Register Forgot login?

© 2002-2019
Encyclopaedia Metallum

Best viewed
without Internet Explorer,
in 1280 x 960 resolution
or higher.

Privacy Policy

The most underrated prog metal album ever - 97%

Caleb9000, April 16th, 2018

Look at just about any review, any ranking and any retrospective regarding Dream Theater's discography. Chances are you'll see this album at the very bottom (or at least close to it). People usually have the same reasons for hating it. The vocals are wierd and annoying, the production is rough, it isn't technical enough, not enough emphasis on the guitar, no really long epics, etc. It doesn't quite sound like Dream Theater as most know them today. It has more in common with what was going on in the 80s metal scene and doesn't hold up as well, or so most people say. Or they'll just call it "immature" because it makes them look like they're being objective. But it wasn't always like this. Most people worshiped this album when it came out, including the members of Fates Warning. But because of Dream Theater's newfound fanbase rooted in other, more modern genres, this album is often panned. But it really doesn't deserve it at all, as it's really one of the band's best albums and a really important step forward for progressive metal.

While this album doesn't feature the technical masturbation found on many of the subsequent Dream Theater albums, it does put more emphasis on shreddy riffs and odd/jazzy time signatures than anything else before it. Watchtower and Sieges Even are exceptions, but they were more thrash-oriented. It takes more direct influence from 70s and 80s prog rock than any other metal album before it. Even Perfect Symmetry by Fates Warning doesn't have this much overt homage to Yes and Rush (despite it being a slightly better album). Although it does seem to take more from what Rush was doing in the early 80s than their classic 70s output. Because of this, When Dream and Day Unite is the most synth-driven Dream Theater album (or at least the most synth-driven Dream Theater album that's actually metal). But this actually works for the album. Kevin Moore is my favorite metal keyboardist and this album doesn't count against that. His keyboard-work is cold, atmospheric, often symphonic and very beautiful, without being overly soft or wanky. Kevin is known to be very atmospheric with his playing. Because of his high prominence here, this is probably the most atmospheric Dream Theater album. It sounds chaotic, yet beautiful at the same time, without being too gay or too intense for its own good.

Another thing that adds to this is the production. It's pretty reverb-heavy and somewhat raw. It's a lot like the production on Legendary Tales by Rhapsody. But it adds to the murky nature of the music. But because of the highly clean and sterile nature of most production on modern prog metal albums, this gets a bad reputation from most fans of that. It's really not even all that bad. The mixing is actually really good. You can hear everything, including the bass, which is something Dream Theater isn't known for. Which is a good thing, as Myung is a genuinely great bassist. Songs like "A Fortune in Lies" and "The Killing Hand" have the dark, mystical atmosphere that they do in part because of the production, though mostly because of the music. But the reason why the music itself feels like this is because of the clear power metal influence. Fates Warning, Crimson Glory, Heir Apparent and other progressive power metal bands were all an influence on this album. It was very uncommon for progressive metal in the 1980s to not have power metal influences, although this does dial it back more than those bands.

But what really kills this album for most people is the same thing that killed early Fates Warning for most people. The vocalist has a strange tone that can be annoying for some listeners. Charlie Dominici was a soul singer before this, which gives him a different background than other singers in his field. He does clearly take influence from metal singers though, particularly Geoff Tate, due to his open-throat phrasing. But the singer he most resembles is Geddy Lee from Rush, though a bit less nasally and more operatic. I personally think his voice is beautiful and perfectly fits the music, though he did put me off the first time I heard it. He tends to almost gasp when he hits semi-high notes and his voice is somewhat effeminate, but in a good way. The same way that James Labrie does, though a bit weirder. He has no problem staying on key and his sustain is good, meaning that there really isn't anything technically bad about him, other than him sometimes having trouble hitting some higher notes. People just need to adjust to him to like him more.

The songs are some of the best that Dream Theater ever did. "A Fortune in Lies" is epic and gloomy, but without sacrificing energy. It actually gets thrashy early in the song, with a palm-muted bottom string riff accompanied by fast double-bass, though that only lasts for a little while. Meanwhile, "The Killing Hand" keeps that sense of gloom and mysticism, but with a more relaxing and enchanting tone, mostly due to the beautiful keyboard work. It's probably the closing thing to a traditional Dream Theater epic on here, due to the multi-part structure and length of the song, though other songs are only a little shorter. "Ytse Jam" is catchy, but very technical, with lightning fast melodic guitar work, almost like a cross between Queensryche and Watchtower. People who like Dream Theater for their technicality will probably like this song the most. But my personal favorite track is the closer, "Only a Matter of Time". This is because of the song's ability to have a triumphant, almost Fifth Angel resemblant feel while still keeping the progressive mindset of the rest of the album, mainly due to the very interesting and tension-building rhythm of the main verse. The lyrics on this song are easily the best that Kevin Moore ever wrote, telling a story about a father letting his son go off to war.

"A father's benediction as his hopeful son departs
To brave the sea of rage and conquer at all costs
Lingers in his memory and visions still surviving
In a logic proof shell
That should have been held sacred, safe and hidden well
Are compromised in usury"

His lyrics really capture the desperation and internal conflict that the father feels. It also has Charlie at his best vocally, delivering a frantic and heartfelt performance that fits the music like a glove. Not to say that every other song isn't a standout. Really the only song that I don't like too much is "Status Seeker". A new wave song with metal guitars, it's actually pretty decent for what it is, but the 80s cheese is a little difficult to stomach. It also features the absolutely awful lyric, "You draw a battle line with the dollar sign". That's pretty much the only issue on the whole album, as everything else is in top form. It's a consistent album with lots of memorable songs with more value than many people would have you believe.

