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Dream Theater - When Dream And Day Unite CD (album) cover

WHEN DREAM AND DAY UNITE

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.19 | 1256 ratings

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Close To Delirium
4 stars A solid debut from a fledgling band.

Dream Theater's debut album, WHEN DREAM AND DAY UNITE is regarded but some fans as their weakest outing, I somewhat agree, for me it sits on the same level as Falling Into Infinity, and taking into account that I consider both albums to be musically strong (just strong, not excellent), it says a lot.

The biggest let down with this album is the production, from what I recall in the audio commentary on When Dream and Day Reunite DVD Mike Portnoy mentions that the band only had 3 weeks in the studio and limited funds so this might explain the shoddy production. But in all honesty, it's that bad that whoever their producer was should have been sacked immediately. Others claim that Charlie Dominici's voice is a let down on this record, on this I would have to strongly disagree, though I like James LaBrie better as a Dream Theater vocalist, Charlie's vocals do very much suit the songs on this album (except that one part in The Killing Hand where he tries to hit a terribly high note, he does manage to hit it, but it sounds like a part of his vocal chords died with it).

To the songs:

A Fortune In Lies: The second strongest song on the album, it has a thrashy fill to the riffs which highlight the Metal influences of the band. The lyrics are a bit out there, especially during the chorus, but I'm not particularly good at reading into lyrics so it might just be me. 9/10

Status Seeker: Beautiful intro riff with some 80s sounding keyboards from Kevin Moore. This song was obviously written with a single and radio release in mind, it's simple structure and vocal hooks point directly at this. Overall, a pleasant song, but fails to hold up with the rest of the album. 7/10

The Ytsejam: Ah yes, the famed YYZ rip-off...err YYZ influenced instrumental. This is the strongest piece on the album, with beautifully structured and strategically placed short solo sections highlighting each members instrumental capabilities; an early sign that they were more than just skilled musicians. Overall, this is the most interesting piece on the album and probably the reason the album gets significant attention, it would begin a tradition of placing instrumentals on each album up to Train Of Thought (minus Images And Words, which instead features long instrumental sections in Metropolis and Learning to Live). 10/10

The Killing Hand: Dream Theater's first epic, not too much to say about this one, nice acoustic intro which was replaced by Another Hand when played live. A beautiful piece that shows even early on Dream Theater could write some damn good songs. 8/10

Light Fuse And Get Away: An interesting song with pieces of metal influence scattered across it's rhythms and notes, particularly on Portnoy's double bass-drum parts. Overall, a solid song yet fails to grasp my attention enough to listen to it again anytime soon. 7/10

Afterlife: My favourite song of the album, which will later be fantastically rendered live on Score. The unison during the solo section is one of Dream Theater's first and best, shocking me that such young musicians were capable of achieving that sort of sonic beauty. 9/10

The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun: An odd song that starts off with some beautifully textured keyboard layers from Moore interlaced with Bass harmonics provided by the ever-talented John Myung. Not the best on the album, yet certainly not the worst (comes close though). 7/10

Only A Matter Of Time: Featuring famous lyric-writing by the ever capable Kevin Moore, this song is a fitting finale to a fledgling band's debut record. John Petrucci's guitar lines in the second half of the song are some of the best from the early Dream Theater days. A solid song that would later be rendered onto a live CD in the form of Live At Budokan (featuring LaBrie's vocals). 8/10

Overall this a very solid first record for Dream Theater yet it failed to attract the attention it deserved at first because of the music industries lack of attention at the band and later because of Images and Word's success. All members of the band hold up extremely well with Moore and Myung giving the best individual performances.

This is an excellent addition to any Dream Theater and Prog fan's collection, though it might be slightly off-putting at first, especially if you're much more familiar with later Dream Theater material.

Overall: 8/10

Close To Delirium | 4/5 |

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