Images and Words may be the second Dream Theater album after 1989’s When Dream and Day Unite, but by many fans (including me), it is thought of as a kind of debut. It is the first album featuring vocalist James LaBrie, who took over from Charles Dominici in 1991, and it is definitely a leaps and bounds development from the actual debut when it comes to both catchiness of tunes, technicality in the songwriting and the lyrics.
Often considered their best work today, I have yet to decide over this oneand almost every other DT album, in particular 2002’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Still, Images and Words is an incredible album, especially considering it being only the second album by a band whose debut was so poorly received. The track ”Pull Me Under”, the bands one and only big radio single, may be weak in comparison to many other tracks, but it is a good leading, introductory track. The album is highlit by the close to ten minute epic ”Metropolis, Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper”, an incredible technical, epic and catchy melody still seen as their best by many fans, and constantly played as the final encore on concerts. And while the other epic on the album, ”Learning to Live”, isn’t quite on pair it still works very well.
The album’s two ballads are some of Dream Theater’s best. The now replaced keyboardist Kevin Moore wrote the lyrics to both ”Surrounded” and ”Wait for Sleep”, and also composed the latter, one of DT’s shortest tracks at 2:32. Wait for Sleep works beautifully in creating a sad and still creative keyboard-piano atmosphere alongside LaBrie’s mournful vocals, and it is often (quite rightfully) credited as a Kevin Moore song, and not Dream Theater.
The album is also cornered by several songs that could rightfully be described as pop rock at best, with interesting DT instrumentality moments thrown into the mist – examples include ”Another Day” and ”Take the Time” especially. Dream Theater stepped away from this direction of semi-metal in later years, focusing more and more on the longer, technical songs with heavier guitar riffing, especially notable in 2003’s Train of Thought and 2009’s Black Clouds and Silver Linings. While I have nothing against the more melodic tracks, I always tend to prefer the heavier and more technical stuff, which probably also is the reason I wouldn’t call Images and Words my favorite Dream Theater album, even though it is indeed a massive success, especially for such a young band at this time.
I entered 2011 thinking most music releases came in 2009 and 2010, and this would be a pretty calm year. I’m slowly realising I was damned wrong.
Symphonic metal act Within Temptation will release their first album since 2007, the experimental ”The Unforgiving” on March 25. The album is released alongside a comic book series written by Steven O’Connell, and six pages of the prequel is already out on Within Temptation’s website.
In March also, Swedish thrash metal act The Haunted will release ”Unseen”, the follow-up to 2009’s ”Versus”. The song ”No Ghost” from the album has already been performed and filmed live and can be seen on YouTube already. Generally well received, I take it as an awesome return to the more experimental ”The Dead Eye” era.
In March also, German power metal project Avantasia plan to release their first live CD/DVD, The Flying Opera, filmed during their 2008 The Scarecrow tour.
On April 1, the German symphonic progressive metallers Sons of Seasons, the project of Kamelot keyboardist Oliver Palotai, will release their second album Magnisphyricon. Judging by the cover and tracklist alone, it looks like an incredibly promising album, and hopefully with a better production than their debut Gods of Vermin.
In the third or fourth quarter of the year, symphonic power metal giants Nightwish will hopefully release their seventh studio album, the follow-up to 2007’s Dark Passion Play. I have high hopes for this, believing Anette Olzon has grown into her role as the new lead singer, and developed her voice to better suite the music.
After founding member Mike Portnoy’s sudden leave in the past autumn, Dream Theater‘s remaining members are working on an upcoming album, the successor to 2009’s incredible Black Clouds and Silver Linings, presumably with a new drummer they have yet to reveal to the public. I have no idea whether the album will be released in 2011 or not, but as I understand it they have at least entered the recording process, and so the album should be released in late 2011 or early 2012.
Sweden Rock Festival will start rocking and rolling on the 3rd of June, 2009, and I’ll be there in the front row cheering when I see Dream Theater, In Flames, Hammerfall, Europe, Motörhead… and the 50 bands that will be added to the list in time.
Lots of bands have already announced albums to be released in 2009. Oh my god, I’m having a musical stroke…
Sometime in the spring (I’ll see them live on Sweden Rock Festival in the beginning of June as their first gig for the upcoming tour), progressive metal pioneers Dream Theater will release their so far untitled tenth studio album described by the band as:
[…] a DT album with A Change Of Seasons, Octavarium, Learning To Live, Pull Me Under and The Glass Prison….all on one album.
Today it was revealed that one of my all time favorite bands, Finnish symphonic power metal giants Nightwish will release a live DVD/CD entitled ”Made in Hong Kong (and Various Other Places)”, as a result of their Dark Passion Play Tour.
On the doom metal front, British My Dying Bride will release their tenth studio album ”For Lies I Sire” on an untold date in 2009. Track listing is already revealed! After still rolling as heavily on their 2006 release ”A Line of Deathless Kings”, I don’t think I’ll be disappointed.
Again some Nightwish news: They have reported they’ll soon draw back to record their seventh studio album, and they have also said both Tuomas and Marco have several finished songs. Probably to be released in either late 2009 or early 2010!
For later years: Dutch symphonic rock / metal band Within Temptation has announced their next album to be released in 2010, and American power metal Kamelot are planning their tenth album in 2011!