Sound — 10
This album is one of the best DT has ever produced, sound is perfect: Guitars and keys perfectly harmonized, voice is high and present, drums are to fu--ing apocalyptic to be true (probably because of Portnoy's infamous "Siamese Monster")and the bass provides the beautiful sound of the finger-picked 6-string that is now one the most important trademarks of Dream Theater, apart from supreme musicianship and the "out-of-the-ordinary-and-completely-impossible-to-perfectly-tab" solos. The album delivers 6 ass-kickers, and one track that could have been merged (well it's actually the case but they probably thought we might like to skip it) with the 11-minute instrumental. Those 6 1/2 tracks deserve a track-by-track description, as each is a little story all by itself. 01. As I Am - opening with a sample that DT fans will recognize as the inverted endlessly-fading strings that ended "6DOIT", this song became the radio-friendly track of the album. The track might be somewhat linked with the eighth movement of "6DOIT", as the latter talked of someone being sad about his self, then we talked about the complete opposite. Anyway, the track perfectly announces the mood of the album, with the extremely down-tuned guitars (6-stringer, C Tuning) and with quite a delectable solo. In fact, the whole set of solos on this album is three steps over anything ever made by DT. 02. This Dying Soul - "The Glass Prison" anyone? Well, yeah, this track is the 2nd part of Portnoy's "Alcholics Anonymus Recovery Steps" saga, covering steps 4 and 5 of the process. It starts with the fast drums, little (that could be heavily argued) guitar/keys solo. Then we go to a clean spot that imposes calm after that "rush-and-strike" intro. The rest is again, riffs so heavy it might actually kill you (some of those being ripped off "Prison" and 1994's "The Mirror") and the easy solos. 03. Endless Sacrifice - every band has this very song that eventually becomes one of the "crowd-pleaser" because of its outrageous headbanging prospects and "easy-to-remember-even-when-drunk" choruses. "Sacrifice", the song you need to listen up to 2 minutes before realizing that it will actually become your favorite. This song could actually be compared to "FII" "Peruvian Skies". Mellow verses, harder choruses and the crazy ending part. 04. Honor Thy Father - the first 30-seconds of that track are enough to declare that this one is a huge solo with lyrics. Play that fast shit, we need those kind of tracks sometimes. What can I say? It bears incredible solos and fast drums, but I think you start to get the picture. 05, 06. Vacant & Stream Of Conciousness - now this song is special, because "Stream" actually was the first track leaked by the band, but not in the form we usually use. Instead, we had John's riffage and Jordan's sounds, and we had to build our own track based on those infos. It was a real contest, the winner basically won an upgraded version of the platinum ticket packages for the Train Of Thought 2004 World Tour, and had his song played as background music before each show of the tour. "Vacant" features a melodramatic cello, only to bring us the piece of whup-ass that "Stream" is. An 11-minute instrumental that is actually more of a 11-minute drum/bass/keys/guitar jam. But I might be wrong on that one. I'm not an expert. Still, the track kicks some serious ass, but nothing compared to the "piece-de-rsistance" that the next track is. 07. In The Name Of God - In The Name Of John? I've already heard people who were still trying to find "the" track that would justify John P.'s presence at the '00 G3. Being a DT fan, I had the tracklist to justify this participation, but "In The Name Of God" takes the cake. John might not play on two guitars at the same time, and he might not do all the tricks we might expect from Malmsteen or Michael Angelo, but seriously. Have you ever heard a better sounding solo? When I spoke of the "impossible-to-perfectly-tab" solos, I talked about this one. Of course, some dumbasses in their basement might say "Come on! It's only hammers and pull-offs." Alright. Do it right now, on the spot. And don't forget to combine the sweeping part.
Lyrics — 10
James LaBrie sounds better than ever, lyrics are deep and rich in emotions, talking about harsh realities such as religion-fueled killers, alcoholism and divorce. Petrucci and Portnoy are really delivering some high writing skills (Like they always did, but still.)
Overall Impression — 10
Nothing compared to anything Dream Theater has ever done before, "Train Of Thought" really brings us to the point we might actually start to think about the messages they are trying to communicate or about our abilities with our axe. In any case, the album is a must that is needed in a metal collection, only to say that you actually have a Dream Theater record, and that it's not "F.I.I."