Author Topic: UPDATED w/Distance Over Time- Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album  (Read 8688 times)

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Offline pcs90

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #35 on: August 03, 2018, 12:26:44 PM »
I can see what you're saying. In ways, I do agree (especially with ES and parts of TDS as mentioned above). And obviously we both agree with ES. I don't feel that there's excessive noodling on ToT like you do, however. The instrumental moments on ToT feel a lot more restrained and pulled-back than in later albums. I hoped to convey that in my blog post but perhaps I failed in doing so.
I would say it depends on what your view of an instrumental section should be. Now, most of the ones on TOT do stick with a consistent theme, even the one in ES, if you look at the instrumental on its own outside of the song it's mostly one or two basic ideas which slowly change, unlike Outcry for example which is all over the place.
My issue is the solos themselves just sound like they went into the studio, hit record, played some notes and that was that. Now, there's nothing wrong with that in general; I love improv and a lot of music I listen to is heavy on it. But it sounds so uninspiring here.
We probably just prefer different types of solos. For example the guitar solos in BAI and TBOT are some of my favorites and from what I gather, those would rank lower on your list. Nothing wrong with that, and honestly that's what is great about a band like DT -- there's something for everyone...even people who only listen to pop. :lol

Offline gzarruk

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #36 on: August 03, 2018, 01:12:16 PM »
This might count as a controversial for some, but I think every DT album is great.
It sounds like, "ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk, ruk." Instead of the more pleasing kick drum sound of, "gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk, gzarruk."

Offline Podaar

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #37 on: August 03, 2018, 01:38:24 PM »
This might count as a controversial for some only Dublagent66, but I think every DT album is great.

FTFY
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Offline Bertielee

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #38 on: August 03, 2018, 02:37:12 PM »
This might count as a controversial for some only Dublagent66, but I think every DT album is great.

FTFY
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Offline Dublagent66

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #39 on: August 03, 2018, 03:48:06 PM »
Not again.  All DT albums were the last great album at one point and so on, and so forth.  Just like the next one and the one after that, because everything DT does is great according to some people.   :\

Well, this is a fan forum. It would be a little odd if we were ranking every album a 4.3/10 like Pitchfork. :lol

Well, I said some, not all.  Fans are one thing.  Fanboys are something else.


This might count as a controversial for some only Dublagent66, but I think every DT album is great.

FTFY

Name drop much?  If you think I'm the only one, you're not paying attention.  Besides, you're wrong.  I would've said delusional. :p
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Offline OptionalPlayer

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #40 on: August 03, 2018, 04:30:06 PM »
FYI, I'm super excited to see that the post has generated some discussion. I always enjoy this sort of thing, regardless if we all agree on it or not.

Why not? There's been a ton of progressive acts that have done rock operas - why would it be different for DT? I mean, PoS would be a perfect example of that - Be is very very different from their previous albums, and was very controversial in their fanbase. And similarly - The Wall wasn't on a format that fans of Pink Floyd would "expect" the album to be - and yet, today, it stands as a milestone among the PF albums.
BE, The Wall, Scenes from a Memory, Thick as a Brick, Ziltoid the Omniscient, Nightfall in Middle Earth, Them - all concept albums I enjoy more than The Astonishing by a very extreme margin. I love Ayreon's stuff, but even Arjen's lyrics reach cringe-worthy moments. I feel like The Astonishing is one giant cringe-worthy moment. The idea of a concept album is to have a good story (which is usually the concept part). If the story fails, the rest of the album can struggle. With The Astonishing, in my opinion, the story was lame and the music didn't help it any either. If it was a movie, I'd turn it off because it's bad, or at least I'd hope it'd get the MST3K treatment so I could bear with it.

