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Dream Theater - Images and Words CD (album) cover

IMAGES AND WORDS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

4.29 | 2967 ratings

From Progarchives.com, the ultimate progressive rock music website

dougmcauliffe
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 albums.

First off I have to commend the album for having a pretty good run time at 57 minutes. This was released at a time where CD's were the big thing and in turn, everybody was releasing 70 minute albums that generally had a fair share of filler and in my experience, don't hold the listeners attention generally. Unfortunately, this was not a trend DT would continue with for the most part (Though their most recent album distance over time runs at a hearty 56 minutes).

I admit that this album was a bit of a grower for me, but it makes sense as it was my introduction to prog metal (and a damn good one at that!). Pull Me Under opens the album. Interestingly, it was really their one and only commercially successful song. Generally the "single" on a prog album is the one that gets trashed, but here, It's one of my favorites. JP has some really awesome solos and James Labrie absolutely kills it on the vocals. If you're not singing along to "Watch the Sparrow Falling!" well, I have no words for you. Besides those factors, it's just a very strong song and shows how good the bands songwriting was at this time. Following that up is Another Day, I've seen some fans call this the weak link (likely cause its softer). But once again, I love it. The saxophone is used in such a unique fashion and once again, this is one of Labries strongest vocal performances, hands down. Take the Time is the first really meaty proggy song on the album and it is such a creative piece of music. The jam section is pure bliss as the keys and guitars trade off with a celebratory feel that I can't help but love. The piano led coda accompanied by a JP guitar solo is just beautiful. The next track, Surrounded, is my favorite song on the album. I know, I know that might be hearsay to some fans but It's just soaring. The moment the guitar kicks in I just get overwhelmed with feelings of joy. These feelings only continue and grow throughout the track. The "Dark to light, light to dark" section always puts a huge smile on my face. However, the song peaks towards the end with: "let the light surround you!" followed by some complimentary shredding by JP. I can shamelessly say Surrounded is my favorite Dream Theater song.

The second half turns things up a little bit opening with the prog metal archetype of Metropolis Part 1. Aaaaand now I get to talk about my second favorite Dream Theater song! Right out the gate this song just goes hard. The first few minutes build things up with very catchy hooks and some really strong drumming. Around four and a half minutes, the greatest jam in prog metal history begins. Every member (besides labrie) is just going absolutely crazy on their respective instruments as they each trade off lead roles. We got shredding guitar solos, we got shredding key solos, we even got shredding bass solos. It's really hard to put into words just how brilliant this is. Just trust me on this one ;). It wasn't till months of listening that I realized the final line of the song is "The Dance of Eternity," which would be a centerpiece of the sequel album Metropolis Part 2. Under a Glass Moon follows up and does an awesome job keeping the same energy from Metropolis. This one actually took me a little while to get into compared to the others. My favorite moment is the keyboard solo towards the end. The combination of it being a more upbeat contrast to the rest of the song mixed with the sweet drumming is what really does it for me. Wait for Sleep is another beautiful song. It's very minimalist containing only Kevin Moores Keys and Labries Vocals. I think its really cool and ballsy how they threw this in the middle of the album. I'll use the word "contrast" again, because this gives us a little room to breath before the next big prog metal song: Learning to Live. This song is just another huge powerhouse clocking in at 11 minutes. Fantastic melodies and insane trading instrumentation fill this song like some of the others. The main theme from Wait For Sleep returns briefly for the band to build off of.

Images and Words is many things. But most importantly, its a groundbreaking album. It is the Court of the Crimson King of prog metal. 5 Stars.

dougmcauliffe | 5/5 |

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