Dream Theater – Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From A Memory
It took me a long time to warm to Dream Theater, their use of crazy time signatures and unusual scales and keys means that it takes a while to train your ears to understand the music. Dream Theater is best classified as progressive metal being that they're highly technical and heavier than the well–known prog bands of old – Pink Floyd and Genesis to name a couple.
At first listen, you'd assume Dream Theater is just about mindless shredding at ridiculous speeds to show off technical skill. This impression is enforced by the aforementioned use of difficult scales. But you slowly come to realise that the heavier and faster parts brilliantly complement the slower parts and work well to set the mood.
Metropolis Pt 2 is an album sequel to a single song on the band's Images and Words album, and is simply fantastic. You have to read the lyrics to really understand what's going on as the singer plays the roles of a number of characters. The album follows the story of "Nicholas" who is haunted by the memories of "Victoria" and his attempts to find out why. The first track begins with Nicholas undergoing hypnosis and the rest of the album slowly reveals the truth, the real twist only comes in the last 2 minutes of the last track (itself being 12 minutes long and one of the best on the album).
I'd argue that this is one of the greatest albums ever, the concept is well executed, the skill of the band as a whole is arguably unsurpassed. John Petrucci's guitar and Jordan Rudess' keyboards are in a league of their own, Petrucci himself proving with some particularly emotional solos that he's more than a guitar–playing machine.
There are a few songs on this album that do have immediate appeal, "The Spirit Carries On" is a beautiful spiritual ballad that makes excellent use of a gospel choir as well as contributing to the story of the album.
Unless you already like progressive music, it's almost certain you won't like this album at first, but give it time and see if it warms on you.