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Dream Theater - Train of Thought CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.60 | 1854 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
3 stars Train of Thought followed the mixed reception of 6 Degrees of Inner Turbulence. The band, particularly Mike Portnoy, decided to embrace the metal side of the band. The result was one DT's heaviest and most metallic album to date. I thoroughly enjoyed this album, but from a prog standpoint it's a bit of a disappointment.

As I Am is a heavy opener and it signal the direction this album will take. Petrucci's solo is, as per usual, great. The drawback is that Myung is inaudible and LaBrie is filtering his voice through whatever piece of equipment Tool's Maynard James Keenan uses to metallicize his voice. This works for the gravelly and emotional Keenan, but not for The operatic LaBrie.

This Dying Soul is a fierce continuation of the A.A. Suite. Myung is still muted, LaBrie's voice is still distorted, but Petrucci and Portnoy drive the song with lightspeed riffing and double bass drums. The lyrics and music reflect parts of the A.A. Suite for obvious reasons, but they are played much faster and heavier.

Endless Sacrifice is where the band remembers that they do in fact have a keyboardist. Rudess hasn't contributed much so far, simply playing along to Petrucci if anything, but now he gets his moment. The lyrics are surprisingly strong for a DT ballad. Petrucci wrote it for his wife, and if songs like these replaced the dull AOR ballads of Octavarium, that misstep would have been a classic. Another plus is that James decides to ditch the distortion and use his voice.

Honor Thy Father is probably the darkest song in DT's catalogue. Portnoy's lyrics are full of bile and rage; this could easily be a companion track for the song Loser on Ayreon's The Human Equation. The lyrics recall the darker subject matter like Tool and Pain of Salvation. The spoken word portion of the song breaks the song, but I listen to the music underneath, which is still pounding. For me, the spoken word would have more meaning but I swear that part of the audio is dialogue from the comedy The Royal Tenenbaums as well as the drama Magnolia (yes, my nerdiness extends to cinema as well). I guess Portnoy likes overhyped indie films. The movie is slightly satricial, and only snippets from satire can be used in such a serious song, but it still devalues the sincerity of and emotion of the audio.

Vacant is LaBries's lyrical contribution, and it serves as a short, soft interlude between the heaviness of the preceding songs and the technical wizardry about to unfold. LaBrie's vocals are quite good, and this song is too often overlooked.

Stream of Consciousness is the most progressive number on the bill here. This 11 minute instrumental opus starts with a soft guitar before heavy synths and riffs kick in. The greatest part of this song, other than Petrucci's technically baffling solo, is that John Myung apparently noticed that his bass' amplifier cord was out and he plugged it back in and soldiered ahead without fixing the previous tracks. He doesn't contribute much, but at this point it's nice just to hear him.

In The Name of God is a superb closer with some of Petrucci's best lyrics. The song targets cult members who engage in violence against others and themselves, and it bashes "self proclaimed messiahs" like David Koresh. Rudess contributes a chilling outro but little else. Petrucci' stamp is all over this song, and Portnoy keeps rythm with Petrucci not Myung.

Overall, metalheads will love this album. However, the near absence of Myung and Rudess is appalling. After all, Rudess is the most important member of the band; his string arrangements and keyboard wizardry kept Octavarium from being a total dud. Lyrically, this is a high water mark for the band. Petrucci and Portnoy shine, but at the expense of the others. LaBrie's vocals, when not distorted have improved drastically from Scenes and 6 Degrees. I've heard that food poisoning ruptured his vocal chords after recording Awake. That would explain his straining on Falling Into Infinity and Scenes, though he shined on The Spirit Carries On. His vocals would improve on the subsequent Octavarium, but I'd recommend buying the live Score over the studio album. Fans of DT will find a lot to love here, but those who dislike DT and even prog metal will find this to be the perfect ammunition to disparage the band/genre.

Grade: C+

1800iareyay | 3/5 |


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