Posts tagged ‘dream theater’

August 3, 2014

Album 0460: Dream Theater – When Dream And Day Unite Demos 1987-1989


Release Date: 2004
Genre: Progressive Metal



1. Afterlife (05:23)
2. The Killing Hand

    I. The Observance
    II. Ancient Renewal
    III. The Stray Seed
    IV. Thorns
    V. Exodus (08:06)

3. The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun (07:25)
4. Ytse Jam (05:54)
5. Cry For Freedom (06:46)
6. Resurrection Of Ernie (06:45)
7. Drum Solo (01:53)
8. A Fortune In Lies (04:31)
9. Only A Matter Of Time (06:27)
10. A Fortunes In Lies (05:22)
11. Afterlife (05:41)
12. The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun (07:29)


1. A Fortune In Lies (05:21)
2. Afterlife (05:41)
3. Ytse Jam (05:52)
4. Only A Matter Of Time (06:52)
5. The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun (07:36)
6. The Killing Hand

    I. The Observance
    II. Ancient Renewal
    III. The Stray Seed
    IV. Thorns
    V. Exodus (08:26)

7. Light Fuse And Get Away (07:54)
8. To Live Forever (04:29)
9. Mission: Impossible (01:26)
10. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End (06:14)
11. O Holy Night (04:11)
12. A Vision ’89 (08:32)
13. Studio Chatter (02:10)

Total Length: 02:26:27

The first batch of songs are the band’s instrumental demos from 1987 when I believe they were first signed on to a record deal. The recording quality is quite rough, but the main melody comes through and each section of the band gets shown off well. There are no vocals here, as they were between singers at the time. Afterlife sounds good and the same as it usually does. The Killing Hand has some bits that are normally hard to hear because they are covered by vocals, but it still shines honestly.

The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun is actually really cool on its own, and I kind of like it better without the awkward vocals. Kind of wish this song got more attention. Ytse Jam doesn’t present anything different without vocals since it’s never had them, but this version doesn’t offer anything new anyway. Cry For Freedom has a neat part in the middle but isn’t too great otherwise. Resurrection Of Ernie has a terrible opening line and the rest of the song doesn’t do too well either.

Drum Solo is pretty amateur and not fun at all. A Fortune In Lies has always been a good track with great riffs. Only A Matter Of Time is solid as well, and caps off the early instrumental demos. Now we go back to A Fortune In Lies in the same year but with Charlie singing along. He seems to be the focus here, showcasing his skills. Afterlife works well as usual. The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun has a much more refined intro, and the song keeps growing on me.

Disc two begins with the pre-production demos from the band’s first album. It’s basically the whole album here in slightly rougher form, and changing out one song. A Fortune In Lies is still the same. Afterlife is fine to be honest. Ytse Jam has no noticeable differences I can recognize. Only A Matter Of Time has cool vocals this time around. The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun is fine here too, still growing on me. The Killing Hand doesn’t have its acoustic intro yet, but is otherwise the same to the final version. Great track.

Light Fuse And Get Away actually doesn’t have any vocals, I suppose they hadn’t been written yet. I definitely like the song though I think it’s a bit wasteful, the first few minutes are unnecessary. To Live Forever has never appealed to me. It’s a pleasant song, but I’m always bored by it. The last batch of tracks are demos the band recorded around Christmas of 1988. Their cover of Mission: Impossible is a fun little piece. Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End from the end of Abbey Road is cool in theory, but I don’t like how it sounds here.

O Holy Night is boring to me honestly, they don’t add anything that hasn’t been done a thousand times. A Vision ’89 isn’t too great either, especially the last few minutes. Studio Chatter is quite terrible, it is not enjoyable at any point. I really don’t see myself coming back to this entire collection of tracks, there’s nothing that stands out or is unique about any of the tracks. It’s just a novelty/piece of history.

