October 2002
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"The Memory Lives On..."
By Kyle Kennett, Fredericton High, Fredericton, NB

Metropolis Part 2: "Scenes From A Memory"
Dream Theatre
Elektra -1999

Ever heard of an album telling a story? Dream Theatre's Metropolis Part Two, "Scenes From A Memory" is a concept album that was given birth by the song "Metropolis Part One" on Dream Theater's 1991 release "Images And Words." The album tells a story through music, lyrics and characters, Nicholas and Victoria who are sung by James Labrie, lead vocals.

All five members of the Dream Theatre band, Labrie, Myung, Petrucci, Portnoy and Rudess have all received music degrees in which they have created what I think is one of the most technical music of its generation. Packed with wailing guitar solos, impressive keyboarding skills, thought out lyrics and a unique use of organs, set this band into a genre of its own. Portnoy (vocals) and Petrucci (guitars) are rapidly becoming veterans in the studio production realm and by taking charge of song writing and producing they've enabled themselves and the band to deliver the kind of amazing work that the entire metal/progressive community has come to know yet has not heard anywhere else. Having published three earlier albums, "Metropolis Part One," "Awake" and "Falling Into Infinity," the band has gathered a wide range of listeners to their unique style and sound.

"Scenes From A Memory" is ambitious and sprawling. However, the music isn't hard to follow; the disc seems to stick in your mind, much like the song "Don't You Put It In Your Mouth." The quality of the recording on this album is phenomenal, reaching the highest and lowest notes, while letting the listener hear every drum beat and guitar note on the album, which most artists sometimes have trouble with. Bits and pieces of the original ensemble from "Metropolis Part One" appear in sections of "Scenes From A Memory" – this is essential in making the story lines match musically. Through all the talent and diversity, I feel their unparalleled concepts and sounds give them an edge to give their loyal audiences.

The lyrics alternate between the past and the present with each new verse revealing new clues to the storyline. The words convey a sense of emotion rarely found on heavy metal or progressive discs. "Scenes From A Memory" have obviously allowed LaBrie (vocals) to connect the story and the characters as his emotive voice lends a sense of drama to the "journey." What's even better is that LaBrie's amazing vocal effort connects the listener to the story, giving the listener a certain pathos to the characters. Out of the whole album, the chorus of the song, "Through Her Eyes" seem to jump out at you the most. "I'm learning all about my life, By looking through her eyes," I feel is the climax of this tale, where the main character Nicholas realizes how important life is after he reads the headlines, "Murder, Young Girl Killed"(the girl the song is about) and how he sees her as his "stepping stone" in realizing how lucky he is to have a son and wife. Accompanied by a piano and the mellow sounds guitar, bass and drums sets the scene for a tragic moment which I myself can picture on the stage or a big screen, yet they seem to capture the power of sight and turn it into something we can only hear and only allow our mind run free with images.

Honestly, some will listen to the same album and absolutely despise the music, style and genre in which they play. In my opinion, people who are passionate about music and play some sort of instrument are liable to have a more positive response to this band. To those who love their music, you will hear highly technical music developed in a sort of modern classical/metal style which takes some getting use to. However, if you do not like the style, these artists still deserve credit for beyond astounding musical abilities. If you want to try something different, I would truly recommend investing in one of their albums to see what I am raving about.

Kyle Kennett plays both bass and guitar and has been a successful entrepreneur in several different ventures.

Link to Dream Theatre's website: http://www.dreamtheater.net/

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