Dream Theater Wiki
When Dream And Day Unite
When Dream and Day Unite

CD edition cover (Jewelcase)

Studio album by Dream Theater
Released 6 March 1989
Recorded July 18 – August 12, 1988 at Kajem/Victory Studios in Gladwyne, Pennsylvania
Genre Progressive metal, progressive rock
Length 51:25
Label Mechanic/MCA Records
Producer Dream Theater, Terry Date, Steve Sinclair

LP/Digipak CD cover

Dream Theater studio albums chronology
N/A When Dream and Day Unite
Images and Words
Singles from When Dream And Day Unite
  1. "Status Seeker"
    Released: 1989
  2. "Afterlife"
    Released: 16 March 1989

When Dream And Day Unite is the first album by Dream Theater, which was released on March 6, 1989 on Mechanic/MCA Records. The album is known for its poor audio quality, which is generally blamed on producer Terry Date, who acknowledges that mistakes were made on the album. It has been re-released at least two times, once under MCA's label, and once again in remastered form on One Way Records. It is also known for being the only Dream Theater album to feature Charlie Dominici on vocals. Until the release of The Astonishing in 2016, it was also the only Dream Theater album not to have a track longer than 10 minutes. Dream Theater do not currently own the rights to the recordings.



1. A Fortune in Lies (Petrucci) 5:12

2. Status Seeker (Dominici, Petrucci) 4:17

3. Ytse Jam (instrumental) 5:43

4. The Killing Hand (Petrucci) 8:42

  • I. The Observance
  • II. Ancient Renewal
  • III. The Stray Seed
  • IV. Thorns
  • V. Exodus

5. Light Fuse and Get Away (Moore) 7:23

6. Afterlife (Dominici) 5:27

7. The Ones Who Help to Set the Sun (Petrucci) 8:05

8. Only a Matter of Time (Moore) 6:37


When Dream And Day Unite arises from the band's early days as "Majesty" and was in fact originally created under that name and pre-release promotional material was made with the name "Majesty". Many of the songs were written and performed before the record deal and before Dominici joined the band, though sometimes in different forms. The song "Afterlife" for example is quite old, and originally had lyrics written by Chris Collins, Dominici's predecessor in the band. None of The Majesty Demos wound up on the album, though a re-tooled version of A Vision was recorded in demo form with Dominici's vocals.

The band recorded the album in a very small amount of time, laying down the basic tracks in under 10 days. Due to the very small budget and amount of time allotted to create it, production was rushed by Terry Date, and the sound of the album was hindered greatly. During the recording, the band learned that Queensrÿche had just finished recording in the studio, and Dominici asked to use the same room as Geoff Tate joking that his talent might rub off on him. Prior to release, the band were forced to change their name, eventually settling on "Dream Theater". As this was after promotional materials were released, this most likely hurt album sales, as there was already quite a buzz around the name Majesty.

The name of the album comes from a lyric from "Only A Matter Of Time", which was chosen after several other names were considered. One considered title was "Once Upon A Time" which was pushed by Dominici.


The album was released to little fanfare and low sales. The album received almost no promotion after its release and a promised world tour never happened, with Dream Theater only playing a handful of local shows in support of it. Mechanic Records only supported one show, a MCA records showcase at which Dream Theater played. A promised single and video release also never materialized, though "Status Seeker" and "Afterlife" were released as radio singles, both songs were remixed by Terry Brown for these releases.


The album garnered very strong reviews, almost all of which were positive. Criticisms against it were mostly leveled at the production, critics stating that the band would sound much better given better audio. Modern Dream Theater fans tend to dismiss the album, though it does have its fans. Fans cite Dominici's vocals, the poor audio and the band's undeveloped writing style at the time as issues. Many fans, however, feel that When Dream And Day Unite is an underrated classic. Many compared the band to Rush, usually in a favorable light, though Dominici was irked by comparisons of his voice to Geddy Lee's claiming that he sounds nothing like Lee and people only made that comparison because the music is similar to Rush's music.

