Metal Insider contributor Anthony Maisano is listening to a different metal album that was released on that day every day this year. 22 years ago today, the progressive masters Dream Theater released their second album, and the first to feature current singer James LaBrie, and called it Images and Words.
This is Dream Theater’s first album to feature James LaBrie, and it’s distinctly different from their debut album, Where Dream and Day Unite. The debut was more of a hair metal album, to me, but still featured awesome drumming and guitar work. Of course, this goes without saying, but John Petrucci is a god among guitarists, and Mike Portnoy is an amazing drummer. The instrumentation on the album is just great, as expected by Dream Theater. Petrucci’s solos are just…wow. Their work is both heavy, and interesting to listen to. No matter who their keyboardist, I’ve always loved the keyboard sounds Dream Theater used on their albums, too. Overall, the album is an almost thought provoking one that you can listen to and really analyze for hours.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think this album dragged parts out just to show off for no other reason. MANY of these songs would have been great songs anyway if they were cut to 5ish minutes, but I feel parts are repeated more than needed just to show off, and extend the song. There are lots of times when the length of prog songs are absolutely needed, and there are a few tracks on this album that needed them too, like “Learning to Live,” but there are also many, like “Pull Me Under,” that didn’t. I also don’t know why the band decided to put a ballad as the second track on the album… and then ANOTHER sort of ballad as the fourth track. To me, this just kills any kind of momentum the album was building.
Favorite Tracks: “Under a Glass Moon,” “Learning to Live,” “Take the Time.”
This album was a great way to establish the band’s sound after they went in a very different way from their debut. It has some really solid tracks, and they’d only get even more technical, and crazier from this album on. However, even though I feel this is a solid release, I think it’s far from Dream Theater’s best work. If you like progressive music, or are a Dream Theater fan, this one is worth checking out for sure, but I wouldn’t call it the pinnacle of the band’s career, even if it was their most successful album.