Monday, November 10, 2008

Favorite Albums: Dream Theater - Scenes From A Memory

"Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From A Memory" (full title), is the fifth studio album by the Progressive Metal band, Dream Theater. It is their first concept album and is a sequel of sorts (hence the title) to "Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper" (henceforth known as Metropolis), released on Dream Theater's previous album, 1992's "Images And Words." It is an album that dives into the psyche and rebirth, whose story, although amazing, will be lost on the casual listener. As with many progressive albums, you will not get the full story by only listening to the songs, you will need to read the liner notes within the album itself.

"Scenes From A Memory" tells the tale of Nicholas, a man who has been plagues by a reoccurring nightmare, where he is visited by a woman whom he recognizes but he knows not from where. He goes to a hypnotherapist who, while under regression hypnosis, helps Nicholas learn that the woman's name is Victoria and she seems very familiar. We learn that the reoccurring dream that Nicholas is having is him entering a house and walking upstairs, at the top of the stairs is a mirror, where he sees Victoria in the reflection. It is here where Nicholas learns that Victoria was victim of a murder, and gives him the task of discovering her killer. He is given this task, as he learns, because he is the re-incarnation of Victoria, some 70 years later.
Nicholas searches for information (within the dream or without I am not sure), and he meets an old man, through interviewing him and a newspaper he found (from 1928) that Victoria was within a conflict with her ex-lover, Julian. Within the newspaper article is says that Julian was the killer, and then killed himself because of a note found on scene from Julian, "I'd rather take my life, than live with losing you." But Nicholas doesn't think this is right, because the note says nothing about actually killing Victoria.
Using this information Nicholas begins to think that Victoria had a love affair with Julian's brother, Edward, and searches to see if it is true. At this point Victoria speaks to Nicholas, telling him that she has given him everything he needs to know the truth. Nicholas then sees another flashback of Victoria breaking it off with Edward, to go back to (a now clean) Julian. Unbeknown to either of them, Edward follows Victoria and confronts his brother. During a scuffle, Edward shoots Julian, to the horror of Victoria, and then proceeds to shoot Victoria as well, after telling her to "Open your eyes, Victoria."
This knowledge comforts Nicholas, now he knows what happened, and feels that he can finally go home and get some sleep. He heads home, turns on the TV and starts to doze in front of it. While this is happening, we hear background noise of someone opening the door and walking across the room. Then Nicholas is woken to his therapist saying "Open your eyes, Nicholas," who then proceeds to kill Nicholas. He does this because (this is not explained at all in the songs) he is the re-incarnation of Edward, Victoria's jilted lover.

As stated above, you could not possibly understand the entire story. Hell I have listened through the entire disc at least a dozen times and I have never once put it together that the Therapist is the re-incarnation of Edward (still not sure about that bit. That is the downfall of alot of Progressive albums, athough they are epic in their scope and subjects, it is almost impossible to understand the entire story. (See this, or this)

That being said, I love this album. It is my favorite Dream Theater album (with "Train of Thought" bringing up a close second). The way they mix light melodies, with some songs, with regular metal songs, really gives a little of everything for everyone. This is a metal album that your girl-friend would enjoy, with songs like "Through My Words" and "Through Her Eyes." My favorite songs (on the heavy side) are "Strange Deja Vu," "Fatal Tragedy," and "The Spirit Carries On." Mostly I like "The Spirit Carries On" because it retouches on most of the previous songs, even going so far as to re-sing part of the verse from "Regression" (although alot heavier) while adding some extra lyrics. This album really deserves a listen, the themes are deep and semi-scifi, with the amazing drumming of Mike Portnoy (who rivals the abilities of Neil Peart, my favorite drummer) and the superb guitar work of John Petrucci. If you like this stile, expecially the mosty (or fully) instrumental tracks, check out their side band, Liquid Tension Experement.

Track Listing
  1. Regression - 2:06
  2. Overture 1928 - 3:37
  3. Strange Deja Vu - 5:12
  4. Through My Words - 1:02
  5. Fatal Tragedy - 6:49
  6. Beyond This Life - 11:22
  7. Through Her Eyes - 5:29
  8. Home - 12:53
  9. The Dance of Eternity - 6:13
  10. One Last Time - 3:46
  11. The Spirit Carries On - 6:38
  12. Finally Free - 11:59

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