Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence

Dream Theater

Elektra, 2002

REVIEW BY: Jedediah Pressgrove


Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence is a stupid mouthful of a title. If you research the phrase a bit, you will read that it refers to the six songs on this double album. “Only six songs on a double album?” you say. Well, kind of. The first disc has five songs, most of which are quite looooooong. The second disc has one 42-minute song, “Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence,” but it is split into eight tracks. And six of those tracks deal with what could be called “Inner Turbulence.” So it seems the title refers to both the six songs on the album and six parts of the sixth song. Add another six of something and this could have been stupid and Satanic.

But hell, that’s metal. Plus, I’m sure Dream Theater was feeling pressure to top their last conceptual mammoth, Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes From A Memory.

Dream Theater is easier to listen to in small doses, and that’s why I prefer the second disc of this album. Because of this favoritism, I’m going to sum up the first disc now: disconnected. The songs are too long with dozens of riffs and metamorphoses. They definitely have the technical side of music down, and if you listen to the first disc for this reason, you’ll be satisfied (or perhaps tired after you burn yourself out on years of technical listening like I did). Speaking of disconnected, I have lost focus in this paragraph, but you know how lame Aerosmith sounds when they save the sappy and slow song for the last track of an album? A bit of that is going on with “Disappear,” the “Home Tonight” for a new generation. nbtc__dv_250

On to the second disc. Some of these songs are poppy, particularly “Solitary Shell.” But things start off on the opulent side with “Overture.” Guess what? It’s an instrumental with solid technical playing from all parties!

Moving on, the second track, “About To Crash,” should have cut the noodling and not taken so damn long to end…part of me likes the song because vocalist James LaBrie seems to have restrained himself, a welcome sound given the yelping on the first disc (he’s restrained on “Disappear” as well, but it’s a boring and misplaced song). Then you hear “Napalm Death,” a quick and fun metal song – even better, LaBrie only goes over the top a little. The album soon slaps you into a demented speed assault. “The Test That Stumped Them All” is a nasty tune, reminiscent of the best Metallica, and gets strange, almost like an evil Yes. Alas, it runs out of gas like “About To Crash” and leads into “Goodbye Kiss,” a fragile pathetic song I like half the time for perhaps a fragile pathetic reason. It reminds me of when I first heard 1970’s rock ballads. Oh, and guess what? “Goodbye Kiss” is too long.

“Solitary Shell” is essentially the end of the album. Or at least the last thing I can remember from the second disc, even after years of listening. “About To Crash (Reprise)” (I swear to Christ these guys love Pink Floyd) and “Losing Time/Grand Finale” are the actual two last songs, but they’re inoffensive and, more importantly, things I cannot remember. What makes “Solitary Shell” memorable? Keyboardist Jordan Rudess manages to be…not a showy center of attention. He also seems to channel Keith Emerson before the first couple of verses. Trust me, Emerson, Lake, OR Palmer can work when it only lasts seconds, not minutes. Even when “Solitary Shell” turns into a silly rock song after a couple of choruses, it jumps into a graceful acoustic number. So this one is too long as well when that stupid scale playing starts again, but you can forgive them.

I’m a lunatic for giving progressive rock/metal chance after chance with often nothing but a mediocre five-minute guitar solo to share with friends, but every once in a while you find a band like Yes or Dream Theater. They can have the same flaws as the most annoying progressive music, but they also generate enough good material to justify exploration. If nothing else, Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence is this dichotomy.

Rating: B-

User Rating: C+


Good, spot-on review. Dream Theater has always aced the mucisianship test. But where's the soul? Without that, music is just...boring.

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