2002 - Elektra
genre: progressive rock
, heavy metal
, hard rock
A double album from Dream Theater. There are a total of six songs: five on the first CD and one 42-minute epic, the title track, on the second. If the two disks were available separately, I would highly recommend the first to any hard rock listener, and the second disk only to Dream Theater fans. It's all very good, of course, but the second disk is just so eclectic that I couldn't imagine it appealing to a very large crowd.
I guess I'm not being very charitable to the average music listener. It seems as if DT is trying to achieve with Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (the title track) what Pink Floyd did with Dark Side of the Moon. Like I said, very good music, but nothing ground-breaking.
The first disk is something of a quandary as well. It contains some unbelievably good music. Enough, in fact, to make me forgive the great glaring ugliness of one of it's tracks. The skip button still works on my CD player. It, too, is nothing ground-breaking; the music, although definitely worth listening to, still does sound a little like the best recordings of other bands.
- The Glass Prison - (13:52)
This is the best song on the album, IMO. Absolutely stunning heavy metal, reminiscent of Metallica in their salad days. Rocks very hard, and for a loooong time - almost 14 minutes! DT is beginning to learn how to use their vocalist to actually add something to the music. It also nicely avoids the curse of other very long songs and throws out enough variation that I actually want to listen to the whole thing.
- Blind Faith - (10:21)
Another awesome track, this one is pure progressive metal. This song, perhaps above all, is proficient at demonstrating their superior musical skills. There is an awesome cut about two-thirds of the way through from metal into a Mozart-esque piano solo, and back. The transition is seamless and powerful; we can see how Dream Theater's Berklee education in music theory hasn't gone to waste.
- Misunderstood - (9:34)
A little different for DT - this track is heavy alternative rock ala Tool, which should liven up the debate over here. Very well done, too; I like it alot.
- The Great Debate - (13:43)
The only redeeming value of this song is an excellent 1:30 guitar instrumental 3/4 of the way through. The rest is DT trying to be political. It features samples of media coverage about the recent debate over stem cell research, and then some really preachy, naive lyrics that ask "Are you justified in in taking \ life to save life! \ Life to save live!", the last lines barked like the "Master!" in Master of puppets. A misguided song from start to finish - DT (and many others) should avoid this kind of overt preachiness.
- Disappear - (6:46)
Hard to classify this piece; let's see. If Creed were the best band in the world (and I'm assuming you think otherwise) they might use this as filler. Not that it is filler, but it would be filler for the best band ever. And it has that same kind of "Can't you see how gosh-darn earnest I'm trying to be?" feeling that I get from Creed. I dunno - it's a horrible comparison. I like this song, although results may vary.
- Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence - (42:04)
A full-blown rock opera, ala Tommy or Dark Side of the Moon or The Wall, although considerably shorter. It's about young people, probably teenagers, and their Inner Turbulence. Like I said before, if you aren't a Dream Theater fan this is probably just a curiosity, although it's all good stuff.
- Overture - Features a full orchestra plus Dream Theater, but somehow ends up sounding like a MIDI from my soundblaster. Honestly - there are three themes to the piece; one that sounds like the theme to The Sims, one that sounds like it came from the Warcraft II soundtrack, and another that sounds like Pink Floyd on a bad day. Maybe I'm just being harsh.
- About to Crash - Whoah, ever heard the Rent soundtrack? This sounds like Another Day, I swear. "It takes a village..." bleck.
- War Inside my Head - If I knew more about 80's metal I might be able to place this sound better...
- The Test That Stumped Them All - ... but I do know this sounds just like Pantera.
- Goodnight Kiss - Now I remember what all this reminds me of: Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. s/I'm just a poor boy, I need no sympathy./I'm just a poor girl, afraid of this cruel world./; Very interesting...
- Solitary Shell - And here we venture into jangly Peter Gabriel-esque pop music, with more Rent-like vocals. It's got a great instrumental part near the end, with piano and steel-stringed guitar.
- About to Crash (reprise) - Same song from before, but as if Steve Vai took up the helm. Very surprising! The difference is definitely something you have to experience for yourself.
- Losing Time / Grand Finale - Mixes in the themes garnered over the past 7 "movements" in a symphonic, overarching finale.
Please let me know what you think of this album, and my classification of it - I'm interested to hear it from a real DT fan. I have only been listening to them for a short while now, so I don't really hold myself qualified to compare it to their earlier works.