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Close your eyes and begin to relax. Take a deep breath, and let it out slowly. Concentrate on your breathing; with each breath, you become more relaxed.
Imagine you are reading a webpage about Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory, a 1999 rock opera/concept album by the progressive metal band Dream Theater, which is also the band's first album to feature Jordan Rudess on the keyboards. It follows the story of a man named Nicholas and his hypnosis-induced exploration of a past life involving love and murder as a young woman named Victoria Page.
Now as I count back from ten to one, you will feel more peaceful and calm.
Ten. (click) Nine. (click) Eight. (click) Seven.
You will enter a safe place, where nothing can harm you.
(click) Six. (click) Five. (click) Four. (click)
The album is a sequel to the song "Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper", from the band's 1992 album Images and Words. Scenes from a Memory greatly expands on the story and thematic concept originally presented in the song using narrative lyrics from the points of view of multiple characters interspersed with technically and rhythmically detailed music and instrumentals.
(click) Three. (click) Two.
If, at any point, you want to read a serious, in-depth plot summary of the album, all you need to do is look at the Other Wiki.
- "Scene 1: Regression" - 2:06
- "Scene 2: Overture 1928 / Strange Déjà Vu" - 8:41
- "Scene 3: Through My Words / Fatal Tragedy" - 8:00
- "Scene 4: Beyond This Life" - 11:23
- "Scene 5: Through Her Eyes" - 5:29
- "Scene 6: Home" - 12:53
- "Scene 7: The Dance of Eternity / One Last Time" - 10:00
- "Scene 8: The Spirit Carries On" - 6:38
- "Scene 9: Finally Free" - 12:00
- John Petrucci - guitars, backing vocals
- John Myung - bass
- James LaBrie - lead vocals
- Jordan Rudess - keyboards
- Mike Portnoy - drums, backing vocals
Scenes from a Memory provides examples of:
- Album Intro Track: "Regression" is one, consisting largely of dialogue of the Hypnotherapist putting Nicholas into a trance.
- Album Title Drop: The phrase "Scenes from a Memory" appears in "Home".
- The Alcoholic: Julian is a heavy drinker as well as a gambler. It's part of the reason why Victoria started an affair with Edward.
- All There in the Manual: There is no indication in either the lyrics or the packaging that the Hypnotherapist kills Nicholas. It was only officially confirmed in the commentary track of a live DVD.
- Victoria's full name is Victoria Page, and the brothers Julian and Edward have the last name Baynes. This is not confirmed in the lyrics of the album, only in the supplementary material.
- Arc Words: The phrase "Open your eyes" appears many times throughout the album. The first person who says this is the Hypnotherapist at the beginning of the album, but the words are later repeated by Edward right before he kills Victoria and by the Hypnotherapist before he kills Nicholas.
- The Bad Guy Wins: Edward murders Julian and Victoria, successfully framing Julian for it. The hypnotherapist also kills Nicholas, although we don't know if he got away with it.
- Big Bad: Edward and his reincarnation, the Hypnotherapist. It is implied that the entire reason Victoria is communicating with Nicholas is to warn him that the Hypnotherapist will murder him as Edward did Victoria, leading to the further implication that the whole album is part of an endless cycle of murder and rebirth.
- Break the Cutie: Nicholas starts as a relatively happy man and slowly is broken as he learns about Victoria's life and premature death until the point at which he breaks down crying at her grave.
- Breather Episode: "Through My Words", "Through Her Eyes", and "The Spirit Carries On" are this from a musical perspective.
- Call-Forward: Brief snippets of "Home" and "Through Her Eyes" can be heard during "Regression"
- Concept Album: The album tells a grand story about a man trying to solve a murder of his past reincarnation using hypnotherapy.
- Corrupt Politician: Edward uses his clout as a Senator to sway the newspapers into framing Julian and Victoria's deaths as a murder-suicide instead of a murder.
- Crazy Jealous Guy: Edward killed Victoria, as well as his own brother Julian, out of jealousy when Victoria decided to go back to Julian.
- Dark Reprise:
- "Through Her Eyes" can be seen as a downplayed version of this to "Through My Words". The piano part in the verses and chorus of the former make up the entirety of the latter.
- The chorus of "One Last Time" is repeated in "Finally Free" after The Reveal that the Hypnotherapist is Edward, who killed both Victoria and Julian in their past lives.
- Downer Ending: It's heavily implied that, at the end of "Finally Free", Nicholas is killed by the hypnotherapist, who is a reincarnation of Edward, the man who killed Victoria. Confirmed on the live DVD by the band. It honestly borders on Sudden Downer Ending the first time through, though on later listens, it's foreshadowed pretty well.
- Dreaming of Times Gone By: Both through the hypnotherapy sessions that Nicholas goes through and as a set up for the plot itself, with the dreams of Victoria being the reason he seeks out the therapist in the first place.
- Epic Instrumental Opener: "Overture 1928", though it is proceeded by a track with lyrics ("Regression").
- Epic Rocking: The album is almost 80 minutes long, spread across 12 songs, the longest (Home) at twelve minutes and 53 seconds, followed closely by Finally Free (11:59) and Beyond This Life (11:22).
- Fading into the Next Song: Naturally, given that it's a Rock Opera. Subverted with the transition between "Through Her Eyes" and "Home", since it's transitioning between two acts.
- Genre Shift: The last few minutes of "Finally Free" contain no music, playing out like a radio show instead.
- Gospel Revival Number: "The Spirit Carries On" has vaguely Christian-sounding lyrics (although in context, it's about reincarnation rather than going to heaven), and has a gospel choir and organs.
