When Dream and Day Unite

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DREAM THEATER - When Dream and Day Unite cover
3.21 | 90 ratings | 12 reviews
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Album · 1989

Filed under Progressive Metal


1. A Fortune in Lies (5:09)
2. Status Seeker (4:14)
3. The Ytse Jam (5:43)
4. The Killing Hand (8:38)
5. Light Fuse and Get Away (7:20)
6. Afterlife (5:24)
7. The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun (8:01)
8. Only a Matter of Time (6:35)

Total Time: 51:10


- Charlie Dominici / vocals
- Kevin Moore / keyboards
- John Myung / bass
- John Petrucci / guitars
- Mike Portnoy / drums

About this release

Label: Mechanic Records
Release date: June 11th, 1989

Remastered version released by One Way Records in 2002, a numbered digipack edition limited to 10 000 copies.

Thanks to metalbaswee, Time Signature, Vehemency for the updates

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Specialists/collaborators reviews

Whether or not it's quite the same kettle of fish as Dream Theater's subsequent albums or not, I still find it hard to dislike their debut, When Dream and Day Unite. Sure, it's a little obvious what their major influences are this time around - Iron Maiden, Fates Warning, a pinch of Queensryche, and a big heaping dose of Rush (Charlie Domini's vocals even sound a bit like Geddy Lee from time to time), but when the band blend those influences so expertly I don't feel inclined to complain!

The basic bedrock of the band's sound as it existed at this time was based around Rush's work from around, say, A Farewell to Kings to Signals, with DT's other influences working their way in mainly as a means to update Rush's sound from that period with more recent innovations in metal. The end result is an intriguing thought experiment in what Rush might have sounded like if they hadn't prioritised synthesisers over metal for most of the 1980s, and Dream Theater more than possess the technical skills needed to bring this experiment to life. Tracks such as The Ytse Jam and The Killing Hand in particular prove that the band were more than ready to hit the big time, and after a couple more years of honing their sound, they would do precisely that.
The best was yet to come, but this is where it all started.

Every band has a beginning. Every band has a debut album. Every band has a launching point. This is it and here's one to skip. Although I have all the Dream Theater albums and play them often, I rarely return to this lacklustre effort. Not that it's interminably bad, it's just not that good. What it lacks in lyrical talent it gains in musical ideas, I mean the music is incredible as you come to expect from Dream Theater. The guitars soar and there are massive lead breaks to savour. However the lyrics are rather poor, and the vocals are not up to what would become the Dream Theater standard of excellence. Dominici just doesn't cut it. it is a more mainstream album in terms of musical substance, it feels more like latter Queensryche than metal out of the box.

Well folks, there are highlight as always. Ytse Jam is an awesome treasure that has become a fan favourite for good reason. The Killing Hand is an 8 minute prog romp with huge keyboard flourishes and amazing guitar riffing. Portnoy, Petrucci and Myung of course were the mainstayers of the group but the missing ingredients are Labrie's towering vocals and the keyboard genius of Rudess. Dominici is horrid on vocals and ruins the album. Labrie totally lifted the band into the stratosphere when he joined.

Look at that appalling album cover! I usually love Dream Theater album covers but this artwork is self indulgent to the max; a bronzed man awaiting a DT brand, oh please! Thank heavens the band eventually were more inspired to create works of genius through Hipgnosis such as the iconic imagery of Octavarium.

I am aghast that respected proggers have given this 4 and 5 star ratings. Come on, not everything Dream Theater touches is pure gold, they were just getting started and this cannot possibly hold up to the brilliance of their later albums. The production quality alone is shockingly below par, and listening to Dominici attempt those high vocal passages is akin to having nails driven into your skull. Okay, nostalgically it has its place coming out in 1989 when metal was a driving force. But it was not a standout album for that year, and passed by unnoticed until Dream Theater actually became popular, and then it was a backlog item for the curious Dream Theater fan. Admittedly, Only a Matter of Time really resonates with me and is a favourite, but I am no fan of this album, and can barely wrench 2 stars out for this.

