DREAM THEATER — Images and Words

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DREAM THEATER - Images and Words cover
4.40 | 218 ratings | 29 reviews
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Album · 1992


1. Pull Me Under (8:14)
2. Another Day (4:23)
3. Take the Time (8:21)
4. Surrounded (5:30)
5. Metropolis, Part I: The Miracle and the Sleeper (9:32)
6. Under a Glass Moon (7:03)
7. Wait for Sleep (2:32)
8. Learning to Live (11:30)

Total Time: 57:07


- James LaBrie / vocals
- John Petrucci / guitars
- John Myung / bass
- Kevin Moore / keyboards
- Mike Portnoy / drums

- Jay Beckenstein / soprano saxophone

About this release

Label: Atco
Release date: March 28th, 1992

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This is probably the progressive metal's most important album, and one of the most important albums of progressive music too!

Due to this disc and the later Awake, the progressive genre enjoyed from really good health the last decades, because a lot of people (like me) discovered this way of understand music with Dream Theater. For that I must give a lot of thanks to Dream Theater for revitalizing the progressive music at the beginning of the 90’s.

The album itself it's a true masterpiece. All the songs are magnificent, with a fantastic production and instrumental development. Maybe the keyboards are in a little too 80's way sometimes, but I'm still loving this entire album completely.

Pull me Under starts with a mysterious guitar melody and original keyboards, and soon derives in a very strong guitar riff which are soon accompanied by the great La Brie’s vocals. After that we can hear the typical masterclass of songwriting and variations that this album had in their first albums. Another Day is even better, with a memorable saxophone playing and an outstanding guitar solo.

Take The Time is simply the best Dream Theater's song in my humble opinion, and among the best progressive songs ever recorded. Just incredible! Surrounded it's different from the rest of the album, and maybe for this reason has a special place in my heart. It has some Rush and Saga influences and sometimes it sounds even Neo-Prog for me. Just great!

Metropolis – Part I has another atmospheric beginning leaded by the Kevin Moore’s keyboards and after that, just like Pull me Under we can hear a collection of great riffs which lead to the verses. This composition is more obscure and dramatic than the rest, and a very good central track. I will never forget the first time I heard the instrumental part of this song which begins at 4:17 many years ago. I was blown away! And I’m still amazed of the quality of these musicians.

Under a Glass Moon has a majestic beginning, worthy of the best science fiction film! Then the strong drums beef up the song, which derives in another heavy riff and very original verses with the initial melody. The instrumental development of the song is also fantastic. Another classic of this album with a superb guitar solo!

Wait for Sleep is a slow and beautiful ballad driven by a marvellous piano melody. Here we can also hear the ability of La Brie to sing in lower tones. And Learning to Live is the final masterpiece. Another brilliant piece of pure progressive metal with the best keyboard work of the album, great bass lines and another outstanding example of good songwriting and musicianship.

Conclusion: Images and Words is one of the peaks of progressive and a must for everyone. Even if you don’s like progressive metal, this is a must hearing album.

Last fact I want to comment: James LaBrie couldn't never reach again the great voice and the incredible high notes that he reached in this album. In Awake he sounded rougher and he has been losing his voice along the years for the reasons we all know.

And that’s a pity.

Best Tracks: Pull Me Under, Another Day, Take The Time, Surrounded, Metropolis – Part 1.

My rating: *****

This review was originally written for ProgArchives.com years ago, and rewritten today to be included here.
Heavy neo-progressive metal at its best

After the embryonic prog-metal of the 70's and 80's, "Images and Words" will definitely establish the genre in the musical landscape, as well as DREAM THEATER as its undisputed leader.. for a certain time. Sincere progress have been made since "When Dream and Day Unite". Singer Charlie Dominici has been replaced by James LaBrie, whose powerful voice is more adapted to heavy titles. In their compositions, the members have sharpened their virtuosity and their rhythm structures science, inspired by RUSH, METALLICA, QUEENSRŸCHE, MARILLION, and even ZAPPA, whose Mike Portnoy is big fan of. The production has also improved and the sound is clearer. Everything is not perfect though: DREAM THEATER offers quite soapy moments here, but its fantasy, soli and breaks are greater than before!

This second opus was initially intended as a double album, with the 25 minutes suite "A Change Of Seasons" included. However, the label imposed a single LP, resulting in the removal of various songs, and the re-recording of "ACOS", who will be released in 1995 on the eponymous EP.

The opener instantly became one of the band's great success. The cult and powerful "Pull Me Under" is a heavy title with an haunting introduction, fact-paced and calm passages, as well as an abrupt conclusion that always surprises me. Like I suppose many people, I thought my CD was broken at first listen. In fact, the musicians wanted to show death could arrive at any time... Not the most complex composition from DT, nevertheless very catchy. One of the band's classic! But the listener will have an even greater shock listening to the next track... What's this? The ballad "Another Day" simply features DT at its soapiest! A soundtrack for a cheesy eighties romantic clip, with its FM piano and saxophone. Easily the worst song of the record. "Take The Time" fortunately takes us back to a world of fantasy and dreamy metal with its gorgeous neo-heavy-prog passages, changing into groovy and funky rhythms. A lesser-known but nonetheless perfect title! Then comes the second and last black sheep of the album, "Surrounded". Another boring and out-of-place ballad, however this time more listenable than "Another Day", a bit in the style of MARILLION.

