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Dream Theater - Images and Words CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

4.29 | 2963 ratings

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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.

Cygnus X-2 | 3/5 |


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