Sound — 8
This is probably the album that got Dream Theater started. When Dream and Day Unite was relatively unsuccessful, but this album really won people over. It features new vocalist James LaBrie, and also contains DT's very first hit, "Pull Me Under". "Another Day" and "Take The Time" also followed suit, but "Pull Me Under" was their biggest hit. The sound of this album is not as "full" sounding as albums such as Scenes From a Memory or Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, but it is excellent nonetheless. It's not my favorite DT album, but it pretty much got them famous, so I have to give it credit.
Lyrics — 9
The lyrics are pretty cool. John Petrucci, Kevin Moore, and John Myung all wrote at least one song. The entire band wrote the music for all the songs except for "Wait For Sleep", which was written entirely by Moore. Here's the tracklisting with a short explanation for each song: 01. pull Me Under - Dream Theater's first big hit. Great instrumentation on this song. Three guitar solos by John Petrucci. There are several keyboard solos from Kevin Moore, also. 02. Another Day - great song, very heartfelt sounding. Amazing guitar solo. There are also a few saxophone solos, surprisingly. 03. Take The Time - hard-rockin' song, almost eight and a half minutes long. Some great solos from Moore and Petrucci here. 04. Surrounded - not my favorite track, doesn't really stand out. But it's still pretty good. The solo by Petrucci is only so-so here. 05. Metropolis - Part I. The Miracle And The Sleeper - this song blows my mind. Some crazy solos from Moore and Petrucci on this cut. Tells a story, which DT later turned into a whole album. The story is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Metropolis_Pt._2:_Scenes_From_A_Memory 06. Under A Glass Moon - all I can say is that this song is amazing. The guitar solo from Petrucci is incredible. 07. Wait For Sleep - a nice mellow song, music and lyrics written by Kevin Moore. Some of the same themes from this song recur in the final track, "Learning to Live". 08. Learning To Live - changes musical styles several times over the course of the eleven and a half minutes. Again, some amazing solos by the Mr. Moore and Mr. Petrucci.
Overall Impression — 9
Overall, it's not one of my favorite DT albums, but it's still great. It's just not quite up to par with Six Degrees or Scenes. The songs that really, really stand out are "Pull Me Under", "Take the Time", "Metropolis", and "Learning To Live". If it were lost or stolen, I would buy it again. It's only like 13 or 14 bucks. The things that kind of bug me are that LaBrie's voice goes a little weird at certain times on the album, and also the album sounds a little raw. It doesn't really have that full sound that Scenes has. But if you get the chance, buy it, definitely!