Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Dream Theater - Images and Words (1992)

After taking a few years to re-group, change labels, and lead singers Dream Theater burst forth with what was the sophomore surge of all sophomore surges.

Their 1989 debut, When Dream and Day Unite, went largely unnoticed despite its superlative musicianship and finely crafted songs. Images and Words would not suffer the same fate.

Gone was Charlie Domenici, in his place was the operatically trained James LaBrie. And as good as the material on When Dream and Day Unite had been, it was and is imminently forgettable when compared to the calibre of the material on this stellar release.

The album opens with a bang on Pull Me Under, the song that put Dream Theater on the map and into heavy rotation on MTV's Headbanger's Ball with its music video. Pull Me Under doesn't just catch the listener's interest... it grabs the listener by the proverbial balls and doesn't let go for over eight minutes on a fantastic musical ride. To this day this song is a fan favorite at Dream Theater's live shows .

Another Day is a beautiful song written by John Petrucci for his father... Petrucci would mourn his father on 1997's Falling Into Infinity album with the song Take Away My Pain. Another Day bears a bit more optimism than the mournful Take Away My Pain but at the same time it doesn't have quite the emotional punch of the follow-up track.

While there are no weak tracks on this album, the best 1-2 punch are tracks four and five, Surrounded and Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper. Surrounded is probably the most accessible song on the album, had it been released as a single it would have had serious hit potential-- it's a testament to keyboardist Kevin Moore's lyrical talents. Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper is another musical journey, much like Pull Me Under it grabs hold of the listener from the start and doesn't let go until the song ends over nine and a half minutes later. The big difference being that it grabs hold even tighter than the album's opener.

Of the remaining tracks, Under a Glass Moon and Learning to Live are great uptempo tracks of the same mold as Take the Time, whereas Wait For Sleep is lyrically one of Dream Theater's best songs-- again penned by the talented Kevin Moore. After Moore's departure the band replaced his keyboard parts with an acoustic guitar when playing the song live. Either way the song is absolutely beautiful and shows a softer side of this emminently talented band.

While this isn't my favorite of Dream Theater's albums, it's status as a "classic" in a genre they helped create, progressive metal, can't be denied. Messrs. Portnoy (drums), Petrucci (guitar), Myung (bass), Moore (keyboards), and LaBrie (vocals) are all truly masters of their craft, and it is rarely more evident than it was on this sophomore release.

Related Links
Pull Me Under (live performance)

Pull Me Under (music video)

Metropolis Pt. 1 (live performance)

Surrounded (live in Tokyo)

Wait For Sleep (live performance)

Chroma Key - Dead Air For Radios (Review Revue)
Dream Theater - Awake (Review Revue)
Dream Theater - Home (Review Revue)
Dream Theater - Live in Cleveland 9/3/02 (Review Revue)
Dream Theater - Octavarium (Review Revue)
OSI - Free (Review Revue)


Layla said...

Great review! I'll have to check these guys out more...I've heard of them but never listened to alot of their stuff.

You found a bunch of videos! Cool!

Perplexio said...

layla: They're heavily influenced by early Metallica (pre-Black album). So if you dig old school Metallica, chances are you'll dig Dream Theater.

I think they have a bit more edge than Metallica though. Their cover of Metallica's Master of Puppets album (yes the whole album!) is brilliant!

David Amulet said...

I'm with you on this not being my favorite DT album--the last two albums compete for that--but it did set the stage for a great career for a solid band. As I've said elsewhere, I only wish they would have used less keyboard theatrics on the early albums in particular.

My usual link to them is Rush--if you like late 70s Rush, you'll probably enjoy DT more than 99% of other music being made these days.

-- david

dantallion said...

I don't have Images and Words, but now I'll pick up a copy. Thjey should pay you a commission. I just picked up Score (on CD and DVD). Absolutely freakin' extraordinary.

Metal Mark said...

I bought this the week it came out and it is my favorite album of theirs as it's just a hair better than awake. The last few albums bore me, but they were very exciting back then and everything seemed so new and sharp.