A preview of coming attractions. Just like fine wine, prog music often takes time to develop and mature. This debut is no different. Yes, it is a very good album, but there is some underlying quality of the music that leaves the slightest bitter taste in the back of your mouth. On the fringe of the 80s, the influence of hair metal is blatantly obvious, which at time overpowers their "better" influences, such as Yes and Rush. The album serves as a pseudo preliminary to the music that the band will come to produce.

A Fortune in Lies is a nice hair metal song with some proggy spritzes along the way. Most of the riffing is that stereotypical fast-paced chugging of a distorted guitar backing the soaring vocals of an extravagant signer, in this case the talented Charlie Dominici. Some interesting instrumental parts keep this song alive and well, but for the most part this is just a hair metal song, fit for a Whitesnake or Poison album.

Status Seeker takes all of the above mentioned qualities, and mixes them with 80s pop too! Yipee! But, you must remember that spritz of prog is still present in this song in even more quantity. Compared to the previous song, it is all in all better. More creative instrumental sections that closely resemble what the band's music will soon morph into. This is the first punch Dream Theater gives into the prog metal world, although as of right now it is still small.

Ytse Jam is the quintessential pretentious Dream Theater instrumental. Ridiculously skilled soloing throughout, this song properly shows off the band's impressive skill. Although musically it is a bit cheesy, the pure skill required to play the solos of each instrument is impressive. So, this is a very cheesy, but necessary song to assert Dream Theater into the world of pretentious prog music.

The Killing Hand is a more traditional prog song, and one of only a few on this album. The mellow acoustic intro melts into some creative harmonization with the guitar and bass. Dominci delivers some great compassionate vocal melodies in this track, which really meshes nicely with the instrumentation. This is the second great punch of prog on this album. The superior instrumental transitions really accent the track with its great themes and lyrics. One of the better on the album!

Light and Fuse and Getaway was one of my favorite tracks on the album even when I got years ago when I was first getting into Dream Theater. The development of the music at this point on the album is superior, and you can tell that the compositional skill of this group of musicians is spectacular. The subtlety of vocal melody and instrumental quality is superior on this track. Really fun transitions and harmonies are the up points of this album.

Afterlife is another hair metal/prog rock crossover for the band, with fast guitar riffing mixed with proggy meter changes, instrumental harmonization, and creative melodies really meshing together nicely. The guitar solos are great on this song, as are the vocal-instrumental relationship, which on some songs kind of lacks at some points.

The Ones Who Help Set the Sun is, for lack of better words, odd. I like this song when they played it live far better than the studio version, which sounds overly distorted and scratchy. The intro I think is the biggest thing that alienates me from the rest of the song, which is good. That really odd keyboard thing is just peculiar. However, after that passes, the great bass harmonics used are really fun and creative, somewhat reminiscent of Jaco Pastorias. The meat of the song is a little boring, with too many similarities to the rest of the album. It does have some really uncanny similarities with future compositions, which is cool to look at the roots of Dream Theater's album. However, I feel like this track really pulls the album back from its full potential, which is sad.

Only a Matter of Time is a nice closer to the album. It basically sums up all the aspects of the album, good or bad. You get hair metal, thrash metal, prog rock, fun instrumental, creative melodies and harmonics, great rhythms, and everything else good or bad found in the rest of the album in this song. It sort of acts as a message: it's only a matter of time before Dream Theater emerges and totally dominates the Prog Metal scene, and by golly, they've done it!

ALBUM OVERALL: Song by song, this album is great, with some creative instrumental sections and compositional qualities, but some of the overbearing qualities of the album mar the album to a certain degree. The very large amount of hair metal present in the album is a little peculiar, making the music a bit cheesy to a point. However, the other side of that is the prog aspect, which keeps the hair metal in check, thank god. Overall, the album doesn't flow as nicely as some future albums, with song dynamics jumping from this to that and there again, which kind of makes your head spin. But, the album is definitely a real nice flashback to what Dream Theater was at its core, and how the music has progressed throughout the years. 3+ stars.
Time Signature
A fortune in riffs...

