Dream Theater

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When Dream And Day Unite

Dream Theater - When Dream and Day Unite ©1989 Mechanic
1. A Fortune in Lies
2. Status Seeker 3. The Ytse Jam
4. The Killing Hand
5. Light Fuse and Get Away
6. Afterlife
7. The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun
8. Only a Matter of Time

At one point Dream Theater was not known for being an overblown, pretentious progressive rock outfit in love with the sound of their own technical abilities. Rather, on When Dream and Day Unite, the band's 1989 debut, Dream Theater was a young band with dreams of being the next Rush with tendencies from Yes and Genesis thrown in. In fact, original vocalist Charlie Dominci had a voice that was not terribly far off from Geddy Lee. Keyboardist Kevin Moore could twinkle his little ivories like Tony Banks on amphetamines. But despite the proficiency of the youthful version of Dream Theater, the band still managed to write songs people would want to hear more than once.

There's no doubt that the seeds for Dream Theater's later, more pompous material could be found all over the place on When Dream and Day Unite. The songs are all quite lengthy and spend portions showing off the various fancy things their various fingers could do on their instruments. Their influences were rather obvious, particularly Rush. Amusingly, despite the band's highbrow musical pedigree, there are populist lyrics, such as "Status Seeker" or "Only a Matter of Time". I think it's cute how these guys were still trying to relate to the common man at that point. The band even had a tinge of the speed metal movement of that era, which could be heard in "Afterlife" or some of the faster paced segments throughout the album. No one is going to confuse them with Kreator at any point, but they obviously were attuned to some of the heavy metal stylings of the late 80s. Occasionally they get caught up in dull songwriting ("The Killing Hand" and "The Ones Who Help Set the Sun" tend to drag on with far too many parts). But despite some of those shortcomings, this debut is actually rather enjoyable.

Vocalist Charlie Dominci left the band after the debut, ushering the bombastic James LaBrie, which also ushered out my interest in the band. When Dream and Day Unite was not exactly Record of the Year for 1989, but it is a solid debut with plenty to offer progressive metal fans without the overbearing nonsense that the genre usually dishes out. This album also might serve fans of synth era Rush who wished that Presto had gone quite so back to basics

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/2010

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Images And Words

Dream Theater - Images And Words ©1992 ATCO/Atlantic
1. Pull Me Under
2. Another Day
3. Take The Time
4. Surrounded
5. Metropolis Part I
6. Under A Glass Moon
7. Wait For Sleep
8. Learning To Live

Another stupid release from this shitty band. The masturbation contests these guys indulge themselves in are recorded and then cleverly packaged and sold in the form of CDs by their record company (probably the only "innovative" thing associated with DT). "Let us play fast meaningless notes, so that we can hear ourselves - and others can hear us - wank". John Petrucci plays "progressive" guitar, complex riffs and "sweeped" solos that make no sense. Portnoy plays drums with adequate technicality but with little innovation. LaBrie, though, is the most annoying of the lot. (I am being biased here since I absolutely hate these high-power/progressive-metal vocals). Bands like Rhapsody and Blind Guardian can do it tastefully, but others like DT apparently can't. LaBrie goes as high as he can at every opportunity he gets, and ends up being thoroughly annoying to my ears. The first track is alright (read: tolerable). The second is rather crappy, and it goes downhill after that. There's little coherence in song structure; notes are played in flurries without giving much thought as to why they should be there in the first place and what is their purpose in the riff/solo. Over-indulgent pretty much describes this band (especially this album). The entire package reeks of overtly attempted art and that makes it even funnier. Avoid like Hanson. For different reasons, of course. Hanson are too brutal for my ears.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 01/1999

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Review #2:

I've listened to this album several times since I (last) reviewed it, and after careful, repeated listens and performing deep, meditative reflections - as was suggested to me through email by kind patrons of this website - I have reconsidered my opinion of this album and have decided that...it sucks even more than I last remembered it! By Jesus, Mary and her husband Allah: this has to be some of the worst self-indulgent overblown senseless crap to ever be put on CD, and I can attribute the sales of this band only to mass hypnosis. Any band that records insufferabe ballads like "Another Day" deserves to be banned in a sensible music community.

Though progressive rock might be excessive "by definition", it is excessive and over-the-top only so far as to achieve good music through the means of excess. In Court of the Crimson King and Fragile - two extremely enjoyable progressive rock albums - are definitely excessive, but they make a bold, charismatic musical statement, and don't use excess as an end in itself. It is, again, what separates art from kitsch, it is why Yes and King Crimson made fantastic fusion music while ELP and Dream Theatre wallowed in aimless sonic drudgery.