It's more than just memorability that saves this album from the shit that it gets. It's everything going on that isn't on one particular track. The instrumentation really isn't any less creative than it tends to be with Dream Theater (and it does so without being pretentious), the songs are emotive without being sappy, and it's just a milestone in the evolution of progressive metal as a whole. But unfortunately, it receives almost never-ending hate from many fans for things that really don't deserve it. But the truth is that When Dream and Day Unite is a masterpiece and one of the best things Dream Theater ever wrote. It just isn't as appealing to the modern progressive crowd. It's so hugely important and accomplished, but the low reputation it gets pushes listeners away. This is why I consider it to be the most underrated progressive metal album ever. Don't buy into the undeserved neglect it gets, you'll just have more music to enjoy than people who've been scared away.

When Dream Theater didn't (completely) suck - 61%

Jophelerx, May 28th, 2014

I wasn't around to remember or experience it, but there was once a blissful time when progressive metal wasn't always associated with excessive keyboards and guitar masturbation. This was the era when progressive metal typically meant heavy or power metal with progressive elements; bands like (early) Queensryche and Fates Warning, Crimson Glory and Sacred Blade, before the very late 80s and early 90s when progressive metal started to change into a different beast. A few bands are known as pioneers of this style; Norway's Conception, Fates Warning (post-No Exit) and of course today's topic, Dream Theater. While Dream Theater aren't necessarily more culpable for the start of this modern brand of prog than Conception or Fates Warning are, they are more irritating to me because unlike the other two bands, not only did they never really produce anything worthwhile, they're also one of the worst offenders of the genre (and I've listened to a lot of it).

Their 1989 debut When Dream and Day Unite is, thankfully, more worthwhile than any of their other material, with few sections that are actively irritating and some that are even marginally enjoyable. It is a very groundbreaking and somewhat influential album - which in this case means the heaps and heaps of modern prog bullshit to come in the years ahead. While the album itself is fairly harmless, what it inspired is much, much worse. However, let's get on to the music itself. Even in 1989, wimpy, largely ball-less prog metal wasn't terribly uncommon; Queensryche's Rage for Order, Fifth Angel's self-titled, and some largely Queensryche-derivative bands like Gehenna, Drive, and Scarlet Rayne were around. However, one thing none of these bands was the prominent keyboard presence on When Dream and Day Unite, nor did any of them take the progressive aspects to such an extreme degree.

This album is fairly dense and can be bewildering on first listen with the constant changes and numerous simultaneous elements; in this way it is like Fates Warning's Awaken the Guardian, Slauter Xstroyes' Winter Kill, or Psychotic Waltz's A Social Grace from the following year. Like A Social Grace, it's hard to put this into a specific subgenre besides the highly nebulous "progressive metal" tag; if I had to do so I would call it symphonic heavy metal with progressive rock and power metal elements, but that's quite a mouthful, so I'll call it "modern prog," to differentiate it from bands which also fall into the progressive metal category but aren't in the same style (the aforementioned Psychotic Waltz, Voivod, later Holocaust). The weird thing about this album (for its time) is that, as I mentioned, the keyboards are very prevalent; as prevalent as the guitars in some sections, more so in many others. The production is also quite wimpy, so as to accommodate for the strong keyboard and vocal presence, with slick, muted guitars that don't do any respectable metal album justice.

Vocalist Charlie Dominici is technically good, hitting all the right notes, and has a fair amount of charisma, but his performance is even less ballsy than that of (late 80s) Geoff Tate and his imitators (Lethal's Tom Mallicoat, Screamer's Bill Carter, etc.). Tate's introduction to metal in '82 surprised everyone, as he had classical training and went for a cleaner, more operatic style, but this is a step further. I don't know a lot of rock singers from that era very well, but to give the best comparison I can, Dominici sounds sort of like a lamer, gay Geddy Lee. Not to bash Geddy Lee - Dominici is much wimpier than Lee, who works well with most of Rush's material - I just don't know prog rock and Lee is the first person who came to mind. I'd be surprised if there weren't some Rush influence in the music as well - there's obvious prog rock influence - but I don't know Rush's material well enough to pick out any specific albums or anything.

The sad thing to me about this album is that the songwriting is actually pretty decent throughout - the vocal lines are good, the guitar riffs are often fairly good, but the vocalist sucks and the lame pseudo-epic keyboard lines drown out the guitars most of the time. Had they cut they keyboard wankery and gone with a real metal vocalist like John Stewart (Slauter Xstroyes), this could've been a fairly cool album, but as it is, it just feels too bloated, saccharine, and flaccid most of the time. The lyrics are also quite shit, with pseudo-intellectual vomit like "A trifling euphoria was such an untimely religion" and "Visions still surviving in a logic-proof shell", and when they're not trying to be intellectual, they're talking about some lame personal struggle or some such shit - boring as fuck.

