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After the critically-acclaimed, yet overly sappy and indulgent Scenes From a Memory, Dream Theater got their shit together and released their most ambitious album yet, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. I don't know how they came up with the title of this album, but I must admit that it is turbulent. This isn't a bad thing, though.
This is a 2-disc album, with Disc 1 being dedicated strictly to straightforward progressive metal songs(oxymoron, eh?) and Disc 2 consisting of the 42:04 title track, which is divided into 8 parts.
The first disc begins with The Glass Prison, which tackles the topic of alcohol addiction. It doesn't get much better than this folks. This is Dream Theater's heaviest, most ass-kicking song ever and stretches out for almost 14 minutes. The guitars rage at a malicious, almost thrashy speed and the vocals give a nod to Rush at times. Complaints I have about this song are the static at the beginning and the grunted vocals during choice verses in section 2 of the song. Overall, this is a DT classic and is bound to be on the next fan club best of/compilation CD.
Following this song, we have Blind Faith, which compromises speed for a calm, sleep-inducing tempo. One of the catchiest choruses to be found is on this song and the guitar solo near the end is totally heavenly. Misunderstood is the first ballad-like song of the album and it again flows at a very tranquil speed. Much notable keyboard work is on this song and the guitar interlude later in the song is absolutely WICKED. Man, I've never heard DT or any band in recent memory use the guitar tone that surfaces later in that song. It reminds me of an anime horror film or something of that ilk. Simply spellbinding.
Ok, enough time chatting about ONE RIFF. Haha. The next song is The Great Debate, which is slightly shorter than The Glass Prison and not nearly as speedy. This song deals with stem-cell research and presents both sides of the argument without forcing one view or the other upon the listener. I'm glad that's it like that. Otherwise, Labrie and Co. could've had some tough legal shit to deal with. This song is very brooding and is initially reminiscent of Red Harvest in the overall atmosphere. Nice apocalyptic-sounding guitar work near the end as well.
Finally, we have the last song of the first disc, Disappear. What a spooky, grim song this is. It's the only average-length song on the first disc and has a VERY creepy guitar tone. This song may disturb your tranquillity if you're already on the edge. This song is arguably more depressing than Space-Dye Vest. Both are beautiful songs, but sometimes it's a bummer to hear such a downer of a song at the end of an album.
Ok, if you were listening to this entire album in one sitting, you obviously wouldn't stop after Disappear, so next you would listen to Disc 2, the title track. This is DT's most grandiose song/disc yet and sure kicks the hell out of Scenes From a Memory, IMO.
It begins with Overture, which has a distinct march-like sound that often sounds like Pomp and Circumstance. Next is About to Crash, which has an excellent, uplifting guitar melody that soon gives way to War Inside My Head. This is some really heavy, caustic stuff here, almost as much as The Glass Prison. Gotta love that thrash-riffing again.
Next is The Test That Stumped Them All, which again has some killer thrash-riffing and the first cuss word on the album(shit). The only detriment to this song is the narrative, talkative-styled verses that deal with loved ones of a mentally ill boy discussing treatment options. The vocals are just incredibly silly and annoying.
Otherwise, this is a good song, though. Following TTTSTA comes the fifth song, Goodnight Kiss. This sounds like a nursery-rhyme and is very dreamy. I think it would be neat if Dream Theater made an album consisting solely of songs like Goodnight Kiss. It's that unique and calming.
This is merely a short interlude to Solitary Shell, which again tackles the subject of mental illness, dealing with a boy who is possibly autistic and spends too much time to himself, not interacting with others. Musically, this song is stellar, the piano-playing amazingly fresh and crisp and the acoustic guitars like a Celtic hymn or shanty. This song has the most memorable chorus from the whole album and is one of DT's catchiest songs ever.
After that comes the reprisal of About to Crash, which again has those godly, Rush-inspired riffs, played with more fervor. The best part of the song is the climactic guitar thumping with the abrupt piano interlude. Great neoclassical-sounding stuff right there.
Finally, we have the last song of the entire album, Losing Time/Grand Finale. There's not much musically to speak of in this song. It's just a closer, and it's achingly pretty.(I would've said 'achingly beautiful', but I didn't want it to seem like I was copying Paradox in her review of "Space Dye Vest") I love the way the vocals gradually build up to the ending of the album, gaining and losing volume continually.
Well, that's it folks. At the end of this album, it is clearly the end. It's not like Scenes From a Memory where it has this little symphonic reprisal with some dude on the news talking or anything like that. After the last word of the song, there's nothing left to look forward to. Anyway, this isn't my favorite DT release, but I feel inclined to give it a 100% out of my deep respect for it. You see, if it wasn't for this album, I may not have gotten introduced to the many other excellent bands that I listen to and I would not have the knowledge of metal that I now have. Someone recommended Dream Theater to me one summer during summer school, so I decided to order SDOIT from Columbia House. I've had metal CDs before buying SDOIT, such as Metallica's Master of Puppets and Fear Factory's Obsolete, but SDOIT was the catalyst for me to become a metalhead, and that's what I consider myself now. What a blissful state of metallic wealth I'm in today just because of this one album.