Review Summary: A heavier and crunchier sound.
Change is one of the many natural phobias that come with the burden of being part of the human race. It may be from the risk involved, not being accepted or even the superstition of never changing habits in a so-called win streak. No matter how you do it, you need guts and it seems like Dream Theater wasn’t affected by any of those qualms listed above when they made the change from a progressive sound to a heavier sound in their album Train of Thought
. And from this change came some good and some bad.
It has been said countless times before that this album is heavier than anything that they’ve ever done. There is no denying it. The crunchiness got crunchier, the technicality got more technical and the intensity got more intense. The guitar is a lot heavier with some low pitched grunting with a more evil sound in the riffs and in the solos. In This Dying Soul
Petrucci displays a series of apocalyptic sounding heaviness pouring out of his guitar giving the whole album that same sound. Portnoy also has some fun with this song making great use of the double bass pedal. The thing that comes with the heavier sound is more evil lyrics. A bona fide example of this is Honor Thy Father
. The lyrics are about Mike Portnoy and his stepfather with their hateful relationship. From the get-go you can tell that this is an angry song by Portnoy going ballistic on the drums and some dark, aggressive guitar riffs come in. In every Dream Theater album there has to be some soft touching ballad. Vacant
serves as a break from the on going angry and destructive sound. It has some ambient keyboards and cello and beautiful vocals spewing out touching lyrics that can easily bring someone to their knees.
What never ceased to make Dream Theater great was there ability to pump out three or four 10:00+ epics per album but on this album it seems like an overkill. What made them tolerable was that there was never a repetitive chorus or riffs. This is some of the bad that comes from this album. From the beginning they get into somewhat of a habit with As I Am
. It has a heavier sounding guitar riff in the background throughout the whole song. Though there is a Petrucci solo, the song doesn’t change at all. No instrumental section that easily drops jaws, no keyboard and guitar dual solo, no time changes, just a generic routine of verse to chorus relay that these guys would never even think of brushing upon prior to this album. They seem to have a trend with this at the beginning of the album. The next song This Dying Soul
starts out with a spectacular instrument beginning bet it seems to follow suit with its predecessor. This is also a bad habit that Endless Sacrifice
seems to copy. The instrumental Stream of Consciousness
is exactly what I miss in Dream Theater. A humble quite beginning that gradually breaks out of its shell like a timid and slow caterpillar’s transformation into a beautiful, broad butterfly that never gets boring and repetitive.
Drifting towards the sky with confidence and pride. That’s how I felt when LaBrie would make great use of his vocals by reaching the high, double octave notes. With all of the anger in the songs they decided that there is no room for that kind of vocals. LaBrie seems to be singing morelike a typical metal vocalist rather than a unique, trademarked vocalist. The only time where LaBrie may peak up there is in Vacant
. There seems to be an inverse relationship with the vocals and the anger. They even brush upon the skin of harsh vocals in the heaviest song on the album Honor Thy Father
for a second or two. I can’t hate them for doing this because this all falls under the “change” theme.
My biggest problem that I’ve had with Jordan Rudess is that he was always too flashy and didn’t create as much atmosphere as I would like. He proved me very wrong on this album. Vacant
a perfect example of him providing a perfect atmosphere with the way the song flows. Without great keyboard atmosphere this would not be Dream Theater at all.
In a couple words, this album is angry, heavy and aggressive. I tones down the progressive and blasts up the metal with more evil riffs and a powerful sound. There are some flaws but all and al it is a good pick up.
Last half of the album
Not enough ballads
Honor Thy Father
Stream of Consciousness