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by Martin Popoff

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Dream Theater - Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence

I feel like I should take a week off to discuss this thing properly, but who has that kind of time (I'm afraid the endless chatter of internet Dream Theater debaters might reveal the creepy answer). In any event (get my calculator out), here goes: what we have here is a two-disc set, disc one being five long tracks, disc two being one 42 minute concept piece broken into eight (in)digestible nuggets. An admirable theme is ployed: insanity on different levels, something I seem to see all around me, and hear in discussions/interviews with people, and can opine as more likely given 9/11's new, surreal worldthink possibilites. It's relevant, it's human, it's well covered, the band's wide-open live fury given to the task, synapses firing and misfiring all over this piece, save for secret weapon James, who single-handedly by force of his personality, defines the tender moments on the album, of which there are less than usual. The first disc, really in the wide-angled glut of ideas this band always spills, sounds similar in broad generalities to the second. Mike Portnoy and his drums seem to be the sound these days. Whether metalizing as on opener ÔThe Glass Prison', or wading through lush, panoramic prog, he and his soaring tom fills, his half-open high-hat, his rapid snare work, his fusion crashes, drive it all. Petrucci's riffs make their point as well, although the man is immersed into a gaping maw of a juggernaut that is as much drums and keyboards as it is guitars. That really seems to be the sound of this album, one I'm sure fans will eat up. It's bombastic from start to finish, unlike other prog metal (lacking any frilly power metal idiocies) and unlike prog (too well-produced, tightly-arranged, uneccentric, too expected, too New York). Basically, it's an all-business Dream Theater record, an almost too-easily birthed buffet from a band that owns this sound - admirably - because of the way the players come together and create, but not so admirably, given that alone, nobody here is in possession of a personal trademark that instantly leaps out as his and his alone. Still, time wears on, records come and they may go, and I'm more of a Mullmuzzler fan than an ardent Dream Theater observer.
Rating 8

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