Post-Jordanism: noun- The artistic (cultural?) movement which began in late 2011. Works within this deal with themes of existential crisis, identity crisis, posttraumatic stress disorder, the state of being broken, intrusive thoughts of (non)existent(?) memory, the morbid preoccupation with suicide, grief, uncontrollable emotion, and darkness as a simple abstract concept. ex. 1: "Kill me."

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

On Dream Theater (History and Studio Discography, The Twelve-Step Suite, Meta-Album, "The Octavarium Mirror")

When it comes to music, my preference is with progressive rock. I get very analytical about prog, you see. I once wrote a long and extensive thread on the Fear Mythos forum breaking down and linking to Dream Theater's works. The thread has sinked very far down into the depths of the forum, but the analysis was just too good, so I have decided to bring it here.

On Dream Theater

History and Studio Discography

Each album name links to the full album in a video of some sort. In the album paragraphs, each song name links to a studio recording of the individual song. This is all for convenience's sake.

In 1985John PetrucciJohn Myung, and Mike Portnoy got together with keyboardist Kevin Moore and singerChris Collins, formed the band Majesty in Berklee College of Music (New York!), and recorded a demo tape. One copyright infringement later, they dumped Collins, found Charlie Dominici, and renamed themselves Dream Theater. In 1989, they released their first album.

When Dream and Day Unite (Full album live in concert, couldn't find the studio recording in one long video)

This album is very 80s-sounding, but the band's technical prowess is evident and quite strong. Highlights include"Afterlife" (just catchy, I dunno, I enjoy it), "The Killing Hand" (Five-movement piece about a man who hunts down a murderous tyrant, complete with Tomato In The Mirror climax), and "The Ytse Jam" (One of the band's catchiest instrumentals AND I SAW IT LIVE AND IT WAS AMAZING).

After this, they dumped Dominici and found Canadian Kevin James LaBrie, stage name just James LaBrie. In 1992, the band released their second and most famous album.

Images and Words (Full album, studio recording, in one single YouTube video)

This album is very 90s-sounding, with the band really shining with their technical strengths and songwriting abilities. If you looked anywhere else on the internet, you'd find Dream Theater fans endlessly praising this masterpiece, but I'm sick of them, so I'm just gonna tell you to listen to it for yourself. I don't think it's aged too well, personally. Highlights include "Pull Me Under" (MTV music video, song shortened), "Metropolis, part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper" (A song about the creation of Rome, with one of the most awesome instrumental sections ever), and"Learning to Live" (their first song over ten minutes, got some beautiful sections to it). ..I saw "Under a Glass Moon" live and it kicked ass.

"Pull Me Under" gave the band a boatload of new fans, all eagerly awaiting Dream Theater's next album. So they gave 'em a doozy in 1994.

Awake (Full studio album, one video)

Still sounding very 90s, this album showed off the band's heavy side. And I really mean it showed that off. >W> Once again, if you look elsewhere, you will find endless praise for this "hidden gem," so I'll just tell you to listen to it yourself. Personally, I think the songs are hit-and-miss. Highlights include "A Mind Beside Itself" (three-song suite [Erotomania, Voices, The Silent Man] about mental disorders, comes to be around twenty minutes, I SAW "THE SILENT MAN" LIVE), "The Mirror" (My personal favourite off this album, this is a really heavy song about Mike Portnoy's alcohol addiction, will become important later), and "Space-Dye Vest" (a very Kevin Moore-centric piece, written about a broken relationship, atmospheric beauty ;w;).

After Awake, Kevin Moore left the band. In came Derek Sherinian! Dream Theater decided now to release a song they had written back in their Majesty days: The 24-minute epic "A Change of Seasons" (full song in one video!). This became an instant classic among fans, being released in a separate EP dedicated to the epic and some covers of other bands' songs. After this, the band wanted to record an extremely-progressive double album, but their record company kinda ruined all that, so in 1997, we got their "improved" fourth album instead.

