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Dream Theater

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Dream Theater Images and Words album cover
4.31 | 3170 ratings | 253 reviews | 59% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1992

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Pull Me Under (8:14)
2. Another Day (4:23)
3. Take the Time (8:21)
4. Surrounded (5:30)
5. Metropolis - Part I "The Miracle and the Sleeper" (9:32)
6. Under a Glass Moon (7:03)
7. Wait for Sleep (2:31)
8. Learning to Live (11:30)

Total Time 57:04

Line-up / Musicians

- James LaBrie / lead & backing vocals
- John Petruci / guitars
- Kevin Moore / keyboards
- John Myung / bass
- Mike Portnoy / drums, percussion

- Jay Beckenstein / soprano saxophone (2)

Releases information

Artwork: Larry Freemantle with Dan Muro (photo) and Dream Theater (concept)

CD ATCO - 7567-92148-2 (1992, Europe)

2LP ATCO Records ‎- ETR1-92148 (2013, Europe) Remastered for vinyl by Dave Marino

Trivia: Gold certificated by RIAA (February 2, 1995) and Platinum certificated by the RIAJ.

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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DREAM THEATER Images and Words ratings distribution

(3170 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(59%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(25%)
Good, but non-essential (10%)
Collectors/fans only (4%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

DREAM THEATER Images and Words reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by lucas
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars DT's best album. Labrie's singing is truly impressive. A very dynamic album. The sound is very close to Queensryche's one, but the music is more ambitious. Nice saxophone section by Spyro Gyra's main man on 'Another day'. 'Learning to live' is a very good epic. A milestone in prog metal!!
Review by Marc Baum
5 stars The beginning of modern progressive metal lies in "Images & Words". Although Queensryche, Fates Warning, and good ol' Crimson Glory were the first to "take hold of the flame" and marry Black Sabbath with Rush, Dream Theater took it to the next level with this release. Really, it'd be fair to say that all modern prog metal takes it's cues from Images & Words, Cynic's Focus, or Savatage's Streets: A Rock Opera, with the majority going the way of the flying-digits and warm melodies.

For Dream Theater (DT) truly are the masters of their craft, that craft being the realm of heavy metal. DT are, to me, undoubtedly the most talented coalition of metal musicians on Earth. The technicality of their brand of progressive metal, combined with the complexity of their songs and James LaBrie’s uncanny voice make for a contribution to heavy metal that America can truly be proud of.

Although they’ve made a few keyboardist changes over the year, the remaining four members of the band have consistenly performed excellent, enthralling audiences with their truly masterful approach towards metal, all beginning with this album, Images and Words.

Although Images is DT’s second album, it was the first time when you could really feel the emotion and true capabilities of this band. The songs are much longer and more complex from their previous offering, churning out many of the DT classics we all know and love today. The replacement of Charles Dominici, the singer from their first album When Dream And Day Unite, proved to be one of the best decisions DT has ever made. Age-wise he hasn't fit to the band well, since he was about ten years older than his young band colleagues. I've liked his voice though, specially his amazing performance in "The Killing Hand". James LaBrie made his debut on this album, and the emotion and skill he puts into the songs on this album is a key factor what truly catapulted this album and DT in general to greatness.

Of course, the amazing capabilities of guitarist John Petrucci, drummer Mike Portnoy, bassist John Myung and keyboardist (at the time) Kevin Moore are nothing to scoff at. Musically, these guys are unparalleled by metal or by artists in any other musical genres. Dream Theater albums, as far as skill and complexity are concerned, are often head and shoulders above the rest. That’s why pretty much any album to come from these guys will become an instant metal classic, but Images and Words is the album that stood before them all, and still stands pretty damn tall when compared to the rest of their works today.

The opening track, “Pull Me Under”, is to me the quintessential Dream Theater song, it was also the song that first introduced me to the band. What comes from this track is an 8-minute combination of heavy riffing, cool melodies, soothing sounds, complex keyboarding and guitar work and just plain amazing songwriting. My words cannot do justice to this or many other DT songs, but I’ll try my best. This song would most likely be DT’s version of “Run to the Hills” or “Master of Puppets”, the song that everyone does or should know and love. It’s got a catchy, memorable refrain within a nice slow to mid-tempo composition that never gets too overly heavy, but doesn’t let up at any point. It’s the prime example of how to make a song that can appeal to all metal fans, from the most hardcore death metal fan to the Slipknot-hugging metal teeny-bopper, this is a song that any metalhead can listen to and at the end say “That was pretty damn good”. I dream of the day I get to see DT perform this one live.

Then, the mood completely changes going into “Another Day”. From progressive metal to what could be considered almost adult-contemporary. It was a bold move from DT to put this as the second track, but it’s a good example of the range of music that this band can perform. I didn’t care for it at first, but found myself singing along after a few listens through. Saxaphone solos and calm, moody keyboards along with a smooth quiet sound are not often metal band trademarks, but DT manages to come off this track sounding cool. It just shows that your band is pretty damn talented if they can come out of some kind of “prog-metal meets Kenny G” track with their heads held high.

Another long, complex, indescribably beautiful track arises from “Take The Time”. It begins with a forceful beat, guitar and ominous keyboards, but then turns into a high-flying keyboard solo and into a slow, jazzy kinda tune… and that’s just the first 60 seconds, and there’s 7 and a half more to go. It’s songs like this that make DT hard to review, there’s so many components and influences in the music it’s hard to say “This song sounds like this”. This song is jazzy, bluesy, poppy, epic and metal all at the same time, catchy yet complicated, that’s the essence of this song. Trust me, just take the time to listen to “Take the Time” a few times in order to truly grasp all that’s in this one, it’s quite possibly one of DT’s all-time greatest technical achievements.

“Surrounded” is the next track, and while not quite as long as some of the other tracks on the album, it’s not less beautiful or complex. It starts with just LaBrie’s enchanting voice and some nice piano medley work before erupting into another smooth and jazzy kind of track. It proves you don’t need to be the heaviest or angriest band on Earth to produce some quality rock music. It’s a kind of poppy, happy ballad but still retains a DT edge. It doesn’t sound like metal, but it still sounds good enough to satisfy someone who may be a metal fan. “Surrounded” in all the DT goodness.

Next, a true Dream Theater classic and all-time metal achievement hits your ears. If you don’t consider this next song a classic, tear up your “Music Fan Card” right now, because you quite simply don’t belong in a group of people known as music enthusiasts. That song is of course, “Metropolis Pt. 1 – The Miracle and the Sleeper”. It’s a ride through an obviously classical-infulenced piece of metal excellence. From it’s heavy riff-work to complex drumming, emotional lyrics and abundance of time and mood changes, it is a track that Dream Theater can look back to twelve years ago and be proud of. It’s got some of the highest of the metal highs and calmest metal can get and still hold the attention of its listeners through the entire track. The instrumental parts of the song are fantastic, the soloing is unparalleled and once again, my words cannot do this song justice. Just give it a listen, it won’t be 9 wasted minutes, trust me.

The album doesn’t lose any steam going into “Under A Glass Moon”, which, while not as complex as some of the other songs on this album, probably is my favorite song on this album, if not one of my favorite DT songs of all time. What begins as a beautiful melding of guitar and keyboards soon turns an awesome combination of heaviness and soothing sounds. It’s also one of the tracks where you can really hear the passion and emotion in James LaBrie’s voice, and it’s something that really gets to me. It’s definitely beauty pulled from aggression, which is something I love to hear in music. Not to mention it has John Petrucci doing what is probably one of my favorite guitar solos in ANY song ever. It’s a song that holds the same power and emotion for 7 minutes, never letting up once and in all honesty, I think it could’ve been longer. There’s too many great elements in this song to squeeze in 7 short minutes!

“Wait for Sleep” is kind of the break to catch your breath after the previous two tracks. It’s no more than some haunting keyboard work, which gives you some beautiful imagery, like a cold, winter night. LaBrie’s soothing voice complements the piano perfectly, just a short, calm track you can sit and relax to and regain your composure before this album’s finale.

It took me awhile to shine up to “Learning to Live”. It’s a long, winding track which isn’t a problem for most DT songs, but this one it just took some time for me to get accustomed to it. It sounds very different than anything else on the album, which isn’t unusual because nothing else on the album sounds quite like each other, but this song sounded particularly “out there”. It’s got almost a kind of spacey quality to it, something not very easy to immediately hear and appreciate. While most of DT’s long epics are heavily charged and a combination of heavier sounds, this song for the most part is much more subtle, much more ballad sounding than their other epic tracks. I think that’s why it took me awhile to get used to this song, but now I have a deep appreciation for the skill it took to make this track and the guts it takes to record something like this and put it on an album. In the end, it may take a few times to “get” this track, but once you get used to it, you’ll find yourself skipping ahead to it. It’s not the heaviest or most memorable song they’ve ever done, but it’s another one DT can be proud of.

Images and Words to me is the quintessential Dream Theater album and the best one to get into them. It’s got songs of all lengths and styles, from the short piano-only “Wait for Sleep” to the epic, energetic masterpiece of “Metropolis”, this album is a prime example as to why DT is a success and loved by so many the world over. This album is especially mellow by Dream Theater standards and probably will appeal more to the baby-boomer generation who grew up with bands like Yes, Be Bop Deluxe, King Crimson, etc. Unfortunately, though, it seems as though older people mostly are the ones who like Dream Theater and are highly familiar with them. I consider it a duty of mine to spread the word about Dream Theater and progressive metal, currently my favorite style/type of music.

album rating: 10/10 points = 98 % on MPV scale = 5/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Review by Sean Trane
2 stars Although this probably a fine band doing some complicated music this bunch of talented musicians never did anything for me. I understand this is their finest album and I still get no reaction both emotionally and physically. I heard once a 25 minute long piece from another live album (I think it was called A Change Of Seasons) and I have better memories from it . To most progmetalheads , this is one of the foundation of progmetal along with Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime.

Alltogether it is more the genre of music I don't care for . This is the only album I got to hear regularly, so it is also the only one I reviewed and I can only base my DT judgment on this album alone, but the music developped here has certainly not enticed me to discover more of their albums. It may seem to some that I am very severe but 2 stars means average.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The metal prog at its best!! There are sentimental smooth bits, aggressive guitar riffs, progressive bits, the singer's voice is perfect, piano, keybords, in a very accessible atmosphere, but it is never simple: all the song are extremely well strucured and it gives one of the best metal album ever!!

There is another very good group that has the same style: SUPERIOR. But in my opinion, DT is quite superior than SUPERIOR!!


Review by The Prognaut
2 stars There's still this discomfort on the back of my neck itching and burning, constantly repeating this words from the depths of my head: "I shouldn't have come across this album right after lending mind and ears to "Awake" or even "Falling into Infinity". but inexplicably somehow, there's something more powerful than the remorse lingering inside me that tells me that was the way things were meant to happen for me, just in that precise order". In the same tune, to keep on rediscovering my way throughout DREAM THEATER, I will give you a piece of my mind.

Still, I haven't figured out what's all the fuss about this album. This time I wasn't that impressed and shocked by a hallucinating "PORTNOY trademark" drum striking, instead I remained anguished and desperate during the whole disc to feel the irremediable impact upon me with the typical drum solo. but nothing happened whatsoever. The fine keyboards I was used to listen to in subsequent DREAM THATER productions happened to miss the entire album production and in replacement, Kevin MOORE performed mellow, senseless, almost elevator-ambience-music-like keyboards. If you may call it that. There are some scraps of the PETRUCCI's well educated guitar in passages like "Metropolis - Part I: The Miracle and the Sleeper", and to be fair enough with the strings execution, even in "Learning to Live" there's something that could be rescued and catalogued as "good".

One thing I could never let go, no matter what kind of extreme, exceptional and incomparable instrumentation a DREAM THEATER album has got, is the voice behind the microphone: James LaBRIE. Not only disappointing but intolerable as well. That is the right type of voice that perfectly unfits progressive metal. And I wouldn't like to rely on comparisons to prove my point here, but since I'm up to it, I would like to bring to the table unarguable precise works like the ones performed by Daniel GILDENLÖW of PAIN OF SALVATION or Tom ENGLUND of EVERGREY. They are members and vocalists respectively from bands that certainly appeal to the DREAM THEATER style because they were influenced by the Bostonian band commanded by Mike PORTNOY. Those two magnificent Swedish singers of the prog metal world sound off nothing like LaBRIE. Not a bit. Influenced by the Canadian vocalist? I don't think so. Need to say nothing more regarding this issue.

Now, another thing that surely is irrelevant at this point but that I'd like to tell you about anyway, is the artwork for this CD. The band was certainly influenced by the early MARILLION front covers or even the GENESIS ones of the 70's, containing particular elements that could be easily appreciated. But this time, they crossed the line with the "Images and Words" art design. Simply horrendous. Even so, Larry FREEMANTLE and Dan MURO made good money out of it, right?

Inexplicably intrepid somehow, "Images and Words" is an overrated album that far from deserving the complete recognition of the fans, it certainly deserves a spot within the world of the "uncanny and sloppy". I am hard but I am fair. Like I always say at the end of any review regarding a bad album, listen to it at your own risk.

Review by frenchie
5 stars When i first listened to this album i instantly heard strong improvement over the patchy debut album and a much stronger grasp of progressive rock. Images and Words defines Dream Theater and begins to show off their true sounds and abilities to the maximum.

On my first listen i found this album to be excellent in shifting between mellow and heavy guitar pieces, The piano pieces are truely incredible, especially on "Wait for Sleep" and LaBrie is a much more emotional and moving singer and he settles in well on this album. Images and Words can actually be difficult to get into at first if you are more accustomed to later albums such as "Scenes from a Memory" but after i saw how highly rated this album was by the fans i thought i would give it another chance and it really started to grow on me, to the point where i love it as much as their other albums.

The opening track "Pull me Under" starts with a dreamlike, haunting guitar intro that manages to build up into an opus of heavy guitars, battling keyboards and a mixture of different vocal elements. LaBries shows off his power and the record already starts to feel much better than the debut album. "Another Day" continues this with its excellent lyrics. This is perhaps more emotional than previous songs by the band where LaBrie powerfully proclaims "you won't find it here". "Take the Time" manages to keep the flow going with some rather excellent progressions and the song manages to keep you captivated throughout. "Metropolis" is one of Dream Theaters best prog rock pieces including fiddley guitar and keyboard solos, experimental guitar effects and reprised vocals. This song proved that Dream Theater were able to keep up with the big guns of progressive rock, such as YES and KING CRIMSON.

"Under a Glass Moon" continues the albums incredible trend and by the time you reach track 5 you are well settled into the record and ready to expect the best. This song again offers the best abilities of the band but Petrucci is on fire here with one of his best ever guitar solos towards the end of the song. "Wait for Sleep" is a the most beautiful piece on the album. Moore and LaBrie dominate the track with the beautiful piano piece and brilliant and haunting singing. This piano riff continues into "Learning to Live" and builds up to serve an ever flowing piece which is a great note to end on as this shows off as much skill as on "Metropolis". This album is a masterpiece yet the fact that it can sometimes struggle to keep the listener captivated can drag the album down. For those who didn't enjoy the debut album, Dream Theater start here.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 'Images and Words' is a prog metal defining classic: that's an undisputed historical fact, given its great influence on the further development of prog metal as a genre with an identity of its own. Now, the question is: does 'I&W' deserve all the praise it got and still gets from lots of reviewers, fans and a bunch of music critics? My answer is: yes, it does. The musicianship is tight and immaculate, the compositions are well crafted and attractive, the arrangements are clever and exquisite, LaBrie's vocal range and distinctive style complements perfectly his partners' instrumental input. You can tell that by now Dream Theater is a band that has found its voice and makes it scream with awesome splendour. My fave highlights are 'Metropolis Pt. 1' and 'Learning to Live'. The former's interlude has got to be one of the finest heavy rock instrumental sections ever! Before that, its intro theme is ethereal enough to build a perfect contrast against the following riff sequence, while the sung parts are both exultating and dramatic. 'Learning to Live' is in many ways as bombastic as 'Metropolis', but the overall mood in the sung parts feels more intimate; plus, the multi-section instrumental interlude (another absolute highlight) tends to be less aggressive, even including a latin-jazz isnpired portion led by a soft acoustic guitar motif. Of course, I won't forget to mention the catchy opening number Hamlet-based 'Pull Me Under' (so far DT's most popular tune); other prog tinged gems such as the frantically complex 'Take the Time' and the powerful 'Under a Glass Moon'; and the beautiful piano-vocal ballad 'Wait for Sleep', which serves as a proper prelude to 'Learning to Live'. Moore's keyboard parts play a fundamental role with his textures, solos and harmonies, when it comes to keeping the prog side of DT's music working effectively. Meanwhile, Petrucci manages to recycle the combined legacies of Howe, Lifeson, Satriani, di Meola and Holdsworth with total energy and finesse: all his typical pyrotechnics is there, but somehow you can notice that the emotional appeal is also there (for instance, the overwhelming solo in 'Another Day'), showing that technical skill is not exclusively what Petrucci's style is all about. The rhythm section is well oiled, with Myung bringing a highly melodic touch to his impeccable bass playing, and Portnoy assuming a machine-like vibration for his drumming: by doing so, Portnoy manages to emphasize the metal side of DT on the backround of all this prog paraphernalia. After all, this is a prog metal effort, and Portnoy is in charge of keeping 75 % of the metal side of DT's sound functioning properly. Without hesitation, I give this album the perfect rating: a red hot masterpiece of 90s prog!
Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars No question, no doubt, no compromise, in my humble opinion (IMHO) this album is a true masterpiece! May I suggest you for not reading any review that gives this album less than 4 (out of 5) stars rating? Thank you for whatever decision you take. I suggest you should also not read my review below as you may get bored with a lot of admiration about this album. Just one thing, if I may suggest, BUY THIS CD! (. and do NOT read the write-up beyond this line because it will poise you! - probably. Unless, you are skeptical........).

Now, let me give my rationales why do I give full five stars despite this band was not the founding fathers of prog in the glorious year of end of sixties and seventies. [I don't think even the band was aware that their music considered prog. Listeners were the ones who box the kind of music they played. So, we're the one to put the box for DT music.]

Rationale # 1: Dream Theater is the pioneer of a new progressive metal sub-genre. Early 90s was the birth of this sub-genre and this album represented the best example of what kind of sound the prog met is all about. We have seen obviously the sheer influence of Dream Theater to many prog met bands in 90s and 2000s; almost all of their music were compared to the standard of DT music (including this second album of DT).

Rationale # 2 : Dream Theater's music unifies people of different ages. This is obviously true! The early generation who were teenagers during the glory years of 70s when they listened to the kind of Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Genesis, Yes, King Crimson and so on can accept and enjoy DT music really well. I find even some of them were amazed about how skillful the guys in DT are! Some early generation even commented that in DT music they can get a sense of Rick Wakeman's keyboard style augmented with speedy and technical guitar fills. My friend, Leo, was a classic rock music minded and just listened to this album couple years ago and amazed with this album. Another part of the generation (the marketer used to call it as Generation X) who are young people enjoy the kind of DT music. Couple weeks ago I met my nephew who was just grade 6; he told me that he played bass guitar covering DT music! What a big surprise for me! What surprised me more was that many of his friends love Dream Theater music. Uuughhh ...!!!

Rationale # 3 : This album has powerful songwriting, tight structure featuring heavy riffs (in the vein of metal) and changing tempo, most of the time in fast tempo, melodic and is cohesive as an album. From opening track "Pull Me Under" to "Learning To Live" you will enjoy the power and beauty of their music. Even this morning, the classic track "Pull Me Under" lifted up my spirit at the opening of the day with all positive energy!

Rationale # 4 : (you write your own rationale, as I am very sure there are many more!)

Rationale # 5 : (you write your own rationale, as I am very sure there are many more!)

My conclusion: this album is a true masterpiece! Rating: 5/5.

Another recommendation:

Watch, listen carefully and observe Disc 2 of Dream Theater "Live at Budokan" DVD. You will comprehend and understand ...

GW, Indonesia.

Review by TRoTZ
5 stars So this is it: the album which gave a new standard to progressive metal! The first well- succeeded album presenting a resemblance from the classical motives to the powerful metal playing. To definite this album in a few words, I couldn't make better than Piero Scaruffi's in the History of Rock Music 1951-2000 itself, so I transcribe it "lengthy melodic fantasias that relied on symphonic magniloquence (Kevin Moore on keyboards), fluid instrumental passages (John Petrucci on guitar), haphazard rhythms (Mike Portnoy on drums) and romantic emphasis (James Labrie on vocals)".

The first track of the album, Pull me Under, is a DREAM THEATER's great hit, maybe the most acclaimed one, but not exactly the most exemplificative of the progressive vein of the album. It resembles a bit a METALLICA song (Black Album was edited one year before). It is very powerful, great catchy melody, great riffs, but it is not for it that this album is a reliquary of progressive music. Another Day, another DT's memorable song, introduced with a mellow piano and continued by emotional guitar and jazzy saxophone solos. Take the Time arrives with a mysterious organ sounding, presenting a long metal suite with subtle and heavier parts, good melodies, good guitar work (more again emotional solos, not just playing around scales). The catchy guitar riff in 4:49 is going to reappear slightly changed in the last track. Sorrounded shows more of their ability to intercalate delicate melody with enjoyable and not to aggressive metal parts. Metropolis I is another excellent metal suite which is going to be present all over the 7 years later masterpiece Metropolis pt.2 - Scenes from a Memory. Under a Glass Moon is instrumentally the great highlight of the album, Petrucci exploring his guitar solos to the limit. Impressive playing! The quality of Portnoy's drumming is also impressive (as in the whole album) with speedy turbos, fantastic transitions... superb interpretation! Wait for Sleep is a fantastic mellow prelude to Learning to Live, the last and the longest track of the album (the first organ riff resembling MARILLION's Emerald Eyes introduction), another fantastic well orchestrated suite, many enjoyable and diverse riffs giving great ambience! The emotional piano of the previous track reappears near the end, as the climax of the track, it's like you were being prepared to listen it again.

With this album, DT wrote a new page in the history of progressive rock/metal music. It's not just heaviness you know? All is well synchronized and orchestrated, it's a pleasure to listen to it, there are no dead parts. Mainly for the history and the originality, but also the technical quality, the emotional playing, the fine melodies and riffs, the good lyrics, this album is surely AN ESSENCIAL TO ALL PROG LOVERS.

My rate: 9/10

Review by Certif1ed
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Heavy Metal with frilly bits - but NO PROG

This is in no way a masterpiece of prog rock - it's a very good and progressive metal album, but the influences are so obvious and the style so narrowly in the metal vein that it is impossible for me to consider it a prog rock album.

Some people say this is a masterpiece, mainly because of the virtuosic playing and because people like it, which is fair enough - but leaving opinion aside and recognising that virtuosity does not a prog album make, let me start my review with my customary yardstick: Can I tell from the first 5 minutes the overall style of the rest of the album? If I can, then it's clearly not a prog album.

Pull Me Under mixes Yes, Diamond Head and Metallica (a riff from "...And Justice For All") with a strong melody - but, virtuosic musicianship apart, a surprisingly unremarkable track, given the strong support. There are progressive moments where the riffs go noticeably into Yes territory - but nothing particularly inventive or truly progressive.

Another Day is, on the surface an FM rock ballad replete with sax. It is an interesting interpretation of the standard rock ballad, but not a prog song.

Take the Time starts with a nice keyboard wash, leading to some interesting rifferama which sounds quite close to the first track. A little Steve Vai guitar and rolling bass leads to a section which sounds remarkably like Skid Row. The chorus is what really destroys any prog pretensions for me, and the busy, over-powerful drums seem somewhat unnecessary. There is a nice developing riff section from about 4", which reminds me somewhat of Twelfth Night (Live at the Target), but the keyboard lead is quite horrible. More riffs follow in an unrelated mish-mash forming a kind of bridge between keyboard solos which are unnecessary as well as naff-sounding. Wearyingly back to the chorus, this track shapes up to be an overlong standard rock song with prog pretensions. A piano heralds a sudden change, with a lovely, fluid guitar line, but the overbearing drums soon herald a coda section which quotes the chorus and a predictable fast'n'furious but very melodic guitar solo draws the piece mercifully to a close.

Surrounded starts like another FM ballad replete with naff string synths and this album begins to shape up like an REO Speedwagon or Foreigner album albeit with slightly odd prog and metal-orientated rhythms.

A simple riff kicks off Metropolis - Part I, quickly followed by another riff from Metallica's "...And Justice For All" album (the bridge section of "One"). It gets kind of interesting around 2:40, reminding me of part of Les Miserables, but the style is now extremely predictable and limited to the simple riffs interspersed with chumking metal riffs. The vocals are stubbornly in the realm of Sebastian Bach. Around 4:20, some odd timings are thrown in, in what seems like a futile attempt to say "we are a prog band, you know", but these sections do not add to the drama, only the length and percieved complexity of the piece. Anyone can tack a bunch of unrelated riffs together - the skill comes in making seamless music and getting unrelated riffs to sound related. Listen to Supper's Ready to get an idea of how this is done. The patchwork quilt of this piece lacks overall artwork and is wearying and annoying to listen to. An extended bridge in a standard rock song structure does not make a prog song.

Under a Glass Moon confirms that there is a single style running through this entire album, and that it does not, ultimately progress. We have keyboard washes, Metallica riffs, Yes and possibly King Crimson quotations, and basic rock-song constructions, with the familiar Seb Back vocals. Short bridges underline the prog wannabe style - it's really good to hear a band desire the prog status, but, for me, good prog does it without trying, and the mistake that this album makes time and time again is that it tries too hard.

Wait for sleep opens with an extremely simple piano line and synth washes, and the ballad style (again). This continues throughout, developing slightly - making this the closest this entire album comes to real prog!

Finally Learning to Live. I think the Metallica riff comes from "Ride The Lightning" in this case, but there's also a touch of "...And Justice for All". After the predictable riff, the snare sounds so 1980s that a feeling of neo-prog arises; a kind of mix of Pallas and IQ. This is followed by the riff from "Justice..."'s title track. Around 4:40 there are some interesting texture changes, but those keyboards sound so horrible! The guitars sound good though, but this is yet another patchwork quilt bridge section - not real progression, as the musicians take us on an arbitrary journey with no real drive, rhythm or drama in the structure - indeed, what is so wearying is the lack of any real structure to these sections.

