Headbanger's Guide #9 - Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence

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Total votes : 3

Headbanger's Guide #9 - Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence

Postby A7XDrumCovers » Fri May 24, 2013 4:12 am

A7XDrumCovers here. After taking a long break from my series, I believe it's time for it to return. We have almost reached guide 10, and I appreciate the feedback given in the last few guides. I am attempting to perfect it as much as possible and I want to attempt to make number 10, the best one yet. The issues, what to write about. It's times like this where I feel like I should pick a big band but then everyone knows them already.

So, I have a question for the readers. What do YOU want to see be used for a new guide? I have given you choices of genres of music, that you can pick from. I also enabled revoting, in case you want to change your decision afterwards. I really hope you will pick what you like! Here's the catch, it will be a guide on an album, by a band that is probably not well known by multiple readers. But lets get to the article. :-)

Today, we take a look at an album that has struck me. HOWEVER, we are only looking at the second disk. Which, is more important to most fans. This, is Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence.

Known as one of the best albums in progressive metal, Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence disk 2 included one song that was cut into 8 different parts, called an epic. Another example is Rush who also has an epic, called 2112. Six Degrees lasts 42 minutes, nearly twice the length of 2112. Each part has a significant difference in sound, but still keeps the same balance of sound and incredible ideas all mixed in. The best part? Epics are recorded in ONE SITTING! That's right, they performed the entire song in one shot! How awesome is that? Only the finest can do such brilliant work and do it for so long! Of course with Mike Portnoy on drums, you really can't go wrong.

The songs message can be shown here (Source is Wikipedia) :
Spoiler: show
The lyrics of the song never stay on one particular subject, instead describing each of the six people (referred to as the Six Degrees). Each of these people suffer from a different mental disability, and all six disabilities are described in the lyrics. The first movement, Overture, is an instrumental, which means it doesn't describe any of these disabilities, and the lyrics for the seventh movement, About To Crash (Reprise), describe the same person from the second movement, About to Crash, but from a different point of view (see analysis below). Though there are many Time signature changes in the song, most of the themes are in 7/4 (About to Crash, Solitary Shell), 13/8 (The Test that Stumped Them All), 6/8 (Grand Finale) or common time.
I. Overture
This serves mainly as an introduction, encompassing the many musical themes which occur throughout the remaining movements.
II. About to Crash
The lyrics tell of a girl (Degree 1) who has one of the most well known of all mental illnesses: Bipolar disorder. With bipolarity, a patient suffers from manic episodes (e.g. "She can't stop pacing, she never felt so alive") alternating with depressive crashes (e.g. "Then one day, she woke up to find, the perfect girl, had lost her mind"). Bipolar mania often involves heightened energy, flight of ideas ("Her thoughts are racing, set on overdrive."). Manics will often work for hours on end to the point of exhaustion and will often neglect their other duties to attend to whatever goal they have set their minds on at the time. ("They're expecting her, but she's got work to do.")
Bipolar sufferers tend to get worse when the affliction is untreated, and her father/spouse, presumably, has seen this ("I've never seen her get this bad").
III. War Inside My Head
This movement tells the story of someone (Degree 2) who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder, as some soldiers do after war. The lyrics show he served in Vietnam ("napalm showers"). The chorus reveals he has flashbacks ("Hearing voices from miles away... Waging a war inside my head"), experiencing instances where he believes that he is still in Vietnam. The second verse implies that he may believe he will have the condition indefinitely ("Trading innocence for permanent psychotic hell"). During the final chorus, it is revealed that his anxiety has become more pronounced ("Tasting danger with each word I say").
IV. The Test That Stumped Them All
This patient (Degree 3) is suffering from schizophrenia, ("He lives in a world of fiction"). Schizophrenics suffer from a variety of symptoms that are touched on in the lyrics here. Obvious ones include references to delusions and the fact that he "lives in a world of fiction". "Intro tape begins to roll...igniting sonic rage" refers to the fact that schizophrenics are prone to auditory hallucinations... especially command hallucinations that tell the person what to do - even to the point of killing someone or themselves ("To save him from himself"). However, there are references to drug abuse in this song (Random urine testing,/counseling and therapy."), so schizophrenia may only be part of the song.
Unfortunately, there is no "cure" for schizophrenia ("Counseling and therapy providing not a clue") and very little information on its cause (hence the name, "The Test That Stumped Them All"). There is, however, treatment with a variety of anti-psychotic medications ("Pills, red, pink and blue"). Decades ago, there used to be a prevalent method of treating the disorder with shock treatments and this is referenced by the "doctors" suggesting it in the song.
V. Goodnight Kiss
This is a piece about a mother (Degree 4) who has lost her child, in one form or another, and is suffering from post-partum depression ("Are you lonely without Mommy's love?" ... "I'm so lonely without Baby's love"). There is also evidence of the child having been hospitalized at some point, or perhaps died during child birth. The mother struggles between believing that the loss of her child is her fault ( ... "my tainted blood's still the same") or the doctors fault ("Those bastard doctors are gonna pay"). A heart monitor, and a baby crying can be heard in the later part of the song, suggesting a medical problem with the baby; the manic laughter of a doctor also suggests a recurring nightmare that the sufferer has. The lyrics also suggest the death of more than one child on separate occasions ("It's been five years to the day and my tainted blood's still the same")
VI. Solitary Shell
Referred to as Degree 5, this person most likely has Asperger syndrome. The lyric tells us that he started off quite normal ("He seemed no different from the rest" "He learned to walk and talk on time, but never cared much to be held"), however, he did withdrawal from social contact (the title, "Solitary Shell", shows that he is quite reclusive). The lyrics end with a plea for social acceptance from a peer or relative ("When will he be let out of his solitary shell").
VII. About to Crash (Reprise)
This section carries on from where About to Crash left off. This time the song is sung from the sufferer's point of view and describes her going through another manic episode ("I'm invincible, despair will never find me"). She then makes the realization that she will come out soon only to have another depressive episode ("And when I fall out of the sky, who'll be standing by"). The lyrics here possibly show the bipolarity is getting better as sufferers tend to become more conscious of the syndrome when they start to feel more like themselves. Pieces from several other movements are included in this and could further describe the character's bipolar and confusion.
VIII. Losing Time
The last degree is a girl suffering from dissociative identity disorder, previously called Multiple Personality Disorder. The lyrics tell the listener that she does not have many friends ("She never wears makeup, But no-one would care if she did anyway"). This is probably caused by having her life split among multiple personalities. The results of which is her relative amnesia caused by her inability to keep track of her life among her multiple personalities ("She doesn't recall yesterday, faces seem twisted and strange"). However, this may also be a reference to Alzheimer's. This can be justified by the lines "She always wakes up, only to find she'd been miles away", a possible reference to Alzheimer's victims "wandering", leaving their families to wonder where they went. The "Losing Time" title refers to the fact that she isn't living parts of her life due to her dissociative identity disorder, which in turn implies that she is "losing time". The lyrics also reveal the darker side of dissociative identity disorder, in that those who suffer from this disorder often create alternate personalities in order to cope with severe emotional or physical trauma ("She learned to detach from herself, a behavior that kept her alive").