Don't worry, the second half of the disc can be browsed with serenity. In 1992, "Metropolis Part 1" was one of DREAM THEATER's most ambitious composition. An enchanting and epic tale, including numerous rhythm changes, various sonorities, catchy moments and breaks where RUSH and ZAPPA influences can be clearly perceived. It also features very short but incredible bass play from John Myung. Take the time to enjoy it, his solo interventions will unfortunately rarefy in the future... Anyway, a superb track! With "Take Your Time", "Under A Glass Moon" is "Images and Words"'s other forgotten little gem. Its majestic and floating opening unveils raging riffs and a fast-paced tune, but still with a neo-prog touch. Less breathtaking than its predecessor, nonetheless includes a few surprises and cool soli. "Wait For Sleep" is a short fairytale ballad, however this time much pleasant than the two others, introducing the longest and also maybe the heaviest song of the album, "Learning To Live". In the lineage of "Metropolis Part 1", this powerful epic displays assumed RUSH influences, with numerous ambiances and various interventions. The finale is simply heroic! Great!

"Images and words" is definitely one of DREAM THEATER's best opus, as well as an influential milestone in the progressive metal genre. This second effort show a genuine improvement compared to their debut, with better sound quality, more mature writing, more variations and better vocals.

A small remark though: this is no dark, depressive or aggressive prog-metal per se, rather fantasy / dreamy heavy neo-prog metal. The music is full of dated vintage synthesizer sounds, reminding MARILLION and SAGA, but that's what makes its own charm and contributes to the magical ambiance. Why two cheesy romantic titles among these colorful metallic epics full of gorgeous soli? I don't know... My advice: program your hi-fi to skip tracks 2 and 4. The rest is just flawless.

An essential listen for any progressive metal fan, and the one to start with if you're new to this genre or to DREAM THEATER. What are you waiting for?
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.
Dream Theater-Images and Words

'Images and Words' is the second studio album by progressive metal band Dream Theater. Often called one of the greatest progressive metal albums of all time, if not the greatest, 'Images and Words' holds the spot as Dream Theater's highest rated album here on the MMA. This album is also claimed to have popularized the progressive metal sub-genre, even though bands like Queensryche, Voivod, and Watchtower came years before Dream Theater released their debut. While I do have to agree it did popularize progressive metal quite a bit, I don't think it's one of the greatest prog metal albums.

The album opens up with one of Dream Theater's most popular songs, 'Pull Me Under', which rightfully so is called a masterpiece. It begins with very memorable acoustic guitar chords before picking up with heavy guitar. Soon the crunching thrash riffs come in with complementary keyboard work. LaBrie's voice, as many have expressed before, is very much a love-hate vocal style. I personally love his voice, it's especially strong on this song, but some may find it annoying. You know you've made a perfect chorus when it constantly flows through your head, I find myself singing to the lyrics 'Pull Me Under, Pull Me Under, I'm Not Afraid!' quite often. Easily the best song on the album, and one Dream Theater's best songs in general.

The song that standouts the most along with 'Pull Me Under' is the nine-minute 'Metropolis Part 1', which is another one of my favorites. This song continues the melodic thrash found on the aforementioned song, except on a grander scale. Mike Portnoy's drums I find to be especially strong on this track, creating some pretty complex rhythms. It has an awesome bridge with complex keyboard and drum patterns. 'Learning to Live' is another favorite, the finale epic. LaBrie's vocals are very strong during the second part of the song, complementing the flowing guitar very well.

The only real problem I have with the album are the sappy ballads like 'Another Day' and 'Surrounded'. I'm not a fan of ballads, but I do like them if they're done right especially power ballads. I do love power ballads, but unfortunately these ballads act more as filler then songs to benefit the listening experience. While I really don't like the former, 'Surrounded' is a decent song. It's kind of cheesy, but it picks up at the end and has kind of a U2-feel to it. At first I thought 'Take the Time' didn't fit well, but it's grown on me. It has some nice funky bass work mixed with crunching riffing.

Overall, 'Images and Words' is certainly a great album even though it has its flaws. While not my favorite Dream Theater album, it's still an excellent album to have in any metal collection. If you ever thought melodic metal mixed with power-thrash would work well, I'd say give it a try if you haven't already.

Hope you found this review helpful.

