Reviewed: November 1999
Released: 1999, Elektra
Wow…where does one start? After the perceived disappointment that was Falling Into Infinity, (which really wasn’t that bad) Dream Theater has returned with what can only be described as their most amazing, musical, and simply powerful album ever! Metropolis… is a full-blown concept album that tells the story of a man who has visions about a young girl appearing in his dreams. Dream Theater fans rejoice, your saviors have returned!
The trick to every good concept album is the ability of the musicians to tell the story, not only with words and vocals, but with the instruments as well. Well, I’m happy to report Mr.’s Portnoy, Petrucci, Myung, and Rudress are more than equal to the task. The jaw-dropping performance begins early, as the first 10+ minutes of the album are mostly virtuosic instrumental. The guitars weave the labyrinth of music, while the drums and bass pound out complex rhythms that both astound and drive the album. Through it all, Rudress’ keyboards provide the over-arching fills and tasteful solo lines that show that he is a master at his craft. Welcome to the fold Jordan! Simply put, the music is brilliant. It is a brilliance that never lets up until the end of the 78 minutes of music is over. Vocally, James LaBrie appears to have left his dog-whistle days behind him. His overall singing voice is much lower on the register than in the past and it works to beautiful effect, perfectly accentuating the times when he does reach for the high notes (see the stunning ballad “Through Her Eyes”).
Have no fear, the band pulls out numerous musical trick that we’ve not heard before. Check out the Eastern string flavour in the beginning of first single “Home”. Not enough? Look no further than the Cabaret-bar sounding lines that the band busts out during album closer “Finally Free”. Amazing. Those of you who have heard Images and Words (and there are a lot of you) will also recognize a number of reprised from that album here, worked in perfectly. I’m sorry, I’m running out of superlatives to describe this album, so I better go listen to it again. My vote for album of the year.
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