Final Rating: 5.5/10

March 27, 2014

Album 0444: Dream Theater – Images And Words


Release Date: 1992
Genre: Progressive Metal


1. Pull Me Under (08:14)
2. Another Day (04:23)
3. Take The Time (08:21)
4. Surrounded (05:30)
5. Metropolis Part I: The Miracle And The Sleeper (09:32)
6. Under A Glass Moon (07:03)
7. Wait For Sleep (02:32)
8. Learning To Live (11:30)

Total Length: 57:06

Pull Me Under is a quintessential Dream Theater song. It’s got some heaviness to it, it’s clearly progressive, and hits the right melodic notes to strike heavy chords in a person. Each instrument stands out and is fantastic to listen to, and the lyrics are fairly poetic. The song flows insanely well, and never feels boring at any point. Another Day is a fairly decent ballad, I still can’t really get into it even to this day though. The cheesy as hell sax solo and late 80s style production just kill it.

Take The Time is pretty great for most of its run, it gets into some weird bits and is definitely one of the more progressive songs on the album. I never really think of it first when thinking of songs from the album, but it is definitely solid. Surrounded starts off as a simple ballad, but quickly becomes much more. It took me a while to come around on the song, but I find it a joy to listen to these days.

Metropolis Part I: The Miracle And The Sleeper is definitely the most ‘out there’ song on the album, where the band goes full tilt into whatever they feel like doing at any moment, especially in the big instrumental section, featuring a great bass solo. Under A Glass Moon is fantastic as well. I love that all the songs on here have their own edge and textures do them, it really helps someone new to the album separate them, but they are also still clearly from the same album.

Wait For Sleep is a brief but nice, quiet song. Powered just by piano, strings, and James LaBrie’s voice, it’s a beautiful little track. It also serves as an intro to the final track. Learning To Live is a hell of a song as well, big and covers a lot of ground. It’s not my favorite on here, but I can’t deny it being a great track. This album is just super, super solid. I have some minor issues with it, but that’s all they are.

Final Rating: 9.5/10

November 23, 2013

Album 0385: Dream Theater – Hollow Years

Hollow Years

Release Date: 1997
Genre: Progressive Metal


1. Hollow Years (radio edit) (04:16)
2. Burning My Soul (live) (08:20)
3. Another Hand/The Killing Hand (live) (13:28)

Total Length: 26:03

The radio edit of Hollow Years seems to have a slightly different mix than the album version and is of course a few minutes shorter. It seems a bit easier to digest, but loses some of its flair. It’s also nowhere near as the good as the later live versions. This version of the song accompanies the video for the song and it’s a pretty embarrassing video in all honesty. The band is barely in it, and not playing any instruments from what I remember. Also the fadeout on this song is terrible

Burning My Soul is live, and in its original form. This means the majority of the track Hell’s Kitchen gets smushed into it. Both it and the the remaining song are probably from the same performance that was released on an official bootleg, but I’m hanging onto these because these sound better honestly. I do like hearing this song from time to time. Another Hand/The Killing Hand is the song from their first album with an extended intro, loosely related to the song Another Day, since the jam originally bridged the two songs. It’s still a fantastic song. However, since I don’t like the radio edit and these live tracks exist in a slightly separate form, it’s hard to come back to this.

Final Rating: 6/10

September 1, 2013

Album 0336: Dream Theater – When Dream And Day Unite


Release Date: 1989
Genre: Progressive Metal


1. A Fortune In Lies (05:12)
2. Status Seeker (04:17)
3. Ytse Jam (05:43)
4. The Killing Hand

    I. The Observance
    II. Ancient Renewal
    III. The Stray Seed
    IV. Thorns
    V. Exodus (08:42)

5. Light Fuse And Get Away (07:24)
6. Afterlife (05:27)
7. The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun (08:05)
8. Only A Matter Of Time (06:38)

Total Length: 51:28

A Fortune In Lies is a strong starting song, with a catchy main riff and chorus, and everything else working pretty well. The instrumental section in particular has some nice solos and one section that builds up with a strong Pink Floyd influence, it’s just the right amount of unnerving. Status Seeker is definitely the weakest song on here. It was one of the last songs written for the album, and by all accounts was meant to be a single, the big song for the album. It fails on that level but it’s not necessarily bad. Just kind of boring but it has a couple nice moments.