Jesus Christ Superstar, much like BE, (and in my opinion) are better concepts than The Astonishing. Nothing that I said in my blog was really factual. It's my interpretation of the music and the albums. I doubt we'll ever see eye-to-eye on this matter, but The Astonishing doesn't work for Dream Theater not because they're not allowed to do it, but because it's something (in my opinion) they're not well-verse in creating. To reference back to BE, Daniel Gildenlow is admittedly a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber. It shows in Pain of Salvation's albums before and after BE. For PoS to make BE isn't necessarily far-fetched for them to do.

The Astonishing isn't an Andrew Lloyd Webber performance. It's more like a movie soundtrack. Dream Theater does not write movie soundtracks, nor does it show in albums before (and possibly not after) The Astonishing. These (and more) reasons why I feel Dream Theater are out of their element. But hey, this isn't about The Astonishing! Let's talk more Train of Thought.  ;)

That all being said, I appreciate your views on the matter. I just have to respectively disagree.

Offline OptionalPlayer

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #41 on: August 03, 2018, 04:40:15 PM »
ToT tries too hard to be something that isn't a natural part of DT's DNA. It tries too hard to be heavy, brooding, and dark, things that just aren't organic qualities of Dream Theater's music. The Astonishing is far more in line with that (and it should be noted I don't consider myself a 'prog' lover, if given the choice between straightforward but energetic music and ridiculous prog songwriting, I'll go with the former unless the prog songwriting is outstanding).
That's an interesting take. I don't feel that with ToT at all. With songs from 6D (The Glass Prison, The Great Debate, War Inside My Head), SFaM (Beyond this Life, Fatal Tragedy, Home, Finally Free), Awake (From 6:00 to Erotomania, The Mirror and Lie), going dark and metal seemed to be their thing, but only in small doses. ToT definitely was a focus of all of those heavy songs into one album. If anything, I feel it was unnatural for Dream Theater to have one album dedicated to heavy music.

I think Noxon's take is on the long instrumental passages - Train of Thought losing some of the older fans because of the long extended sections, whereas the metal fans liked that.  Maybe that's true because they were long extended metal section?
I don't feel that ToT had many extended sections. Outside of ES and TDS, ToT was pretty tame, in my opinion. I do enjoy the riffs and heaviness of the lyrics, however.

Not again.  All DT albums were the last great album at one point and so on, and so forth.  Just like the next one and the one after that, because everything DT does is great according to some people.   :\
When Dream and Day Unite: DT’s last great album. I have 6,000 words to prove it so I must be right.

Seriously though, a preposterous thread title.
Yikes, you two! Let's try to have some fun, folks!

Offline OptionalPlayer

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #42 on: August 03, 2018, 04:46:39 PM »
I would say it depends on what your view of an instrumental section should be. Now, most of the ones on TOT do stick with a consistent theme, even the one in ES, if you look at the instrumental on its own outside of the song it's mostly one or two basic ideas which slowly change, unlike Outcry for example which is all over the place.
My issue is the solos themselves just sound like they went into the studio, hit record, played some notes and that was that. Now, there's nothing wrong with that in general; I love improv and a lot of music I listen to is heavy on it. But it sounds so uninspiring here.
We probably just prefer different types of solos. For example the guitar solos in BAI and TBOT are some of my favorites and from what I gather, those would rank lower on your list. Nothing wrong with that, and honestly that's what is great about a band like DT -- there's something for everyone...even people who only listen to pop. :lol
I disagree with you're assessment with Endless Sacrifice. They start to lose me at 5:43 up until about 8 minutes in. It's a back and forth solo, but I feel it doesn't help the song do have something like that in there. If they continued with the riffing from before 5:43 and tightened up the solo, I'd feel it'd be a stronger song. ES is DEFINITELY not as bad as Outcry, of course. But I feel ES could definitely be stronger than what it is.

But you're right - there's something for everyone with Dream Theater! This is why they're such a great band and I'm such a fan!

This might count as a controversial for some, but I think every DT album is great.
And that's fantastic! I don't find that controversial at all. I really do enjoy most of the albums as well, save for The Astonishing and the odd song I really ripped into on that blog.

