Dream Theater - Scenes From A Memory

Year of Release: 1999
Label: Eastwest
Catalog Number: 62448-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 77:08:00

As one of the most eagerly awaited albums of the year, Dream Theater's Scenes From A Memory enjoyed an anticipation almost unequalled. From the tight control over practically everything, to the slow, a little bit at a time revealing, this lead up to the album's release was not unlike the lead up to Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.

Of course, the Internet being what it is, rumours and speculations were rampant, not to mention possible MP3 versions of songs being available (true or not prior to release, I don't know with any certainty). But, unlike the mega-hyped film, Scenes From A Memory more than lives up to expectation.

Keyboardist Derek Sherinian left during the band's between-albums hiatus - such as it was - and Jordan Rudess stepped in, having played and recorded with guitarist John Petrucci and drummer Mike Portnoy in Liquid Tension Experiment. So, this change in personnel has also added to the anticipation.

Scenes ... is pre-titled "Metropolis Part 2:", making this a sequel of sorts to the "Metropolis" track on the band's 1992 release Images And Words. But, this sequel is a concept album, a rather emotional and intriguing one at that.

But, let's talk about the music first. Scenes is a much stronger release than 1997's Falling Into Infinity - the band sounds energetic and alive. James LaBrie's vocals are quite good, only missing the mark in a few spots (and not by much). Petrucci continues to amaze on the fretboard, Portnoy's drums are powerful - though many point out a problem with the snare being tinny. Maybe I'm more forgiving, or I just didn't notice it, but I'm not sure I agree.

Rudess keys don't dominate, but their presence is felt. I'm sure many will want to know how he compares with Sherinian and to Moore (who preceded Sherinian), but I can't make that comparison. Myung bass work is clearly felt and is quite dynamic.

All in all, the guys seem refreshed from the extra-curricular activities - Myung with Sherinian in Platypus, LaBrie with his "solo" project Mullmuzzler, and, of course, the aforementioned Liquid Tension Experiment.

There are moments here that will recall The Wall-period Pink Floyd - the opening track, "Regression," with its sparse instrumentation and LaBrie's dry and hushed vocal delivery. I thought of the intro section to "One Of My Turns," though the actual arrangement is quite different. The other track, which harks back to this one, is "The Spirit Carries On." Don' t let this put you off, but this could be Dream Theater's "My Heart Will Go On." It has, at times, that same lyrical power, that same ... je ne sais quoi. Of course, that is where the similarities end, as the music is quite different, but the sentiment is almost the same.

The concept itself, without spoiling it, concerns a young man who, under hypnosis, recalls another life, with a tragic ending - some of the story is told in the present, some in the past. What that ending is, how it comes about and what it means is up to you to discover. But, I can see why now Dream Theater were keeping rather tight lipped about the whole thing. I sarcastically posted to the Perpetual Motion board a week or so ago that with all this secrecy and such, you'd think it were a movie with a plot someone would steal - never realizing that, of course, that is almost the case. I mean, those TV movies are churned out so quick, that you'd see a Aaron Spelling telling with Tori Spelling or Shannon Doherty before the album's release.

Okay, maybe not.

But, the concept is well executed, intriguing, and will leave you wanting to replay the disk again and again. And for the music, too, of course.

Some other musical things to note: there's a guitar phrase during "Through Her Eyes" that is reminiscent of Eric Clapton ("Wonderful Tonight" is what I think I'm thinking of). Elsewhere, there's another phrase that'll leap out at you as sounding like Queen.

For those who doubted whether Dream Theater still had the stuff to make compelling music, the answer is clear and here - Scenes From A Memory will rock you, move you, and have you delcaring that Dream Theater are back!

Scene One: Regression (2:06) / Scene Two: I: Overture 1928 II: Strange Deja Vu (8:49) / Scene Three: I: Through My Words II: Fatal Tragedy (7:51) / Scene Four: Beyond This Life (11:22) / Scene Five: Through Her Eyes (5:29) / Scene Six: Home (12:53) / Scene Seven: I: The Dance of Eternity II: One Last Time (10:00) / Scene Eight: The Spirit Carries On (6:38) / Scene Nine: Finally Free (12:00)

James LaBrie - vocals
John Myung - bass
John Petrucci - guitars and vocals
Mike Portnoy - drums, percussion, and vocals
Jordan Rudess - keyboards
Theresa Thomason - additional vocals (7, 11)

When Dreams and Day Unite (1989)
Images and Words (1992)
Live At The Marquee (1993)
Dream Out Loud (1994)
Awake (1994)
A Change in Season (1995)
Falling Into Infinity (1997)
Once In A Livetime (1998)
Scenes From A Memory (1999)
Cleaning Out The Closet (Xmas CD 1999) (1999)
Scenes From A World Tour - Christmas CD 2000 (2001)
Live Scenes From New York (2001)
Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence (2002)
Train Of Thought (2003)
Live At Budokan (2004)
Octavarium (2005)
Score (3CD) (2006)
Systematic Chaos (2007)
Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) (2008)
Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011)
Dream Theater (2013)
Dream Theater - Live At Luna Park (2013)
Dream Theater - Breaking The Fourth Wall - Live From The Boston Opera House (2014)
The Astonishing (2016)
Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York (DVD) (2001)
Live At Budokan (DVD) (2004)
Score (DVD) (2006)
Chaos In Motion (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: October 18th 1999
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.dreamtheater.net
Hits: 1410
Language: english


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