Genre: progressive metal

"When Dream and Day Unite" is the the debut album of progressive metal giants Dream Theater. While there had been technical and progressive metal acts before Dream Theater (Portnoy himself quotes Watch Tower, Fates Warning, Iron Maiden, and Mercyful Fate), and while this album undoubtedly is a rough ride, I think it does show that Dream Theater were innovative musicians, and that the band was something special. "When Dream and Day Unite" is musically interesting, and there is a lot of good stuff on it, the production is not very good (too 80s with reverb on virtually everything), and I also think that they keyboards are too prominent - both in the mix and compositionwise.

But, an interesting album, and one that should be in any progressive metal album collection.
Conor Fynes
\When Dream And Day Unite' - Dream Theater (7/10)

While nowadays, Dream Theater may be regarded widely as one of progressive metals most talented, proficient groups, their debut effort has always seemed to evade attention and as much respect as the Labrie Era material. However, put in context, it's a true powerhouse of ingenuity. One of the primary criticisms people usually have with Dream Theater is LaBrie's vocal style. Seeing as this is an album with a different singer, wouldn't people love it? Apparently not, but I do.

The songwriting is very good, and is alot more enjoyable on a musical level than some of their later works. Songs such as 'The Killing Hand' demonstrate brilliance early on, and obviously 'Ytse Jam' remains until this day a cornerstone of the band's repetoire. There is a strong keyboard sound on this album, more so then any of it's sucessors and while it tones down the 'metal' feel of the album, there is a feeling of a more classic prog sound which is refreshing from the usual DT 'hardcore jam,' to say the least.

Alot of the songs conform to pretty strict songwriting, which will be a relief to the detractors of the band; some who just dismiss the band's talents as 'music sports.' Here, there are tight melodies and more conventional songwriting.

As far as the singer himself is concerned, I actually quite like Dominici's voice. On a technical level, he's probably sharper than LaBrie himself! However, it was a good move that Dominici was ousted from Dream Theater, for the simple reason that he sounds too much like Geddy Lee, from Rush. This album (at the time of it's release) was being called 'the best Rush album Rush never released' and the band probably wouldn't truly have come out onto it's own had it been forced into the shadow of another band.

Overall, it's a fantastic album, and a suprisingly crisp debut from one of Prog's greatest bands. To those who think it's a poor album; I suggest to give it another listen or two. The stroke of genius in it will reveal itself in time. Recommended to all Dream Theater fans, and fans of technical heavy prog.
Love them or hate them, there's no denying that Dream Theater are probably the most successful of the Progressive Metal bands and it all started here on their 1989 debut. It's a promising start; the musicianship's there, though naturally it would get better, the complex song structures and a well balanced blend between the Progressive and Metallic elements. The most obvious downside is the abysmal production which makes the band sound like they're playing at the end of a long tunnel! Another problem and one the band would soon realise themselves is the weak vocal skills of Charlie Dominici who of course would be gone before their next album.

But what of the songs; are they any good? Well as already mentioned there's some pretty complex arrangements going on here which most lovers of Prog like to hear but they're sometimes let down by weak melodies and the flow of the music doesn't always work to best effect with some of the seams between different parts not always allowing the music to segue as well as it could. It's early days though and this is the sound of a band finding their feet. Interestingly the best track on the album is a powerful instrumental titled Ytse Jam where they get everything just about right.

A Fortune in Lies opens the album and gets off to a promising start with a well structured and powerful intro with some nice changes but is let down big style by a weak chorus where the band sound they're about to fall apart. Herein lies the problem with much of the album. Many of the songs have ideas that you think, yeah that sounds great but then the band don't capitalize on it and it's followed by a lack lustre section making it difficult to enjoy any particular song as a whole. Perhaps the nearest they come to getting it all right apart from the previously mentioned Ytse Jam is on album closer, Only a Matter of Time, tellingly one of the stronger melodic moments on offer with a grandiose finale.

