Three years after the convincing and very strong first album "When Dream And Day Unite", DREAM THEATER came back with a new vocalist and created a new masterpiece of Progressive Rock or Metal. While this album is maybe not as diversified as the first strike, "Images And Words" is able to create some really magic moments and has even some very catchy songs.
The magic moments are present on the calm songs of the record like the wonderful ballad "Another Day" that is brilliantly sung and convinces with some strong piano leads and a soprano saxophone that adds a very special note to the song. "Surrounded" is even better with its amazingly harmonic and chilling keyboard sounds and James LaBrie that delivers on of his strongest performances of all times in my opinion.
The catchiness that was lacking on the last record is now present with the opener "Pull Me Under" that has a very simple but strong chorus and some mystical and exotic rhythms. But to be honest, I think that this track is one of the less profound on the record and is a little bit too long in the ending just to end in a very abrupt and senseless way.
I rather prefer the progressive side of DREAM THEATER like in the very diversified "Take The Time" or the interesting "Learning To Live". But both of the songs are just good average on this record because they share the album with the masterpiece "Metropolis", maybe the best song the band has ever written. In almost 10 minutes every instrument gets the place it deserves and everyone is working over the top, beyond all limits to create a very diversified surprising and still logical and atmospheric track. This memorable piece of music unites everything what the band stands for and if I had to present DREAM THEATER to a good friend with just one single song, then I would chose this masterpiece that inspired the band to write a whole album around this track a couple of years later.
All in all, there is not much to argue about this album. It has some magic moments, every musician is doing his very best and the production and sound is more accurate than on the first record. There are a couple of songs that I would rather describe as average tracks that I like less, especially the complicated and somewhat faceless "Under A Glass Moon" or the overrated "Pull Me Under". This album is not as consistent as the underrated debut album and has some other strong points. But on the other hand the band puts two of their best songs ever on this record with the unforgettable "Surrounded" and "Metropolis" and that's why this album is surely and easily in my top five ranking of the best albums in the band's biography even I would not put this record in the first places. But for any fan of Progressive music, this masterpiece that somewhat reanimated a whole genre is a definite must have that offers a lot to discover. I would put the band's first two albums on the same level even though the have all different forces and weak points.
(Online January 25, 2012)