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Dream Theater - Images And Words CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.28 | 2702 ratings

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The SaidRemark
5 stars Dream Theater's Pinnacle

Few bands on progarchives are as shrouded in controversy as Dream Theater. They have committed the ultimate taboo of combining elements from the sacred 70's prog giants with the styles of 80's hair metal. Though the band has gone on to make eight albums since this one, expand their musical horizons, and admittedly, make a few mistakes, it all comes back to "Images and Words." This is Dream Theater's finest hour.

Lets take a look-see at the line-up of this prog metal powerhouse, in case you are unfamiliar. The main men behind Dream Theater are Mike Portnoy (who since this album's release has inherited the title of God Behind The Drum Kit), and John Petrucci (virtuoso guitarist whose range of style does not come close to stopping past archetypal metal shredding). Alone, these two men represent some of the biggest talent in modern music, but the rest of the band deserves mention. James LaBrie is a singer in the vein of eighties wailers like Geddy Lee (Rush) and Steve Perry (Journey) - his voice soars above what is considered possible for human vocal cords. John Myung is a commendable bassist, though too much of his contribution is lost in the mix. My personal favorite member is the keyboardist, Kevin Moore. His masterful touch, perfect choice of tone, and use of restraint puts the finishing touch on this album with a clear sheen of professionalism. Without Kevin Moore, Dream Theater are destined for troubled times.

Dream Theater is known for pioneering a genre known as Nintendo Metal. It's true - the new-age synths and the super retro production of this album make it sound straight out of a video game's soundtrack. I swear I heard the keyboard/guitar interlude following the second verse of "Learning to Live" in Golden Sun. But fear not, this is a good thing. The producer has electronically triggered Mike Portnoy's drums and cymbals so that there is absolutely no unwanted ambient noise caught in the mix. The production here gives Dream Theater a unique sound that makes "Images and Words" a completely original piece of music.

The first two tracks of this album are their commercial successes: their top ten charter "Pull Me Under," a Metallica influenced rocker with excellent lyrics courtesy of Kevin Moore. The song does not drag throughout its eight minute length, despite limited diversity in music (by Dream Theater standards.) "Another Day" is a gorgeous ballad with a beautiful saxophone solo at the end.

Starting with "Take the Time," this album really takes off. "Take the Time," "Metropolis Pt. 1," and "Under A Glass Moon" are all excellent mini-epics with exceedingly complex middle sections. "Metropolis Pt. 1" features an instrumental bridge so eclectic and frantic that it defies belief. Combined with curious song writing and tremendous lyrics by John Petrucci, this song is one to take particular note of.

"Surrounded" and "Wait for Sleep" are keyboard-driven shorter songs that round the album out nicely. The former is an uplifting tune sandwiched between two sentimental piano/vocal segments. Mike Portnoy's drumming is inspired, he leads the band through 5 distinct phrasings of 9/8, over which the musicians operate and flow seamlessly. The latter is purely Kevin Moore contribution, nothing more than keyboards and vocals. It makes a fine introduction for the masterpiece that is to come.

"Learning to Live" is that masterpiece. In eleven minutes the band covers more musical ground than they will in the second half of their career. This is simply a wonderful song that must be heard to be understood. Prog metal newbies - this song may take a couple spins to sink in.

All in all, this is an album of masterful music that can not be compared to anything else made by modern humans. Complex beyond comprehension, at times beautiful, at times unrelenting, topped off with surreal lyrics and of imagery, "Images and Words" is the crowning achievement of Prog Metal genre. Recommended to all fans of progressive music.

The SaidRemark | 5/5 |


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