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Dream Theater - Images and Words CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.30 | 3044 ratings

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4 stars 'Images and Words' is arguably one of Dream Theater's greatest work of that decade. The album displays the aptitude of each of the band's musicians and features some excellent, even outstanding compositions.

The opener (and among the excellent) is 'Pull Me Under'. The arrangement of the piece is very effective. The introduction builds up to the entrance of La Brie's vocals, a gradual crescendo exploding into the primary lyrical figure. A scene is described to us which is enacted and animated fully by the accompaniment; "Lost in the sky Clouds roll by and I roll with them Arrows fly Seas increase and then fall again" Exhilaratingly powerful, one really feels the clouds roll across the sky and the turbulent rhythmic force of the sea (attribute the latter to Portnoy, who's work on this track astounds not only technically, but by its sheer drive.) In short, an impressive piece of music.

The same cannot be said of 'Another Day', which sees La Brie assume his typically pseudo emotional singing style to create the finish on top of a somewhat flimsy arrangement. Keyboards sound cheap and the song is only partly remarkable for some pleasant saxophone and a Petrucci guitar solo. 'Take the Time' does for redemption, a very positive and uplifting effort. The introduction is very tight and pleasantly atmospheric. A rousing chorus with 6/8 double bass pedal triplets ups the ante, and the song later features a fine keyboard solo. A reflection on life, 'Take the Time' is as a pleasant taster, heralding the tour-de-force 'Learning to Live' - Myung's own reflections, which later conclude 'Images and Words'.

'Surrounded' is utterly abysmal and unworthy of comment, so we will focus instead on the outstanding 'Metropolis - Part 1 "The Miracle and the Sleeper"' which is for me the highlight of 'Images and Words'. The introduction develops into an impressive instrumental passage, and when the lyrics make their entrance, they actually add something to the song - La Brie having moved away from the turgid singing style he embraces for the previous three songs. There's some well crafted tapping emmbedded in the accompaniement from Petrucci at one stage, before we descend into an astounding instrumental section. This takes us onto the pinnacle of the piece, a great tapping figure on six string bass followed by a blistering keyboard-guitar unison duet. A final lyrical passage takes us to the end of Metropolis, this work indisputably a masterpiece.

'Under a Glass Moon' continues in similar vein to Metropolis, another well crafted compositional masterpiece. Portnoy's rhythmic cross rhythms are distinctive and a pleasure to listen to, and La Brie's singing is again enjoyable. There's an impressive extended guitar solo near the end of the arrangement, the emphasis of the work as a whole again placed firmly on musicianship. 'Wait for Sleep' is a song that does not appeal to me personally, being in its entirety too melancholic for pleasurable listening. 'Learning to Live' is the final song on the album, another large scale composition conveying much variety of musical material. It's pleasantly prog, another fine (sometimes beautiful) display of DT. Of particular note are the frequent keyboard riffs, long tom runs from Portnoy and a beautiful classical guitar figure towards the middle of the song, in addition to the customary Petrucci guitar solo. The lyrics form a strong element to this particular experiance, embodying some of the wisdom Myung himself has glissed from - well, "learning to live". I would recommend everyone listens to the this and the previous two masterworks as they embody the best elements of Dream Theater.

'Images and Words' is in part a masterpiece, in part an abomination, being spoiled by certain disappointing songs and the vocal style employed by La Brie during some of the album. The musicianship is outstanding however, and some of the arrangements and material on this album is so good as to be unmissable to the fan of progressive metal. I rate the album four stars.

Ktrout | 4/5 |


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