Sound — 9
01. In The Presence Of Enemies, Pt.1 - is what Dream Theater kicks off the album with. The song begins with an instrumental bang. There are some great riffs, and Petrucci is shredtastic. After 2 minutes, the song slows down, and is very majestic sounding, although still retaining it's dark quality. Petrucci gives time to admire his tone, while Rudess has some arpeggios. At about 5 mins. Labrie starts singing. The lyrics are dark and haunting. Shredding resumes at the very end of the song. 02. Forsaken - is a good song. It starts out like a light ballad with piano. I really like James's voice in this song, although sometimes you can't understand what he's saying. Once this song gets kicking, I would not call it a ballad at all. Rudess does some strings, and Petrucci has a good rhythm. His fills are more impressive than the relatively short solo. 03. Constant Motion - in my opinion, is the weakest song on the album. The lyrics are pretty bad, and Labrie really annoyed me in this song. The only part that is slightly interesting is about 4-5 minutes in. Here the song gets progressive, but then goes downhill at 5 minutes again. Rudess has a little solo, but nothing too special. 04. The Dark Eternal Night - is growing on me. I hated this song when it came out as a single. But now I think I've started to appreciate the really nice riffs in this. The voice effect is a little cheesy, but it fits okay with the song, and is not overused. It's a heavy song. Portnoy really shines in this one, and left me awestruck. The only thing I didn't like in the song was aroun 4:30 where Rudess tries to pull of the ragtime piano like in "Dance of Eternity" of of SFaM. It doesn't fit with the song, and is too erratic. At 6 minutes, Petrucci solos with his wah on, and it compliments the song well. 05. Repentance - is the 3rd longest song on the album, at 10:43. It is the lightest song on the album, but by no means happy, inspiring, uplifting, joyful, whatever. It's a very slow song, and most resembles Pink Floyd, like "Shine on You Crazy Diamond." At 4:40 Petrucci has a very nice melodic solo, very David Gilmour-influenced. Then the song includes voice clips by guest artists like Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Neal Morse. Very cool! 06. Prophets Of War - is a really good song. I can't say too much about it, it just is a really solid song. One special thing about this song is that the chants on this song were done my Dream Theater fans who lined up outside the studio to meet Mike Portnoy and record the parts. It's not a spectacular song, and not impressive, but Prophets of War is a solid song with meaningful lyrics. 07. The Ministry - of Lost Souls is one of my favorites. At almost 15 minutes long, this song has a lot of chances to be one! It starts out with a soul-wrenching melody on strings and nice heavy chords by JP. Then it goes acoustic and is nice and progressive. Labrie comes in on the acoustic part and does a good job. The song then gets heavier, but still melodic, with some piano interludes. Petrucci's slow solos are beautifully haunting, and send shivers down my spine. At 7:30 the song really picks up with the kind of rhythm reminiscent of staccato power chords off of Fatal Tragedy or Overture 1928. Then keys and guitar have some great unison solos, ending that section with a technical masterpiece. Then back to the main melody, with some more Labrie. Petrucci ends the song with a nice, long, melodic solo. 08. In The Presence Of Enemies, Pt.2 - is a wonderfully bone-chilling song. The beginning is quiet, but anxious. The melody is phantasmal, and the shadowy lyrics are given a boost my Myung's simple but effective rhythm. At 4 minutes the song gets nice and heavy, and very dark, with phrases like Dark Master of Sin, the shadow will consume him, a presence from the dead, children of hell, etc. At 9:10 we have a long instrumental part, with great work by everyone (well, not Labrie). Petrucci shreds his heart out and Rudess gives a pretty technical solo. After that, the song echoes Pt. 1 for a bit. The end begins seeming like it will be a majestic, uplifting ending, until Labrie says Dark Master and the songs goes dark again. I kind of wanted a more majestic ending, but oh well. The final ending is beautifully mysterious though, with a crescendo that could bring out the Mr. Hyde in anyone.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics were a little too dark for me, darker than what Dream Theater normally puts out: "Dark master of sin," "cup of my enemies blood," "slaughter of the damned." Most of the lyrics told a good story and were thoughtful though. Labrie sounded good. The only song on which the lyrics absoutely sucked was "Constant Motion."
Overall Impression — 8
Overall, I thought this album was very good. I might have wanted some more upbeat songs on there, something like Take the Time or even an actual ballad, but this album was extremely dark. (Well, from what Dream Theater normally puts out.) I still think this album tops Octavarium and Train of Thought. Personally though, I'm still looking for another album like Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. My favorite song on the album is "Ministry of Lost Souls." If it were lost or stolen, I'd buy it again for sure.