Dream Theater - Train Of Thought


Year of Release: 2003
Label: Elektra / Warner
Catalog Number: 7559-62891-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 69:22:00

Phwoar.

What, you want me to say more? Oh very well...

I'll say this much: Dream Theater never do anything the same as before. This album is like the shadow on the far side of the moon - something we've only glimpsed, and almost shockingly dark when you get there. Sure, other Dream Theater albums have had heavy songs or been somberly themed, but not to the extent of Train Of Thought. Still unmistakably Dream Theater, this album has the tint of nightmare to it.

And I like it. If your list of favourite Dream Theater numbers includes titles like "The Mirror," "Beyond This Life," "The Test That Stumped Them All" and "The Glass Prison" - the heavier, chunkier pieces - this will not be one you want to miss. They sway towards hard metal influences like Tool, Pantera and Metallica; the riffs are dark, dripping with bass; vocals are experimented with and extended beyond what we normally hear. Stunning.

It has problems though. The biggest - too many long songs make for a mentally exhausting album, and with only two songs that clock below ten minutes, it gets arduous by the end. Also, a couple of the guitar solos are nonsensical, going too hard for the overcomplex. I prefer a melodic solo with lines you can follow rather than something which ends up as a chromatic jumble.

We open with "As I Am," sounding truly fat; distortion levels are high, bass (John Myung, I love you) is beautiful - brutal! James (LaBrie, vocals) in particular sounds awesome, a lot more vicious than I've heard before. This is a good opener, one of the more simple songs on the album, and also the one chosen for the radio single.

"This Dying Soul" is an interesting one because it follows on directly from where "The Glass Prison" left off - hence another installment in the Troubled Youth Of Mike Portnoy (drums) songs. It borrows themes, riffs and lyrics from "The Glass Prison" and uses a chromatic chord progression which reminds me a little of "Home" as well. It has a heavy beginning and a brooding verse; LaBrie experiments with some aggressive patter-style spoken vocal, which works well here. Air-drummers take note, this has some ballsy Portnoy work, too. "Endless Sacrifice" has a mellower opening, though the chorus is back to the rich and chunky. It's lovely, though depressing lyrically, and I adore the solo passages in this one. There's some great work from Jordan (Rudess, keyboards) to listen for, though he does indulge that musical humour in a silly slapstick section which doesn't need to be there.

I'm not hot on "Honor Thy Father" (another Mike's Troubled Youth song), though I like the vocals at the beginning - possibly Portnoy singing two octaves below LaBrie, which sounds really good. The patter vocals make another appearance, but they only succeed in being annoyingly rappy. "Vacant" is the only quiet song, also the shortest and saddest, with some beautiful cello work from guest Eugene Friesen. This leads into "Stream Of Consciousness," a Liquid-Tension-esque instrumental. What can I say? Awesome.

The final track, "In The Name Of God," is good in some ways and not in others. I love it musically, but it's a waffly political piece in the style of "The Great Debate," both of which are over that ten minute mark. If you want to make a point, it pays to keep it short, something which jingle writers have learnt and university lecturers have not. Not that a piece about the dangers of cult religion should be a jingle, but it's tiring - the last track on a long album, and very heavy conceptually. Rudess takes us out with a beautiful little solo, leaving it hanging on an unfinished arpeggio... ahh.

There's also some bonus material which can be unlocked, two videos showing the writing and recording of the album. Behind the scenes stuff is always welcome, though I would have liked to see more of Myung, Rudess and LaBrie (to be fair, it looks like Portnoy put the videos together). Wow, I've really run over the word limit with this one. Enough - go give it a try.

[This review originally appeared December 2003 at the ProgPower Online review site -ed.]
Tracklisting:
As I Am (7:47) / This Dying Soul (11:28) / Endless Sacrifice (11:23) / Honor Thy Father (10:14) / Vacant (2:58) / Stream Of Consciousness (11:16) / In The Name Of God (14:16)

Musicians:
James LaBrie - vocals
Mike Portnoy - drums
John Petrucci - guitars
John Myung - bass
Jordan Rudess - keyboards

Discography:
When Dreams and Day Unite (1989)
Images and Words (1992)
Live At The Marquee (1993)
Dream Out Loud (1994)
Awake (1994)
A Change in Season (1995)
Falling Into Infinity (1997)
Once In A Livetime (1998)
Scenes From A Memory (1999)
Cleaning Out The Closet (Xmas CD 1999) (1999)
Scenes From A World Tour - Christmas CD 2000 (2001)
Live Scenes From New York (2001)
Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence (2002)
Train Of Thought (2003)
Live At Budokan (2004)
Octavarium (2005)
Score (3CD) (2006)
Systematic Chaos (2007)
Greatest Hit (...And 21 Other Pretty Cool Songs) (2008)
Black Clouds & Silver Linings (2009)
A Dramatic Turn Of Events (2011)
Dream Theater (2013)

Metropolis 2000: Scenes From New York (DVD) (2001)
Live At Budokan (DVD) (2004)
Score (DVD) (2006)
Chaos In Motion (DVD) (2008)

Genre: Progressive-Power Metal

Origin US

Added: December 12th 2004
Reviewer: Karyn Hamilton
Score:
Artist website: www.dreamtheater.net
Hits: 844
Language: english

  

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