"Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory", the fifth studio album of "Dream Theater", was released October 26, 1999
This is the band's first concept album and without a doubt one of it's greatest.
The album that opened with the metronome rhythm, that alternates from right to left ear and back again, undoubtedly put listeners and fans into complete hypnosis, as one could no longer remain indifferent in the face of this amazing and ambitious work.
The tragic story of love, betrayal, murder and reincarnation is undoubtedly a masterpiece in the prog-metal genre. It opens in the present when Nicholas, a troubled man that visits a hypnotist. Through regression therapy, Nicholas learns about his past life and we learn about the reason he came for therapy (Strange Deja Vu). The anesthetized Nicholas first meets Victoria Page, learning about her brutal 1928 murder and her love triangle with Senator Edward Baines (The Miracle) and his brother Julian Baines (The Sleeper). He realizes that the reason for the strange dreams that befell him was a kind of call for help from Victoria who wants the truth about her murder to be revealed. Through newspaper reports, stories from an old man (Fatal Tragedy) and memories sent from his subconscious, Nicholas slowly puts together the tragic puzzle. He realizes he was Victoria in his previous life and they actually share the same soul (Through My Words). He also learned that the love of Victoria and Julian brought them south, where Victoria had an affair with his brother, the senator. When the couple reconciles, the enraged Edward commits a double murder, which he successfully drops on Julian as suicide and murder. Although he is broken and sad by the sensational revelation of Victoria's tragic fate, the story brings Nicholas peace of mind that he did not have for a long time. He also understands that death is not the end, and for evidence, he continues as an incarnation of Victoria's soul (The Spirit Carries On).
Encouraged by the thought of spiritual continuity Nicholas returns home and turns the TV on. There is a report about the death of John F. Kennedy. To distract himself from the news Nichols put a record on the turntable. A door opens, and a burglar enters ... the hypnotist says "Open your eyes Nicholas ...", Nicholas panting shouts, the needle is blown off the record, and a static noise .....
The conclusion from this ending is that the hypnotist is in fact the reincarnation of Edward's soul and after he murdered Nicholas the circle of life was closed again.
The end of this story is also the beginning of the band's next album, as the static noise at the end of the album opens the song "Glass Prison" from the album "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" and this is the start of a continuous chain, where the ending of the album "Six Degrees" is identical to the opening of the next album etc...
"Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory" is actually a sequel to "Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper", from the band's second album: "Images and Words". Guitarist John Petrucci added "Pt. 1" to the song title as a comic act, and at the time he did not really thought that there would be a second part.
This is without a doubt a complex album in terms of the plot story. The contribution of the four lyricists (Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci, John Myung, and vocalist James LaBrie) helped to create a wonderfully cohesive narrative.
Also in terms of playing and composition, it is a masterpiece, there is no other way to describe it. In this album, the band has reached insane levels of playing and creation. The instrumental track "Overture 1928" presents the musical themes we will encounter throughout the album, such as "The Dance of Eternity", "One Last Time" and more. From there we move on from an unforgettable musical odyssey to each other, all of which blend in perfectly with the plot story. Throughout the album the band keeps us in suspense, always surprising, always challenging, and always doing the unexpected. "Fatal Tragedy", is a heavy song with a strong gothic influence, ending with a long instrumental section. The hypnotist then leads us directly to the even heavier "Beyond This Life", which teaches us what the newspaper reported on Victoria's murder. After 11 minutes of madness, we finally get a chance to relax a bit with "Through Her Eyes" and John Petrucci's heartbreaking guitar and with guest singer Theresa Thomason. The sixth part of the work "Home" is without a doubt one of the best tracks on the album and perhaps also one of the best in the band's repertoire. This song also corresponds with "Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper". From there we continue to the seventh part "The Dance of Eternity" an instrumental track with virtuoso playing that drops the listener's jaw, even compared to the high standards of this amazing band. The eighth part "The Spirit Carries On" is one of the band's melodic pieces and probably also the "hit" of the album, as far as this word can be used in the same sentence with "Dream Theater". This exciting track which also features a gospel choir, forms a hallway to the finale track “Finally Free” which reveals the truth about Victoria’s death and features an amazing Mike Portnoy playing that amplifies the epic ending of the album.
It's interesting to note that this is the band's first album with the virtuoso keyboardist Jordan Rudess, which already here show his insane abilities and how much he influences the sound and style of the band.
This album is without a doubt one of the band's creative highlights and is a prog-metal classic. A must-have album for any metalhead and progger, beginner or veteran.