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Dream Theater - Scenes From a Memory (1999)

Discussion in 'Album Reviews' started by Cosmic Harmony, May 12, 2010.

  1. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory" (or more commonly referred to as only "Scenes from a Memory") is the fifth studio album by Dream Theater. Released in late 1999 and is the sequel to one of their most popular songs "Metropolis, Pt. I: The Miracle and the Sleeper", which appeared on their breakthrough and most commercial successful album "Images and Worlds".

    Upon release the album was met with high critical acclaim by critics and fans alike and is often considered to be Dream Theater's masterpiece despite the fact that it is the band's lowest charting album with the exception of their debut, "When Dream and Day Unite", which failed to chart at all.

    This is also the first Dream Theater album to feature current keyboardist Jordan Rudess following the departure of original keyboardist, Kevin Moore.


    Characters

    Present Time

    * Nicholas
    * The Hypnotherapist
    * The Old Man

    1928

    * Victoria Page - "Metropolis/Love"
    * Sen. Edward Baynes - "The Miracle"
    * Julian Baynes - "The Sleeper"


    The Story


    ACT: 1


    The album opens with main character Nicholas going to see a hypnotherapist to help decipher strange dreams he'd been having. The first track "Regression" begins with The Hypnotherapist telling Nicholas to relax as he puts him into a trance. Nicholas feels at peace as he feels himself slipping into the past where he meets a young girl named "Victoria".
    "Overture 1928" is the first of two instrumentals on the album. This track uses parts of songs that are featured later on the album and is used to symbolize Nicholas' trip through time. (This track is a slight nod to "Tommy".)
    With track three, "Strange Déjà Vu", we learn about dreams that led Nicholas to seeing the Hypnotherapist as he goes further into the trance. Every time he closes his eyes he sees visions of someone else's life that is just out of reach of his conscious mind. In the dreams there is a pathway which leads to a house. He goes up there stairs to a room where a young girl appears in a mirror. All of this seems very familiar to him even though logically it shouldn't. Because this is a trance and not a normal dream all of these visions are much clearer than they ever have been before. He asks the girl "Young child, won't you tell me why I'm here?" as he knows that there is something "tearing at her soul" and some reason she is drawing him here every night. It is here where Victoria hints at what "tears [her] heart into two" but doesn't go into much detail as Nicholas is awoken from his therapy and while back in the real world he cannot think of anything other than his dream world. He feels that there is something unsolved and finding out what will be the key to his peace.
    In the shortest track on the album (and one of Dream Theater's shortest ever, by far), "Through My Words", Nicholas realizes that he was Victoria in a past life.
    In "Fatal Tragedy" Nicholas is laying alone at night. He knows who Victoria is now but does not know why she is so torn. At some point he meets an older man at the house from his dream. The old man tells him that a young girl was murdered in that house and that the murder still had much speculation around what actually happened. Nicholas knows that he will never have peace of mind unless he finds out exactly what happened to Victoria. At the end of the song the Hypnotherapist tells Nicholas that it is now time to see how he died and to remember that "death is not the end but only a transition."
    In "Beyond This Life" we are informed of the newspaper account of what happened around the murder in 1928. An anonymous witness's account is that he heard a "horrifying sound" and when he rushed to see what happened he saw that a girl had been shot with the shooter still standing over her. The witness claims to have tried to help but the shooter turned the gun on himself, officially ruling this as a murder/suicide. The newspaper claims that this was a "sad close to a broken love affair." which is to say that the murderer and victim were former lovers. From what we are told it seems Victoria had recently broken up with her lover due to his decedent lifestyle, gambling and drinking.
    We are then informed of the physical evidence at the scene. There is evidence of a "violent struggle" and a switchblade found on the ground which causes confusion as it would be very unusual for a young girl in 1928 to have a switchblade unless she believed she would need to defend herself. Also there is a note in the killer's pocket that reads how he would rather take his own life away than live without Victoria, though it never say anything about harming her.
    Nicholas is awake once again in "Through Her Eyes". After learning about Victoria's brutal murder 70 years earlier he feels compelled to visit her grave site. He expresses the grief and sorrow he has for her. Upon reading the words on her head stone he is overcome with sadness. Even the stone reads that she was a sweet and innocent girl who was taken at far too young of an age. As this sets in he feels as if her death is like his own, since they share the same soul, and compares it to losing someone you love. As the song ends, Nicholas slowly regains his composure and is even comforted by the realization that by facing these sad truths and mourning the loss, he can now move on. This time of pain was necessary to accept his death in his past life and fully comprehend why Victoria has been beckoning to him.


