Dream Theater
Train of Thought


4.0
excellent

Review

by Ed Watson USER (26 Reviews)
December 23rd, 2006 | 19 replies | 2,711 views


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Superlative musicians remember thay still need to write songs in order to display quite how good they are, but the album never quite becomes a classic, remaining an excellent album throughout.

3 of 3 thought this review was well written

Musicianship can be a double edged sword. Whilst it can give you the capability of playing and writing songs beyond the abilities of mere mortals, it can blind you to the basics, the foundations upon which everything is based. Without these basics, the songs you form, no matter what your superhuman abilities, will crumble and be forgotten.

Thankfully, for the most part Dream Theatre have realised this. Though they are all incredible musicians, it is only every now and again that they let this get in the way of the music. Then again, when you're writing an album whose average song length is just under 10 minutes (bought bown by one 3 minute song), you've got plenty of time to do whatever you wish.

All the tracks are really very heavy indeed. Since all i'd heard of this band before was Images and Words, it was a bit of a shock to come into As I Am and hear its brutal riff. The atmospherics are brilliant, and this is where Dream Theatre's knowledge of musical theory comes into play. The excellent tonality created by their scale choices set a great mood for the album. Be it middle eastern tinged (This Dying Soul, The Name of God) or more western orientated (This Dying Soul again, Endless Sacrifice), the tonality of the album creates an excellent and varied feel throughout.

It's a pity that this variation doesn't show through with Petrucci's lead work. Whenever he takes a solo, he seems content to just do exactly what he does all the time: shred non stop. Now, whilst this may be very impressive, when done on every song except the one with no guitars, it tends to get a bit boring. It even becomes self indulgent, with the solo of The Name of God almost wrecking a great song by just being the same as what has come before but longer. Just because you can play fast doesn't mean you should do so all the time forsaking melody and appropriateness.

At times this permeates the whole band, the most fatuous moment springing to mind is the piano/keyboard tradeoff in the middle of endless sacrifice. Needless and not actually that good, it gives the impression of a band trying to be too clever. Another example of this is Stream of Conciousness. It is a very brave move to attempt an 11 minute instrumental, but they don't quite seem to be able to pull it off. As Petrucci's lead style doesn't change this means the solos are quite boring, whilst the song itself is very repetetive. Whilst James LaBrie's vocals may be the weakest part of the band (they're still good mind you), they are necessary to complete the songs. Still, attempting something of this scale is a lot better than if they were content to remain on auto pilot.

His rhythm playing is brilliant though, and is backed excellently by Mike Portnoy's always inventive drums. (Whilst many metal drummers are content to rely on their double bass pedals, Portnoy seems to have realised that though he can use this technique, it is better to use everything in his arsenal. Maybe if he could communicate this to Petrucci it would have an effect on his playing.) As a result we have some brilliantly heavy and inventive riffs, such as the verse riff in The Name of God and the middle riff in Endless Sacrifice, which uses some dissonant chords and tricky rythyms to great effect.

But this is mainly based around the band members. What of the songs themselves? Well, to be honest whilst they are almost all far superior to many bands output, no one song really stands out above the others. As I Am is has a hevay and catchy riff along with a brilliant chorus, bt so does just about every song on the album. It would be great if this meant they were all classics, but instead it means they are all very very good. This is not to say that all the songs sound the same, each has a pretty distinct feel to it, but they are the same quality throughout.

All in all, Dream Theatre have avoided being sucked up by their musical skills and remembered they still need to write good songs to display these, but while everything on here is of an excellent standard and reeks of ambition, it remains just an excellent album, not a classic.



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user ratings (1887)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Neoteric
December 23rd 2006



3243 Comments


This album is kinda lame.

Good review though.

The Door Mouse
December 23rd 2006



2092 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You used whilst like 10 times and I don't think you needed it but hey I'm a grammatical retard so you could be right. As for the review it was ok. Seeing how your in the teens your going to be put up to higher expectations. This sounds pretty cool so I might get it. My friend and his brother are like DT fanatics so I might borrow it from him.

northerncomfort
December 23rd 2006



106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Does that mean write better reviews? Cheers for comments.

The Door Mouse
December 23rd 2006



2092 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yes but not in a snooty way. Your expectations will rise and you will have to get better thats all I'm saying.

metallicaman8
December 23rd 2006



4677 Comments


Don't worry. You write very good reviews for the amount of time you've been around.

Altmer
December 23rd 2006



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Good album. Petrucci does wank all over this though.

Angmar
December 23rd 2006



2689 Comments


Good review, honestly your probubly going to be one of sputniks best reviewers in a couple months time.

northerncomfort
December 23rd 2006



106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks y'all. Any time you can point out improvements that could be made, please do.



Wizard
December 23rd 2006



19324 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

You are constantly getting better at writing your reviews. Keep up the good work.

Digging: Bolzer - Soma

Bfhurricane
December 23rd 2006



6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I love this album - my first taste of Dream Theater which led to my ultimate obsession with them... hehe
Yeah Petrucci does seem to wank a lot on this, but he has some shining moments in my opinion with his leads in Steam of Consciousness and the intro to This Dying Soul.
Vacant is actually one of my top most played iTunes songs, it almost brings a tear to my eye.
The only problem I have with this review is your reaction to Stream of Consciousness - it's such an amazing song, in my own opinion of course.

northerncomfort
December 23rd 2006



106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Well its a lot better than many bands would do, and like I said, it's good to see a brave move. Thanks for support everyone. This Message Edited On 12.23.06

Jim
December 26th 2006



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Fantastic review. You're going to be quite the Sputnik force if you keep this up! Maybe improve on formatting (putting song names in bold for instance) and minor things and you'll be quite complete.
You have good use of words though, and that's all that really matters in the end.
As for the album, it's easily my favourite by DT. Probably because it's the hardest, and some of their ballads can be quite generic. In the Name of God is home to one of best riffs I've ever heard. :smoke:

Bfhurricane
December 26th 2006



6197 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I agree, not only for "In The Name of God" but some of the other songs hold extremely technical and mysteriously sounding riffs that are so enrapturing.

Jim
December 26th 2006



5110 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

The eastern vibe in This Dying Soul is very nice

Altmer
December 27th 2006



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I would like to mention that you have rhythm and that the band is called Dream Theater.

northerncomfort
December 27th 2006



106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Arghh, i hate the word rhythm (editing now), but i'm pretty sure theatre is spelt as such in britain.

Altmer
December 27th 2006



5652 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

But this is a name spelling, and names are always spelt the way the band calls themselves; I use British spelling too, but for names, you have to stick with the way the band calls themselves.

northerncomfort
December 27th 2006



106 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fair enough then.

Ante
March 26th 2008



25 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review for the most part, but it is "Theater."



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