Falling into Infinity (Full album, one video)

Still sounding 90s, this album.. was actually pretty damn good. Many Dream Theater fans hate it, but I gotta say, there are some really good songs on here. ..a lot of not-so-good ones, yes, and the good ones were originally so much better, but I digress! Highlights include "New Millenium" (Really catchy, really badass, this is considered to be the 'theme' to Rapture's second act!), "Peruvian Skies" (Freaking badass, this song's about child abuse. :c It's really good, though!), "Hell's Kitchen" (A gorgeous instrumental, absolutely gorgeous), and "Trial of Tears" (three-movement thirteen-minute song, I cannot.. emphasize how pretty this song gets).

Because Falling into Infinity bombed so hard with critics and fans, the record company did what no record company ever does: They said "Screw it, go ahead and do whatever you guys wanna do." So, with this new free rein, Dream Theater started by swapping keyboardist Sherinian for Jordan Rudess, thus completing a lineup they'd keep for over a decade. Then they decided to release the project fans had been waiting for: A sequel to a certain Images and Words track. ..as a full album in 1999.

Metropolis, part 2: Scenes from a Memory (Full album, one video)

No longer sounding like any time period, Dream Theater's fifth album is a rock opera telling the story of Nicholas, who dreams every night of some girl named Victoria. As the story unfolds, he finds out some pretty crazy things that I'll prolly explain in another post. This album is also highly-praised by fans, yet oddly it's probably my least-favourite Dream Theater album. o_o; Highlights include "Overture 1928" (The overture and start of the second scene, a nice little instrumental track), "Fatal Tragedy" (A pretty catchy track from the third scene, has a badass instrumental section, I SAW THIS THING LIVE AND IT WAS AMAZING), "The Dance of Eternity" (Instrumental from the seventh scene, has literally 128 time signature changes in it, really progressive and technical), and "Finally Free" (the ending to the whole album, you'll have to find it yourself or listen to the whole thing, as I don't wanna spoil it :c).

Metropolis, part 2 gave the band an even bigger underground following, solidifying the band's status as the most famous underground act in music. They followed this powerful album up in 2002 with an even more powerful concept album!

Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (Full album in one video)

This is one of my favourite albums of all time, absolutely. It has only six songs on it, yet it's Dream Theater's only double album and longest album to date. The album revolves around the concepts of inner conflict and the number six. Every goddamn song is a highlight, but I'll stick with just two songs: "The Great Debate" (Thirteen-minute technical marvel about stem-cell research and abortion, mesmerizing goddamn intro, one of my favourite songs of all time) and "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (Dream Theater's first title track, a forty-two-minute eight-movement epic about six different cases of mental disorders, this thing is just... you have to see it to believe it. owe).

During 2003, the band decided to do something pretty amazing: They covered Metallica's Master of Puppets live in its entirety, recording the whole thing. I cannot find the whole thing in one video, so here's "Master of Puppets." It was during this touring that the band decided they really would love to record their own metal masterpiece, so in late 2003, they released their seventh album.

Train of Thought (Full album, one video)

I can tell you right now that this is another one of my favourite albums of all time. It's basically Six Degrees' darker half, in terms of the sound and songwriting. It has seven tracks, and the highlights include "As I Am" (Goddamn badass little metal 'single' of sorts, catchy, and the main guitar riff is what Bound by the Moon turned into The Camper's leitmotif), "Stream of Consciousness" (can't find the full studio recording, used a full live video; this is a gorgeous eleven-minute instrumental), and "In the Name of God" (Fourteen-minute 'mini-epic' of sorts, features one of the most badass riffs and most.. eyemelting guitar solos I've ever heard). ..I saw "Endless Sacrifice" live. :3

On their next tour, the band occasionally covered Iron Maiden's The Number of the Beast in its entirety. Again, I can't find the full thing, so here's the title track. For 2005, the band released a really special album for their eighth.

