DREAM THEATER – Train Of Thought

DREAM THEATER - Train Of Thought


Release Date: November 11, 2003

User Review
10/10 (1 vote)

Dream Theater are working fast, and not even two years after their inner turbulence, they are back with a nu, I mean new, disc. Yes boys and girls, the New Yorkers take a new, I mean; nu, direction with their eight studio output, counting the EP Change Of Seasons. As someone pointed out on a discussion forum lately – though I try to avoid reading the relevant discussions before reviewing a CD – it really is hard being Dream Theater…

First of all, you have fans who yell at you when you try to develop as a band and go into a nu, I mean new, direction. Some fans only want more of what introduced them to the band, and wouldn’t mind if the guys did Images And Words all over again, just as many times as Status Quo have put out records. I have to admit that Images… brought Dream Theater into my CD household, and my second fave would be Scenes From A Memory, which is the closest thing they have done to Images….

Secondly, you have the rest of the fans who want the band to explore new, or maybe nu, musical paths. I would say that this group gets their fill this time around. There’s really a new, I mean nu, and modern touch to what the band does now, that goes at least for Portnoy and Petrucci. With the powerhouse drummer and the band carrier/guitarist extraordinaire going in a modern direction, while keyboardist Jordan Rudess keep up being the band’s Klondyke and not really following the same path – still the band really sounds like a strong entity. The much discussed James LaBrie, I would say he does a great job in general, sometimes he is really at his best on this record, while the new, I mean nu, direction doesn’t always suite his pipes. On opener “As I Am”, James is very convincing, while the closer, “In The Name Of God” (both tracks among the best on the disc by the way), the music calls for a more Warrel Dane type of singing. Not that this is James’ fault, I would say that the band should write more around his voice. If they think that limits them, they should do what they have to do (like they did to a previous keyboard player), but I think James and his voice is a great part of the Dream Theater sound, and though people often call him the weakest link in the band, I don’t want to see James and the band part ways – even if I have to sit through sizzy drums and his stupid percussion rack live.

Like I said, the opener “As I Am” is a great track. It has a very cool riff, and the melody flows. It’s very Dream Theater-ish, but also a little on the commercial side. “Commercial” might be a bad word for lots of the diehard fans, but whatever. Next is “This Dying Soul”, a modern sounding riff, the typical “chug chugga chugga chug – beeeep”. The song has a breathtaking instrumental part, like much of the record is, leaving the nu, I mean new, CD like a Dream Theater show: James LaBrie drops by to say hi every now and then.

“Endless Sacrifice” is a real treat. While there’s no cheesy (Brie?) ballad this time, this one starts out mellow and nice. Jordan’s piano sounds awesome. The song gets heavier, it has the same kind of riff described above, and it’s quite melodic. Another one of the best, I think – which is not at all the case with “Honor Thy Father”, one of the weakest songs the band has done, at least in my book. It just gives me nothing, which is also the case with the instrumental “Stream Of Consciousness”. The idea that the instrumental is spun around just bores me, and it goes on forever.

As you see, I like half the disc very much (it only has 7 tracks, one being a short piece and one being a too long instrumental), while the other half gives me little or nothing at all. Not that the disc can be divided into two, it has a strong body, but there are simply a few issues with me and the songwriting. I respect the new, I mean nu, direction the band has taken – not because I am into nu metal, goat beards, flannel shirts, caps turned around and jumping up and down, but because Dream Theater have come successfully out of this, showing that their sound is so strong that it can be pushed into new, or nu, directions without losing its identity.


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