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Dream Theater - When Dream And Day Unite CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.19 | 1204 ratings

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1791 Overture
3 stars Certainly not as bad as it's made out to be, and perhaps one of the important formative records of prog metal in sound, if not spirit. Kevin Moore's keyboards have not quite adapted the proggy sound palate they would on the next couple albums, so we're stuck with a somewhat stale 80's metal sound that's not helped by the muddy production. But we come for the compositions, right? Of course we do. They're not bad - some are straightforward but effective, like Afterlife, and others hint at something good, like The Ones Who Help to set the sun. The veneer of pop and glam metal is for the most part overshadowed by a diligent songwriting ethic that carries the album through its high points. I do feel that at this point the band was still clinging too closely to Fates Warning's seminal sound from that time period - some of the vocal phrasing is reminiscent of John Arch (but not the timbre or melodies, of course), and Dominici's voice just cannot pull it off. See Only a Matter of Time - some might praise the ingenuity, but anyone who has heard Awaken the Guardian knows that first, it is not quite as ingenious as a first pass might make it appear, and second, the vocals sound more like they're struggling than winding. The Killing Hand is also quite obviously influenced by the 'original prog metal epic,' The Ivory Gate of Dreams, coming across as a redux of it, and again playing at some vocal oddities that don't quite cut the mustard. Ho hum.

But the band plays well, there's not doubt. Portnoy is a solid metal drummer with decent chops, but lacking the dynamism of say, Rick Colaluca (Watchtower), Steve Zimmerman (Fates Warning), or Alex Holzwarth (Sieges Even) from the same era. Moore is unwelcome at some points, but only because of the aforementioned cheese wheel he was using for a sound palate; Petrucci is in top form with little extraneous crap slowing him down; Dominici is for the most part a fine singer with a solid ear for melody (never mind what anyone else says); Myung is probably the star of the show, for reasons that will be obvious if you just listen to the record. All in all, there were few metal bands at the time playing with this level of cohesion, even though a few were a few trying to fake it (I won't name any names). That said, the songs themselves are just not always successful.

I would recommend this to Dream Theater fans, but it's with some confusion that I regard the widespread antipathy toward this record among the band's own fanbase. Bullox, I say, as this is surely better than anything they've done since Images and Words. It might be a good record to look into if you're into the really tight metal of the late 80s - fans of ...And Justice for All, Rust in Peace, No Exit, or Operation: Mindcrime might find much to enjoy here. If you're prejudiced against Dream Theater prior to listening though, might want to suck it up and get over it first.

1791 Overture | 3/5 |


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