- Gratuitous Panning: The clock ticks at the beginning of "Regression", several parts of "Beyond This Life", the sound-effects section of "Home", and the ending of "Finally Free".
- Haunted House Historian: The old man who tells Nicholas about Victoria's murder in "Fatal Tragedy". It's described in "Strange Déjà Vu".
- The Hero Dies: The therapist kills Nicholas.
- If I Can't Have You…: Edward ends up murdering Victoria for cheating on him with her ex-boyfriend Julian.
- Instrumentals: "Overture 1928" and "The Dance of Eternity".
- Karma Houdini: As far as we know, neither Edward or the Hypnotherapist ever face justice for their crimes.
- Kill the Cutie: Edward killed Victoria due to his jealousy towards her rekindling her relationship with Julian. The hypnotherapist, who's his reincarnation, does this to Nicholas.
- Last Note Nightmare: "One Last Time" subverts this. The piano part at the end sounds creepy in a way, but the last chord is a happy sounding chord that sets up the next song, "The Spirit Carries On"
- Meaningful Echo: The last words of the album, uttered by the Hypnotherapist, revealing him as Edward's reincarnation as he kills Nicholas."Open your eyes, Nicholas." *yelp* *static*
- Miniscule Rocking: "Regression" (2:07) and "Through My Words" (1:07)
- Murder Ballad: "Fatal Tragedy," "Beyond This Life," and "Finally Free", since they're all about how Edward killed Julian and Victoria.
- Murder the Hypotenuse: Edward ends up killing his brother Julian and Victoria for their affair.
- No Name Given: Names for the hypnotherapist and the Haunted House Historian are never given.
- Not Afraid to Die: In "The Spirit Carries On", Nicholas states that he doesn't fear death now that he knows that he'll be reincarnated.I used to be frightened of dying
I used to think death was the end
But that was before, I'm not scared anymore
I know that my soul will transcend
- One-Woman Wail: At the beginning of "Through Her Eyes" and the end of "The Spirit Carries On"
- Past-Life Memories: The plot centers around Nicholas' attempts to solve the mysteries of his past life, Victoria.
- Power Ballad: "The Spirit Carries On" is a slow, emotional song that starts off with gentle singing and piano, and leads to a climax with organs, a gospel choir, and a soulful guitar solo. The audience tends to do a Raised Lighter Tribute when it's played live.
- Real Life Writes the Plot: The news snippet at the end of "Finally Free" is a CNN report about the death of John Kennedy Jr. It was included to show that the modern-day sections take place in 1999.
- Reincarnation: Nicholas is a reincarnation of Victoria, and the Hypnotherapist is a reincarnation of Edward.
- The Reveal: "Finally Free". Unbeknownst to Nicholas, Edward kills his brother Julian while Julian and Victoria re-kindle their relationship (supposedly) in secret; Edward then tells Victoria to "open [her] eyes" before killing her. He plants a suicide note on Julian and then assumes his role as the witness, reported earlier in the album (in "Beyond This Life") as a newspaper column. The reason Nicholas is unaware of this is because his hypnotherapist ended the session abruptly, right when Nicholas has made peace with being a re-incarnated Victoria, so that Nicholas could not become aware of this revelation, or the fact that his hypnotherapist was a reincarnation of Edward and was preparing to kill him (again) — something Victoria was trying to warn him about.
- Record Needle Scratch: At the end of "Finally Free", a record needle scratch followed by static represents Nicholas being murdered by the Hypnotherapist, abruptly ending the album.
- The Roaring '20s: The past segments with Victoria take place in 1928.
- Siamese Twin Songs: "Regression" -> "Overture 1928" -> "Strange Deja Vu", and "Through My Words" -> "Fatal Tragedy".
- Spoken Word in Music: The album contains voice acting for the Hypnotherapist, Victoria, Julian, and Edward.
- Stock Scream: "Finally Free" uses "Screams 7; Woman, Three Screams, Exterior Close Perspective" from The Hollywood Edge Sound Effects Library, representing Victoria's screams as she is murdered.
- Triumphant Reprise: "The Spirit Carries On" contains a full-band reprise of the acoustic track "Regression", complete with a gospel-style choir.
- Uncommon Time: It shows up here and there. "The Dance of Eternity" (the notes of which are the current page image for said trope) is one of the most well-known examples of this trope with over a hundred time-signature changes in under seven minutes.
- Unfinished Business: A variant. Victoria isn't explicitly mentioned as a ghost, but she attempts to communicate with Nicholas through his dreams to get him to investigate her murder. And to warn him of his coming demise.
- Vicious Cycle: The Miracle kills Metropolis yet again.
- Villain Song: Any part sung in Edward's point of view. Examples include the second verse and second chorus of "Home" and the first verse of "Finally Free".
- Wham Line: "Open your eyes, Victoria!" Even if the listener puts it all together, it doesn't make a later line, "Open your eyes, Nicholas!", any less unsettling.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: There's no mention of who the modern-day "Sleeper" (Julian's reincarnation) is, although some theorize it's the old man in "Fatal Tragedy" (this is supported by an animated video that played during the song in 2019 anniversary tour) or Nicholas' wife mentioned in "Through Her Eyes".
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Nicholas thinks he has solved the murder of Victoria and found out the meaning of his dreams. He goes home happy, turns on some music, and is promptly murdered by the Hypnotherapist.
- "OPEN YOUR EYES, NICHOLAS"*VRRRRRP*—KSSSSSHHHHHHHHHHT (Cue "The Glass Prison".)