Dream Theater is almost aggressively out of fashion in 1999. Few bands subscribe to their dense blend of progressive rock and post-Halen metal, and those that do usually don't have major-label contracts, the way Dream Theater does. There was a point where they tried to straighten out their sound somewhat, as they flirted with straight-ahead, laid-back metal on 1997's Falling into Infinity, but with its 1999 studio sequel, Scenes from a Memory, Dream Theater delves straight into old-fashioned prog rock. Scenes from a Memory is an unabashed concept album, told in two acts, about the 1928 murder of a young woman and how a modern man is haunted by the crime. A convoluted, difficult tale is told in a convoluted, difficult fashion, with no less than four tracks clocking in at well over ten minutes and three others ranging from 6:30 to 8:50. Clearly, this is intended as some sort of masterwork, and what's remarkable is that Dream Theater comes close to creating a masterwork with Scenes from a Memory. The album plays more like a suite than a collection of individual songs. At times, that means the album can bog down slightly in its own flights of fancy and long instrumental sections, but concentrated listens reveal the intricacies of the song structures and the musicianship. Occasionally, it can seem as if James Labrie oversings, but that's a minor point -- the overall end result of the album is quite impressive indeed.
AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine