on 29 December 2009
From the first 2 minutes of Pull Me Under, you should be realising what an awesome musical journey you're in for. This album is one of Dream Theater many classics, and one of my all-time favourites.
This album is so many things. From mainstream metal in Pull Me Under, to a Pop-Rock Ballad, A piece of Prog-metal brilliance and a 70's prog rock that sounds awesome without sounding jaded. And that's just the first half. This is not just a prog album, nor is it just a metal album. Its diversity is what makes it so unique, so awesome. There's something for everyone on this album, so don't say, 'nah, it's prog, don't like it.' or 'it's metal, don't like it.' This album is especially brilliant because it is impossible to stereotype.
The best songs then: I could not believe when i found out the band was 'surprised' that Pull Me Under is their best known song. It has all the hallmarks of a mainstream song, just a bit longer. The chorus is a proper anthem, the verses are clever, the drums are pounding throughout this and the rest of the album... a great track. Surrounded is another excellent song, with an odd time feel in some parts, but it is still a great rock track. If you don't think you like prog, listen to this. Metropolis and Under A Glass Moon are both great metal tracks, the latter with one of the best guitar solos in rock history. Learning To Live is difficult to get into, but after you've listen to it 3 or 4 times, you realise just how awesome a song this is. It has everything you like in a prog, rock or metal track. Just believe me: It is awesome. Like the entire album. I may not have mentioned all the songs, but they are all as good as each other.
To finish, I will simply say this: Don't stereotype Dream Theater or this album. Get it, and you'll find out what all those die-hard fans are on about.
on 8 March 2005
I bought this album after hearing only tiny bits of Dream Theater at school and on this site. I was a bit apprehensive given some of the negative reviews they've been given but i needn't have worried.
Thankfully, I found much to like in this album. From the eerie riff-laden opener "Pull Me Under" and the emotive ballad "Another Day" to the multi-dimensional extremity of "Metropolis..." and "Learning to Live", every song on this album reached out to me in a way no music has ever done previously.
And of course, we must not forget the superior musicianship that this band possesses. I cannot think of another band where all the members are this talented in their respective fields. That includes singer James LaBrie, whom a lot of people dismiss as being too camp and whiny, but I think he's very underrated.
I must warn you though, Dream Theater are most definitely not for everyone. I thought they were too over-the-top after the first listen but my opinions quickly changed. But it must be remembered that there is no middle ground with Dream Theater whatsoever; this album will either be the best or worst thing you have ever heard. If you like heavy music with a strong sense of melody, as in Iron Maiden, Rush and, at times, Metallica then you will probably lap this up. If, however, you buy this album expecting a straight down-the-middle heavy metal album then I suggest you reconsider.
on 26 September 2014
Released in 1992, 'Images And Words' is the second album by American progressive metal/rock band Dream Theater and the first to feature the talented James LaBrie as lead vocalist. With a running time of 57 minutes - there are 8 featured tracks of varying lengths - the punter certainly gets good value for money, in my opinion. This is a highly enjoyable experience with the highlights including the wonderful 'Metropolis - Part 1' (9:30) which has a glorious instrumental middle section and 'Under A Glass Moon' (7:03) featuring a stunningly good guitar solo from John Petrucci. The rest of the band are no slouches either - Mike Portnoy's thunderous drumming is a strong feature throughout and superior keyboards and bass are supplied by Kevin Moore and John Myung respectively. For me, there is enough variation and quirkiness on this album to keep me interested and there are plenty of quieter moments in amongst the heavy artillery to impress me. Well worth giving this a try, metal fans.
This is still my favourite DT album. I heard that John Petrucci was a red hot guitarist, and after hearing the first 30 seconds of Pull Me Under in a shop, I got it.
For the uneducated, DT are a progressive metal/rock band, all superb musicians. They can get as heavy as Metallica, but the vocalist is far more melodic, the keyboards are ever-present, and the guitarist is world class (never been a big fan of Kirk Hammett). They like long instrumental breaks, complex drum patterns (just a bit too fond of the double bass drum IMHO, but that's about the only criticism I can come up with) and capable of writing a good solid chorus as well (Take the Time springs to mind).
And it's not just thrashing. There's an excellent rock ballad (Another Day) with a fantastic soprano sax solo, a nice keys/vocals interlude (Wait For Sleep), and the final song changes so many times you forget what it was like at the start, but it's all great stuff. Yes, Rush, early Genesis and even Pink Floyd influences are there if you listen hard enough.
But these guys are in a class of there own, and this is a benchmark for all the other prog bands out there.
on 9 July 2006
Dream Theater, by now, have been around for 20 years. They've trotted out the lines, done the tours, got the rabid fanbase, brought out tons of magnificent CDs, and clawed their way to the very peak of their genre along the way. From becoming the minor band of Majesty, they've come a long way to top the world- and this album is perhaps what really lifted them into the stratosphere in terms of popularity.