Still, despite its shortcomings, the album is not without its merits. As I said, the riffs and vocal lines are often good, and occasionally even the keyboards won't utterly suck, creating a triumphant feel such as at the end of "Only a Matter of Time" or sort of mysterious as on "The Ytse Jam" (which, being mostly guitar focused and lacking Dominici, is easily my favorite track here). The song moods are typically melancholic and/or romantic, often both in the same song, pretty understandable considering the lyrical content but not really my bag; the keyboards, lyrics, and vocals together just completely castrate the album most of the time, relinquishing it of all power it might have had and turning it into an instrument wank-fest. Not as badly as subsequent Dream Theater efforts, but still, not what you really want to hear out of metal. Overall the album is pretty mediocre, with enough redeeming qualities to keep it from being painful but never rising above its choking failures. I would not advise anyone to check out this or any other Dream Theater album, ever, but if you really have some burning desire to listen to the band, this one is your best bet.

An early progressive rock classic - 83%

kluseba, January 3rd, 2011

This first official studio album by Dream theater and the only one featuring the singer Charlie Dominici is a very strong, soft and dreamy progressive rock record in the key of "Rush". There are even some very sligthly disco pop influences in a couple of songs that remind me of Genesis, Europe or Queen, mostly because of the keyboards, the choirs and especially the vocals. I would say that I really like those vocals and think that Dominici has a very unique and catchy voice and is not really worse than James LaBrie even if he doesn't have the same skills as the later singer. What I really adore about this album are the perfect keyboard sounds that perfectly fit to the progressive rockers and take an important place without being to dominating. Almost every song has some brilliant and catchy keyboard sections. Most people say that Kevin Moore did his masterpieces on "Awake" but I think that he already created them on "When dream and day unite" or "Images and words". Especially the intro of the brilliant epic "Only a matter of time" is amazing and memorable.

The only negative points about the album are that the band has not yet found a quite unique style and copies a lot its idols and legends and the fact that a true catchy masterpiece is still missing on this album. The mediocre sound quality and production of this record is probably a negative point for the purists and progressive music maniacs but I think that it gives a certain early eighties charm to this record.

The band already shows its brilliant musical talent in th very surprising opener "A fortune in lies" that has changes in rhythm and style all the time but is able to sound consistant. The rhythm section with bass a nd drums is doing a very well job on this first track.

One of the greatest songs is the band's first epic track "The killing hand" that could have found a place on "Operation: Mindcrime" by Queensryche with its very slow harmonies in the beginning and softly high pitched voice that tells us a complex story. I really like the fast keyboard solo and the quiet passages that always come back and build the core of the whole progressive structure that meanders all the time. But the other epic "Only a matter of time" is even greater in my opinion and convinces with perfect keyboard harmonies and logically arranged changes in style. Songs like these two epics take some time to grow and I am just about discovering this first record of Dream Theaer and I am still highly adoring it. There is something fresh and magic about those two epics and the band later realized that they are really talented in creating those complex structures and focused on such material. But they rarely got the same original and charming level of those two early masterpieces.

"Afterlife" convinces with an excellent guitar play and proves us already that every musician in the band has special skills. The majestic instrumental song "The ytse jam" proves that in splendid colours where every instruments gets the right place and time to elaborate some very progressive rhythms and sounds.

To conclude, this album is the first but by far not the worst record by Dream Theater but maybe one of their most original and simply best albums. This album grows more and more on me and I would put it definitely in my top 5 of the band's discography. Many people discover this album quite lately because it is not as often and easy to find than the other works and be´cause some people don't seem to trust another vocalist than James LaBrie and that's a shame because this is a very strong and diversified album that I would recommend to any fan of progressive rock or metal.

Not as bad as the fanboys make it out to be - 89%

Wra1th1s, March 31st, 2008

Yes this album doesn't have LaBrie. Yes this album is the one with the homoerotic cover (seriously DT, what's with the cover?). And yes, this album doesn't sound like their next efforts.

Dream Theater's debut is underwhelming to the fans of the later works, although some people, i.e. me, don't think it's a blasphemy to the DT name. Yes the production is rough and the songs don't last for 13 minutes with 11 minute shred/wankfests. But it adds to the charm of the album.

First the production, in one word: Ick. The guitar tone is horrible when it's not soloing, the drums have that 80s drum sound that sounds way too poppy at times, the bass...well at least you can hear John Myung unlike later albums (Metropolis Pt.2 and on) where Myung is only there for the bass solos. About the only thing that sounds the same as Images and Words are the keyboards. Man I miss Kevin Moore, he knows that keyboards are supposed to add ATMOSPHERE. Keyword there, ATMOSPHERE! Yes he can do keyboard leads, but that is secondary to their true purpose, adding atmosphere.

The songs are very good although they don't sound like Dream Theater. DT decided to put the metal in prog metal. Thus the riffs in this record is more metal than all of their latter records combined (except the The Glass Prison and all of Awake). Just listen to "A Fortune in Lies", that is a thrash riff right there. The solos in the songs are definitely shredtastic(tm). Simply put, John Petrucci is a GOD on guitar! This album is different in that his solos are not just there for solos, they actually add to the song.

Then comes the singing, I don't understand why fanboys think Charlie Dominici is a crime against humanity. His voice fits the songs perfectly and I prefer his version of "A Fortune in Lies" over LaBrie's (LaBrie has the tendency to scream "YEAAAH!" at the end of a verse). The only song that is way off the Dream Theater course is "Status Seeker" I don't know why but it's too poppy and it's just not metal sounding. Obviously "The Ytse Jam" is a highlight and is definitely one of Dream Theater's best instrumentals, although I have a hard time differentiating the bass solo from a guitar riff because they have the same tone.