Lets begin the grading of each part. Now, I could go on forever about this song, but I would like to keep it short and simple today. The big episode is coming up, I can't use up all my brain power just yet. Wink wink.

Track 1 - Overture
Honestly, this part is beautiful and is an excellent, in fact, brilliant way to create an introduction to such a powerful piece. However, even with all of this in mind, I just can't get into it. It's too long, and seems very synthesized. Being too synthesized is buzzkill for me.

Track 2 - About To Crash
I love the sound of this part! The keyboard, drums, and the interesting bass grooves are very well emphasized and the overall sound is so different from anything else I've ever experienced!

Track 3 - War Inside My Head
This part is again, something I've never experienced, it's excellent in a way how the song completely changes sound in one crash hit! The guitar and drums, in tandem with keyboards, sound the best in this part. The vocals are a little awkward. But it fits the songs mood.

Track 4 - The Test That Stumped Them All
Awesome beat! This is why Mike Portnoy is awesome! The bass seemed like it shined her although it has such a minor part. The guitar sounds really interesting in this one, like an 80's thrash metal song. I really enjoy this part!

Track 5 - Goodnight Kiss
The singing is just, absolutely phenomenal here. The soft sound of it works very well, and even after all the soft keys it slowly becomes heavier and heavier again and it actually turns out so awesome from beginning to end! I find myself singing this part all the time.

Track 6 - Solitary Shell
My favourite part of the entire epic. So unique, yet so strong. The synthesizers and acoustic guitar is really cool! At the same time, the lyrics once again hit me strongly. I really can't say much else, other than saying its just absolutely perfect in its own way.

Track 7 - About To Crash (Reprise)
Basically, it's the same thing as the second part only heavier. I personally don't like this version as much. The introduction of it is too heavy. You need a balance of light and heavy when your a Prog metal band. I'm not saying I don't like it, but it would be nice for a bit of a fix on that. Although the end of this part is really cool sounding to me!

Track 8 - Losing Time
Something about this part makes me want to cry. I really like the tone that it changes to, comparing it to any other part is somewhat unlikely because its another very unique point in the song. The lyrics hit me a lot again. The guitar also especially makes me happy. It sounds like a peaceful song but it really isn't. The drum beats are quite strange, almost rare in a way with how they are so awkwardly slow then all of a sudden quite quick. But it generally works out and that's pretty cool! The keyboards have an interesting part in this song and it works well for it. Even with all of that in mind, I can't say I enjoy listening to this part! It feels like its out of place and by the time I've listened to the whole song, I just want to shut it off here because it seems like a bad way to end the song. It's almost like a bonus track. However, like I said, it works well with the lyrical flow of the rest of the tune which is quite nice regardless. This is a hit and miss track.

Well, I hope you enjoyed this somewhat special episode, as we make out way to episode 10! Until next time, farewell.
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