Dream Theater
Train of Thought


4.5
superb

Review

by Kenneth E. Rathburn CONTRIBUTOR (108 Reviews)
July 30th, 2014 | 63 replies


Release Date: 2003 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Dream Theater, unabashed and unleashed.

“Darker” and “different direction” are the most wearily common words bands use when pitching their latest album. Dream Theater never had to bother with the latter, since their sound is constantly changing. This leaves the oh-so-ominous dark side we’ve since become saturated with in all media and culture (movies, videogames, music, books, etc.). With Train of Thought, Dream Theater fully exposed the mere glimpses we got of a decidedly bleaker territory.

The note linking Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Train of Thought quickly recedes, leading to a play of foreboding and usually aggressive sounds that refuse to let up. Even “Vacant” epitomizes the album’s moody nature in less than three minutes, all without help from Myung, Portnoy or Petrucci. In fact, you probably won’t hear a more depressing Dream Theater song than this. That’s the kind of album listeners are in for.

Far from catchy, Train of Thought is remarkably light on melody, especially taking the normally-extravagant Jordan Rudess into account. He might sneak a brief lapse into “Endless Sacrifice” and get a chance to truly appear during “Stream of Consciousness,” but his presence feels notably understated. This only adds to the album’s more straightforward and, dare I say, base metal sound. All the songs are traditional Dream Theater length (except “Vacant”) and provide a routine dosage of progressive elements, but not to the same degree as Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.

How well does it ultimately play out? Depends on how you look at it. Train of Thought is an album that demands the right state of mind in order to be fully enjoyed. And when it is, boy does this beast deliver. Other than song length and progressive technicality, this is uncharacteristically Dream Theater. Every song is an ideal example of how far the band wanted to take their attempts at harsher material, the key culprit being “Honor Thy Father,” far and away Dream Theater’s most hostile song to date. It’s also a personal favorite in an expanse of consistently solid, if not excellent, tracks.

While it’s possible to choose standouts, Train of Thought demands being heard from start to finish. The band’s contentious direction managed to breathe a different--albeit pent-up and decaying--type of life into them. Perhaps the best overall example of this is “This Dying Soul,” the second of Mike Portnoy’s Twelve-step Suite. For a while, we have a steady and methodical sound, but come the second half, connections between it and “The Glass Prison” arise along with the pace. Things get downright explosive. If any song can get the listener to drop their guard, it would be this one (or the effective “Endless Sacrifice”). That said, there are no guarantees.

When Train of Thought isn’t ignored, it’s usually frowned upon and seen as a notorious venture. Just like Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, this is both unfortunate and understandable. As with Falling Into Infinity, Train of Thought is an alienating work for listeners, which is interesting since the albums polarize each other. Except where one seemed to compromise the band’s integrity, the other saw them take liberties on their own accord. It didn’t draw popularity or celebration, but it did produce potent material that, regardless of opinion, leaves a strong impression.



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user ratings (2283)
Chart.
3.9
excellent
other reviews of this album
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
July 30th 2014


991 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Yeah, Honor Thy Father is my favorite song on here, what about it?

MO
July 30th 2014


21937 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

stream of consciousness is still a jam

ChoccyPhilly
July 30th 2014


11629 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Glad about the rating but Honor Thy Father...? Well you weren't kidding about your opinion, eh?

Digging: Cecil Otter - Dear Echo

Xenorazr
Contributing Reviewer
July 30th 2014


991 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I don't kid with my honesty.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2014


16499 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

pos'd. Part of me completely agrees with this, if not for some awful singing and lyrics, this would be at least a 4. In The Name of God is one of my favorites of theirs

Digging: Toby Driver - Live at Roulette, March 2017

Green Baron
July 30th 2014


23988 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Honor Thy Father...



aside from that, I agree with most of this review

Artuma
July 30th 2014


29057 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

stream of consciousness is still a jam [2]

ChoccyPhilly
July 30th 2014


11629 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Pretty much. The darker tones really adds something new to the DT catalogue

Onirium
July 30th 2014


3035 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, but it gets a little redundant after a while. At least the album has Stream of Consciousness and In the Name of God

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2014


16499 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

This would probably be a 2.5 if not for those last two

ChoccyPhilly
July 30th 2014


11629 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Endless Sacrifice warrants at least a 3

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2014


16499 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Yeah probably

Ocean of Noise
July 30th 2014


9735 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Album rules. One of their best. Great review too, pos

Digging: Hot Water Music - Caution

BMDrummer
July 30th 2014


13984 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

good review

tempest--
July 30th 2014


20544 Comments


first DT album i got into endless sacrifice and stream kick ass in the name of god rules the rest is good but eh prob haven't listened to this in like 2+ years

PsychicChris
July 30th 2014


261 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Never got into Honor Thy Father. Good album though.

Artuma
July 30th 2014


29057 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

it's a real sucker agreed

GnarlyShillelagh
Emeritus
July 30th 2014


6386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

honor thy father >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

GnarlyShillelagh
Emeritus
July 30th 2014


6386 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

first 4 tracks actually are awesome



first 4 minutes of stream of consciousness are next level, awesome solo on that bitch by petrucci



in the name of god is the only song i actually never really got into, wonder why.

TalonsOfFire
Staff Reviewer
July 30th 2014


16499 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

In The Name of God is one of the best songs they ever wrote



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