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Dream Theater - Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence Review

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Artist: Dream Theater

Album: Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence

Released: 2002

A mixture of styles and genres: Progressive Metal

Review:

This two-disc album is the sixth of Dream Theater's masterful creations. A concept album, this seems to be about various sorts of mental conflicts. Before delving into the thick of things, let me simplify it for you. If you are a Dream Theater fan, you already own the album and are reading this review only so that if I give them a low rating, you can flame me. If you dislike Dream Theater, you're reading only to see if the "annoying musical masturbation" these guys put out is still around and whether this time it's good enough to get you to buy it. If you are an average music listener, you have been told by one of the aforementioned categories to go read a review of this album.

Well, here's the nitty-gritty... For diehard fans, it simply owns. If you don't like Dream Theater (or are deaf) then you might want to try some of the more accessible stuff like "Images and Words". And if you are an ordinary music listener, well, try virtually anything. This album is a good start, but "Symphony X - The Odyssey" might be a better way to discover progressive metal right now.

Sheesh...with the masses appeased, and possible flame wars prevented, lets move on to a track by track analysis of the album.

Disc One opens up with "The Glass Prison" the story of a raging alcoholic. As with all Dream Theater masterpieces, it begins with a relatively nondescript fade-in, which gives way to a track just dripping with emotion and technical prowess at the same time. LaBrie as always, is in excellent form and REALLY makes this track shine. Clocking in at over 13 minutes, this song immediately whets my appetite and left me begging for more Dream Theater goodness. Divided into three sections, "Reflection", "Revelation" and "Restoration" the track chronicles the journey of the alcohol (or drug?) addict to salvation. (Which, by the way, is brought about in a manner so spiritual that it would make the AA proud).

Next comes the 10 minute "Blind Faith" which is the second degree of conflict that the band touches. This song, for me makes a much better statement against organized religion than any Norwegian black metal band ever could. In either case, the song aims not to preach, but just to chronicle the confusion a religious believer may be thrust into. AMAZING vocals (and good old fashioned guitar and keyboard wanking) make this a memorable track and one of my favorites on the album.

Now, THE best song on the album, for me at least, is "Misunderstood". This whopping cool track clocks in at around 9 minutes, and appears to address the concerns of a "Misunderstood" guitar hero/celebrity who is "Misunderstood" by his fans. LaBrie's vocals as usual are outstanding. The lyrics too, make this track a winner. "How can I feel abandoned even when the world surrounds me? How can I bite the hand that feeds the strangers all around me" he questions. And justified or not, it's just heart-wringing. And did I mention that every moment on the album so far has enough technical display and riff + tempo changes to make Hendrix look like a drunken monkey?

Now, for the weakest track on Disc One... "The Great Debate" A.K.A "Conflict at Ground Zero" deals with an issue which was pretty relevant before 9/11 drowned it out. And that is? Why - stem cell research of course. Opening with various samples of the "debate" being carried out by the media, scientists, and political leaders, this track seemed a bit of a hit and miss effort. While I admit the confusion of the matter is perfectly mirrored by the lyrical content, outstanding examples being "Do we look to our unearthly guide, or to white coat heroes searching for a cure?" The overall atmosphere however, is marred by the less-than-perfect songwriting and the slightly cheesy portions like the "Justified..." chorus, which mirror Tool. However, while not being an amazing track, it is still pretty impressive, and doesn't alter my overall judgment of the album.

The last track of the Disc is "Disappear" which deals with the feelings of bereavement and the accompanying fear and depression which strike after the loss of a loved one. As all Dream Theater songs usually go, this one is to die for. However, in retrospect this 7 minute song can't compare to the earlier half of the disc. However, it does add that extra little bit of spice to the disc which makes it seem complete and powerful.

Right...that's it for Disc One, which is enough to keep every geek/fan happy depending on which side of the Dream Theater divide you're on. The album might as well have ended here and I don't think many fans would have felt cheated. Of course, the band still has the last "title" track to go. Therefore, Disc Two contains only this, the final "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" which spawn over 40 minutes of music. They are divided into 8 sections and highlight more the personal side of mental discomfort as opposed to on a large or global scale.

This being pretty much another album in itself, and all the tracks being interlinked, I'll just give a tiny review of it here. Portions like the "Overture" and "About to Crash" seem rather childlike by comparison and are the only tracks I have a problem with. The rest of the album contains everything the fan would want. Amazing flaunting of the band's technical skills, coupled with top-notch songwriting make this an impressive effort.

However, after the first listen, the second disc seems uninspired and generic. Perhaps it's because immediately after the goodness of Disc One, nothing much CAN seem amazing by comparison. With repeated listens however, this Disc too becomes an amazing listen. Haters however, have found yet another excuse to pick on the band.

Whew! Well after all that rambling, what am I basically propounding? There's a good deal of music here on this album which isn't metal. In portions however, the band makes it obvious that they CAN make metal but simply chose not to. Bottom line? A good buy for Dream Theater fans. Not the best Dream Theater album there is, but it's pretty good. Haters: get out your torch and pitchforks. Average fans: Give it a whirl if you've got the money, you won't be disappointed. You won't exactly be on the top of the world either.

And why is that? Well a few of the solos run out of ideas before they actually stop. Keyboard solos can often become a pain. Also, you need a BIG BIG BIG attention span to get this album.

Conclusion:

  • Is it an album you can close your eyes and sink into? YES
  • Is it art? YES
  • Is this the best Dream Theater album ever? NO
  • Is it still pretty darned good? YES
/ul


Summary:
Vocals:9.00 of 10
Instruments:8.50 of 10
Skill:9.50 of 10
Originality:9.00 of 10
TOTAL:9 of 10

Reviewed by: Spikedtasbeeh /23.12.2003/



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