Dream Theater - Metropolis Pt II: Scenes From A Memory
Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.
Progressive Metal
12 songs (1:17:12)
Release year: 1999
Dream Theater, Elektra
Reviewed by Goat

Given the circumstances that led to this album, it’s a triumph for Dream Theater in more than a few ways. Its predecessor, the much-maligned Falling Into Infinity, was an album more or less forced upon the band by their label, featuring the start of a musical move that could have seen them go the way of many of the 70s Prog giants and end up playing some kind of complicated disco music. Yet thanks mostly to drummer extraordinaire Mike Portnoy quitting and refusing to return unless the band were given control of their own music again, we instead have Metropolis Pt II: Scenes From A Memory, and whilst I love Falling Into Infinity for what it is, it’s impossible to deny that this is the better album by far.

A complex concept album, Metropolis Pt II is divided not into songs but ‘scenes’ from the story, which is far too complicated to go into in detail here, but basically features the quest for truth of a man discovering that an old murder may have relevance to him... the best way to listen to the album is with the help of the booklet, although even then much is left to the listener to figure out. What I love best about this album isn’t the theatrical story, however, but how perfectly judged it is, the build-ups, the descent into gleeful Prog madness, the emotional kicks and blows. From the moment that acoustic intro Scene One: Regression flows into the technical instrumental Scene Two: Overture 1928, you’ll be hooked, and Scene Three: Strange Deja Vu will impress even more, with LaBrie’s vocals backed by the band building up in typically catchy fashion to what can only be described as Prog Metal heaven, as much Prog as Metal, and vice-versa.

Many complain that this album goes too over the top, with too much Prog, too much showing-off; but once you’ve listened to it several times you’ll remember the basic structure of the songs and look forward to the outstanding musical performances. The whole band is, of course, simply fantastic, especially Mike ‘best drummer in the world after Neil Peart’ Portnoy and new keyboardist Jordan Rudess, and whilst guitarist John Petrucci’s contribution may seem rather ‘stock’ at first, by the time you’ve heard a couple of his amazing solos you’ll be enthralled, especially the part at the end of Scene Three: II: Fatal Tragedy where he and Rudess are soloing together. I honestly had no idea of James LaBrie’s larynx injury until I read about it, as whenever I have heard him from the time he sounds as stellar as ever, and here he’s on fine form.

The band’s songwriting skills are on overdrive; I find the songs here just as catchy and interesting as what is generally held up as their peak moment, Pull Me Under. Sections such as the end of Scene Four: Beyond This Life, leading into the gentle and Pink Floydian Scene Five: Through Her Eyes, are instantly gripping and the emotional peaks and troughs are one hell of a ride. The Eastern melodies and Toolish guitar riff of the start of Scene Six: Home are as gripping as the percussion towards the end, even with the dreadful sex noises. Scene Seven: I: The Dance Of Eternity is basically a showcase for Rudess, but an excellent one that moves between an ominous atmosphere and a more playful one, the latter highlighted in a sudden and enjoyable ragtime piano solo. I’ve read that the track contains over one hundred and twenty time signature changes. The highlight of the album for me is Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On, which is overly-sentimental and cheesy but is an amazing track, with perhaps Petrucci’s best solo and a final verse from LaBrie that pulls out all the stops.

Album finale Scene Nine: Finally Free brings the album to a close in style with a shift in focus in the lyrics, telling the tragic story directly and shockingly, and if you’re anything like me once you’ve heard the album once you have to hear it again. This might not be the greatest album that Dream Theater have produced, but it’s certainly one of the best Progressive Metal albums out there, and is a necessary part of any Metalhead’s collection.

Killing Songs :
All
Goat quoted CLASSIC
Other albums by Dream Theater that we have reviewed:
Dream Theater - Dream Theater reviewed by Rob and quoted 79 / 100
Dream Theater - Live At Budokan reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events reviewed by Crash and quoted 73 / 100
Dream Theater - A Change Of Seasons reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
Dream Theater - Black Clouds and Silver Linings reviewed by Thomas and quoted 82 / 100
To see all 17 reviews click here
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