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.