Dream Theater - Train Of Thought
Elektra Entertainment Group Inc.
Progressive Metal
7 songs (69'19)
Release year: 2003
Dream Theater, Elektra
Reviewed by Marty
Album of the year
Members of Dream Theater have been pressed for details in the past several months about Train Of Thought, which finally hit the stores last week. A veil of secrecy seemed to surround the writing and recording of this new album. Known for being huge heavy metal fans, Dream Theater has even performed the entire Number Of The Beast album by Iron Maiden and Master Of Puppets by Metallica several times at special shows over the years. I've never really considered them to be an actual "metal" band....until now. Drawing from their love of metal music and all the influences that their favorite bands have to offer the sound of Dream Theater, they've come out with an album of dark, heavy and very atmospheric progressive metal music that is heavier than anything they've ever done before.

Using slow and doom style metal riffs, the opening track As I Am kicks into a great heavy groove that has a heavier and more angrier tone than the typical Dream Theater sound. There's hardly any keyboards on this track, which is the case with most of the songs on this album and overall I'd say As I Am has the sound and feel of something from Metallica's Black album. This Dying Soul, again starts with big boomy guitar riffs over a speedy and choppy intro and is one of those tracks that uses lengthy instrumentals at the start to build up the atmosphere before any vocals are heard. Guitar-wise, this one has it all. From cool wah effect leads over a heavy rhythm to Maiden style guitar harmonies, John Petrucci covers all the bases. Jordan Rudess' keys finally make appearances with some lead synth soloing as well as some backing piano. Awesome heavy riff breaks mid song again bring Metallica to mind. This one's amazing in it's intensity and very crazy and abrupt changes. James LaBrie's vocals on this one are more typical of what he's done in the past but it's the instrumental sections which really drive this song. A surprising additive is some rap-style vocal by James on this one that is a bit out of place but isn't fatal to the song. Up next, Endless Sacrifice, is easily the best track on the album and one of the best songs they've ever written as far as I'm concerned. A quiet and very Welcome Home (Sanitarium) style of opening (the drum part is almost the same) uses a blend of piano and keyboard orchestration along with James' voice to set the tone. Big heavy riffing blasts in for the chorus section complete with feedback squeals from John's guitar between chords. I love the change to a really pounding heavy passage mid-song. It's very out of character but it's an awesome riff and I can just see people's heads starting to move with this one. The song speeds up with more staggering riffing, leads, harmonies and keyboard leads and is pure heaven to listen to. Great harmony with the vocals and choruses and also crushingly heavy at the same time.....are these guys pissed off at something???? Honor Thy Father begins with some quirky Anthrax style thrash metal riffing with amazing double bass flurries by Mike Portnoy and the song deals with the trials and tribulations of family life. Rap style vocals are used again in one section in what seems to be a confrontation between a father and his adopted son. Another very angry song, this very riff heavy track has very few keyboards and the riffing builds to a frenzy during a section of the song with background spoken voices representing a therapy session between father and son. Lots of atmospheric instrumental sections add to the intensity of this one as well. Vacant, is a short piece with just piano, voice and a string section and James pulls off a nice quiet vocal. This is a nice break (although short) from the intensity of the album thus far.

For the final 2 tracks, the band gets back to business. Stream Of Consciousness is an instrumental track that along with it's big heavy riffs and keyboard layering has a Queensryche Operation Mindcrime style with the riffing and choppy rhythms. Mike Portnoy provides some huge spinning drum fills and John Petrucci whips off some staggering ascending and descending speed scale runs that will make your head spin. The last track, In The Name Of God, is another killer track and before anyone gets nervous about any apparent Christian overtones, this one should actually be called "Killing" In The Name Of God and deals with religious fanaticism that ultimately leads to violence in our present day and age, all justified (apparently) in the name of God. Big boomy and pounding heavy rhythms again are the norm here with some killer riffing and very abstract and off-beat drumming. The chorus is awesome and one of the best on the album. Instrumentally, this one has some very technical guitar and keyboard trade-offs mid song before returning to the main riff and chorus sections.

James LaBrie's voice really takes a back seat to the music on this album and he really is just another instrument in the wall of sound. The band has opted for an extremely heavy approach to their music this time (at least by their standards) but still manage to maintain the quality in musicianship and arrangements that they're known for. The production is big and powerful and the band has never sounded better. Long time fans of the band will certainly be surprised by this album, some pleasantly and others not so pleasantly. Heavy metal fans that really haven't gotten into Dream Theater yet will have a feast with this one. This album is going to be huge and only time will tell but in the long run, it may someday be regarded as some of the band's best work to date. My album of the year so far.........

Killing Songs :
As I Am, This Dying Soul, Endless Sacrifice and In The Name Of God
Marty quoted 95 / 100
Keegan quoted 100 / 100
Jay quoted 96 / 100
Danny quoted 95 / 100
Jeff quoted 75 / 100
Other albums by Dream Theater that we have reviewed:
Dream Theater - Distance Over Time reviewed by Goat and quoted 82 / 100
Dream Theater - Dream Theater reviewed by Rob and quoted 79 / 100
Dream Theater - Live At Budokan reviewed by Aleksie and quoted no quote
Dream Theater - A Dramatic Turn of Events reviewed by Crash and quoted 73 / 100
Dream Theater - A Change Of Seasons reviewed by Goat and quoted no quote
To see all 18 reviews click here
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