Still, all the major foundations were there for them to build on. Even at this early stage we can see that Dream Theater are gifted musicians with no weak links (excepting the vocals), they just needed a bit of time to learn their song writing craft...and they did. 2 ½ stars.
"When Dream and Day Unite" is the debut full-length studio album by US progressive metal act Dream Theater. The album was released through Mechanic/MCA Records in June 1989. Dream Theater were formed in 1985 under the Majesty monicker and released their demos under that name. They were however forced to change their name because another act with the same name threatened to sue them. They opted for the Dream Theater monicker after drummer Mike Portnoy´s father suggested the name. The Majesty were relatively well received, but if the band had expected the big breakthrough with "When Dream and Day Unite", their expectations were not met. The album was barely noticed, and Dream Theater were dropped by their label and only toured locally in support of the album.

Stylistically the music on the album is technically well played progressive metal with occasionally dominant keyboards, which was not necessarily the order of the day, back when "When Dream and Day Unite" was released. Contemporary progressive metal artists like Queensrÿche, Fates Warning and Watchtower seldom used keyboards to this extent and while the metal part of the Dream Theater´s sound is definitely related to those artists and their ilk, there are just as many progressive rock leanings in the music. The Rush influence is especially strong. Tracks like "Status Seeker" and "Afterlife" essentially sound like Rush tracks played by Dream Theater. Lead vocalist Charlie Dominici has a voice and singing style, that may not sound 100% like Geddy Lee (Rush), but at times comes very close. Charlie Dominici doesn´t quite reach the excellence of Geddy Lee though and while his vocal performance is generally decent here, he is one of the weaker links on the album.

The sound production is another. I remember reading in an interview with Mike Portnoy, that producer Terry Date spend more time fetching joints for Dream Theater than he spend time producing the album (and this is the same man who has produced such well sounding albums as "Badmotorfinger (1991)" by Soundgarden and "Vulgar Display of Power (1992)" by Pantera). I guess it came down to not having enough money and time to record and mix the album (and Terry Date learning a thing or two in the years between this album and his later more professional sounding productions). The drums have an odd sound, that makes it hard to hear every drum hit and the guitar and the vocal production is thin. Later remastered versions of the album have helped correct this, but "When Dream and Day Unite" will never be a really well sounding album, no matter how you try to salvage and repair the original mix.

And it´s really too bad, because there are som quality material on "When Dream and Day Unite", that deserve better. Tracks like "A Fortune in Lies", "The Ytse Jam", "The Killing Hand" and "The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun" are pretty killer progressive metal tracks and while the remaining part of the album are not on the same high quality level, I´m still pretty well entertained all the way through. The playing are on a relatively high level too although especially Mike Portnoy´s drumming is less complex and more ordinary than it would be on subsequent releases. It´s still pretty crazy though, so don´t expect many basic 4/4 parts.

"When Dream and Day Unite" is an album that has grown on me over the years. When I initially listened to the album I honestly found it rather awful. probably as a consequence of being introduced to the album after listening to "Images and Words (1992)" and being blown away by that album. While "When Dream and Day Unite" is not in any way in the same league as it´s successor, today I´m able to appreciate it more. Considering the time of release, it´s actually a rather innovative progressive metal album, that doesn´t really sound like anything else that was released in those years and while the overall impression of the album suffers because of the rather poor sound production and the occasionally imature songwriting (which I admit is still kinda charming), the best material on the album do make up for some of it and a 3.5 star (70%) rating isn´t all wrong. Definitely not as bad as it´s reputation.

Members reviews

When I got this CD in 1994 or so, I wasn't very impressed. Unfortunately this unimpression hasn't changed until now and I doubt that it ever will.

While the instrumental parts clearly show the talent of the musicians, the voice of Charlie Dominici is nowhere near James LaBrie's. I wouldn't call him a bad singer, just not the right one for this band and style of music. It is similar with the songs themselves: While none causes immediate vomit, there's nothing that would remain distinct even after a hundred times of listening in. Finally, the sound, while not bad, hasn't developped into that wall I love on the later Dream Theater albums. Here, and to a slightly lesser extent on the second album, Dream Theater sound like Metallica plus keyboards. This is not necessarily bad, but on the other hand not good enough for a high rating.