Octavarium (Full album, one video)

This eight-song, five-interlude album serves as a concept album revolving entirely around the numbers eight andfive, which seem to come up a lot in Dream Theater's history. Plus, they represent a musical octave and the five chromatics. Highlights of this album include "Panic Attack" (fifth song, eight minutes, video cuts out the ending >_>, WAS IN ROCK BAND), "Sacrificed Sons" (seventh track, eleven minutes, gorgeous song about 9/11), and the title track "Octavarium" (eighth song, twenty-four minute epic [eight times three!], has five movements dealing with cycles and eight instrumental sections dealing with the band's influences [going back full circle]).

Then they toured and covered Pink Floyd's "The Dark Side of the Moon," not even gonna bother looking up videos of this. AND THEN the band signed on with Roadrunner Records and recorded their ninth album, releasing it in 2007.

Systematic Chaos (Can't find the full album, so here's.. an hour-and-a-half documentary of the making of the album, titled Chaos in Progress? <:D)

This is another one of my favourite albums, gotta admit. Yet oddly, most Dream Theater fans bash it repeatedly. ;___; This album isn't a concept album, just being a simple collection of songs, though the songs tend to revolve around more fantastical concepts than normal. Highlights include "In the Presence of Enemies" (25-minute six-movement epic about resurrection and revenge on the deity of your choice), "The Dark Eternal Night" (Video of the band recording the song set to the actual studio recording, this song's about Lovecraft's own Nyarlathotep! It's also ridiculously heavy, with a ridiculously-technical instrumental that breaks down into a ridiculously-impossible guitar solo that, yes, is actually a guitar solo when played live, despite how it was recorded), and "The Ministry of Lost Souls" (fourteen-minute ballad-esque song about a girl whose life is saved by a man who sacrifices himself for her, but she spends the rest of her life with guilt and regret that she can't just join him. Ends beautifully. ;w; Song inspired a significant part of Jordan Eats Normally Now's climax!).

What did the band do next? Well, they recorded yet another album. Their tenth album was released in 2009, and it was pretty damn awesome. .w.

Black Clouds & Silver Linings (Couldn't find the full album in a video, but I did find and link to a full playlist of all the songs! All videos past "The Count of Tuscany" are bonus tracks.)

Only six songs again, but oh well, Dream Theater's shown themselves to be good with small amounts of songs. This album is a concept album dealing with that ever-familiar phrase "Every cloud has a silver lining." ..but this album is a little lacking in terms of lyrical amazement, I admit. >.>; Highlights include "A Nightmare to Remeber"(Sixteen-minute song about a car crash and trippy trip to the hospital when John Petrucci was young), "The Best of Times" (fourteen-minute memorial song written for Mike Portnoy's then-dying father, gorgeous and-- to me-- tearjerking), and "The Count of Tuscany" (nineteen-minute epic about John Petrucci's surprising trip to Tuscany, with some absolutely beautiful musical sections). ...don't hate the latter song for its lyrics. :c Personally, I've learned to laugh with them, not at them.

After this album, in a dramatic turn of events, Mike Portnoy left the band. Dream Theater held auditions for their next drummer, and eventually settled on Mike Mangini, Berklee College of Music professor. Together, the new lineup recorded and released their eleventh album in 2011.

A Dramatic Turn of Events (Full album, one video)

This nine-track album is... really, really good. In my opinion. The drums are quieter, but I can tell you this: They're far more technical and difficult. The songwriting seems even better than ever, and just.. I really enjoy this album! Highlights include "On the Backs of Angels" (single! music video!), "Bridges in the Sky" (eleven-minute heavy powerhouse with a gorgeous chorus), "Outcry" (eleven-minute progressive powerhouse about the middle-eastern protests), and "Breaking All Illusions" (twelve-minute technical marvel by all means owe). Yes, I have seen all four of these songs live. 83

They are currently still touring for their new album, and I happened to catch them in Atlanta in October. Still happy about that. (EDIT: I have since seen them a second time, in London, in February.)

The Twelve-Step Suite

As you know, in 1993, Dream Theater released Awake, which featured heavy progressive song "The Mirror." This song was about former drummer Mike Portnoy's alcohol addiction, and his regrets with it. The song featured call-and-response vocalsa repeated guitar riff with a changing drum rhythm (creating the illusion of a changing riff), a light interlude to discuss regret, and key lyrical phrases "Look in the mirror, my friend," "Let's stare the problem right in the eye," and "Reflections of reality." Take note of all this.

