7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Dream Theater's heaviest, and one of their best.,
This review is from: Train Of Thought (Audio CD)
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.