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Dream Theater - Train of Thought CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.60 | 1854 ratings

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Special Collaborator
Symphonic Team
3 stars The most metallic and least progressive album of the Dream Theater machine

This album really divides fans and for good reason. The keyboards are really pulled back to the background and Rudess all but disappears. The focus is on shredding crunching distorted guitars, and man, does it destroy! Petrucci blazes on every track and slaughters all other instruments. The usually amazing Myung is a whisper on bass, and Portnoy drums heavier in order to keep up with the blitzkrieg of metal. LaBrie does his best James Hetfield imitation and kind of pulls it off, without using a death growl. We would have to wait for Black Clouds and Silver Linings to hear that from Portnoy. All in all I guess this one pleased metal fans and alienated the prog fans. It is a genuine fish out of water for the band and goes down in history as being the darkest heaviest DT studio recording. The songs were apparently written in two weeks and some of them sound like it. As usual there are highlights and they are quite apparent when you hear this a few times. The all seeing eye on the front cover stares us down as if to suggest we are watching for your reaction. Unfortunately at the time the reaction was not all that favourable with many DT fans being disappointed that the DT magic had been replaced by an onslaught of aggression layered Slayeresque brutalised riffs. The highlights are well documented but my opinion is there are at least 4 standouts worth mentioning.

As I Am is undoubtedly the one track that most DT fans adore. It has a strong melody and powerful riff that locks into your skull. The lead work of Petrucci is dynamic and overall this one really kicks along well and works great as a live number.

Endless Sacrifice is great and Rudess resurfaces with some scintillating keyboard work. It is written for Petrucci's wife and as a power ballad works on many levels; emotionally and has virtuoso musicianship. LaBrie sounds better than the Dalek distortion used at the beginning of this album.

Honor Thy Father is a dark excursion into some angry territory; a hatesong from Portnoy. It sounds something like what Tool or Gary Numan might produce lyrically. There are some strange narrations hidden within, perhaps from an old film but I have no idea which. A real curiosity but one of the highlights.

Stream Of Consciousness is definitely the most progressive track on the album. It deatures virtuoso musicianship and some of the most skillful guitar work from Petrucci.

Other songs have moments but are not up to the standard of usual DT classics. I do not mind the closer In The Name Of God, particularly due to the subject matter of religious zealots murderous intention, perhaps another 9/11 tribute in the vein of "Octavarium"'s Sacrificed Sons.

Overall this much maligned album has its merits but it is definitely the heaviest metal. Like a rollercoaster there are twists and turns in the lengthy songs but they are not as progressive as one may think, rather simply long soloing to make up each song. For all these reasons a fair rating is 3 stars, because DT are capable of so much more and they deliver this in albums to follow.

AtomicCrimsonRush | 3/5 |


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