This is NOT a prog album, let alone a masterpiece of the genre!

To hear a real progressive metal band at its best, go back 4 years to Metallica's "...And Justice For All" (1988). The latter is a superlative for all that progressive metal would become - but without the keyboards, although it was the earlier "Master of Puppets" (1986) that first established the prog metal sound. Also worth investigating are Megadeth's "Peace Sells, But Who's Buying", Slayer's "Reign in Blood" or "South of Heaven", Kreator's "Extreme Aggression", Napalm Death's "Scum" and Helloween's "Walls of Jericho".

To really dig into progressive metal's past, check out Diamond Head's "Living on Borrowed Time" and "White Album", then any Budgie album from the early 1970s. The fluid and imaginative riffs, grounded in Led Zeppelin but escaping the shackles of blues/folk rock in a way pioneered by Uriah Heep, will show you clearly what is meant by progressive as opposed to the more patchwork approach we see here (sic).

Re-interpreting other band's material is one way of producing prog rock, as some of the "real" prog bands will testify (e.g. Yes's use of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young and the Beatles as springboards), but the overall feel of the music on this album is of Heavy rock with metal and progressive leanings - there are not enough elements present to make a fully-fledged progressive album let alone a masterpiece! There are far more progressive metal bands out there - for example, Cradle of Filth.

So I rate it as Good (with some excellent technical and melodic playing), but not essential for a collection of prog rock, as it does not sit easily alongside the prog greats.

Review by maani
3 stars Knowing that I will have CDs flung at me from all sides of the room, let me get this out of the way: this is NOT a prog album. In this regard, I am actually being somewhat generous with my rating (it probably deserves two-and-a-half stars). What this IS is a speed/power metal album with some "prog sensibilities" (some more well-realized than others) and occasional "true" prog elements. Within its own genre (speed/power metal), I would give this album four stars, since it is a particularly excellent example of that genre. But prog? As a whole? I think not. After all, there is more to prog than double bass drums, non-standard time signatures (and signature changes) and everyone playing fast at the same time. / I am also glad - very glad - that I heard "Scenes From a Memory" first, or I might never have gotten to it, failing to believe that a band could get from here to there in just four albums. Not having heard (yet) the "bridging" albums, it may be that their progression makes sense. However, at this point in their career, they were still relying way too heavily on Portnoy's double bass, Petrucci's speed-freak guitar-playing, and Labrie's high-register screaming to infuse the music with a "compelling" quality, or any sense of "urgency." They had not developed the discipline - or learned to "relax" enough - that would lead to the much greater maturity one finds on "Scenes." Yes, "Scenes" also has lots of double bass drum, speed-freak guitar and screaming vocals. But the band no longer RELIES on them to be compelling: they learned how to "relax" and write compelling material that speaks for itself. / As I review "Images and Words" song by song, whenever you see the elipses (the three dots after the word "but"), fill in the phrase "it's not prog." / The album opens with the extended "Pull Me Under," a very good speed/power metal composition (with a neat Def Leppard-y feel, particularly the chorus), well executed, but... "Another Day" is a reasonably good "power ballad" (with sax!), but... The second extended piece, "Take the Time," displays some prog sensibilities, especially in a nice jam from 4:40 to 6:00, but... "Surrounded" is an excellent example of speed/power metal, and has some intimations of where Dream Theater would eventually go, but... "Metropolis - Part I" is only a "shadow" of what "Scenes From a Memory - Metropolis Part II" would be, and has the first real "prog" jam at 5:50-8:05, with a particularly excellent section from 7:00 to 8:05. "Under the Glass Moon" opens with a nice proto-prog figure until 1:20; the rest is truly "screaming" speed/metal. But... "Wait For Sleep" is among the prettiest, most beautifully crafted ballads I've heard (with a wonderfully simple but marvelously effective piano figure by Moore), and Labrie's voice is particularly sweet here, but... "Learning to Live" is an extended (actually, over-extended) composition with some prog elements, but... / I was also very unimpressed with the lyrics as a whole. / As an aside, I did notice some interesting "thanks" from the band to: Derek Shulman (he of Gentle Giant, and one of the producers of this album), Slash (makes sense, given Petrucci's style of playing), and Marillion (among other bands). / When all is said and done, this album only "straddles" prog. However, because it is good, even compelling, for what it is - speed/power metal - I have lifted it above "collectors/fans only," which is where it would otherwise belong.
Review by MikeEnRegalia
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This IS prog ... but not traditional Progressive Rock. It is a form of Progressive Metal, but in the years to follow this release, bands like Pain Of Salvation stretched the boundaries of that genre much further. Yet this is an excellent release, featuring a wide bandwidth from soft pop ballads (Another Day) to ultra prog (Metropolis). I don't think that this type of music qualifies as Speed or Power Metal, as others suggested, because it's just so much different than other releases from those genres. Your typical Speed Metal fan would not listen to Dream Theater. Instead, he might consider it too progressive ...

But I have to admit that progressiveness in itself was probably not what the band had in mind when they created Images And Words. I think they really just wanted to create music that is interesting for the listener, and fun to play for the band. It may lack the seriousness of King Crimson, and the vocal arrangements of Gentle Giant, there's not even a mellotron ... but each track except the ballad has truly progressive elements.

The one outstanding track on this record is Learning To Live. It's really a good summary of all the other tracks, and it's a track the band almost always includes in the setlist. And of course Metropolis Pt.1, the first part to their masterpiece Scenes From a Memory, which was initially "just" a follow up song to Metropolis Pt.1 and then became a full concept album.

Review by FloydWright
4 stars While I think this album was very promising for DREAM THEATER, I have to admit I can't understand why people would give it the full five stars. This isn't Awake. Still, it makes a nice predecessor to it. First, the production isn't really up to later standards. Musically, the sound is something between prog and metal and pop (well...pop in the vein of PINK FLOYD's A Momentary Lapse of Reason...that is, GOOD pop)--those criticisms are accurate, so if you're a strict proghead or strict metalhead you might not enjoy Images and Words. However, if you're interested in a rather less pretentious version of DREAM THEATER that is less focused on being prog giants, and more interested in creating good music (regardless of what genre it happens to fall in), this is a good one to check out. If you didn't like Scenes from a Memory, don't might have a chance with this one (and you should get Awake, too). Don't worry about the fact that "Metropolis, Pt. 1" is on here. But I'll get to that later.

This album will show you two musicians who, unfortunately, you don't get to hear very much of on later albums...and whom I think are sorely missed in later works: keyboardist KEVIN MOORE (who left the band after Awake) and bassist JOHN MYUNG (who was downplayed after this album). MYUNG gets far, far more solo time here than usual, and he really is quite good. His best moments are in the background of "Take the Time", and in prominent solos in "Metropolis, Pt. 1", and "Learning to Live", and it's a shame that he doesn't seem to do these kinds of things more often. He reminds me most of former SYMPHONY X bassist THOMAS MILLER.

In my opinion, KEVIN MOORE really contributed something wonderful to the band--and completely irreplaceable. MOORE isn't the kind of keyboardist who feels the need to show off every five seconds (like a certain current DT keyboardist). Rather, his technique is actually more reminiscent of PINK FLOYD's keyboardist RICHARD WRIGHT...not the work of a "virtuoso", but still the work of someone who knows when it is appropriate to play, what to play, and when it is appropriate not to play. Fine examples of MOORE's "just enough" playing are "Take the Time", the painfully short "Wait for Sleep", and "Surrounded"--especially in the beginning and end. He knows how to make good use of simple riffs...and also of hesitations and silence: little places where he waits a few seconds before changing to a different note, or places where he simply stops playing. These pauses are where your heart stops and the tears start to well up. Other times, he works subtly in the background; you don't even know why you were suddenly moved, but the odds are that MOORE had somethng to do with it. It was a terrible shame when he left the band and I'm not sure they've ever truly recovered from it.

The best points of the album are "Pull Me Under" (poppish but enjoyable to me), "Under a Glass Moon", "Wait for Sleep", and most of all "Learning to Live". "Under a Glass Moon" really seems to have inspired the base technique of SYMPHONY X, who would begin writing music two years later...the resemblance is really quite shocking. "Wait for Sleep" is a beautiful slow KEVIN MOORE only wishes it were longer. "Learning to Live" is something I think every DREAM THEATER-basher ought to hear: with this piece, DT manage an 11-minute piece (almost) that never, ever bores, and flows all the way throughout. This is one of those songs you don't want to be interrupted in the middle of. The other epic, "Metropolis, Pt. 1" wanders around a bit in a few parts (foreshadowing Pt. 2?), but is still likeable enough that I find myself wishing that DREAM THEATER + RUDESS had not disgraced its name with the album Scenes from a Memory. The only song that I think might be a turnoff to some is "Another Day"...I think that on this one, DT was gunning for radio play and that sax can be a bit Kenny G'ish at times. It's not horrible, but not quite up to the standard of the rest of the album. Also, on occasion JAMES LaBRIE shows that he hasn't quite found his voice yet...he seems to be trying to sound like GEDDY LEE and occasionally it backfires on him. (I say this as someone who likes his singing, not as a LaBRIE-basher!)

Overall, though, I think Images and Words is one of those DREAM THEATER albums that non-hardcore fans should consider getting. Start with Awake--but then make sure to make this your next purchase.

Review by el böthy
3 stars whats the big deal about???? I mean, what does images and words have that makes it so "special"??? the songs are all long and sometimes even borring, because some of them are pretty much alike. pull me under is for my opinion like an old metallica song but...not that good. another day is just too corny for my taste and under a glass moon is... I don´t know how to put it, but it´s not what I would listen. The instumentation is very good, I give you that, and allthough I´m not that much of a fan of the ultre fast guitarrists I must admite that petrucci is very good. This is my only DT album and I don´t think I will get an other. Dream Theater is just not what I hoped it would be. To be honest I was hoping to get something like ...and justice for all from metallica, but...I guess not...
Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Definitely Dream Theater's finest hour and one of the overall best releases featured in the prog-metal genre, and it's a clear improment over their debut album too with overall stronger songwriting and clearer much more balanced production. New vocalist James LaBrie makes his first appearence here and gives the band a new and better voice to their music (their first one was too uneven, IMO). Musically, the mix of melodic prog and metal goes very well here and the band knows when and where to calm down in time. The longer tracks here are the best ones and "Metropolis" and "Learning to Live" are some of the best songs Dream Theater ever put out on an album, but the shorter and mellower tracks are very good as well, notably "Wait for Sleep". Fantastic instrumentation by the band as well and the album rarely, if ever, lacks focus, and the only "weak" spot on this album is "Another Day" which remains a good song.

A brilliantly balanced and solid album overall with some of the best material from the band ever. It stands as one of their two best releases to me (the other one being "Awake") and is essential if you like prog-metal.

Review by Tony Fisher
2 stars To think that this is a masterpiece of prog is ridiculous. Sure, they can all play; in the guitarist's case, fast and flashily. But, although they deserve credit for that, that's not enough. The compositions are complex and often do not link into a credible whole; they seem to be a sequence of passages designed to show off the instrumental prowess of the band. Sure they're prog, but metal? No way - just a very good bunch of musicians playing complex but not very well composed hardish prog which ends up rather average.
Review by Menswear
4 stars This album is a great addition for Metropolis part I, and the rest can be founded on any other DT album. Some songs didn't aged very well, and for an album of that calibre, this is bad news. Some songs could create a large case of laughter among friends....saxophone anyone?

The album is marked deeply with the big metal attitude that reflected so well a generation of headbangers. Big hair, big drums (sounds like Kiss for crying out loud), big dramatic vocals, black clothes for everybody, clean shave and lots of curls.

Metropolis part I is without the shadow of a doubt, a superb exercise of how DT is a professional band. They hit the spot all the way with grace, dexterity and the expertise Rush showed for so many years. And that's a compliment I'd like my band could deserve.

An absolute classic for many, to me the debut of an era.

Review by FishyMonkey
4 stars Well, Dream Theater's second album is definitely a strong offering. I'd say about 5 of the songs are excellent, two are pretty good and one is bad. Where this album succeeds thougyh, it really succeeds. This is what prog metal is all about -- strong melodies, great musicianship, mindblowing solos and long epic songs. On paper it's great, but the execution is flawed on some songs like Learning To Live and Pull Me Under. Other times though, Dream Theater really pulls through with one hell of a song.

The first song, Pull Me Under, starts out promising enough, but quickly falls into a repetitive melody and is all-together much too straight-forward for my tastes. It's nice, but not that great. Another Day is a strong ballad pulled off very well, with one of my favorite Petrucci moments of all time in the video. Very nice song, much better than Pull Me Under. The next song, Take The Time is definitely the strongest song on the album with a killer begginning. The rest of the song doesn't get boring either! Clean riffs and excellent guitar playing all the way through. This is a contender for one of my favorite Dream Theater songs of all time, definitely.

Unfortunately, the next piece, Surrounded, falls flat on it's face. Where Another Day succeeded gloriously, Surrounded dies in. Surrounded does have some good elements, like a pretty good melody, pretty good lyrics, and a pretty good progression. Unfortunately, everything else kinda sucks. It's not terrible, just not very good at all. The next piece though, Metropolis pt. 1 -- the joke that started it all -- is a VERY strong song. Gets kinda cheesy after awhile and is bogged down by a way too long solo section (HOLY CRAP! Not only did they carry over lyrics and meanings to Scenes from a Memory, they also carried over the flaws like boring wankery and cheesiness after a few listens!). It's still an excellent piece, though not nearly as good as Take The Time, Learning To Live and...

Under A Glass Moon! This piece always manages to get me going, just like Take The Time. Such an awesome piece. The melodies are perfect and the guitar parts are slick. Nothing feels forced, either! Hooray! It's clear sailing from here on, with Wait For Sleep being a pretty and haunting ballad, one of the prettiest DT has ever written. Learning To Live is the classic DT epic, with my favorite Labrie movement ever in the middle (the high pitched wailing that goes incredibly high -- some may hate it, but I love it, especially when he pulled it off live) and great lyrics. I mean GREAT me at least. The only problem is a long solo section the drags it down like Metropolis pt. 1.

But one more thing: the classic question of is it prog? Well, sometimes yes, definitely like Learning To Live and Metropolis pt. 1, while other stuff is heavy/thrash metal with some great prog influences like Take The Time and Under A Glass Moon, while finally Pull Me Under and Another Day are just straight rock. So yea, half the time it's good prog...some may find this unacceptable, but ot the more open-minded of us, it's fine because the whole album is quite good. 4.2 rating.

Review by Eetu Pellonpaa
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I listened this album as I had had a quite positive impression from their "Change of Seasons" suite, which was my first introduction to this band. Sadly this CD killed my budding interest towards them, as the style of their music on this CD didn't please me at all. Without doubt this album is produced professionally and the band has great playing skills, but this just isn't stylistically my cup of tea. Luckily their thing has found many fans, and I must admit that the album covers are very nice.
Review by Zitro
4 stars I think this album should be owned by anyone making a progressive metal compilation. Without a doubt, Dream Theater is the most popular band of the progressive movement nowadays. Is it the speed? the power? the vituosity? The compositions? I believe it actually is because of all those qualities. They are all young musicians who graduated from an excellent musical university. The guitarist may be as fast as Jimmy Page, The drummer has a skill as good as John Bonham, and the other members are very skilled too. All of them combined resulted in this album which for many is considered the masterpiece and the representative album of Progressive Metal. It has powerful songwriting, tight structures, impressive rhythm, and amazing musicianship. The only thing I don't like is the singing, and it's a major criticism that I will have in every single Dream Theater album. While his voice is professionally trained, his wails just do not sound good.

1. Pull Me Under 8/10 : This is the most known song from the band. It is very accessible, and has catchy hooks all around making almost anyone like it from the first listen. The guitar solo is simple, but more melodic and one of the better solos of Petrucci. The chorus is instantly likable.

2. Another Day 7/10 : A ballad with a beautiful arrangement to boost the song. LAbrie does his best and hits very high notes in his voice while guitar, piano and a saxophone plays. One of the best vocal performances of Labrie.

3. Take The Time 7.5/10 : This song is excellent. Portnoy sets complicated rhythms and the members can follow it flawlessly with great musicianship, vocal hooks, and an instrumental break where you hear Petrucci really shine.

4. Surrounded 7.5/10 : A delicate piano introduces the song and you may be fooled that it is just a ballad. but then the guitar enters in 9/8 and is transformed into a metal song. The guitar solos hear are very inspired and beautiful. The delicate piano appears again at the end while JAmes sings.

5. Metropolis - Pt. I "The Miracle And The Sleeper" 9/10 : Probably their finest song in this album. The music style is epic in nature and hints what is about to come next (Change of Seasons). It is a heavy metal piece with beautiful and unusual time signatures. The main riff of the song is classic, the keyboard embellishments are perfect (Kevin Moore is my favourites DT keyboardist), and the guitar work is art.

6. Under A Glass Moon 8/10 : What a fantastic guitar introduction in this song! This is a chaotic song full of guitar solos.

7. Wait For Sleep 9.5/10 : A perfect short ballad with one of my favourite piano lines I have ever heard. The time signatures always change to unusual ones making not only a great ballad, but also a highly professional and complex one.

8. Learning To Live 8.5/10 : This is a very popular track among Dream Theater fans, and I agree with them. It has everything : virtuosity, good songwriting, great bass lines, nice singing, entertainment, and a Flamenco solo!

For anyone who wants to try the band, I think that this is the best place to start. It is the album in which the band found their sound, and also where they were at their very best.

My Grade : B

Review by richardh
2 stars I've held back on giving this a review as I am aware of the general warmth towards this so called 'masterpeice'.However it does not one tiny thing for me I'm afraid.Just one long yawn from beginning to end.Nothing to my ears other than just a bog standard set of heavy metal tracks.Six Degrees and Octavarium are way better IMO.Thanfully DT were to evolve into something a great deal more interesting.
Review by The Crow
5 stars This is probably the progressive metal's most important album, and one of the most important albums of progressive music too!

Due to this disc and the later Awake, the progressive genre enjoyed from really good health the last decades, because a lot of people (like me) discovered this way of understand music with Dream Theater. For that I must give a lot of thanks to Dream Theater for revitalizing the progressive music at the beginning of the 90's.

The album itself it's a true masterpiece. All the songs are magnificent, with a fantastic production and instrumental development. Maybe the keyboards are in a little too 80's way sometimes, but I'm still loving this entire album completely.

Pull me Under starts with a mysterious guitar melody and original keyboards, and soon derives in a very strong guitar riff which are soon accompanied by the great La Brie's vocals. After that we can hear the typical masterclass of songwriting and variations that this album had in their first albums. Another Day is even better, with a memorable saxophone playing and an outstanding guitar solo.

Take The Time is simply the best Dream Theater's song in my humble opinion, and among the best progressive songs ever recorded. Just incredible! Surrounded it's different from the rest of the album, and maybe for this reason has a special place in my heart. It has some Rush and Saga influences and sometimes it sounds even Neo-Prog for me. Just great!

Metropolis ? Part I has another atmospheric beginning leaded by the Kevin Moore's keyboards and after that, just like Pull me Under we can hear a collection of great riffs which lead to the verses. This composition is more obscure and dramatic than the rest, and a very good central track. I will never forget the first time I heard the instrumental part of this song which begins at 4:17 many years ago. I was blown away! And I'm still amazed of the quality of these musicians.

Under a Glass Moon has a majestic beginning, worthy of the best science fiction film! Then the strong drums beef up the song, which derives in another heavy riff and very original verses with the initial melody. The instrumental development of the song is also fantastic. Another classic of this album with a superb guitar solo!

Wait for Sleep is a slow and beautiful ballad driven by a marvellous piano melody. Here we can also hear the ability of La Brie to sing in lower tones. And Learning to Live is the final masterpiece. Another brilliant piece of pure progressive metal with the best keyboard work of the album, great bass lines and another outstanding example of good songwriting and musicianship.

Conclusion: Images and Words is one of the peaks of progressive and a must for everyone. Even if you don's like progressive metal, this is a must hearing album.

Last fact I want to comment: James LaBrie couldn't never reach again the great voice and the incredible high notes that he reached in this album. In Awake he sounded rougher and he has been losing his voice along the years for the reasons we all know.

And that's a pity.

Best Tracks: Pull Me Under, Another Day, Take The Time, Surrounded, Metropolis ? Part 1.

My rating: *****

Review by belz
2 stars 2.3/5.0

I have trouble reading all the reviews on this album. I just don't see how this could even be close to a masterpiece. This is unimaginative music with poor keyboards and an uninviting voice. Sure, those guys have talent, and they know how to play guitar and if you enjoy some good fast-headbanging riffs there are some, but there is absolutely no emotion there, not anything worth listening closely to or enjoying again and again. There are some real prog-metal groups out there which involves much more passion/emotion and are not trying to impress too much with an overwhelming technique (sometimes too much is worse than not enough).

I should probably give 1 star, but I chose to give 2 stars by respect to all those who believe this is great. I don't agree with you guys and this should be a "Collectors/fans only" album.

Review by Cygnus X-2
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Dream Theater's sophomore effort is something of a mixed bag for me. There are some definite progressive moments on the album and some overrused power metal phrases and fringes throughout. The band hit the big time with this album, mainly based on the strength of their breakthrough single for Pull Me Under. This is also the album that introduced the world to James LaBrie, and his definite metal influences come full circle with some quite honestly cheesy vocals (though some are quite nice). Petrucci's guitar stylings are at his most metal and blend many styles from melodic to shred and even some Alex Lifeson type chorused sounds. Mike Portnoy plays some nice drums (although the sequenced bass drum and snare sounds can get very annoying fast), John Myung has some wonderful bass parts (Metropolis comes to mind), and finally Kevin Moore gives some nice keyboard performances and really uses the keys to his advantage giving some very mellow and atmospheric performances.

The album opens with Pull Me Under, the song that gives them the "One Hit Wonder" title and has been played on essentially every tour since it's inception. The opening progression has some nice chorus effects to it and the song has some nice keyboard frills during the pre-verses. The riffing during the verses is unique and shows that Dream Theater liked to experiment with unique chordal progressions. The solo on this song (now augmented with some nasty wah guitar) is one of Petrucci's best. Another Day has cheese written all over it. One of the most overblown and overdone DT songs to date, it comes complete with some nice but clichéd saxophone fills. Take The Time is one of the stronger songs on the album, and the opening progression is easily one of the most complex things Dream Theater has done. My only complaint is that the verses are a little too ill-fitting for a metal song, and the background vocals in the chorus are overdone. It has some superb guitar work from Petrucci and keyboard work from Moore.

Surrounded is a Kevin Moore led ballad, and one of the weaker tracks on the album. A bland riff and some mediocre percussion are on this song, and I'm not too impressed with Petrucci's approach to this one. Metropolis Pt. 1 is one of the most popular Dream Theater songs ever created (and it even gave birth to a whole album, to boot) and rightly so. Strong riffs and rhythmic approaches give the song it's flare, but the instrumental section in the middle of the song is just utterly superb, with a mind bending tap bass solo from Myung and some supreme unison work between Petrucci and Moore. Under a Glass Moon is a typical metal affair and not a favorite of mine. I like the guitar work, though, the solo Petrucci unleashes is a powerful piece of work and remains one of my favorite solos, though.

The finale to the album, the duo Wait For Sleep/Learning to Live, is one of the strongest pieces Dream Theater has written. Wait for Sleep is a piano/vocal duet and Moore really shines on this track, showing why he's one of the better keyboardists in rock. Learning to Live is one of Dream Theater's more rhythmically challenging pieces, with some nice use of the complex signature of 13/8. Petrucci is a powerhouse on this track, pulling out all the stops with his guitar. Myung really shines on this track with some nice lyrics and bass work, and LaBrie gives one of his all time best vocal performances overall.

In the end, this is a good album marred by a few flaws. First, the drum sound is totally awful (mainly because of the sequenced bass and snare) despite the great performances, and the album has a totally over the top feel to it, as if they wanted to make it as Progressive as possible. However, despite these faults, there are some wonderfully crafted songs here that everyone can enjoy. I give it a 3.5/5.

Review by Seyo
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
1 stars I may be little old and conservative, but I don't see anything innovative, original, groundbreaking, emotional, thought-provoking or progressive in this album, which seems to be higly regarded by fans. What I can hear, and believe me I heard a bunch of good and different types of rock music in the previous 25+ years, is a dull, uninspired play with quite horrible vocals. Imagine the worst of METALLICA joined with the worst of neo-prog! This is not even "metal", much less "progressive". The guys are clearly capable of playing instruments, alas playing instruments is not necessarily contributing to the art of music. If you want to hear real "progressiveness" of the heavy metal rock, go grab BLACK SABBATH or BLUE OYSTER CULT from the early 1970s! Comparing to them, DT sounds like a Xmas carol. 1,5 stars!
Review by imoeng
5 stars Images and Words

Images and Words is Dream Theater second album which released in 1992. This album was the very first album that introduce progressive metal style to the whole world at that era, although I was only two years old when it was released : ) . So anyway, its also the first progressive metal album for me and this album has turn me into progressive style, especially progressive metal. So I would not consider that this is a great album if it didn't turn me into progressive style.

Images and Words is quite different with When Dream And Day Unite album, in terms of musical composition and musical style. I think this was probably because of the appearance of James LaBrie in Dream Theater. Moreover, every time I listen and look back into When Dream And Day Unite, the songs are more into real pure progressive, different with the songs in Images and Words which contain more progressive metal.

So let's take a look closely at each song.

Pull Me Under This song is probably the song which breaks the door open to the world of progressive metal. The coolest part of the song is the guitar - keyboard licks throughout the song, and combined with amazing Portnoy's drum section. Notice how the song ends, they just cut it out in sudden which I found very rare in every other songs, but that is progressive, breaking all the rules.

