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Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory

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Audio CD, October 26, 1999
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Product Description

Scenes From A Memory is Dream Theater's first studio album in two years and the epic masterpiece fans have been waiting for. This album features a special, tantalizing focus that die-hard fans have been demanding for years. Scenes From A Memory shows the band to be in top form, wrapping their superb musicianship around a set of smart, accessible, solidly crafted rock.

Progressive rock has long been the most devalued currency in popular music, perhaps due to the culture's dumbing down, too many conceptually knotted triple-albums, or merely a Greek chorus of critics parroting the emperor from Amadeus: "Too many notes!" Maybe that's what makes Dream Theater's Scenes such an audacious rush (no pun intended). Here we have a two-act murder mystery examined from a hypnotic dream state and parlayed by "The Orchestra," as the band refers to itself here. Andrew Lloyd Webber hasn't written anything as focused--or musically audacious--in decades. And if the band attacks feverish shift meters and plows through enough structural modes and, yes, notes, to make the aforementioned emperor's head spin, they manage to keep things concise, focused, and largely effective. The addition of keyboardist Jordan Rudess has freshened the band's tack, infused now with the odd, playful ragtime piano quote and sitar sample. Vocalist James Labrie, meanwhile, amply proves that Queensryche's Geoff Tate isn't the only drama queen in prog metal. --Jerry McCulley
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (October 26, 1999)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Elektra
  • ASIN: B000021XS0
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (714 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,784 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

143 of 146 people found the following review helpful By Lord Chimp on January 29, 2001
Format: Audio CD
In a time when most bands have stopped trying, Dream Theater continues to challenge themselves. Simply put, no band has Dream Theater's bombastic musical least, no band with signed with a major record company. After nearly breaking up following the stressful recording of Falling Into Infinity, the band managed to convince their label to let them produce the record they wanted all along. As a result, the band has made their finest work.
Extrapolating the saga of Images And Words' "Metropolis Pt.1" is the stunning concept album Scenes From A Memory, an epic suite divided into twelve parts. The original concept was delightfully obscure and nebulous...almost mythical. The band has taken the concept and fleshed out the core ideas, producing a slightly generic two-act murder mystery. Lyrically, the album sometimes comes across flat. Judging from earlier albums, we know Dream Theater can shine lyrically, but given the story approach, their diction is straightforward, generally lacking the profundity of their earlier lyrical work. In terms of writing, this is no Operation: Mindcrime. Nonetheless, the tale is reasonably compelling, with a striking revelatory moment when the listener unravels the mystery of the plot. Despite the prosaic style of writing, between the plot, story, and music, it's barely a fault.
Musically, the band seems to be going all out. The album begins with a tepid acoustic number "Regression" but then floors the listener with the stunning instrumental "Overture 1928." From there, the album's 77 minutes of music covers plenty of ground, from heartfelt piano ballads to eastern chord progressions, from furious assaults of shredding to orchestral sections and a gospel choir.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful By LG on December 31, 1999
Format: Audio CD
I assume that if you are not already familiar with Dream Theater's music you wouldn't be reading this. What I can say quickly about this album is that it was the album that I always knew Dream Theater could make.
When I started listening to DT I bought "Images and Words" and immediately I was impressed with how hard it was while still being melodic. My favorite band before that was Iron Maiden and after hearing the first track of Images ("Pull me Under") I knew that after 5+ years they would be toppled. I am a guitar player who has listened to all of the shred bands, metal, etc... and I immediately fell in love with DT.
The "Awake" album is very very good, the older live album from Europe is good, "A Change of Seasons" is awesome, but I disliked "Falling into Infinity".
Scenes hits back with a ruthless vengence. The first time I listened to it I was driving to work and it made me cry for about 5 minutes. Whenever I play it on my stereo at home it makes me cry about 3-4 times per spin. It really is that good. Everything good about their previous stuff has been incorporated. On the "Awake" album the Erotomania song is similar to the overture on Scenes in that it introduces many of the main themes of the album (or song trio in the case of "Awake").
John Petrucci is awesome on the guitar. Besides being a technical wizard on the guitar his musical tastes are very similar to mine in that he likes all types of rock all the way up to thrash metal riffing like Pantera (listen to Lie from Awake). The song "Fatal Tragedy" on Scenes is incredible because it is so hard but at the same time still melodic.
The Steve Morse school of 1 note on hellaciously distorted electric guitar = 1 power chord is adhered to in many places, opening up a very different style of hard music because the typical power chord is abandoned.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Lord Chimp on June 9, 2001
Format: Audio CD
There are a lot of great progressive metal bands around these days. There's the symphonic and stylish Symphony X, the increasingly evolving Fates Warning, the original and daring Pain of Salvation, the technical powerhouses Power of Omens, and many others.
But among them all, Dream Theater remains the best. To me, no one else defines progressive metal like these five brilliant musicians. They strike an incredible balance of power, technique, emotion, and melody with a unified vision possible only with the remarkable degree of chemistry these guys share. And, in many ways, Scenes From A Memory is their best work.
Here's the skinny: It's a 78 minute concept album whose story stems from the original "Metropolis" mystique from their breakthrough album Images And Words. This is the album Dream Theater wanted to make all along, with no pressure from their label, and no regard for commercial success. It's a feast for the music lovers, with a good enough ear for composition and melody that the technique never overshadows the song. Dream Theater's critics love to attack them for going overboard with solos and instrumental sections, but it's never bothered me simply because they play with a lot of heart. John Petrucci is an outstanding guitar player who never restrains his technical ability, but most importantly he plays with a tremendous amount of soul. The encouraging heroics of his solo on "The Spirit Carries On" encapsulate this idea better than anything. It's pure beauty in music.
DT may not be able to repeat the greatness of SFAM, but if they continue to make the music they love, there will never be another good-but-flawed Falling Into Infinity. They will continue to take great strides beyond their peers and continue crunching the mold to their image while making some of the best music out there.
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Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory
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