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Soft and beautiful, but criminally forgotten - 83%

Starwind, July 28th, 2009

Note: Being one of the first metal bands I ever got into, and one of my all-time favourites, I thought it fitting to have a Dream Theater release as my first review. Following the release of Black Clouds & Silver Linings, I decided to delve further into their discography and perhaps review some of their less-known material to start off. Hopefully this will only be the first in a long line of reviews…

Following the release of the Images and Words Demos on Mike Portnoy’s Ytsejam Label, The Silent Man sports but one rarity; the soft instrumental Eve. The other two tracks, The Silent Man and the demo for Take the Time appear on Awake and the aforementioned demo release respectively. Eve, however, only appears (in studio form) on the now equally rare Cleaning Out the Closet fanclub release. Following the rerelease of a lot of Dream Theater’s rarer material through Ytsejam Records, and fellow Awake B-side To Live Forever’s appearance on their greatest hit album, Eve has become one of the rarest tracks in Dream Theater’s discography. Now that we’ve decided why this single is worth acknowledging, let’s tackle the actual music, shall we?

Let me start by saying this is not a heavy Dream Theater release. If you listen to this single expecting The Mirror, or Pull Me Under, you will be sorely disappointed. With that said, the material is superb at proving that Dream Theater aren’t mechanical shred machines; of the three tracks found here, only one steps into the fast-paced technical metal territory the band has become known for. The Silent Man opens, and is the exact same version found on Awake. Acoustically driven, it remains one of the many “could-have-been big” ballads from their early career; soft and accessible enough for the radio, but intelligent and beautiful enough to stand out among other ballads of the time. It’s a real pity that this didn’t garner the success intended.

Next up comes the Take the Time demo track. I don’t know if I’m right, but I believe this is the same track they sent to ATCO on that three-track demo that landed them a record contract with Atlantic. The production’s top notch, and despite a few differences in the background vocals and the lack of the spoken word samples (a good thing, in my opinion) this track isn’t too far off from what they put on Images and Words. This is the fastest and heaviest the single gets, but the way it winds down at the end into the piano part helps it segue gently into Eve.

Now for any diehard fan, Eve is what they’ve (likely paid, and) been waiting for. I’ve read somewhere that this was mainly composed by Kevin Moore, which doesn’t surprise me one bit; much like Wait For Sleep and Space-Dye Vest, Eve is a very beautiful piano-driven track. Emotionally-charged, Eve’s slow pace, acoustic backing and soft, clean solo make it a unique standout track in Dream Theater’s discography. Highly recommended for fans of their softer ballad material, and for curious fans not looking for blazing solos and tens of time signature changes.

Due to its 1994 release, the fact that it contains only one rarity, and it being currently out of print, The Silent Man is recommended for diehards only. If you have a deep wallet, and love their early ballad/Kevin Moore material, go for it. If you’re a more moderate collector, the single will sometimes go for twenty to thirty bucks if you’re patient. Either way, there’s some great music to be found here. Eve is much more than a B-side criminally ignored by the band; it’s a beautiful, hidden gem, shining from an era long gone.