Another Day After a metal song, Images And Words presents a 80s ballad song, which has normal song configuration (verse pre-chorus verse pre-chorus chorus solo pre-chorus). The "words" or a lyric was made by John Petrucci, and it has his typical, beautiful words and deep meaning. Although this song is not as progressive metal as other song, I still admire it as one of the best songs. And one more time, although the whole song is somewhat cannot defined as 100% progressive metal, they still add some progressive elements, through John Petrucci's amazing and beautiful guitar solo.

Take The Time Another rock-metal song from Images And Words, but its heavier than Pull Me Under, just by looking at the drum and guitar section in the beginning of the song. Notice that the time signature changes throughout the song, simply great and is the characteristic of progressive music.

Surrounded I will keep saying this in every review I make, Dream Theater is considered as a progressive metal band, but within that concept, they can make any style of songs with addition of some progressive elements. This concept was poured in Surrounded, which is not very progressive but still has some progressive elements in it. It represented in the guitar and keyboard riff in the song, which is not conventional.

Metropolis Pt.1 (The Miracle And The Sleeper) This is probably the best song of all time by Dream Theater, simply amazing and very progressive metal. The beginning of the song is great with heavy guitar and drum section. I would probably divide the song into two in terms of composition. It is true that half of the song consists of lyrics and another half consists of instrumental part. Notice that in the next album, there is an album called Metropolis Pt.2 (Scenes From A Memory). And also notice some words or songs in Scenes From A Memory was said in this song: The Miracle, The Sleeper, The Dance Of Eternity and of course Scenes From A Memory.

Under A Glass Moon Different with above songs, this time, Images And Words presents two metal songs consecutively. The odd time signature is very obvious in this song, which maybe confusing for some people who don't use to listen to progressive metal. On one guitar related website, it is said that Under A Glass Moon's solo is on of the best and most recognizable solo off all time. And it is true, the guitar solo is just great.

Wait For Sleep It is very possible that we cannot hear this song anymore in every Dream Theater concert; it is because the lyric and song was made by Kevin Moore, ex-Dream Theater. The song is just beautiful, simple yet profound, its just keyboard and vocal.

Learning To Live We can know that this is a progressive song by just listen at the beginning of the song, a somewhat strange (positive strange!) keyboard section. The section is then continued with odd time signature of the other instruments. The lyric was made by John Myung and is one of somewhat not to many John Myung's lyric. For me, the best part is the guitar solo.

Well in the end, I give 4.8 (5) stars for this album. The positive side of this album is the breakthrough of progressive metal albums considering not many bands (progressive) offering progressive songs at that time. It is also because the songs are beautiful in terms of musical composition and the lyrics. The downside of this album is James LaBrie sound, which is not very consistent throughout the album, from the song Another Day and Learning To Live, its very different, in spite of the different in musical style of the song itself. Timur Imam Nugroho - Indonesia

Review by sleeper
5 stars Dream Theater are by no stretch of the imagination the first Prog-Metal band, but they are the most successful and to this day they remain the standard bearers of prog in the mainstream. And this is the album were it really all started: Images and Words. Yes its not their debut but this was the album that everyone took notice of for its blend of metal and prog by using complex arrangements and impressive musicianship, both mainstays of classic prog.

Its notable that the songs can be broken into three groups on this album: the more heavy metal type (Pull Me Under and Under A Glass Moon), the ballads (Another Day, Surrounded) and the outright prog songs (Take The Time, Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper, Wait For Sleep/ Learning to Live). The more heavy metal style songs, though, contain some great musicianship as well as some memorable hooks in the music. They also flow well with the rest of the album so proggy or not they work. Some people consider the ballads cheesy, and I have to say that Surrounded certainly is the weakest song on the album but on its own its not that bad, little more than a 5 minute bridge between the great Take The Time and the spectacular Metropolis Pt1: The Miracle and the Sleeper. Another Day gets lambasted a lot for being very cheesy but, Petrucci has stated that this song was about his father, who at the time was suffering from brain cancer, this information puts the lyrics into a new light for me and makes it a very heartfelt song, even the saxophone solo works well with it.

The parts of this album that I look forward to the most is always going to be the longer, more prog songs. From the stunning musicianship, to the nice melodies and the truly stunning solos, wether they be by Myung, Petrucci, Moore or Portnoy. Wait For Sleep could possibly be mentioned as one of the ballads but it works with Learning to Live (Myungs lyrical masterpiece) so well that I (and even the band themselves) cant separate the two.

This was also the debut for the bands long time singer James LaBrie, taking over from Charlie Domanici. This was clearly a great decision for Dream Theater as LaBrie, though far more controversial than Domanici, is far more talented and tends to make perfect use of it.

This album is a masterpiece in my opinion, there is nothing that I would consider changing. Just as importantly this album ushered in a new wave of prog, the rebirth in the 90's were we saw bands like The Flower Kings, Spock's Beard, Symphony X etc, come to prominence and find a strong following. 5 stars for both its incredible quality and historical importance.

Review by AtLossForWords
5 stars Outside of Metropolis Part II: Scenes From a Memory, a listener has to go back in '92 to find Dream Theater's most important album of their careers. By important I don't mean most musically amazing, but most important to the development of their careers, and more importantly their genre.

Back in '92 Dream Theater was having some difficulty acquiring all of the proper elements for the band, vocals being the most difficult. Dream Theater's two previous vocalists Cris Collins and Charlie Dominici not only failed to provide the proper vocal element for the band, but also failed to enjoy the music they were making in Dream Theater. The search for the right voice eventually became so difficult, drummer Mike Portnoy was planning to keep the band as an instrumental project which was favorable to the band's latest matierial now popularly know as Metropolis Part I: The Miracle and the Sleeper.

It wasn't until the band heard a demo from Canada from one of the world's most powerful yet unknown singers that a vocalist was found. James LaBrie a Canadian had the perfect voice for Dream Theater. He came to New York and likely saved the style of the band and helped start a movement and demand for the genre of progressive metal. LaBrie's contribution even changed the then instrumental Metropolis Part I into an almost ten minute epic featuring vocals.

Images and Words later became a gold selling album with vides for "Pull Me Under", "Another Day", and "Take the Time" (which is quite a progressive composition). Such video and sale success is rare for progressive metal bands, something which to this day Dream Theater has not matched. The album also has it's fair share of more progressive matierial in "Learning to Live", one of the most progressive compositions from any progressive metal band, "Metropolis Part I: The Miracle and the Sleeper", and "Under a Glass Moon", which seems have spread into the influence of many progressive metal bands like Symphony X.

James LaBrie of course is the greatest performing contributor on this album. Images and Words is not only one of the best vocal performances from LaBrie, but one of the best in the entire genre. LaBrie's voice is at it's peak. The vocal harmonies are taken many times for a variety of pitches making the vocal chordal harmony as complex as the instrumental chordal harmony. The range and power of LaBrie is unmatched at this time. LaBrie hits a wide range of notes ranging from low to high, just one song "Metropolis Part I" is an excelent testament to LaBrie's great range. The enunciation of the lyrics is perfect, something that can be quite hard to find in progressive metal. LaBrie's performance is top notch, hard to think of one that beats this album.

John Petrucci was not always the shear shred player he has become known as today. On Images and Words Petrucci's great technical skill is apparent in songs like "Take the Time" but Petrucci also impresses with a variety of melodies and overdubs all through the album. Whether it's fusion interludes in "Metropolis" or epic meldodis in "Learning To Live" Petrucci can impress a listener with all ranges of his guitar. As said earlier this album is a much catchier and melodic performance than those to follow.

John Myung delievers an oustanding performance. Metal bass playing has progressed so much since the release of this album. Myung moves the chord changes in the most unique ways with arpeggio and diatonic scale fills along with excellent rythymnic prowess for relaxed grooves. His funky side shows in the early minutes of "Take the Time". Perhaps Myung's most unique element to his performance is his tapping solo in "Metropolis", which has become one of the most easily recognizeable solos in progressive metal, and the most popular motif for tapping bass players of any genre.

Kevin Moore simply is the reason for a few compositions on this album. A song like "Wait For Sleep" simply would not have existed without the contribution of keyboardist Kevin Moore. What Moore seems to lack in overall skill he makes up for in creativity. Moore uses a wide array of synth sounds, but they seem to suffer from poor production. He uses some nostalgic analong tones on "Learning to Live", but much of his tones are unique exploring new synth sciences. His instrumental technique isn't poor, he can easily keep up with unisons in a song like "Metropolis", but his greatest skill is his ability to lay catchy yet musically unique melodies over instrumental sections in songs.

Mike Portnoy has a somewhat revolutionary performance on drums. Portnoy keeps to standard metal styles, but he adds an influence of Neal Peart of Rush to deliver some of the most complicated and elaborate fills to touch the metal genre. Portnoy's drums are all triggered, and I don't care for the triggered snare tone which sounds a little too poppy. Aside from the lack of pitch in his drums, he delivers a great performance. His bass drum abilities are out of this world, never blasting, but delivering speedy and tasteful kicks.

This album is a cornerstone to the development of prog metal, aside from that it delivers great music by some of the most skilled and creative musicians. A must have for prog and metal fans alike.

Review by Moatilliatta
5 stars This is where Dream Theater really got it started. Keeping some of the 80s metal flare from before, but improving the songwriting, and the vocalist, we have the real beginning of an absolutely remarkable band. Images & Words is widely considered their finest work (or now second behind Scenes from a Memory), and was an inspiration to a lot of prog metal bands who popped up shortly after. This album, minus the debut, has the most 80s metal sound and feel to it. It hasn't quite worn off yet. Surprisingly enough, I can actually enjoy it. I really don't like 80s metal, but Dream Theater show here that it's not the style that's the problem (or the entire problem), it's who's playing it. I don't think I could stand much more than this album's worth anyhow.

"Pull Me Under" is the albums lead single, and a good one at that. Afterwards we have "Another Day," a cheesy power ballad, but while many write it off for that, I love it. It's actually a well written power ballad, and it's even got a Kenny G-esque saxophone in a few spots. I'm no Kenny G fan, but it's a nice touch to the song I suppose. "Take the Time" is my favorite song in the first half of the album. Lots of energy and what not. Dream Theater take metal music (then and now) and make it so much more than what is generally embraced by its fans. After "Surrounded," another nice 80s ballad (though this one more poppy), we have the second half. I can't praise the second half enough. "Metropolis pt. 1" starts the second half. Filled with themes and riffs that would be carried on into the brilliant concept album that came out eight years later. Incredible song. Then we have "Under a Glass Moon," another excellent song, featuring subtle intricacies in the songwriting that I adore, and one of my favorite Petrucci solos. "Wait for Sleep" is a nice piano and voice piece that serve as an intro to the closer "Learning to Live."

This album doesn't need too much explaining or details beyond what is already given. It's a brilliant album. As usual for the years to come, Dream Theater can play technically dazzling sutff without losing the material's emotional value. Far beyond your average metal; that's for sure. James LaBrie was a fine choice to replace the old vocalist Dominicci, and he definitely adds to the much improved musical quality of the bands music. From here on, Dream Theater would be wowing and inspiring millions, and rightfully so. They are so gifted, and they use their gifts wisely.

Review by Raff
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Horrorshock! A myth crumbles... Renowned DT basher Ghost Rider reviews "Images and Words" and gives it four stars too! What is the world coming to?

Well, I may have many flaws, but I pride myself on being a fair person, who might not be the greatest fan of the New York quintet, but is nevertheless perfectly capable of recognising quality when she sees it. In my very humble opinion, "Images and Words" remains to this day DT's finest offering, one they've never yet managed to top. Yes, they've become more ambitious, in some ways more commercial, and they've reached planetary status among younger and even older fans. However, this album, now 14 years old, has a freshness and a novelty value that their later, more complex efforts do not possess anymore. This is the true act of birth of one of the most enduringly popular styles of Prog-Metal, in which the 'prog' component is noticeably stronger than the 'metal' one. Without I&W there would be no Symphony X, no Shadow Gallery, no Pain of Salvation, no Ayreon or other bands of their ilk. While this may be no great loss to many people (especially my contemporaries), I'm all in favour of variety, and I think there is a place for everything in the music world.

Though everybody knows I'm no supporter of technical prowess for its own sake (Prog's answer to Oscar Wilde's 'art for art's sake'), there's no denying that DT are masters of their instruments. This album also goes to prove that the band's greatest strength was the songwriting of keyboardist Kevin Moore,a more restrained player than the flamboyant Derek Sherinian, and a less technical one than Juilliard alumnus Jordan Rudess, though an undeniably sophisticated, tasteful composer. After him, the band's output became more over-the-top, with song lengths and instrumental complexity sometimes spiralling out of control. Here, instead, DT strike the right balance: even an overtly commercial song like "Another Day" does not disrupt the overall textural intensity of the album.

So far I've talked about instruments, not mentioning what is for many people the sore point of the band: James LaBrie's vocals. There's no denying that the man in question, like his band, has been the founder of a school of singing that numbers many followers; unfortunately, I only find him effective when impersonating that most unlikely of prog singers, Metallica's James Hetfield (check his performance on "Train of Thought"). When he reaches for the higher notes, I find him at best irritating, at worst positively unbearable. However, his performance on I&W is rather good, especially on the wistful mood piece that is "Wait for Sleep" (with great piano work by Moore); while on some parts of "Take the Time" I just wish he would shut up and let the others play.

With so many glowing reviews written before mine, I feel there's no point in doing a track-by-track analysis. "Pull Me Under", the band's best-known song, is quite catchy in its own way, though I find "Take the Time" vastly superior: the intro in particular is great. "Metropolis" is undeniably the most complex track from an instrumental point of view, with great performances from all the members of the band. On this album Portnoy's drumming sounds very clear and strong, though distinctly reminiscent of Neil Peart's in more than one instance (as a matter of fact, the Rush influences are startling at times). The album's standout track, though (especially from a lyrical point of view), is Myung's powerful, heartfelt "Learning to Live", where the bassist's remarkable skills can be clearly heard for once, instead of being swamped in the maelstrom of sound produced by the band. The song's coda is hauntingly beautiful, easily the most progressive thing on the record.

Even though I suppose I'll never become a DT fan, I&W deserves four stars for its undeniable musical quality - although, as I stated at the beginning, I feel its historical value is probably its greatest asset. Not really essential, but indeed an excellent addition to one's collection.

Review by OpethGuitarist
4 stars I would say the band's 2nd best album, behind Awake, even though it's getting the same number of stars. This is a very good album, with no real bad tracks. Although, the strong tracks on Awake are better than the strong tracks here, if that makes sense.

This album is often considered a highlight in the field of progressive rock, and it should. At the time, it was considered very groundbreaking and gave the band huge success. There's impressive playing all around.

The biggest thing that keeps this album from being extraordinary is the cheese factor. Too many of the songs, while complex, delve into minutes of extra unnecessary playing.

However, despite these bad remarks, a highly recommend the album. There are many very stunning and beautiful sections, like the verse at the end of Metropolis. It is an important album in the field of progressive metal, one that no fan of prog should miss out on.

Review by Australian
3 stars Progressive Metal has been labelled the third wave of prog by many people and it came at a point when progressive music was almost on its death bed. By 1992 practically everything had gone quite, the neo-prog scene was at a lull, and all the giants from the 70's were currently exploring the realms of popular music. When it seemed that prog was dead,in came Dream Theater with "Images and Words" (there were a few other very good albums which came out at around the same time) which would revitalise prog and give the band much popularity and fan base. Many people will deny this comment but Dream Theater has become the greatest American prog band (far) behind the all legendary symphonic band Kansas. So really we all should respect this album, even if you hate it with the fire of one thousand suns as one of my friends regularly says.

For me "Images and Words" was very boring and heavier than most things I'd heard before and I'd much rather listen to something I liked. Gradually, after many more listens I began to grow accustomed to the loudness (I'm hoping the same thing will happen with Opeth) and began to enjoy it. Its funny, I never think "Images and Words" is any good until I actually listen to it, it's like I subconsciously still dislike it. The first two songs on "Images and Words" have always been the highlights for me; I don't know why I just find them more interesting and easier to listen to. I know I like the saxophone in "Another Day", but in now realise it isn't much compared to stuff from Supertramp and Van Der Graaf Generator.

The opening of "Take the Time" has always seemed kind of stupid to me, but now I just overlook it and get to the good stuff, like the yolk in the, that's a band example, but you get my point. In "Surrounded" James Labrie really indulgences himself and sings out some good material. Surrounded goes up among the most classic Dream Theater songs from its sound, its just so.DT. "Metropolis, Pt. 1- The Miracle and the Sleeper" receives a lot of praise from people on PA, I've never though it to be that good but I guess it goes down to personal tastes.

"Under a Glass moon" and "Learning to Live" are probably the most progressive songs on "Images and Words." The intro to "Under a Glass Moon" sounds a bit like the start of Lunar Sea by Camel, lose the guitar though. Both a songs are classic Dream Theater numbers and receive many plays during tours by the band. Learning to Live is the better of the two as it is overall more experimental and has a distinctively "new" feeling.

1. Pull Me Under (4/5) 2. Another Day (4/5) 3. Take The Time (3/5) 4. Surrounded (3/5) 5. Metropolis - Pt. I "The Miracle And The Sleeper" (3/5) 6. Under A Glass Moon (3/5) 7. Wait For Sleep (3/5) 8. Learning To Live (4/5) Total = 27 divided by 8 (number of songs) = 3.375 = 3 stars

Good, but non-essential

"Images and Words" can really be thanked, even in a small way for the way it gave an all new creative spark to this great and varied music. I can see why so many people are attracted to "Images and Words" but, despite my first review of this album, I'm going to give this album three stars. I'd recommend Images and Words to the newer generation of prog fans.

Review by 1800iareyay
4 stars Following the release of the strong debut When Day and Dream Unite, DT found themselves without a singer and with a horrible label that did nothing to promote them. To keep themselves busy, the remaining four members wrote songs. the spent time on lyrics and figured out instrumentation. Then, they found Canadian James LaBrie, whose operatic style were what the band had been looking for. They managed to split witht their label and join Atco. Then the band laid down the tracks they had written over three years. The result ushered in prog metal.

"Pull Me Under" opens the album with a spooky guitar riff and synth. The rest of the band comes in hard and James establishes himself as DT's singer quickly. The chorus is a great hook and the solos are amazing.

"Another Day" is a personal song for Petrucci, but it's a bit melodramatic. However, it's probably DT's best AOR song.

"Take the Time" resumes the sonic pummelling with great vox from James and Myung's bass getting a workout. This is where things start getting proggy on the album, but it's just a taste of its later triumphs.

"Surrounded" has some interesting progressions but it's pretty dull. Petrucci's solo sets the stage for his licks futher along in DT's career.

"Metropolis Part I" is the undisputed highlight of the album. Everyone shines on this song, particularly John Myung and Mike Portnoy, who both give one of their best performances. A nine minute opus that feels so much shorter. This one song would be the basis for DT's magnum opus, Scenes From A Memory.

"Under A Glass Moon" has an addictive drum groove, and Myung pounds away at his bass. This song contains IMO Petrucci's best solo, as well as a standout performance by Kevin Moore.

"Wait For Sleep" eases off the throttle, and it's piano-and-vocals only compostion would pave the way for the far superior Space Dye Vest.

"Learning to Live" is a great way to close the album. Lyrically, it's one of DT's best. It deals with a man learning to adapt to life with AIDS. Myung shines on this track, but the other members also deliver great performances.

Images and Words belongs in any prog metal collection. This was my introduction to prog metal, and I've never looked back. The band's three year limbo resulted in the tightest DT ever was; each member complements each other. On later albums, the technical display became even more impressive but at the cost of feel. This is a high water mark in the band's career, but Surrounded and Wait For Sleep detract from what would have otherwise been a masterpiece. Highly recommended.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars I have to admit that I've been systematically discovering Dream Theater's music pretty much bass-ackwards since finally experiencing the excellent "Scenes From A Memory" almost a year ago. But after being somewhat disappointed in their 1994 release "Awake" I was reticent to go back any farther into their catalogue, thinking that it was probably just more of the same (especially the shrill vocal work). However, my son gave me "Images and Words" for Christmas and I am completely blown away by it. I now deem it to be one of their best albums due to the incredible amount of thoughtful creativity and the high level of musicianship and production involved.

Deep guitar notes and Portnoy's rolling drums start "Pull Me Under" and instantly lay down a gargantuan atmosphere that sets the tone for the entire CD. A heavy metal wall of sound takes over as the beat doubles twice, leading up to a fantastic chorus that features an infectious cascading vocal. The song, like the album, never gets predictable. "Another Day" starts out beautifully and then lo and behold it's a soprano sax! How cool is that! I love it. The catchy melody and accompanying harmonies steadily build the tune without it ever becoming the stereotypical and hokey "power ballad" that was popular at the time. A truly noble song. "Take The Time" doesn't age well, though, and despite the interesting harmonies and hot guitar licks it tends to mimic the sound and textures made popular by groups of that era like Whitesnake. It's only a minor bump in the road, however, and "Surrounded" makes you forget it ever passed through your ears. The eerily haunting intro spills into a crisp, bouncy melody that drives us upward to a fascinating guitar break that can best be described as unique. The song comes full circle to the way it started with a deep, mysterious atmosphere. "Metropolis" is a monster. A true epic. The middle section is a well thought out series of drum-fueled riffs that create a kaleidoscope of musical colors that make your head spin in an effort to keep up. It is a highly energetic but incredibly tight and precise composition. "Under A Glass Moon" has a heavy Pink Floyd feel in the opening chords but soon amps up to a powerful, mechanical rhythm. Halfway through the band takes the listener along a twisting path of fascinating syncopation that is breathtaking, paving the way for some colossal guitar by Petrucci and stunning keyboards by Moore. After that sprint one can use a breather and "Wait For Sleep" is perfectly placed here. It's a simple but gorgeous ballad and LaBrie's voice is terrific and effective when he relaxes like he does here. "Learning To Live" finishes out the album and is one of its best cuts. Myung's moody bass lines shine, laying down an enigmatic foundation before the drums enter with a metallic shuffle. A very inventive chord progression draws us inexorably farther until reaching a sheer drop back to the initial feel once again. An acoustic guitar passage changes over to fierce electric riffs before a striking staccato piano draws us into an unexpected jazzy swing interlude. Then the song fades out to Portnoy's frenetic drum patterns as a chorale of vocals overlays everything. I know, it sounds rather crazy, but it just may be their most adventurous song ever. All I can tell you is that it works quite well.

I had no idea these guys were so good from the get-go. It seems a travesty that I didn't even hear of this album until fourteen years after its release but I guess these boys have just always been forced to fly under the music biz radar. Hopefully this review will convince others who might have been put off by the unrelenting ferociousness of some of their earlier works (especially LaBrie's screamy vocals) to invest in this album. It is, in a word, great. 4.4 stars.

Review by russellk
4 stars I find this a difficult album to review. It is generally considered as one of the touchstones of progressive metal, and any review must acknowledge its position in the development of the sub-genre. But the primary outcome of this album was not an addition to the variety of progressive music, but to its popularisation.

So what makes this DREAM THEATER album so popular? It combines technical virtuosity with accessible songwriting. Straight metal numbers interleave with power ballads and more complex tracks for an enjoyable hour's listening. It has drawn an extraordinary number of people into the progressive rock fold. Thus the high rating, even though I personally find the music less than inspiring.

Five-star albums provoke powerful emotions: shock, drama, delight, beauty, respect. Many DREAM THEATER tracks deliver these emotions, but only one of them ('Metropolis Pt 1') is on this album. Every song is professionally played (these musicians are some of the best in the rock world) and produced, none disappoint, and none of the gaucheries perpetrated on other DREAM THEATER albums can be found here. But, in the end, I find this album slightly underwhelming, with no moments of compositional brilliance.

This is one of the albums to lend to a friend interested in exploring progressive rock. I've done so; but I have to admit I'm not in a great hurry to get it back.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars A solid recording of memorable songs performed by a brilliant band still very much in their infancy, "Images and Words" is as fun to listen to as it is important to the bourgeoning prog-metal genre.

Every song is a classic in their library and well written, showcasing the developing talent of the group and demonstrating that they are a cut above their peers. However, early Dream Theater still has much in common with the more conventional metal music of the time, which seems to be where most of the complaints about this album come from. While distinctive, this album's sound is still very straight-ahead metal, and won't please fans who don't appreciate hard-rocking. For those of us who do, Dream Theater is undeniably the best "gateway" band into the world of progressive rock-- and this album will likely hook most who listen.

Great melodies, tremendous solos and instrumental passages, smart writing, and of course the soaring voice of James LaBrie make this one a hallmark from the early genre.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 5

Review by Mellotron Storm
4 stars Among the bands they thank are WATCHTOWER, Bruce Dickinson, and as they say in the liner notes "FATEZ WARNING (Jus' kiddin' !!)". They do have a sense of humour. This was such a ground breaking album, not only making this band famous, but at the same time drawing a lot of fans into the Prog genre. Because of how influential it was I have to respect it, plus there's some great tracks on here.

"Pull Me Under" certainly won over a lot of Metal fans and gained them exposure on MTV. The riffs, drums and vocals are all fantastic ! Check out the blazing guitar solo 6 minutes in. An amazing opener. "Another Day" opens with some tasteful guitar solos and they come back later. This is a ballad-like tune at times with lots of relaxed sax and mellow vocals. "Take The Time" has it's moments but it's a little inconsistent for my tastes. Too poppy I guess. "Surrounded" starts off sounding like a sappy ballad. Yikes ! Fortunately that changes as the song plays out. "Metropolis-Part I" features some absolutely amazing drumming from Portnoy.This song really shows off the skills of each member of the band. Great song !

"Under A Glass Moon" has some heaviness and the drums are upfront. Some scorching guitar solos as well. "Wait For Sleep" is a ballad with some beautiful piano melodies from Moore. "Learning To Live" is another incredible tune. So many changes in tempo and the riffs, synths and vocals all shine. I was reminded of RUSH when I heard the synths late in the song.

This was DREAM THEATER's second record, and their first with new vocalist James LaBrie. I enjoy the follow up works "A Change Of Seasons" and "Awake" more than this one. Still I have to give this 4 stars because it is an excellent addition to your prog collection and it was pretty ground breaking at the time. The first song and the last four are amazing tracks.

