Dream Theater
Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory



by tiesthatbind USER (44 Reviews)
May 24th, 2010 | 22 replies

Release Date: 1999 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dream Theater combine excellent storytelling and thrilling musicianship and make their masterpiece.

The Journey Through Dream Theater, Part 6

After Falling Into Infinity, an attempt at reaching the mainstream that was both a commercial and critical failure, Dream Theater went in a completely different direction with their next album. Scenes From A Memory is their most acclaimed work. Whether or not it is better than Images and Words is up for debate, but one thing is certain: It is by far the band’s most ambitious work, and a proud achievement that would set the bar for quality in the world of progressive metal.

The album crafts a story of a young man named Nicholas who, through the help of a hypnotist, takes a journey through his past life. It’s so well-crafted as a concept album that it’s hard not to be intrigued by Nicholas’ journey, following along as he goes through times of confusion, discovery, suspense, and sadness. James LaBrie must be applauded for his work here. His vocals have thankfully recovered since his dismal performance in Falling Into Infinity, in fact this is arguably his strongest performance to date. He does more than just sing the songs here, he brings a voice to each character and guides the story through each track with his vocals.

But of course, this being Dream Theater, the album thrives on more than just its masterful storytelling. The instrumental side of the album is equally spectacular. Mike Portnoy’s drumming is consistently excellent. John Petrucci gives a fantastic performance that balances off his shred-level chops with more emotional guitar-playing. This album was keyboardist Jordan Rudess’ debut with the band. While Dream Theater’s recent work has been criticized for excessive instrumental showboating by not just Petrucci but Rudess, here the two men find a balance between the numerous sections of instrumental flashiness and the more simple story-driven sections.

The album starts off with mostly story-driven sections; it’s Fatal Tragedy where the band truly unleashes their skills for the first time. After gradually getting heavier over the course of its first few minutes, the first signature Dream Theater instrumental section kicks in to close it out, and from there the album progresses into some of the heaviest material Dream Theater had released at this point. Beyond This Life delivers an onslaught of heavy riffs that eventually leads to a 4-minute jam session, with Rudess and Petrucci trading off various solos and riffs. Home is even better; from the mystical keyboard intro to the Egyptian-influenced metal riffs to the climactic solo section, the song is captivating throughout its entire 13-minute duration. LaBrie’s vocals are spot on as well. The excitement doesn’t stop there, as the album leads into the instrumental piece The Dance of Eternity, which truly demonstrates the full range of the band’s technical abilities. It rampages through about 20 different time signatures, incorporating various instrumental solos throughout, even a ragtime break in the middle. Myung gets one of only three bass solos throughout Dream Theater’s entire catalogue, and he wastes no time in tearing away at his instrument during his 15 seconds in the spotlight.

As a contrast to the heavier material, the ballads appear during the somber and reflective periods of the story, and are delivered with great emotional power. Through Her Eyes is an effective piano-driven piece that falls in between all the heavy rockers in the middle section. The female vocals in the beginning are a very nice touch. It’s The Spirit Carries On that steals the show, however. LaBrie delivers a great performance in this emotional ballad, but it’s Petrucci’s performance that sends it over the top. His soulful minute-and-a-half solo is the best moment on the album, no small feat on an album already filled with sensational instrumental displays.

Scenes From A Memory consistently succeeds in both thrilling and intriguing the listener, with each track flowing into the next and marvelously telling the story of Nicholas’ adventure through his past life. Sure, the instrumental sections are over the top at times, but that doesn’t take away from the experience, it heightens it. The songs succeed in both driving the story along and just being incredibly entertaining. The band takes plenty of opportunities to display their respective talents but it never becomes overbearing, and they know when to scale it back, as seen on cuts like The Spirit Carries On. Truly going beyond what anyone expected of them, Dream Theater created a classic that they would never match in the following decade.

Top Tracks: Beyond This Life, Home, The Dance of Eternity, The Spirit Carries On

Dream Theater is:

• John Myung – Bass guitar
• John Petrucci – Lead guitar
• Mike Portnoy – Drums, Percussion
• Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
• James LaBrie – Vocals

To Be Continued…

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Comments:Add a Comment 
May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 4.5

Great album, but I still think Images and Words is their Magnum Opus. The Spirit Carries On is phenominal. I also like Through Her Eyes, even if it is ridiculously cheesy.

May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

I know some you were waiting for this, hopefully my review did the album justice.

I am now half-way through the discog.

May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

Yeah, I love The Spirit Carries On, I only realized how brilliant it was the last few times I listened to the album.

May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 2.0

ugh i hate this band. Review's solid, pos.

May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 4.2 | Sound Off

woo the review i've been waiting for!

Ok let's see...first off, great review. In fact I might go as far as to say it is my favorite of all of your reviews, so for that have a MEGAPOS'.

Secondly, this is one of my favorite albums of all time, review really does it justice.

The first 3 tracks are in my top 5 tracks from the album, I don't know why they just float my boat. "Strange Deja Vu" has always been my favorite song from this album.

I agree that "The Spirit Carries On" is the best ballad here, although I really love "Through Her Eyes" too. I also agree that this is LaBrie's best vocal performance.

Keep up the great work with the discog, although sadly nothing after this ever came close to being as good, IMO.

May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0


May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

There's definitely some overboard passages here, but I am discovering more about the storyline as well...SFaM is one of the most challenging albums in progressive metal.

One instrumental passage that really demonstrates DT's skill is Beyond This Life. The murder of Victoria has consequences that reach far beyond what anyone can possibly imagine...hence, the band INTENTIONALLY loses control of the song's direction.

Nobody knows how much one small action can send history out of control...except perhaps the White House during the Cuban Missile Crisis...

May 24th 2010


lol. reading quite deeply into this bro

May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Excellent review. I'm still getting into this really but I can see it becoming at least a 4.5 for me.

May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

Thanks. And sweet, a MEGAPOS'.

Yeah, nothing after this is nearly as good, but I still like most of the 00's stuff.

May 24th 2010


I think the lameness that is dream theater is so clearly indicated through their song titles.


May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Ytse Jam has a bass solo too...

But anyway, great review beside that little mistake, i pos'd

May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

^Thanks, you're right, I forgot about that. Fixed.

May 24th 2010


Album Rating: 3.0

scenes from a memory is the best work of them , but this band is extrmely overreted...

May 24th 2010


Great review ties. I love reading these.

May 25th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

You didn't like Home? Dang, that's my favorite here. The Middle Eastern guitar is awesome.

Contributing Reviewer
May 25th 2010


Great review as with all your DT reviews so far, pos'd.

This is probably my favourite album of all time!

Digging: Open Mike Eagle - Brick Body Kids Still Daydream

May 25th 2010


Album Rating: 5.0

strang dejavu is my favorite off this album. great review, woulda been cool if you would of done more of a concept review for this but regardless, its a great review.

May 25th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

Just about the best DT album; just edges Images and Words IMO. Everything on here except The Dance Of Eternity ranges from excellent to amazing.

May 25th 2010


Album Rating: 4.0

man, I loved this CD when I was 13.

not so much now.

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