Dream Theater Train Of Thought

Prog metal's largest export just keeps pumping out the material; I mean has anyone actually digested that last double album already? Ah well, here's seven more lengthy and laborious epics for the listener to slog through. The album opens up with what one hopes is an intentional homage to Black Sabbath, the first riff of "As I Am" being a dead ringer for a certain Iommi riff of past. That song's a bit of a snoozer, but the album picks up with the requisite drum fills, frenetics and freak-outs; keyboard swirls and twirls, ludicrous wank-offs and wonderful plastic-tinkling; and one of the most out of control guitar solos I've heard in the past ten years in "This Dying Soul." These guys can play better than you'll ever be able to, but that doesn't stop them from actually penning memorable songs from time to time; pound for pound, this album seems to have less of those than usual, but more or less it's par for the course. I mean, it's Dream Theater — you pretty much know what you're gonna get at this point. Colour me a bit underwhelmed, for that very reason. (Elektra)