Dream Theater
When Dream and Day Unite



by Green Baron USER (160 Reviews)
September 26th, 2014 | 25 replies

Release Date: 1989 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Branded by majesty.

The Long Island Sound: A Reflection on Suburban New York’s Musical History – Part 5

Kings Park is located on the north shore on Long Island’s easternmost Suffolk County, known for its tranquil environment, a now shut-down psychiatric center and the famous beaches and golf holes at Sunken Meadow State Park. Despite what it has to offer, it isn’t one of the most well-known places on Long Island, as aside from the presence of one of its biggest beaches, there really isn’t much to do there. Meanwhile, Long Beach is perhaps one of the most – if not the absolute most – famous places on the island. Firmly placed on the south shore of Nassau County, right next to the Atlantic Ocean, the city is known throughout the area for its beach and its boardwalk, recently rebuilt after its destruction during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. Yet, despite their differences, they actually do have more things in common then one would think – both are located near large masses of water, both contain large beaches, and both were places that members of Dream Theater called home.

That’s right, believe it or not, there used to be a time when every member of Dream Theater was from Long Island. Before Canadians and Massachusites were thrown into the mix, the band’s original lineup consisted of three musicians from Kings Park (guitarist John Petrucci, bassist John Myung and keyboardist Kevin Moore), one from Long Beach (drummer Mike Portnoy) and one from Brooklyn (which is technically geographically located on the island, even if it’s still within city limits, so close enough). With their all-Islander lineup, it took seconds for Dream Theater to conquer the world by storm with their world-acclaimed 1989 debut album, When Dream and Day Unite. The lineup of Dominici, Moore, Myung, Portnoy and Petrucci were destined to fall right into their place in history as progressive metal legends, with plenty of fame and success to come.

Of course, we all know that’s not what actually happened.

Looking back at it twenty-five years later, it’s actually pretty hard to believe that the band actually, honest-to-God, thought that When Dream and Day Unite was going to be huge. Here’s an album that generally regarded as Dream Theater’s weakest effort, and yet when it came out they all predicted that it would be their breakthrough simply because their Majesty demos gained some praise? One could only imagine the bruised egos of Portnoy and Petrucci when it flew under the radar, who fired Dominici as a result of the repercussions, which included getting dropped by Mechanic/MCA and only playing a small club tour to promote its release. Yet through all the strife that they all went through after its failure, it was probably for the best since the Dream Theater we all know and love today wouldn’t exist had When Dream and Day Unite become the smash success the band thought it would be.

First off, the main problem that the album suffers from (and this is a pretty common complaint) is Dominici’s vocals. While many people do like to rag on James LaBrie for his high-pitched squealing, he is still, without a doubt, the best vocalist that Dream Theater had ever had, even if the competition was never stiff. Most of the time, Dominici sings with such a shrill, off-key tone that easily becomes irritating – although this isn’t that big of an issue during the first few tracks, by the end of the album it just becomes a liability towards its quality. Tracks like “Light Fuse and Get Away” or “Afterlife” aren’t all that bad musically, but Dominici’s squealing just ruins it. On a side note, the production also isn’t all that great – it’s pretty grainy, although that was to be expected given the underground status of the album during its release.

With that said, the main highlight of When Dream and Day Unite is easily the instrumental section. Dream Theater have always been known for the talented men behind their most praised aspect, and this album is no exception. The twin-axe attack of John Petrucci’s shredding guitar riffs and Mike Portnoy’s rapid-fire drumming are a highlight on any album of theirs, and it all started back here. While nothing is as overtly technical or wanky as later outputs, it’s still fairly enjoyable. “The Ytse Jam” is the sole instrumental on the record, and it’s one of the best songs here mainly due to the absence of Dominici. The dynamic track weaves through fast and slow tempos, with plenty of riffage to boast. Elsewhere, “A Fortune in Lies” features machine-gun tempo drumming from Portnoy and one of Petrucci’s best solos on the album, while “The Killing Hand” overcomes a sluggish start to end in fiery fashion.

Although there are moments where When Dream and Day Unite gets a chance to shine, they’re limited to a few impressive instrumental highlights and nothing more than a couple of nice, rockin’ riffs. One could say this was because the band was young and had little experience, but the underlying reasoning was more than that. Charlie Dominici was just not that great of a singer, and his vocal style was way too light and soft for Dream Theater (that’s not even mentioning how off-tune he often is). With that said, the guitar performances and drumming were just a blueprint of the things to come, paving the way for Images and Words and Awake, although they wouldn’t know that yet. The greatest success of When Dream and Day Unite was its failure, and for that, it played a seminal role in the career and evolution of Dream Theater.

Part VI: 'Cuz I'm just a teenage dirtbag baby...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
September 26th 2014


noice review m8

Digging: Static-X - Project Regeneration Vol. 1

September 26th 2014


come back

September 26th 2014


Album Rating: 1.5

This is a joke in comparison to Images and Words.

September 26th 2014


Good review Green, have a pos.

September 26th 2014


never listened to this, neither planning to... but what a nice review to read! The flow is awesome, the balance of context and content really good!

Digging: Deathspell Omega - Paracletus

September 26th 2014


This was a very easy piece to read. Nice work, as per usual.

Digging: The Microphones - Microphones in 2020

September 26th 2014


"Most of the time, Dominici sings with a shrill, off-key tone"

This isn't even true.

September 26th 2014


Album Rating: 3.0

“The Killing Hand” is a great track.


September 26th 2014


thought you quit so you could get the pussy

September 26th 2014


Album Rating: 3.0

Excellent review, I'm actually glad to have read it.

September 26th 2014


Album Rating: 3.0

The band didn't fire Dominici because of the lack of success of the album/tour, it was because they felt like his voice just didn't work for progressive metal, it was much too pop-ish. I'd also say personally that although the musicianship is typically impressive, the songs are quite weak, and that's the main thing that prevents the album from being great.

Well-written though, and fun to read so nice work

Ocean of Noise
September 26th 2014


Album Rating: 3.0

terrible album, great review

September 26th 2014


That album cover makes me feel really uncomfortable.

September 26th 2014


Album Rating: 5.0

this is by far their best CD, after that the more than terrible James LaBrie came....

September 26th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

Honestly this album is way more musically solid than about six other Dream Theater albums. The only reason why it is not my sixth favorite is because of the inferior vocal performance, and even then it's not their worst album like many people think.

September 27th 2014


Album Rating: 4.0

Good review and interesting series but this album really isn't all that shite. It's actually pretty good. But whatever have a LepreCon seal of approval (pos)

September 27th 2014


Album Rating: 3.5

I know people don't like re-recordings, but this could definitely use one. Maybe it would even remind the band that they use to make actual songs...

... that being said, I like this even though I never listen to it.

September 27th 2014


Album Rating: 5.0

I don't think the record deal would allow it - plus LaBrie should never be allowed to touch this album again. When Dream And Day Reunite was a train wreck because of LaBrie butchering the vocals

September 27th 2014


Album Rating: 1.5


Digging: A.A. Williams - Forever Blue

September 27th 2014


Album Rating: 3.5

James LaBrie ruins his own vocals in live situations. He's a great studio vocalist, but just can't seem to pull off the same quality in a live situation. Not really a dig against him, though, cause there are plenty of singers out there that have the same issue. So, he could probably do alright with this album in a studio setting. I would be more concerned with Jordan ruining all of Kevin Moore's keyboard parts with more musical masturbation and flying jizz.

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