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Dream Theater - Train of Thought CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.60 | 1858 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
2 stars This is Dream Theater's heaviest and most aimless album to date, creating an unfortunate choice for fans.

Here, Dream Theater decided to remove all these aspects of their music that were more straight prog and just went without abandon towards an exaggeration of the style of prog metal that they helped create. Following the mildly experimental Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, these five boys decided that it was time for an album solely devoted to really getting some energy and heaviness out there. Maybe it was a decision based on motionless audiences (in case they failed to realize that no audience knows how to get up and bounce in 31/32 time) in the concerts. Who knows. What we do know is this: if Dream Theater songs like Lines in the Sand, Disappear, Surrounded, Finally Free, or These Walls appeal to you, good luck with Train of Thought. However, if the heavy and noodling sides of Dream Theater are the reason you're into this band, you just may be in luck here. Unfortunately, though, despite the technical displays of sheer musicianship, the songs are mostly pretty weak and uninspired.

The album opens with the straightforward and well written As I Am. Clearly a single-oriented song despite its eight minute length, this has a catchy chorus and only a minor instrumental break. The guitar solo is actually pretty impressive, and despite the fact that it's almost entirely shredding, it still flows and has a direction. The next song, however, forgot that idea of direction. I'll admit, This Dying Soul is pretty neat the first few times. The direct sequel to The Glass Prison lyrically, this track decides to one-up it in every way--that includes heaviness and sheer volume of notes. Point in case, the final minute of the song, where the guitar and keyboard wail up and down the scales nonstop. Really, it is neat. But as far as a song goes, this one could do with a fair bit of trimming and rethinking. The next song, Endless Sacrifice, starts as a nicely emotional ballad sort of song, at which it succeeds. However, once the instrumental section kicks in, all emotion is out the window. When I say Dream Theater have a propensity to noodle, this is a perfect example. Probably the most aimless and ridiculous instrumental portion the band has ever done, I think, complete with (admittedly humorous) circus noises and a lot of shredding.

Honor Thy Father starts out pretty promisingly, with a heavy, repeated, building riff that despite its odd rhythm can really suck you into its tune. However, the vocals are poorly planned, sounding really awkward and mostly painfully angsty. The chorus is alright, but the verses have James doing some sort of rap that ends up sounding forced and contrived. Plus, the heavy and tight first half give way to a noodling keyboard solo and random instrumental sort of section in the center that once more deprives the song of its power. Vacant is about the only break on this whole album, featuring viola and sad, haunting lyrics--in a way recalling the atmospheres of Falling into Infinity. Next comes an interesting tune, the fully instrumental, fully aimless Stream of Consciousness. The opening riff is pretty neat and drives the music pretty well. This also features what is probably Petrucci's fastest solo with Dream Theater to date, remarkable for that. However, this song is far too long for its own good, too, which is a common problem with pretty much every track on here except As I Am and Vacant. The final song, In the Name of God, is a really promising heavy and slow track about cults and the sort. The emotional impact of this mostly splendid track is cut down by yet another long and noodling session (second only to the large chunk of Endless Sacrifice). It ends with the Battle Hymn of the Republic in a different melody and a dark piano. If only they had cut that solo section out of there, this could be a classic track.

The flaws in this album really maul the overall quality. An excess of raw noodling in almost every track makes the songs very interesting at first, but after a few listens just get mildly annoying. The heavy nature of the album is not a real problem, if only they had varied their songs a little bit better. What it comes down to is: if you like listening to Dream Theater's chops, you'll probably like this a lot. If you want some deeper music with lasting songwriting, you'd best steer clear of Train of Thought.

LiquidEternity | 2/5 |


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