Ytse Jam is an instrumental, and set the tone for all of the band’s instrumentals to come. It covers a lot of ground and is generally fun. It’s a bit strange, in that all their songs are written as instrumentals first, but if the finished product is meant to be an instrumental then they go a bit more nuts, which is true in this case. The Killing Hand is a large song, you could consider it their first epic, despite the shorter length. The opening is a decent acoustic bit, and the next bit is cool. I like the synths in the back. The rest of the song flows pretty well, and I like the climax though Charlie can’t exactly pull off the note well.

Light Fuse And Get Away has a decent intro that turns into a really solid riff/rhythm that gets stuck in my head. I also really love the effects on the vocals right when Charlie comes in, and it’s a shame they never replicated that in later recordings. I basically have a soft spot for this song. Afterlife is a solid song as well, though it’s the other recordings of it that I really enjoy.

The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun starts off with some useless samples honestly, but once the music starts things get good. The buildup is cheesy and honestly kind of amateur because the timing on the bass just doesn’t work, yet I can’t help but like it. The rest of the song honestly is a bit long but the chorus is good. Only A Matter Of Time finishes off the album, and it is definitely one of the stronger tracks. Also has one of my more favorite Charlie moments, and again James has never quite done that tiny moment as well. The ending is a great finisher too. This album has its issues, but it’s pretty enjoyable and has a decent flow, where it doesn’t feel like too much time is passing by listening to it. The issues do include shoddy production and mixing, but it’s also a product of its time in that regard.

Final Rating: 8/10

June 6, 2013

Album 0270: Dream Theater – Taste The Memories


Release Date: 2003
Genre: Progressive Metal


1. Mission: Impossible (01:22)
2. Afterlife (06:08)
3. Under A Glass Moon (07:13)
4. Wait For Sleep (03:50)
5. Moon Bubbles (09:52)
6. To Live Forever (12:19)
7. Only A Matter Of Time (06:43)
8. Puppies On Acid (01:56)
9. Take The Time (10:48)
10. A Change Of Seasons (19:42)

Total Length: 01:19:53

This is a strange release by the band. It compiles some stuff from the band’s live shows in 1993 that hadn’t been release before. The majority of the tracks are from the Japan show that was featured on the first video release. The first of those hadn’t been released at all, while some had only been on the video and hadn’t been released on CD before. Mission: Impossible kicks it off with a fun cover. It’s something that would be fun live but skippable on disc. It does go right into Afterlife which is fairly energetic though James’ vocals seem to have some rough spots.

Under A Glass Moon also has a couple voice cracks but the song is always good. Wait For Sleep has an extended intro added on and the song is still nice though it feels weird to not have it as a prelude to Learning To Live. Moon Bubbles is a long instrumental piece, mostly focusing on Myung’s bass playing but Petrucci lends a hand as well. It has some neat moments, especially near the end but it’s certainly not my favorite jam the guys have done. To Live Forever immediately follows and unfortunately it’s a song I’ve never really liked. The solos that begin after the main part of the song ends are pretty nice, but I just can’t get into the actual song. There is just nothing enjoyable about it for me.

Only A Matter Of Time is played quite well here. Always a fun song. Puppies On Acid is an early instrumental version of The Mirror. Again, I’m sure it’s fun live but to have this without the rest of the song would get on my nerves. Take The Time gets a little bit extra to it, especially near the end, and overall I enjoy the song in pretty much any form. The last track is from a completely different show, and it’s an early version of A Change Of Seasons. This same performance is also featured on an official bootleg but with a different mix, somehow. This version sounds cleaner and breathes a bit more but is nearly entirely mono instead of stereo. There are a couple neat moments in here that were cut from the song that I wish they had kept, but overall what we ended up getting was much more refined and worth the wait. This whole little collection is a nice distraction but not as enjoyable as a regular release.

