Train Of Thought is the 7th studio album from prog metal kings Dream Theater. Featuring the fantastic rhythm section of Mike Portnoy (drums) and John Myung (bass), the incredible virtuosic skills of John Petrucci (guitar) and Jordan Rudess (keyboards), topped off with the searing vocals of James LaBrie.
Train Of Thought is definitely different to previous Dream Theater releases - they have moved into even heavier territory with pounding riffs and dark lyrics, and this record draws on inspiration from various heavy rock bands which have influenced the band. Dream Theater's usual technicality is present here and there are still melodies which were part and parcel of what DT fans fell in love with, but the all round heavier atmosphere has divided fans and critics alike. If you are a fan of the Dream Theater of old then you will either love this evolution or hate the change. I personally think it's a great album, and I urge you to check it out. Yes, it does seem like a different band to the one which released Images & Words 11 years ago, but this is Dream Theater as they are today, so jump on the train and enjoy the ride.
1. As I Am (7:47) - The album starts with a fade in from the final note of Dream Theater 's previous album, Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence. You may have heard the radio edit of this song, but that was a butchered version and does not do justice to the full album track, which is ten times better. After a huge intro, the song is driven by a thunderous riff. As I Am is pretty straightforward by DT's measure, with a standard ABAB(solo)B structure. Yet the band still manages to avoid musical mediocrity by throwing in time changes, unexpected minor notes, and one holy shred-fest of a solo from John Petrucci. Not the best DT track but a pretty good start to the album nonetheless.
2. This Dying Soul (11:27) - Not giving you time to breath, TDS enters with unrelenting double bass and some more heavy riffing and soon after you get a nice unison lead from Petrucci and Rudess. The verse is slowed down a bit and to me it sounds very much like Tool. The lyrics here are a continuation of 'The Glass Prison' from 6DOIT, reflecting the struggles of a recovering alcoholic. After the chorus, LaBrie goes into 'rap' mode, sounding similar to Linkin Park - make of that what you will. The song continues, becoming an ever-changing beast with switching time signatures, various solos and may references to 'The Glass Prison', but overall the song doesn't seem to be going in any set direction, and is quite difficult to get comfortable with at first listen. In my opinion this is the weakest song on the album. It does get better from this point on, though.
3. Endless Sacrifice (11:24) - This song is my favourite song on the album and is classic Dream Theater. It begins with a 'lonely' guitar melody from Petrucci, which ties it with the theme of the song - the lyrics deal with the sacrifices and strong bonds needed in long distance relationship. The sombre feel of the song continues until two minutes in when the chorus kicks in and the whole mood changes. This is the high point of the song for me - a great riff, catchy lyrics and an all round great chorus which is a good contrast to the feel of the verses. After the second chorus a new riff appears which leads into what I think is a classic DT solo section, enhanced by the mad break at 6:28. The song keeps building and building over the next 4 minutes until James LaBrie comes back in and delivers some powerful which vocals which lead to the climax of the best song on the album.
4. Honor Thy Father (10:14) - This song strikes me as the most aggressive song on the record. It is an attack from Mike Portnoy on his step-father, and a lot of pent-up anger seems to be released here. The song starts with a short Portnoy solo and short sharp staccato notes from the band follow, reminiscent of System Of A Down. The SOAD resemblance continues into the verse where a subdued sounding LaBrie sings over a dark riff from John Myung, who is sadly often unheard in the Dream Theater mix (though he does seem slightly higher in the mix on this album). Later on, LaBrie goes into more rap-like vocals (though not as bad as on This Dying Soul) and following that, another big catchy chorus. A heavier verse comes back in and when this song hits the ground running, it doesn't stop. The sublime drumming of Portnoy provides a good backbone as the song keeps building until the 5 minute mark. At this point all the instruments stop, and in his harshest voice LaBrie utters the line 'Don't cross the crooked step'. This part made me stop in shock :eek:, and from that point on the song gets darker as machine gun-like riffs and a choir-y effect from Rudess provide a backdrop to some sound samples which just add to the atmosphere of the song. There follows another typical Dream Theater solo section which allows them to show off their outstanding technical prowess. The vocals jump back in near the end and the heavy riff continues until it all comes to an abrupt stop, and the end of another very good metal song.
5. Vacant (2:58) - The shortest track on the album is also that rarest of creatures that only pops up once in a while - a Dream Theater track with nothing to do with Portnoy or Petrucci (who are undoubtedly the main men in the band), with lyrics from James LaBrie and music arranged by John Myung and Jordan Rudess. The song provides a stark contrast to the rest of the album, a depressed ballad featuring only Rudess on piano, LaBrie's heartfelt vocals and a cello played by guest musician Eugene Friessen. The lyrics are tinged with sadness and the song is in the same vain as 'Disappear' from 6DOIT. Still, the song is very emotional and as beautiful a song as DT have produced.
6. Stream Of Consciousness (11:16) - This instrumental song leads on from Vacant and after the quiet intro the pace for the song is set immediately. All 4 players are here doing what they do best, and even though the riffs seem to be being used a lot here, there are different themes introduced as the song goes along. Each player gets to show what he can do and the song ranks up there with their fine instrumentals of the past, even though it can seem that the music is recycled a bit much in parts. Nevertheless, SoC is a very powerful song which grabs you from the start and doesn't let go. It builds to a great climax with a fabulous solo from Rudess near the end, and then draws to a close as it ends the way it started, with acoustic guitar as it transcends into the next song.
