|The Killing Hand|
|When Dream and Day Unite|
|Release date||March 6, 1989|
|First live performance||Sundance, Bay Shore, NY, USA, on Sept. 3, 1988|
|Total live plays||146|
|Recorded||July 18–August 12, 1988, Kajem/Victory Studios|
|Other appearances||Hollow Years, Live at the Marquee, When Dream and Day Unite Demos, When Dream and Day Reunite|
|Previous song||Ytse Jam|
|Next song||Light Fuse and Get Away|
- Mike Portnoy - Drums
- John Petrucci - Guitar, lyrics
- John Myung - Bass
- Kevin Moore - Keyboards
- Charlie Dominici - Vocal, guitar
[I. The Observance] An Angel's kiss now fallen Descending scarlet cuts the sky Faded names left on the wall Honour the fighting, leave life to die Remembered is the sacrifice but No praisal of blood still flowing Who were the leaders? What controlled the Killing Hand that caused this mourning? Crossing over... [II. Ancient Renewal] Lowered deep into the sea Being awaits to cleanse his soul senses weakening time is still Motionless by stiffening cold The wheels race back and Scorch his mind Travelling all to find the land Revelation warms a touch And now he will begin to understand [III. The Stray Seed] Extended a view to yesterday Manifestation for none the same Walking amidst a frightening still No sound, no smoke, no scorching flames He is risen... Sipping his poison the raven sings Yet another to add more bodies fallen King from below this one controls The Killing Hand that caused this mourning Is it all over? [IV. Thorns] Evil genius this secret plan Mercy dealt with the losing hand Will he ever fall? Can he end it all? Our savior must make his stand Only a Prophet of years to come Wanting mortality I'm all alone He heard my voice It was my choice I've stopped the Killing Hand [V. Exodus] When I go back again Will it be the same? I've stopped the cries But now they know my name The sea is calling me my spirit must return As I get closer, was it really worth what I have learned? I'm in the valley And the saddened chimes I hear Race towards the wall to find one more name appears No one is left now my one and only land I laugh at what I've done I am the Killing Hand
The Killing Hand is one of the band's earliest forays into science fiction. The story is rather abstract, and Petrucci admits it doesn't make much sense but it "sounded cool at the time." The song is about a man facing a memorial for several hundred people who have died in the past. He travels back in time (which Petrucci interpreted as swimming to the bottom of the sea [hence the lyric] and through to the other side), though he is intangible and unable to affect the past. Eventually, he discovers the deaths were attributable to a despot, whom he dubs "The Killing Hand" The character begs the Gods above to become tangible and assassinates this person. The character returns to the present and returns to the memorials described at the beginning of the song. He suddenly notices that one more name appears as the last victim of the massacre - his own name (implying that the reason he was by himself in the beginning is because he was the person killing everybody so in effect the character travelled back in time and killed another version of himself).
As a longer track, The Killing Hand is an almost textbook example of progressive songwriting. The song has an extended length and is broken in to several sections, with instrumental passages and solos as well as a multi-part storyline.
As with many of the songs on When Dream and Day Unite, The Killing Hand is not performed very often, though it enjoys a higher level of popularity than many of the songs from that album. Unusually, hearing the song in it's original state live is quite rare. Early versions of the song had Dominici playing the intro guitar, though later the acoustic section had been removed and replaced by a new intro the band refers to as "Another Hand". Live performances of the song without the "Another Hand" intro are rare, though they did perform the song in its original form for When Dream and Day Reunite. Live performances are also notable for the extended instrumental sections, occasionally including other songs such as "Carol of the Bells" during Petrucci's solo.
- When Dream and Day Unite - Original recorded version
- Hollow Years - Live version as "Another Hand/The Killing Hand"
- Live at the Marquee - Live version with "Another Hand"
- When Dream and Day Unite Demos - Instrumental demo version and pre-production demo version
- When Dream and Day Reunite - Live version
- Old Bridge, New Jersey 12/14/96 - Live version as "Another Hand/The Killing Hand"
- New York City 3/4/93 - Live version