So in the end, I can't justify more than 2 stars for a debut album which is not bad but overshadowed by the things to follow. Had Dream Theater not gone on to albums like Awake or Scenes From A Memory, I might have given 3 for this one, but it's unlikely that I'd thought about reviewing them at all.
This first official studio album by Dream theater and the only one featuring the singer Charlie Dominici is a very strong, soft and dreamy progressive rock record in the key of "Rush". There are even some very sligthly disco pop influences in a couple of songs that remind me of Genesis, Europe or Queen, mostly because of the keyboards, the choirs and especially the vocals. I would say that I really like those vocals and think that Dominici has a very unique and catchy voice and is not really worse than James LaBrie even if he doesn't have the same skills as the later singer. What I really adore about this album are the perfect keyboard sounds that perfectly fit to the progressive rockers and take an important place without being to dominating. Almost every song has some brilliant and catchy keyboard sections. Most people say that Kevin Moore did his masterpieces on "Awake" but I think that he already created them on "When Dream And Day Unite" or "Images And Words". Especially the intro of the brilliant epic "Only A Matter Of Time" is amazing and memorable.

The only negative points about the album are that the band has not yet found a quite unique style and copies a lot its idols and legends and the fact that a true catchy masterpiece is still missing on this album. The mediocre sound quality and production of this record is probably a negative point for the purists and progressive music maniacs but I think that it gives a certain early eighties charm to this record.

The band already shows its brilliant musical talent in th very surprising opener "A Fortune In Lies" that has changes in rhythm and style all the time but is able to sound consistant. The rhythm section with bass a nd drums is doing a very well job on this first track.

One of the greatest songs is the band's first epic track "The Killing Hand" that could have found a place on "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche with its very slow harmonies in the beginning and softly high pitched voice that tells us a complex story. I really like the fast keyboard solo and the quiet passages that always come back and build the core of the whole progressive structure that meanders all the time. But the other epic "Only A Matter Of Time" is even greater in my opinion and convinces with perfect keyboard harmonies and logically arranged changes in style. Songs like these two epics take some time to grow and I am just about discovering this first record of Dream Theaer and I am still highly adoring it. There is something fresh and magic about those two epics and the band later realized that they are really talented in creating those complex structures and focused on such material. But they rarely got the same original and charming level of those two early masterpieces.

"Afterlife" convinces with an excellent guitar play and proves us already that every musician in the band has special skills. The majestic instrumental song "The Ytse Jam" proves that in splendid colours where every instruments gets the right place and time to elaborate some very progressive rhythms and sounds.

To conclude, this album is the first but by far not the worst record by Dream Theater but maybe one of their most original and simply best albums. This album grows more and more on me and I would put it definitely in my top 5 of the band's discography. Many people discover this album quite lately because it is not as often and easy to find than the other works and be´cause some people don't seem to trust another vocalist than James LaBrie and that's a shame because this is a very strong and diversified album that I would recommend to any fan of progressive rock or metal.
Even though this album may often be overlooked by DT fans, I don't find it inferior to the rest of their discography at all. It does have the problem of the vocalist (who makes it difficult to get through the whole album), and the album does sound like a debut (somewhat immature). But it's got many really great songs anyway. As has been told before, The Ytse Jam is indeed one of the most important songs for the band. Status Seeker and Afterlife are very good songs on which Dominici doesn't sound so annoying. And for me, Only a Matter of Time, is the strongest song on this album, as good as anything they've released later on, with some really beautiful keyboard moments, and the vocals do totaly fit the song beautifully.
This album seems to have garnered a lot of mixed reviews over the years. Some people don't seem to think much of it whilst others think it's brilliant. I'm one of the latter. For a debut album this is some amazing stuff. Obviously not as mature as ‘Images and Words’ and lacking the production values of ‘Scenes from a Memory’, but strip away the faults and there are some truly great songs on this album.

One of the biggest complaints (or maybe praises) is Charlie Dominici's vocals. Though I can understand why people don't approve, I find his voice to be really good, and really goes well with the majestic feel of this album.