Feel free to comment!
It has to be 4 years since i spun this one but i quite enjoyed listening to it this morning. My opinion is still the same though. Yes it's an influencial album no doubt, and one that put this band on the musical map but there are these sappy moments throughout that really turn me off. It's mostly when James is singing in a ballad-like manner and the music follows suit. Still how can you not be impressed with the complexity and power of the ground-breaking release. "Pull Me Under" gave the band some huge exposure on MTV and certainly many fans of this heavier styled music jumped on board. "Another Day" is a disappointment because of the ballad-like style and Kenny G-like sax. The next two tracks don't do much for me either but then we get some power with "Metropolis-Part I", "Under A Glass Moon" and "Learning To Live". So a mixed bag for me but i'm giving it a low 4 stars because of how influencial this was back in 1992.
Another milestone album, both for Metal and Progressive music. This album is quite possibly the most important album in the history of Progressive Metal - kind of a game changer, genre-defining album. For me, this is a personal milestone as I feel I began to truly understand what Progressive music was all about through this album. I had already started getting into Dream Theater, and had a couple of their other albums when I started listening to this one. I remember HATING Metropolis Pt. 1 - absolutely loathed it. I don't remember why, but I did. But a funny thing happened - part of the instrumental section got lodged within my brain and I could not shake it loose. It would repeat over and over again. So I decided to listen to the song again. I loathed it a little less, and this time I thought "hmm, there's something interesting going on there, but I don't know what." I had to listen to this song again now, and did so a few more times and then I had an epiphany. I began to understand how the band was switching time signatures (compound time), and though I didn't understand fully, thought they might even be layering different time signatures on top of each other. This is when I began to truly appreciate and understand what Progressive music was about, and also probably the point at which Dream Theater became my favorite band.
Although I don't consider it the classic many Dream Theater fans rate it as, I do find that Images and Words is an intriguing and very enjoyable followup to their debut album. When Dream and Day Unite was an excellent tribute to their various influences, but for the band to sustain itself it really needed to develop its own sound, and Images and Words is where it all came together with a seamless mixing of crunching, thrashy riffs, virtuoso and delicate keyboard work and complex prog songwriting.

The main thing which stops me giving this more than four stars is that the music here regularly threatens to cross the line into unappealing schmaltz - as, for example, on Surrounded - but at its best, Images and Words is an exciting, muscular, adrenaline-pumping piece of prog metal which outlined the Dream Theater sound marvellously.
The reinvention of Progressive Metal.

Did Images and Words begin prog metal? 1992 seems like an eternity away now but in its time this album was absolutely the pinnacle of what became prog metal. So many bands owe their existence to this album. It is little wonder why crowds get excited when LaBrie shouts "we are going to do one from Images and Words!" The real master tracks are obvious as they are the ones played live often and they are the ones that every DT fan loves. One of those tracks is the brilliant Pull Me Under. Infectious riffing and melodic cohesiveness makes this one of the all time greatest prog metal songs.

Another one of the classics is undoubtedly Metropolis - Pt. I "The Miracle And The Sleeper". This may be in the top 10 best DT songs, as it features an epic majesty made possible with layers of Moore's keyboards over Myung's relentless bass and Portnoy's sporadic drumming. The time sigs are off kilter and deranged at times. Amidst the chaos LaBrie shines on vocals. If that does not grab you the lead guitar fret work is impeccable from Petrucci.

Under A Glass Moon is a definitive DT track appearing in many concerts. The guitar solos are phenomenal and there are quite a few. The riffing is incredible too making this a bonafide classic. The lead breaks are indispensable and ingrained in metal history.

Learning To Live is quintessential DT with virtuoso solos and musicianship. LaBrie is on fire and you have to love the time sig and bassline. LaBrie's voice is powerful throughout the album, higher than recent years of course because his voice was undamaged by age.

Of course there are other tracks and they are all very good, some may call them masterpieces. The point is, this album is a vital component in the resurgence of prog rock. Prog was dying in the 80s, and barely surviving in the 90s, but Dream Theater created the music they wanted to hear despite the avalanche of rap and other so called musical styles trying to drown out the voice of prog for ever. Images and Words is all killer and no filler the way an album should be. It may not be as genius as Ocatavarium or in the same vein as Scenes From A Memory to come, but this is an important album that cemented prog metal as the new giants of the industry. After this album there was no looking back - the gods of prog metal had been awakened.
The beginning of it all.

Some despise it, some adore it, and some think it's just alright, but I, Andyman1125, contributor to MetalMusicArchives.com, say that this album is one of the best albums ever produced in this millennia, butt up against Selling England by the Pound and Close to the Edge. Albums like these encompass everything that makes humanity good, skill, passion, desire, self-knowledge, and overall joy of being alive. This album started everything for the now "famous" prog rockers Dream Theater, whose technical ability and passionate devotion to their fans has rocketed them up through the everyday prog band that just doesn't cut it compared to Dream Theater. Certainly Dream Theater can't stand up to the legends such as Yes, Pink Floyd, or King Crimson, but they are certainly the best of their bunch: the leaders of the progressive metal movement.