Tone and Lyrics[]

When Dream And Day Unite is a heavier album, with no ballads appearing on it. Of the four tenets of Dream Theater's sound (Progressive, Metal, Melodic and Pop) the album definitely favors Progressive and Metal, with no ballads and only "Status Seeker" having a strong pop sound. The album is seen as fast, complex and heavy and compared most often to Rush, Iron Maiden and Queensrÿche.

The lyrics of the album vary wildly, with some personal stories, such as "A Fortune In Lies", "Status Seeker" and "Only A Matter Of Time", with "Light Fuse And Get Away" being more abstract. There is a strong fantasy element as "The Killing Hand" is a science fiction story, "The Ones Who Help To Set The Sun" deals with a sudden revelation possibly related to a near death experience, and "Afterlife" deals with religious and mythological questions. While there is no title track, the phrase "When Dream and Day Unite" does appear during the song "Only a Matter of Time"

The album's sole instrumental, "Ytse Jam", is perhaps the most well known song on the album, being a live staple for the band for many years to come. The piece is seen by many as an evolution of Rush's song YYZ, but done in Dream Theater's distinctly frantic style. The song's title, which is pronounced "Yit-Say Jam" is a take on "Majesty", spelled backwards.

Cover Art[]

The album's cover art is notable for being the first appearance of The Majesty Symbol, which appears on all of their studio albums, and most other releases. The symbol itself was designed by Dominici, basing it on the symbol used by Mary, Queen of Scots. The concept behind the album was based on a previous work by the artist, where a photograph was taken of a man about to be branded with the letter "A", and the photograph was then painted over by the artist. The band asked to do something similar only with the letter "M" for Majesty, and the same model was even used for it. Although the band had to change the name, and therefore the logo on the cover-art (the original version of the album can be seen in the liner notes for When Dream and Day Unite Demos) remained the same, and The Majesty Symbol remains in use to this day.

The artwork is also somewhat notable for the logo, which is unique. Dream Theater would not adopt their signature font until the release of the followup, Images and Words. The only other albums not to use the signature font were Falling Into Infinity and Once in a LIVEtime. The title of the album is also noticeably absent from the CD editions cover (except digipak editions, that they are replicas of the LP edition).


Although the album garnered great reviews and the songs on it are considered classic, the band has somewhat shied away from it, citing its embryonic writing style and association with Dominici. The band have performed all of the songs live, though not nearly as much as the songs from the followup. The album was performed live in its entirety by the band on March 6, 2004, the 15th anniversary of its release, which was released as When Dream and Day Reunite by Portnoy via his label YtseJam Records. For the encore, the band performed two songs written during the same period, To Live Forever and Metropolis with guests Dominici and Derek Sherinian.

Dream Theater had to buy their way out of their contract after this album's release, citing dissatisfaction with the label and an inability to escape their 7 album contract. The band lost the rights to the album and the rights have been sold several times. Portnoy has stated that he would never consider re-recording it with the band's current line-up, though he released a version of the above-mentioned concert as part of his Official Bootlegs.

Re-releases and alternate versions[]

As the rights to these recordings has been sold numerous times, each label has re-released the album, usually coinciding the release with a recent Dream Theater to maximize sales. These versions are almost invariably the version re-mixed by Terry Brown, giving a far superior sound, however the band receives no monetary reward for the sale of the album. Notable are a limited edition digi-pack version as well as a "Signature" version with various band photos and liner notes written by Dominici.

Portnoy released the demos from the album, which the band retains the rights to, as When Dream and Day Unite Demos which contain instrumental pre-production demos, demos with Dominici's vocals as well as various other recordings from the time.

The 15th anniversary performance was also released by Portnoy as When Dream and Day Reunite, which contains the encore performances of To Live Forever and Metropolis. This is also available on DVD, which contains various extras such as unseen documentary footage, live versions of each song and a commentary track.

"...And though the time will come when dream and day unite, tonight the only consolation causing him to fight is fearless faith in destiny!"