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Train of Thought

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’This album’s a musical and emotional rollercoaster, but most of our albums are,’ Mike Portnoy says of Black Clouds & Silver Linings, Dream Theater’s tenth studio album and second Roadrunner release. Black Clouds & Silver Linings marks another milestone on Dream Theater’s iconoclastic musical journey,which began two and a half decades ago and now encompasses a hugely impressive body of music that’s established the durable progressive metal outfit as a one-of-a-kind creative force with a fiercely devoted international fan base. The new album – produced by band members Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci, who also serve as the group’s main lyricists – offers a vibrant manifestation of the world-class musicianship, vivid lyrical scenarios and ambitious, multi-leveledcompositions that have established Dream Theater as a uniquely compelling creative force.

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  • I first heard DT back in the early 90’s when the only saving grace to the crap hairband stuff coming out was Marillion. I really remember how impressed I was with the playing ability of the band – from musicianship standpoint they were just amazing. But I really was annoyed with how they took the crap cheezy hairband melodies and then inserted the brilliance… I gave that album away since I couldnt listen to the whole thing just the instrumental sections.Ok, so flash forward to 2003 and I read a guy’s post on a PF here at work:-new Dream Theater album, very very heavy and excellent!Intrigued, I ask to borrow the disk for a day of listening. Probably the best hour of listening to new material I’ve had in 5 years. DT does kinda go back to the NuMetal genre to grab the heavy grooves and chunka chunka guitar sounds that are so popular, but I dont think Limp Dickstick or others in that genre could ever put together a NuMetal song in 12/8 or mixed time sigs that DT succeeds in doing. Yes it’s a bit derivative but they take it and extend it past anything out there right now. LaBrie’s vocals were always a source of issue with me just because they’re too pretty for the music, but with the production they definitely have grown on me. He’s tried to toughen them up and for the most part succeeded. Especially the layered minor 7th and minor 3rd harmonies a la Alice In Chains, LaBrie is finally coming up to the rest of the band in his presentation. To be succinct: John Petrucci is just freaking amazing!! With sections where Portnoy and Myung are right in the speed metal groove a la Master of Puppets and Kill Them All, Petrucci just flies on the guitar making everyone else in metal look to be a pale pretender to the craft. I wish I could play like that but I would need about 10 cups of coffee every hour just to hit that intensity level. Portnoy and Myung are typically brilliant, with Portnoy playing that big huge stupid work of art Siamese Monster kit of his and Myung chugging out ripping bass work supporting Petrucci and Rudess. You cant have a decent piece of music without solid rhythm track, and these guys give it everything and more.Probably the only criticism I could have would be Jordan Rudess’ playing seems hidden by the fact that his lead key sounds all sound like guitar – too close to Petrucci’s sound to make it out on first listen. But after a few listens I found to my astonishment that what I thought were guitar lines were key solos and … well that’s all needs be said.Bottom line: excellent musicianship, only one song seems weaker than the rest otherwise a brilliant concept album from start to finish. Any Prog Rock or Metal freak needs this in their collection.

    Posted on January 11, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • I have spent the last year analyzing this album. It has been in my car and on my computer almost everyday since i first picked it up in January 2004. I saw them on tour twice post album-release and even talked to them backstage at Universaly Amp. in Sept. My conclusion:

    This album is beyond brilliant. Many people have argued that the solos are repetitive and that the lyrics fall short of expectations. At first I agreed with these views. The first couple times I listened to the album, I proclaimed that Dream Theater had missed. I even refered to it as their “St. Anger”.

    Then, after listening to it more and more, it finally clicked. I began hearing things I had never heard the during the first listening sessions. ALL DT fans have gone through this routine – of picking up new things and uncovering meanings within the songs with each new listen – like a Tarantino film.

    Skeptics: STOP COMPARING THIS TO OTHER DT ALBUMS AND SIDE PROJECTS. STOP IT NOW. Any REAL Dream Theater fan knows that these 5 extraordinary musicians have the ability to explore multitudes of musical styles, and the fact that DT is able to successfully write a dark/heavy album such as this after releasing a concept album (SFAM) and a more jazz/fusion album (6DOIT) is testimony that this band KNOWS HOW TO DO THINGS.

    The key to enjoying this album is TIME. It may take up to 10 listening sessions to finally appreciate it, but believe me – when you do you will not want to stop listening. Although I personally do not think this album is DT’s best (In my opinion that’s a tossup between Images and Words and Scenes from a Memory), Train of Thought is an enjoyable whirlwind of musical virtuosity and exploration.

    I am so glad that in a dark age in musical history, where bands such as the White Stripes are rewarded for their “talent”, that bands such as Dream Theater stay dedicated to progress and musical development.

    This album belongs in the cd players of any true music fan.

