Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence
was the sixth studio album by Dream Theater, released by Elektra Records on January 29, 2002. This is the first studio album by Dream Theater to have a title track. It’s a kind of thematic concept album where the six songs on the album explore different themes of struggles – alcholism, loss of faith, grief, religious beliefs against scientific research and mental illness. The title track being also the longest track Dream Theater has ever recorded, at a little over 42 minutes long, is a concept piece about various people and their struggle with mental illness. Due to the length, this would be the first album of Dream Theater that would be released as a double CD. The symbolism for this album is the number six. This is the sixth Dream Theater studio album. There are six tracks on the album. The title track is about six different characters.
- Mike Portnoy – Drums, Percussion and Vocals
- John Petrucci – Guitar and Vocals
- John Myung – Bass
- Jordan Rudess – Keyboards
- James LaBrie – Vocals
- Howard Portnoy – Gong drum on the outro of “The Great Debate”
- Doug Oberkircher – sound engineering
- J.P. Sheganowski– assistant engineering
- Kevin Shirley – mixing
- The Glass Prison (Portnoy) 13:52
- I. Reflection 5:54
- II. Restoration 3:44
- III. Revelation 4:14
- Blind Faith (LaBrie) 10:21
- Misunderstood (Petrucci) 9:32
- The Great Debate (Petrucci) 13:45
- Disappear (LaBrie) 6:45
- Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (Portnoy, Petrucci) 42:04
- I. Overture (Instrumental) 6:49
- II. About to Crash (Petrucci) 5:50
- III. War Inside My Head (Portnoy) 2:07
- IV. The Test That Stumped Them All (Portnoy) 5:03
- V. Goodnight Kiss (Portnoy) 6:17
- VI. Solitary Shell (Petrucci) 5:47
- VII. About to Crash (Reprise) (Petrucci) 4:04
- VIII. Losing Time/Grand Finale (Petrucci) 5:59
About the Album
Facing the daunting task of following up the tremendous success that was “Scenes From A Memory”, the band felt it was necessary to not try to thread the same path again. By consciously choosing much more experimentation than on previous albums, they would create a different soundscape. After writing five songs, they also felt that they should try to write a longer track again – their longest track at that point being “A Change of Seasons”. They did attempt to keep the track at a 20 minute lenght, but with more and more ideas added the track just blew up into the 42 minute epic it finally became. Realizing that they would have to cut from the other five songs they’d written to fit this onto one album, Portnoy had the tough decision to make of what songs to cut. There was relief when the label were open to the idea of a double album. They wound up putting the title track on its own disc, splitting the album in half.
When we started writing the sixth song, we already had 55 minutes of music done. I knew in my mind, and even suggested to the others “let’s make another ACoS-type song.” And I remember John Petrucci saying “OK, but let’s not go past 20 minutes.” We figured it would be a single CD set of 75 minutes and that would have been it. As we do with all of our songs it just grows and grows and the next thing we know we are 40 minutes into the song. Before we knew it we had this giant piece of music, which I kind of view as a mini-concept record, a mini Scenes From A Memory. We knew once we had that we needed to come up with a concept that would tie it all together, so John and I came up with this idea of creating six different characters and each of us would write about three of them. So I wrote about three and John wrote about three. Basically, it’s almost like a tour through an insane asylum where people are dealing with mental anguish, manic depression, and issues like that. So we created six different characters and tried to look at their different stories and differences in their lives, but yet the common thread that binds them all together.
Upon release, the album was a success, and was one of the most heavily promoted album during the band’s tenure at Elektra. Critics give them positive reviews for the most part, although some faulted it for the excess of having too many long songs. Fans had bigger trouble accepting it, even splitting their “like” between the two discs. The tour to support the album was also a huge success, with Dream Theater seeing upgrades to bigger venues all over. It was on this tour the band decided that whenever they played a city twice in a row, the second night would always consist of a set with a cover album as part of the setlist. On this tour, they played Master of Puppets by Metallica, and The Number of the Beast by Iron Maiden.
The cover art took a very different approach – with scribbles and muted colors being the main features – and a very large typeface of the title of the album. The scribbles are very involved and all deal with the theme of the album. The “Majesty” symbol can be seen partially faded out under the band’s name on the cover.
This album saw the beginning of the large 12 part saga about Mike Portnoy’s struggle with alcholism, and the Alcoholics Anonymous 12-step program. On each following album another song would continue this saga (with This Dying Soul on Train of Thought, Root of All Evil on Octavarium, Repentance on Systematic Chaos and Shattered Fortress on Black Clouds and Silver Linings).
The beginning of the album continues the static white noise from the end of Scenes from a Memory, and the end of this album would lead into Train of Thoughs “As I Am”.
Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence would not be backed by a live album release. This is something it shares with “When Dream and Day Unite”, “Awake” and “Black Clouds and Silver Linings”. However, the title track appears in full with an orchestra backing it on the Score DVD.
The album is notable for it’s use of non-traditional effects and recording techniques. Stealing a page from the book of George Harrison, John Petrucci recorded the solo for Misunderstood backwards, by writing the solo, reversing it, learning this version and recording it before reversing the resulting recording. Multiple overdubs, sonic experimentaion, and different instrumentation created a unique sound that has not been replicated on later albums.
Another notable thing with this album was that it was the first to feature song writing credits where the contributors were explicitly named. Previously, song writing was credited with just “Dream Theater” – meaning all members of the band got to take part in the song writing credit (and subsequent royalty check). But due to some internal dispute, this was altered. Meaning James LaBrie no longer would recieve writing credits for songs he did not contribute to.
The Great Debate, a song about the moral and religious issues surrounding stem cell research, was originally title “Conflict at Ground Zero”. But due to the 9/11 attacks on New York, and the subsequent name for the site of the world trade center being referred to as “Ground Zero”, the band chose to rename the song.
The children heard playing at the beginning of Goodnight Kiss are Mike’s kids, Melody and Max. The kiss is Melody and Marlene (Mike’s wife).
The title track being sequenced into 8 seperate tracks was a choice not easily made by Mike Portnoy. He chose to go with the index of 8 tracks instead of a single 42 minute track because it would be easier to skip to favorite sections with many shorter tracks.
In the making of the album videos released on the internet, Mike Portnoy reveals an “inspiration corner”. This is something fans would later heavily criticize, as they felt Dream Theater wore their inspirations too heavily on their sleeves. The inspiration corner for this album was: Metallica’s Master of Puppets, Radiohead’s OK Computer (and also a Radiohead bootleg Portnoy brought in), Pantera’s Vulgar Display of Power and the song “Mouth for War”, Megadeth’s Rust in Peace, U2’s Achtung Baby, Tool’s Ænima, Nine Inch Nails’ The Downward Spiral, Soundgarden’s Superunknown, Alice in Chains’ Dirt, Kevin Gilbert’s Thud, King’s X’s Faith Hope Love and Galactic Cowboys’ Space in Your Face, Béla Bartók, Rage Against the Machine’s The Battle of Los Angeles, and Maria Tipo’s Chopin Nocturnes.
To promote this album, four different radio edits were released. These were also given away as a free gift to the fan club members around the world. This album has the distinction of the most radio singles being released for it: “Disappear” “Solitary Shell” “The Test That Stumped Them All” and “Blind Faith”. All four appeared on Four Degrees Of Radio Edits.