banner, the actual conveyor of emotions, either love or hate, hope or disdain, James LaBrie. This is probably his best album ever.

For further analysis, I guess it's time to do a song-by-song review of SFAM, and I have to say it again: I've rated each song as part of the whole and as a stand-alone track, and the conclusions I've reached are more than unusual for me.

Scene One: Regression (10/10) The tick tock, the psychologist induces us into what is to become THE dream created by The Dream. The mood is light, melancholic; suddenly, an acoustic guitar serves as background for LaBrie to introduce us to what is obvious is going to be a journey of love, sadness and pain. Perfect intro for the album.

Scene TWO: I.Overture 1928 (10/10) The mood changes. We hear echoes of Metropolis Pt. 1, and at last the main riff of the song unfolds. It's like the opening of a bright gate that leads towards a garden of an unknown nature; a gate made out of beautiful notes, of the melody that LaBrie used to sing at the lyrics "There must be a third and last dance, this one will last forever, Metropolis watches and thoughtfully smiles, she's taking you to your home" in I&W, some hope even before the actual battle has started. Then, of course, Petrucci plays with the feeling that only he can achieve. (I just don't understand people that accuse him or this band of "coldness"). Rudess appears to join Petrucci and steal some of his thunder. And that was it, a magnificent overture with elements that we will find again in the rest of the album.

II.Strange Deja Vu (10/10) The main theme is one of doubt, of worry. Of a man not sure of what he sees or feels. Of haze and fog that stops the adventurer from going any further. Portnoy is on target here. LaBrie announces that he's seen the woman, and then the pre-chorus, the Canadian in falsetto, love, nostalgia, and the chorus, sadness because of finding oneself far away from oneself. A metallic section speaks of anger, of a desire to break free, but the melody comes back again, this is a sentiment that it will be hard to get rid of. Defenseless against something. love? Is it cheesy? No, it is TRUE. For he who hasn't felt weak in the face of his desire deserves not to be listening to music. or any kind.

Scene Three: I.Through My Words (10/10) Only two instruments, the Piano and the Vocal Chords, the little steel strings being hit by hammers and the air going through someone's throat. That's all it takes to make music.

II.Fatal Tragedy (10/10) A burlesque, tragic-comic theme marks the defeat of whoever is telling us this story of love and hate. Then the chorus, an anthem to the need of love. It's in the wrong tempo, in a slow tempo that doesn't re-affirm that it is the energy that drives us through the dark tunnel of life. Calm down, it will be on the right tempo later. We have a repetition of the main themes and then the chorus strikes back, now in the right tempo, in the tempo that cries the virtues and drawbacks of love at the same time. Suddenly the mood gets darker: Rudess goes crazy with chords over very heavy riffing and drumming. Every note, every musical-ornament here is in the exact place on the exact time. Rudess just blows us away and sends the memory of Sherinian to a far, distant limbo. One of the best instrumental parts in all Dream Theater, reason enough to have some respect for the musicians even if the music is not to one's taste.

Scene Four: Beyond This Life (10/10) We're on heavy mode; a fast powerful section leads to the news: death; tragedy; mystery; what happened? This is the kind of riff that DT couldn't repeat in TRAIN OF THOUGHT, simple yet so precise. The cloud of suspense lies high above the listener, and suddenly we enter the land of dreams again, of gray, watery, foggy dreams, that is, when a distorted LaBrie explains something over just effects. An acoustic guitar playing the main riff announce us it's time for some change. Or not? The atmosphere grows more violent, more blood-stained, the black and white letters of a newspaper story, over yellow, faded paper. The chorus comes again, this time lasts twice as much, and abruptly LaBrie takes us over a weird garden of flowers in the middle of all this murder. It doesn't last much. Another outstanding instrumental part will finally explode in the final chorus, this time the second melody played with as much emphasis as the first one. The song ends. It's such a relief when near the end of the track we don't hear the haunting theme again, but the voice of.a woman.

Scene Five: Through Her Eyes (10/10) Yes, this is cold, emotion-less music of course. And the world is a perfect place, too. A soaring guitar with the beautiful voice of a women introduce us to some simple piano chords and guitar. And we forget all of that when James LaBrie SINGS, not yells. One can feel every emotion going through his mind, through Nicholas' mind and, more importantly, HEART. One can hear his breath, the problems he has to tells us of his tragedy without letting his voice break into a endless cry and tears. This touches me so hard, I've heard countless tracks that haven't reached the place this one has inside of me. When I first heard the album, I thought the album could only go downhill from this point on. But no. the first real pause between tracks is upon us. What would the second half bring us?