    Posted on January 11, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Let me start by saying I have every DT album and bootleg,and have seen them live numerous times.Most of the time it takes a few listens of the album to gauge it.After 20 or so listens(It’s so good I can’t stop listening)I’ve decided that this is their best work to date.Being a huge metal fan, I must say this is the album I’ve been waiting for since “AWAKE”.This album has an in your face,take no prisoners vibe to it.From beginning to end it is a non stop roller coaster of brutal riffs,insane drums,keys and solos.The only breather here is the song “Vacant”which is a slow melodic track.There is no weak point on this album.So,if you like the metal side of DT most of you will love this.If not,don’t rip them for being too heavy because it was DT’s intent to produce a classic metal album,and that they have done,brilliantly. “Don’t Cross The Crooked Step”

    Posted on January 11, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Dream Theater’s new album is definitely their heaviest since “Awake”, if not ever. It’s mostly good, and I like it better than their last album, “Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence”. It’s less experimental, and a more straight-forward sounding metal album. Though this does have the odd time signatures and crazy instrumental sections we’ve come to expect from Dream Theater. “As I Am” is a catchy, fairly simple metal song, with a main riff that sounds a bit like Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”. It grew on me, but it’s probably the weakest song on the album, and the solo adds nothing to it really, in my opinion. “This Dying Soul” is much better. Heavy, 7 String guitar riffs drive it, much like it’s predecessor, “The Glass Prison”. “Endless Sacrifice” has some beautiful melodies in the verse, and a loud, Pantera-esque chorus. The instrumental section is also the best on the album, reminding me of “Awake” and “Change of Seasons” (That’s a good thing, as I prefer the older albums by far to the newer ones.) “Honor Thy Father” isn’t bad, the chorus has a badass, Black Label Society-ish metal riff that I like. “Vacant” is beautiful, and it leads into the instrumental “Stream of Conciousness”, which is pretty awesome as well. The main riff somewhat brings to mind “Orion” by Metallica. This is the longest and one of the more complex DT instrumentals, featuring loads of time changes and key changes, and lots of soloing. “In The Name of God” is the 14 minute epic that closes the album, and it’s a great song. There’s a good mix of good melodies and heavy riffs, and the instrumental section has some pretty sick playing by everyone. The piano outro is pretty nice too.There’s pros and cons to the heavier, more aggressive sound on this album. There’s definitely a lack of great melodies, especially during the instrumental sections, which instead of interesting melodic lines, they are pretty much just going up and down scales. At ridiculous speeds, no doubt, but it’s just not as interesting, at least not to me. Also, John Petrucci used to be able to balance shredding with great melodies and compose some amazing solos (“Under a Glass Moon” for example, or “Scarred”.) Here, he mainly just shreds, which is cool, but limiting. On the other hand, the aggressive sound is pretty cool. A lot of the riffs are quite awesome. “This Dying Soul”, “Honor Thy Father” and “In The Name of God” all have some ass-kicking heavy riffs, reminiscent of Pantera or early Metallica…A cool thing, in my book.The only lyrics that really impressed me on here were John Petrucci’s “Endless Sacrifice”, which describes well the pain of a rockstar living away from his family. Along with the nice melody in the verse and the cool Maiden-esque part at the end, it’s very touching. “Vacant” is also moving put together with the music.So, it’s not nearly my favorite DT album (that would be “Images and Words” and “Awake”), but it’s definitely worth buying if you’re a fan. I wouldn’t really recommend starting with this album though, check out the aforementioned two first.

    Posted on January 10, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • My bemused friends. This is the 516th review of this album and of the previous 515 reviews none are truly helpful. Therfore, after reading numerous of these reviews, I am going to analyze their findings and make recommendations accordingly.

    The reason for the wildly varying opinions of Train of Thought, is because with this CD, Dream Theater is entering a new phase on their musical evolution. They have prudently and rightly ascertained that to keep recording, what is basically the same material, is effectively a death sentence.

    So, What do we have here? Well it looks like about 20 % of the reviewers (one and two stars) who professed to be die hard fans were shocked by the new Dream Theater and subsequently hated TOT. Obviously if you as a potential buyer are dogmatic and are looking for the same old (but still very good) sound, you shouldn’t buy TOT.

    The next group we have (Three stars) is the ones who don’t know what to make of TOT. They don’t seem to rushing to judgement (though they’ve written reviews) and are somewhat ambivalent. About 15% of our reviewers felt this way and I was one of these people at first but after multiple listens became a fan. That’s right, I think TOT takes multiple listens to appreciate but let’s face it isn’t DT worth multiple listens. What else are we going to listen to, Beyonce? So if you are this kind of person, you should go ahead and buy TOT. Worse case, it won’t grow on you and you end up with a mediocre album but the upside is worth it.

    Next (four stars) at about 25% is the group that appreciates TOT and DT’s latest endeavor and their need to experiment and grow and voice opinions that although TOT is not DT’s best or second best or even third best album it is a very good album in it’s own right. Again if I may be redundant, what are your options, Janet Jackson? OOPS!

    Lastly of course we have the true die hard DT fans (five stars), about 40%, who think TOT is great, one of their best and can’t for the life of them, understand how anyone could not love this album and say so in their reviews. I kinda side with them but I can understand where the other groups are coming from. I guess I’m in between groups three and four at about 4 1/2 stars.


    If you like the old Dream Theater just fine, thank you, and do not wish to experiment on a newer and slightly heavier DT – PASS

    If you are not as rigid but think you may like the old DT better – IT’S YOR CALL, it’s still Dream Theater!

    If you are flexible and open to new stuff, especially from DT – ABSOLUTELY!

    If you are an extreme, die hard Dream Theater fan. You probably have it already.


    Dream Theater is the most visable, most revered and best known of all PROG ROCK/METAL bands. By being the number one progressive band in the world they have been anointed to carry the torch through the dark passages of mundane popular music. Though they are not my personal favorite Progressive band, I do love them and feel for them as they carry a heavy burden. Long Live Dream Theater. You may not like the alternative.

    Posted on January 10, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now