Overall, it's not a bad album. It's actually greater than some of their latter efforts. Sure there ain't no LaBrie, but that doesn't mean it's bad. The people who think he sucks are the same people who think Paul Di'Anno, John Greely etc. suck balls.

Too bad there's no re-release or anything with bonuses (unless you count When Dream and Day Reunite). This album deserves it.

Majestic - 94%

DawnoftheShred, January 12th, 2007

Every once in a while, a band comes along that redefines their genre. Be it through sheer innovation, unbridled passion, or unbounded technical skill, they manage to set a precedent by which all future bands are compared. In the case of progressive metal prodigies Dream Theater, they present all of the above, paying homage to their influences and expanding that influence beyond comprehension. And this is just their debut album (and far short of their best work).

When Dream and Day Unite had to grow on me. This was an unfortunate byproduct of my adoration of their later releases, which this album sounds quite detached from. Dream Theater's first album is their only with vocalist Charlie Dominici and has a far less refined production than every album that comes after it. Those two factors add to the most apparent observation about this album; that is, that it sounds like Rush. But it's a much heavier and, dare I say, an even more technical Rush if at all. I'll discuss that further later on.

One thing that is certainly undeniable about this album is the raw talent of the band members. Even on their debut, Dream Theater is leaps and bounds ahead of everybody else out recording albums in 1989. John Petrucci is unbelievable, showcasing a much more metal side to his playing than on later albums. His shredding prowess is mighty: the solo section on the album's first track, "A Fortune in Lies," features a magnificent tap arrangement, tasteful sweep picking, and a furious pairing of mastery and melody. He plays with as much emotion as bravado and is equally skilled at writing heavy riffs as he is at clean ones. John Myung is a fantastic bassist, probably one of the bests. His playing is fast and articulate. To say Mike Portnoy's rhythms are intricate would be a vast understatement. Years before he was universally declared one of the bests in the business, he was giving Neal Peart a run for his money, shifting between dynamic time signatures like he invented them. Kevin Moore is a top-shelf keyboard player, balancing atmosphere and technical fury with a sense of restraint that's very uncommon amongst progressive keyboardists. The only thing that usually turns people off, especially fans of later Dream Theater, is the singer, usually just because he's not James. Dominici has a very Geddy Lee-like voice (pretty much the single greatest reason this sounds like Rush in their prime) that isn't far inferior to LaBrie (or Lee for that matter) and his melody lines for the lyrics range from impressive to inspiring. I'm not going to discuss the lyrics, as hells_unicorn has already provided way more insight into them than I ever could, but I'll say that they're very good, despite being less personal than some of the more introspective passages on their later works.

While the band members have yet to reach their musical peak on this release, their sense of songwriting is already fully matured. Complex arrangements, technical showmanship without losing melody or catchiness, epic movements and atmosphere. All of these are present in full glory. Every song is a masterpiece in its own right, with my only complaint being against the slighty too-extended intro to "The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun." I can harbor no other complaints against any part of this album, even the production, which is sub-par in comparison to their later works, displays immense charm after just a few listens.

This is one of progressive metal's most unheralded, yet quite deserving masterpieces, the glorious union of 80's metal and 70's progressive rock. I can't think of anyone to whom this cannot be recommended. Even if it takes a listen or two, the majesty of this album is undeniable.

An early Prog. Metal classic. - 89%

hells_unicorn, January 8th, 2007

The end of the 80s was a period of intense realignment within the metal community. Like the progressive rock acts of the 1970s, their work was defined by growth rather than the stagnation of the punk rock scene that they drew some of their more aggressive influences from. Bands such as Queensryche and Fates Warning were riding high with a series of solid releases, inspired by the dark music of Black Sabbath and the later NWOBHM, as well as the intellectualism of Rush. It is primarily from this grain of the metal genre that Dream Theater came into being, a band which managed to both survive and prosper in the aftermath of Metal’s fall from the mainstream a few years later.

Like all progressive bands, Dream Theater’s most innovative work did not occur on their debut, but what was done on the debut set the tone for the remainder of their career. They have always carried the introspective and philosophical aspects of Rush’s music, as well as their tendency towards complex song structures and blazing technical displays. The heavier part of their music screams out a large amount of influence from Fates Warning, particularly the later work done with John Arch such as “Awaken the Guardian”.

The lyrical content of “When Dream and Day Unite” touches upon a variety of differing experiences and original stories drawing out questions of society, introspection, and even metaphysics. From the sort of unconventional self-realization encountered on “Fortune in Lies”, a song telling the story of an acquaintance of the band who spent time in prison, to the self-irony of “Status Seeker”, seeing the band writing a commercially friendlier song that pokes fun at itself, the band has this sort of heightened awareness to their sound that matches the words. “Light Fuse and Get Away” and “The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun” are thematically a bit less obvious subject wise, though they continue the tradition of bending the boundaries of metal music.

The music on here is highly technical, but successfully balances out the virtuoso sections with catchy melodic sections. “Fortune in Lies”, “Status Seeker” “Afterlife” and “Only a Matter of Time” are the most memorable in the bunch. Although they all have quite drawn out intros and some sizable changes in feel, they still manage to function primarily as listener friendly songs with well defined sections. “The Killing Hand” showcases the Rush influences, and reminds me a bit of the “2112” song cycle, while lyrically presenting one of the most bizarre stories heard. “The Ytse Jam” is among the more well-known instrumentals put out by this band, and draws a bit from Rush’s famous instrumental “YYZ”. “The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun” and “Light Fuse and Get Away” contain some impressive keyboard and guitar work, the former containing my favorite John Petrucci solo on this release.