Let's keep up this discussion! I'm digign' it!

Offline KevShmev

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #43 on: August 03, 2018, 04:52:34 PM »
I think for what it is, a dark album with a large emphasis on playing (in relative DT terms), Train of Thought is a good record.  I still say that In the Name of God is the best post-Scenes songs, and while I could pick nits with each of them, Stream of Consciousness, As I Am and Endless Sacrifice are all very good.  And of course Vacant is really cool.  This Dying Soul and Honor Thy Father both have some great moments, but given the song lengths, they both feel like work to get through.  But hey, when you do 10-minute plus songs, you aren't going to hit it out of the park every time. 

To me, it is kind of their like ...And Justice for All, in that I think a lot more of it when I listen to the songs individually on shuffle rather than straight through. 

Offline pcs90

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #44 on: August 03, 2018, 04:58:37 PM »
I disagree with you're assessment with Endless Sacrifice. They start to lose me at 5:43 up until about 8 minutes in. It's a back and forth solo, but I feel it doesn't help the song do have something like that in there. If they continued with the riffing from before 5:43 and tightened up the solo, I'd feel it'd be a stronger song. ES is DEFINITELY not as bad as Outcry, of course. But I feel ES could definitely be stronger than what it is.
Oh, I'm not necessarily saying I think the instrumental section in ES is good the way it is. As said in an earlier post I'd definitely have cut a good chunk of it out. I'm just saying it overall has a similar vibe throughout whereas Outcry has 10000 different themes and ideas which all come and go so quickly. Even so I prefer Outcry hands down from those 2 (and any other on TOT for that matter.) In the context of the song the Outcry instrumental is really random, but on its own I like it more than most people seem to (more than the similar one in Metropolis for sure.)

Offline noxon

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #45 on: August 03, 2018, 05:07:43 PM »
I do not agree at all that The Astonishing is a "movie score". It owes so much to musical theatre it's insane. The influences are shining through very clearly - with JCS and Les Mis being the two most obvious ones, but there's a bunch of others too. And yes, it comes from two creators who love that genre too - JP has been very clear about his source for inspiration in interviews:
"I was always so impressed with rock musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy or American Idiot and it was like 'We´re like the perfect band to do something like this. We´re called Dream Theater.'"
And it's easy to see - stuff like Three Days and A New Beginning is very JCS-like.

I mean, both JP and JR family members have strong ties to the musical theatre. When I last spoke to JP in person, most of the time we spent chatting was about broadway musicals :P
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Offline pg1067

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #46 on: August 03, 2018, 06:16:24 PM »
So...now we've got a thread proclaiming FII as the "last truly great" DT album and this one proclaiming ToT as the "last great" DT album.  I think that leaves 12 more albums (plus ACoS).
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Offline ChuckSteak

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #47 on: August 04, 2018, 02:56:46 AM »
Their last great album was Six Degrees.

Offline OptionalPlayer

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #48 on: August 04, 2018, 05:18:41 AM »
To me, it is kind of their like ...And Justice for All, in that I think a lot more of it when I listen to the songs individually on shuffle rather than straight through.
Now THAT'S an interesting take on the album.

Oh, I'm not necessarily saying I think the instrumental section in ES is good the way it is. As said in an earlier post I'd definitely have cut a good chunk of it out. I'm just saying it overall has a similar vibe throughout whereas Outcry has 10000 different themes and ideas which all come and go so quickly. Even so I prefer Outcry hands down from those 2 (and any other on TOT for that matter.) In the context of the song the Outcry instrumental is really random, but on its own I like it more than most people seem to (more than the similar one in Metropolis for sure.)
Speaking of interesting takes. . .   ;) To each their own! Even as I showed in the blog, I can critique the living hell out of a song or album but still enjoy it. I'm glad you can do that with Outcry. These kind of differences, as I've said before, is what makes DT great and their fans too!