Images and Words remains the benchmark that all prog artists (or even metal!) need to try and maintain- in my opinion, even Dream Theater haven't quite managed to recapture the glory on this album, though they've come close. That said, it's mainly to do with the sheer quality of the album, rather than any ineptitude on behalf of the band. Dream Theater are prime musicians, arguably the best collection of individual musicians ever to grace the international stages. John Petrucci's guitar is electrifying at times, with heart-wrenching solos, or simply pace that will fry your brain. Mike Portnoy hammers away on his drums so much, and with such timing, that it seems as though his arms might fall off at any moment. James LaBrie compliments the music well with some excellent vocals. Moore on the keyboards, ace. And John Myung, who is the man that all bassists aspire to be, is brilliant as always. But enough of me rhapsodising, onto the track anaylsis.
1)Pull Me Under- A pretty decent opener, and a live favourite. Whilst not the best track, it sets the tone and atmosphere for the rest of the album, from the haunting opening riff. Also, bass fans- this is one of the easiest lines on the album (which is distinctly worrying >_>).
2)Another Day- You'll either love it, or hate it. A very emotional song that coaxed a soul-stirring performance from LaBrie, accompanied by a fairly nifty sax-solo on the end.
3)Take The Time- Hehe. The song overall is good, from Myung funky little bass grooves to Portnoy's timing on the drums. But what really distinguishes this song is Petrucci's axe-work, namely the solo that has to rank as one of the greatest of all time. Over 2 minutes long, insanely well timed and quick as you like, it's just ridiculous- if you can play this solo, you're a better guitarist than I. :P
4) Surrounded- A fairly similar deal to Another Day, though I think I prefer this one. The overall mix of the song is good, with a good climax.
5)Metropolis- I could go on forever about this song, but I'll do my best to restrict myself. Personally, I think that this is insane, and it's a firm fan favourite in most areas. It opens with the haunting melody that every fan has come to know so well, then the drums come in...and then, bang! Everything else comes in. :P But this is basically just a masterpiece, combining vocals and well written sections of music together exceptionally adeptly. It's quite fractured later in the song, but this only adds to the overall quality. Petrucci turns in an excellent performance on the guitar, too. Oh, and there's always the matter of the bass solo- probably amongst the hardest and greatest bass solos ever, I still can't see how Myung pulls it off with so much pace. I've never seen such quick double-tapping.
6) Under a Glass Moon- Meh. This is probably the only let down of the album for me, but that might only be because it's just after Metropolis. It's a nice contrast to the previous songs, combining the frenetic aspects of Take the Time with the softer melodies of 2/4. Pretty decent.
7) Wait for Sleep- I always considered this more of an interlude to Learning to Live than anything else, but it's actually a good song in it's own right. A lovely piano melody and a great vocal show from LaBrie help this one along into the endgame of the album.
8) Learning to Live- A lot of fans consider this to be the best track on the album, and it's easy to see why. Written by the redoubtable John Myung, his songs are rare, but well worth the wait, and this is no exception. It's tough for be to describe it, so you're going to have to listen to it yourselves- if you've got this far, you'll assuredly like it. :)
So, yup! A cracking album from one of the better bands of the modern(ish) generation, and well worth the price tag nowadays. Definitely pick it up if you see if going.
on 17 March 2013
This album is often credited as being the archetypal progressive metal album and I think it deserves that status. It has all the trademark tropes of the genre or Dream Theater (which came first?). You have complicated musical parts containing shifting time signatures, virtuosic playing, adventurous harmonies and rhythms. You also have soaring vocals and inventive lyrics.
This formula has been followed by many many bands in subsequent years (even by Dream Theater themselves!) but usually the results are never as musical and emotional as 'Images and Words'. Everything just gels on this album. The songs are strong rather than just the technique.
The other good thing about this album is that it contains no bad tracks at all. It's a smooth journey through surreal musical landscapes but powered by the raw energy of metal.
on 24 January 2014
Images and Words is a Legendary album by A Legendary band It is chock full of wonderful instrumentation and musicianship that i tasteful and showy before the band got a bit a head of themselves the production on this album give it a solidly 90's feel with thick bass and reverby drums and Even the band hair styles are almost funny these days but the album is Fantastic and James labrie is really on form in this album.
on 24 March 2012
Heard the opener 'Pull Me Under' many years ago and loved it, so quite why it's taken me this long to get around to buying the album is anyone's guess. But Amazon's £3.99 price tag was just too good to resist. However, maybe I can see why discs from this pressing are selling so cheaply. 'Pull Me Under' never actually reaches the end - it just cuts off abruptly a few seconds short of the intended stop. Very, very annoying but I can't be bothered sending it back. Aside from that it's pretty damned good. Buy with confidence but maybe look for a better pressing.
on 23 September 2015
It was back in 2003 that I was looking in a Virgin Megastore (remember those?) with the noble intention of investing my money in a band I'd never heard before. These were before the days when Youtube and streaming were so easily accessible. When we had to take risks with our money to try out new artists. I had stumbled across an album by a band I'd only heard of in name, but that risk was about to pay off; Dream Theater.