One of the drawbacks of this album is that vocalist Charles Domenici does not appear again in subsequent Dream Theater releases, and this tends to marginalize this release from the rest of the band’s back catalog. His voice is very similar to Geddy Lee’s, although clearly lacking some of the quasi-feminine quirks that he has at times. All in all, he is a good singer and it is a bit of a shame that he waited more than 15 years before resurfacing, and ultimately challenging his former band’s status as the throne holders of the progressive metal style. But this is a solid progressive release that came into being very early in the genre’s evolution. It still carries some remnants of the 80s, particularly in the presentation of the keyboard work. Fans of Fates Warning and mid-80s Queensryche will probably enjoy this one, although this particular release will probably appeal more to fans of Rush’s 80’s music. I still listen to it every few months and after owning it for 8 years and it hasn’t lost any of its freshness or intrigue.

Later submitted to (www.metal-observer.com) on October 9, 2008.

A damn good start - 80%

ihateyou, September 5th, 2006

This is Dream Theater's first album, before they were the flag bearers of prog metal, before they had songs upwards of 20 minutes(A Change Of Seasons was partially wirtten as early as the second demo, btu was aroudn 17 minutes), before James LaBrie.

Well turns out it's pretty awesome. At this point Dream Theater is much more metal than they are progressive, which is a good thing. Basically this is what Queensryche would have sounded like if they had musicians of this caliber. This album is very different than what you think of when Dream Theater is mentioned.

For the most part this album is as progressive as it gets for 1989, which means that it still is metal. The riff is still domiant and Petrucci really knew how to riff it up at one point.

We start off with A Fortune In Lies, which is one of my favorite Dream Theater songs. It has a monster main riff and is just so metal. Status Seeker is a weak point and is very 80's cheese. Then we get the amazing Ytse Jam. This is the song that hints at what Dream Theater will do in the future. It's prog as fuck and just shows how talented these guys are. The main riff is so cool I can't even describe it. The Killing Hand is another great song, less metal than some but still very good. For the most part the album after The Killing hand is pretty much the same, all good but nothing spectacular. The exception is Afterlife, which is fast and very melodic. The chorus is just brings the song to such a climax, it works so well.

So all in all only a fraction of modern Dream Theater, but one of their more metallic releases. If you like 80's prog metal you will like this. If you are a die hard Dream Theater fan just get passed Charlie Dominici's vocals and you will like it too.

Energetic but missing some key elements - 80%

meedley_meedley, July 24th, 2005

This is probably DT's least known album. I dont know why exactly, maybe cause the singer is not James. Maybe cause of the production, which isnt bad when you consider when this album came out (I just dont understand why the guitars are so hard to hear when Petrucci palm mutes). Probably the best thing about this album is that the songs are progressive, but they arent drawn out like a lot of DT songs are in later albums. The songs here build up, are really upbeat most of the time and energetic, basically they get to the point. There's no overlong solos aka Train of Thought. The instrumentals are also very well constructed.

A Fortune in Lies starts the album. I had the unfortunate luck of hearing the live version from Live at the Marquee with James Labrie singing first. He took the song to a new level and the song is a little faster. The album version is good though, but I personally prefer that live version.

Next is Status Seeker. This song is SO 80s. The chorus and the overall sound itself are all 80s. An average song though overall.

Next is the highlight, The Ytse Jam. Fucking Christ this is the best prog instrumental since YYZ. The opening riff is both memorable and exciting to listen to. It goes through the arabian sounds ala YYZ at some times with some great solos. The bass here is also very audible, I enjoy the plucking sound John Myung gives off.

The Killing Hand unfortunately follows. The guitars are ok but Charlie is just whining when he sings here. This is like those 80s ballads at times as well. The song picks up along the way but I find it hard to like this song. This song would be alright if it had James singing it.

Light Fuse and Get Away. I laugh at this title everytime I see it. With a title like this, you'd expect a rapid fire type of song (no pun) Just lots of speed. This is better than the Killing Hand but I also think it gets boring fast. The lyrics are kinda dumb too. I'm not much to care what the lyrics are about, unless it's a cool subject which then makes the music the more greater.

Afterlife starts with some cool riffs with keyboards messing around. When you think it's gonna build up real well, it doesnt, and keeps going. This has a nice atmosphere to it, but lacks the energy found on the other songs. Reminds me of the more melodic songs Rush has done.

The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun takes too long to get going already. This is a disapointment of a song when compared to the rest. DT has long songs, but they usually starts out right away, or within a minute, this takes over 2 minutes to kick in. The song is alright and is kind of a preview for following DT albums.

Final song is Only A Matter of Time. This is one of the best songs on the album, and reminds me of Images a lot too. Great intro and full of power, which is also what the song is about. This, Ytse Jam, and A Fortune In Lies are the best songs here, the rest are ok.

Think of this album as one step before the sound theyre known for. The music is so free and it sounds like everyones enjoying what theyre playing. This is the most case for bands when they start out, because they are younger and the musical drive is at its strongest.