Review by b_olariu
5 stars The beginning of modern progressive metal lies in "Images & Words, and i have no words to describe such a masterpiece, with all that i'm not a big Dream Theater fan but some of their works appeal more then others. Heavy, progressive, extremely innovative and technical, every musicians as a high level and the result of the compositions are amazing. After When dream and day unite, a misslooked album in many stores around the worl in that period, thay come with the second album and what a change over the first, musicaly speaking. Every instrument is flawless, James LaBrie is in his own here and is clear that the vocal parts are superb. What to add that is a 5 stars album and one of the most important albums in prog genre. All tracks are forte. Although my enthusiasm with this band has faded out a bit over the years, because they released some mediocre albums in the early 2000 but this disc is still a classic and the best they ever done along with Scenes from a memory. 5 stars for sure
Review by SoundsofSeasons
5 stars My favorite of the Dream Theater albums. It just works for me i suppose, i never liked the really hardcore and grundgy stuff, so this lighter and happier Dream Theater is a nice change for me. I also think that every song in the album is great to absolutey mind blowing, like Metropolis Part I. Also I really like James LaBrie's voice in this one, that IS saying something considering he is ALWAYS the cause for at least one less star on Dream Theater albums. His voice is actually soothing in Images and Words and the notes sound pure and fully drawn out, so finally he's caught up with the level of skill of the rest of the band. Of course the funny thing is it was a long downward landslide from there, cause pretty much gotten worse with every album since with few exceptions.

So Images and Words. The landmark album for progressive metal, and rightfully so! Any prog metal fan MUST own this album. Besides them, any prog fan period should be able to find enjoyment from this album, even if you really don't like Dream Theater all that much.

A Masterpiece of Progressive Rock ... and more specifically progressive metal

Review by Dim
2 stars This albums rating might be a bit detered beause of my disrespect for speed metal, but there are some songs that are just gut squeezing gross IMO. Songs like Another day, take the time, and Learning to live are drawn out hair metal songs, and Pull me under is not that good either. Some people may ask me why I dont like learning to live, which may be considered the magnum Opus of the album, but the lyrics are just rediculusly dumb, and all the instrumental sections, including fills, solo's and jam sessions, remind me of poison or some other pop group.

The ultimate downfall to this song is the drums! For a prog God like Mike Portney to be so praised for this album disapoints me. His drumming is SO OVERPOWERING, that even the softer parts are ruined, non stop fills and double bass, way to much treble on the kick, and just over all ego, is ruining the songs. Otherwise, I'm very pleased with Petrucci, who is not completely overblown on this album with real slo's and real riffs, well thats up for debate. I dont even want to tap on the whole LaBrie subjest though.

The only two exceptional songs on this album are of course, Metropolis part one, and under a glass moon. Very good musicianship and well thought out lyrics.

2 **

Review by Prog-jester
5 stars Can you believe “Pull Me Under” was a huge MTV hit?..

Yes, it was! With “Images and Words” DT proved that they aren’t another one-shot wonder, they’re alive and doing well! Touching “Another Day” ballad was another top song, and amazing 9-min long epic “Metropolis” not only became an encore favourite till now but an introduction to another story…Band sounded extremely well, complex, but never too bombastic and over- technical, sometimes balancing on cheesy Neo sound ;). “Images and Words” as well as “Hybris” on the other side of Atlantic (but with a lesser success) proved that Progressive Rock hasn’t died yet – no place for flowers, let it live! I remember the first time I borrowed this one along with “Awake” and SFAM from my daddy’s friend 5 years ago. I’ve got used to them pretty quickly and wanted more of that kind. He-he, I didn’t know at that moment that I already had listened to DT’s best albums!!!

Best tracks: “Pull me Under”, “Take the Time”, “Metropolis”, “Wait for Sleep/Learning to Live”

Best moments: “Pull Me Under” coda, mid-part in “Metropolis”, final part of “Learning to Live”

Review by ZowieZiggy
3 stars Such a wild opening number provides sufficient hints about the extreme power of this band. Unmatched, I guess. The lead vocalist has changed, but unlike other reviewers I quite liked Charles Dominici on the first album. Of course, James is great. But Charles was very good as well.

What makes Dream Theater really different from other metal bands, is there ability to switch from the most violent theme to a beautiful rock ballad. This is the contrast between "Pull Me Under" and "Another Day". Quite different, these songs. But even "Pull..." has its melodic instants but it will be for this impressed wall of sound that this number is fascinating. The second best of the album.

"Take The Time" is also an amazing song. It changes drammatically from mood after half time, when the band starts with these crazy beats and great guitar play. These are to knock you down. The same sort of paradox will lead us to "Surrounded". Another rock ballad like the band has the secret for. Of course, this won't be a soft ballad. The beat again will speed up and generate a great rock song. LaBrie will show all of his talent in this song : soft voice (almost croony) in the first part and high-pitched and so typical in the second one. And a tranquil finale to cool down.

The introduction of "Metropolis" is an experience that each of you would need to go through. The rhythmic section is just outstanding. Listen to this drumming ! And the so special sound of Portnoy drum kit. Still, I am not too much over-enthusiast about this number. Too much alike. Only the final part really kicks me.

Once "Under a Glass Moon" arrives, the same feeling I had during their first album strikes again : this is a bit too much of the same music. The short "Wait For Sleep" breeaks this feeling. An acoustic moment to interrupt the wildness available from track one.

The closing number is the longest song from this album. It is also a different song. Very well constructed, I must say. Almost sweet (by Dream Theater standards) and long intro with a passionate LaBrie. Little by little the tempo catches up and the heavy metal riffs get in after three minutes. As a nice flow, actually. This is the most elaborate song of the album and also my fave. Probably for this reason. The most "prog" song from this album. The closing part is gorgeous.

As far as progresiveness is concerned I think that LaBrie said once that Dream theater was a metal band with some prog elements. I guess that this is the best definition of their music. Nonetheless, this is another good album from the band. Three stars (although "Learning To Live" deserves five).

Review by progrules
5 stars The album starts with their classic Pull me under. It's the song they play (almost) every concert. A compelling song that brings you right in the mood. The second is Another day, probably the best ballad they ever made. It's followed by Take the time, another great progmetalsong. The next is another ballad: Surrounded, good but less than Another day The 5th is Metropolis, the song I noticed becoming more and more popular over the years both with the band as with the fans and rightly so ! Under a glass moon is a good song but compared with the others one of the lesser. Wait for sleep is a short ballad, a nice in between. The last is my favourite: Learning to live. The most progressive of this album and the best composition.

A prog metal classic of the highest order, have to give it 5. (4.75)

Review by Tarcisio Moura
5 stars It´s not easy to talk about an album that really started a whole new genre. Ok, there were other bands before that started the mix of metal and progressive, and it goes as early as the 70´s (like Kansas in Point Of Known Return) or the 80´s (Iron Maiden´s Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son), but clearly they were eithera Prog band with some heavier moments (Kansas) or a metal band that has a prog influence (Iron Maiden). Dream Theater on the other side was hard to label.

Images and Words was the first real album to be called prog metal because that what it really was. The formula, no matter how many groups before had laid the basic foundations (Queensryche, Fates Warning, etc>) has finally reached a point were you could no longer consider it prog or metal. It was both. A new genre was born. And this album is its most perfect exemple, even by today´s standards. It was a great feat, specially if you remember It was only Dream Theater´s second release (and the first with the great James LaBrie on vocals).

I won´t go track by track on this album, because this is the kind of CD you have to hear to believe (but, please, with no prejudice!). From beginning to end a perfect album that many bands try their whole career to record to no avail. Everything works here: the musicanship is perfect, the songwriting is superb and the production is absolute amazing. Never again Dream Theater would reach such perfction that included simplicity, melody, skills, technique, inspiration, delicacy, energy and guts. So what? Even if they had broken up after this one, they´d had made their names in the prog music history. And, believe me, they did quite few albums after Images And Words (some even excellent like Metropolis). But their sophmore release was truly their finest hour ever.

One of the few albums that stabilished a new era in prog music. An absolute classic. And a must have for any proghead that does not limit himself to traditional 70´s symphonic sound.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars This is still my favorite Dream Theater album. When ever I am feeling down or I need to lift my spirit I can put on Images and Words and I´m feeling fine. This is after all these years still one of my favorite albums of all time. Don´t be shocked when I will call this a progressive masterpiece and give it 5 stars.

This was my first meeting with progressive metal ( the softer style, I had listened to Atheist before this) and I was in awe but at the same time I was confused as James Labrie was a little to pop/metal for me at the time. But after many listens, I fell in love with Dream Theater and I played this album over and over again. This album never gets old on me and I can always find new things I haven´t heard before.

Dream Theater´s music is a mix of many genres from Thrash to Pop and everything in between, but it is all blended together to make that signature Dream Theater sound.

There is not one note on this album that is not godly and allthough you can hear easily some of their sources of inspiration ( Rush, Queensryche, Kansas and others) it´s not copying.

I remember being awe strucken by the fact that these guys had such a high musical standard, and me and my pals idolised them like the teenagers we were. But to this day I still haven´t found any other album were I enjoy the high standard so much.

The production is rather special and in particular the drums sound like they are half electric which might be the case. But I find it perfectly suiting for the music.

This album has what I think many of the later Dream Theater albums lack: Lots of melody and controlled comlex playing that is complex yes but melody is never sacrificed. This is partly because of Kevin Moore´s presence in Dream Theater. I love his keyboard playing as it is so soft for the ears, very pop like ( Comlex Pop.

I can only say that if you haven´t heard this one yet, go buy now, leave your wife and children, but you have to have this album. It is a masterpiece.

Review by ProgBagel
5 stars Dream Theater - Images and Words 5.0 stars

Incredible, stunning, brilliance, nirvana.these words are not strong enough to describe the power of this album. These songs were written during one of Dream Theater's toughest times where they attempted to hold down full-time jobs and do what they love most, to make music. Their dilemma was that they were more or less forced to work in basements and yet they were able to craft this masterpiece. The songs really came from the heart on this album and they gave it everything they had.and succeeded. Charlie Dominici was removed from being the vocalist for Dream Theater and James LaBrie stepped in. James was able to do what Charlie couldn't.sing higher and use his range to the max. All the songs were written as instrumentals before James came aboard. This album has what a listener should always want.the rockers and the epics.

'Pull Me Under' is the first song on the album that was a huge hit although it was not regarded as the best by the prog community. It's has a wonderful intro with some nice metal riffs in the verse and some clean ones in the chorus. Unlike the first album.the drum work by Mike Portnoy has drastically changed for the better.

'Another Day' is a wonderful ballad. The track starts off with a clean acoustic guitar and piano duet, followed by a short but powerful guitar solo. The song is slow and also features a was very nice to hear Dream Theater do something experimental but they have unfortunately stopped this practice for the majority of their career following, The symphonic work on the synth is great throughout the song. You will also get a real good treat from Petrucci, the guitar solo is stellar.

'Take the Time' is another interesting track. It begins with a cool intro with an awesome solo by Moore. Right after that the song gets into a real 'funky' vibe. To me, this is Dream Theater's first true 'progressive' song. I can't really describe this track as it reached tons of boundaries and word would only do it injustice. You can hear the Yes, Metallica, their own signature sound and everything in between. This ends with another incredible guitar solo that fades right out (why???).

'Surrounded' is probably one of my favorite tracks by Dream Theater. Ironically this one is regarded as just filler by a lot of people. The track begins with a very symphonic intro by Moore and pleasant singing by Labrie.and explodes into a full Rush inspired rocker! The song just kicks ass and has one of the best Petrucci solos.

'Metropolis, Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper' is a fan favorite. I'll have to admit the song has worn off on me, but that could be because I spent a while learning it on my guitar.a long while. Anyway, the instrumentals are very powerful in this piece. The drumming is bombastic and you'll get two great guitar/keyboard solo's that are then followed by an intense build-up to the outro.

'Under a Glass Moon' is another great rocker track. It sounds like a mix of most of the previous tracks on this album, which isn't a bad thing at all. What stands out the most is the guitar solo. It is by far one of Petrucci's most 'virtuosic' solos. I still can't understand how he does it.

'Wait for Sleep/Learning to Live' are complimentary pieces. 'Wait for Sleep' has one of my favorite keyboard intro's of all time. very pleasing to the ears. It is the only voice and piano duet but still holds its ground as an outstanding track on the album. 'Learning to Live' is a nice 11+ minute epic. The pace is everywhere's slow and melodic at parts, then fast and mind-blowing so at others. You'll get some of the best guitar and keyboard solos ever.then it just cuts back to the 'Wait for Sleep' keyboard line and then brought right back into the song in the direction it was originally going. An extremely well thought- out song, if I may say so.

I'd have to tip my hat off to Dream Theater with this album, it was a beautiful experience and still well over a decade after its release it still sounds as fresh as ever. Dream Theater is at their best here and Images and Words is my most recommended album by them. Next to 'Close to the Edge', this is my favorite album of all time. They damn well deserve it too. 5 stars.

Sources - "Score" DVD and biography.

Review by Tapfret
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Prog-metal standard

Sub-genre: Progressive Metal (strong fit)
For Fans of: Fates Warning, Queensryche, Metallica
Vocal Style: Hair metal vibrato galore
Guitar Style: Crunchy distortion power chord mayhem with speed picked solos.
Keyboard Style: Multi-synth patch and midi-piano
Percussion Style: Metal set, lots of double bass. Occasional funky flurries
Bass Style: Standard metal picked
Other Instruments: None

Summary: Dream Theater's second LP introduces several new things for the band. The most prominent is the addition of rangy, wailing vocalist James LaBrie. Rangy may be a bit to flattering as anything below a high-mid-range seems to escape Labrie's grasp. Also obvious was the huge improvement in recording quality over their debut,When Dream and Day Unite. These two elements had the trickle down effect of allowing the band to explore a more contrasting lighter sound. This in turn created a more "radio friendly" gateway to the album and the first nationwide airplay with Pull Me Under, and soon after Take the Time. It also opened the door to what I refer to as the "cheese variable", when bands try to balance a falsely perceived technical coldness with formulaic pseudo-emotion, as exemplified by the yawners Another Day and Surrounded. The latter of these two songs has much to offer in instrumental proficiency, but goes way overboard with syrupy themes, while the former is really nothing more than a hair metal ballad. They were harbingers of material to be released in later, less enjoyable releases.

On the other hand, the album contained 4 brilliant pieces, Metropolis - Pt.1, Under a Glass Moon, Waiting for Sleep/Learning to Live, and the aforementioned Take the Time. Each had the meat and potatoes of strong metal sound, technical tenacity and progressive structure and ideology of '70's greats like Yes and ELP. Metropolis - Pt.1 was most certainly the most important of these as it was the forbearer of their masterpiece album, Scenes from a Memory.

Final Score: This is an undeniably important album in the evolution of prog-metal, for better or worse. This album is at the apex of tech/extreme, trash metal, progressive rock and hair metal. Through much of the 90's it was the litmus test by which other progressive-metal was measured. The sub-genre gained a semi-mainstream voice (unless of course you bought into the Queensryche thing). It is, whoever, separated from masterpiece status by a couple of slices of cheese. 4 stars

Review by Easy Livin
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Metropolis found

Released some 3 years after their debut, "Images and words" is Dream Theater's second studio album. In the intervening period, original lead vocalist Charlie Dominici was sacked in 1989 after a gig in New York opening for Marillion. Steve Stone was brought in as his replacement, but his stay was very brief and did not include any studio time. James LaBrie, the band's current vocalist, was then recruited for the recording of this album, the rest of the line up being unchanged.

The album opens with one of the band's strongest and most popular numbers, "Pull me under", a perhaps surprising hit single in some territories. LaBrie's now familiar vocals immediately sound totally at home in the Dream Theater environment. There is a strong Iron Maiden feel to some of the passages, but instrumentally, Dream Theater tend to add an extra dimension to their music.

"Another day" was another single from the album. This is really an AOR melodic rock piece, complete with some fine soprano sax. The song may not suit the dedicated prog metal fans with its symphonic instrumentation, but for me it is one of the finest things they have ever done.

"Take the time" is the first of several less impressive songs. This rather rambling, directionless number is not actually bad, it just fails to make any great impression. "Under a glass moon" is another example of this.

"Surrounded" begins as another softer track, the second in four tracks, with some tasteful guitar and vocals. Even when it becomes a more orthodox Dream Theater piece, it retains something of a reflective feel. "Wait for sleep" maintains the melancholy, reflective atmosphere which prevails for a surprisingly significant proportion of the album.

The centre piece of the album is "Metropolis - Part 1, The miracle and the sleeper". This is of course the reason why the subsequent album is called "part 2", something which puzzles those unfamiliar with the band, who seek an album called "part 1". The heavy riffing and solid rhythm section cannot disguise what is for me another rather rambling track, which jumps around from theme to theme, but lacks depth. "Learning to live" is a similar track of considerable length which appears to offer all the right ingredients, but flatters to deceive.

In all, a decent album when we bear in mind that the band was still in its early days. For me, there are too many tracks which are unfocussed for this to be any sort of classic, but there are a few which make it a worthwhile listen.

Review by The Pessimist
4 stars Wow... what a fantastic album. Also qualifies for a great rock album as well as a piece of progressive genius. The highlights of the album are by far Pull Me Under, Take The Time, Metropolis Pt. 1, Waiting for Sleep and Learning to Live (LtL being my very favourite). Surrounded and Under a Glass Moon are average to good and Another Day is a typically good piece of cheese that is only really enjoyable for the first 5 listens.

Musicians wise, I think that Petrucci and Moore and Myung are at their peak, while Portnoy and LaBrie have yet to reach their's in the later albums Awake and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Petrucci for his work in Pull Me Under and Learning to Live, Moore for his work in Waiting for Sleep and LtL and Myung for his fantastic bass playing in Metropolis. All round however, stunning musicianship.

Overall scores:

1. Pull Me Under - 9/10 2. Another Day - 6/10 3. Take The Time - 8/10 4. Surrounded - 7/10 5. Metropolis - 10/10 6. Under a Glass Moon - 7/10 7. Waiting for Sleep - 9/10 8. Learning to Live - 10/10


Review by JLocke
4 stars This is Dream Theater's debut album. No, not their very first record ever released, but certainly the one that got them recognized by the general pubkic. The first single of the album, ''Pull Me Under'', became a huge success literaly overnight, and the five young men were launched into heavy touring, numerous record sales, and the first group of an ever-growing, dedicated fan base. Fast-forward to now, and you can see the many different directions the band has gone since this album, yet many of the Prog Metal die-hards out there still consider this to be Dream Theater's most influencial and crucial album to the genre as a whole. So, the question is, what makes this album so special? Furthermore, does it live up to all of the hype? In my view: yes, it does. This album is certainly good even now when compared to the five-piece's later efforts, and while it is still debatable as to whether or not it is their best, who can deny that it is the album that put Prog Metal into the forefront of the public for a whole new generation to discover?

''Pull Me Under'' is the album's opening track, and despite its length (over eight minutes), was the song that started it all for the DT boys in terms of fame and fortune. Unfortunately, it would be the only single and/or music video to really make it big for them for many years to follow. It begins with a very airy, almost surrealistic guitar riff provided by John Petrucci, and is soon accompanied by Kevin Moore's psychedelic keyboard sounds. The song continues to build, and after a short while, the distorted guitars come in full force, playing a truly metal riff, and Mike Portnoy then reveals his echoing, powerfull drumming for the first time on the record. Things go on like this for a little while longer, and already it is apparent to anyone with a half-decent ear for music that these guys are a very tight act, with some of the cleanest, most exact accuracy a metal band has ever displayed. The guitars are indeed distorted, yet you can still hear distingtively what chords he is playing without struggle, and then we hear James LaBrie's vocals for the first time ever in DT history, and let me say that this man can sing! I know many people have complained about his voice, but as far as I am concerned, he is the best Prog Metal vocalist of this generation (before and AFTER his vocal rupture, by the way). John Petrucci's solos on this song are very tasteful and don't go on too long at all. The music found on this entry really feels like it has a point, and instead of just being a really good technically-proficient act, Dream Theater proves on this album that they were, at least at one point, true ARTISTS, because everything on this song, and all the songs to follow, feels like it has a purpous for being there, rather than simply being drawn out to pass the time. The choruses here certainly aren't the strongest in their career, but the song is good enough to stand on it's own as a heavy rocker, without being considered a 'progressive' song, exactly.

''Another Day'' is a very mellow power-ballad, basically. Nothing wrong with it, really. In fact, it's quite nice, but the only thing really progressive about it I suppose is that it is suprisingly soft and maybe a little too 'pretty' for most traditional metal releases, but since this is prog metal, it doesn't seem out of place. The sax work on it is also very colorfull. The keyboards are also there to give the song some majestic orchestra work, and unlike what the keyboards would do later in Dream Theater's career, they simply create an atmosphere and aren't too out in front. This is almost surely do to Kevin Moore's inclusion in the band at this point, as the real key 'wizard' was one Jorden Rudess, who would not join the band until three albums later. Moore does a very good job of keeping the over-the-top nature of his instrument to a minimum, and while apparently the Dream Theater guys didn't like that, I find it much more fitting for them, since they already have a virtuoso amongst them with John Petrucci. Two of the same breed sometimes makes the music seem too busy, but luckily, since they had a much more reserved keyboardist on this album, the mood isn't lost. Great track.

''Take the Time'' Is the first real exhibition of the band members' playing capability, but once again, nothing seems to get too out of hand, and even the really fast virtuostic work fits within the context of the song as a whole. I rather like ther song's opening, which starts out with John Myung's short but sweet bass hits, then Kevin Moore's sounds compliment the odd time signature before the entire band comes blazing in. James LaBrie's voice on this song is especially nice, and he sings some of the best melodies on the record. There is a musical interlude, which features Moore's real first moment of fast- playing, and he keeps it tasteful, with an actual tune accomyning it, and not just mindless wankery of scales being played over and over at lightning speed. Following that, Petrucci breaks out some really great guitar rhythms that get stuck in my head for a long while after I listen to this track without fail. The song quiets down, but then comes back for one last burst of energy, bringing out the lyrics ''Find all you need in your mind, if you take the time!'' Petrucci then plays his fastest solo yet, but it still rocks without seeming like soulless speed-playing.

''Surrounded'' is the album's softest, and most beautiful song. Clean piano work backs singer LaBrie, starting slowly at first, then slowly picking up the pace, which introduces a very beautiful guitar melody plays artfully by Petrucci. ''Let light surround me'' James sings as his musicians produce incredibly moving music all around him. This song isn't much longer than it's mellow predecessor, and clocks it at a nice five minutes and thirty seconds.

''Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper'' is the only track on the album who's storyline is actually a 'theme' in the traditional prog sense, although I'm not too sure how much about it even the band members themselves knew at the time. It would be fully realized in the form of a complete full-length album later on in their career, SCENES FROM A MEMORY, but I will review that album at a later time. All you need to know at this point is this . . . the song is epic. Truly. However, I personally think the odd time sigs and unconventional lyrical structure is a bit too frequesnt in this particular track, and as a result always have a difficult time sitting through it all. That could change over time, though, as each time I listen to it, I appeciate it a bit more. (This is most likely due to the fact that I now know the full story from listening to the SCENES album, so can now understand this track better). Some things to note: okay, well, John Myung plays a very good bass solo in this song, and it is often referred to in high regard by the bass player proggers out there, and with good reason. Also, a really cool rhythm introduced here near 06:26 into the song that is reprised later on the SCENES FROM A MEMORY album. Well, others are as well, but that rhythm in particular always jumped out at me as particularly unusual and interesting. This song does tend to go on a little too long in my honest opinion, and this is really the closest to the later, more pompous Dream Theater stuf the album ever gets, but you can definately where the band is headed at this point in their career, and it only got more ridiculous and frilly as the album progressed. Overall, though, this is a very nice track, and if you like that kind of thing, then maybe later Dream Theater is right for you; it just doesn't always suit me particularly well.

''Under a Glass Moon'' - Really nice track, I like this track alot. Enough fast stuff to satisfy the elitists, but enough good old fasioned rhythm and beat to satisfy more straightforward metal fans. Myself leaning more toward the latter of the two forementioned groups of listeners, this is heaven for me to listen to. There is even some clean guitar work to be found here, which mixes things up a bit. Usually I have found with this band, it's either one or the other, so when a song has both soft and heavy in it, I am particularly pleased. At the four minute mark, the song becomes a battle between guitar and keyboard, resulting in a very head-boppy beat that always makes me smile. Petrucci not long afterward breaks into a really dreamy solo that once again shows that he is capable of more true artistic expression than he seems. I just wish he would do more real music playing like this nowadays.

''Wait For Sleep'' is pretty much an intro for the following track, ''Learning to Live'', but still has enough unique aspects to be talked about as a seperate track. Well, the piano playing is supurp here, and LaBrie's singing is top-notch as usual, with some really atmospheric strings being thrown in for good measure. Really moving song. Also the shortest track on this album, finishing up at only two minutes and thirty-one seconds.

''Learning to Live'' - Forget 'Metropolis''; THIS is the epic track on the album, taking so many interesting turns that it was what made me a Dream Theater fan. It was the first song by them I ever heard, and my jaw dropped when I first heard it, and it is still my personal favorite song of theirs. It begins with some epic keyboard work from Moore, then Portnoy comes in, and soon the entire band comes in stronger than ever. Everything here is very consise, and I get the feeling that this was the track the band worked hardest on to get 'right', but I could be very wrong about it. Whatever the circumstances, this song has the best vocals, melody, instrumentation, and lyrics. It's a true shame that John Myung no longer writes lyrics for the band, because he is by far the best at it out of the group. Truly a poet. I will give you a hint what this song is about: this causes everyday lives of people to completely turn on them, and ultimately becomes very cruel at times. The subject matter here is unusually deep for this type of band, but then again, Dream Theater would prove later on that they weren't just about the bright, sunny side of metal, and could crank out the heaviest riffs imaginable as well. Not on this record, however.