I do not agree at all that The Astonishing is a "movie score". It owes so much to musical theatre it's insane. The influences are shining through very clearly - with JCS and Les Mis being the two most obvious ones, but there's a bunch of others too. And yes, it comes from two creators who love that genre too - JP has been very clear about his source for inspiration in interviews:
"I was always so impressed with rock musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Tommy or American Idiot and it was like 'We´re like the perfect band to do something like this. We´re called Dream Theater.'"
And it's easy to see - stuff like Three Days and A New Beginning is very JCS-like.

I mean, both JP and JR family members have strong ties to the musical theatre. When I last spoke to JP in person, most of the time we spent chatting was about broadway musicals :P
When I spoke with MP in person, he said JP likes to make stuff up and lie to fans and which was what the lyrics to "Lie" were really about.

I'm kidding!

I feel The Astonishing is more of a movie score than a stage production. I can definitely see how one can see it as a stage production though. But that just boils down to how we interpret the album - which is something that is fantastic that Dream Theater can do.

I know we'll not see eye-to-eye with this, but I appreciate your take on The Astonishing.

Offline Indiscipline

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #49 on: August 04, 2018, 05:51:29 AM »
First of all, kudos on the blog and the gentleman way you offer your ideas, even if I don't agree. You read like somebody you can pleasantly argue with. On that note:

I feel The Astonishing is more of a movie score than a stage production.

*smiles* I disagree. The Astonishing, structurally speaking, is a rigorously by the numbers stage production score, even more than a lot of current canonical stage productions. I Am Songs, I Want Songs, End of Act Concertatos, Change of Scene Tunes (NOMACS) and so on. Every traditional staple is covered painstakingly, everything is strictly taylored on the blueprint perfectioned by 70's and 80's pop-rock musicals.

Noxon nails it with the JCS (fun fact: it started as a concept album) and LesMiz (ditto!) comparisons, and not only musically speaking.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2018, 05:57:39 AM by Indiscipline »

Offline Sebastián Pratesi

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #50 on: August 04, 2018, 09:03:44 AM »
The Astonishing, structurally speaking, is a rigorously by the numbers stage production score, even more than a lot of current canonical stage productions. I Am Songs, I Want Songs, End of Act Concertatos, Change of Scene Tunes (NOMACS) and so on.
So, "End of Act Concertatos" usually are pieces which simply reprise previous musical elements? Or do they introduce new elements as well? I ask because I've already identified most of the reprises in "Astonishing" and "The road to revolution", but I'm having trouble with the latter's instrumental intro, and vocal outro (with whole ensemble). I haven't been able to determine whether they are new chord progressions, or already used. Thanks! :)

Also, what do you mean by "I Am Songs" & "I Want Songs"? Are those songs in which the singer speaks about themselves and their longings?

Offline nicmos

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #51 on: August 04, 2018, 09:06:53 AM »
Nothing is binary, it's always a "shades of grey" issue, but the most common complaint I've seen to TA is exactly that - it's not heavy enough, it's not long enough, it's got too few solos.

That's not the problem with TA.  it's that you can't listen to it like it's a group of songs.  it's like you're watching an opera where all the lines are sung.  that doesn't make them songs.  with the exceptions of Gift of Music, Life Left Behind, New Beginning, Moment of Betrayal, and a few others, they aren't real songs, they're just plot set to music.

Online Anguyen92

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #52 on: August 04, 2018, 09:50:58 AM »
How can we define what is a "real song" or not.  To me, aside from the lyrics (which is good, but you still need context of the story), Hymn of a Thousand Voices and Our New World stands up well as standalone songs with or without the concept.

