DREAM THEATER — Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory (review)

DREAM THEATER — Metropolis, Part 2: Scenes From a Memory album cover Album · 1999 · Progressive Metal Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
kluseba
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.
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