45 of 46 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2003
Train Of Though is the 8th studio album from the masters of progressive metal/rock - Dream Theater. After many listens to the album, all I can say is I am amazed. Train Of Though is a superbley constructed musical haven for anyone who likes the heavier side of Dream Theater. You really should just stop reading now, and go out and buy this album. For those that want to know more, however, I'll continue. This album has something in common with every other Dream Theater album, in the fact that, ironically, every album sounds completely different. Train Of Though is the agressive and heavier side of Dream Theater, where the songs (apart from Vacant) are very similar to The Glass Prison from 6 Degrees Of Inner Turbulance, then anything off Images And Words. I cannot stress how very heavy this album is. John Petrucci and John Myung seem to be the highest people in the mix and it really shows. On a scale of heaviness, if you considered Awake 2 out of 10, then Train Of Thought would be 14. Despite how incredibly heavy it is, Train Of Thought is very easy to listen to, and you could go on for hours just repeating the CD and not caring one bit.
One thing that is very apparent with the album is the amount of other bands that Dream Theater have been influenced by when recording it. Equally obvious to the influences of Pink Floyd, Genesis, and Rush in Images And Words, bands such as Metallica, Megadeth, Slayer, and to a certain extent; Linkin Park (¬_¬) and Mudvayne. The clever thing, DT has taken all these influences, mixed them up, progged them up, and come out with something that is completely unique. I'll just give a quick rundown of the songs:
As I Am - The opening song (and also the single) sounds a lot like a cross between Alice In Chains and Metallica. It is a regular metal track, and probably my least favourite on the album. It just does not have the DT magic that you expect from their songs, and instead sounds like everything else in the crowd. Thankfully, it is saved by an absolutely blinding solo by John Petrucci, that does make you truly realise how much of a guitar god he really is. Overall, very average.
This Dying Soul - Now this is what I'm talking about. Thundering guitar, bass, drums and keyboard kick in the first second and they hardly ever let up. A very heavy song, with some more blinding solos from both John Petrucci and Jordon Rudess, and even a little bit of rapping from James LaBrie (don't worry, it's not as bad as it sounds). Also, this song could be known as The Glass Prison Part 2 (or The Mirror Part 3), actually continuing on from where The Glass Prison ended. There are two very obvious and similar riffs taken from said song, as well as numerous lyrics and ideas. Overall, a brilliant song, but not one for the faint of heart.
Endless Sacrifice - What starts out as a very slow acoustic ballad very akin to Metallica's Sanitarium suddenly turns a lot darker and heavier. Very good and very moving with great keyboards and great guitar. Once this songs reaches the 5 minute mark though, you are treated to an absolutely over the top instrumental complete with thundering fast guitar solos, and Jordon Rudess's funny keyboard noises. If you don't crack a smile when he plays his cartoony bit, you are made of stone.
A very good song with a marvelous instrumental at the end.
Honour Thy Father - From reading this title, it seems like this would be a heart felt song with religious overtones. That view couldn't be more wrong. This song, written by Mike Portnoy, is literally a giant "*** you!" to his dad. With grindcore-ish type drumming at the beginning it becomes very obvious this is Mike's song and he's not letting it go. The lyrics are very haunting, and James LaBrie puts this across perfectly. Like every other song on this album (except Vacant), expect excessive guitar and brain tumour inducing bass. This song also has the brilliant fade-out "DON'T CROSS THE CROOKED STEP" line, which no doubt will be synonymous between DT fans for many years to come.
Vacant - This is the resting point on the album. Like Wait For Sleep, this song is a quiet peaceful song that really contrasts the rest of the album. Only 2:57 in length, it is by far the shortest song on the album, but it's beautiful constructed nature with keyboards and violin serve as a welcome rest before the two last songs. An absolutely beautiful song.
Stream Of Consciousness - What can be said about this song? However could an 11 minute instrumental from Dream Theater ever sound anything less than amazing? It's very difficult to describe this song, but it does not disappoint. This is my second favourite song on the album.