In the very late 80s and the very early 90s, Dream Theater lost their first singer, Charlie Dominici. His voice led the band for only a few years, and he only appeared on the mediocre debut When Dream and Day Unite. The band began to audition for a new singer in 1991. After sifting through dozens of singers, even including John Arch of Fates Warning, the band called James LaBrie all the way from Canada, the current singer in the glam rock band Winter Rose, to audition. Flying down from Ontario, the young LaBrie (although he was the same age as the rest of the band) auditioned and blew Petrucci, Portnoy, Myung, and Moore out of the water. His incredible range, his melodic tone, his compassionate timbre and vocal strength, he was the perfect fit for the prog metal band's soaring harmonies and instrumental masterpieces. To the fans, LaBrie was the best new singer in the entire progressive scene, and he was.

Images and Words remains the band's only real commercial hit. The song Pull Me Under remains the only song that Dream Theater has released that has had major radio commercial play and even appeared on MTV and other networks. It had won them international acclaim and countless fans from every corner of the globe. But often one might forget: there are 7 other absolutely perfect tracks left on the album. It's easy to rate your "favorite" album 5 stars, despite insignificant flaws that should lower it to a 4, but on this album, there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of the 8 tracks. Each is creative, exciting, compassionate, melodic, heavy, beautiful, rhythmic, and every single other desirable trait of music that one can imagine. Well, now we can start to analyze each track for itself.

You could probably get away with rating this album 5 stars by just saying three words: Pull Me Under. That opening progressive riff somehow even caught the attention of the corporate giants at MTV, a feat in and of itself among the (at that time) pop stars Tupac and other rappers. The music video aired in late 1992, sending ripples throughout the music community. It reached the Top 10 on the Billboard Heartseekers chart, and this song rocks! The opening instrumental section breaks into LaBrie's vocal debut, an epic show of melodic mastery. Vocals mesh with instruments into a beautifully done embroidery of musical genius. The slow and tear-jerking beauty of the keyboard solo flows effortlessly into a sweeping guitar solo, synonymous with John Petrucci. The chorus opens yet again, and a creative and abrupt ending transitions perfectly into the next track.

Another Day is a ballad among ballads. But it's still progressive, don't you worry. This song really allows LaBrie to show off. Moore's beautiful piano backs LaBrie's supreme voice. Some of the most beautiful melodies I've heard in my entire life are heard on this one track. Every note is perfect. Every harmonized second is perfect. The saxophone fits perfectly into the music, which flows in between melancholy beauty and sweeping power. The lyrics are poignant and creative. After absolute beauty ala James LaBrie, John Petrucci takes over with a spectacular solo of his own. Every single transition throughout the song fits beautifully. From vocal to instrumental to vocal to instrumental, the song is definitely a classic Dream Theater ballad.

Take the Time is one of the more fun songs on the album. This song breaks way from the traditional metal sound and incorporates a strong sense of funk. The opening is a creative and rhythmic and sets every listener up for a joy ride of funky bass lines and popping guitar work. LaBrie's exercises his extensive pitch range with piercing heights throughout the song. The bopping fun of the funky verses transitions perfectly into a slower melodic interlude exploring LaBrie's softer and more compassionate side. The soft quickens right back up into that swinging fun of the funky song with a strong (oh so very strong) instrumental section. Each instrument gets a part, even if it is a small one. The band sets the stage for their legacy as a great force of harmonic synchronization, with every instrument playing the same thing at the same time that just infects you with a joy so great you have to fight yourself viciously not to jump up and start dancing around. The instrumental section slows down to a short vocal piece before yet another guitar solo opens up, which ends the song on a great note.

Surrounded is the second ballad on the album. The delicate beauty of the intro could easily make one cry with its melody. But fret not, yee of dour emotion! This sad sound soon sweeps into a explosion of major scales and beautiful polyrhythms! This is definitely one of the happiest songs on the album, despite that sadder intro. Even standing up to the bopping and fun Take the Time, the solos, vocal harmonies, and overall composition of the meat of this song can slap a smile onto the most depressed's face. After all that fun, however, the song beautifully transitions into (a very short) reprise of the intro. Overall, however, the happy body of that song still makes you bob your head and happy satisfaction every time.