Scene Six: Home (10/10) Another ambiguous theme announced by the acoustic guitar, the electric ones join to declaim the kind of arabesque, oriental-flavored main theme of this, one of the tracks of all tracks. The music grows restless, we feel something coming, suspense, and then the whole main riff announced with utmost violence. The second theme is the arabesque one. The main riff of the song reminds us of the first riff in Metropolis Pt. 1. Violence, despair, hopelessness, fate, fate that haunts us. Another theme tells us we have to expect the arrival of yet a third one, we can't take it no more, we are going to explode. Petrucci climbs to the heavens and he and Portnoy lead us into one of the choruses of all choruses, one of the moments that made me a progressive rock/metal fan, after years of only listening to another kind of music. After the chorus, the atmosphere turns even less welcoming, and all happens again, the first theme, the pre-chorus, Portnoy playing a weird pattern in his ride-cymbal and china cymbal over double-bass. And, thank DT, again Petrucci rises with ethereal scales to all the glory of the chorus. A brief recollection of the "Metropolis watches and thoughtfully smiles" hits us, this time the word "Victoria" instead of the original song' name. The middle instrumental section is one of pipe-scent, sand, the desert, a snake coming from a pot after the notes that a flute sends into its mind, a women dressed in green, red, yellow, silk. Rudess stops all this opium-dream with some scales that try to take us back to the harsh reality. But no, it's like the rest of the band insists that they have to stay in the oriental region; now it's Petrucci the one that tries; he gets closer but fails; but in the end, all of them join and for one last time ascend the stair that leads to our HOME. A musical HOME. If there was a way to give a song 11, 12, or 13 over ten, this would be the one. PERFECT.

Scene Seven: I.The Dance of Eternity (10/10) This instrumental track is like an altered version of the original Metropolis, with many sections reminding us of the original, the order and structure of the sections pretty much the same as in the original uber-classic. There's even a moment for Myung to play alone (a few seconds) much in the vein of Metropolis famous "Let's give John M. a chance to shine" moment. Rudess has his moment to show us he could be playing on a bar down in New Orleans were DT to fire him for any reason. An authentic "showing-off" piece, perfect where it is, and a necessary moment of relax in the midst of all these heart-wrenching emotions. Yes, this track may be the only one with a little bit of "coldness" to it, but it's in the perfect place at the perfect time. Magnificent. The song starts down a tension path, and what an explosion we have.

II.One Last Time (10/10) Not a pyrotechnics explosion, but an implosion into a ultra- beautiful melody that rudess plays in piano and that the Master carries with more than skill with his voice. The chorus, what can we say LOVE? Give me one last time, don't let this opportunity be the last, don't fade away without seeing the truth behind all these masks. The theme of "Strange Deja-Vu" comes again, it's so obvious we're reaching the end of this tragic story. The music let us know that. It's so well crafted, we can sense the end is coming.

Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On (10/10) Resignation and nostalgia. Resignation leads to acceptance of reality. Acceptance of reality leads to the discovery that, after all, it's just that, reality, nothing we can't face. Hope. Just that. I would know LaBrie is telling me that even if the lyrics were just "blah-blah-blah". A certain naïve, foolish happiness lies behind this resignation. The music is ending. We can feel that. We can also feel that the tragedy is coming to an end, we can get ready to die. We can accept it. Now all that's left is to know what kind of music will play over our body will it ascends. And The Dream doesn't failed me.

Scene Nine: Finally Free (10/10). The psychologist want us to open our eyes. Yes, it's not a fictional character eyes but our won eyes, so good is the music that makes us LIVE and BREATHE this rather simple story. But when all was resignation, low, very low strings announce the final theme. Their sound is interrupted by some arpeggios by the masterful hand of Rudess, quickly joined by the Vocal Chords. And then, finally, free. The theme of all themes. Hope, Love, Happiness, Trust, Devotion all in one theme. The drums and guitars and bass join the music and what's ahead of us is just the best closing ever to any album. Death is not the end, just a beginning. Never had I believed it so much than after this. A brief moment of chaos and terror, violence, murder, it seems it's going to ruin our dream. But the melody of "One Last Time" comes back to utterly kill the monstrous feelings. Petrucci sings, yes, sings with his guitar. The mood is turning bright again. It was just a moment of pain, now we're where we want again. Finally free. Because a life has been found. Because Love has been understood. Because music has been created. The coda of the song closes the masterpiece in the best fashion ever. The haunting theme that once was declared by the low strings plays till exhaustion, till the band can't play no more. And it ends.