In The Name Of God - This song is just fantastic. What appears to have religious overtones like Honour Thy Father, is actaully a progressive masterpiece argueing against how people can kill in the name of God. Very heart felt lyrics from John Petrucci here, portrayed perfectly by James LaBrie, with the same old crunch heavy guitar and bass, and classical piano. The song gets even better after the first half when the instrumental kicks in with what can only be decribed as Liquid Tension Experiment type progressive, with time changes, solos, and instrumental harmony abound, finishing with a perfect outro with classical piano. It is truly amazing. By far, my favourite song on the album, and the best song to end with.
Overall, I absolutely adoured this album. If you like the heavier side Dream Theater (The Glass Prison, Lie, The Mirror), then you're in for a treat. A progressive masterpiece, I would consider up there with Images and Words, Awake, and Scenes From A Memory. Astounding, but not to be taken lightly.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2003
So, how does a band try to follow up up its last two highly acclaimed concept albums? The answer quite rightly is they haven't even tried! Improving on the last two albums would be a near impossible task, so the concept album formula has been dropped in favour of a more conventional approach to the progressive metal genre.
So what of the new album? Seven songs and a running time of 70 mins proves we're still in the the progressive metal territory here that DT practically invented. What is surprising here is the lack of musical subtlety - the band have gone straight for the jugular with a barrage of heavy and intense riffs which lack a little cohesiveness. Make no mistake about it, we have their darkest and most brutal offering to date.
Essentially the album offers all the DT trademarks we have come to expect, but i suspect it may lead to criticism for some fans for being overly heavy and lacking in finesse and melody compared to their recent releases.
I've been a huge fan of DT since 'Images' but i've always preferred their 'colder' songs like Scarred, The Mirror, and The Glass Prison so from my point of view i'm very impressed with with this release, but how fans of the last two albums will view this remains to be seen....
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 21 October 2007
First of all, I'd like to urge potential buyers to ignore the low scores given to this album by some reviewers. This truly is a great album. The one and two-star reviewers seem to give the album those scores just for the sake of it. One person even said that this was the worst album ever, without even giving a reason why. They complain that it just a simple metal album and a total abandonment of Dt's sound. Sure, this is their heaviest album, but the key dream theater sound still mostly remains.
On Train of Thought, Dream Theater decided to make a turn for a darker, heavier but very ambitious sound. John Petrucci's guitar has become the most dominant instrument, providing the perfect musical background for darker lyrics. If it's a showcase for any one member of the band, it is John Petrucci. His amazing, technical solos and heavy riffs have never been better. Some may prefer the lighter sound of previous albums, closer examination will reveal this album to be one of the band's most mature, powerful and just enjoyable albums to date. Lyrically, it is arguably their best. While the lyrics have been more poetic before, these lyrics are truly deep and meaningful. The album is still pretty diverse as before. There is Vacant, a soothing and peaceful song which uses cello. Also, the first half of Endless Sacrifice is a ballad as beautiful as anything they've ever done. Now, an overview of the songs.
As I Am: The opener is actually one of the biggest departures here. It is a pretty straightforward metal song, influences by metallica. Still, it's a superb song. After a slow build, it launches into some great riffs. James LaBrie is on top form here and Portnoy's drumming is superb as always. It has a great chorus and a killer shred solo by Petrucci. Not one of the album's best, but still a perfect opener and great song.
This Dying Soul: This is where the Dream Theater sound really comes in. Opens with more thundering guitars and bass and thrashy riffs. Petrucci and Rudess both get solos in the intro. Soon the song's main riff, which has a great middle-eastern vibe, comes in and gives the track a really epic feel. It's a very complex song, with loads of different riffs, guitar harmonies and vocal parts. John Petrucci's lyrics about alcholism are perfectly got across by LaBrie. It all builds to a climax with a stunning, lighning-fast Petrucci solo that lasts for almost two minutes. Perfect!
Endless Sacrfice: Another masterful song which begins as a gentle ballad with LaBrie's voice at its best and beautiful lyrics. The chorus is louder and agrressive, and almost reminds me of Machine Head. After the first five minutes, it explodes into a complex, brilliant instrumental section that is pure Dream Theater. Amazing solos from Petrucci and Rudess, and very cool riffs. Then, it reaches it's moving climax with LaBrie singing very passionately. Another magnificent track, but the best has yet to come.