    ACT: 2


    The first song of Act 2 is "Home" and we see some things through the eyes of Julian, Victoria's lover. We hear about his life of decadence and that all of that is only a charade. As we learned earlier in "Beyond This Life" Victoria left him because of his vices.
    Next we hear from Edward, Julian's brother and a senator, as Victoria cries on his shoulder over having to leave Julian. Edward finds himself falling for Victoria and while at first he feels guilty his obsession for Victoria eventually overpowers his guilt and he takes advantage of Victoria in her vulnerable state and seduces her.
    Lastly we hear from Nicholas, back in the present day and awake. So far he only knows what he learned from the old man and the newspaper article but knows there has to be more to story. He becomes further obsessed with solving the mystery and anxiously awaits for his next appointment with the Hypnotherapist.
    "The Dance of Eternity" is the second instrumental on the album. As a line from "Metropolis Pt. 1" reads "Love is the Dance of Eternity" so this symbolizes the act of Victoria and Edward making love.
    The next scene, "One Last Time", opens with Nicholas going over all the evidence in his head and it not adding up. After hearing rumors of Victoria and Edward's affair he visits Edward's house. Though he is awake he experiences some sort of revelation as he enters the bedroom as he nearly slips out of consciousness. The cold he feels in his dreams returns and outside he can hear a woman screaming and a man pleading for her forgiveness. This is where Victoria, stricken with guilt, tells Edward that this will be the last time they meet like this. In his current state of dual consciousness, Nicholas is seeing Victoria's memories of the fatal meeting, but they simply are not clear enough yet and the scene fades to black.
    For the final time Nicholas is under hypnosis in "The Spirit Carries On". He is convinces that Edward is involved in the murders and intends to expose the truth of the 70 year old murder. Victoria speaks up and tells Nicholas to be brave and move on instead of weeping at her grave and to never forget her. He finally feels at peace and is free of all the fear and pain he had been feeling before as he finally appeased Victoria's call and his own obsession. He believe the whole point to all of this is to learn not to fear death because as the hypnotherapist said "death is not the end but only a transition."
    In the final scene, "Finally Free", the Hypnotherapist brings Nicholas out of his trance and we learn information that Nicholas does not. We learn is that Victoria and Julian ran into each other by coincidence and decide to meet up later in secret so they can talk. Victoria is very excited to see Julian as he was always the one she loved and she is no longer torn. They meet without anyone knowing, or so they believed. Edward shows up and starts to struggle with Julian. A bottle of liquor falls out of Julian's pocket as he pulls out a knife before being shot by Edward. Victoria screams and Edward tells her to open her eyes before shooting her as well. Julian crawls to Victoria's body and cries out his final words "One last time...". Edward writes the suicide note and plants it in Julian's pocket before running for help to play his role as the witness.
    As we transfer back to Nicholas he is driving home, feeling free and at peace with himself because even though Victoria is gone he knows he'll see her again one day. Upon arriving home he pours himself a drink to relax and puts on a record. A door is opened as The Hypnotherapist enters the room and tells him to open his eyes. Nicholas, started by this, bumps the record player and the white noise concludes the album.
    On the album version it is left unclear what actually happened but it is revealed live that the Hypnotherapist is the reincarnation of Edward, thus completing the cycle yet again by killing Nicholas.
     
  2. Magic

    Magic Woman of the World

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    Re: Scenes from a Memory ~~~ Dream Theater

    I absolutely love Dream Theater....Great choice to review, Cosmic.

    James Labrie is audacious!

    This is my favorite instrumental, it is insanely fabulous!

     
  3. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    Re: Scenes from a Memory ~~~ Dream Theater

    I love every song on this album but "The Dance of Eternity" is certainly one instrumental that pops into my head right away as a fave. :)

    I'd have an impossible time picking favorite songs off this album though because it really is something that should be listen as a whole, which can be said about most Dream Theater albums and just about every great prog release. I can say thought that "The Spirit Carries On" made me break down in tears once while I was listening to this album in my car.
     
  4. LG

    LG Fade To Black

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    Re: Scenes from a Memory ~~~ Dream Theater

    Nice to see some Love for Dream Theater, that is my personal favorite album of their Extensive discography.

    Very well done Cosmic.:bow:
     
  5. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    Re: Scenes from a Memory ~~~ Dream Theater

    Thanks LG and Magic (since I just noticed I forgot to thank Magic in that last post). This is not only my favorite Dream Theater album but my #2 album ever. :grinthumb

    I felt the need to do this review after "Scenes from a Memory" received such inadequate amounts of love in that poll against "Animals". Also I noticed there hadn't been a single Dream Theater review so I thought "Well not for long." ;)
     
  6. Cosmic Harmony

    Cosmic Harmony Senior Member

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    Re: Scenes from a Memory ~~~ Dream Theater

    I'm so tempted to write up the album from a musical stance but I think I'm going to forgo that. :heheh:
     
  7. JakeMM626

    JakeMM626 Member

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    Re: Scenes from a Memory ~~~ Dream Theater

    This was the first Dream Theater album I listened to when I was 15. I fell in love the second I heard "Regression" for the first time. Best Dream Theater album there is in my opinion.
     
  8. driftingsun

    driftingsun Member

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    And I thought they could never top Images and Words... well they proved me wrong lol
     
  9. recgord27

    recgord27 Walking down a dusty road

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    Brilliant album. Excellent concept. Outstanding musicianship. The jewel in their crown. This band never fails to deliver :grinthumb
     
  10. joker1961

    joker1961 Hopping Mad Frog

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    ooh yes me too! its amazing...
     

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