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Dream Theater - Images And Words CD (album) cover

IMAGES AND WORDS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

4.29 | 2055 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

The T
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The first album of the band I love the most is one of their two best, and without any doubt, their most important in terms of historical impact. How could it be deemed "excellent addition to any collection" instead of "Essential" remains a mystery to me.

For those that are yet to discover this band's greatness, DT's sound is really the perfect example for the term "progressive-metal": you have heavy guitar riffs, thundering drums with lots of double bass, but in the other hand, you have longer, sometimes truly epic songs, very difficult patterns and complex structures, odd times signatures, abrupt changes of time signature, excellent musicianship, a keyboard that acts not only as mere chord supplier but as an integral, soloing part of the music, beautiful melodies, a marvelous singer (specially in this album), song musical build-up, meaning that they don't just play riffs or chords that go well together but that help create a musical tension that almost always resolves in the chorus, a sign of superior musicianship; and, of course, great, technically profficient, outstanding players: Petrucci, an absolute axe- hero, whose solos have melody but also a difficulty level that makes him deserve to be among the greats; Myung, a remarkable bass player, sometimes in the shadows because of his instrument's inherent nature, as a support, but he shines, too; in this album, a wonderful keyboard player like Kevin Moore, although nowadays it is Jordan Rudess who provides this band with marvelous keys; Portnoy, a great drummer with not only very appropiate technique (sometimes it seems he grew a third arm), but also with very unique ideas and patterns, a master of doublebass-toms fills; and finally, LaBrie. I love that his voice is not theatrical ala Fish, is not really loud ala Tate, but that he really tries to just sing, as he has a great sense of melody,

This, Images and Words, marked probably the begin of the progressive-metal genre; yes, I know we had Queensryche and Fates Warning, but: Operation Mindcrime, as wonderful an album as it is, is not really technically demanding nor are its songs overly long, the progressiveness lies in its quality, the concept, the telling of a story, the trying to do something else, the taking the conceptual style of old prog-masters and putting them in metal terms; Fates Warning was at that time still too Iron Maiden-ish; it was Images and Words that lay the ground for hundreds of bands to try to emulate its quality or (sadly, a lot) just to copy it. Images and Words blended Metallica and Rush, a little bit of classic prog and lots of new, fresh, unique ideas.

If you haven't heard this milestone yet, I can only say: what are you doing on the internet instead of in a music store getting it? I'm not going to describe in detail every song, just briefly,

Pull Me Under (9/10), a metal song with lots of progressive elements, a regular song structure made complex by sheer technicallity and originality,

Another Day (10/10), a very simple song adorned by beautiful saxophone notes and dreamy keyboards... but the most important part of this piece, and after you've listened to it you'll agree with what I said at the beginning: LaBrie's doesn't yell, it doesn't try to scare you, he sings a tune, a melody.

Take the Time (10/10), a very progressive track, lots of odd time signatures, mindblowing solos, impossible drumming, a musician's delight. At times power-metal-esque.

Surrounded, (9/10), this is a Rush-meets-Metal song, the chorus and the voice have a lot to owe to the canadian trio's legendary music;

Metropolis (10/10), one of two songs in this album I consider my absolute favorites or all time, it develops from a subtle, clear guitar pattern, goes into the "metallica riff" , a lot of rhythm changes, a soloing part where even the bass has a couple of seconds to emerge, and a final section where Portnoy's pattern grows very complex, as is the irregular structure of the song which has no choruses; it's a sort of "ProgMetal-Rhapsody" (not the band, but the musical form), marvelous.

Under a glass moon, (8/10), an excellent song that suffers because, while being good, it just pales in comparison with the preceding track, and even heard by itself, the less interesting in this classic CD (but it would be an anthem had it be written by another band);

Wait for sleep, (9/10), Fantastic little two-minute piano piece with no great feats of technique but tons of melody and feeling. Great singing here by LaBrie.

Learning to Live (10/10) A magnificent closer. Tt has a soul-lifting chorus, great lyrics, a complex yet coherent structure, an amazing instrumental part with a reference to the chords in Wait for Sleep, and, an absolutely wonderful guitar solo, not one of those a-thousand-notes-per-minute solo, not a ten minute solo, but such a releasing, , a solo that brings peace and closure, after the tension built in the instrumental part, this soaring, heaven-flying solo makes you free, it gives you freedom, hope, it says "you are learning to live, and you have time" . The end of this hymn is something for the ages....

Go buy it right now. This instant. Don't hesitate. If you are just a classic prog lover, give this a try.

It's a milestone, it's really one of the best records ever.

The T | 5/5 |

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