Honor Thy Father: Very heavy, with massive buzzsaw riffs and crazy drumming. Lyrically it's about Mike Portnoy's abusive father. Lyrics are very well done and are perfectly represented by LaBrie. Has a quieter, haunting verse and a section with some quasi-rapping (It actually works pretty well, don't worry). The chorus is very aggressive. The middle section is the highlight though, with a heavy riff which is masterfully built up using voice samples and keyboards to another great solo. A very heavy, but also bitingly effective song.
Vacant: This is a very soft and quiet song, with some soothing vocals. It provides a very nice contrast and adds to the overall effect of the album. You can really sense the emotion that was put into this piece. There's also some cello in here, which makes it even better. It also acts as a perfect intro to the next track.
Stream of Consciousness: The album's intrumental, and probably the best instrumental of the band's career. Whereas previous DT instrumentals were often just showcases for the bandmembers, this one is incredible from a muscial viewpoint, using many great neo-classical melodies and communicates emotionally with a listener. It is quite long for an instrumental, but it never gets boring. There are plenty of diffferent riffs, harmonies and great solos. It changes most significantly in the middle and builds to another awesome climax. All the band members put in their absolute best here, making it a real joy to listen to. It is just as dark and powerful as the songs with words.
In the Name of God: If you thought it could't get any better, it does right at the end. This is the albums's climax, and I think it is the best song the band have ever done. From a quiet intro, the song is carried by some amazing eastern styled riffs (the best on the album). Lyrically, it provides a deep, challenging argument against religios hypocrisy. LaBrie's voice once again fluctuates from the aggressive to passionate with ease and gets the lyrics across better than almost any other singer could. keyboards weave throughout the song to great effect. The chorus is really moving. There's then a dark, menacing bridge section which builds to the instrumental part, with some stunning solo work from Petrucci. Finally, the song returns to the chorus and slowly finishes using repeats of the chorus, but adding pianos and extra backing vocals. It finishes with gentle piano, and leaves a lasting impression after the song ends. A genuinely moving song.
So there you have it. Train of Thought is the band's heaviest and darkest album, but it's also the one that provides the most musical emotion and lyrical meanings. It's up there with Images and Words as their overall best. The darker sound is better suited for getting those lyrics across, and only someone with a low IQ could say that the progressive DT sound is not at least partly intact. Anyone who criticises the album by saying this should be completely ignored. Highly recommended. If you're considering buying it, you might also want to read the review on allmusic.com, it's very helpful.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 22 September 2006
I've loved Dream Theater for a long time. I'm only 18 but over the past few years I've listened to them non-stop.
This is actually the latest album I bought by DT, I already owned the rest of them and needed to finish the collection. In short.......it's ridiculously good and makes you want to stop playing guitar/drums/bass/singing/keyboard. You get the point.
It's certainly a turn from their old roots of majestic lead breaks and ambient chord progressions. DT decided to throw in the towel on all that, and prove to people that they can create a heavy metal record that will make musicians around the world fear it. The opening track 'As I Am' does just that. From the awesome lead riff, to the melt-the-plectrum-in-you-hand solo by Petrucci, this song is definitely the stand-out track for me. Of course it doesn't stop there. Tracks such as 'Honor Thy Father' (which has the most impressive drum intro I've heard in a long time) really makes you wonder how they can create an album that is so different from their previous works. The epic album-closer, 'In The Name Of God' boasting a length of 14 minutes features a jaw-droppingly good dual guitar/keyboard solo at the end and is the perfect end to an immense album that only took 3 weeks to make (if you dont believe me, search 'Dream Theater - Train Of Thought' on Youtube and watch the 3 episodes of 'Making The Album'. Even they couldn't believe it took so little time.
Over all, this album is a must for anyone who can appreciate good music, and look beyond mere verse, chorus, verse, chorus, solo, verse. These guys are at the top of their game, and their musical expertise is found in every bar of every song. What a band!
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2004
I am a great fan of Dream Theater, so i may have a slightly biased judgement...
