If you like progressive metal you almost certainly already own this album. You probably have it on original 1991 vinyl pressing. You’ve probably already bought this re-issue too, sucked in by the lure of shiny packaging and the promise of two CDs and a whole extra DVD of concert footage, interviews and so forth. You’re also very unlikely to be influenced by other people’s opinions of the albums since the swaddling layers of mystifying superiority that comes with the word ‘progressive’ will likely insulate you from any and all criticism from us mere mortals.
There’s a pervading air of smugness that runs right through the heart of this wildly overrated album. This is an album for people who swan through life talking down to people for not owning Syd Barrett albums and trying to work out why their people carrier gets keyed with such alarming frequency. It’s hard to know exactly which aspect of Parallels is most grating. Is it the bass lines that sound more like morse code communications than music? Is it the introverted guitar riffs that deliberately try and avoid any kind of groove? Is it the shrill and weirdly monotonal chipmunk squeaking out their pompous lyrics? Is it the dreadful, dreadful people who actually buy their records? It’s all of these things together. It’s like a suicide pact for music made between the band and their fans.
The bonus material here is specifically designed to appeal to strange obsessives who feel something other than vague betrayal at shelling out actual money for several slightly different versions of the same song. The bonus DVD (which admittedly I haven’t seen) has live footage and all sorts of other things and I’m forced to grudgingly admit that it sounds like a pretty good addition to the set if you like Fates Warning. Of course if you like Fates Warning, you’re probably far too busy lecturing people on why they should get into Dream Theater to watch DVDs but it’s there nonetheless.
If you like this sort of gloriously self-important fodder then you’ll probably treat this re-issue as manna from Heaven and treat my criticisms as little more than badinage. It’s certainly a comprehensive package and isn’t really aimed at the casual listener, but is very much for the fans. Metal Blade have turned out a well put together product and one where its probably worth getting the physical album rather than the MP3 download, which is a rare thing in this day and age. It’s an awful album, a ghastly journey into the worst excesses of muso nonsense but it comes with all manner of extra material and its extremely cheap considering the care and attention that’s gone into putting it together. You already know is this album is for you or not, and the score reflects the quality of the package.