Of course I have to say that many people could find this review a little bit too full of hyperboles. But it's how I understand music. There's music I can dissect, there's music I can talk about without ever giving in to my emotions. That's 99% of what I like in all metal. The other 1% is THIS disc. No wonder it is my favorite. I think I've given reasons and arguments to my feelings. This review was not a matter of judgment but of love.

The lyrics? Once I though the story was absurd and rather soap-opera-ish. Maybe so. But it deals with the most important emotions. And I'm glad the New York greats chose such a theme for the album. Political analysis? Deep introspection into the human mind? Good things to talk about. But once in a while I want my heart to be seduced. And this once, it was overwhelmed.

The only album ever that I immediately liked since the first time I heard it.

For me, the top prog-metal masterpiece of all time. One of the best albums in all rock, period.

Members reviews

Guitar wankery at its worst. First off,the guitar player, Mr. Petrucci is a very skilled player but he just makes it seem like a joke on this album. I wish he had the balls to really dig deep to make something truly innovative and worthwhile. Second, The song writing is terrible. The storyline is not engaging at all as it is too repetitive(we get it, someone died and its a tragedy, geesh how many times do you have to repeat that).I happen to think that it is one of the most overrated albums that there is Metal and Prog.The music on here is obviously played by very capable and competent musicians but they turn this into a pure cheesefest. What in the world is Ruddess doing on Beyond This Life(wtf???).That song alone really makes me really not like this album.I couldn't really finish it all without wanting to stop it already. Guitar and instrument wankery at its worst
Coming back to this album in order to write a review, I must say I ended up enjoying it much more than I remember. Of course, it's full of great prog metal songs, with "Overture 1928 / Strange Deja Vu" and "Fatal Tragedy" being excellent songs, and "Home" and "Finally Free" being among the best songs the band has to offer (the later offering a big climax ending to the album, full of emotional shifts and all). There is also "Beyond this Life", wich has been the song that has taken me longer to apreciate and the one I have been enjoying more this time around (though I still think it's a step lower than the previous songs). However, "The Dance of Eternity" is one song I still can't get into, just a bit too messy and full of fast and technical playing just for the sake of it. On the other hand, what for me dragged down the album mostly were the ballads, which I must admit still are the lower point on the album, but they are better than I remember... well, at least they are not annoying as other DT ballads, still nothing particularly special (except for "One Last Time", which I really do enjoy a lot, with the "Metropolis" musical theme and all). A really enjoyable album, specially if listened to as a whole piece of music instead of isolated songs.
Dream Theater's label destroyed their plans and made out of a promising record a mostly cheesy and commercial trash called "Falling Into Infinity". Now, with a new label and a new record the band put a lot of ideas they had for the last record and had to dismiss into this album. Instead of just completing and rerecording their brilliant second part of Metropolis, they decided to create a whole record around this topic and simply called the album "Metropolis part II: Scenes from a memory".

I think that the whole album doesn't entirely have the magic of the first part of "Metropolis". I must also admit that I really enjoyed the promising demo version of "Metropolis 2" and would have prefered this one to a whole album about the topic. There are a few weaker tracks on this record, especially the ballads and more quiet songs like "Through Her Eyes" in the beginning of the album. But this album is still in my ranking of the five best Dream Theater records and even in my top three albums of the band.

Now, let me explain you why. First of all, I think that the whole concept is interesting, well elaborated and sounds somewhat like a modern progressive conceptual album in the key of a "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche. The lyrics and the story are really addicting and easily create images or ideas in my head. Second, this album is quite diversified and contains somehow the quintessence of what Dream Theater is able to achieve. Soft ballads with dreamy keyboard sounds and soft and smooth vocals ("Fatal Tragedy"), epic progressive tunes with many surprising changes like spoken word passages, epic solos or jazz interludes ("Finally Free") and fast and yet very well developed rockers ("Beyond This Life") can be found on this record but because of the cinematic story line, all those songs are well and logically connected and create something consistent. That's why this album has a flow that the last two records before this one didn't have. Third, I really admired the first part of "Metropolis" which is probably my favourite Dream Theater song of all times and I was particulary happy to hear some elements of that classic in songs such as the atmospheric instrumental introduction "Overture 1928", the very progressive instrumental "The Dance Of Eternity" that even has some jazz influences or the amazing "Home" that is the best song Mike Portnoy has ever written for the band and that surprises with a strong riff and some exotic Asian folklore influences. This track is one of my favourite Dream Theater tracks of all time along with "Metropolis Part I" and "A Nightmare To Remember". This epic and inspiring masterpiece "Home" is an important turning point on the record because there are only amazingly strong songs after this one in the second act while there were a couple of a little bit overlong and uninspired tracks in the first act. The track "Home" can be described as the core or the heart of this record as the band put all its energy and creativity into this song that is able to be interesting and diversified over ten minutes long.