Once the first real shifting of gears takes place, we are treated to once again some truly beautiful guitar work from Petrucci, first playing very mexican-style diddies, then becoming almost a force of his own, building up the epic feel of the song. What happens next still gives me chills to this day: James LaBrie delivers his finest vocal performance ever, followed by John Petrucci's greatest guitar solo I have ever heard, and it always fills me with hope and pleasure as I listen to it. It is a true shame that (in my view) neither one of these men ever quite got to that point ever again, but at least they did get there at some point, for had they not, many people would have been missing out on one of prog metal's finest hours. The song once again dies down, and Myung delivers yet another great bass solo, leading up to the final encore of the song, which has Petrucci playing some truly haunting riffs on his guitar, while LaBrie sings open notes in the background. This continues, along with Portnoy's mammoth drumming, as the song fades out, concluding the album.

Please keep in mind that everything I have gone over in this review is merely a quick observation, and by no means gives away all of the goodies that are awaiting to be discovered on this truly milestone of a record. If you like either Yes, Rush or Sabbath, I would suggest giving this album a try, as it incoorperates elements from all three of those bands and more in a very successful way that was never quite matched again. This does not mean that it is Dream Theater's best per say, but it does mean that it had the best marriage of all of the different genres that could appeal to many different people. I think later releases of theirs should be avoided until after you have listened to this album first, because after this, the band became much more focused on the virtuostic side of their music, and much less focused on, well, the music. I will not tive this a five, because I think they have done better progressive work, but this is probably their most accessible (aside from FALLING INTO INFINITY), and serves as a great introduction piece for anyone interested in them.

Review by horsewithteeth11
5 stars While still on the heavy side of progressive metal, this is easily an album someone who doesn't like metal at all could still get into. An album that was only topped by DT's concept album, Scenes From a Memory, this is a great place for someone who's never heard DT to start from (although that may be because I'm spinning this album while I'm writing my review). James Labrie's vocals are amazing and very emotional especially with this being his first album for Dream Theater. The instrumentation included by the three original DT members, John Petrucci (guitar), John Myung (bass), and Mike Portnoy (drums) is of the technical complexity that has come to be identified with Dream Theater. Kevin Moore (keyboards) is also a very memorable figure for Dream Theater's first three albums, but in my opinion doesn't come close to Jordan Rudess who appeared later on. Pull Me Under, which I might add was played on a college radio show run by someone I know, is a great progressive metal song and great intro to the album. The synths at the end of the track also make it extremely special (but then again DT has some of the most amazing synths of any band I've ever heard). The album proceeds into the ballad-like Another Day, which might I add has a terrific sax solo. I won't mention all the tracks, but two other notable ones are Under a Glass Moon, easily one of the best DT songs ever in my opinion, and Metropolis Pt. 1, which helped lead to the creation of Scenes From a Memory, easily one of DT's best albums. The last track, Learning to Live, is also notable for its synths at the beginning of the song, which helps draw you into the song that much more. This album is easily 5 stars, if not 6, and for many people who don't like the heavier sounds presented by other progressive metal bands (Opeth, Tool, etc) this is a highly recommended album and band to explore. If you don't already have it now, get it!
Review by crimson87
5 stars Well I am not a prog metal fan, and to be honest I don't consider this album progressive or original enough.So to be fair I am going to review it as a metal record.

There is some influence from pink floyd , and some genesis sounding in keyboardist Kevin Moore, you can tell by his playing which is not as bombastic as Ruddess's but it blends well with the other mucisians.Secondly i have to state that this is the kind of album that you can put in order to show off your new home theater , the record has an amazing sound (specially the drums).Also LaBrie's voice was at it's finest at the time.

This is a fairly enjoyable album once you get used to all the cheese , and it's also the most accesible one however I can't concider it as a masterpiece because I can't find the originalty.

Review by Sinusoid
3 stars I'm willing to admit I'm not the biggest expert on Dream Theater; by and far, I found IMAGES AND WORDS to be the greatest of their achievements. For some reason, I feel the band exonerated an urgency here that is not present in any other release that I've heard. It's where their technical soloing blended well with whatever they did compositionally, barring a few length issues.

Some of their finest pieces of work are here, including ''Metropolis'', ''Under a Glass Moon'', ''Surrounded'' and the softer ''Wait for Sleep''. ''Learning to Live'' gets plenty of kudos too; if only it wasn't as long as it is, I'd enjoy it more. However, it is the first two tracks that ruin any hopes of this album being a masterpiece, the worst being the lame attempt at a smooth jazz hit in ''Another Day''.

For me, this is THE Dream Theater album; their talents are at their best here, and I feel the songs here are proof of that.

Review by LiquidEternity
3 stars Images and Words is one of the most significant releases in progressive metal history, whether or not you really enjoy the band at all.

This album is pretty difficult to look at for a rating because, though I recognize its significance and originality, it really doesn't rank up there for me. First off, still, it's a vast improvement over the original. The sound quality is excellent, the music has its own life and can exist independently of its influences, James LaBrie is sharing through the band his operatic and fascinating voice, and the general quality of the instruments are leagues ahead of the brief taste When Dream and Day Unite gave us. Now, instead of a classic Rush sound, the metal comes forth and greets us like Iron Maiden with serious intent to prog us to death. A very nice improvement. However, despite the success and popularity of this work, the band still feels a bit underdeveloped. Some of the songs are really impressive, while others are weak and drag the album down. So if it were entirely up to me, this would probably get three stars, but the importance of the album cannot be denied.

It opens with one of the most widely known prog songs from the 90s, Pull Me Under. This track is nice in the Dream Theater catalog because it's pretty straightforward, it's patient, and it doesn't spend three minutes noodling away. Moody lyrics built off Hamlet first showcase this voice that is James, and he fits very nicely with the dramatically heavy guitars. Another Day follows this, slightly less interesting and mellow. What we have here is a U2-inspired ballad with well-meaning, sad lyrics, but even still, the emotive guitar solo and the silly saxophone bit at the end (now, I like saxophone, but this is as stereotypically 80s as saxophone can come). Thankfully, Take the Time rides on that songs wake, bringing us right back to some energetic metal and excitement. The intro of the song is perhaps some of the strongest music on the album. It closes with a fading guitar solo that always makes me wish the song carried on a bit longer.

Surrounded wanders in next, a very nontraditional song in the Dream Theater catalog, being very gentle and moody and then fast-paced in the middle without being all heavy and metal-oriented. Rather, this is a kind of pop-rock with intelligence that makes it a fun and unique track. Right after that becomes the song that was to the prog community as Pull Me Under was to the mainstream metal community. Metropolis, pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper. This song almost perfectly anticipates the future of Dream Theater, especially when Jordan Rudess enters the scene. To those who don't like noodling and shredding and unisons and pointlessly odd time signatures and all that: look out. This song is almost entirely noodling. A perfect showcase for the band's talent, it somehow (actually, unfortunately) became the direction for the band's future. Nine minutes of incredible wails, ripping guitars, bass solos, whipping drums, and even lightning keyboards from the famously not-into-shredding Kevin Moore. Now, while this track certainly is mostly pointless, it's a fair bit of fun and a very important song in the band's history.

The next song, Under a Glass Moon, is a bit more atmospheric (though the band will never really delve into much atmospheric songwriting save for on Falling into Infinity) and less complicated, though the chorus is a multi-staged beast with some very high pitched singing by James. The guitar solo here, though really famous, is only considered a great solo because it's almost a compendium of the complete skill set of John Petrucci: look, here are each of the techniques he can do. It's neat, but very random and doesn't really go anywhere. Wait for Sleep is a nifty little piano bit with a catchy vocal line over the top, a break from the excessively thick metal (this is early 90s metal, by the way, not as heavy as they are now by any long shot) sound before the concluding track, Learning to Live. This song, featuring lyrics by silent bassist Myung about AIDS victims, really does get some emotion out of the listener, even though there's a very large amount of noodling here, too. The intro is a pretty neat bit, and the reprisals of it only get more progressive. It closes the album with a building and fading outro, which works very well as a way to end this record.

It's got some important flaws to it. The boys noodle a lot. Some of the songs are not that good. But in the end, this is a very important release to the genre, and so anyone interested at all in progressive metal should at least give it a try. Just a warning, though: you're expected to like it. If you don't, have a good reason why not ready.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars New force, new love, new wave.

Here's a review I've put off for too long. Dream Theater's second album could easily be considered their true debut since on the first album the band were mainly mucking around with their first singer and a bunch of ideas. On this album not only did they find a voice for the band in the form of James LaBrie (who these days has just as many haters as hard-core fans), but they also defined their sound and came up with a sound that would define the progressive metal genre to this day. While the band certainly had more under their belt as we would see on their subsequent masterpiece, Awake, this is where it really all took off for the band. The sound is heavy yet refined, as though Yes lost their minds and joined forces with Metallica in some sort of bizarro world where saxophone and keyboards fit in with heavy metal. While Dream Theater often gets attacked in the more ''minimalist'' circles for going on their extended 'wanking' solos, this album shows a bit more restraint in the band being that they seem to be a little hesitant with their abilities. Still, the musicianship on the album is impressive and shows that even a headbanger's band is capable of pulling off song writing skills on par with the 70s greats.

Somehow this album also had some success with the MTV crowd. This would be the album which would get the word of Dream Theater out to the masses, some of which would become their die-hard followers, thanks to choice cuts such as the breakout single Pull Me Under with it's chugging riffs and wailing voice, and the ever fast Take The Time, which exemplifies the use of an atmospheric buildup to a chaotic launch of guitars and power vocals. The saxophone and emotion laden Another Day was also released as a somewhat less successful single, although it seemed to have been structured for the job. Still the emotion portrayed in the song has aged well along with the performances to take the edge off of the pomp by being wedged nicely between the powerhouses that open the album. Surrounded finishes the first half of the album as a soft but powerful tune that's a little more sing-along and listener-friendly than the last 3 tracks with it's prominent synths care of Kevin Moore. An impressive solo from Petrucci accompanied by some quick drumming from Portnoy are a great sign of things to come later in the band's career.

What's to come is usually the section of the album which is of peak interest to the discerning prog fan. Most fans by now know about the band's highly successful album Metropolis Pt II, and so it should come as no surprise that Metropolis Pt I: The Miracle and The Sleeper is one of the album's standouts. A creepy keyboard atmosphere gives the song life as it moves through its more powerful sections, and LaBrie's voice is at the top of its game as it tells this chilling tale. Under A Glass Moon is no less impressive with its slightly more rhythmic approach. But then after the brief and chilling piano led Wait For Sleep, we're into one of the band's greatest achievements. Dream Theater has always been a band about mixing the melodic with the chaotic and the pomp with the subtle, and on Learning to Live they show off just what this mix is capable of. The song is absolutely sublime throughout it's 12-minute duration, mixing catchy hooks with impressive solos and sections that are sharply distinct without alienating the rest of the song. Progressive metal at its best.

Many people call this the most influential album on the progressive metal scene, and while this can be argued to be death there's one thing for certain, you have to hear it to believe it. Dream Theater may be a controversial band in some circles, but there's a reason why even the most rabid Dream Theater hater will occasionally spin this album. An absolute must, it would be a crime to end this review without having given the album a full 5 star rating. In the realm of progressive metal, this is close to perfection - although the band would truly achieve that with their next record, this one is more accessible. 5 Glass Moons out of 5 - Essential.

Review by J-Man
5 stars Progressive Metal Reinvented

I believe that progressive metal was invented in 1985 by Watchtower in their album Energetic Disassembly. I think Queensr˙che further perfected this idea in their 1989 album Operation: Mindcrime. Three years had past since Queensr˙che's monumental album. Progressive metal had become more popular. Bands like Death and Atheist were incorporating this into death and thrash metal, and many bands like Savatage and Fates Warning used a similar formula as Queensr˙che in their own blend of prog metal.

So the year is now 1992. Prog metal was blooming, but it still wasn't fully grown. We had prototype after prototype, but what we think as prog metal hadn't been defined yet. Images & Words changed that. The mix of synth-driven neo prog, heavy metal, and traditional symphonic prog changed the way we thought of progressive metal. Dream Theater's debut used this same formula. Other bands had previously used this formula. But NONE had perfected it like Dream Theater did with Images & Words.

As evident by that two paragraph history lesson, this album is a 5 star rating without a doubt. I honestly can't think of many albums that are worthy of a 5 star rating more than this absolute masterpiece. In one sentence, this is one of the most important albums in the entire progressive metal genre.


"Pull Me Under"- This is Dream Theater's only top 10 hit, and it is still great. It opens up with a cool guitar riff. The whole band soon joins in, and it's great. John Petrucci does an excellent job, and there are some really great riffs here. The musicianship is fantastic, and this contains some of Dream Theater's finest moments. From the memorable chorus to the excellent instrumental section, this is an excellent opener. I typically find Kevin Moore to be an overrated keyboard player, but he does a great job here and throughout this whole album. I much prefer the style of Jordan Rudess, though.

"Another Day"- After the fairly heavy opener, this song is a light popish song. I love the saxophone playing in this song, which interestingly enough is Jay Beckenstein of Spyro Gyra. I love the melodies here, and this is a perfect AOR sounding song. James LaBrie delivers a great vocal performance as well.

"Take The Time"- This is one of my favorite songs on the album because of its pure energy. The opening is incredible, and the synth solo is incredible. When the vocals first come in, you'll notice how great the rhythm section is. The chorus is excellent and extremely memorable. The musicianship is excellent, especially through the excellent instrumental section. This is a highlight of the album for sure.

"Surrounded"- This song opens up with a light piano and synth line. LaBrie's soft vocals soon enter, and it goes into a beautiful chorus. It eventually builds into an atmospheric uplifting guitar solo, that soon turns into an excellent synthesizer line. The rest of the song builds off of that and then reprises the opening. Despite the fact that this is not even at the 6 minute mark, it has that "epic" feeling to it. This is one of my favorites from the album.

"Metropolis Pt. 1"- This opens up with keyboard chords. It soon turns into heavy prog metal with power chords. This serves as part one of a concept that would later be continued on their full length album Metropolis Pt. 2, Scenes From A Memory. This song is energetic, sometimes dark, and very melodic. This song is very enjoyable.

"Under A Glass Moon"- Opening up with a soaring guitar and synth riff, it builds into sheer awesomeness. The bass playing of John Myung is superb, as well as the rest of the band. The chorus is excellent, but the guitar solo is the real highlight. One of the best guitar solos in heavy metal if you ask me. I think this is one of Petrucci's finest moments.

"Wait For Sleep"- This short song serves more as a prelude to the epic that will soon follow. It is definitely effective though. It uses one of the main themes to the next song, but in a soft piano and vocal harmony.

"Learning To Live"- THIS is where the album really begins. Easily one of the finest songs in progressive metal, this is everything that I dream of when I hear a song. This is emotional, powerful, and dynamic. It opens up with the distinct keyboard melody and it builds from there. The opening is excellent, and the rest of the song is I consider this one of the best Dream Theater songs in existence. Kevin Moore does an exceptional job throughout this song, and he has some killer solos. The main chorus is excellent, and everything is perfectly executed. This album is worth buying for this song alone.


Images & Words is one of the most important and influential albums in the progressive metal genre. It's amazing that such a young band can release such an innovative and virtuosic album. This album is a complete masterpiece that is a magical album from beginning to end. If you're looking to get into Dream Theater, this is a great place to start. One of the best albums in all of prog metal! Yeah, you can guess my rating.

5 stars.

Review by poslednijat_colobar
3 stars When progressive metal was young (or even still unborn).

When I hear the name of the second Dream Theater album - Images and Words - conflicting thoughts come into my mind. I would say this is another band. It's not the same band as Dream Theater I adore. It's something else. It's a band of young and precise musicians who's trying to find themselves. They combine some wonderful ideas into an ambitious album. In my opinion the conception of progressive metal in that period isn't built and mapped out. It's developed in some elemental way, yet! And sounds somehow dry and poor, despite lots of nice themes, virtuosity and creativity of the musicians. For me, Images and Words remains a beginning of this wonderful fairy-tale called Dream Theater, but the best is yet to come much, much later, when the band had been reached to the height of its professionalism and the conception of the genre had been clarified. Images and Words: nice addition to most of the metal collections. 3,25 stars!

Review by TGM: Orb
3 stars Images And Words, Dream Theater

Images and Words is, on the whole, a fairly good album. It's not, in my view, a masterpiece, and I share Certif1ed's doubts on how 'progressive' most of it is. The instrumental side is generally excellent, even if occasionally perfectly good songs are dragged down by the band deciding to throw in a basically unrelated bit of noodling, the lyrical side is a bit shabby, ubiquitously positive in feel, and completely lacking any subtlety, but not often emphasised enough to be a huge problem (exception: Another Day...). All in all, however, a number of excellently-played good tunes, of which my favourite is maybe Metropolis. No bad effort.

The band can clearly play, and particularly enjoyable are Myung and Petrucci's excellent performances, Moore's understated keys act as a sort of emotional anchor for the whole thing, and generally acquit themselves very well. Labrie is clearly a technically capable singer, and maybe the paragon of the generic singer-with-a-big-range, however, he really doesn't, most of the time, convey a lot of emotion or innovation and his voice becomes really rather unbearable when he's reaching after the high notes. A good singer, but not a great artist, in my opinion. Now, onto Portnoy... he admittedly has a lot of energy, but the drum performances here end up as an annoyance rather than an attraction, with one homogenous thick drum sound drowning out a lot of the other subtleties of the music just about every time he wants to make an impression. Finally, a note on the mix, I wouldn't mind hearing Myung a bit more audibly, and it sounds much better through headphones than through a decent sound system.

Pull Me Under is a catchy opener, from the first twanging guitar note through to the end. The band manages to build up a bit of communal tension, emphasised by occasional One-Of-These-Days-esque jabs from Moore through the intro and the verses, and then release it in the heady chorus before resuming it again, a burst of lone vocal and disorienting guitar-and-bass runs sort of focussing in a point maintain interest, while the solid riff and wailing guitar act as a constant. Mostly excellent, but it could have done without the rather abrupt ending, I'm afraid.

Another Day is, very much, a rock ballad, complete with tacky drumming and god-awful lyrics (I mean, just look at the chorus... 'you won't find it here, look another way, you won't find it here... so die another day'... it's offensively bad) and a rather irritating James Labrie moment, where he's making overtures to innovation by singing fairly high every now and then and adding an 'a' sound to every bloody vowel. Isolate those gripes, though, and there are a few very redeeming features. The soprano sax, courtesy of Jay Beckenstein, is smooth and moving and Labrie manages a rather impressive, if disconcerting, Eva Cassidy imitation at the start, along with a generally strong vocal when he's not messing around with a sounds, if you can shut out the lyrics. Petrucci pulls off some excellent guitar soloing as well as some vague shimmering sounds which don't really add a lot to the piece, Moore's piano, if a bit patronising, is nice. Comfortably the worst song on the album, and if you somehow like the lyrics to this, you're welcome to them...

Take The Time could well have been the best piece on the album, but it sadly isn't. The opening synthy whispering meets a tense bass part, and develops with rather Jacob's Ladder-esque metal drumming into an aggressive, punchy creature, bleeding cool guitar lines all over the place. A bit of impressively funky Myung playing underpins the first verse, with actually superb vocals from Labrie, complete with insidiously awesome high bits. The little deceleration before the lightning playing of the chorus is entirely merited. Thus far, incredible stuff, complete with catchy harmonies, hilarious dynamics and an ability (largely provided by Moore's tender piano) to slow down whenever needed. Unfortunately, the single most forced, unneccessary and baffling bit of random noodling follows the second verse... it's just so blunt, so utterly uncalled for. Despite a rather neat little bit of stop-start guitar thrown in there at some point and a rather cool bit of synthesque, or maybe even synth, soloing the instrumental break could surely have been introduced much, much better. Still, the only reason that annoys me this much is that the rest of the song is so good. Completed with another Cassidyesque outro, and a not-entirely-necessary bit of feelgood soloing and chorus repeat. Still, a very enjoyable song, and it could well hit my top ten bass performances list.

Surrounded is the seond of the 'soft' pieces, opened by a flood of delicate, almost nervous, Moore keys with an obligatory calm vocal, before a lukewarm Petrucci solo leads onto the whole-band bit. A rather tasteless bit of metalness leads onto increasingly annoying Labrie yowling and a tedious pop beat. The only real redeeming features of the latter part of the song are the occasional excellent Petrucci bits, but really, it's a mediocre pop rock ballad which ends up crippled by its own grandiosity.

The majestic, powerful, sweeping Metropolis is probably the album's highlight, opening with a tense distorted guitar riff, mysterious percussive twinklings, and a thick, murky keyboard background. Even the lyrics have shaped up here, or, more accurately, sound a little better without the constraints of rhyming. Even Portnoy comes across as an interesting player, and the keyboard lines run in perfectly with the shredding guitar. The interplay between the steel (I think) guitar and the the bass is intricate and precise. Labrie contributes a highly emotional performance to the piece, using harmonies rather than simply extended notes, to good effect. After the end of the first sung bit, a very nice bit of keyboard work turns up, and the band even manage a couple of rather neat pause-based transitions as well as a fantastic sort of ultra-complex guitar-bass thing. I've no idea what one particular, rather distinctive synth sound is, but my word is it cool. Anyway, I do like the 'jam' in the middle, even if it maybe relies on messing around with a few motifs a bit. The return of the vocals, subtly underlined by Moore, and assisted by a superb bass part leads to a drum-based outro. Fantastic song. Maybe a tiny weak patch somewhere in the middle, but strong enough to make up for it.

Under A Glass Moon opens with a rather tedious bit of grandiose guitar-led metalness, hamstrung by a wallowing tone, much as Portnoy seems in his element. The piece comes together a bit more when Moore adds some frantic organ jabs, and then weakens again as a dire case of lyrics-music non-relation hits home (cf. Red Barchetta... absolutely not convinced about the nervous flashlights bit). Portnoy is particularly agonising as the piece develops, just adding volume, not effect, from behind the drumkit, and the piece is only really redeemed by the weirder keyboard choices, and the fantastic playing of Myung and Petrucci. Admittedly, those are pretty redeeming when we get to the solo part towards the end, but it's a shame that the first part of the piece has no effect on me. Underwhelming, really, searing though the guitar part is.

The tender Moore piece, Wait For Sleep, is a really quite careful piano-dominated piece, and even if I think it could do with a little more challenge, movement and dynamic to live up to the charming intro and maybe a less blanketing string-synth, it's nice. The lyrics are actually quite nice in a slightly naïve way, and Labrie manages the vocal quite well. Pleasant.

Learning To Live is maybe a bit anti-climactic as an ending. Extended feelgood metal song, really. An amusing jumpy synth part complemented by a sort of aggressively-restrained drum part opens the song, and a bit of tension-creation through various keyboard song leads up to the 'main song', which has a quality Labrie vocal and rather Floydian keyboards, even if the rest of the band doesn't seem to be doing a lot of any interest, and though the intent is clearly to keep up the tension, the continual irksome drum stabs let it out as soon as it is created. A medievalish-sounding synth and an unoffensive, but unexceptional, Spanishy guitar solo add a bit of colour to the middle of the song, often underpinned by a rising vocal harmony and more subtle keys. The band pulls together a bit at around the seventh minute, with a bit of effective soloing, a hilarious retake of the Wait-For-Sleep keys, before the fairly nice chorus comes on again. A bass solo, always welcome here, ushers in a guitar motif, vocal backing and all, and the piece fades out to a bit of overriffing. My issues with the song are twofold... one, it's not a satisfying conclusion... it's not invested with any lasting emotion, or resolution... just comparing the end guitar fade with Supper's Ready shows exactly what it's lacking. In Supper's Ready, the fade feels like it's going on endlessly towards an eternal celestial goal. Here, the fade just doesn't feel like it's going anywhere. Two, it's just not as solid as many other songs on the album, and could've lost a bit of the 'metal' parts without anyone noticing.

I'm wavering between a three and a four here, and I think I'll have to settle on the former. The three high points of this album are very high, but I've dropped albums to three for having stronger 'weak' material than this (Nadir's Big Chance and McDonald And Giles come to mind). Anyway, I suppose the point of this review is to say that Images And Words will get the occasional spin from me, I'm certainly interested in acquiring more Dream Theater albums and that's fairly high praise in itself, coming from a not-particularly-metal man.

Rating: Three Stars, but with some exceptional material.

Favourite Track: Metropolis

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'Images & Words' - Dream Theater (9/10)

If someone came up to me and asked for a perfect example of what Progressive Metal should be, I would give them a copy of Dream Theater's 'Images And Words.' Although the metal isn't really found in an extremely heavy supply here, there's just enough heaviness to have it considered as a metal release. As with the band's true debut 'When Dream And Day Unite,' I consider this album to be more along the lines of 'heavy neo-prog.' However, it's overall influence and effect upon the progressive metal world is undeniable, and it remains among the greatest progressive albums of all time, up there with 'In The Court Of The Crimson King' and 'Dark Side Of The Moon.'

This is Dream Theater's first run with their new (and current) singer, James LaBrie. 'Images And Words' offers the singer's talent in droves, and stands as being his greatest vocal performance. While this album has the band's (as of March, 2009) only hit song, 'Pull Me Under,' it is in fact the worst song to be found on the album. While it is great, there are so many better pickings to be found here. For example, the grandiose 'Metropolis Pt 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper' was good enough to spawn a sequel album of it's own ('Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From A Memory'), which runs alongside this album competing for the placemark of being Dream Theater's best work yet.

The two extended compositions on the album ('Metropolis Pt. 1' and 'Learning To Live') both have their places as being two of Dream Theater's most epic songs. The musicianship is fantastic, however, unlike some of the band's later works, there isn't nearly as much pretension. The virtuosity is kept in check, and works on both a logical and emotional level.

While 'Images And Words' comes in no short supply with the heavy progressive compositions, it is not without it's softer songs. 'Wait For Sleep' was the first Dream Theater song I really fell in love with. Clocking in at under 3 minutes, it is one of the band's shortest songs, but it's also one of their most beautiful. Kevin Moore really works wonders on the keyboard, and remains (in my opinion) Dream Theater's most 'musical' keyboardist.

This is glory that has been yet unsurpassed, not even by 'Scenes From A Memory.' Having been recorded in 1991, the world was mostly unfamiliar with the realm of progressive metal. This album opened doors and paved the way for an entire genre of music to flourish. One of the truly essential progressive albums, and a must-own.

