With a ton of new material and new vocalist James LaBrie, Dream Theater hammered out an incredible piece of work with Images And Words, their breakthrough album, often lauded as their best. LaBrie was the ultimate choice to replace former singer Charlie Dominici; his operatic training, tempered with the aggressiveness of metal, was perfectly suited to DT's theatrical and soaring compositions. Whereas Dominici could not support the band's intensity, LaBrie's powerful tenor and ability to change notes on a dime surpasses all but the greatest singers in the metal genre.
I&W's predecessor, When Dream And Day Unite, was merely a vague indication of where this band was headed. By way of comparison, Images And Words is more complex, engaging, unique, and sincere. The myriad style influences, lengthy and elaborate instrumental passages, deep lyrics, curious meter measures and shifting time signatures imbued the band with a quality infrequently experienced. John Petrucci is incontrovertibly the greatest guitar virtuoso to emerge in the 90s; Mike Portnoy's drums clearly mark him as the next Neil Peart; John Myung's impossibly complex bass lines are unmatched in their intricacy; Kevin Moore's weaving keyboard dynamics support the heavy guitar focus, but sometimes his lyrical piano leads take center stage, and he proves that just how emotionally powerful that instrument can be. Independently, they are incredible musicians. Together, they form a single, cohering unit whose rapport is unmatched.
And the songs? Complex enough to dazzle, but not enough to sacrifice engaging melodic elements, this album is simply replete with good songs. Every song is indubitably superb, but special mention goes to "Metropolis Part I," a mesmerizingly complex track that establishes the foundation for "Metropolis Part II - Scenes From a Memory," the mind-blowing concept album that would be released seven years later.
What did you think of this review?