Yes, here it is, the fantastic Metropolis Part 1. Nearly no song under 10 minutes can even slightly compare to this song's overbearing epicness. Everything, not specifically the transitions or the melody or the rhythm is perfect about this song, *everything* is perfect. Not one thing is wrong. Not even a millisecond of flaw could be found in this song. This song is the prelude to an entire album, Metropolis Part 2: Scenes from a Memory, which is my favorite album, without a doubt. To say that a meager 9 minute track can be a predecessor to one of the (if not *the*) greatest progressive metal album in history is preposterous to most, but not anyone who knows Metropolis Part 1. The song opens with a different sound ?Jingle Bells! But continues on with one of the greatest keyboard progressions I've heard in my entire life?the "na na naaaa?. Na na nuhhh?." This breaks into a rhythmic-melodic perfection known as John Petrucci. After a short riff-solo, LaBrie enters? in perfect harmony with himself and everything the instruments are playing. This song is like jazz?everything communicates. The drums talk to the bass, which talks to the guitar, which talks to the keyboards, which talks with the vocals, which talks with everything all over again. Everything is in its rightful place, right where it should be, as it should be. The lyrics address everything from love to death to politics to the environment. And then, after the vocal piece, the instrumental section opens. It's hard to even think while this instrumental section plays. Everything that has been right with music for the past 700 years is exemplified in perfection in this piece. Rhythm, harmony, melody, technique, compositional superiority, and I can think of a list a mile long of other excellent traits. Complex time signatures, polyrhythms, technical solos, varying tempos and dynamics, this is like a perfectly composed music theory final composition. Everything good is in it. Myung's solo blows every other bass solo ever out of the water, Moore's creative keyboard parts keep even the most experienced pianists interested, Petrucci's solo defeats any other guitarist ever (well, that's not new), Portnoy can keep time no matter what (even the time signature was 471/67. Yes, they can play in 471/67 =P), and just the overall band performance is absolutely breathtaking. Everyone knows exactly what the other is doing, even if he is playing a solo with a half a million notes in the span of a few seconds. After this rhythmic instrumental beauty, the song transitions ever so slightly back into the vocal section with a crescendoing synchronization piece that could spin the heads of harmonized orchestras (well, maybe not. But still.). LaBrie comes in with his sweet melodic voice. The remaining minute of the song is one of the best in the song. The final touches on Moore's beautiful lyrical poem are put into the song, and this is the true lyrical prelude to the Metropolis Part 2 album. The song ends with some simple instrumentation, seeing as no complex cadence could possible appropriately end this song.

Under a Glass Moon is the next song. This song's heart lies in its guitar solo, but we'll get to that later. The shorter intro sets up the backing instrumentation quite nicely. The vocals come in on a very nice beat, keeping this steady rhythm afloat. The lyrics paint some of the most vivid images of the album, even the title is beautiful thought. The vocals are the most present theme in most of the song, accompanying the beautiful rhythm and backing instrumentation nicely. When the instrumental section, you know something is coming. The guitar sound tightens, and his playing gets more precise. Then it happens. Most certainly the best on the album, the best in the Dream Theater catalogue, and one of the better guitar solos?? ever...starts. It just up and slaps you in the face. It's absolutely exhilarating. Every note and measure is like an adventure of progressive proportions. The use of the guitar's accessories, most notably the wammy bar, is fantastic. Overall, that is one of the best guitar solos I have ever heard. The keyboard solo is great too, but nowhere near the beauty of the guitar solo. Still, however, the track is fantastic. The track follows a similar form as the rest of them, where after a lengthy solo section there is a short vocal reprise and then an instrumental outro. What a track, what a solo. Damn.

Wait for Sleep is the shortest track on the album, clocking in at a mere 2:31. This song is essentially a duet between Kevin Moore and James LaBrie, and what a job they have done! It is definitely the most beautiful and tear-jerking song on the album. It isn't even a ballad, just a beautiful duet showing LaBrie and Moore's passion behind their instruments and not just their incredible skill with their instruments. Most people could play those individual notes, but very few people could play those notes with the passion that LaBrie and Moore show whilst playing the music.

Learning to Live, the final track, is certainly an appropriate ending to a musical joyride. The guys can ride a bike with no handlebars?and win a race. The creative keyboard intro breaks into a sweeping melodic vocal section with some poignant lyrical themes. I can't say this enough, also: the instrumentation is just superb. Everything harmonizes perfectly with what LaBrie is signing, and every note transitions perfectly into the next. As with every other song, the vocal section transitions into a fantastic instrumental section. This is the closest one to come close to Metropolis'. Its instrumental section is just superb; each solo has something special to say to the listener. Each instrument also gets a chance to express itself fully. Whether it's the piano solo's yearning to be free, or the synthesizer's soaring sound flying into the sky, or maybe the guitar solo's ability to do what it wishes among the other instruments. These solos transition beautifully, as always into a short vocal section, that transitions into (oh boy) another instrumental section! Oh joy!!! (Not sarcastic) In this act, the bass gets a moment away from its cage of low frequencies that keeps all the music harmonized and gives his statement of complaint. The drums join him in his parade, before the guitar joins him in an epic backtrack for yet another impressive guitar solo. No, a guitar solo does not have to be 700 BPM with 3,000 notes per measure to be incredible. A s simple (even repeating) riff that is catchy and creative can be incredible too. This small solo fades out into eternity, the same amount of time that I will be listening to this record, over and over again.

