DREAM THEATER - Train Of Thought
November 20, 2003, 15 years ago
Dream Theater's last album, Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence, was an ambitious affair that failed to strike a chord amongst main fans; a welcome addition to the DT catalogue, yet one that couldn't hold a candle to its predecessor Scenes From A Memory. A sweeping generalization, I know, but grab a seat on Train Of Thought and you'll be blown away by what it has to offer. This is a John Petrucci/Mike Portnoy production in every way, the guitars and drums bigger than huge and in your face. Petrucci has become a riff monster, Portnoy is still the drum octopus he's always been, and together they lead the band in a heavier new direction that more than smacks of the old days. Call this a cross between Awake and Scenes, with a few nods to Images And Words thrown in for good measure. 'This Dying Soul' and 'Honor Thy Father', the album's two strongest tracks, take us back to the rhythmic crunch of songs like 'The Mirror' and 'Lie' with the prog metal values of 'Voices', the former even including a take on the vocal melody from Metallica's 'Blackened'. 'Endless Sacrifice' is reminiscent of heavy melodic material on Scenes and Images And Words, with a tip of the hat to the keyboard nuttiness that has made 'Metropolis' a classic, while 'Vacant' is a slight return to Awake's 'Space Dye Vest'. For all these tributes to the past, however, it should be said that Train Of Thought is a bold step forward, displaying a positively brutal heavy edge that Dream Theater has only hinted at in the past. On top of that, singer James LaBrie hasn't sounded this good since Images And Words, offering up vocal melodies that stick in the brain like a rail spike punched to the hilt, shining every step of the way (except on the 11+ minute instrumental 'Stream Of Consciousness', of course). Perhaps the most amazing thing about Train Of Thought is that despite the length of most of the songs, there's very little overdone progressive soup to wade through; basically, there's never a dull moment. The best album of Dream Theater's career? If not, then a close second at worst.