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Dream Theater - Images and Words

On July 7, 1992, "Dream Theater" released its second studio album, "Images and Words".

This album created, in effect, a new genre in the world of music - "Progressive Metal".

True, it's not that before "Images and Words" there were no albums that combined metal with progressive, such as Queensrÿche's "Operation: Mindcrime" album released 4 years earlier. Moreover, the roots of prog-metal were laid somewhere in the seventies, among others, by the band "Rush" and we even wrote that their album "Hemispheres" from 1978 is probably the first prog-metal album ever.

So are we not really contradicting ourselves? Not really.

Albums like "Hemispheres" and "Operation: Mindcrime" were crowned "prog metal albums" in retrospect, while in the case of "Images and Words" it seems to be the first prog metal album that not only created the concept behind the genre, but also transformed " Dream Theater "to the largest prog metal band in the world. This album proved that you can take all the classic prog elements of the seventies, renew them and update with a friendly production, add to them fine metal on the one hand and a sweet pop melody on the other, and market them to the masses. But the greatness of this album is revealed precisely about the period in which it was released. When grunge and alternative are at their peak, when traditional metal is in retreat, and when pure progressive has disappeared from the world over two decades earlier, this album simply had no chance of succeeding. But "Dream" is doing the unbelievable here and not only creating a new genre, but also managing to sell well and attract a whole wave of bands.

So how did all this happen? For that one has to go back to the beginning. the year 1985 at Berkeley College of Music in Boston, where guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung, and drummer Mike Portnoy met. The three form the band "Majesty" whose name was chosen by Portnoy under the influence of the song "Bastille Day" from the album "Caress Of Steel" by "Rush", whose ending sounds to Portnoy Majestic !! To complete the line-up, they turned to John Petrucci High School friend Kevin Moore to play the keyboards, while recruiting singer Chris Collins after hearing him perform the song "Queen of the Reich" by the band "Queensrÿche" with great precision.

In 1985-1986 the quintet was recorded under the name "Majesty" a demo album that originally included six songs, however in November 1986 singer Chris Collins was fired from the band and replaced by Charlie Dominici. Before recording their debut album "When Day and Dream Unit" released in 1989, the band managed to change its name to "Dream Theater" following a threat from a band from Las Vegas that was also called "Majesty", not before they wrote the album "Ytse Jam" which is "Majesty" spelled backward.

(Photo: Dream Theater on Twitter)

The first album was not very successful and the band felt that Charlie Dominici just does not deliver the goods. They were looking for a singer whose voice resembled Bruce Dickinson or Geoff Tate, but those searches lasted almost two years in which about 200 candidates were considered, by then the band was already thinking of giving up and releasing an instrumental album. But then, in January 1991, the band received a demo tape of James LaBrie, who was immediately invited to audition and was accepted into the band.

Without going into a discussion about James LaBrie's vocal abilities today, we have no shadow of a doubt that he was exactly the singer that the band needed to break through and succeed big time. An amazing vocal ranging from emotional opera to angry metal did it, complementing the virtuoso abilities and incredible precision of the rest of the band, to create an album that is considered one of the most important in the genre.

This album still holds the title of the band's most commercially successful album and the album with the only big hit from "Dream Theater", and we are of course talking about the amazing opening song "Pull Me Under", which to this day is not clear to us how it became a hit during the nineties and reach the 10th place on the billboard, with a length of more than 8 minutes. The lyrics that refer to William Shakespeare's play "Hamlet" were written by keyboardist Kevin Moore, and even include a sentence from the play itself.

Interestingly, the band themselves did not believe this song would become a hit. They gambled on the second song - "Another Day" - a quiet metal ballad intended for the mainstream charts and radio stations and featuring a saxophone solo by Jay Beckenstein from the band "Spyro Gyra", which in his private studio the band recorded. John Petrucci wrote the song under the influence of his father's battle with cancer, the struggle to live "another day" and moreover, Petrucci's desire to stay with him another day before he leaves the world.

The lyrics to the third track "Take the Time" were written by the four veteran members of the band (Minos James LaBrie), and they refer to what the band has been through in the three years since their debut album. The search for a new singer, a new record company, a new management, the frustrations, the good and difficult moments. It was important to the band members that the lyrics will come from the point of view of each of them individually.

The album also includes the amazing "Metropolis — Part I: 'The Miracle and the Sleeper" which opens with an instrumental intro that develops into a terrifying song, with breaks, transitions, and rhythm changes that formed the basis for one of the great concept albums in Prog Metal - "Metropolis Pt. 2: Scenes from a Memory". The song, was written by John Petrucci back in 1989 and was called "Crumbling Metropolis", when rumor has it that it refers to the founding of Rome by the brothers Remus and Romulus.

Two more high moments of the album come further down the road with "Under a Glass Moon" which shows the band's incredible virtuosity, especially that of John Petrucci, and the epic ending that lasts over 11 minutes "Learning to Live" which is prog metal at its best, a very good piece, dynamic, with lots of changes in rhythms, breaks, and transitions, and references to other tracks on the album such as the quiet "Wait for Sleep" with the sweeping piano section, whose lyrics include the title of the album in the sentence: "Where Images and Words Are Running Deep" ...

For Listening: Spotify, Apple Music

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