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Dream Theater - Images And Words CD (album) cover

IMAGES AND WORDS

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

4.28 | 2827 ratings

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sbrushfan
5 stars OCTAVARIUM turned my head. AWAKE made me nod my head. TRAIN OF THOUGHT made me bang my head. FALLING INTO INFINITY gave me a headache.

So; what of IMAGES AND WORDS?

Well, fantastic production, for one. Each instrument, even the bass (notoriously hard to hear if you play in a metal band) is audible. Wonderful! Portnoy doesn't sound like he's bashing on a hubcap, like he does on "AWAKE" or "OCTAVARIUM". Even in the maelstrom that is Petrucci's frantic guitar playing, I can hear the rhythm section of Myung and Portnoy. After hearing the disc for the first time, I sank to my knees and thanked the hard rock gods for bestowing such a great CD on me. AND it's only their 2nd release!

What was I hearing? Well, let's go song by song.

PULL ME UNDER starts out with an awesome clean guitar intro, followed by an evil- sounding synth. Portnoy, then Myung follow, and we're off to the races. I even like LaBrie here. In fact, I LOVE him here! Petrucci's solo is pretty cool too. My problem with this track? It cuts out too soon and too suddenly.

ANOTHER DAY sounds like a classic 80's power ballad. And I found myself going through the different hair metal ballads I'm so fond of. Motley Crue? Poison? Warrant? Nevertheless, still a well-done song. I like how the lead vocal is mixed up-front; doing such lends the music a bit of a more commerical vibe. The sax is nice too; in fact, I actually wish that the sax would've done the instrumental break; not Petrucci. But his solo track is highly emotional, which is what drew me to it. And LaBrie? HOLY...!!!!! I recall part of INNOCENCE FADED, from "AWAKE" which does the same thing to me. At about 2:19 (They took pictures of your dreams...) he goes up into his voice, and when he says "Whoaaaaa...", I cried. It was-in a word-poignant. And that last chorus is even more emotional! Hard to believe, but it is. The sax gives things an even more melodic overtone; kinda sounds like Kenny G., one of my fave sax players.

TAKE THE TIME is the real reason I bought the CD in the first place. I love the whirling synth in the intro, then the guitar and drums in tandem with each other. When Portnoy starts to rock, I'm left drooling. Moore plays what could be called a solo, as does Myung. Really cool! The first verse just RAWKS, with LaBrie once again going up into that register he's so fond of and doing that creepy whole-tone-neck-hair thing he does so well. Whew. I'm left rubbing the back of my neck and wondering what the hell just happened.

SURROUNDED features a very understated LaBrie vocal and some flawless piano playing, and I gotta start singing along with the music whenever I hear it. It starts to pick up speed a bit, before going into something of a rocker right around the 1:49 mark. I like Portnoy's drumming here: he goes out on the ledge a bit, yet manages to pull himself back and hop into the groove; he does it WELL. I can't help but sing along to this one; so much subdued energy, so much melody, and so DAMN much groove! And Petrucci? Yikes! His solo is some of the fastest playing I've ever heard, without resorting to the type of bloated, pretentious 245-note-per-second techno-shredding that some steakheads quiver for.

What's next? METROPOLIS Pt. 1: The Miracle And The Sleeper: Simply a great song, with an intro that I REALLY bang my head to. Moore jams out righteously, as does Petrucci; and I can't understand the rhythm Petrucci's playing. It sounds staccato, clipped. It just makes me wanna learn it. LaBrie's done a nice job here, singing cleanly and emotionally, even in his higher registers. And these are some pretty high registers. Let's face it, people. LaBrie is a vocal genius, and if he's not known for any of his other work (I'm thinking solo discs, Ayreon's albums or his MullMuzzler output), this is the stuff we should know him by.

UNDER A GLASS MOON is another great song. It really makes me want to cry when LaBrie sings "Taste the memories running from my eyes." He sings so well, and seems to comfortably fit in with Portnoy's machine-gun drumming. The only other problem I have with the disc lies in this song here. A certain drum sequence sounds a bit like the drums from the Miami Vice theme; that "rat-a-tat-tat" snare got a bit on my nerves. Ah, well.

WAIT FOR SLEEP is a gorgeous Moore ballad. Short, sweet and direct, with no other instruments but LaBrie's vocals (I DO consider vocals to be an instrument) and Moore's pretty piano.

LEARNING TO LIVE is the last song on the disc, and is-to me-the most important track on the disc. Why? Well, not only is it the wrap-up track (I can usually hear lots of elements of other songs in the closing track), but because my favorite DT member wrote the lyrics: Myung. IMO, he's totally unsung. He writes some cool lyrics here, unlike the cerebrality of Petrucci or Moore's (at times) overstated poesy. "Listening to the city; Whispering its violence; I set out watching from above; The 90's bring new questions; New solutions to be found; I fell in love to be let down." Begs the question; what/who did he fall in love with? Following that thread; why doesn't he write MORE lyrics? I dig his writing (I'm probably in the minority here).

In closing, 5 stars. Why? Well, read what I've written, and if you don't believe me, listen to the images and words for yourself. You, too, will be enchanted.

sbrushfan | 5/5 |

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