- Mike Portnoy - Drums, co-producer
- John Petrucci - Guitar, co-producer
- John Myung - Bass
- James LaBrie - Vocals
- Jordan Rudess - Keyboards
- Edward Friesen - Cello
1. As I Am (Petrucci) 7:47
2. This Dying Soul (Portnoy) 11:28
3. Endless Sacrifice (Petrucci) 11:23
4. Honor Thy Father (Portnoy) 10:14
5. Vacant (LaBrie) 2:58
6. Stream of Consciousness (instrumental) 11:16
7. In the Name of God (Petrucci) 14:16
During the tour to promote Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Dream Theater did special shows where they covered the classic metal albums Master of Puppets and The Number of the Beast. Doing these covers inspired the band to write their own classic metal album, the result of which is Train of Thought.
Written and recorded in the space of three weeks, Train of Thought was also the last album the band recorded at Bear Tracks Studios. The album was created to be heavy, something the band knew would be controversial, and it remains their heaviest album to date.
It is also worth noting that this album continued the "meta-album" concept started with Scenes from a Memory. The album's lead-off track "As I Am" begins with the same note that ended "Losing Time/Grand Finale" from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence.
Train of Thought was released to success, though it didn't share its predecessor's chart position or album sales. A pre-release radio single for "As I Am" got plenty of attention, and was scrutinized by fans, who wondered if it would represent the sound of the album. Portnoy considered shooting a video for "As I Am" and releasing a single, though neither happened as he thought there was very little point, as mainstream stations such as MTV and VH1 would not play the video.
The tour to support Train of Thought is known for being very diverse in terms of setlists, of being one of the best tours ever performed by the band, and for very long shows. The band once again covered Number of the Beast on the tour. The final show in Japan, played at the Nippon Budokan Center was recorded and filmed for the release of Live at Budokan, which was also released on DVD.
Also worth noting is the lack of a pre-release leak. After the very early leak of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, the band and label worked extra hard to ensure the album did not leak nearly as early, and it only showed up on the Internet a few days before release, which the band considered a success.
Critical reaction was positive, as the album was praised for its tight sound, concise themes and being more focused than its predecessor. Fans however had very mixed reactions, with a rift appearing between the "metal" Dream Theater fans, who loved the album and said it was one of the best they've released, and the "prog" Dream Theater fans, who hated the album and cited it as their worst. One example of this can be seen in the book Lifting Shadows, in which Rich Wilson loses his objectivity when speaking about Train of Thought, criticizing it to the point that it's clear from the text that the author cannot see anybody enjoying the album.
The negative reaction from some fans has calmed considerably through time, something that started with the tour. The performances were consistently fantastic, many of which have been captured in excellent recordings. The sets were also varied considerably from night to night, including an array of fan favorites and obscure songs. Many different shows on the tour from the Japan gigs, to Brussels and Italy are considered by fans to be contenders on any top shows of all time list. In legacy, the intense emotional and technical power of this year in Dream Theater's history cannot be denied, and it delivers a superior reflection on the album as a whole.
Tone and Lyrics Edit
As a very heavy metal album, Train of Thought also has a dark tone not unlike that of Awake. Out of the four tenets of Dream Theater's sound (progressive, metal, melodic and pop) the band mostly utilizes the metal sound, with only "Vacant" not having it at all and "Endless Sacrifice" being very melodic. The album also contains plenty of the progressive sound, though the pop sound is almost completely absent.
The lyrics are also similar to Awake, though not as abstract, and some shades of Falling Into Infinity are apparent. One such example is "As I Am" which is about frustration at being told what to write and play in terms of music. Petrucci claims the song was aimed at Queensrÿche, who attempted to give him direction on the previous tour. "Endless Sacrifice" is a rare Dream Theater love song, which Petrucci wrote for his wife. Familial ties are also present on "Honor Thy Father" and "Vacant", the former being about Portnoy's stepfather and the latter being about LaBrie's daughter, who suffered a seizure. "In the Name of God" is the only non-personal song on the album, being about religious cults who commit atrocities.
Continuing The AA Saga, "This Dying Soul" presents the next two parts, representing steps four and five. The song was notable for quoting The Glass Prison as well as The Mirror, which Portnoy revealed he wrote about his struggles with alcohol, and is seen by many as being a "prequel" to the saga.
Cover art Edit
The rather striking cover art is from a series of unusual photographs by Jerry Uelsmann, where several images are put together to create a unique image. The interior art of the album also reflects this. The art also has the smallest instance of The Majesty Symbol which can just barely be seen in the eye.
Train of Thought is an infamous album with fans, sometimes even more so than Falling Into Infinity. Initial response to the album would be heavily divided. The album would be, to a greater extent than previous efforts, derided by fans as the worst Dream Theater album. While those who more appreciate other facets of Dream Theater's songwriting will tend to favor other albums by the band, Train of Thought is also considered by a significant number of fans to be the bands best, or certainly in that discussion.
The stellar tour to follow in 2004, however, is generally undeniable. In terms of technical performance, and emotional punch it ranks not only as arguably Dream Theater's best year on tour, but as one of the great tours in Metal/Prog history. Over the passage of time and increased availability of these shows to fans, Train of Thought has developed a legacy that more strongly reflects the superior shows that followed it.