Get this album if you dont have it, even though it's a different vocalist. You may have noticed, I rarely mentioned him. I tune him out a lot here, and when you do, you'll probably enjoy the music more. Because it's a shame a lot of people dont even know about this album.

Stupendous - 80%

OlympicSharpshooter, July 6th, 2005

Now here's an album for which my appreciation grows every day. Look beyond the strange, malnourished production (which I might add, sounds great when you crank it) and the emphatically un-James singer and you'll find one of the coolest damn debuts in metal history. This is insane, intricate, thoughtful, and theatrical power metal of the highest order, a progged-out feast for the ears and mind as these hyperspeed technicians bounce around the studio totally unencumbered by such concerns as restraint and maturity. Unlike later overburdened and underthought platters like Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Train of Thought, When Dream and Day Unite combines bohemian wankfest excess with structures that support, nay, demand their existence and melodies that pulsate with life and a burning heart full of love for fast, epic heavy metal.

This is like the culmination of early Queensryche and Fates Warning, combining the speed and frightwigged over-the-top neoclassical assault of 'Ryche (think the Queensryche EP or an amphetamized The Warning) with Fates' mist-shrouded mood, complex and bent structures, and overarching impression of size and power. "The Killing Hand" is a damn near awe inspiring example of how to take somebody else's characteristics and then blow them out of proportion and make them into something new and exciting. The blistering solos seem oddly weightless, keys and strings dancing through the night sky as if gravity were no concern. Other than one oddly disconcerting moment where we drop out of a truly amazing riffset into a melodic interlude, this song is a perfect example of how to build tension through dynamics. We've got a delicate intro, big-time power chords, epic vocals over acoustics, start building up the intensity, and then... riffs, riffs, glorious handfuls of golden riffs being tossed around willy-nilly while Dominici skulks around the laboratory mixing strange fizzing chemicals and cackling wildly.

The really effervescent thing about When Dream and Day Unite is how fresh all of the players are. Here's Kevin Moore experimenting with his canny atmospheric work, his regal leads, and of course his majestic and buoyant melodies that will soon bloom into the joyous conglomeration of Images & Words in which he is omnipresent and unforgettable. There's John Myung before producers and band pressures toned him down, providing an unshakeable rhythmic foundation but also playing some of the best bass leads I've ever heard. Seriously, the man is absolutely all over the neck here, refusing to be shunted aside by the traditional lead instruments and doing some jaw-dropping stuff whenever a space opens up. Mike Portnoy, bless his heart, cannot play a wrong beat. Even early on, in spite of the complexity of his play the guy had a great sense of feel and he manages to make his presence known without grandstanding quite as much as he does on later recordings. Check the solid stomp of "The Ones Who Help the Sun" (some of the coolest sounding kicks I've ever heard), the excellent little drum solo in "Ytse Jam", or the schizoid time changes in "Light Fuse and Get Away". And last but not least, Mr. John Petrucci on skullfrying axe-work. This stuff is passionate, headbangable, memorable, and unique and frankly, puts the similarly note-dense Train of Thought leads to shame. Every song has an incredible solo spot, from the swinging guitar heroics of "A Fortune in Lies" (absolutely godly shredding) to the "Afterlife" unison (along with that 'can do no wrong' riff, absolutely spot-on Shea), or in "The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun" where the usual shred showcase seems to go up and up until it explodes and surrounds the listener with shimmering notes aplenty.

Oh, I didn't mention the singer? Well, Charlie's excellent. His voice is willowy as hell and he partakes in one of DT's cheesiest moments "I am the killing haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa...", but otherwise the guy does a hell of a job with the material. �Status Seeker" features some extremely passionate delivery, and the man brings life to some really difficult stuff such as Moore's hyperverbose "Only a Matter of Time" and "Light Fuse", as well as the bizarre fandango-thrash of "A Fortune in Lies". I grant you, his voice takes some getting used to and lacks force, but you couldn't ask for more emotion or sincerity than this guy provides. And hell, he's aged better than LaBrie has if the When Dream and Day Reunite DVD is any indication.

Oh, and I should add that lyrically this album is excellent. Although it is a bit stilted and leads to some interesting choices melody-wise, this is some cool poetry and leads to some really memorable lines. In general, obscure lyrics own the hell out of blatant, unimaginative lyrics. I'm looking at you "Endless Sacrifice" and "The Answer Lies Within".

Before I close this review out, I'll go into a little depth on the best track on the CD which is "Only a Matter of Time". While the first seven tracks on this album represent a strange proto-Dream Theater that would only sporadically pop-up in later years ("A Change of Seasons" is the last of the major Fates Warning influence, for example), "Only a Matter of Time" is a test-flight for the shining ebullient epics all over the next album. It begins with a brilliant symphonic keyboard introduction, almost like a fanfare, that gradually fuses with an aching guitar which dovetails nicely into the beginning of the first verse. It is on this song that Moore really defines the role of keyboards in Dream Theater's music. On previous tracks, he is a force and plays an important role in the song but on "Only a Matter of Time" he becomes a dominant force. Moore is absolutely everywhere, weaving brilliant melodies and breaks around his own amazing lyrics. This is a storehouse for some brilliant riffery, each verse given a different riff and vocal phrasing, constantly growing better and better as it rushes towards the massive outro with its imperative keys seeming to scream that time is running out on this stupendous record... the only thing I can about this song is that sometimes it is absolutely breathtaking. And so is this record.