Review by Epignosis
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Vocally, this is one of the band's worst albums. I understand James LaBrie has an impressive range, but he practically lives in the clouds on this one. Mike Portnoy thunders away on the double bass pedal, a technique that wears out its welcome rather quickly. The two of them together are just headache-inducing on this album. John Petrucci for the most part does a fantastic job, even though his parts can be somewhat monotonous. John Myung, while often drowned out, is exceptionally competent. And as for Kevin Moore's input, while his synthesizer tones are varied, they can be rather silly-sounding. I'm not sure why so many are enthralled with this album, but I know that I am not fond of it.

"Pull Me Under" Pleasant acoustic guitar laced with effects begins this album before the almost constant assault of pummeling drums begins. Labrie doesn't sound as mature as he would in later albums, and at times, he's downright annoying. The way Petrucci chugs out power chords over the rest of the band makes me yawn. The abrupt ending might make no sense, except perhaps for the nature of the Shakespearean lyrics (inspired by Hamlet), which are praiseworthy.

"Another Day" The second track sounds more like a power ballad typical of the time; in fact, the band thought it would be their hit (surprisingly, the previous track gained more attention). The singing is impressively high-pitched but rather unclear. The ending sounds like Labrie and Portnoy guest on a Kenny G piece (the soprano saxophone was played by Spiro Gyra's Jay Beckenstein).

"Take the Time" Here, Petrucci demonstrates his prowess as a guitarist, employing some intriguing moves on his fret board. Myung can actually be heard from time to time. Unfortunately, it's mainly Kevin Moore's cheesy atmospheric keyboards and the spoken word that detract from an otherwise solid musical performance. And LaBrie's vocals are just awful here.

"Surrounded" LaBrie finally takes a break from the tweeter-frying high notes to sing reservedly, but only for a bit. For the most part, this song is very similar in sound to heavy AOR, with Toto-like music and pop vocal melodies throughout. The introductory keyboard riff is almost identical to the introduction of Queen's "Father to Son," which could be a coincidence, but very well could be a rip off.

"Metropolis Part 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper" Some metal magic happens here in the introduction, with powerful chords and some heavy guitar chugging along. The light keyboard sounds odd initially, but does work. Myung's bass solo is a standout part, but Moore's keyboard work sounds like 16-bit video game sounds, even if it is doubled by Petrucci's guitar. Portnoy's constant use of the double bass drum almost spoils this song for me; there are virtually no dynamics to the lengthy soloing sections.

"Under a Glass Moon" The introduction is one of the finest moments on the album, but then it's back to screeching vocals, burdensome drums, and heavy-handed guitar. Petrucci engages in a smart blend of shredding and funk riffs during his solo, making this one of his most creative works as a guitarist.

"Wait for Sleep" This short piece features Moore's soft piano and the gentler side of LaBrie for a welcome change. It has intriguing lyrics and a fantastic melody. Had it been expanded to incorporate the whole band, I think it could have been a progressive rock masterpiece.

"Learning to Live" A completely corny keyboard begins the lengthiest and final track on the album. The music following the introduction, I'm sorry to say, sounds like part of a soundtrack for one of those gritty, angst-ridden teen movies of the 1980s. LaBrie's screeching and Moore's goofy keyboard sounds rival each other for the worst aspect of the song. On the other hand, Myung's smart bass playing is worthy of applause, and I do like the overall arrangement of this piece.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars This album was my introduction to Dream Theater. Back in 1991, Jason Rubin, publisher of On Reflection, a progressive rock newsletter in the time of very little prog, had just returned from an interview eith Derek Shulman, president of ATCO records (and former front band for a little known prog band). Shulman had played some demo tapes of a band he just signed that he thought Rubin might like. Jason told me that I had to hear this band. When I received this promo I listened to it immediately. At the time I was delighted that WEA was actually promoting prog. Now it doesn't seem nearly as great.

The album does have some greatness. "Metropolis - Pt. I" is an amazing tune. One of the best DT ever made. But the album also is about half arena rock. But the good songs do shine. And Kevin Moore sounds more like a traditional prog keyboardist than any of the subsequent players.

And from time to time, you can hear what Myung is playing!

3.5 stars, rounded up.

Review by jampa17
5 stars The signature for a generation...!!!

As simply as that. If you go to the other albums reviews from DT or all the prog bands from the 90's, you'll always find a reference to these incredible masterpiece. Well, I heard it after hearing the Awake album, so it was a different experience for me, 'cause I was searching something more short and heavy... but I end up really begging for more of them...

The album feels like that magical time in our life where everything seems to be on it's right place. The band shares some of the greatest inspired songs in prog rock and makes a huge a high standard for all their posterior material. You know, it's possible that the metalprog couldn't be there without this album, 'cause it shakes all the walls infront of the prog music cliches of that time.

Labrie sings high and maybe too much over the edge -but I love that just like that- and the rest of the band manage to serve all DT classics. You know, Take the Time, Under a Glass Moon, Learning to Live and Metropolis are really classics with everything included. Great arrangements, song writting, inteligent and original subjects, all surrounded by a magical beat of good vibe.. you can feel it...??? despite of the trigger sound of the bass drum and the snare, you can hear the real Dream Theater here...

Well, I know must of the new fans could say is not that heavy, that fast, that technical... but hey... this album is kind of Kevin Moore trying to held the band not so loud and technical, and been more emotional and touching... you know, there's no song like Surrounded in all the other albums... it's just beautiful and well composed... and Wait For Sleep... you can feel that emotional vibe, that mix of sadness and "give up" feeling... really... Kevin was the master of songwritting... And if you see, he dominates must of the songs, not playing just fast and loud, but with soul and emotion... almost the half of the album has his leads... He can be fast, check the unisons with Petrucci in the instrumental part of Metropolis or the solo in Take the Time... but he liked to keep it cool and great... Sure will get the tradicional JP amazing solos, the Portnoy intricated performance... Myung significant as always... you get the complete package...

This is the album for all prog fans... even for the DT haters... you know you will like some of the songs on this one... just accept it... Prog music is alive, and survive through the 90's with these piece... "I once could see but now and last I'm blind..."

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Erm, what the ? I threw my eye on this album because everyone was saying how good it is (I started with Score best of album). After all, this is early Dream Theater, they should be good here. And I've tried to be critic, not to easy fall for this and rate blindly with best mark as a lamp in herd. But nope, I was unsuccessful. I had to refuse this futile attempt on changing the way, because this album is simply perfect. Facts (all these epic tracks, not one best and others average, but every one of them great, some of them more, some less) proven persuaded me. From melodic Another Day, Take the Time with unusual singing in the first part of the song (but later improving with guitar solos). Or very special track for me, Under a Glass Moon, first track from DT I've ever heard few years ago, great show of John Petrucci skills (and probably the main reason why he's considered as one of the best guitarists). Not talking about prequel to my favourite album SFaM which is quite satisfying.

5(-), only bad thing would be keyboards, which sometimes sounds, well, weak, strange, not familiar. But other good things are enough for me to give this. Unusually melodic album though.

Review by Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars I will have to add my voice to the other 1 and 2 stars here. It will be challenging though. I mean, how to review this album without using the word cheesy and horror ten times? Hang on, let me get my synonym dictionary!

Around the time of this release I had a short flirt with Dream Theatre, which was entirely based on the opening track Pull Me Under. Most of the other songs didn't appeal much to me and guess what? They still don't.

Another Day is a cheesy ballad complete with syrupy saxophone and sticky vocals. Horrible. Take That Time isn't much better but at least it tries to be complicated, something Dream Theatre often confuses with progressive. The music isn't very remarkable though, something between Rush around the time of Hold Your Fire and the kind of cross-over that was popular back in 1992. The vocals are terrible: annoying timbre and tacky melodies. Surrounded is another attempt to beat Elton John at cheesiness.

Metropolis. The intro is nicked from Saga, the melodies aren't very convincing and the composition is worthless. Well at least they try to make the music interesting, something that works reasonably well till they head off for that instrumental section around minute 6. Warning! Pointless solos and instrument abuse alert.

Under A Glass Moon is a decent track with some good rhythm guitar. Again the vocals could have been better and the solos are pointless and self-important. Well, we've had so much dreary stuff already that anything is an improvement. The same can be said about Learning To Live.

As a prog lover I've always found this album to be one of the worst things that ever happened to the genre. By the focus on virtuosic self-indulgence, Dream Theatre extracted everything that was dreadful about 70's prog and discarded everything that had made it so wonderful. If you look for originality, creativity, innovation, adventure, emotion and substance, you shouldn't pick up this album.

It is very unfortunate that exactly this very album served as an example for a whole generation of neo-prog-metal bands that clutter the genre. Mind you, I don't care that they exist, if you like them then that's all the better for you, I just wished this wouldn't be called progressive rock, not for any formal or technical reason, but simply because they lack all the qualities of it. Pull Me Under saves the album from one star.

Review by EatThatPhonebook
5 stars The band's second effort is for sure known as one of the very best progressive metal albums ever made. And boy do I agree. I consider this also to be one of the very best of the decade( precisely, I ranked it #2 in my personal list of best albums of the 90's). I remember I first listened to this album when I was in my freshman year of high school, and it completely blew me away. And that is how I got into this band. The elements that I loved about this album are:

1. the Technical Virtuousness. that never becomes excessive, even during the solos of the different musicians, especially of guitarist John Petrucci. Unfortunately, after this album the virtuousness will start to become excessive, especially in their very last albums.

2. The Melodies. always and in every single song hearable, from heavy and fast songs, to beautiful and delicate ballads (I rarely like a Dream Theater ballad, I always find them too pop oriented). It was very surprising for me, I didn't think, until my first listen of the album, that Dream Theater were so melodic.

These two elements in this masterpiece are perfectly combined together, creating very refined tunes and moods.

"Pull Me Under' is hands down the best DT song ever. It is so catchy, heavy, and outstandingly virtuous, but keeping always at a right distance.

"Another Day" is a beautiful ballad, surprisingly moving, like no other ballad written by the band.

"Take The Time" is a particular song, long, but still with a catchy melody. It's definitely the most experimental song of the album, and I like it quite a bit.

"Sorrounded" is a miracle, two great ballads in one DT album!! It has a beautiful atmosphere in the beginning, very jazzy and mellow and calm. The song then gets more enlivened, but never in a heavy way. Great song.

"Metropolis pt1" is one DT's best songs, and the most technical song in the album. Long, heavy, fast, with a long solo by Petrucci, it is however an epic masterpiece, to be listened carefully.

"Under A Glass Moon" is another unbelivable song. I underrated it initially, now I think it's one of their best songs. Similar to the previous track by structure, it is though very different and interesting, almost mysterious in some points.

"Wait For Sleep" is a brief prelude to the final track. It's a piano based song, very relaxing, I really enjoy it.

"Learning To Live" is the longest song of the album, even though it's my least favorite. It has however some great moments, very epic sounding and unforgettable.

Don;t have anything else to say about this masterpiece, if not that it's a shame that many progheads dislike this band and this album, since they consider this too virtuous. I think it's an essential masterpiece for understanding prog music today.

Review by ProgShine
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Oh the classic Dream Theater album!

Images And Words (1992) has been considered so much of a perfect album, that finally united Prog and Metal.

Don't get me wrong, this is a really good album, really good, but the sounds here... I mean, guitar sounds, bass sounds, and to be more specific, the drums sounds and keyboard sounds on this album are really, really bad, dates sounds and production. Like a cheap B production of the early 90's. It doesn't stand the test of time for me. And prettu much the same goes for the next album of the band Awake (1994), things only began to change in A Change Of Seasons (1995) (maybe the name were a clue).

'Pull Me Under', 'Under a Glass Moon' and 'Learning to Live' are great songs of the genre known as Prog Metal, if only this record was release some years later...

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I've been a fan of Dream Theater's music ever since I heard them on the radio somewhere around 2001/02. My first impression was strong enough to make me want to hear more from the band. I did just that by purchasing Scenes From A Memory followed by Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence and attending it's supporting tour in 2002. Since I wasn't a one of the hardcore supporters who have been following the band ever since the '90s, I had a lot of catching up to do with the band's history and seeing that Images And Words was considered a break-though release for Dream Theater it obviously was highest on my purchase list at the time.

To tell you the truth, Images And Words was initially a huge disappointment for me. I really made an effort to get into this album's material but it just seemed to reject me as its target audience. My main concern had to do with the typical '80s sound production that had no appeal on me whatsoever plus there was also a concern related to the quality of this material that I just could never overlook. Most of these compositions are really great like Learning To Live and Metropolis - Pt. I, but then there are those moments like Take The Time and Under A Glass Moon that come off sounding too sloppy and unfocused for my tastes. It's like the band has a great idea around what riffs they want to play but forgot to create noteworthy transitions between the different sections and let's not forget that hideous '80s metal production which at times makes me feel like I'm listening to a highly technical Glam Metal band.

Lately I've become more accustomed to Images And Words which by no means implies that I consider it a great album, but at least I can now appreciate some of its charm. This album was the reason why it took me another 7 years until I finally had the courage to experience Awake, but more on that in my next review! As for Images And Words, it's a good album that just doesn't work for me as much as I would have wanted it to so my rating should come as no surprise.

**** star songs: Pull Me Under (8:12) Another Day (4:23) Metropolis - Pt. I (9:32) Surrounded (5:30) Learning To Live (11:30)

*** star songs: Take The Time (8:21) Under A Glass Moon (7:03) Wait For Sleep (2:31)

Review by Flucktrot
4 stars One of those albums that I can see what attracts others, but for whatever reason Images and Words has yet to take hold of me personally. In my heart, this is a 3 star album, but given the historical contexts (a pretty unique sound for 1992), the bright spots (Metropolis, of course, among others), and...well...let's say the cool flaming heart on the cover, I'll round Images and Words up to 4 stars.

Highlights: Pull Me Under, Metropolis, Under a Glass Moon. These songs probably rock the hardest, have the minimum of LaBrie stylings, and fit together nicely as coherent songs (unlike, for example, Take the Time or Learning to Live).

Lowlights: Just because LaBrie was capable of singing higher way back when doesn't mean he should have been doing so, and that's clearly the case here in certain spots (i.e., the end of Metropolis). Also, Petrucci's crunching feels so light at times that it really makes the music feel cheesier in places, although they would address this in later albums (the same could also be said for Portnoy's sound).

Anytime an album gives me at least a couple songs that I regularly come back to, I consider it a worthy investment. Sure, I always hope for a bit more, but that just makes finding those special albums (i.e., Scenes from a Memory) all the more special.

Review by Andy Webb
5 stars The beginning of it all.

Some despise it, some adore it, and some think it's just alright, but I, Andyman1125, contributor to, say that this album is one of the best albums ever produced in this millennia, butt up against Selling England by the Pound and Close to the Edge. Albums like these encompass everything that makes humanity good, skill, passion, desire, self-knowledge, and overall joy of being alive. This album started everything for the now "famous" prog rockers Dream Theater, whose technical ability and passionate devotion to their fans has rocketed them up through the everyday prog band that just doesn't cut it compared to Dream Theater. Certainly Dream Theater can't stand up to the legends such as Yes, Pink Floyd, or King Crimson, but they are certainly the best of their bunch: the leaders of the progressive metal movement.

In the very late 80s and the very early 90s, Dream Theater lost their first singer, Charlie Dominici. His voice led the band for only a few years, and he only appeared on the mediocre debut When Dream and Day Unite. The band began to audition for a new singer in 1991. After sifting through dozens of singers, even including John Arch of Fates Warning, the band called James LaBrie all the way from Canada, the current singer in the glam rock band Winter Rose, to audition. Flying down from Ontario, the young LaBrie (although he was the same age as the rest of the band) auditioned and blew Petrucci, Portnoy, Myung, and Moore out of the water. His incredible range, his melodic tone, his compassionate timbre and vocal strength, he was the perfect fit for the prog metal band's soaring harmonies and instrumental masterpieces. To the fans, LaBrie was the best new singer in the entire progressive scene, and he was.

Images and Words remains the band's only real commercial hit. The song Pull Me Under remains the only song that Dream Theater has released that has had major radio commercial play and even appeared on MTV and other networks. It had won them international acclaim and countless fans from every corner of the globe. But often one might forget: there are 7 other absolutely perfect tracks left on the album. It's easy to rate your "favorite" album 5 stars, despite insignificant flaws that should lower it to a 4, but on this album, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the 8 tracks. Each is creative, exciting, compassionate, melodic, heavy, beautiful, rhythmic, and every single other desirable trait of music that one can imagine. Well, now we can start to analyze each track for itself.

You could probably get away with rating this album 5 stars by just saying three words: Pull Me Under. That opening progressive riff somehow even caught the attention of the corporate giants at MTV, a feat in and of itself among the (at that time) pop stars Tupac and other rappers. The music video aired in late 1992, sending ripples throughout the music community. It reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Heartseekers chart, and this song rocks! The opening instrumental section breaks into LaBrie's vocal debut, an epic show of melodic mastery. Vocals mesh with instruments into a beautifully done embroidery of musical genius. The slow and tear-jerking beauty of the keyboard solo flows effortlessly into a sweeping guitar solo, synonymous with John Petrucci. The chorus opens yet again, and a creative and abrupt ending transitions perfectly into the next track.

Another Day is a ballad among ballads. But it's still progressive, don't you worry. This song really allows LaBrie to show off. Moore's beautiful piano backs LaBrie's supreme voice. Some of the most beautiful melodies I've heard in my entire life are heard on this one track. Every note is perfect. Every harmonized second is perfect. The saxophone fits perfectly into the music, which flows in between melancholy beauty and sweeping power. The lyrics are poignant and creative. After absolute beauty ala James LaBrie, John Petrucci takes over with a spectacular solo of his own. Every single transition throughout the song fits beautifully. From vocal to instrumental to vocal to instrumental, the song is definitely a classic Dream Theater ballad.

Take the Time is one of the more fun songs on the album. This song breaks way from the traditional metal sound and incorporates a strong sense of funk. The opening is a creative and rhythmic and sets every listener up for a joy ride of funky bass lines and popping guitar work. LaBrie's exercises his extensive pitch range with piercing heights throughout the song. The bopping fun of the funky verses transitions perfectly into a slower melodic interlude exploring LaBrie's softer and more compassionate side. The soft quickens right back up into that swinging fun of the funky song with a strong (oh so very strong) instrumental section. Each instrument gets a part, even if it is a small one. The band sets the stage for their legacy as a great force of harmonic synchronization, with every instrument playing the same thing at the same time that just infects you with a joy so great you have to fight yourself viciously not to jump up and start dancing around. The instrumental section slows down to a short vocal piece before yet another guitar solo opens up, which ends the song on a great note.

Surrounded is the second ballad on the album. The delicate beauty of the intro could easily make one cry with its melody. But fret not, yee of dour emotion! This sad sound soon sweeps into a explosion of major scales and beautiful polyrhythms! This is definitely one of the happiest songs on the album, despite that sadder intro. Even standing up to the bopping and fun Take the Time, the solos, vocal harmonies, and overall composition of the meat of this song can slap a smile onto the most depressed's face. After all that fun, however, the song beautifully transitions into (a very short) reprise of the intro. Overall, however, the happy body of that song still makes you bob your head and happy satisfaction every time.

Yes, here it is, the fantastic Metropolis Part 1. Nearly no song under 10 minutes can even slightly compare to this song's overbearing epicness. Everything, not specifically the transitions or the melody or the rhythm is perfect about this song, *everything* is perfect. Not one thing is wrong. Not even a millisecond of flaw could be found in this song. This song is the prelude to an entire album, Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory, which is my favorite album, without a doubt. To say that a meager 9 minute track can be a predecessor to one of the (if not *the*) greatest progressive metal album in history is preposterous to most, but not anyone who knows Metropolis Part 1. The song opens with a different sound ?Jingle Bells! But continues on with one of the greatest keyboard progressions I've heard in my entire life?the "na na naaaa?. Na na nuhhh?." This breaks into a rhythmic-melodic perfection known as John Petrucci. After a short riff-solo, LaBrie enters? in perfect harmony with himself and everything the instruments are playing. This song is like jazz?everything communicates. The drums talk to the bass, which talks to the guitar, which talks to the keyboards, which talks with the vocals, which talks with everything all over again. Everything is in its rightful place, right where it should be, as it should be. The lyrics address everything from love to death to politics to the environment. And then, after the vocal piece, the instrumental section opens. It's hard to even think while this instrumental section plays. Everything that has been right with music for the past 700 years is exemplified in perfection in this piece. Rhythm, harmony, melody, technique, compositional superiority, and I can think of a list a mile long of other excellent traits. Complex time signatures, polyrhythms, technical solos, varying tempos and dynamics, this is like a perfectly composed music theory final composition. Everything good is in it. Myung's solo blows every other bass solo ever out of the water, Moore's creative keyboard parts keep even the most experienced pianists interested, Petrucci's solo defeats any other guitarist ever (well, that's not new), Portnoy can keep time no matter what (even the time signature was 471/67. Yes, they can play in 471/67 =P), and just the overall band performance is absolutely breathtaking. Everyone knows exactly what the other is doing, even if he is playing a solo with a half a million notes in the span of a few seconds. After this rhythmic instrumental beauty, the song transitions ever so slightly back into the vocal section with a crescendoing synchronization piece that could spin the heads of harmonized orchestras (well, maybe not. But still.). LaBrie comes in with his sweet melodic voice. The remaining minute of the song is one of the best in the song. The final touches on Moore's beautiful lyrical poem are put into the song, and this is the true lyrical prelude to the Metropolis Part 2 album. The song ends with some simple instrumentation, seeing as no complex cadence could possible appropriately end this song.

Under a Glass Moon is the next song. This song's heart lies in its guitar solo, but we'll get to that later. The shorter intro sets up the backing instrumentation quite nicely. The vocals come in on a very nice beat, keeping this steady rhythm afloat. The lyrics paint some of the most vivid images of the album, even the title is beautiful thought. The vocals are the most present theme in most of the song, accompanying the beautiful rhythm and backing instrumentation nicely. When the instrumental section, you know something is coming. The guitar sound tightens, and his playing gets more precise. Then it happens. Most certainly the best on the album, the best in the Dream Theater catalogue, and one of the better guitar solos?? ever...starts. It just up and slaps you in the face. It's absolutely exhilarating. Every note and measure is like an adventure of progressive proportions. The use of the guitar's accessories, most notably the wammy bar, is fantastic. Overall, that is one of the best guitar solos I have ever heard. The keyboard solo is great too, but nowhere near the beauty of the guitar solo. Still, however, the track is fantastic. The track follows a similar form as the rest of them, where after a lengthy solo section there is a short vocal reprise and then an instrumental outro. What a track, what a solo. Damn.

Wait for Sleep is the shortest track on the album, clocking in at a mere 2:31. This song is essentially a duet between Kevin Moore and James LaBrie, and what a job they have done! It is definitely the most beautiful and tear-jerking song on the album. It isn't even a ballad, just a beautiful duet showing LaBrie and Moore's passion behind their instruments and not just their incredible skill with their instruments. Most people could play those individual notes, but very few people could play those notes with the passion that LaBrie and Moore show whilst playing the music.

Learning to Live, the final track, is certainly an appropriate ending to a musical joyride. The guys can ride a bike with no handlebars?and win a race. The creative keyboard intro breaks into a sweeping melodic vocal section with some poignant lyrical themes. I can't say this enough, also: the instrumentation is just superb. Everything harmonizes perfectly with what LaBrie is signing, and every note transitions perfectly into the next. As with every other song, the vocal section transitions into a fantastic instrumental section. This is the closest one to come close to Metropolis'. Its instrumental section is just superb; each solo has something special to say to the listener. Each instrument also gets a chance to express itself fully. Whether it's the piano solo's yearning to be free, or the synthesizer's soaring sound flying into the sky, or maybe the guitar solo's ability to do what it wishes among the other instruments. These solos transition beautifully, as always into a short vocal section, that transitions into (oh boy) another instrumental section! Oh joy!!! (Not sarcastic) In this act, the bass gets a moment away from its cage of low frequencies that keeps all the music harmonized and gives his statement of complaint. The drums join him in his parade, before the guitar joins him in an epic backtrack for yet another impressive guitar solo. No, a guitar solo does not have to be 700 BPM with 3,000 notes per measure to be incredible. A s simple (even repeating) riff that is catchy and creative can be incredible too. This small solo fades out into eternity, the same amount of time that I will be listening to this record, over and over again.

ALBUM OVERALL: This truly is the beginning of the legacy that is Dream Theater. Some people spit on the band's name, but in most cases that is purely based on bias. When truly looking at this album for what it truly is, I can't fathom not liking Dream Theater. Certainly someone could say in turn that my rating is based on my own bias, but Dream Theater was the first progressive band I ever heard, which opened up a world of music that 80% of the world has never even heard of. This gate that Dream Theater opened for me has led me to respect them as much as a classic prog fan respects Yes and Genesis. Their technical ability, compositional skill, musical genius, and overall epicness has led me to the conclusion the Dream Theater is and always will be the ultimate prog metal band of all time. No, they are not symphonic prog, and no, they are not from the 70s, but they certainly have not tainted the progressive genre, but rather have added a new chapter in the certainly long book of progressive music.

Images and Words is an album that any musician can look up to. Whether your pride is mellow acoustic riffs reminiscent of Harmonium or thrashing intensity similar to Meshuggah, every aspect of music can be connected to this album. Musically, it is genius, commercially, it was a smash hit. Overall, this is just a fantastic album. I can't even think of an adjective in my expansive vocabulary to describe the overbearing beauty and monstrous amazingness of this album. Well, here ends my 2,447 word review! 5 ++ stars!!!!!!!

Review by zravkapt
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars This is the first DT album I have heard in full. I was familiar with "Pull Me Under" since I seen the video when this album just came out. I heard the title track to Octavarium once, and it put me to sleep. What I heard here pretty much met my expectations. Some parts I liked a lot, other parts I thought were cringe worthy. The rest fell somewhere in between. The don't like the very '80s sounding digital synths used here. The songwriting sometimes comes close to Hair Metal.

