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This album is beautiful. If Dream Theater themselves called me on the phone and told me I was allowed to change one thing about Images & Words, I wouldn't. It is an untouchable masterpiece that any prog metal artist (except for maybe Opeth's Still Life) has yet to surpass. I first heard this record about six or seven years ago and it forever changed my opinion about music. Dark Side of the Moon may have been the first progressive rock album that I absolutely loved, but Images & Words is the prog album that broke me out of my ignorant music listening world. Everyone in the band is at the their most experimental, technically talented, and emotionally powerful state in their career.
There is much talk about Dream Theater being very pretentious and soloing for the sake of showing off their individual talents while the music remains soulless. If they were referring to Train of Thought, Systematic Chaos or some other Dream Theater release then I would absolutely agree with them. But I don't think anyone can tell you that they were not moved by the instrumentals in "Metropolis Pt .1", "Under A Glass Moon", or "Another Day." There is so much emotion within each one of these songs that you can't help but feel moved. Unfortunately, it seems that LaBrie became much worse with age, but his range back in 1992 is unheard of. He hits high notes I didn't even know existed, without sounding incredibly irritating like Dani Filth.
As I have stated endlessly, Mike Portnoy is my favorite drummer in all of metal. If someone were to ask me why, I would tell them to listen to "Learning to Live." If someone were to ask me why Myung is one of my favorite bassists and lyricists in metal, I would once again tell them to listen to "Learning to Live." I dare you to put all of your emotion into every line as Myung has for this song: "Another chance to life my life, Free the sensation in my heart, To ride the wings of dreams into changed horizons, It brings inner peace within my mind, As I'm lifted from where I've split my life, I hear an innocent voice, I hear kindness, beauty and truth." And yes, it sounds a billion times more powerful when paired up with LaBrie's flawless vocals.
There is not one song where Moore's or Petrucci's soloing sound out of place or overlong on this entire album. I cannot say as much for Petrucci's later work, but on Images & Words he perfectly balances his technical skill, pure emotion, and appropriate time lengths. Every single note sounds unbelievably powerful. Yes, "Pull Me Under" was played on MTV and was their hit single, but it is unlike anything off of Falling Into Infinity. It is not poppy nor out of place with the rest of the album. In fact, it fits in wonderfully.
The album has a consistent jazzy, majestic feel to it throughout. It is incredibly unique to any genre of music and I recommend it to anyone who isn't deaf. This album is just as essential to music as any album recorded by Pink Floyd, The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, or any other musical artist that you can think of that has had a major impact on music. If you haven't already, get this album as soon as possible. I warn you though, this may make you cry because of how stunningly outstanding it is. If only I could rate this higher than 100%.
Highlights: Everything. Okay, fine- "Metropolis, Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper", "Under a Glass Moon", "Learning to Live"