Although they sometimes express some disdain for this record and these songs, and while it is emphatically the least popular Dream Theater record amongst fans, When Dream and Day Unite ranks as one of their absolute best works and is a must for any power, prog, or straight-up heavy metal fan. I tend to stay away from such recommendations, but this record has to face apathy from the band's fanbase and the lead weight of being released under the Dream Theater name, which might bar those who would get the most out of it from giving it a shot. This album rules.

Stand-Outs: "Only a Matter of Time", "A Fortune in Lies", "Light Fuse and Get Away"

The under rated Hercules of prog - 96%

lopez_dreamfan, May 29th, 2005

So this is the album that started it all. I’ve read other reviews and heard opinions of your average metalhead, and I’ve become truly disappointed towards everybody’s apparent disillusion to this album. First of all, it is their first album, the one that later became essential for them to evolve in the complex amalgam of music they are known worldwide for. The songs are somewhat repetitive, but after hearing it so many times one cannot help but to fall in love with this CD.
From the majestic intro of “A Fortune in Lies”, one feels a special connection with the music, as if John Petrucci and Kevin Moore were playing their solos and extremely demanding melodies right in front of you, and especially for you. The 80’s style of “Status Seeker” is relaxing, and the chorus is catchy and nice. The famous “Ytse Jam” has such killer solos, with intriguing time signatures and crazy melodies, that one could think it rather belongs in “Images and Words” or “Scenes From a Memory” (Very probably the two most virtuoso DT albums as to “technical difficulties”). “The Killing Hand” has an emotive guitar intro, followed by a very epic song with very difficult vocals and hidden bass solos (Of course, we DT fans would not know the definition of “epic” until hearing the ambitious “A Change of Seasons” and later on the 42 minute giant “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence”). Followed by that is “Light Fuse and Getaway”, another song with a catchy chorus and rather intriguing key signatures. In this song, you can really hear their influence for ideas of songs such as “Scarred” and “Learning to live”. After that is the aggressive “Afterlife”, with marvelous religious lyrics (somewhat corny in the chorus though) and very intricate guitar and keyboard solos. Following is a song with a beautiful intro, which rather reminds me of “Wait for Sleep”, but a certainly mediocre rest of the song. The vocals need more emphasis, and the way the drums start is rather abrupt and awkward. The last song, “Only a Matter of Time”, is in my opinion, the BEST song in the album overall. The chorus really portrays magnificence and beauty, and the keyboard solo is absolutely enchanting. It is a truly superb work of art by this admirable quintet, and the fact that it is played much later in “Budokan” is simply captivating and enthralling.
Overall, Kevin Moore’s feeling is fascinating and delightful, John Petrucci’s solos are assassinating, Portnoy’s drums are complex and interesting to listen and Myung´s bass, although difficult to hear because of the recording, boasts fast, complicated solos sometimes. Charlie Dominici’s vocals, although somewhat weird and too light, were not exactly a walk in the park and are something he should be recognized for still today. After all, his legacy was left for James LaBrie to personalize and therefore repair. Overall, a must for DT fans and anybody interested in the bec¿ginning of modern progressive metal.

Excellent Start For An Amazing Band - 90%

Painkiller_2142, December 16th, 2004

Everyone should know Dream Theater are heavily influenced by “The Gods Of Prog” Rush and that influence isn’t anymore obvious than on their debut album When Dream And Day Unite. What really aids that fact is the bands singer on the record Charlie Dominici’s voice is much higher pitched and Geddy Lee like than that of DT’s most famous singer James Labrie. Even without the incredible vocals of Labrie this album is still an outstanding effort from the band and musically one of their best releases. This album has to be Keyboardist Kevin Moore’s finest moment in the band.

A Fortune In Lies - The heaviest song on the record and also one of the best. The song’s highlight has to be the instrumental section in the middle of the song leading up to the first of many amazing John Petrucci guitar solos on the record.

Status Seeker - I always wondered why so many DT fans hate this song. It has a great intro and is one of Charlie Dominici’s best vocal performances on the record. The chorus has some stupid lyrics though. “You draw the bottom line with a dollar sign”. Damn that’s almost as cheesy as a Manowar song (in case you didn’t know Manowar kicks ass).

Ytse Jam - The first DT instrumental. Many consider it to be their best but not me. Still it’s very catchy and highlights all 4 musicians near the end. John Myung’s bass solo is one of the most impressive things I’ve ever seen performed live in my time.

The Killing Hand - The best song on the record. Great vocals, awesome acoustic intro, catchy keyboards. Overall this is one of DT’s finest moments. Too bad Labrie can’t do the vocals nearly as good as Dominici does.

Light Fuse and Get Away - I was afraid to listen to this song when I first read the song title but it is one of the better songs on the album. Again Charlie fits perfect in the song with his voice.

Afterlife - Petrucci starts this one of with a heavy ass riff. After that we get another solid performance all around from the guys.

TOWHTSTS - Easily the worst song on the record and one of the band’s worst off all time. I will say that Petrucci again displays his talents. Other than that not much else.

Only a Matter of Time - A high note for the album to end on. Also a good finish for Charlie as it would be his last song with DT. Too bad to because he does a fine job on the record.

Overall this is a solid release with only a few complaints to it but a lot of the material is just as good as the stuff that would appear on the band’s next two and (in this reviewer’s opinion) best records. If you don’t have this album already and you’re a DT fan go get it.