As I Am starts the album, and as i see it is a response to the modern music industry, focussing as i see it on recording labels, who look for simply how well their new five piece all singing band will be accepted by the braindead modern music industry. "To those who understand, I extend my hand, To the doubtful i demand, take me as i am.."
it also has a great instrumental section. This song is not the most musically challenging, (read: it's mainly in a 4/4 beat) This of course however is not necessarily a bad thing, and the band deals with it extremely well
This Dying Soul extends the themes of The Glass Prison from the previous album, and explores the theme of the program set by Alcoholics Anonymous to rid oneself of alcohoism by a 12 step program. It also develop themes from The Mirror, a track from the album Awake. It again is a heavy song with a metal feel to it. It is varied throughout of course, and sometimes you can get confused as to what song you're listening to because of the sheer scale of the number of different themes throughout the album.
Endless Sacrifice starts off with a good riff (ominously similar to a Michael Jackson riff) and then descends into full a blown progressive metal track, with extremely proficient guitar / keyboard duets. This is a common occurence in the album, when John Petrucci and Jordan Rudess play the same notes extremely fast for a few bars, and then go into harmony. Its very impressive seen live, i was amazed that it was possible to do it so proficiently without some time keeping method such as a conductor. The theme i guess is confusion and frustration and is in the form over all as a metal ballad (if that is not an oxymoron.)
Honor Thy Father is "a hate song" written about the Step Father of a friend of a band member, and is a powerful explosion of emotions with speech samples. This (if again possible) is the essence of modern dream Theater, this is a great song
Vacant is a welcome break from the metal thus far, and is an emotive song with keyboard 'cello and guitar, and voice. It puts the 'cello (in my opinion one of the best and most variable orchestral instruments) to very good use. most importantly it does not sound cheesy or pretentious.
Stream of Conciousness is a very proficient and impressive instrumental, up there with the Ytse Jam and The Dance of Eternity. Quite simply its a showcase of the incredible talent of each member of the band (with exception of course of James LaBrie.)
Finally "In The Name of God", my favorite song on the album is an exploration of religious fanaticism, and is a powerful track with varied themes. It discusses ideas of Cult and of course violence in the name of God. I do not see it as an exploration of faith of the band. Eight minutes in is one of the best keyboard/guitar duets i have heard. Again live it is mind blowing. I also love the way that the musical themes are so varied in their dynamics and timing. Again i see this track as the essence of modern Dream Theater.
Overall i think this is a fantastic album. It is not my favorite Dream Theater album (at the moment) yet it harks back to Awake etc whilst looking forward to what the metal and progressive genre can produce in the future. I think it is a quite groundbreaking album, and it of course will never get the recognition it deserves.
To those who like metallica, if you hear this, i'm afraid your opinion of the more popular band may decrease. For those with a musically trained mind this is a must. I cannot recommend this album and band enough.
on 16 October 2015
When discussing the making of this album, the members of Dream Theater have said that their goal, inspired by all the "classic" metal albums by bands such as Metallica and Iron Maiden, was to make a record full of "live songs" that will work well in a concert setting. An album full of metal classics, that'll get energy flowing, fists pumping and heads banging.
As is always the case when bands stray away from their original sound, there are some who dislike this record for being more centered on metal, as opposed to the progressive elements that Dream Theater made famous in the early 90's. Being a metal fan as much as a prog fan, I love this record, and whilst anyone can see that they stepped away from a lot of their progressive roots on this one, the band more than compensate for it with these pumping metal anthems.
Of course, at the time this album came out (November 2003) I was still fairly new to Dream Theater, and definitely more of a metalhead than anything else. So why wouldn't I love tracks like 'As I Am' (that riff...), 'This Dying Soul', 'Honor Thy Father' or 'In the Name of God'? Each track perfectly demonstrates why Dream Theater can stand toe-to-toe with any of metal's elite.
As you would expect from this band, the musicianship is phenomenal. Most of the songs are definitely guitar-centered, with keyboardist Jordan Rudess taking more of a backseat in most songs. But he's there none-the-less, and when he's trading solos with guitarist John Petrucci, especially on tracks like 'Stream of Consciousness', you know that there's no one that can match these guys.
'Train of Thought' certainly has its prog moments, but ultimately, this is an all-out, straight-up, ballsy metal album. And it's a damn good one, at that!
on 3 October 2014
This outing for DT is a decent stab of progressiveness, and it was Dream Theater's attempt at a heavy, modern and clean-cut album. In almost all evident aspects, this functions very well as a album based on those qualities; the basis of which, is a template of extended-length metal songs with modest variation.
