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Dream Theater - Images and Words CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.29 | 2963 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
5 stars "Just let me catch my breath..."

Towards the end of the 1980s the likes of Operation Mindcrime and Perfect Symmetry had started to sow the first seeds of Progressive Metal, but it wasn't until 1992 that Images & Words' fusion of Rush inspired compositional intricacies with Maiden'esque' grooves and melodies truly gave birth to the genre.

The Good: After recently watching an amazing set at High Voltage which opened and closed with songs from this album, it feels like the time is right to finally review it.

After a slow but sure opener comes the super smooth ballad, Another Day. Featuring some pretty cool (albeit slightly cheesy!) saxophone from Jay Beckenstein, this track is just a warm up for what comes next... five absolute classics of unbelievable quality.

Take the Time was the very first Dream Theater song I ever heard and to this day remains my absolute favourite through a combination of nostalgia and masterful song writing. No matter how many times I listen it just never gets old as there's so much going on in this multi-layered treasure chest of musical goodness. The only possible flaw is the gradual fading of that stratospheric outro, which, in my imagination, always carries on till the end of time... and then some! In comparison, Surrounded is more laid back than an opiate-infused Pat Metheny gig on a bed of feathers. This subtle approach works equally well, and is accompanied by some really great lyrics which are sadly now but a distant happy memory when compared to Dream Theater's more recent output.

Under a Glass Moon. Guitar solo. Mind = BLOWN. And then there's Metropolis, Pt.1: The Miracle and the Sleeper, a composition so epic that it's sequel arrived in the form of a 77 minute concept album, and even that didn't quite do it justice.

On its own Wait for Sleep isn't particularly special, but when heard in the context of the album it segues perfectly into the awesome finale, Learning to Live. This is another track overflowing with subtle nuances, moving seamlessly between each flawless section. The vocals are fantastic which is also true for the rest of the album, and whilst James Labrie's voice has noticeably deteriorated over the years, there can be no denying that during his prime he was pretty much untouchable.

The Bad: Despite it being their only commercially successful single to date, Pull Me Under is probably the weakest track on the album and feels a little bit one dimensional when compared to the rest.

The Verdict: A benchmark within progressive that has inspired countless imitations, but few (including Dream Theater themselves) have matched.

Starhammer | 5/5 |


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