ALBUM OVERALL: This truly is the beginning of the legacy that is Dream Theater. Some people spit on the band's name, but in most cases that is purely based on bias. When truly looking at this album for what it truly is, I can't fathom not liking Dream Theater. Certainly someone could say in turn that my rating is based on my own bias, but Dream Theater was the first progressive band I ever heard, which opened up a world of music that 80% of the world has never even heard of. This gate that Dream Theater opened for me has led me to respect them as much as a classic prog fan respects Yes and Genesis. Their technical ability, compositional skill, musical genius, and overall epicness has led me to the conclusion the Dream Theater is and always will be the ultimate prog metal band of all time. No, they are not symphonic prog, and no, they are not from the 70s, but they certainly have not tainted the progressive genre, but rather have added a new chapter in the certainly long book of progressive music.

Images and Words is an album that any musician can look up to. Whether your pride is mellow acoustic riffs reminiscent of Harmonium or thrashing intensity similar to Meshuggah, every aspect of music can be connected to this album. Musically, it is genius, commercially, it was a smash hit. Overall, this is just a fantastic album. I can't even think of an adjective in my expansive vocabulary to describe the overbearing beauty and monstrous amazingness of this album. Well, here ends my 2,447 word review! 5 ++ stars!!!!!!!
When progressive metal was young (or even still unborn).

When I hear the name of the second Dream Theater album - Images and Words - conflicting thoughts come into my mind. I would say this is another band. It's not the same band as Dream Theater I adore. It's something else. It's a band of young and precise musicians who's trying to find themselves. They combine some wonderful ideas into an ambitious album. In my opinion the conception of progressive metal in that period isn't built and mapped out. It's developed in some elemental way, yet! And sounds somehow dry and poor, despite lots of nice themes, virtuosity and creativity of the musicians. For me, Images and Words remains a beginning of this wonderful fairy-tale called Dream Theater, but the best is yet to come much, much later, when the band had been reached to the height of its professionalism and the conception of the genre had been clarified. Images and Words: nice addition to most of the metal collections. 3,25 stars rounded down to 3 stars under my rating system!

Members reviews

Cylli Kat
Dream Theater - Images and Words Review № Stardate 11810.19a

THIS is perhaps the ultimate, most influential Progressive Metal album of all time. THIS is THE Badass Monster Mütha Fükka in my Prog Metal sensibilities..

(That is not meant to discount Fates Warning, Queensrÿche, Redemption, Pain of Salvation, etc. and others that have genre defining albums themselves).

A fantastic set of classic songs played to perfection by a group of very well practiced musicians. Well produced virtuosity tastefully on display, mixed with strong, interesting, adventurous compositions. I loved it then, and love it to this day.

This album spawned an entire generation of clone bands that tried to brave the waters that my friend, Mr. Portnoy & company set the course for and continually raised the standard of when relating to virtuostic, Progressive Metal.

This album deserves all the praise that has been heaped on it, and then some...

An absolute classic, and a MUST HAVE for any Prog Metal enthusiast.

A complete, no debate, gotta have, full-on 5 + stars on my scale. Obviously 5 stars here at PA.

As always, your mileage may vary.

Grace and peace, Cylli (Jim Calistro)
I think this album deserves its title of 'milestone' in metal music. Obviously, not for being the first ever progressive metal album, because there were so many before, and not for being the best progressive metal album of all time, because that is debatable. This album is a milestone because it defined, with authority and exquisite music, a new metal sub-genre. And because of this album, many metal artists turned around and took a look at progressive rock bands of the 70's to influence their own sound and following and shaping a new path in metal music.

Today Dream Theater has many lovers and many haters, and for some people there are a bunch of bands that are better, but is undeniable that they are the symbol of a movement called progressive metal.

'Images and Words' has the right balance between calm, virtuosity and power, in which Dream Theater stablished some of the musical footprints that can be found in their following albums. It has also a 'beginning' and an 'end' - something that only the masterpieces have and that involves you until the very last song. It has, of course, very fast rythmical figures, but not in excess, and really beautiful and smart slow melodies played by the voice and the instruments.

The music speaks for itself, so its unnecesary to give more details about the album and the songs. I think 'Images and Words' must be in every personal music collection.
I am a huge Dream Theater fan, but I must admit they don´t get better than this. When I started listening metal my favorite genre was power metal, but discovering music like the one Petrucci, Portnoy and Myung create was a revelation. Taking the leadership in a movement that Fates Warning and Queensryche started before, this album expands the boundaries of metal and show that progressive music is still alive. The best songs are the longer ones especially “Learning to Live”, “Pull Me Under”, “Under a Glass Moon” and of course “Metropolis Pt.1” which will continue in the future with a whole album. This record is also perfect for people getting into the prog metal world as it is a sort of definition of the genre.
Three years after the convincing and very strong first album "When Dream And Day Unite", Dream Theater came back with a new vocalist and created a new masterpiece of progressive rock or metal. While this album is maybe not as diversified as the first strike, "Images And Words" is able to create some really magic moments and has even some very catchy songs.