Final Rating: 7/10

March 8, 2013

Album 0259: Dream Theater – The Majesty Demos 1985-1986


Release Date: 2003
Genre: Progressive Metal


1. Particle E. Motion (01:38)
2. Another Won (05:27)
3. The Saurus (01:24)
4. Cry For Freedom (06:32)
5. The School Song (06:13)
6. YYZ (04:03)
7. The Farandole (03:16)
8. Two Far (05:40)
9. Anti-Procrastination Song (00:13)
10. Your Majesty (03:57)
11. Solar System Race Song (00:18)
12. I’m About To Faint Song (00:10)
13. Mosquitos In Harmony Song (00:12)
14. John Thinks He’s Randy Song (00:10)
15. Mike Thinks He’s Dee Dee Ramone Introducing A Song Song (00:16)
16. John Thinks He’s Yngwie Song (00:16)
17. Gnos Sdrawkcab (00:23)
18. Another Won (05:28)
19. Your Majesty (03:46)
20. A Vision (11:24)
21. Two Far (05:26)
22. Vital Star (05:44)
23. March Of The Tyrant (05:35)

Total Length: 01:17:29

The first bulk of this compilation is instrumental. Tracks 1-17 were recorded in 1985 when the band did not have a vocalist or keyboardist. Particle E. Motion has a couple okay ideas but honestly just sounds like a childish intro. Another Won has some neat riffs and moments in it. It’s definitely the song on here I am most familiar with. The Saurus is a pretty good little interlude, I’m surprised at how good it is. Cry For Freedom has some cool moments as well, but these Majesty songs tend to blend together a bit for me.

The School Song has some very good riffs in it, a sign of things to come. YYZ is a cover of the Rush classic, it’s done well here. The Farandole is a very fun track, it’s a Talas cover so I should probably look into them. Two Far is good as well, but again it blends together for me. Anti-Procrastination Song is an S.O.D. cover but whatever. Your Majesty is a song that kind of sounds like some of their others, though I can’t quite place why. All the little X Songs are kind of useless. They were little experiments in double tracking, and that’s about it.

Now the last six tracks are the actual Majesty demos, recorded with vocals and keyboards. Another Won kind of works better with vocals. Your Majesty really doesn’t work with the vocals, but that is partially because they didn’t know how to mix vocals well. A Vision takes a while to build up but is good. Two Far is really cool with the keyboards added. Vital Star is a decent track. March Of The Tyrant is fun and feels like a rough version of songs they would write later on. This is a neat piece of history but I really don’t find myself drawn to it usually.

Final Rating: 7/10

October 26, 2012

Album 0145: Dream Theater – Four Degrees Of Radio Edits

Release Date: 2001
Genre: Progressive Metal


1. Misunderstood (05:16)
2. Blind Faith (05:24)
3. Solitary Shell (04:12)
4. The Test That Stumped Them All (05:00)

Total Length: 19:52

This is an odd little release from the band. It was sent to radio stations before the full album was released, and also sent out to Dream Theater’s fan club as their yearly release. All four tracks are radio edits, though only three are substantial. Misunderstood honestly almost works better for me for casual listening because it cuts out the entire ending section, which I’ve never been a fond of. However, that section is an integral part of the entire song and its theme, so in cases like these I would still have to side with hearing the full album version.

Blind Faith however I unequivocally side with the album version. It’s barely the same song when it is chopped in half like this. Solitary Shell is pretty easy to digest in this form, but again I’m biased towards radio edits not being a thing. The Test That Stumped Them All gets the least amount of change (a whole 3 seconds!) to make it stand alone instead of being in the middle of a 42-minute piece. I’d assume that the version sent to the radio stations would have the curse words edited since they aren’t on here. Really this is just a little novelty piece, I pretty much never listen to these versions of the tracks.