It is also the case with the technicality of the guitarist and the keyboardist in Dream Theatre: play as much as you want, but don't lose sight of the music. John McLaughlin can use a million notes a second without sounding masturbatory, why can't Petrucci? Genres might be different, but it's still music. A note belongs in a musical phrase when it "makes sense". An arbitrary qualification, I realise, but one that I cannot explain any better. When hearing the whole, does it occur to you that some parts are "lacking" or others "shouldn't be there"? In the case of Dream Theatre, both the above sentiments nag me incessantly, so much so that I have to destroy the CD.

Review by Rahul Joshi

Review date: 01/2000

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Awake

Dream Theater - Awake ©1994 EastWest
1. 6:00
2. Caught In A Web
3. Erotomania
4. Voices
5. The Silent Man
6. The Mirror
7. Lie
8. Lifting Shadows Off A Dream
9. Innocence Faded
10. Space--Dye Vest

The biggest obstacle to very accomplished musicians is writing songs that both show off their ability to smoke on their instruments as well as be memorable and listenable. For the most part, Dream Theatre (yeah, I know it's spelled "Theater", but the American spelling is silly) proves throughout Awake that they have all sorts of skill at their instruments, but aren't going to let good songs get in the way of things. A far cry from the Rush worship of their debut When Dream and Day Unite, Awake tends to put me right to sleep. To get an example of why this band is just so pompous, take a look at the opening track "6:00". The melody is somewhat catchy, but in the middle of the song, the band breaks into a very pompous solo section that does not fit the flow of the song at all. While you will hear some parts that are very well done, like the acoustic part in "The Silent Man", it's a strain to sit through the moments where they must be technically proficient. I'll just go back to bed, thanks.

Review by John Chedsey

Review date: 01/1999

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Metropolis: Scenes From A Memory

Dream Theater - Metropolis: Scenes From A Memory ©1999 EastWest
1. Regression
2. Overture 1928
3. Strange Deja Vu
4. Through My Words
5. Fatal Tragedy
6. Beyond This Life
7. Through Her Eyes
8. Home
9. The Dance Of Eternity
10. One Last Time
11. The Spirit Carries On
12. Finally Free

The new Dream Theater snuck up on me. I knew it was supposed to be released soon, but their lackluster Falling Into Infinity had obliterated my usually voracious record-hunting zeal, so finding a cheap promo copy in a record store was rather unexpected. A quick glance at the track listing made me shiver in fear, evoking the atrocious pomposity of bloated progressive rock concept albums. So it is not without cynical misgivings that I started playing the album. And who would have thunk, it's rather good. With this album, DT appears to have gone back to their hyperactive shredding days (the first 10 minutes or so are mostly instrumental, and they rip) and dropped the commercial pretentions of Infinity. James LaBrie's vocal bits are short and much less annoying than usual (how can anyone listen to that guy's singing for more than a few minutes at a time?), almost functioning as breaks between instrumental sections. Keyboardist Derek 'Call me God' Sherinian has been thankfully replaced by the more sedate but no less virtuosic Jordan Rudess, but the difference does not jump at one, except for Rudess' gospel choir arrangement. The vocal parts are improved at times by the presence of female vocalists, reminiscent of Pink Floyd's female backup singers - which leads us to one of the most striking characteristics of this album: Dream Theater's influences are more obvious than ever. "Scene one: Regression" (and the album's structure) recalls Pink Floyd's Animals and The Wall; "Scene two: II Strange déjà-vu" has LaBrie sounding like vintage Geddy Lee; "Scene three: II Fatal tragedy" is straight out of early Queen (down to the harmonized guitar fills); "Scene four: Beyond this life" is replete with Zappaisms (harmonic structure of keyboard break, guitar/keyboard unison); and everything else is vintage, well, Dream Theater, with almost-literal allusions to past riffs ("Scene six: Home"). Overall, the CD's concept-albumness is not nearly as annoying and overwhelming as it may seem. Nothing really new musically, but certainly a stronger album than their last two (or three, if you count their double live CD). Die-hard fans will enjoy DT's return to unabashed over-the-top virtuosity and revel in identifying the self-references.

Review by Rog The Frog Billerey-Mosier

Review date: 10/1999

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