The magic moments are presnet on the calm songs of the record like the wonderful ballad "Another Day" that is brilliantly sung and convinces with some strong piano leads and a soprano saxophone that adds a very special note to the song. "Surrounded" is even better with its amazingly harmonic and chilling keyboard sounds and James LaBrie that delivers on of his strongest performances of all times in my opinion.

The catchiness that was lacking on the last record is now present with the opener "Pull Me Under" that has a very simple but strong chorus and some mystical and exotic rhythms. But to be honest, I think that this track is one of the less profound on the record and is a little bit too long in the ending just to end in a very abrupt and senseless way.

I rather prefer the progressive side of Dream Theater like in the very diversified "Take The Time" or the interesting "Learning To Live". But both of the songs are just good average on this record because they share the album with the masterpiece "Metropolis", maybe the best song the band has ever written. In almost ten minutes ever instrument gets the place it deserves and everyone is working over the top, beyond all limits to create a very diversified surprising and still logical and atmospheric track. This memorable piece of music unites everything what the band stands for and if I had to present Dream Theater to a good friend with just one single song, then I would chose this masterpiece that inspired the band to write a whole album around this track a couple of years later.

All in all, there is not much to argue about this album. It has some magic moments, every musician is doing his very best and the production and sound is more accurate than on the first record. There are a couple of songs that I would rather describe as average tracks that I like less, especially the complicated and somewhat faceless "Under A Glass Moon" or the overrated "Pull Me Under". This album is not as consistent as the underrated debut album. But on the other hand the band puts two of their best songs ever on this record with the unforgettable "Surrounded" and "Metropolis" and that's why this album is surely and easily in my top five ranking of the best albums in the band's biography even I would not put this record in the first places. But for any fan of progressive music, this masterpiece that somewhat reanimated a whole genre is a definite must have that offers a lot to discover. I would put the band's first to albums on the same level even though the have all different forces and weak points.
I don't really understand why this album is considered by so many the cornerstone of prog-metal, perhaps I would have to been aware of their existence and of the metal and prog doings at the time of the release, but as it is, by then I was rather obliviuous of the musical world back then. However, ofcourse I do like this album, it's got some real gems, and the rest is at least enjoyable. For me, the gems in this album are Pull me Under, even though it may be the most mainstream song in the album, it's indeed really enjoyable. Then Metropolis, with it's trademark beginning that influenced the whole Scenes from a Memory album, though this song does have a rather long shredding-tedious section, it's still very good. Wait for sleep, even though it's very short and simple, is one of the most beautiful things DT has done. And Learning to Live is indeed a great Prog piece, enjoyable all around, and taking and expanding the theme from Wait for Sleep near the end of the song (which makes both songs more enjoyable if they are listened together). The rest of the songs aren't so outstanding for me. Another Day is just a pretty ballad, but can get a bit boring, and the other songs have many shredding-tedious passages that I could just as well do without hearing. All in all, a very good album. 4 stars.
A masterpiece of Prog Metal. This is an album that has thrown a shadow over almost every single Prog Metal album since it was published. The album feels like that magical time in our life where everything seems to be on its right place. The band shares some of the greatest inspired songs in prog rock and makes a huge a high standard for all their posterior material.

After Metallica and Rush, seems like Dream Theater was the next step in the evolution of music. And the merge of metal and progressive was perfect. This was the album that shakes the ground of prog, forever.

To be honest, the material is just perfect. They kept the right balance between technical acrobatics as well as a lot of strong emotion and even “magic” (with the lack of a better word) with the more “in your face” metal that they showed in songs like Under a Glass Moon or Pull Me Under. Well, I know must of the new fans could say is not that heavy, that fast, that technical but hey, this album is kind of Kevin Moore trying to held the band not so loud and technical and been more emotional and touching... you know, there's no song like Surrounded in all the other albums... it's just beautiful and well composed and Wait For Sleep, you can feel that emotional vibe, that mix of sadness and "give up" feeling. Kevin was the master of songwritting. And if you see, he dominates must of the songs, not playing just fast and loud, but with soul and emotion... almost the half of the album has his leads... He can be fast, check the unisons with Petrucci in the instrumental part of Metropolis or the solo in Take the Time, but he liked to keep it cool and great... Sure will get the tradicional JP amazing solos, the Portnoy intricate performance... Myung presence is more evident and always with a very moody vibe, like in no other material from DT.

The production is not that shinny and the drum triggers that the producer uses were part of a huge controversy between the band and the producer but even with these “flaws”, it remains as the most important achievement for the band. The sound of DT will get better and they will get heavier as the time passes by, but here is where everything starts. Yes, is the second album, but the first one that means something to the audience. 4 stars for metal, 5 for prog metal. Wonderful experience.
What better title could there be for an album by a band called 'Dream Theater' than 'Images And Words'?

