When Dream and Day Unite

When Dream and Day Unite
When Dream and Day Unite
Studio album by Dream Theater
Released March 6, 1989
Recorded July 18–August 12, 1988
Kajem/Victory Studios (Gladwyne, PA)
Genre Progressive metal
Length 50:11
Label Mechanic/MCA Records
Producer Terry Date and Dream Theater
Dream Theater chronology
The Majesty Demos
When Dream and Day Unite
Images and Words
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars[1]
Metal Storm 7.6/10 stars[2]

When Dream and Day Unite is the debut studio album by American progressive metal band Dream Theater. The album is composed mainly of material that originally surfaced during the band's early years as Majesty. It was recorded during the summer of 1988 at Victory Studios in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania, and is the only Dream Theater album to feature Charlie Dominici on vocals, as James LaBrie replaced Dominici as the lead vocalist on subsequent albums. It is also the first of a few Dream Theater albums not to display their iconic font on the cover. It is the only Dream Theater album not to feature a track lasting longer than 10 minutes.



Dream Theater in 1989.

The band originally formed in 1985 by founding members John Myung, Mike Portnoy, and John Petrucci under the name Majesty, which was inspired by Portnoy's commentary on the ending of "Bastille Day" by Rush. After the band found a keyboardist in schoolmate Kevin Moore, the band hosted auditions and settled on Chris Collins as the lead vocalist. While touring around New York, Collins left the band, and the band went through many lead singers before settling on the experienced lead vocalist Charlie Dominici.

The band, still titled Majesty, recorded The Majesty Demos between 1985 and 1986, and shortly after was forced to change their name after another band threatened legal action if they did not change their name. Unable to come up with a replacement name for their band, Portnoy's father suggested the name Dream Theater, which was the title of a nearby movie theater for the name of the band. They adopted the name, and eventually signed their first contract to Mechanic Records.

With the relatively warm reception of their original demos, the band expected their debut album to be received with much fanfare and buzz, but the album went largely unnoticed by the music scene, and eventually led to Mechanic Records cutting their contract ties with the band, resulting in a small, club tour for the album only in the New York area. Due to tensions within the band and creative differences, Dominici was fired from the band and they were without a lead singer for the next few years.

15th Anniversary Performance

On the 15th anniversary of the album, Dream Theater performed it in its entirety in Los Angeles, California, and during two additional songs in the encore special guests Charlie Dominici and Derek Sherinian (both now former Dream Theater members) performed. However, original keyboardist Kevin Moore did not appear. The entire performance was recorded live and later released on CD and DVD under the title When Dream and Day Reunite through Mike Portnoy's independent label YtseJam Records. The album also featured a live version of "Metropolis Pt. 1: The Miracle and the Sleeper", which was originally from the album Images and Words, and a performance of a b-side called "To Live Forever".

Critical reception

The album did not receive much attention upon release, but due to Images and Words' commercial success, the album received critical reviews and criticism from many resources. Allmusic attacked the band's ability to actually write songs, despite them agreeing that some of their melodies are quite enjoyable.[citation needed]

The album also produced two singles, "Status Seeker" and "Afterlife", whose remixes & single edits for radio were done by Terry Brown of Rush production fame & who continued working with the band producing the band's second recorded and permanent singer, Canadian James LaBrie's, when he recorded vocal tracks for several albums in Canada and not with the band, as well as several of LaBrie's solo releases.

Track listing

No. Title Lyrics Music Length
1. "A Fortune in Lies"   John Petrucci Dream Theater 5:13
2. "Status Seeker"   Charlie Dominici, Petrucci Dream Theater 4:18
3. "The Ytse Jam"   (instrumental) Petrucci, John Myung, Kevin Moore, Mike Portnoy 5:46
4. "The Killing Hand"
  • I. "The Observance"
  • II. "Ancient Renewal"
  • III. "The Stray Seed"
  • IV. "Thorns"
  • V. "Exodus"  
Petrucci Dream Theater 8:42
5. "Light Fuse and Get Away"   Moore Dream Theater 7:24
6. "Afterlife"   Dominici Dream Theater 5:27
7. "The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun"   Petrucci Dream Theater 8:05
8. "Only a Matter of Time"   Moore Dream Theater 6:36

The Killing Hand

The lyrics of the song describe a man who wakes up unaware of where he is. He looks around to see walls covered in names of people who have died. He wants to find out why, and travels back in time to find out. This time travel is represented by travelling to the bottom of the sea.

When he arrives, he sees that a tyrant is killing all of the people, referred to as "The Killing Hand". In an effort to stop The Killing Hand from continuing this, he destroys him. Shortly after, he gets called back into the present.

When he arrives however, he is overcome by a strange feeling. He rushes back to the wall and sees that his name has been added to the list - in an example of something similar to a predestination paradox. He was The Killing Hand, and when he went back through time he killed himself.

The story of the song's lyrics is explained by John Petrucci on the "When Dream and Day Reunite" DVD.

The story is itself loosely based on a story about the writing on the wall from the biblical Book of Daniel in which a hand appears and writes something on the wall of the palace of the king of Babylon. Daniel, summoned to interpret the text, says that the message is from God and means that he intended the king and his kingdom to fall. According to the story, the king was slain that night.



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