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Dream Theater

When Dream and Day Unite

Review by Gary Hill

This was the debut disc from Dream Theater and the first album from them I ever had. You know, while I definitely respect James La Brie’s vocal talents, I’ve always preferred Charlie Dominici – and this is his only album with the band. Add to that some incredibly powerful pieces of music and you’ll find that this is an extremely strong album. No, it’s not the same band as later discs – in many ways, but it shows plenty of where the group would go. Every track here is strong, though and I just plain think it rocks. It will always be one of my favorite Dream Theater discs and is in many ways more consistent than some of the rest.

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Track by Track Review
Fortune in Lies
This shows the band stretching limits, but not reaching the heights they would in a very short period of time in their career. The music here has a lot of Queensryche styled prog metal, but also some Rush in the mix. It’s more straightforward than the music that would come later from the group, but yet still has plenty of twists and turns. This is still a killer cut and I particularly like the staccato section later.
Status Seeker
The opening to this reminds me a lot of something from Asia. They take us from there into a harder rocking jam for a time and then drop it back for the verse. I absolutely love the multi-levels of vocals that come later and I’d say that the vocal performance really steals the show here. This is another strong piece of music and it really is one of my all time favorite Dream Theater tracks. In a lot of ways there is more old school prog on this than in a lot of DT’s music. Then again there are also some healthy dosages of ‘80’s styled metal.
Ytse Jam
This instrumental has served as the name for one of Dream Theater’s mailing lists. The name, despite rumors to the contrary is derived by spelling the group’s earlier name “Majesty” backwards. This is a killer jam that really reminds me a lot of prog era Rush. There is some seriously scorching music on this and we do get some more metallic elements, too. This is catchier than most instrumentals, too.
Killing Hand
The opening section here is more like metal. When they drop it for the vocals, though, this is more prog-like. I absolutely love the vocal performance on this. It’s so powerfully emotional and majestic. They bring in some rather symphonic musical compositions later as they build this back up gradually. Eventually it powers back out and they stomp through some changes and alterations. The keyboard build up heading into the six-minute mark is sheer brilliance and the more stripped down section that comes after is wonderful, too. I love Dominici’s vocals on this section. They take us through a few varied movements after that section winds out and the closing motif is very much in a Rush-like motif. 
Light Fuse and Get Away
I’ve always loved the straightforward ominous feeling of the title to this track. There’s a lot of Rush in this number, but there’s also some Queensryche and even some UK.  There are some very interesting twists and turns on this track. The soaring melodic jam later is also killer. There’s a Pink Floyd like jam later and some killer epic guitar soloing after that.
Here is another of my favorites. This song is musically closer to what most people think of as Dream Theater – then again nothing here is that far from that sound. I’d have to say that Dominici really steals the show on this one, too. His performance is incredible. This is just such a strong track.
Ones Who Help to Set the Sun
The motif that leads this off is dramatic and a bit ominous. After a time they take us into some mellower, but no less threatening sounds. They work through this for a time and then end it with some effects. From there they fire out into the song proper, a new hard-edged neo-prog jam that’s very Rush-like. It’s almost three minutes in before we get to this point. We are taken through a number of changes and alterations from there as they carry forward.  They take us out through a staccato sort of start and stop jam later and then into more metallic territory. We get some scorching guitar soloing and other instrumental acrobatics as we carry on and then they move it back out into the song proper. A short Rush-like burst ends this.
Only a Matter of Time
They start the cut a bit like some 1980’s metal band – I’m thinking of Europe more than anything else. From there, though, they launch out into a killer progressive rock jam that takes us through a number of varying themes and modes. There’s definitely a Rush sort of feeling to a lot of this. It’s another track where Dominici really steals a lot of the show. As they continue this thrill ride it continues to thrill and the title to the album shows up in the lyrics. There’s a lot of killer keyboard work at places along this ride and they also give us other sounds. For my money this might well be the best cut on show here. And as strong as everything is, that says a lot.
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