Being a 16-year-old heavy metal fan at the time, raised on a healthy diet of groups such as Megadeth, Metallica, Kiss and Rammstein, my initial thoughts were, quite simply; “this album sucks”. However, one thing piqued my interest, and it should come as no surprise that it was the amazingly heavy intro to the opening track, ‘Pull Me Under’.
As I heard more and more, the album grew on me. All these random traits of progressive music were becoming clearer. Odd time signatures, long, complex arrangements, the eclectic mixture of styles, keyboards (a heavy metal no-no), the creative lyrics and massive instrumental sections... It all started to make sense. To this day, 'Images and Words' not only introduced me to a new style of music, but a whole new way of looking at music.
So what makes it so great?
'Images and Words' is an album that defined a genre. Without Dream Theater, progressive metal might never have become what it did. Coming at a time when the genre was in its infancy, Dream Theater had that intangible X-factor that bands like Fates Warning, Queensryche, and even a group like Rush, were all missing at that point.
There's a perfect combination of everything on this album. There's metal songs, there's ballads, there's funky songs and there's jazzy songs too. The musicianship came at a time when there weren't many bands displaying such incredible technical prowess, at least in the mainstream anyway. Every song is perfectly crafted, with interesting musical passages and mind-boggling lyrics. 'Pull Me Under', 'Take the Time', 'Learning to Live' and the monstrous epic 'Metropolis Pt. 1; The Miracle and the Sleeper' are all staples in prog metal history.
This is the record that put Dream Theater on the map, and defined all progressive metal bands/albums for years to come. Every fan of the genre needs this in their collection, immediately. And I'm sure most old-school progressive rock fans will at least appreciate the importance this album had on prog music as a whole. Undeniably my favourite album of all time, 'Images and Words' is better than perfect.
on 25 September 2006
Many of the previous reviews seem to have failed to pick up on the relevance of this album within the context of the 90's, and what a masterwork it truly is. In the UK, prog rock on any grand scale had been more or less dead for a long time, with only neo-prog, which could hardly stand up to the might of the 70's masters (floyd, yes), to easily satisfy though not particularly interested in indie/britpop.
Then Images and Words came out, and it is a masterpiece. In recalling the musical form and style of bands such as Yes and the Dixie Dregs, and combining it with a slightly harsher edge, the album is lively yet subtly beautiful, something that has rarely been achieved elsewhere in my eyes.
As for the musicianship, the Dream Theater boys really do seem like a collective that is second to none. The early 90's were the glory days for singer James LaBrie, who had only just replaced Dream Theater's last singer, who was far less suitable. His vocals soar on this album, and are dynamically stunning, showing great variation on Learning to Live in particular.
John Petrucci is a hero of mine - perhaps the finest guitarist of the last 20 years: Rooted in a mixture of flamenco and metal, his rhythm playing is tight, melodic and intricate (more on this album than any of their others, where he tends to just go over the top) -unlike many guitarists who overshadow their fellow bandmates, Petrucci knows how to accompany other musicians, and is a great example to all guitarists. The solo on Under a Glass Moon is perhaps the best I have ever heard - though Take the Time, as suggested by another reviewer, ain't half bad.
Which leads on to Kevin Moore. Dream Theater have gone on to have many keyboardists, all of whom are very capable, but Kevin Moore seems to me to be the most heart felt, and only appears on the early albums. His keyboard work here is superb, giving the album a fine progressive finish, with some wonderfully memorable solos and backing - often breaking into unison with petrucci for an interestingly celtic feel.
The rhythm section, Mike Portnoy on drums and John Myung on Bass are indeed excellent. Portnoy has a signature sound, with very strong and intense bass drum rolls combined with syncronised snare drumming (at the start of Take the Time his bass drum is synced with Myung's playing, and his snare with Petrucci's - in different rhythms!). A truly great musician. As for Myung, he is a rather shy legend, who holds the whole thing together, and occasionaly takes centre stage for some nifty virtuoso playing, similar to Dave LaRue of the Dixie Dregs.
To appreciate the album to the fullest, you simply need a reasonable sound system - complaints about Moore's keyboards being too loud are simply unfounded: This is progressive music, in which all instruments have a sense of balance, not Extreme or Van Halen, in which only the drummer, vocalist and guitarist are audible. Moore is there to be heard. Myung is easily heard with half decent speakers I promise.
If you are going to buy any album soon, make it this one. It is a lengthy masterpiece, that does not get dull - only after a few listens do you realise it is a concept album! I bought Awake and was disappointed with it after hearing this. Take the Time, Pull me under, Under a Glass moon, Metropolis, Learning to Live - all masterpieces, and the other 3 tracks are amazing too :).
Perhaps the best album of the 90's!