Offline RandalGraves

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #53 on: August 04, 2018, 09:53:44 AM »
Train of Thought will always have a special place in my heart, as it was the first DT album released after I became a fan of the band. If I'm not mistaken, that was also right before the forum move? Anywho, given that I was still discovering all of DT's catalogue, I wasn't too bothered by the "straightforward metal" aspect of TOT. I just thought it was a really fun, rawkin' album! As I Am is a great single, and ITNOG is one of my favorite album closers. Would I rank it as DT's last great album? Not at all, but it's an album I have no issues listening to front-to-back. Now THAT is something I can't say for the remainder of DT's albums after Octavarium.

Offline OptionalPlayer

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #54 on: August 04, 2018, 03:36:34 PM »
First of all, kudos on the blog and the gentleman way you offer your ideas, even if I don't agree. You read like somebody you can pleasantly argue with. On that note:

I feel The Astonishing is more of a movie score than a stage production.

*smiles* I disagree. The Astonishing, structurally speaking, is a rigorously by the numbers stage production score, even more than a lot of current canonical stage productions. I Am Songs, I Want Songs, End of Act Concertatos, Change of Scene Tunes (NOMACS) and so on. Every traditional staple is covered painstakingly, everything is strictly taylored on the blueprint perfectioned by 70's and 80's pop-rock musicals.

Noxon nails it with the JCS (fun fact: it started as a concept album) and LesMiz (ditto!) comparisons, and not only musically speaking.
Thank you for the compliment! Getting angry and heated up over something like this doesn't make for a good discussion. I know my take on ToT is based on bias, conjecture, and flat-out opinion. It would be silly to get upset over people disagreeing with me.

As for yours and take Noxon's take: I'll have to revisit the album again, because I'm not hearing what you folks are hearing. I haven't heard it in its entirely since they performed it live so I'm definitely overdue to sit down again with it. However, that takes me to the next point here by Nicmos:

That's not the problem with TA.  it's that you can't listen to it like it's a group of songs.  it's like you're watching an opera where all the lines are sung.  that doesn't make them songs.  with the exceptions of Gift of Music, Life Left Behind, New Beginning, Moment of Betrayal, and a few others, they aren't real songs, they're just plot set to music.
And here's where I feel like ToT was a stronger album: I'm allowed to pick it out and enjoy it as individual songs or as a full album. With The Astonishing, I'm forced, so-to-speak, to listen to the music as a whole. I can't pull out many songs individually to listen to because they're part of a bigger picture - which is fine if I'm consuming the whole album! But I have to commit to a full album! And unlike Scenes From a Memory, I feel the individual songs on The Astonishing don't hold up as strong as they do when they're a whole. Lord Nafaryus and Act of Faythe are just two I can think of off of the top of my head that stand out like that. They aren't necessarily "songs" per se, but as Nicmos suggested - plots to set music.

As an example: I wouldn't pull out a random track from Devin Townsend's Devlab ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfk6bArTxzQ ) and say they're songs to the average listener, but they are songs. If you were to separate the Devlab songs from the album, they're weird and strange. They don't hold up without the concept in its entirety. I have to listen to Devlab as a whole rather than individual songs. I feel the same with The Astonishing. And I don't need to do that with Train of Thought - which I feel - is another reason why it's so great!  ;)

Offline noxon

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #55 on: August 04, 2018, 04:58:50 PM »
That's the nature of musical theatre. It's all a part of a narrative. SFAM wasn't a rock opera - it was "just" a concept album with clearly defined songs.

If you look at Les Mis - you'll see the exact same problem. Aside from a few choice tracks such as "I Dreamed a Dream" or "Bring Him Home", most of the tracks aren't really well suited to be listened to out of context. JCS is the same - I doubt you'd go and turn on "hosanna" or "Pilate's Dream" or "Peter's Denial" out of context.

