The godfathers of progressive metal have been amazing and delighting their dedicated fans since the late '80s. Throughout their impressive and unlikely career they have continued to push themselves and the genre into new and challenging directions. While arguably hitting their peak with 1994's Awake, the band continued to grow with each new release (save for perhaps Falling into Infinity). Their previous studio effort, Metropolis Part 2: Scenes From a Memory, was a milestone in their career, finding all of the band's best attributes amalgamated into a fully realized whole. Although "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" may not be another magnum opus, it is still another fine addition to their impressive discography. The band continues to explore new directions, but the results are not always consistent on the two CD's worth of material. Their overall sound is heavier, for better or worse, than it has been and they make some interesting compositional and lyrical choices, but their usual afflatus is missing. Petrucci in particular seems content to recycle his already-established pyrotechnics, which mostly come off as ostentatious and often out of place. With the exception of the high-octane "The Glass Prison," disc one is made up of more experimental tracks, with influences such as Radiohead and Tool being explored. The band also offers up one of their only political tracks in "The Great Debate," which deals with stem cell research. Disc two is comprised of the eight-part "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" epic and is more in line with their traditional approach. The "Overture" incorporates a full orchestra with surprisingly effective results and is the recording's standout track. Keyboardist Jordan Rudess gets more of an opportunity to demonstrate how valuable he is to the band's compositional and sonic depth. Fans of Pantera may cry foul when they hear "The Test That Stumped Them All," but this is meant more as a tribute than the blatant thievery it appears to be. While each member of Dream Theater has proved to have a more sophisticated and mature side -- as evidenced by side projects such as Transatlantic, Platypus, Liquid Tension Experiment, and Mullmuzer -- they understand where their proverbial bread is buttered. So exists Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, an intentionally pretentious, somewhat juvenile, but undeniably likeable recording. Despite the nearly impossible task of satisfying their mostly youthful fan base while still nurturing the band's natural maturation process, Dream Theater has mostly managed to deliver once again.