Review Summary: A good effort, but not the best that Dream Theater can do.The Journey Through Dream Theater, Part 7
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
has the unfortunate position of falling between two of Dream Theater's more well-known works: Scenes From A Memory
and Train of Thought
. It’s not as impressive or ambitious as the former, and it’s not as heavy as the latter. Dream Theater cuts down on wankery but also loses some of what made Scenes From A Memory
so appealing, being a good but much less interesting album than the masterpiece that precedes it.
The Glass Prison
is a fantastic opener. It was the first Dream Theater song that was heavy from start to finish, and the band came ready to deliver. After the building keyboard intro, the song never lets up, with Petrucci laying down riff after riff and Portnoy making effective use of his double-bass pedal. Rudess has one of his best performances as well, complimenting the heavy parts with subtle but effective keyboard bits. He and Petrucci trade off solos in a spectacular bridge section. It’s one of the band’s best songs, and quite possibly their best album opener as well.
Unfortunately the rest of the first half suffers from inconsistency, never matching the power of its incredible opener. Blind Faith
could have easily been cut by several minutes and been a better track, as LaBrie’s vocals are pretty strong here. It’s good but it drags; it’s too instrumentally bland to merit a 10 minute song, even with Rudess’ sweeping piano solo halfway through. Misunderstood
is actually a pretty captivating ballad for its first 6 minutes, with a slightly eerie feel to it. Then it ends with a pointless 3-minute instrumental interlude with a truly random effects-heavy guitar solo that kills the mood of the song. The main part of The Great Debate
is solid, a rocker about the stem cell research controversy that manages to lay out the issue with great lyricism and without being overly preachy, but the song overuses the spoken word samples in the intro and outro to the point of being filler, taking up an unnecessary four minutes of the song’s running time. LaBrie’s vocals are also shaky in parts of this song as well. The aforementioned tracks share the same trait; they’re good songs that should have been made shorter by trimming the fat. Closer Disappear
is just terrible, dragging on more than anything else in the first half despite being the shortest song. It’s a dull ballad that attempts to be another Space-Dye Vest
, blatantly plagiarizing the keyboard line that made that track so effective.
The second half of the album consists entirely of the title track. There are parts on it that are remarkable. The band hits the mark with the short but excellent War Inside My Head
, the only track on the album that actually should have been longer
. LaBrie’s vocals are excellent in this rocker about post-traumatic stress disorder. Another part that really stands out is Solitary Shell
. It’s the best ballad on the album, with LaBrie’s best performance. It’s simple but effective, and the Spanish-influenced guitar solo at the end is great. Unfortunately there are also parts of the title track that are less effective. The first part of About To Crash
is unmemorable and doesn’t go anywhere at all. Goodnight Kiss
is an almost unbearably cheesy ballad, although Petrucci’s guitar solo at the end is one of his best. The worst aspect of the title track is that the final section is anticlimactic, ending with a piano chord held for two minutes. Still, despite some flaws it’s well executed. Its biggest asset is that the transitions into each track are effective, so that it runs together well as a 42-minute song.
is a good effort, certainly not a waste of time to hear, but ultimately one of the weaker albums in Dream Theater’s discography. Aside from some moments of brilliance like The Glass Prison
, the inconsistencies in the tracks make what could have been an excellent album into simply a good album. There are few bad tracks, the title track is well-constructed, and the album is a rewarding listen overall, but it falls far short of being a true Dream Theater classic.
Top Tracks: The Glass Prison, War Inside My Head, Solitary Shell
Dream Theater is:
• John Myung – Bass guitar
• John Petrucci – Lead guitar
• Mike Portnoy – Drums, Percussion
• Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
• James LaBrie – Vocals
To Be Continued…