Final Rating: 4/10

September 13, 2012

Album 0114: Dream Theater – Train Of Thought Instrumental Demos

Release Date: 2009
Genre: Progressive Metal


1. In The Name Of God (12:43)
2. As I Am (07:07)
3. Honor Thy Father (10:01)
4. Endless Sacrifice (11:18)
5. This Dying Soul (11:39)
6. Vacant (02:47)
7. Stream Of Consciousness (11:41)

Total Length: 01:07:14

These are the demos the band recorded when they first wrote the album, and as usual the band essentially writes them as instrumentals first, not even thinking of the vocals. The tracklisting is also different from the final album as this is the order the songs were written in. They also all sound a bit rougher of course. In The Name Of God has a much stronger bass presence, and it is interesting how the song can still keep your interest through the entire run even without vocals. This version of the song is a bit shorter though, most notably missing the Battle Hymn Of The Republic in the background. As I Am is again much the same, but the keyboards are way buried.

Honor Thy Father is the only one on here I’d say that I almost like better. I’m not a huge fan of LaBrie’s vocals on the final version, and the section with all the samples gets tiring after the first listen. The keyboards are also a bit more noticeable and at certain times evoke a completely different feeling than the song had before. Endless Sacrifice again is much the same, but I really do prefer the final album version of Jordan’s keyboard sounds. This song though doesn’t work quite as well without the vocals. This Dying Soul is still not one of my favorite tracks of theirs and this version doesn’t do anything to change it.

Vacant is still good but it really loses a lot of emotional impact without the cello and LaBrie’s vocals. Stream Of Consciousness changed the least as it is still an instrumental in the final album, just more well produced. This entire set of demos is really just a neat thing to have, almost a novelty. 90% of the time I prefer the finalized versions.

Final Rating: 7.5/10

August 15, 2012

Album 0091: Dream Theater – A Dramatic Turn Of Events

Release Date: 2011
Genre: Progressive Metal


1. On The Backs Of Angels (08:43)
2. Build Me Up, Break Me Down (06:59)
3. Lost Not Forgotten (10:12)
4. This Is The Life (06:57)
5. Bridges In The Sky (11:01)
6. Outcry (11:24)
7. Far From Heaven (03:56)
8. Breaking All Illusions (12:26)
9. Beneath The Surface (05:26)

Total Length: 01:17:04

Note: There is also a second disc with the entire album in instrumental form. Track times are the same, bringing the total length of both discs to 02:34:09. I will comment on these at the end.

On The Backs Of Angels has a slow build to the main riff, and it’s a highly enjoyable song. Everything about it is well placed, I enjoy the chorus and the instrumental sections aren’t entirely overbearing. Just a great starting song, and a great song to show off that the band hasn’t lost it touch when it lost Mike Portnoy. Build Me Up, Break Me Down really didn’t gel with me at first. It took a few listens to get into it, and while I’m still not fond of certain vocals in the chorus, I do enjoy the overall dark feeling in the song.

Lost Not Forgotten is a fantastic track. I really like the piano intro, and the chorus is incredible. I just love this song from start to finish. This Is The Life is a song I legitimately don’t understand. It straggles the line between rock and metal, ballad and rock track. The song baffles me and I just can’t get into it. It’s not bad, just confusing and a tad too long. LaBrie’s vocals are also a bit odd at points.

Bridges In The Sky has a very odd intro combining some different things unexpectedly, and the main song is pretty great. I love the main riff and the chorus, and the lyrics are vague and fit the mood well. Outcry is a song that took me a while to understand. It’s a big song with some interesting lyrics, and the instrumental section, while sort of jarring as always, still keeps the same mood as the rest of the song. Good song overall, but the ending feels unnecessary.

Far From Heaven is pretty good, but I have a very big, easily solvable issue with it. The string patches Jordan uses on this song are unbelievably cheesy. I wish he had fixed them up a bit, or just brought in a small string section. It really does take me out of this beautiful little song. Breaking All Illusions is the big highlight of the album. There is a lot of creative effort here, from really cool instrumental stuff, to the return of John Myung lyrics, just pretty much a brilliant song all around. Doesn’t even feel like twelve-and-a-half minutes going by.