But then again: "People just don't have the time for music anymore" :P
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Offline Indiscipline

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #56 on: August 04, 2018, 05:43:53 PM »

So, "End of Act Concertatos" usually are pieces which simply reprise previous musical elements? Or do they introduce new elements as well? I ask because I've already identified most of the reprises in "Astonishing" and "The road to revolution", but I'm having trouble with the latter's instrumental intro, and vocal outro (with whole ensemble). I haven't been able to determine whether they are new chord progressions, or already used. Thanks! :)

Also, what do you mean by "I Am Songs" & "I Want Songs"? Are those songs in which the singer speaks about themselves and their longings?

End of Act Concertatos usually feature every major character stating their intentions dealing with narrative nodes (two acts musicals use to end act I on the cusp of a big transformative event), hence the various character themes are present, but you get a new theme belonging to the number itself most of the times. One Day More from Les Miz is a good reference point for The Road to Revolution.

I Am Songs are tunes introducing the characters, I Want Songs are tunes establishing their will and narrative motor. These are structural labels used when building the show from scratch or for analysis, the end result is often more nuanced and complex.

As for yours and take Noxon's take: I'll have to revisit the album again, because I'm not hearing what you folks are hearing. I haven't heard it in its entirely since they performed it live so I'm definitely overdue to sit down again with it. However, that takes me to the next point here by Nicmos:

Don't get me wrong, you have every right in the world to hear what you hear in TA and to infinitely prefer ToT. Tastes and mindsets are sacred, as far as I'm concerned. It could be helpful - for sheer enjoyment purposes - not considering it something it isn't though, that is a song driven regular album or a movie score. Just for kicks, try to hear every act as a big single song, every NOMAC tune as a physical change of scenery, and visualise characters acting rather than a band playing.

Offline OptionalPlayer

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #57 on: August 05, 2018, 02:40:59 PM »
That's the nature of musical theatre. It's all a part of a narrative. SFAM wasn't a rock opera - it was "just" a concept album with clearly defined songs.

If you look at Les Mis - you'll see the exact same problem. Aside from a few choice tracks such as "I Dreamed a Dream" or "Bring Him Home", most of the tracks aren't really well suited to be listened to out of context. JCS is the same - I doubt you'd go and turn on "hosanna" or "Pilate's Dream" or "Peter's Denial" out of context.

But then again: "People just don't have the time for music anymore" :P
I agree with what you've said here! Perhaps the difference then between Les Mis and The Astonishing is that The Astonishing wasn't that good? I don't know. Obviously one cannot simply pull songs out of context for either album to "enjoy" them as they're better as a whole. However, I suppose I'm finding that a fault of The Astonishing. For me, the music nor the story was particularly interesting, so I hoped for songs that I could enjoy separately from the album. Since I struggle to do that as well, I'd have to give the point to ToT.

Don't get me wrong, you have every right in the world to hear what you hear in TA and to infinitely prefer ToT. Tastes and mindsets are sacred, as far as I'm concerned. It could be helpful - for sheer enjoyment purposes - not considering it something it isn't though, that is a song driven regular album or a movie score. Just for kicks, try to hear every act as a big single song, every NOMAC tune as a physical change of scenery, and visualise characters acting rather than a band playing.
I'll definitely need to give it another spin with those suggestions. The thing is: I find is that I shouldn't be told or suggested how to perceive art to enjoy it (and I know you're not telling me and I appreciate your suggestions!) I just find that I should enjoy it off the bat - regardless if I "got it" or not. (Of course I'll still re-listen to the album with your suggestions).

Only because I referenced it above, let's take Devlab by Devin Townsend. I enjoy that album. It's an album of noise, but I dig it and I just knew that I enjoyed it. It's not like a concert, a performance, or a play. It's just chaos - and something that I couldn't wrap my head around. I didn't have to "get" anything; it was just enjoyable to me. The same goes for Train of Thought. The Astonishing? Not so much, and I wonder why.

Offline noxon

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #58 on: August 05, 2018, 03:01:49 PM »
"Nobody should tell me how to enjoy art, if I say Schindler's List is a comedy, I'm going to enjoy it as a comedy!"