Hard to swallow - 80%

HealthySonicDiet, January 7th, 2004

Debut albums are always eccentric and primitive(almost always), and WDaDU is no exception. What we have here is a totally different manifestation than what Dream Theater is widely known for. I say this because the band does not yet have the controversial James Labrie to tackle singing duties. Charles Dominici is the vocalist on this album and he's living proof as to the drastic effect a vocalist can have on a band and/or album and why they are held in such high regard and called 'frontmen'.

Dominici is remarkably inferior to Labrie, in my opinion. He's not as resonant, doesn't have as much conviction, and can't nail high notes as effectively. He would be more effectual if he tried a different genre of metal or music, such as pop or alt rock because he doesn't have the depth and chutzpah to pull this off.If Dominici had remained Dream Theater's vocalist throughout their career, it only leaves me to wonder if DT would have been as successful and popular as they are today. Sure, guitarists, drummers, bassists, and keyboardists are essential, but when the vocalist isn't adept, it's very grating and makes everything else happening in the music a nonentity. That's why SO many otherwise excellent albums on this website have lost points---it's because of the sub-par/terrible vocals; Dominici sounds like your average clean power or traditional metal vocalist. There's nothing distinguishing him from the vast crop of other singers out there in the progressive genre and in metal in general.

Unfortunately, WDaDU is somewhat sub-par musically speaking as well. The overall tone of the guitars is somewhat muffled and soft, unlike on later albums where each instrument booms with confidence and charisma, burying itself in your subconscious. On a similar token, the riffing is quite competent, but not the soloing. Everything is presented in a much more primitive, compact package here, which is stifling for listeners thoroughly acquainted with the band's later work.. Also, the keyboards play a far lesser role here and don't have that squealing, spacey tone we're all accustomed to.

One of the few highlights is the instrumental Ytse Jam, a tune that has gained a peculiar amount of fame in the Dream Theater universe, even spawning a website bearing its name. It's not their greatest work, but it's very aggressive. In keeping with the overall songwriting layout of the album, it cuts straight to the chase, not opting to enthrall the listener with unwarranted grandeur. A bit of a Malmsteen/shred metal type romp with dynamic drumming.

Basically, what we have here is the groundwork for much classier, more opulent offerings from a band who is continually evolving and adapting, yet trying to keep their sound and image intact. Often I wonder if all players involved with this intentionally held back to pique fans' suspense as to what comes next and to totally blindside everyone with Images & Words. Ability is never and has never been something that people question about Dream Theater, but how exactly is the band choosing to present its ideas to listeners? What are they cutting and pasting?

Potential for excellence is written all over the instruments on this record and DT has impeccable consistency, but we'll never know if the band could have pulled off something more defining. That sense of wonder in itself is enough reason to buy this album. Personally, at least, I find all the 'what-ifs' of the world to be very gratifying.

Rather Under-rated, One of Their Best - 90%

PowerProg_Adam, February 3rd, 2003

For those who like Dream Theater's heavier work should be able to enjoy this album. Its not often that a debut album can be this good. Although Charlie Dominnici's vocals may not be as enjoyable as James LaBrie's, this album all in all should be taken more seriously. Some may agree that some of the bands best songs are on this album.

A Fortune in Lies is perhaps one of Dream Theater's heaviest songs, with an amazingly powerful intro, with the usual amazing musicianship for the band. Lyrically it isn't one of the better songs, but in terms of most enjoyable, it ranks towards the top.

Status Seeker does not sound like anything that the band would do. Very well written and very catchy, almost textbook 80s metal, but certainly not one of Dream Theater's best musical perfomances.

The Ytse Jam is still a concert staple for the band today. Perhaps the heaviest instrumentals ever recorded my any of the members. This is textbook Dream Theater here, extreme technicality.

The Killing Hand's intro makes the song seem like a very soothing acoustical ballad, but after about 30 seconds, it changes into what sounds like the typical power ballad of the 80s. Pretty well written song, but not really that interesting.

Light Fuse and Get Away is probably the worst title for a song that the band could think of, but cetainly is not a bad song. John Petrucci's warp speed playing on this song makes it one of the best on the album. Its also one of the best vocal perfomances by Dominnici.

Afterlife IMO is the best song ever written by Dream Theater. Not only is it well written lyrically, but it displays some of what each member of the band does best, and that is play there instruments. Without a doubt this is one of the best solos ever for John Petrucci. With such impeccable time changes this song couldn't possibly be hated.

The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun is a bit disappointing. It takes nearly 2 minutes to get to even instrument playing. A rather annoying siren sounds thoughout the beginning of the song turning most listers off of it before the song really kicks in. It is a shame too, because, this would be a rather enjoyable song if it cut down on its time. Dream Theater has quite a few long songs, but this one doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose eventhough it isn't anywhere near the bands longest.

Only a Matter of Time is once again an amazing song, probably about 3rd best after Afterlife and Fortune in Lies. Once again it is very well written and performed magnificently. The lyrics to this show the intelligence of the band as it is truely inspiring, yet also kind of depressing, as it shows you how easily power can be obtained, yet how it can debilitate.

Don't be fooled by the pictures inside of the booklet, this album can rival images and words and awake in terms of heaviness. When Dream and Day Unite is a must have for any fan of progressive metal. It is possibly Dream Theater's most complete album.