DREAM THEATER - "TRAIN OF THOUGHT" (ELEKTRA)
Progressive metal purists have given Dream Theater a lot of criticism for their latest album, "Train of Thought". Apparently it was too simple, too much straight metal, and where things went technical it was too much standard shred. Which just goes to show that you can't please everyone.
"Train of Thought" does start off rather straightforward with "As I Am". Reminiscent of "Falling Into Infinity", this is not among my favourite tracks, though obviously it's not at all bad to begin with. "This Dying Soul" is ballsyer, with some insane shredding going on. There's some bullhorn vocals which are not too much to my liking but they don't last long thankfully. The song seems to lack cohesion, especially near the end. The reference to the previous album's "The Glass Prison" was a little too blatant, too. "Endless Sacrifice" is probably the track that is most difficult to comprehend. There are some influences from "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (the song), some guitar work reminiscent of Machinehead (the band) and lots of weird passages and atmosphere changes. "Honor Thy Father" has some distorted vocal parts, in fact in general this is the most vocally unconvincing song on the album. Musically it's bland in parts, only Portnoy's drumming is captivating at times. The least half of the album is wrapped up by "Vacant", which is too laid-back, too much like the soft bits on disc two of their previous albums.
The final two tracks, "Stream of Consciousness" and "In the Name of God", save the album. The former kicks off with the "Vacant" theme, but now with balls. It's a 10+ minute powerhouse with a lot of cool stuff going on. Not one of Dream Theater's finest instrumentals, but a good one nonetheless. "In the Name of God", not as spiritual as the name might imply, is a nearly 15 minute epic, in park harkening back to "Scenes from a Memory", with some truly insane keyboard/guitar shredding that could have come straight off "Liquid Tension Experiment 3".
"Train of Thought" is a very heavy CD, with more of the 'rock' and less of the refinement we've come to expect from this band. All songs (with the exception of "Vacant") are rather long, though not necessarily all-captivating.
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Written March 2004
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