For those who don't know, Charlie Dominici was the vocalist on Dream Theater's first album When Day and Dream Unite. And anyone who knows me knows can not miss the fact that I am a huge and slightly obsessed Dream Theater fan. My girlfriend has rolled many a eye in my direction, but she knows that it is something I love so she's supportive. Heck she's even going with me to a concert this weekend so I can see John Petrucci (the guitarist of Dream Theater) play live. I believe that Dream Theater only played around 10 shows with Dominici before they fired him. My understanding is that his voice was not exactly what the band envisioned. Of course, they spend the next two years trying to find a vocalist that did fit. I never had When Day and Dream Unite until just under two years ago. To be honest a band is often defined for me by the sound of the vocals, and like Anthrax which I never listed to after they changed vocalists, I was afraid I would not like When Day and Dream Unite, so I never bought it. As an Official Bootleg, a DVD was released with the current members of Dream Theater playing When Day and Dream Unite in it's entirety with Charlie Dominici singing guest vocals on the encore of two songs written during the same period. I loved it. So I bought When Day and Dream Unite and got a chance to listen to Dominici's vocals. I agree, I do not think they fit the best for Dream Theater's sound, but that has no bearing on his skills as a vocalist. His version of "To Live Forever" really resonates with my ears. It is a subtle and emotional song, not a powerful and progressive song, and James LaBrie just simply brings too much power to the song for my tastes.
So as I said, I received O3 A trilogy Part One in the mail today. I put it in after dinner and it was nothing I like I expected. I was expecting metal, and I got Springsteenesque acoustic rock. I'm loving it. If you are someone who likes the sound of a singer-songwriter like John Gorka previously reviewed on this blog, this album is for you. It is almost exclusively acoustic guitar with harmonica thrown in on "The Dream" and "I Will Return" in particular. The harmonica I love because it reminds me of "The River" by Springsteen and song that really tugs at my emotions. I knew that Dominici could write lyrics as he penned "Status Seeker" among other tunes on When Day and Dream Unite, but I am really impressed with the lyrics on this album.
The album tells a story of someone trying to find himself. It is most likely autobiographical, but I do not know that for certain. The lyrics tell a tale of a man trying to understand the world around him, the love he finds, and the horror that surrounds him. The album ends with a song called "The Hand of God" where he finds what he needs to complete his destiny. I am an odd atheist, though I do not believe in the existence of God, I can really feel the emotion that comes from someone searching for their understanding of the world. For those who search and find their salvation in Christianity, they have succeeded in a search of personal meaning that I have not and continue to search for. But I hope I still have many years left to find my own personal path. My favorite song on O3 A trilogy Part One is most definitely "The Dream." Besides obviously liking the harmonica, the guitar and vocal melodies just hit a perfect chord for me. My head bobs and I sing along (poorly, but hey, no one has to hear me in the confines of a bedroom). The lyrics have a creativity and imagery that is really phenomenal. Being a very creative and imaginative person, I respect and like seeing that creativity expressed in this world. "The Dream" is about a fantastical journey in the Dreamlands that in one hand makes no sense, but in the midst of this confusion, it all begins to make perfect sense. This dream the narrator has is a revelation that he needed for his journey to continue. He needed to understand the marriage of Moses and Picasso, the locals of Atlantis trying to get a tan, and the frightened children that he sees as he flies by. It is an absurdity, but through understand the absorb, we can often times come to grip with reality.