Dream Theater has maintained a rare combination of stellar musicianship and unwavering passion for over a decade, selling millions of albums and filling concert venues worldwide. The band once again confirms its status as progressive hard rock's standard-bearers on their latest studio epic.
With commendable dedication to duty, very little has changed in the peripheral progressive-metal world of Long Island's Dream Theater, but times surely have. Thus, while Train of Thought
, the band's eighth studio album since debuting with 1989's When Dream and Day Unite
can hardly be categorised as a stylistic derailment from the combo's grandiose gameplan, it is a record likely to be greeted with rather more of a cordial reception in these muso-friendly times. Afterall, while progressive rock is never going to be as fashionable again as it was in the good old days of Tarkus and Uncle Rick Wakeman, the classical rock bombast of Muse and the hysterical heavy-metal immodesty of the Darkness has thrown a commercial lifebelt to prog rock's more twiddly practioners. To this end, it's hard not to be seduced by the 11 minutes of "This Dying Soul", which at times comes across as a rap-metal version of Richie Blackmore's Rainbow with a piano solo in the middle, or the similarly lengthy and wholly instrumental "Stream of Consciousness" (perhaps a posh way of saying "jam session"), a sonic joust between John Petrucci's screeching fretwork and Jordan Rudess's antique synths. Wholly American in its self-awareness--lyrics about religious fundamentalism and getting along with the family just wouldn't sound right coming from a band domiciled in Weston-super-Mare--Train of Thought
might just find a whole new wave of music fans waking up to the existence of "Dream Theater. --Kevin Maidment