This song is the final part of Dream Theater drummer Mike Portnoy's "Twelve-step Suite" (also known as the "Alcoholics Anonymous Suite"), a series of songs dealing with his struggles with alcoholism. The saga started with "The Glass Prison
" from 2002's Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence
and continued with "This Dying Soul
," "The Root of All Evil
" and "Repentence
," before concluding with this track, which includes parts of all the previous songs in the saga.
When Songfacts spoke with Portnoy in 2010
, he said: "I've been clean and sober with the help of AA now for over 10 years, and the 12 steps of recovery has been a huge, huge part of my life. When I got sober 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to start writing songs about the 12 steps. And rather than just writing one song about everything, I had this idea of writing one song that was steps 1, 2 and 3, then the next album continue with the song that was step 4 and 5, and so on and so forth. And 'The Shattered Fortress' is the final chapter, which is steps 10, 11 and 12, and ultimately these 5 songs that have taken 5 albums to complete ultimately will fit together and they all have running common themes and melodies and riffs and lyrics, and it all ties together like one giant puzzle that hopefully we'll be playing live someday."