In 2002, Dream Theater released Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, whose first track was a three-movement piece titled "The Glass Prison." This song marked the first of five in Mike Portnoy's "Twelve-Step Suite," dealing with his recovery from his alcoholic addiction and the twelve steps Alcoholics Anonymous led him through, each movement being dedicated to a step.

2003's Train of Thought featured two-movement "This Dying Soul." 2005's Octavarium had two-movement "The Root of All Evil." 2007's Systematic Chaos featured two-movement "Repentance," and 2009's Black Clouds & Silver Linings finished the suite with three-movement "The Shattered Fortress."

The entire 56-minute Twelve-Step Suite, "The Glass Prison" through "The Shattered Fortress," is contained in this single video. I will now analyze the suite for you so you can fully appreciate it. Be warned, as this is one of the single heaviest things the band has ever recorded.

The first movement, Reflection, starts with static and bells taking us into a catchy ostinato (played on a six-string bass and a seven-string guitar), breaking down into a heavy guitar riff in 13/4. And then John Petrucci goes crazy on our faces. We are then taken into the proper 6/4 riff with call-and-response vocals. Back to 13/4 for a bit, and then we are treated to a spiraling reflective chorus (including beautiful line "Desperate attempt, stop the progression at any rate, lift this obsession" that I used for EAT!) and then we are given the "glass prison" break, the 'chorus' of the song itself.

The second movement, Restoration, starts with the catchy ostinato from movement one (complete with ambulance noises! WHIRRWHIRRWHIRRWHIRRWHIRRWHIRRWHIRRWHIRRWHIRRWHOOOOOOOOOOO 83) before breaking into... a repeated guitar riff with changing drum rhythms. Case in point, the riff starts in 3/4, but when the vocals come in, it's suddenly in 4/4 even though the guitar part is exactly the same! o___o;; Cue call-and-response vocals, this movement is very much inspired by "The Mirror." We are then given the restoration chorus, complete with key lyric "I can't break out of this prison all alone/on my own/whatever it is." Cue more fierce call-and-response vocals! The guitar part here has been played with, modifying it into a simple 4/4 rhythm. Cue restoration chorus two, "I can't break out of this prison all alone." And then breakdown!

Third movement Revelation starts with a goddamn kickass bass riff before taking us into the full-band utter wankery. Nothing to contemplate here; just kick back, relax, and enjoy the ride. It lasts a while, and it's all wankery, and that's exactly why I love it. After all this has happened, we are treated to a faith talk. Done pretty well, and it even mentions an ominous door. :3

Fourth movement is a play on the first, Reflections of Reality (Revisited), the title itself being a reference to "The Mirror's" "Reflections of reality". This movement introduces a catchy little.. riff I can't explain very well. It's staccato and stuff. o_o; And then we have beautiful guitar wankery and the melodies are introduced. And then Rudess plays a rad rendition of the "Kingdom" melody to come up later. ..and then, we are treated to "DOO-DOO-DOO, DOO-DOO-DOO." And then "doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo." And then key lyric "Hello, mirror, so glad to see you, my friend. It's been a while." Direct reference to "The Mirror" there, too! Oh, we're gonna have a lotof fun with this suite, friends. >W> "Now it's time to stare the problem right between the eyes, you long-lost child!" "The Mirror" reference right there! Cue "body-breaking" chorus. ...break-down, Mike Portnoy raps to thecatchy little staccato riff. "DOO-DOO-DOO, DOO-DOO-DOO." And then rap part two. And then "DOO-DOO-DOO, DOO-DOO-DOO." And then body-breaking chorus two. Notice how the chorus is set to "DEH-DEH-DEH,DEH-DEH-DEH?" These guys play with riffs a lot. :3 And theeeen we are treated to the aforementioned Kingdom melody, introducing the key lyric "Now that you can see all you have done, it's time to take that step into the kingdom." Plus a reference to a prison, "The Glass Prison."