If Dream Theater ever had a weak point, than it would be the singer James LaBrie that is delivering "only" a good job on this record while the musicians create magic moments and show all of their talent throughout the whole record. That's maybe why especially the instrumental tracks are amazing and memorable on this record while the quiet ballads that focus more on James LaBrie only seem like some rather boring breaks between brilliant instrumental sections to me to elaborate the story and background of this opus magnum. The story plays a very important role on this record and it is really a well elaborated, addicting and intellectual story that the band worked out but all of this is nothing in comparison to the brilliantly shining musical performances on the record. That's why this record is as well brilliant for more intellectual listeners that attentively read the booklet as well as for the typical fans of progressive music that just close their eyes and listen to minute long guitar solos, vibrating bass lines, tribal drum loops or exotic and folkish keyboard sounds. This album is clearly nothing for a metalhead that awaits some straight, heavy and easily addicting tracks like the band created later on the heavier and darker "Train Of Thoughts".

It is a very entertaining and stunning experience to listen to this album which I consider as a modern progressive metal masterpiece. Anyone that liked the first part of "Metropolis" will admire and must have this record. The first part was like a brilliant preview and this new album is now like the complete movie and this is a blockbuster of modern progressive metal. It begins rather slow paced after a bombastic introduction with some soft fillers before the tension rises and leads us towards a stunning finish. That's why I can really recommand this album to anyone that likes conceptual albums or progressive rock or metal music but not blindly to the masses.
When you suck the soul out of music and inject pure liquid cheese this is what you get. I gave this band and this album a chance, against every fibre of my being I had to battle to force myself to listen objectively and form an unbiased opinion.

I couldn't do it, I couldn't make it through they are my musical kryptonite. In my holy church of music they are satan himself rampaging, killing, raping - they are the one band above all others I love to hate.

Where to begin, James LaBrie's vocals sounds like a piece of wilted lettuce. The keyboards sound like early 90's MIDI sounds straight out of an old PC game (not in the good way either). I mean these guys have sold millions of albums so they MUST have enough money to afford some decent synths and keyboards but instead they CHOOSE to use awful tacky ones. And then there is the loathsome John Petrucci who when he's not doing some awful thug chug riffing is doing some ultra-lame lightspeed sweep picking solo. On the plus side the other guys aren't so offensive. Mike Portnoy is alright I guess, just a boring Neil Peart wannabe and then there's that bassist guy who doesn't do a lot.

The instrumental track 'dances of eternity' is a great example of why I think this band are awful. Sure technical and progressive can be great but this is just forced and completely misguided. I mean pianee breakdowns followed by a shred solo, followed by a bass solo followed by 2 dozen riffs that don't flow into each other and make no sense? - seriously, did they teach you that at Berklee? All it needed was LaBrie to come in with some girly man vocals and it would probably be my most hated track of all time.

I am entirely unapologetic about hating this band and this release. Every good music fan needs one band they can truly loathe and sit back and laugh at every now and again.

If you don't love cheesy music then avoid this at all costs.
Unprecedented Excellence

Arguably my favorite album of all time, Dream Theater presents their only concept album, SFAM, and it is truly amazing. Regression kicks off the album the way an epic concept album should start. Overture 1928 can pretty much sum up the entire album in itself with a great feel to it, having insane solos and really flows well from Regression into Strange Deja-Vu, another awesome song. Through My Words, Fatal Tragedy, and Beyond This Life also seem to just stream right through, revealing more of the story with a very dark feel. Through Her Eyes is really emotional and the music in it is simply amazing. Home starts off rather dark and becomes quite heavy. It has an amazing solo and the chorus parts are extraordinary. The Dance of Eternity may very well be my favorite instrumental of all time, with so many time changes and wonderful solos, this song rocks. One Last Time and The Spirit Carries on are truly beautiful, with such a breathtakingly beautiful atmosphere to it, the songs have so much heart. If Regression was the best way to start off this concept album, then Finally Free is even a better way to end it. The story comes full circle in this song, which ranges from really emotional and dark to hopeful and optimistic for the future. There is no other way to describe this album other then saying that it rocks as much as something could rock, and then some. The story is amazing, the music is unexplainably skilled, and the vocals fit in perfectly with all the different tones of the CD. Highly recommended to anyone who has any taste in music.

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