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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Dream Theater

Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence

Review by Gary Hill

This isn’t a favorite Dream Theater album for me. It has a tendency to feel a bit like “going through the motions,” and it has more metal moments than a lot of their discs do. That said, the multi-part epic suite all by itself makes this worth having. There are some other particularly effective moments, too.

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Track by Track Review
The Glass Prison

The sound of an old recording opens this. A chiming bell is heard as that continues. Then mellow sounds build upward with a chiming harmonic. It explodes into powerful metallic fury from there. After the minute and a half mark it shifts toward some serious thrash music. That sound serves as the backdrop for the first vocals. It’s a really metal kind of thing. The keyboards over the top, though, bring a different angle to the sound. This thing keeps shifting and turning. Although this beast is more metal than progressive rock, both are here. The very crazed and dynamic arrangement here lands it into prog territory anyway. There is a frantic jam later that even wanders toward fusion.

Blind Faith
Starting this with a mellow movement that rises up, the cut shifts towards a progressive rock power ballad approach. It has a real retro soulful vibe in some ways. It’s more energetic, perhaps, than power ballad conveys. It’s melodic and mid-tempoed, though. It’s past the two and a half minute mark before it powers out into harder rocking sounds. They work through that and modulate it with the more melodic in some ways. There are some moments that are quite metallic. There is a guitar solo section that definitely lands more in the metal end of the arena. Some piano brings it more towards prog. Then they continue with the jamming (and a keyboard based approach) bringing it toward hard edged prog that has a lot of fusion in the mix. After returning to the song proper for more vocals, they stretch out into mellower territory to continue.
Misunderstood
This is definitely a progressive rock piece. A lot of it lands in a moody kind of ballad-like sound. That said, it gets heavier and a little weirder later. This has some of the most captivating musical moments of the whole album. The closing jam is one of my favorite musical passages here.
The Great Debate
Almost the first three minutes of this are made up with a jam that’s part prog rock, part space music, part jam band sound. It’s covered with soundbites from newscasts about stem cell research. From there, they fire out into an energized, heavy prog jam that’s very much trademark Dream Theater. This is actually one of my favorite songs of the set. It has some awesome turns and changes and is evocative. It’s really one heck of a ride in some of the later sections. The soundbites return further down the road.
Disappear
Packed with emotion, this is really a prog power ballad. It’s quite pretty. It’s also very sad. I would consider it one of the highlights here, too.
Overture
The first part of a massive suite, this is an instrumental that is quite symphonic and classical in structure. It has mellower segments, but also fires out into hard rocking music. It is very much a progressive rock piece through and through, though.
About To Crash
Coming out of the previous movement, piano drives this as it moves forward. It fires out into a straightahead, trademark DT styled jam from there. This is great stuff.
War Inside My Head
Screaming hot Dream Theater prog makes this piece really work. It’s very effective.
The Test That Stumped Them All
There is a bit of thrash added to the mix on this movement. It really screams out of the gate. It has some rather strange bits built into it at times.
Goodnight Kiss
Another with a lot of emotion built into it, this is a pretty ballad. It’s quite powerful and the melodic guitar solo later lifts it higher. The instrumental section turns toward metallic territory later, too.
Solitary Shell
This is a pretty mainstream and melodic prog jam. That said, it has some serious shifts and turns. It’s also got a lot of emotion in the mix. There are some great instrumental moments, too. The jam later in the piece, gets rather crazed.
About To Crash - Reprise
Tying back to the earlier piece, this is a real progressive rock powerhouse. Yes, it’s heavy and rather crunchy. It’s also pure prog, too. It’s a really soaring number. 
Losing Time / Grand Finale
The final movement works out of the modes from the last segment. It has a real “wrapping up” kind of feel as it works through. Then it drops to a mellower mode for the vocals. This builds upward in a very evocative fashion before finally dropping off to take it to the end.
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