I had the single edit of "Pull Me Under" on a cassette comilation from the early 1990s. I know this song well; I always thought this was one of the best metal songs of the '90s. I hate how the ending just gets cut off on the album version. I generally can't stand LaBrie's singing on this album, which is the first with him. Nonetheless, I've often had the "living my life too much in the sun" line stuck in my head over the years. "Another Day" has some saxophone, which I wasn't expecting. I don't like the song anyway.

"Take The Time" begins good with the fast and heavy pace. Then goes funk-metal. They sample Public Enemy in this song! Too bad you only hear Chuck D and not Flava Flav. More melodic guitar playing later on. The harmony vocals sound very Hair Metal. Nice piano in the middle with a sample of someone speaking Italian. Good guitar solo. Last 2 or so minutes is the best part of the song. Sounds like a cross between Hair Metal and Thrash Metal. I don't like the synth sounds at the beginning of "Surrounded". Very cheesy and '80s sounding. This song sounds like a cross between Michael Bolton and Queensryche. I like the "dark to light to dark..." line. Awful song overall.

The best song is "Metropolis Pt. 1". I like the guitar when the singing starts; very Metallica sounding. After 4 minutes begins the best part of the whole album. When I listen to this section I think: "why can't all prog metal sound like this? all the time!" Simply awesome 4 minutes of music. "Under A Glass Moon" has a part that reminds me of Voivod. The instrumental section beginning in the middle is pretty good. Don't really care for the parts with vocals.

"Wait For Sleep" is a short piano-based ballad. Filler. "Learning to Live" is the longest song but not the best. The synths at the beginning are awful and cheesy. Good acoustic guitar later on. Some interesting piano playing even later on. You actually hear the bass for a bit near the end. Not a bad album but I've heard a lot better proggy metal. This album does not make me want to check out any more DT albums. But I might check out some of their later stuff just to see how different it is. For Images & Words I give 3 stars.

Review by baz91
5 stars After their debut album 'When Dream And Day Unite', Dream Theater went through a tough period trying to replace their lead singer. Of course, they finally stumbled upon James LaBrie, and the rest is history. His voice, then unmarred by the tragic food poisoning accident that was to happen just three years afterwards, perfectly suits the music, making Charlie Dominici a thing of the past. For all of you who love links between various prog bands, you may notice that Derek Shulman of Gentle Giant appears in the credits for this album. Indeed, he was responsible for signing the band to the Atco label! (Time for some GG jokes) 'On Reflection' that was a very good move. Without him they would have been 'Nothing At All'. I shall never grow tired of prog rock and all its 'Funny Ways'. But really, to be 'So Sincere' I should probably get on with this review.

If you've avidly stalked my profile, (or if you're just some friend I've decided to share this review with) you may know that I was once a keen Dream Theater fanboy. During those months I quickly singled out 'Images And Words' as my favourite Dream Theater album, and hence for a while it was my favourite album of all time. Each song on the album is a great standalone track, and together they make a powerful ensemble. This has the advantage over 'Scenes From A Memory', say, because, while that album as a whole is awe-inspiringly brilliant, the tracks by themselves don't really deliver. It also features some of their best-loved and classic tracks, such as Pull Me Under, Take The Time and Metropolis (although I'd like to argue that all of the tracks on this album are classics).

The album start's with the surprisingly popular Pull Me Under. When I say popular, I don't mean among DT fans or prog aficionados, I mean this song actually featured a fair amount on MTV and got radio airplay! Sixteen years down the line, Dream Theater would satirise the fact that only one of their songs has been able to do this by titling their first compilation album 'Greatest Hit (... and 21 other pretty cool songs)'. However, upon listening to this song, you will be completely baffled as to how this could ever have been on MTV. For a start, this song is just over 8 minutes long and has many elements of prog and metal throughout, a recipe that doesn't exactly scream "Commercial!". For fans of prog and metal though, this song is an absolute treat. With lyrics inspired by Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' penned lovingly by Kevin Moore, perfectly written instrumentals appearing throughout and an anthemic chorus, it's not hard to see why this song has become a fan favourite. The obligatory music video - sloppily editing the track down to under 5 minutes and showing Images that definitely don't fit the Words - simply does not do it justice, and makes the song sound much worse, especially to the commercial ear. However, history is history, and whatever it was that got this song so much recognition is probably the reason that Dream Theater are so well known and so highly regarded today. Dream Theater's big break so to say.

While Pull Me Under is not the commercial song that MTV somehow thought it was, this is not to say that Dream Theater weren't trying to gain some radio airplay. Another Day is far more commercial-minded, with effort put into it's ballad-like nature. The song expresses John Petrucci's struggle to come to terms with his father's cancer in a beautiful way. This subject matter would reprise on Take Away My Pain from 'Falling Into Infinity' after his father passed away. While this track does feel more pop than prog, there is nothing corny about this extremely powerful, moving song. The song is decorated with tasteful soprano sax riffs played by the sensational Jay Beckenstein, although in a few cases this comes desperately close to sounding cheesy. Mike Portnoy brings the piece to life with some great drumming that is creative but not too distracting. In the second verse he executes a fantastic groove that he would later use again in both Lifting Shadows Off A Dream and the non-album instrumental Eve. This is one of Dream Theater's best attempts at a radio-friendly song, and I am bewildered as to why MTV didn't single out this track instead.

To hear Dream Theater at their best, you need to listen to their longer, more technical tracks, and Take The Time is a good place to hear this. Littered with bizarre time signatures, this track is every prog-metal fan's wet dream. With lyrics credited to all of the band, this track features wildly changing verses, and break-neck choruses. The instrumental is phenomenal: lasting just over 2 minutes, it can be split into at least 4 different sections, each as complex and mind-boggling as the last. However, it is surely the outro that makes this song so unforgettable. After the final chorus we are treated to a brilliant triumphant section, where we are invited to chant the phrase "Find all you need in your mind if you take the time!" This is followed by what I believe to be Petrucci's best and most memorable guitar solo on record. It may not be his best in terms of length or technical precision, but if this playing doesn't make you want to get up and perform an impromptu guitar solo, then I honestly don't know what will. Perhaps the most infuriating thing about this song (and possibly this album) is the fade-out ending, no doubt left that way so that the band could experiment with different endings during live shows. It is heartbreaking to hear such a great solo fade away, and we are left with a burning desire to know what happens next. Indeed, this a very satisfying song to hear live, as there is no possibility for the band to fade out at the end. Live versions of this track include a longer guitar solo, and, in one case, a cover of the famous guitar outro to Lynyrd Skynyrd's Free Bird. As infuriating as it is, one has to admit that the fade-out was the right decision for this song.

Surrounded is a softer piece, with more melodic tendencies. This track has a bold structure, with the main section of the song being sandwiched between two keyboard sections which act as a distinct intro and outro to the song respectively (rather like Yes's Awaken). The disadvantage of these sections is that they take up around 40% of the song, which feels excessive when the song is only 5:30. It's rather like having a painting where the frame is too large. The intro and outro, while both beautiful, are the less interesting parts, and it can feel like a chore to listen to them along with the rest of the track. The main section, on the other hand, is extremely engaging. Starting in subtle 9/8, the melodic beauty of this track becomes apparent very quickly. The lyrics are great, and can instantly be recognised as Moore's. One highlight for me is James LaBrie's accurate timing when he sings 'Light to dark, Dark to light, Light to dark, Dark to light.' The main section ends with a very powerful section, all strong chords and beautiful singing. The intro and outro are a little too long, but otherwise this is a really well-written and beautiful track.

In my opinion, the best prog rock songs are epic, complex and memorable. It is for these reasons that Metropolis - Part 1 is my favourite Dream Theater track of all time. Beginning with a majestic instrumental intro, this song epitomises the word epic. The intro gives way to strong verses featuring theatrical and evocative lyrics (which some may argue as being pretentious). The music that follows these verses is one of the most complex, well-written rock instrumentals I have ever heard. Lasting a staggering four minutes, this instrumental section showcases the talents of each band member (minus of course singer James LaBrie). There's even a bass solo, for the usually subdued John Myung to shine! Starting in 13/8, the instrumental is of course awash with time signatures. There are too many sections to count, and substantial listening is required to be able to remember all the parts in the right order. To demonstrate how intricate and complex progressive rock can be, one needs to go no further than this song. After four minutes of one of the best instrumentals of all time, James LaBrie returns to bring this epic song to it's symphonic close. If I had to sum up Dream Theater with one song, it would have to be this one, as Metropolis showcases just how intricate and epic the band can be. Of course, they released a sequel 'Metropolis - Part 2' in the form of a concept album, 'Scenes From A Memory'. The album, while not explicitly linked to this song, employs musical and lyrical themes from it, and gives you a better idea of what the first part is about. In case I haven't made myself clear, Metropolis is Dream Theater's magnum opus.

Under A Glass Moon is best known for Petrucci's high-paced guitar solo in the instrumental. The song on whole is very enjoyable, and Portnoy's handling of the complex time signatures is also very remarkable. While there is little to fault this song, I find this track less memorable than the other tracks on the album. The high level of complexity on this track has now become a standard for Dream Theater, which is really the reason why they are so highly regarded.

Wait For Sleep is a beautiful keyboard track with sensational singing from LaBrie. It's usually quite difficult for a band like Dream Theater who are known for lengthy songs, and complex songwriting to come up with a simple track which is of the same quality as the rest of their work. In my opinion, Kevin Moore was their best songwriter, and consequently this is a sublime piece, with subtle time signatures boosting it's quality on this progressive album. The title 'Images And Words' is referenced in the song, making it an integral part of this album.

With lyrics by John Myung, Learning To Live closes this album in the most progressive way possible. This song has a very odd structure, with lyrics cutting out less than halfway through the song, to give way to an epic instrumental. The instrumental is not quite as technical as the one on Metropolis, but has many other standout features. For example, LaBrie famously hits F# at 7:05, which is the highest note on any Dream Theater song besides Octavarium's G5. The theme from Wait For Sleep is also reprised, as if it were the intro to Learning To Live. The song ends with a fantastic bass-driven outro, giving an epic, anthemic end to the album. This song engages me in a different way to other Dream Theater songs, in a way that's difficult to describe. This track is very unique amongst the other songs in Dream Theater's catalogue, which is typical of Myung's songs.

'Images And Words' continues to be an inspirational album. This album would have been a very strong indicator that Dream Theater were destined for greatness. The sound quality is far superior to that of their first album, although notably Portnoy's snare drum was triggered so that it lacked all subtlety in some of the tracks. The artwork is also brilliant, and one can gaze at the cover discovering new things each time, although the band pictures are extremely dated. To anyone wishing to discover the legend that is Dream Theater, this is a perfect starting place, and is THE essential record from this group. With so many great classics on this album, how could you refuse?

Review by Negoba
4 stars Extremely Uneven Album Foreshadows a New Genre

Dream Theater's second album IMAGES AND WORDS, their first with singer James LaBrie, has now achieved iconic status as the official beginning of progressive metal. I distinctly remember when the single "Pull Me Under" was being played on rock radio, and my surprise that a distinctly late 80's sound was still viable in the face of the bludgeoning force of grunge that was going on at the time. Indeed, Dream Theater was combining several of the dominant musical forces from around 1988-89: Over-wrought pop balladry in the vein of Bad English / Journey, faux-operatices vocals a la Iron Maiden / Judas Priest, shred guitar a la Steve Vai, and some heavy riffage a la Metallica. Two new elements were folded in, however. The first was a drummer whose showmanship, virtuosic skills, and love of odd time matched or surpassed the guitars. The second was that Dream Theater was a BAND. Every member had a significant part to play and no one really upstaged the other. For guitar junkies like me, this was probably the freshest aspect of DT. Joe Satriani's great albums were basically guitars over lifeless drum machine grooves, and vocals were often an afterthought on shred albums. At best, keyboards would emerge to swap solos with the guitarslinger (Yngwie Malmsteen). But with Dream Theater, the songs had clearly been developed as a collective.

However, the band was clearly still was trying to find their identity. The band's best songwriter, keyboardist Kevin Moore, was clearly more interested in melody and texture, while guitarist John Pertucci loved heavy riffs. Where everything seemed to come together was during complexly composed instrumental sections, which would become their signature and become the basis of the entire prog metal genre.

1. Pull Me Under - This is simply a great metal anthem. It's not particularly complex or recognizably "prog." It combines some riffage and firebreathing from Pertucci and a superb soaring chorus hook from Moore that deservedly became an anthem. "Pull me under, I'm not afraid" is such a great line. Sadly, the band would never produce another song quite like this.

2. Another Day - A completely generic radio power ballad, though adequate for what it was. The Kenny G-ish solo simply capped off that this was supposed to be the one that made them millionaires as the style had for many bands in the previous years. If it had been 1990, it might have worked.

3. Take the Time - This is the first time that we actually get a glimpse of what the band was to become. A slightly funky beginning with a sing-a-long chorus really grabs the attention at 3:50. The off-time break and solo would become the blueprint. Though not my favorite song, this is where it began.

4. Surrounded - Starting as another pop ballad, Moore actually lifts Jonathan Cain's intro from Bad English's huge hit "When I See You Smile." Instead of being another snoozefest, the song evolves again and again into unexpected places. The syncopated vocal of "Light to Dark, Light to Dark," and the delightful fast solo section make one forget where the piece began by the time it finishes.

5. Metropolis, Pt 1 - For diehard fans of the band, this is the song that defines IMAGES AND WORDS. The extended composition would become the blueprint for the remainder of the band's career. Pseudo-intellectual lyrics with minimal melody are offset by odd time riffs and multiple instrumental sections and solo spots. Ultra-fast leads are played in unison between guitar and keys, and the bass even gets an impressive solo section.

6. Under a Glass Moon - A fairly straightforward Pertucci song that supposedly contains one of his best solos. Here I must mention that though Pertucci now has a reputation as one of the best shredders of all time, in 1992 he was just another face in a crowd. This solo is basically a poor man's Steve Vai solo, with none of the otherworldly tonality. Though JP would improve his technique on subsequent albums he has never to my ear matched the giants of guitar. However, the way he has been able to interweave with his various keyboard partners in crime is fairly unique. I would argue that that element is about all that's left of the band at this point.

7. Wait for Sleep - This jazzy Kevin Moore composition is probably the best song, in the true sense of the word, ever to be recorded under the Dream Theater name. Like all good songs, I can imagine any number of vocalists tackling this and making it their own. LaBrie pulls in the screams and does a good job. The difference between this piece and Metropolis makes it easy to understand why Kevin Moore left the band. I would argue both were worse for the separation, however.

8. Learning to Live - Another extended piece, this one announces itself as prog metal from the first notes. While this song offers a number of tasty morsels, there really isn't a signature hook or riff that stays with me. It's really a typical prog metal album track, though this album is really only about half prog metal. Therefore, it was quite interesting when the album first came out but has lost a little luster with all the imitators that have followed.

IMAGES AND WORDS is really a record of two bands - a Kevin Moore led melodic rock band and the Pertucci / Portnoy led prog metal band that would ultimately define DT. I still think most would argue that the band was best when both were active. For this reason, I think AWAKE is the definitive DT album, with this one being a less developed version showing lots of promise.

To deny the historical importance of this album is folly, and so I am rounding up a 3.5 to a 4 star rating. But it's simply too uneven to truly reach masterpiece status.

Review by Wicket
5 stars This is the true milestone where progressive metal finally kicked off, the record that sparked a movement, an album that revolutionized the way prog and metal would forever be played.

But it is not Dream Theater's best album.

The creation of this album was an extremely bold venture after dumping the deadweight in Charlie Dominici and hiring James LaBrie from the band "White Rose". Obviously Petrucci's songwriting skipped the popularity of the rising 90's at the time and went straight to power metal-esque vocals, stratospheric guitar solos and complete obscurity, starting with the track DT is most famous for. Hell, MTV aired it once (when they actually showed music videos)!

Yes, it's a great song, the song the band will forever be known by. We all know that. Yes, even Petrucci once stated that he hoped the fanbase would also appreciate their newer albums. But at one point or another, every DT fan comes back to this very track, and who wouldn't? The chorus is catchy, Petrucci is spot on, the chords are recognizable, and it made 8-minute long tracks popular! It makes sense, when you dig deeper into this album...

"When Dream And Day Unite" shot the gun in a typical straightforward metal approach. Of course, the entire way the album was approached was terrible, so Petrucci, Portnoy and Myung scrapped the old formula and went for a more "poppy" approach. The band will admit they never expected "Pull Me Under" to become a big hit like it did. They expected songs like "Another Day" and "Surrounded" to be more popular, and when you listen to them, you'd agree. Both songs immediately demonstrate the popular "ballad" that many hair-metal bands in the late 80's (and many metal bands in general) would take pride in. In fact, these songs provide almost nothing in terms of advancing the progressive metal brand!

However, coming off from the dreadful thrashing "When Dream And Day Unite", you could tell off the first two tracks that the band took two steps forward instead of two steps back. No, it's the best album in terms of the genre, but it proved that this outfit did, indeed, have a softer side in them (comes naturally when you have a sweet alto sax on any song ["Another Day"]).

Contrary to popular belief, "Pull Me Under" wasn't even the most groundbreaking track on the album. It was another (by today's standards) 8 minute song that Dream Theater used. If you look at many of their songs today, some of their "singles" (using that word lightly; metal bands like these rarely release true singles) are within the 8-8:30 minute range. In fact, it was songs like "Take The Time" and "Metropolis, Pt. 1" that truly broke ground on something special. Musicians finally had the foundation to create songs with catchy lyrics and chorus' that stretched beyond the typical 4 minute pop song.

While "Take The Time" was more lyrically based (Petrucci didn't really shine until the end of the album, even though there was an instrumental break in the middle), it was the proof that this band wasn't afraid to make long songs, and long songs that kicked ass! Sure, it all seems commonplace today, but 19 years ago, it would've been a million-dollar suicide attempt to release an album like this! Luckily though, it was the combination of hits like "Pull Me Under" and "Surrounded" along with the technical prog epics like "Metropolis, Pt. 1" and "Learning To Live" that allowed this band to live another day (no, that was NOT a pun on the song).

Digging deeper into the album, it's clear to see "Metropolis, Pt. 1" as the true forefather into this genre. Conventional wisdom was forgotten, the stereotypical pop song format was thrown out the window, the instrumental sections were given steroids, and instantly Boston's high-pitched singing and Rush's time-signature changes and Yngwie Malmsteen- esque arpeggio's were on display. It erupted as a mass conglomeration of elements both progressive and commonplace in other genres today. It was the ultimate musician's nightmare. This was now turning into a type of music that not only was directed towards accessibility and good songwriting, but now this was turning into technical, demanding music that only the most gifted, talented and trained musicians could even grasp the slightest complexity behind this song. 7 minutes into the song, additional 2nd's were being added onto the main notes, and twisted, atonal chords were being formed, and key signatures were being altered. Finally, Dream Theater would begin to take shape.

And MTV would never be the same again. That's why they're now making reality shows.

Dream Theater's "Metropolis" is the modern day equivalent to The Beatles "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band". It completely re-wrote the book on progressive music. It would be a standard that would (attempted to be) duplicated and improved as time went on (as evidenced by DT's "Metropolis, Pt. 2" released 7 years later.

"Under A Glass Moon" begins in a sort of epic fashion, something that the band members always took fancy to. In fact, you could easily mistake it as "Metropolis, Pt. 2" if it were just for the intro! Then LaBrie begins to sing some wonderful verses and the band revert to their "pop" form (even though it was nothing near the pop of the 90's ["Thriller", this was not]). But as this track begins to end and into "Wait For Sleep", the final interesting fact comes in. Looking back on Dream Theater's history, the outfit has gone through three different keyboardists, each more interesting than the last.

This album would showcase Kevin Moore, quite possibly the most ambient and haunting of all of them. It was quite hard to tell on this record, as he mostly played in the sounds of a keyboard string section. However, "Awake" would unleash his true nature, and the haunting soundscapes and elements he would bring would soon translate to his solo work and OSI, something DT didn't want for all of their albums, so he was dumped. Next came Derek Sherinian, known only for his infamous "squeal", as he always played a "synth-y" type of prog (on DT's second-to-worst album). Of course, that all turned to a s***show real quick, and Sherinian was show "das boot" to the door. Finally, in came Jordan Rudess, the classically trained keyboardist whose improvisation, talent and wonderful improvisation techniques fell in line with the band's demands.

But back to this album. Moore's ticket to fame (so to speak) was the ability to create an environment so real, so emotional. It seems like the environment he created was the true key to the success of "Pull Me Under" and "Surrounded", but it was on "Awake" that the haunting nature of his plans were revealed, highlighted by the most overlooked of any Dream Theater song, "Space-Dye Vest" (which was actually written by Moore himself)

Yes, there was also the real "epic" on the album in "Learning To Live", but by now it seemed old at as it followed the footsteps of "Metropolis" and Under A Glass Moon". Yet by now, true progressive enthusiasts and musicians (such as myself) can tell that this was the groundwork for the future; Dream Theater stuck one foot firmly into the ground of progressive metal, but it would be their future work that would build a future of its own and create music like no other, music that will no doubt see this band into infamy (and in my dreams, the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame).

There might have been a few "80's-90's" sounds thrown into the album (seeing as the disc was released in 1992), but it doesn't really deter listeners from the album at all. The one problem I myself have is the fact that some DT fans praise this album's groundbreaking and innovative element for their more popular songs like the aforementioned "Pull Me Under". No. That song by itself has done nothing to elevate the genre of progressive metal to the upper echelons of instrumental deityism (yes, I just made that word up; sue me). It's the rest of the album that shines in ways that no band had ever invisioned music to be played before, and it eventually became the jumping off point for the Dream Theater we all know and love (and hate) today.

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars The reinvention of Progressive rock

Did Images and Words begin prog metal? 1992 seems like an eternity away now but in its time this album was absolutely the pinnacle of what became prog metal. So many bands owe their existence to this album. It is little wonder why crowds get excited when LaBrie shouts "we are going to do one from Images and Words!" The real master tracks are obvious as they are the ones played live often and they are the ones that every DT fan loves. One of those tracks is the brilliant Pull Me Under. Infectious riffing and melodic cohesiveness makes this one of the all time greatest prog metal songs.

Another one of the classics is undoubtedly Metropolis - Pt. I "The Miracle And The Sleeper". This may be in the top 10 best DT songs, as it features an epic majesty made possible with layers of Moore's keyboards over Myung's relentless bass and Portnoy's sporadic drumming. The time sigs are off kilter and deranged at times. Amidst the chaos LaBrie shines on vocals. If that does not grab you the lead guitar fret work is impeccable from Petrucci.

Under A Glass Moon is a definitive DT track appearing in many concerts. The guitar solos are phenomenal and there are quite a few. The riffing is incredible too making this a bonafide classic. The lead breaks are indispensable and ingrained in metal history.

Learning To Live is quintessential DT with virtuoso solos and musicianship. LaBrie is on fire and you have to love the time sig and bassline. LaBrie's voice is powerful throughout the album, higher than recent years of course because his voice was undamaged by age.

Of course there are other tracks and they are all very good, some may call them masterpieces. The point is, this album is a vital component in the resurgence of prog rock. Prog was dying in the 80s, and barely surviving in the 90s, but Dream Theater created the music they wanted to hear despite the avalanche of rap and other so called musical styles trying to drown out the voice of prog for ever. Images and Words is all killer and no filler the way an album should be. It may not be as genius as Ocatavarium or in the same vein as Scenes From A Memory to come, but this is an important album that cemented prog metal as the new giants of the industry. After this album there was no looking back - the gods of prog metal had been awakened.

Review by Warthur
5 stars Images and Words is an album I've found confounding for a while. Sometimes it just leaves me cold and I can't see how it's the classic many Dream Theater fans rate it as, but sometimes I get in the right mood and it's the only thing which will scratch the itch. It's got some absolutely irresistable hooks, and it's undeniably cheesy, and I've realised that unless I put myself in the mindset for something as hooky and cheesy (the sort of mood I more associate with power metal than typical prog metal) then I'm not going to enjoy it.

But if I am in that mood, boy howdy do I have a good time. When Dream and Day Unite was an excellent tribute to their various influences, but for the band to sustain itself it really needed to develop its own sound, and Images and Words is where it all came together with a diverse smorgasboard of crunching, thrashy riffs, virtuoso and delicate keyboard work and multi-section prog songwriting.

At its best, Images and Words is an exciting, muscular, adrenaline-pumping piece of prog metal which outlined the Dream Theater sound right when they needed to stake out their own identity. At its worst, you can detect all the tendency towards schmaltz and self-indulgence which the band sometimes fall prey to... but if you're in that Dream Theater mood, none of it matters and some of it might be exactly what you wanted to hear.

Review by BrufordFreak
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars A perfected, polished version of very familiar sounds and songs from the late 70s through the 80s. I hear WHITE SNAKE, QUEENSRYCHE, RUSH, DEF LEPPARD, SAGA, LOVERBOY, even TEARS FOR FEARS and THE CARS in this music. The only thing I'm hearing new are the more complex drumming, time signatures and time changes. I have to admit, though, for a 'metal' album, this is very likable. But then, metal from the 70s and 80s was, IMHO, much more accessible. Love the sax, good vocal melodies, stunning guitar solos. Also, I get the feeling that often the drummer is the lead instrument--the instrument which all others follow--which is very interesting. No one song sticks out as better or worse--or even different--than the others (except the little beauty, "Wait for Sleep," which, at 2:32, hardly counts).