Movement five, Release, is pretty heavy. Starts with the exact same repeated guitar riff from movement two, and the drums play with it as before. And then we move on to quirky call-and-response vocals. And then, recognize it? It's the restoration chorus three. Yep, the same chorus from the second movement. Oh, we're only getting started. >W> We are now treated to our second faith talk, complete with deep voice! And then the "response" torestoration chorus three. ...and then the band just goes all-out heavy-prog on us in 6/4, time for more wankery! owe Ends with catchy little staccato riff.

The sixth movement, Ready, starts with the start of Octavarium and slowly reintroduces the catchy little staccato riff from movement four. And then it breaks into the "Root" ostinato, which I find to be pretty catchy. .w. We are then given a simple little verse or two before being introduced to the "Ready" chorus, calling it that for convenience. "Take all of me," et cetera.

We go quickly into the seventh movement, Remove. Playing with all kinds of stuff. Cue "I can't break out of this prison all alone." And then, recognize it, cue body-breaking chorus three! "DOO-DOO-DOO, DOO-DOO-DOO!" ..and then crazy wankery breakdown into the Root ostinato and straight into the Ready chorus two, followed byfour Root ostinatos and then the "Octavarium" motif played over a bunch of playful renditions of the Root ostinato.

The eighth movement is unexpected. Regret is a noticeably softer movement, starting with a quiet "doo-doo-doo,doo-doo-doo." You may notice that this follows "The Mirror" as being a light interlude to discuss regret. As the movement begins, we hear our old lyric "Hello, mirror, so glad to see you, my friend. It's been a while." And then a verse. And then the "Regret" chorus! You can probably see the pattern by now, can't you? We're then given a second verse, and then a Regret chorus two, ended with a deep voice mentioning something related tofaith. Hello, pretty John Petrucci guitar solo.

Hello, my favourite movement! Movement nine, Restitution, starts off with that all-familiar "doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo" before introducing famous voices such as Joe Satriani and Steve Vai all discussing their regrets. It all ends on the chilling "It still haunts me" before treating us to a nice relaxing instrumental with backing vocals by John Petrucci and Mike Portnoy. John Myung goes a little crazy with the bass here, too. And then we are given full-throttle the faith talk by Mike Portnoy's deep voice before the movement ends!

Movement ten, Restraint, starts with a lengthy instrumental introduction taking us back into the world of heavy with a bit of a scenic detour. Get ready, this is where things all start to fall together. We're treated to a bit of a play on a "Dying Soul" melody before being given a heavy first movement-esque riff for the verses, where we are given againcall-and-response vocals! And then beautiful old lyric "Look in the mirror, what do you see?" AND THEN, RECOGNIZE IT? A spiraling reflective chorus. ..two. Yep, all the way from the first movement. And then catchy little staccato riff. And then verse two. "Look in the mirror" number two, spiraling reflective chorus number three, and then hello Regret chorus three! This movement is wrapped up by an extensive in--OH GOD I MUST TALK ABOUT THIS. This instrumental, not the solo but the background, has two parts to it. The first part is made up of two different riffs: The repeating guitar riff to changing drum rhythms from movements two and five as well as some part from movement five. The second part is also from "This Dying Soul," though I can't quite place where.

Movement eleven, Receive, starts with a quiet arpeggio, giving us more faith talk by Mike Portnoy's deep voiceand then reintroducing our old friend, "Now that you can see all you have done, it's time to take that step into the kingdom." And theeeen... Ready chorus three, followed by exactly four Root ostinatos and then a wankeriffic Petrucci guitar solo over playful renditions of the Root ostinato.

This solo extends into movement twelve, Responsible. The solo ends and then we are treated to the final verse of the entire suite, "I am responsible; when anyone, anywhere, reaches out for help, I want my hand to be there." Then repeated once. Then we come to a gorgeous close before.... well. I'm going to let you find out what the suite ends on. >W>

Dream Theater's Meta-album

The last song of Metropolis, part 2: Scenes from a Memory (Wow, they don't have the ending on YouTube), "Finally Free," ends to the sound of static.