Another strong point of this album is the lyrics, which is some of the most random and yet, well thought- out lyrics I've heard, especially on the track ‘Only a Matter of Time’.

Better things were destined to follow, but don't disregard this album. Not as legendary as Dream Theater's later material, and maybe not the best album if it's your introduction to the band, but this is definitely an amazing album, and I think the 80's production makes it easy to access for fans of all different Prog sub- genres.
When Dream and Day Unite: an album difficult to swallow, but not as bad as it looks like

Debut albums are always eccentric and almost always primitive, and When Dream and Day Unite is no exception. What we have here is a totally different manifestation than what Dream Theater is widely known for. I say this because the band does not yet have the controversial James Labrie to tackle singing duties. Charles Dominici is the vocalist on this album and he's living proof as to the drastic effect a vocalist can have on a band and/or album and why they are held in such high regard and called 'frontmen'.

Dominici is remarkably inferior to Labrie, in my opinion, despite Labrie having his issues. He's not as resonant, doesn't have as much conviction, and can't nail high notes as effectively, since his vocal amplitude is not a big thing, specially for high notes. He would be more effectual if he tried a different genre of metal, prog or music, such as pop or alt rock because he doesn't have the depth and chutzpah to pull this off. If Dominici had remained Dream Theater's vocalist throughout their career, it only leaves me to wonder if the band would have been as successful and popular as they are today. Sure, guitarists, drummers, bassists, and keyboardists are essential, but when the vocalist isn't adept, it's very grating and makes everything else happening in the music a nonentity. That's why SO many otherwise good albums on this website have lost points---it's because of the sub-par/terrible vocals; Dominici sounds like your average clean power or traditional metal vocalist: there's nothing distinguishing him from the vast crop of other singers out there in the progressive genre and in metal in general and that is another grade loss for him.

Unfortunately, When Dream and Day Unite is somewhat sub-par musically speaking as well. The overall tone of the guitars is somewhat muffled and soft, unlike on later albums where each instrument booms with confidence and charisma, burying itself in your subconscious. On a similar token, the riffing is quite competent, but not the soloing. Everything is presented in a much more primitive, compact package here, which is stifling for listeners thoroughly acquainted with the band's later work.. Also, the keyboards play a far lesser role here and don't have that squealing, spacey tone we're all accustomed to. Still on the keyboards, for those used to Rudess's way of playing (usually together with Petrucci and his guitars) and late Moore's keyboards (usually playing different, but related melodies / harmonies), here Moore plays a much more team role, being the glue holding the band's sound together and making the bridges needed on the harmony side.

One of the few highlights is the instrumental Ytse Jam, a tune that has gained a peculiar amount of fame in the Dream Theater universe, even spawning a website bearing its name, and the final piece of music on this album, the song Only a Matter of Time, which is, together with Ytse Jam, the most solid and developed piece of music here. It's not their greatest work, but it's very aggressive, something typical for a new metal band with a lot of things to say (luckily they left most of them for Images and Words and Awake). In keeping with the overall songwriting layout of the album, it cuts straight to the chase, not opting to enthrall the listener with unwarranted grandeur.

Basically, what we have here is the groundwork for much classier, less opulent offerings from a band who is continually evolving and adapting, yet trying to keep their sound and image intact. Often I wonder if all players involved with this intentionally held back to pique fans' suspense as to what comes next and to totally blindside everyone with Images & Words, possibly their best work and absolute milestone for prog metal. Ability is never and has never been something that people question about Dream Theater, but how exactly is the band choosing to present its ideas to listeners? What are they cutting and pasting?

Potential for excellence is written all over the instruments on this record and Dream Theater has impeccable consistency, but we'll never know if the band could have pulled off something more defining. That sense of wonder in itself is enough reason to buy this album. Personally, at least, I find all the 'what-ifs' of the world to be very gratifying and know that from day one these guys have pulled their best to surprise us all with whatever innovation they can make.

Rock on Dream Theater! and may the good winds of prog metal always be with you for ever

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