Beneath The Surface was kind of an unexpected track, both in terms of album closers and because John Petrucci brought this song in completed after the band had finished the main album. A much better ballad than Far From Heaven, and while Jordan has another synth that feels out of place, it still fits the mood here and the cheesiness of the track and doesn’t bother me as much. As far as the instrumental tracks go, they are fun to listen to and I actually enjoyed BMU,BMD and This Is The Life a bit more honestly. These songs work well in this format because they are written like that, very rarely is a Dream Theater song written with vocals/lyrics in mind already. I do enjoy this album a lot, but as I’ve mentioned a few songs feel a bit flat, or could be better. It’s still a top notch album though, and I look forward to the next one when Mike Mangini gets to help in the writing process.

Final Rating: 8.5/10

June 28, 2012

Album 0060: Dream Theater – Falling Into Infinity Demos 1996-1997

Release Date: 2007
Genre: Progressive Metal



1. Raise The Knife (11:40)
2. Where Are You Now? (07:28)
3. Take Away My Pain (06:49)
4. You Or Me (06:24)
5. Anna Lee (06:36)
6. Burning My Soul (08:58)
7. The Way It Used To Be (07:48)
8. Lines In The Sand (13:33)


1. Just Let Me Breathe (05:24)
2. Peruvian Skies (06:48)
3. Trial Of Tears

    I. It’s Raining
    II. Deep In Heaven
    III. The Wasteland (12:54)

4. Cover My Eyes (03:23)
5. Hollow Years (06:27)
6. New Millennium (08:20)
7. Speak To Me (06:25)
8. Metropolis Part II (21:25)

Total Length: 02:20:22

Raise The Knife is a fantastic song that the band didn’t get to officially release for a long time. Falling Into Infinity was planned to be a double album based on the sheer number of songs the band had written for it, but the label wouldn’t allow so unfortunately this great progressive song got thrown to the side. It eventually was on a live release though. The lyrics are based on two people the band knew that they had felt left on bad terms. The instrumental section is great.

Where Are You Now? is a softer song with more of a modern take. I’m not really fond of this song, but if it had been tempered and refined during the recording of the album it could have been cool. Take Away My Pain here is a bit more barebones than the finished version, but I like it for that. It seems to have a bit more emotion. You Or Me is the song with the most marked changes compared to the album version, and I much more prefer this version simply because the chorus is tolerable this time around and the solo section is pretty cool.

Anna Lee is still a very pretty song and I think that the toy piano feel actually works a bit better for it. Burning My Soul has 3/4 of Hell’s Kitchen contained in it, which is pretty cool but the transition back into the main song at the end of the instrumental section is kind of jarring. The Way It Used To Be is a kind U2-inspired song. Again like the second track, it has some neat moments but could have used some refinement. Lines In The Sand is mostly the same here, but without the unnecessary guest vocalist.

Just Let Me Breathe also is mostly unchanged and again doesn’t have some vocal effects. Peruvian Skies the same song, just a rougher recording. Trial Of Tears as well, still a great big song. Cover My Eyes is more of a short pop song, it’s a pretty neat experiment. Hollow Years is still a good poppier track. New Millennium is just a bit rougher here. Speak To Me is another softer song that wasn’t put on the album, and it’s pretty nice but goes on a bit long for my taste.

Metropolis Part II is the real highlight of this album. The other non-album tracks had been released on various singles and bonuses before, but Mike Portnoy had said for a long time that this rough version of Metropolis Part II would never be released. It’s not a full demo like the other tracks, just a loose collection of riffs and melodies that the band had written so far and recorded before they went on tour. He didn’t like the sound of this demo, but put it on here for posterity and since everyone had been asking for it for a long time. Almost every bit on here has a counterpart in the finished album, so it’s cool to hear how they were kind of intending to do this as one long, epic, single track.

This demos album is actually, honestly more enjoyable than the finished album. While the production is great and the songs may generally sound better on there, the variety and emotion on here is more engaging. I guess the best way I can say it is that if the songs were changed in whatever way, they were probably better here.

Final Rating: 8.5/10