7. In The Name Of God (14:16) - This song deals with a potentially controversial subject matter which has been present in the world especially since September 11th - that is, the taking of life from others in the name of the Almighty. It's a brilliant song which after repeated listens is becoming my joint favourite (with Endless Sacrifice). It begins with more acoustic guitar which quickly leads into a powerful Metallica-style riff that pumps and sets another dark mood, then quiets down for the vocals of LaBrie, who sounds awesome on this track. The chorus is gripping and LaBrie continues with soaring vocals as he tells you to 'Listen when the prophet speaks'. At 5:45 the mood becomes even darker at the bridge, with Myung and Portnoy laying down an intimidating foundation to LaBrie's story-telling vocal style, and as the guitar enters, this section keeps building up with Portnoy almost soloing behind the riffing. Then, at 7:13, comes something quite unexpected - a very short techno section! After that curious little break the song resumes with as much power as it had before. It drives on with Petrucci soloing until the whole style changes, as Myung and Portnoy lay down a really catchy samba groove at 8:36. This is fantastic in itself, but John Petrucci's guitar soloing in this section is nothing less than incredible - prepare to be amazed. The bassline changes slightly at 9:22 but the latino feel continues with more shredding which at first seems like more Petrucci but is in fact Jordan Rudess making his keyboard sound uncannily like a guitar. Suddenly the samba vibe drops and the main riff comes in followed by a slower breakdown. The chorus comes back in and then the music keeps repeating as the song draws to a close. James LaBrie continues to sing his ass off and near the end a famous war song, 'The Battle Hymn of the Republic' is chanted underneath the music. Finally it fades out to only solo piano and with a final chord the album fades into nothing - the end of a fabulous record.
And so ends Train Of Thought. In my opinion it is up there with their best work and is satisfying for how long I've waited for this album to come out. I think everyone who has heard and liked Dream Theater before should get this CD, and metal fans who want something maybe a little more thought out may also like to try this album. It'll make a good addition to any CD collection and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
I'm just going to chip in and give a positive review for This Dying Soul, which is my second-favorite on the album after In The Name of God:
The song is divided into two parts, labeled "IV. Reflections of Reality (Revisited)" and "V. Release." These correspond to the fourth and fifth steps in AA's twelve-step recovery program. After the pounding intro, the song launches into two mini-solos by Petrucci and Rudess before flowing seamlessly into an Eastern-sounding melodic structure. The song quiets down as LaBrie sings a haunting melody with a reference to The Mirror. While LaBrie does lamentably go into Durst-like rapping, the band bookends it with a chilling chorus accompanied by a beautiful guitar harmony.
The song transitions into the second half by echoing the riff from the beginning of the second section ("Restoration") of The Glass Prison. It proceeds into a fairly straightforward but nevertheless powerful structure, again with lyrical references to "Restoration."
To be honest, I didn't find any of the solos besides the ones at the beginning to be particularly memorable, although they are technically out-of-this-world as usual. The song overall really worked for me though, in no small part due to the tie-in to The Glass Prison.
And the best part: Mike Portnoy plans to continue writing the story told in this song and The Glass Prison into songs on the next few Dream Theater albums. I can't wait for the next one :D
I have to agree with Mr. Squeegee, I think This Dying Soul is the second best song on the album. I love the "rap" part in TDS, but I hate the rap part in Honor Thy Father. Altogether, an excellent album, and I too would give it a 5/5.
Originally posted by sensitiveorgan00
Great review you did. :thumb: Excellent work. I'll have to pick up some older DT albums before I get this though. (I only have Awake :upset: )
You need to get Images and Words, it's an absolute classic, and my personal favourite is Scenes From A Memory, though you might want to spring for the DVD, as they play the whole SFAM beginning to end, and you get extras, with emphasis on the bonus tracks, which have great songs such as Erotomania, Voices, and Dream Theater's best song, the 25 minute epic A Change of Seasons.
I really like this CD as well, though the rapping doesn't really bug me. The latin shred section in my favourite song, In The Name of God (Great lyrics in that song!) is TO DIE FOR. *drools*
People say you can't dance to shred, pfft. :p
5/5 Not my favourite album, but still good DT material.
Thanks. I was going to pick up Images and Words soon, just need some spare money. The DVD looks interesting, something I should get a hold on. A Change of Seasons, woah, *orgasm*. It's one of my favorite epics.
Another excellent album, but I could care less for the lyrics. They did not impress me at all. The rhyme schemes got boring very fast, but luckily the virtuoso talent of the rest of the band covers that up. I'm not trying to downplay their sheer ability, but their strength definitely is not in their lyricism. I wrote stuff like that in early high school, to be entirely honest. Albeit, I am among the upper ranks of the upper eschelon of my college's writers, but still... It saddened me to see that their lyrics were comparable to what I wrote when I was 15.
Ahem... In any case, it's still another superb album, as expected. The little joke part in Endless Sacrifice (I think) was great, too. 4.5/5 (because I'm an English major, but the instrumental adroitness overwhelms lyrical shortcomings).
Originally posted by Distorted Vision I disagree, FII is nowhere near their best but it has some good moments, like Hell's Kitchen, Lines In The Sand and Trial Of Tears. Not a 0/5 though, more like a 2.5/5.
Eh, I don't like any song on it, except for "Peruvian Skies". Because of that song, I revise this album to a 1/5.