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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 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.

AtLossForWords | 5/5 |


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