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Images and Words

4.5 out of 5 stars 418 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Certified gold by the RIAA (2/95).

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Proof positive that one can be a virtuoso musician and also have heart, Dream Theater are in impressive form on this album, arguably their best. They do it by never allowing technical flash to overwhelm their songs; there's substance under the style, in the form of ear-catching riffs and aggressive rhythms. The opening "Pull Me Under" is, quite simply, a great song, from its sparse introduction to its heavy-duty main riff to its memorable lyrics. Dream Theater, as its name implies, is an introspective band, exploring the complexities of the human heart and bringing them to life with songs like "Learning to Live," "Take the Time," and "Wait for Sleep". Unlike many metal bands, they favor an optimistic outlook, as with "Another Day" and "Surrounded," and even the dazzlingly complex "Metropolis, Pt. 1" is an entertaining listen. -- Genevieve Williams
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (July 7, 1992)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Atco Records
  • ASIN: B000002JPA
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (418 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #13,599 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Where to start? SIMPLY THE BEST CD I'VE EVER HEARD. My review-actually no one person's review--will do justice to I&W, so don't wait for some ultimately persuasive words to click on the "Buy" button--just do it, IMMEDIATELY. You'll thank me later.

I hate reviews that are put in general terms, so here are a ton of specifics:

For those who appreciate variant musical styles, this CD should be a no-brainer for your collection. The more complex charts will probably not appeal to a mainstream demographic, although some tracks (Pull Me Under, Another Day, Wait for Sleep) will catch the average listener's attention with their riveting melodies. But no CD in the last decade--or perhaps ever--can touch Images & Words for its complete musicianship and epic-style storytelling. Dream Theater manages to fuse balladic lyrics and melodies with searing riffs and unusual technical complexity. Rare is the band that pulls off such a cacophony of stylistic nonconformity and makes it work. In Images & Words, DT not only makes it work, but makes it enjoyable to listen to.

Each song is a bit different than the other, and they run the gamut of categories from a short vocal soliloquy accompanied by only a piano background (Wait for Sleep) to an 11 1/2 minute documentary (Learning to Live) tackling the topic of being infected with AIDS (released in 1992 when AIDS still scared the hell out of people). Most of the songs contain at least some passages in which the band is showing off its chops, but again DT showcases its talent without reducing the songs' artistic value. For example, "Under a Glass Moon" is an in-your-face technical machismo-fest that retains logical musical progressions.
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Originally released in 1992, Images and Words was the second release from progressive metal legends Dream Theater. This was the band's first album with vocalist James Labrie, and the album was a huge breakthrough for the band. I've wanted to write a review of Images & Words for the longest time, but have always been too intimidated by the prospect. I mean, how do you critique an album that totally changed the way you listen to music?

I was just entering college when this album was released, and was at the point where I was trading in my Slaughter and Firehouse CDs for Pearl Jam and Alice in Chains. Metal as I knew it seemed so trite and meaningless in the face of all that angst and flannel. Then one day I was hanging out with MTV on in the background when the video for Pull Me Under came on. I dropped whatever I was doing and was glued to the TV. It was obviously a metal song, but it was totally unlike anything I'd ever heard before. It took less than a minute of sampling Images & Words at the local CD store to convince me to buy it. This album just blew me away. I know Fates Warning and Queensryche had already started the progressive metal movement, but Dream Theater was the first band I had heard playing that kind of music. To me it was like the offspring of Rush and Metallica. The complex song structures, emotional lyrics, obvious technical prowess, and overall intensity of the album just hit me in totally new ways. I'd be 3 or 4 minutes into a song like Learning to Live or Take the Time when the style would shift and just yank me with it like it had a hold on my heart. It's so hard to describe the way that album affected me. It's not a perfect album, (I actually hate the song Another Day) but it is my favorite album and after hundreds of listens I'm still not tired of it.
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Format: Audio CD
I first appreciated Dream Theater only after growing into modern progressive rock, having been stuck in 70s progressive rock for more than two decades. The first Dream Theater album that I appreciated was the phenomenal "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence." Once I realized how incredible that album was I moved on to this album from 1992. I was stunned and fascinated by the difference between the two albums and think that both are enjoyable for completely different reasons. One of the biggest differences to me was that the later album seemed to show fewer and different influences from this album, which reminded me more of Rush and seemed a bit more derivative than "Inner Turbulence." Regardless of the strength and number of influences, this album deals with less weighty topics than "Inner Turbulence" and is more of a "fun" album than "Inner Turbulence."

The CD begins with the fantasy song "Pull Me Under." While the topic is the inevitability of death, the spirited guitars, percussion and vocals generate catchy hooks that make you want to sing along, or at least hum along when you are unable to remember the words. The locomotive bass drives this song filled with rowdy passengers, all of whom are along for the ride, and you have to wonder why anyone would worry about death with a song this good.

"Another Day" is uncharacteristic of Dream Theater and most hard rock bands. The style of the song is strongly reminiscent of 80s hair bands, mellow with a mild beat. This tune features ear-friendly and even radio friendly hooks. While the style may be very different from Dream Theater's more challenging works, this song is well performed and I enjoy the surrealistic feel to the lyrics.
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