Sander : It is nice to know the are still some certainties in these lively times. In an age of economic decline and a constant terrorist threat, there is one thing you can be certain of: a new Dream Theater record is always a masterpiece. But this certainty always brings along one uncertainty. Although the musical frame is known, it is always a surprise which colleague bands influence them.
The gentlemen seem to have used their entire psychedelic inspiration on their previous records, because 'Train Of Thought' has become quite a heavy record. The band mainly found their inspiration this time in old Metallica, Tool and experiments with some nu-metal things. With songs with an average duration of ten minutes, it is a hard one to tackle. I really liked the record the first time I heard it, but I only penetrated the structure of the songs after the fourth time.
Opener of the album 'As I Am' starts off with the rising of a chord, the exact same chord the previous record ended with. It is a song with a dark atmosphere, in the vein of 'The Mirror'
'This Dying Soul' is a continuation of 'The Glass Prison', the opener of the previous album. Not a repetition, but a new song with some musical and lyrical references. In the intro we hear a furious eastern guitar riff, which brings Vai/Satriani in mind. The first verse sounds like Tool and proves once more that James LaBrie can do more and more with his voice. The second part of the song knows a lot evident references to 'The Glass Prison' and ends with a harmonic solo by Rudess and Petrucci, which is as always completely over the top.
After all this aggression there is the chance to catch a breath during the opening of 'Endless Sacrifice'. But the chorus is once more aggressive. After the chorus the tension seems to build to a climax, but the songs returns to another quiet verse. After the second chorus all breaks go loose and the weird time signatures are countless. The instrumental section again, is too much, but such a treat.
The opening of 'Honor Thy Father' could be off the latest Metallica record, but where they failed Dream Theater succeeds to continue the song credible. After two verses James starts to rap. Certainly not bad, certainly surprising and fitting to the song. The band shows again that they have the gift to fit almost every genre within their songs.
'Vacant' is with a duration of three minutes the shortest song of the album. The song is in the vein of 'Disappear' of the previous album and is in my opinion way too short. But it 'only' an intro into...
'Stream Of Consciousness' the instrumental of the album and the least of the record. It is stretched out a bit too long and really cannot compete with songs like 'Erotomania' or 'When The Water Breaks'. Still there are some cool themes and it is another example of the virtuosity of the band.
The final song is 'In The Name Of God' clocks fourteen minutes and is another pearl. The use of a sitar sample makes the first part sound somewhat like 'Home'. There is once more a great balance between the aggressive and the modest parts. The instrumental part has a certain Latin vibe, but remains very metal by the solo of Petrucci. The song ends majestic with vocal choirs and bells, a worthy ending for this piece of art
This record is another masterpiece, which will especially appeal to the metal orientated fans. It is not their best record, therefor 'Train Of Thought' lacks that bit extra in the melodic perspective. A lot of the solos from Petrucci are just too much shred and too little emotion. Still I am looking forward to their tour in January 2004.