Dream Theater Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence

A bit labour-intensive (six songs, 100 minutes), but what do you expect from the leaders of progressive metal? If you heard their recently-released triple-live disc, you're probably still recovering, but that shouldn't stop you from diving into this prog metal smorgasbord. Thankfully, a lot of the band's poodle ballad muck has been eliminated and most of the songs here find the band quite aggressive; even the ballads sound bleak. As always, drummer Mike Portnoy steals the show here, proving once and for all that he is part of his kit, his kit is part of him and there is none that can compare to him in terms of style, grace and control. All the other members handle their instruments with a jaw-dropping expertise as well, creating excellently crafted technical workouts that somehow manage to stay enjoyable, even to the average listener that could care less about paradiddles or 6/4 timings and just wants to rock. The production is crystal clear, taking the listener on a journey through the human psyche (it's a concept album, of course), which is a powerful trip if listened to on headphones, assuming you have the time to spare, which is probably Dream Theater's biggest obstacle: a lot of people don't have the patience. (Elektra)