1. "Pull Me Under" (8:14) cool intro and slow build up to full power. The transition into full metal jacket at 1:20 causes me reservation, despite the nice display of cohesive intra-band timing. The vocalist sounds very standard 1980s hair band. This rhythm section is really solid! Guitarist flashes for the first time in the fourth minute. Vocals just sound too standard metal--like Mike Reno and so many others. The chorus is smooth. Turning full circle at the half way point for a more subdued instrumental section. Nice keyboard and guitar soli. A solid song in the VAN HALEN tradition--up to that standard. (13.25/15)

2. "Another Day" (4:23) a smooth, classic rock sounding ballad--could be Tommy Shaw or some other classic lead vocalist (even George Michael!) in the lead. Very impressive! Either they've doubled up on the lead vocal line or they're using some effect unknown to me (a delay?) to give the vocal the feeling of having more than one singer. That's Spiro Gyra's Jay Beckenstein there on solo sax! (8.75/10)

3. "Take The Time" (8:21) a very disjointed song: the instrumentalists lines, the incidentals, the timing, and more. Yes, the drumming is impressive, and the guitar seems on the same page but the bass, keys, and vocalist seem to be struggling to get "in the pocket" and blend successfully. In the instrumental section in the fifth minute we have some interesting band and solo displays--some of them drawing from classic 80s rock developments, some of them feeling original and experimental. The bass and keys just feel a little less adept than the guitarist and drummer, but, then, the drummer and guitarist still feel as if they are struggling to "finish" their training and development. (How long does it take for a technically virtuosic instrumentalists to become a Master?) A song that just leaves me with a weird aftertaste--like, How would the band compose and play this differently ten years later--in 2002? (17.25/20)

4. "Surrounded" (5:30) starts out as another now-dated sounding ballad. Pretty but ? necessary? What is the band trying to prove with the inclusion of songs like this? As it develops I just keep hearing bands Survivor and STYX, especially The Grand Illusion/"Come Sail Away" (8.5/10)

5. "Metropolis - Pt. I "The Miracle And The Sleeper" (9:32) portends of things to come. Nice/solid prog metal epic. (17.75/20)

6. "Under A Glass Moon" (7:03) reminds me so much of being in college and hearing bands like BOSTON, FOREIGNER, EDDIE MONEY, TOTO, VAN HALEN, SAGA, TRIUMPH, LOVERBOY, 707, GREAT WHITE, .38 SPECIAL, and SURVIVOR for the first times. I can see a college student falling in love with this band due to a song like this. My second favorite song on the album. (13.75/15)

7. "Wait For Sleep" (2:31) piano and synth strings accompanying a beautiful sensitive vocal from human James LaBrie. My favorite song on the album. (5/5)

8. "Learning to Live"(11:30) As impressive and accomplished James LaBrie is as a metal singer, I think I like it better when he sings as a regular human--as he does for the first three minutes of this. However, it is only after the three-minute mark that the music gets interesting for its angular complexity. The chorus, unfortunately, brings everything back to an earthly straightforward rock.The instrumental section in the sixth minute is interesting for its unexpected high and low dynamics--as well as for that Spanish motif. The motif turns full electric at 6:30 which then leads into another tempo and stylistic shift in the ninth minute. (18/20)

Total Time: 57:07

A perfected, polished version of very familiar sounds and songs from the late 70s through the 80s. I hear WHITE SNAKE, QUEENSRYCHE, RUSH, DEF LEPPARD, SAGA, LOVERBOY, even TEARS FOR FEARS and THE CARS in this music. The only thing I'm hearing new are the more complex drumming, time signatures and time changes. I have to admit, though, for a 'metal' album, this is very likable. But then, metal from the 70s and 80s was, IMHO, much more accessible. Love the sax, good vocal melodies, stunning guitar solos. Also, I get the feeling that often the drummer is the lead instrument--the instrument which all others follow--which is very interesting. No one song sticks out as better or worse--or even different--than the others (except the little beauty, "Wait for Sleep," which, at 2:32, hardly counts). 3.5 stars, rated up for it's polish and for the technical skills of all of the band's individual members.

B+/four stars; an impressive collection of songs by some very skilled musicians. The flaw comes in the "spaces" in which one can see where these individual musicians and composers still have room to grow.

Review by Modrigue
4 stars Heavy neo-progressive metal at its best

After the embryonic prog-metal of the 70's and 80's, "Images and Words" will definitely establish the genre in the musical landscape, as well as DREAM THEATER as its undisputed leader.. for a certain time. Sincere progress have been made since "When Dream and Day Unite". Singer Charlie Dominici has been replaced by James LaBrie, whose powerful voice is more adapted to heavy titles. In their compositions, the members have sharpened their virtuosity and their rhythm structures science, inspired by RUSH, METALLICA, QUEENSR?CHE, MARILLION, and even ZAPPA, whose Mike Portnoy is big fan of. The production has also improved and the sound is clearer. Everything is not perfect though: DREAM THEATER offers quite soapy moments here, but its fantasy, soli and breaks are greater than before!

This second opus was initially intended as a double album, with the 25 minutes suite "A Change Of Seasons" included. However, the label imposed a single LP, resulting in the removal of various songs, and the re-recording of "ACOS", who will be released in 1995 on the eponymous EP.

The opener instantly became one of the band's great success. The cult and powerful "Pull Me Under" is a heavy title with an haunting introduction, fact-paced and calm passages, as well as an abrupt conclusion that always surprises me. Like I suppose many people, I thought my CD was broken at first listen. In fact, the musicians wanted to show death could arrive at any time... Not the most complex composition from DT, nevertheless very catchy. One of the band's classic! But the listener will have an even greater shock listening to the next track... What's this? The ballad "Another Day" simply features DT at its soapiest! A soundtrack for a cheesy eighties romantic clip, with its FM piano and saxophone. Easily the worst song of the record. "Take The Time" fortunately takes us back to a world of fantasy and dreamy metal with its gorgeous neo-heavy-prog passages, changing into groovy and funky rhythms. A lesser- known but nonetheless perfect title! Then comes the second and last black sheep of the album, "Surrounded". Another boring and out-of-place ballad, however this time more listenable than "Another Day", a bit in the style of MARILLION.

Don't worry, the second half of the disc can be browsed with serenity. In 1992, "Metropolis Part 1" was one of DREAM THEATER's most ambitious composition. An enchanting and epic tale, including numerous rhythm changes, various sonorities, catchy moments and breaks where RUSH and ZAPPA influences can be clearly perceived. It also features very short but incredible bass play from John Myung. Take the time to enjoy it, his solo interventions will unfortunately rarefy in the future... Anyway, a superb track! With "Take Your Time", "Under A Glass Moon" is "Images and Words"'s other forgotten little gem. Its majestic and floating opening unveils raging riffs and a fast- paced tune, but still with a neo-prog touch. Less breathtaking than its predecessor, nonetheless includes a few surprises and cool soli. "Wait For Sleep" is a short fairytale ballad, however this time much pleasant than the two others, introducing the longest and also maybe the heaviest song of the album, "Learning To Live". In the lineage of "Metropolis Part 1", this powerful epic displays assumed RUSH influences, with numerous ambiances and various interventions. The finale is simply heroic! Great!

"Images and words" is definitely one of DREAM THEATER's best opus, as well as an influential milestone in the progressive metal genre. This second effort show a genuine improvement compared to their debut, with better sound quality, more mature writing, more variations and better vocals.

A small remark though: this is no dark, depressive or aggressive prog-metal per se, rather fantasy / dreamy heavy neo-prog metal. The music is full of dated vintage synthesizer sounds, reminding MARILLION and SAGA, but that's what makes its own charm and contributes to the magical ambiance. Why two cheesy romantic titles among these colorful metallic epics full of gorgeous soli? I don't know... My advice: program your hi-fi to skip tracks 2 and 4. The rest is just flawless.

An essential listen for any progressive metal fan, and the one to start with if you're new to this genre or to DREAM THEATER. What are you waiting for?

Review by Kempokid
4 stars Dream Theater's landmark album, Images and Words is definitely a much more entertaining and impressive album than their debut, with better, clearer production. a far superior vocalist, and music that keeps flipping between being either proggier or more pop focused, rather than the often awkward middle ground taken throughout the debut. That said, unlike many people, I personally don't find this to be where they reached their peak, largely due to the fact that I find this brand of prog metal to be nothing particularly special and found some of their later work to experiment more and just be more enjoyable. Nevertheless, this is still a great album and one of DT's better works, just definitely not their best in my opinion.

One other reason I find this album to be somewhat meh in certain areas is due to the fact that it very much sounds like a collection of songs, rather than a single cohesive experience, and while this isn't much of an issue, I do find it to be an extremely common thing to stop an album from being a masterpiece. Pull Me Under starts off the album in an excellent fashion, and I'm still surprised how this became their most popular song when Surrounded and Another Day exist. This is an amazing wall of sound, switching between lovely melody and aggressive passages of drumming perfection. I also appreciate this as it's before almost every Petrucci solo became nothing but shredding, and is an all aorund enjoyable song, even if the ending leaves me, along with practically every listener completely cold. The next three songs all highlight the playfulness that the band can have. Another Day is a good ballad with an awesome saxophone solo, and I still believe that this is the song that should, by all rights, have been the one that became incredibly popular, just on the basis of musical style. Take The Time is a very fun song, with a lot of bouncy rhythms, jumping all over the place, with some really strange rhythm to go along with it, along with an awesome solo that essentially summarises the song. Surrounded, while definitely the most fun song, with the "Light to dark" vocal section and my favourite guitar solo of the album, it overall sounds pretty weak and cheesy, especially the extremely dated sounding synths.

The second half of the album is really where things become much more proggy, with the majority of the longest songs, along with much more technically impressive stratches of music, especially in Metropolis Part 1, which has an insane, albeit slightly overlong and drawn out instrumental section, complemented by the amazing opening and closing movements of it. Under A Glass Moon is by far my favourite song on the album, with the incredibly grandiose intro, leading into an absolute adrenaline rush of a song. From this album, it's probably the only song by Dream Theater that I'd rate in my top 15 by them. The durmming and guitar playing throughout is nothing short of breathtaking and awe inspiring, and the song never lets up for a second, becoming more energetic as it goes on, starting off with a fairly restrained, groovy bessline and ending in an extremely fast paced instrumental section. Wait for Sleep works as a serviceable interlude into Learning to Live. This is another of the better cuts of the album, with some really cool melodies from Kevin Moore, along with the most dramatic, expressive performance from Labrie on the entire album. Other moments of greatness are found in the reprise of Wait For Sleep, and the incredible high notes reached by Labrie.

Overall, while I feel as if this album is extremely consistent and high quality, I don't feel as if it reaches enough points in wihch I'm impressed by much more than the instrumental prowess that the band possesses, and while in this case, it often works very well, it's definitely not going to be something I consider a masterpiece. This is a vast improvement over the flawed debut album, but it's definitely not an album that I'll return to very often, especially in favour of a few of the later ones by the band. That said, this is definitely a great starting point into DT, being likely the most praised and definitely the most popular in their discography.

Best songs: Pull Me Under, Under A Glass Moon, Metropolis Part 1 - The Miracle and the Sleeper

Weakest songs: Surrounded, Wait For Sleep

Verdict: Decent, dramatic, and extremely impressive progressive metal that would definitely appeal to the fans of said sort of music. One of the albums that I do think most people have heard by now, and if not, as long as you have even a passing interest in prog metal, you should probably do so.

Review by Hector Enrique
5 stars Although since the mid-eighties there were bands like FATES WARNING, QUEENSRHYE, and SAVATAGE that took influences from progressive music and its intricate developments and progressions to combine them with the sharp guitars of heavy metal and of course, its inevitable touch of sensitivity, it is since the irruption of DREAM THEATER that Progressive Metal takes off as a new dimension of nuances and colors to explore, and Images and Words, DT's second album after the conventional When Dream and Day Unite, was the catalyst and cornerstone in this dizzying way to understand and create music.

From the dramatic and powerful Pull Me Under, a description of the fatality of the Shakespearean Hamlet, the album stands out for the splendid unfolding both in stormy seas (the excellent Take the Time and Metropolis Part 1, which 7 years later would be developed as part 2 in their extraordinary Metropolis - Scenes from a Memory, and Under a Glass Moon), as in more peaceful waters (the sentimental ballad Another Day with a pair of introspective appearances by Jay Beckenstein of Spyro Gyra on sax, the outstanding Surrounded, a melody that begins and ends with the whispering of James Labrie and an accomplice piano of Kevin Moore, running through an arduous and euphoric soundscape, or the brief Wait for Sleep, one of the band's most naked compositions).

The important presence and relevance of their influences are confirmed by the theme that closes Images and Words, the super progressive Learning to Live, which in its more than 11 minutes wonderfully fuses the devastating METALLICA with the crushing rhythmic lines of the most vertiginous RUSH, YES, and similar legends.

And as in the whole album, John Petrucci is impeccable on the guitars, Moore is exquisite on the keyboards, and they are supported by the sober bass of John Myung and the vigorous drums of Mike Portnoy.

Fundamental work of Progressive Metal.

Review by siLLy puPPy
4 stars The early 90s caused a lot of turmoil in the music industry as everything 80s was pretty much swept away by the alternative rock and grunge invasion that was pretty much solidified by Nirvana's phenomenal success of its album "Nevermind," but the metal world too was completely transformed as glam metal went the way of the dodo as more extreme acts like Metallica and Megadeth established metal as a more technical and serious genre for the masses. Add to that changing of the tides the massive explosion of not only the prog rock revival but something completely new and that was progressive metal. DREAM THEATER had already been around a few years but didn't capture a lot of attention with its debut "When Dream And Day Unite" which IMHO was an excellent album but suffered from a dismal album cover and emerging a little too soon for the appetite of the public to shift interest into the complexities that prog metal had to offer.

DREAM THEATER itself underwent a huge change when lead singer Charlie Dominici left the band and was replaced by James LaBrie who had remained with DT ever since. After joining the dream team of guitarist John Petrucci, keyboardist Kevin Moore, bassist John Myung and drummer Mike Portnoy, the band was ready to conquer the world with its second classic release IMAGES AND WORDS which was released just at the right time for a glam metal weary public to move on to something with a bit more heft and together with Fates Warning and Queensryche, DREAM THEATER launched the progressive metal invasion that hasn't stopped since this album was released in 1992. The album pretty much caught the world's attention immediately with the release of the first single "Pull Me Under" which featured the heft and bravado of classic 80s metal but featured hitherto unthinkable progressive rock crossover effects which most of the world had never experienced despite bands like Watchtower developing the prog metal world in the underground as early as 1984.

As DREAM THEATER's most successful album of all time, IMAGES AND WORDS is regarded as one of those classics that launched a whole new revolution in the metal world with complex proggy composiitons that adopted symphonic prog touches from bands like Kansas, pastoral moments of classic Genesis and knotty compositions that exuded virtuosic instrumental interplay in the vein of classic Yes but with the energetic overdrive of 80s power metal with neoclassical references. While regarded as an all time classic, i personally can't say i find IMAGES AND WORDS to be a perfect album by any means. No doubt that "Pull Me Under" was not only the perfect single to bring DT to the world's attention but also the perfect track to begin the album as it delivers electrifying atmospheres, dynamic songwriting skills performed by seasoned veterans of the metal trade with an energetic bombast and vocal octave range that put this band well over the talent range of the average metal band of the era. However some of the tracks just flounder a bit such as the rather sleepy AOR inspired "Another Day" with Kenny G sax sensualities and sounding something like Styx on a very uninspired day.

While the first half of IMAGES AND WORDS may sound a bit restrained as the band was trying too hard to appeal to melodic metal bands of the 80s that featured too many sappy ballads, the second half opens with the highlight of the album the outstanding "Metropolis?Part I: 'The Miracle and the Sleeper,'" a massive sprawling near 10-minute track that busts out all the prog goods with all the bombast, pomp and awe one could hope for including Keith Emerson keyboard wizardry, tricky speed-of-light time signature frenzies and some of the best musicianship that the band members have ever conjured up. The track proved to be a popular live number with variations changing each performance and by popular demand carried on until an entire album "Metropolis Pt 2: Scenes From A Memory" finally emerged down the line.

Luckily the album continues the prog workouts with tracks like "Under A Glass Moon" and even takes the beautiful ballad "Wait For Sleep" into turbulent prog workout territories culminating in the album's lengthiest track the 11 1/2 minute "Learning To Live" which ultimately leaves a satisfying experience that leaves IMAGES AND WORDS resonating high on the metallic prog-o-meter. When all is said and done this album really does deserve its status as one of the best prog metal albums of all time however as i've already stated i find the second track "Another Day" to be a throwaway track and even "Surrounded" lacking in compositional fortitude. If these two tracks had been modified or replaced altogether then i would could perhaps deem this a perfect album but since they appear early on sort of dampen the overall experience. But i shouldn't be too harsh as they aren't gawd awful tracks either. They just don't live up to the quality of the others therefore they can be overlooked as a small blemish that doesn't detract from the overall magnitude that the album brings forth as one of prog metal's magnum opus. After all the remaining tracks have a staying power some thirty years later after IMAGE AND WORDS' initial release and one of DREAM THEATER's finest moments for sure.

4.5 but can't seem to round it up

Review by VianaProghead
5 stars Review Nş 536

'Images And Words' is the second studio album of Dream Theater and was released in 1992. The album maintains its position as the band's most commercially successful studio album to date and it's also one of the best studio albums released by them until now. It represents a giant step from their debut studio album, in terms of quality and prog music.

It's the first Dream Theater's release to feature James LaBrie on vocals, who substituted Charlie Dominici, their previous and former vocalist and friend. After Dominici's departure from the group, they auditioned nearly 200 singers before James LaBrie sent the band an audition record tape. LaBrie was formerly a member of the Canadian metal band Winter Rose and after a short session, the group chose him as their lead vocalist and he stayed in the group until now.

So, the line up on the album is James LaBrie (lead vocals), John Petrucci (backing vocals and guitars), Kevin Moore (keyboards), John Myung (bass) and Mike Portnoy (drums and percussion).

'Images And Words' has eight tracks. All music was composed by Dream Theater except 'Wait For Sleep' with music by Moore. The first track 'Pull Me Under' with lyrics by Moore was the first single and opener for the album. According to the band this song was inspired by Shakespeare's 'Hamlet'. It's a song that begins with a simple clean guitar riff, soon joined by keyboards and drums. The song gets heavier and the final result is an excellent opener to the album. The second track 'Another Day' with lyrics by Petrucci was originally meant to be the first single, but the band was against it, since it would give a completely false impression of the band's music. This is a very beautiful and melodic song, one of the best songs from the band in this soft style. A lot of people won't like the song, is far from a fan favourite, but sincerely I like the song very much. The third track 'Take The Time' with lyrics by Petrucci, Moore, Myung and Portnoy was the third single of the album. It wasn't as popular as the opening track 'Pull Me Under'. It's a real classic Dream Theater's song that starts with some great keyboards, before a simple bass line comes in. This song is jazzy, bluesy, epic and metal at the same time. The final result is a catchy but yet a technically complex song. The fourth track 'Surrounded' with lyrics by Moore apparently changed titles. It was 'The Longest Night' on promotional copies. A cool keyboard work opens the song, before LaBrie comes with some soft vocals joined soon by the bass and the guitar. Despite being not as catchy as some of other tracks on the album, it's not less beautiful and complex. The fifth track 'Metropolis ' Part I: The Miracle And The Sleeper' with lyrics by Petrucci is based on the story of Romulus and Remus the founders of the city of Rome. Contrary to common beliefs, it has no relation to the famous Fritz Lang film 'Metropolis'. This is pretty much recognized as a fan favourite song, for some many good reasons. It has heavy riff work, complex drumming, emotional lyrics and great abundance of time and mood changes. It's a track that Dream Theater can look back and be proud of it. The sixth track 'Under A Glass Moon' with lyrics by Petrucci is another excellent song that starts with heavy and slow guitar riffs, before Portnoy begins his amazing drumming and Myung comes in. It's also a great song for LaBrie, with him singing beautifully. It has also a great guitar solo by Petrucci. This is a great track with so many great elements on it. The seventh track 'Wait For Sleep' with lyrics by Moore is another song with a darker, emotional content, which fits the album very well. It's an extremely beautiful song with just piano and vocals, and serves as an intro into the last song, both musically and lyrically. It's a short song, a kind of a break to catch your breath after the previous two tracks, which somehow feels like the centre point of the album to me. The eighth track 'Learning To Live' with lyrics by Myung is a very special track for me. Fantastic is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of it. It's the lengthiest track on the album and is the greatest epic on it. This is a true astonishing piece with an incredible musical work by all band's members and with truly amazing musicianship. This is, without any doubt, the most progressive song on the album that ends perfectly well this excellent and historic album.

Conclusion: 'Images And Words' is, without any doubt, a great album with some of the best tracks ever made by Dream Theater that fits very well in the progressive rock music. Among the best musical moments of this amazing album, which features only eight songs but almost one hour of essential material, let's name, without any doubt, the two great epics of the album 'Metropolis ' Part I' and 'Learning To Live'. 'Pull Me Under', 'Take The Time', 'Under A Glass Moon' and 'Wait For The Sleep' are all great songs too. 'Another Day' and 'Surrounded' despite being also two good songs can be considered as fillers or even cheesy songs, now. However, I think we must judge the album as a whole. And as a whole, 'Images And Words' is truly a masterpiece and is also an historical album. So if you don't know that one yet, try it, and if you don't like it at first, listen to it again. When you fully digest it, certainly you'll enjoy it too.

Prog is my Ferrari. Jem Godfrey (Frost*)

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Report this review (#2632492) | Posted by VanDerProg | Wednesday, November 10, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#2581951) | Posted by Ian McGregor | Wednesday, July 28, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars You can hate this polemic band as much as you want, but to each with their own: Images And Words is an album that defined progressive metal the same way that Operation Mindcrime did. So yeah it's essential, at least within progressive metal. Although I must say that the more time passes, the mor ... (read more)

Report this review (#2547835) | Posted by Gorgut Muncher | Wednesday, June 2, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars - Review #7 - I'm gonna say once and for all that if you're a progressive metal fan then this is essential. It basically established the main sound not only of Dream Theater, but of hundreds and hundreds of bands too. If you don't think that's an essential album then I don't know what else is ... (read more)

Report this review (#2539485) | Posted by King Brimstone | Friday, April 30, 2021 | Review Permanlink

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Report this review (#2490755) | Posted by Jack_608 | Tuesday, January 5, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars One of the most important albums in prog metal history. Like it or not. Images and Words sets the standard sound of, not only Dream Theater, but hundreds of Progressive Metal Bands as well. Despite being one of their shortest albums, it achieves multiple milestones for Dream Theater such as: Thei ... (read more)

Report this review (#2489780) | Posted by Isaac Peretz | Saturday, January 2, 2021 | Review Permanlink

5 stars DREAM THEATER, the archetype of the group where everyone has their place, where the bass can be as important during a sudden break, as the drums can also be put forward, well the future will tell us a little too much , in short, a sacred musical monster that has made the prog spirit now live in the ... (read more)

Report this review (#2311883) | Posted by alainPP | Sunday, February 2, 2020 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Images and Words is really just a powerhouse of an album. The production is fantastic and the songwriting is Dream Theater at their best. I'm really not much of a prog metal guy, and i'm often quite Dream Theater critical, but this, along with SFAM and Awake are undeniably fantastic progressive albu ... (read more)

Report this review (#2186136) | Posted by dougmcauliffe | Tuesday, April 23, 2019 | Review Permanlink

4 stars A very good album from Dream theater, it was its second one, being the most succesfull comercially. I was interested to hear it in generally because I was expecting to hear Metropolis 1. I liked a lot Metropolis 2, however if you are in the same case, I warn you this album has nothing to do with t ... (read more)

Report this review (#2079251) | Posted by mariorockprog | Wednesday, November 28, 2018 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Dream Theater - Images and Words Review № Stardate 11810.19a THIS is perhaps the ultimate, most influential Progressive Metal album of all time. THIS is THE Badass Monster Mütha Fükka in my Prog Metal sensibilities.. (That is not meant to discount Fates Warning, Queensr˙che, Redemption, ... (read more)

Report this review (#2046041) | Posted by Cylli Kat (0fficial) | Friday, October 19, 2018 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Thanks to this album, I discovered the world of Progressive Rock. Sharp, piercing right in the heart of Pull Me Under, settled in my head for a long time, I head the top of my Chart. Another Give without praise, the ballad is very melodic, solo on the saxophone reaches the most secret corners of ... (read more)

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5 stars LET THE LIGHTS SURROUND YOU: 10/10 DREAM THEATER harbor unparalleled potential with spectacular musicians such as Kevin Moore, John Petrucci, and John Myung, whose skills were visible since their debut WHEN DREAMS AND DAY UNITE but uncanny chains were holding them back from releasing their full p ... (read more)

Report this review (#1734551) | Posted by Luqueasaur | Friday, June 16, 2017 | Review Permanlink

5 stars "Images and words" is the classic that set new ground of the progressive metal subgenre, this is the older Dream Theater at its best. Amazing guitar solos,amazing lyrics,amazing vocals,amazing keyboards,amazing drums... everything about this album is amazing. The album is melodic,fast paced,emot ... (read more)

Report this review (#1586449) | Posted by Rodrigo Andrade7 | Sunday, July 10, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Excellent compromise. I'm sure, it is said almost everything concerning this very album, so I'm not going to praise it with all that pompous epithets and to eulogize it again and again. Not that I don't like, quite the contrary. But there is something more than the music itself, it's compositi ... (read more)

Report this review (#1543569) | Posted by ArtuomNechuev | Wednesday, March 23, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Dream Theater go from boys to men on their 2nd release "Images and Words". With their first release and Charlie Dominici out of the way, incoming James LaBrie belts out his voice and this alongside Kevin Moore's impeccable composition skills provides for a masterpiece in Progressive Metal. ... (read more)

Report this review (#1529805) | Posted by RainingStigmata | Tuesday, February 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Up until the early 90s I had listened to a variety of bands, with most falling into the metal genre. Thanks to some older neighbors blaring Iron Maiden and Black Sabbath out their windows, I was influenced at a very young age. My music world changed a few years later. At that point, my favorite band ... (read more)

Report this review (#1529637) | Posted by Prog Snob | Tuesday, February 16, 2016 | Review Permanlink

1 stars Images and Words has been very influential for forming of the new wave progressive metal rock. It is a very complex work of art, played with much craft by gifted musicians. However, for me it doesn't work at all. It' s too smooth, too technical. There are no surprises and no really heavy or ... (read more)

Report this review (#1492489) | Posted by justaguy | Wednesday, November 25, 2015 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It was back in 2003 that I was looking in a Virgin Megastore (remember those?) with the noble intention of investing my money in a band I'd never heard before. These were before the days when Youtube and streaming were so easily accessible. When we had to take risks with our money to try out new ... (read more)

Report this review (#1469890) | Posted by martindavey87 | Saturday, September 26, 2015 | Review Permanlink

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