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.