This album is a true classic of the Progressive Metal genre and, in my opinion, the very best of the whole genre. The opening song, Pull Me Under, is the one I like least, it has an alternative feel to it and it also ends rather abruptly for no good reason it seems. But it is still great! The closer, Learning To Live, is a true masterpiece of progressive rock. And all the songs in between are fantastic too!

The influences on the music include among many others a Jazz-Rock/Fusion influence which creates a truly unique sound together with the 70's and 80's Metal and Symphonic Prog influences. This is one reason that this album is so groundbreaking.

In my opinion Dream Theater would sink like a stone after this album and never again create anything even remotely close to the brilliance found on this album. This album has all their best songs.

Essential for anyone with even the slightest interest in Prog Metal. This is the place to start!

Very highly recommended!
Though I have many flaws, I also pride myself on being a fair person - one who might not be the greatest fan of the New York quintet, but is nevertheless perfectly capable of recognizing quality when she sees it. In my very humble opinion, "Images and Words" remains to this day DT's finest offering, one they have never managed to top. Yes, they have become more ambitious, in some ways more commercial, and they have reached planetary status among both younger and older fans. However, this album, now 18 years old, has a freshness and a novelty value that their later, more complex efforts do not possess anymore. This is the true act of birth of one of the most enduringly popular styles of Prog-Metal, in which the 'progressive' component is noticeably stronger than the 'metal' one. Without I&W there would be no Symphony X, no Shadow Gallery, no Pain of Salvation, no Ayreon... Dream Theater are one of those rare bands who have managed to be ground-breaking without being really innovative.

Though everybody knows I am no supporter of technical prowess for its own sake, there is no denying that DT are masters of their instruments. This album also goes to prove that the band's greatest strength was the songwriting of keyboardist Kevin Moore,a more restrained player than the flamboyant Derek Sherinian, and a less technical one than Juilliard alumnus Jordan Rudess, though an undeniably sophisticated, tasteful composer. After him, the band's output became more over-the-top, with song lengths and instrumental complexity sometimes spiralling out of control. Here, instead, DT strike the right balance: even an overtly commercial song like "Another Day" does not disrupt the overall textural intensity of the album.

So far I have talked about instruments, not mentioning what is for many people the sore point of the band: James LaBrie's vocals. There's no denying that the man in question, like his band, has been the founder of a school of singing that numbers many followers; unfortunately, I only find him effective when impersonating that most unlikely of progressive rock singers, Metallica's James Hetfield (check his performance on "Train of Thought"). When he reaches for the higher notes, I find him at best irritating, at worst positively unbearable. However, his performance on I&W (his debut album with the band) is rather good, especially on the wistful mood piece that is "Wait for Sleep" (with great piano work by Moore); while on some parts of "Take the Time" I just wish he would shut up and let the others play.

With so many glowing reviews written before mine, I feel there is no point in doing a track-by-track analysis. Album opener "Pull Me Under", the band's best-known song, is quite catchy in its own way, though I find "Take the Time" vastly superior - the intro in particular is great. "Metropolis" is undeniably the most complex track from an instrumental point of view, with great performances from all the members of the band. On this album Portnoy's drumming sounds very clear and strong, though distinctly reminiscent of Neil Peart's in more than one instance (as a matter of fact, the Rush influences are startlingly evident at times). The album's standout track, though (especially from a lyrical point of view), is Myung's powerful, heartfelt "Learning to Live", where the bassist's remarkable skills can be clearly heard for once, instead of being swamped in the maelstrom of sound produced by the others. The song's coda is hauntingly beautiful, easily the best thing on the whole album.

Even though I suppose I will never become a DT fan, I&W deserves four stars for its undeniable musical quality - although, as I stated at the beginning, I feel its historical value is probably its greatest asset. Not really essential, but indeed an excellent addition to one's collection.
STOP AND WORSHIP this milestone album,the mother of all prog metal albums,one of the best in music history without any doubt!I know,there isn't much to be sayed about this album,but all I can say that one single word it comes in my mind when I speak about IMAGES AND WORDS...and that word is PERFECTION!Absolutelly fabulous from the first second to the last one and trully a moment of divine grace and heavenly inspiration for this 5 outstanding musicians ,wellknown by all prog metal lovers,I won't mention them again!Let's say thet METROPOLIS-PART ONE has the 2.24 minutes of instrumental madness that changed the world of prog metal wizzardry in the middle section...let's say that on IMAGES AND WORDS are some PERFECT compositions called ANOTHER DAY...PULL ME UNDER...TAKE THE TIME...UNDER A GLASS MOON...LEARNING TO LIVE...SURROUNDED...WAIT FOR SLEEP...and...oops!her we have the entire album mentioned!Yes...because it's PERFECT!!!!!A fantastic clear production...fantastic musicianship overall... and even today...in 2010 we can say that this album is a major reference of the genre!!!Not only 5...but 500 STARS...and a thank you to the prog metal Gods forever...!!!

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