The next album, Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, begins with "The Glass Prison," which begins with the sound of static. The album ends with the title track, whose final movement ends with a grand chord fading out.

The next album, Train of Thought, begins with "As I Am," which begins with a grand chord fading in, the same chord from "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence." The album ends with "In the Name of God," which ends on a low F on piano.

The next album, Octavarium, starts with "The Root of All Evil," which begins with a low F on piano. The album ends with title track "Octavarium," which ends with the same low F at the start of the album. This reflects the album's concept of ending where it began, of cycles.

Metropolis, part 2 through Octavarium is said to make up Dream Theater's Meta-Album, one long continuous collection of music that is not separated by any limits of album.

"The Octavarium Mirror"

There is no official name for this, so I dubbed it "The Octavarium Mirror" as it centers around Octavarium.

Let's start by defining the difference between a "song" and a "track."

If you rip an album to your computer, it will give you the number of tracks. An album may have, say... two tracks. But they're both labelled "Song part 1" and "Song part 2!" These are not individual songs; they are one song split into two tracks.

Are we clear on this? Okay, good. Now we can begin.

Look at the number of songs on Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.

"The Glass Prison"
"Blind Faith"
"The Great Debate"
"Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (Split into eight tracks on the CD for the sake of easily moving through the song; each track is a movement)

That's six songs. Now let's take a look at the number of songs on Train of Thought.

"As I Am"
"This Dying Soul"
"Endless Sacrifice"
"Honor Thy Father"
"Stream of Consciousness" (I consider this and "Vacant" to be part of the same suite, but a suite is made up ofsongs anyway so they are still separate songs)
"In the Name of God"

That's seven songs, one more than the previous album. Now let's look at Octavarium.

"The Root of All Evil"
"The Answer Lies Within"
"These Walls"
"I Walk Beside You"
"Panic Attack"
"Never Enough"
"Sacrificed Sons"

That's eight songs. The number of songs has been increasing sequentially. But wait, let's look at Systematic Chaos.

"In the Presence of Enemies Part 1"
"Constant Motion"
"The Dark Eternal Night"
"Prophets of War"
"The Ministry of Lost Souls"
"In the Presence of Enemies Part 2" ("Part 1" and "Part 2," same song, so that's only one song)

That's seven songs (eight tracks). One less than the album before it. Finally, let's look at Black Clouds & Silver Linings.

"A Nightmare to Remember"
"A Rite of Passage"
"The Shattered Fortress"
"The Best of Times"
"The Count of Tuscany"

That's six songs, one less than the album before it.

The numbers of songs have been a mirror focusing on Octavarium. Isn't that neat? :D

...Optional Addendum: Before Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence was Metropolis, part 2. Let's look at that album's number of songs.

"Scene One"
"Scene Two"
"Scene Two part 2"
"Scene Three"
"Scene Three part 2"
"Scene Four"
"Scene Five"
"Scene Six"
"Scene Seven"
"Scene Seven part 2"
"Scene Eight"
"Scene Nine"

That's twelve songs, but wait, those are "parts!" That's actually nine songs, technically. Well, the sequence can't go "9 6 7 8 7 6," can it? That doesn't make sense.

..but wait. Let's take a look at the album after Black CloudsA Dramatic Turn of Events.

"On the Backs of Angels"
"Build Me Up, Break Me Down"
"Lost Not Forgotten"
"This is the Life"
"Bridges in the Sky"
"Far from Heaven"
"Breaking All Illusions"
"Beneath the Surface"

....nine. The sequence goes "9 6 7 8 7 6 9." It's still a mirror.

We know for a fact that the Six Degrees-Black Clouds mirror is intentional, but whether or not Metropolis, part 2and A Dramatic Turn of Events are included in this is up to you. Personally, I say it is. I say it's just too awesome to be coincidence. At the very least, Dream Theater should say it was intentional, even if it wasn't.

(That was the entire multi-post analysis. I may add to this later, but this is pretty damn extensive, as it is.)

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