|Suite by Dream Theater|
|Genre||Progressive metal, groove metal, heavy metal, progressive rock|
|Producer||Mike Portnoy, John Petrucci|
The Twelve-step Suite (also known as the Twelve-step Saga or Alcoholics Anonymous Suite), is a series of five songs by progressive metal band Dream Theater. One song has featured on each Dream Theater studio album from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence through to Black Clouds & Silver Linings.
The lyrics to each song, written by drummer at the time Mike Portnoy, deal with his experience of alcoholism. Each song represents a certain number of the Twelve Steps. Various lyrical and musical themes run through the Suite. It was written by the band with the intention of eventually playing it live as one piece.
|“||For so many years... I would never let my drinking and partying get in the way of my playing or my work with the band... For fifteen years straight I drank and drugged every single day. But it was always kind of responsible and was always at the end of the night... As time went on, I would start to have my first couple of drinks before the encore... Then Jose [Baraquio, Portnoy's then-drum technician] started giving me drinks in the keyboard solo in the middle of the show... Towards the end, I was drinking earlier in the day while the opening band were on, and I would get onstage already half-crocked.||”|
Portnoy went through periods of taking other drugs, including marijuana, prescription drugs and cocaine, though he considered alcohol to be his "drug of choice". Bandmate James LaBrie noted that Portnoy was "drinking like a fish"; his drinking had become a source of tension within the band. Portnoy consumed his final alcoholic drink on April 20, 2000 after the final show on Dream Theater's Scenes from a Memory tour. He found the Alcoholics Anonymous twelve-step program (which he considers to have "saved his life"), and makes it a priority to attend meetings while touring.
Portnoy's struggle with alcohol was the subject of "The Mirror", a song from Dream Theater's Awake, released in 1994. After he stopped drinking, Portnoy decided to write a suite of tracks describing the twelve-step program which would span several albums. He views the Suite as one concept album, spread over five releases. Portnoy started with an initial lyrical idea for the entire Suite, but musically the band "approached it fresh" when writing each track. The Suite was planned as something which would eventually be performed live in its entirety. All songs are dedicated to "Bill W. and his friends".
Portnoy described the process of writing the tracks as "very therapeutic". Upon finishing the Suite in 2009, he reflected that he had "dug [himself] into a hole with it. It was a nice idea seven years ago... After a while it became like an obligation hanging over my head, like a homework assignment." He said that he "didn't know if [he] would have done it" if he knew how big the Suite was going to be: "If I had realized what I was getting myself into five albums ago... I think maybe I would have written one song that encompassed all twelve steps."
The Glass Prison
"The Glass Prison" contains the first three parts of the Suite ("Reflection", "Restoration" and "Revelation"). It is the first track on Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and is the longest track of the "Twelve-step Suite". Rich Wilson (author of Dream Theater's official biography, Lifting Shadows) describes the track as "a clattering mass of riffs and shredding that finds Dream Theater at their most grinding". The weekend before entering the studio to start work on Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, John Petrucci and Portnoy saw Pantera perform at the Hammerstein Ballroom, New York City. This provided a great influence on the band when they started writing. Portnoy described the track as musically "this total Pantera-meets-Megadeth, relentless ball of energy".
This Dying Soul
"This Dying Soul" features parts four and five of the Suite ("Reflections of Reality (Revisited)" and "Release"). It is the second track on Train of Thought. Wilson describes the track as a lyrical and musical continuation of "The Glass Prison".
The song also contains some lyrical references to the song The Mirror, most obviously the line "Hello mirror, so glad to see you my friend, it's been a while" (this line would later appear in "Repentance" and the line "Hello Victoria, so glad to see you, my friend" appeared in "Regression"). Also, the first section, titled "Reflections of Reality (Revisited)" reference the line "Reflections of reality are slowly coming into view". The line "Now it's time to stare the problem right between the eyes" is similar to the line from The Mirror "Let's stare the problem right in the eye". Part five ("Release") in this song features and starts with the same riff as part two ("Restoration") in "The Glass Prison".
The Root of All Evil
"The Root of All Evil" consists of parts six and seven of the Suite ("Ready" and "Remove"). It is the opening track on Octavarium and the shortest track in the Suite. Wilson considers it to be "an archetypal Dream Theater track, tidily mixing heavy riffs with some progressive moments."
"Repentance" features parts eight and nine of the Suite ("Regret" and "Restitution"). It is the fifth track on Systematic Chaos. By this stage Portnoy had been sober for seven years. Portnoy stated that it was intentionally conceived as "a bit more of a breather", as the previous songs in the Suite had been "so aggressive and bombastic". He said that of all the tracks on Systematic Chaos, he was particularly proud of "Repentance" because it was "a moody, dark song, hypnotic, psychedelic... something that we’ve never done before". He described "Restitution" as having a "spacey, Pink Floyd feel". James LaBrie considered the challenge of "being able to really convey that message, but with the proper character" on "Repentance" to be the hardest part of his performance on Systematic Chaos. "I wanted it to come off sounding very somber, very serious, very... not cold, but a somber approach, you know", he said.
Portnoy described the ninth part of the Suite, "Restitution", as being "all about making amends to people you've harmed". When writing it, he did not want to write about his own personal life as it would have made the song "too specific" to himself, wanting to make the lyrics more general. He instead asked friends of the band to contribute spoken word apologies. Steve Hogarth, Steven Wilson, Jon Anderson, Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, Mikael Åkerfeldt, Corey Taylor, Daniel Gildenlöw, Neal Morse, David Ellefson and Chris Jericho all contributed apologies which featured in the final track. Portnoy was disappointed that Dave Mustaine, Geoff Tate, Bruce Dickinson and James Hetfield declined his invitation, but was pleased with the final list of contributors.
The Shattered Fortress
"The Shattered Fortress" concludes the Suite, featuring the last three parts ("Restraint", "Receive", "Responsible"). It is the fourth track on Black Clouds & Silver Linings. Portnoy considers the track as the "grand finale" of the Suite, and "knew it would really be made up of all the musical and lyrical references from the past, and bring them all together to wrap it all up". Before starting to write the track, the band listened to all four of the previous tracks in the Suite, making notes on the progressions of the parts and the melodies they wanted to reprise.
All lyrics written by Mike Portnoy, all music composed by John Petrucci, John Myung, Jordan Rudess & Mike Portnoy
(except The Root of All Evil & Repentance music composed by Dream Theater).
|1.||"The Glass Prison"
||Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence||13:53
|2.||"This Dying Soul"
||Train of Thought||11:28
|3.||"The Root of All Evil"
|5.||"The Shattered Fortress"
||Black Clouds & Silver Linings||12:49
According to an interview with Mike Portnoy on September 19, 2012, he had planned to play the Twelve-step Suite in its entirety during the next Dream Theater tour, before he left as a second set. He intentionally reserved "The Shattered Fortress" for this tour.