There is an obvious live opener in the form of "As I am", the ambitiously proggy:- "This dying soul", the rather lengthy metallic curtailments of "Endless sacrifice", and the deeply angled riff-fest of "Honor thy father". ""Vacant" is a pleasant and short piece, which is pursued by the fantastic instrumental "Stream of consciousness"; finally, the last song on the album is "In the name of god", which is the most sophisticated and progressive song on the album.
Overall this is a relatively well-accomplished success. The positives here are many, James labrie's vocal performance is good, John petrucci's guitarwork is good, Jordan's keyboard work is quaint and restrained, and Mike portnoy's drumming is great. Myung's bass is a little too much at times, but that isn't helped by a general cloudy-ness relating to the production.
Overall, this is quite a slip-streamed effort from Dream Theater that delivers a solid DT omnibus:- of progressive metal. Apart from a overdose in length within some of these curtailments, a little more presence of tidy musical nuances, and a more clearer production; this would have almost certainly levelled-out at the top star rating.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 29 May 2007
i love dream theater they are truly the masters of prog metal, or in this case good heavy metal with a fiar bit of intellegent prog here and there.
i do however feel abit annoyed with the fact that there is some rap on this album, why dream theater why? u r better then this. still i allow it only coz thier back catolog is just breath taking. but when u think about how ppl r always moaning about them being to soft or to heavy then what r dream theater gonna do to please ppl?.
1. as i am. brill oppener great singing fantastic solo from john, it sets the space for what is to come.
2.this dying soul. now this is dream theater epic prggy and complex although i did not like the rap section in this when the song speeds up.
apart form that good song.
3.endless sacrifice. wonderful oppening keyboard solo from jordan, a good metal song thats both epic and heavy.
4.honor thy father. ok what where they thinking why the rap singing again for? this lets the album down but does not damage it though. it does get better after this letdown.
5.vacant. a nice ballad that makes up for the last song, a change of pace that gives us a nice break from the very cool onslought.
6.Stream Of Consciousness. without question the most complex song on the album, hard to leisten to but its dream theater doing what they do best.
great playing from all and once again each memeber showing what they do best.
7.In The Name Of God. the albums true epic and what a damn good song it is, good to headbang to aswell. very heavy and good bass work from john mayoung to. a nice eastern bit in the middle to. it ends what the album started.
not the best album but heavy and strong efforts from all,
plz plz no more rap though
rock on theater.
on 30 August 2014
While the first notes of this album replicate the ending notes of their previous album, "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (and the final notes of this one is replicated by the first ones of the next), there is little else which connect the two. This is a much heavier affair, and while the previous album lingered rather a lot this is a basic heavy metal album with real songs. Fine, some are long indeed, and filled with references to other albums as well as to movies ("Magnolia" passes by for a few seconds, for example), it does not feel at all as lingering and slightly contrived as the previous album. Come to think of it, I think I need to listen to it again to understand why ... :-)
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
I do of course write this review as a huge fan of this massively unappreciated band whose place in the history of prog rock and metal must now be assured.
There is no question that this is a 5 star album. Although, as it appears many agree, this release is unlikely to ever be regarded as a favourite amongst fans. I think the reason for this is its sheer relentlessness, darkness and technical form. There is clearly alot of anger expressed through these songs and this does at first create quite a dour mood.
However, do not be put off by this. If you like your playing fast and technical, it is hard to think of a better example in all of prog rock/metal. The playing by all concerned is quite amazing and utterly peerless. This band keeps on raising the bar musically - they really took the technical aspects of their playing just about as far as any musician can and the deliberate underplaying which features on some of the songs on the later Octavarium album was inevitable and quite understandable.
Yes, there are only seven songs. But that equates to well over an hour of music. The last track, which is one of my favourites, In The Name of God, clocks in at over 14 minutes and features some incredible soloing from Petrucci and Rudess.
Other highlights for me are the opener, As I Am, and Endless Sacrifice. The former will take you back to the very best riffs from the likes of Metallica and Pantera, but in a much grander and developed musical setting.
If you lean towards the heavier and darker side of rock/metal you will simply love this album. For those who prefer the band's softer and more melodic side, this is unlikely to appeal as much.
A must of course for all DT fans but also for those who like their metal fast and heavy.