;)
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Offline Sebastián Pratesi

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #59 on: August 05, 2018, 09:21:32 PM »
End of Act Concertatos usually feature every major character stating their intentions dealing with narrative nodes (two acts musicals use to end act I on the cusp of a big transformative event), hence the various character themes are present, but you get a new theme belonging to the number itself most of the times. One Day More from Les Miz is a good reference point for The Road to Revolution.

I Am Songs are tunes introducing the characters, I Want Songs are tunes establishing their will and narrative motor. These are structural labels used when building the show from scratch or for analysis, the end result is often more nuanced and complex.
Thanks! I'll check out "One Day More", then.

Offline bosk1

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #60 on: August 06, 2018, 11:37:16 AM »
First of all, kudos on the blog and the gentleman way you offer your ideas, even if I don't agree.

Yes.  Absolutely, this.  :tup

I feel The Astonishing is more of a movie score than a stage production.

*smiles* I disagree. The Astonishing, structurally speaking, is a rigorously by the numbers stage production score, even more than a lot of current canonical stage productions. I Am Songs, I Want Songs, End of Act Concertatos, Change of Scene Tunes (NOMACS) and so on. Every traditional staple is covered painstakingly, everything is strictly taylored on the blueprint perfectioned by 70's and 80's pop-rock musicals.

Noxon nails it with the JCS (fun fact: it started as a concept album) and LesMiz (ditto!) comparisons, and not only musically speaking.

Yes, exactly.  OptionalPlayer, you are certainly free to have any opinion you choose about the album and its music.  But, really, it ISN'T a "score" in any sense, and it absolutely IS musical theater.  That is true of both the intent behind it, and the execution in terms of its structure and many other elements.  Of course, whether or not you or I or anyone else subjectively feels that it succeeded in being good musical theater is entirely up for debate.  I do.  As do others.  Many feel it did not.  And that's okay too.  But that does not change what the album actually is.

The thing is: I find is that I shouldn't be told or suggested how to perceive art to enjoy it (and I know you're not telling me and I appreciate your suggestions!) I just find that I should enjoy it off the bat - regardless if I "got it" or not. (Of course I'll still re-listen to the album with your suggestions).

I get what you are saying.  But I think the point is that context matters.  Noxon's example with Schindler's List.  Nobody should tell you have you have to perceive it.  But if you go into it holding it to the standards of what makes a good romantic comedy, for example, you are going to be missing the point and judging it in a way that doesn't really make sense.  Or if I, for example, look at an abstract painting and judge it using standards of realism, I may very well be one of those who miss the point and simply dismiss it as "eh, my kindergartener's finger painting is better than this."  Whether I enjoy it and relate to it is a different issue than me missing the point of what it is trying to convey and how it is trying to convey it, so my standard of judging it would be off base in that example.

I don't think anybody, the band included, is telling you you have to enjoy The Astonishing.  And I don't think anyone is telling you how to enjoy it.  Just that understanding what it is is important to how it is evaluated.

That said, I think DT did a very good job realizing their vision.  I think they are indeed very good at doing this sort of thing.  The music is great.  The story is great.  The lyrics are mostly great.  The overall execution and realization of what they were trying to accomplish are mostly great.  If this were a broadway show rather than a rock album, I would see it in a heartbeat, and would like enjoy it immensely and put it up there with a lot of the better ones I have seen.

And that pretty much brings us back to the topic.  I view TA as a very good and perhaps great album.  And I would put every album released after TOT in either the "very good" or "great" categories, with perhaps the only exception being Black Clouds, which is a good album, but also somewhat of a disappointment.  I would also put every one of those albums other than Black Clouds ahead of TOT.  So...TOT as the "last 'great' album?"  Nope.  Not in my opinion.  I still love it.  But I disagree with your thesis because (1) I rank TOT more toward the bottom of DT's discography, despite loving it, and (2) regardless of point #1, I feel they have released several great or near-great albums since.
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Offline ToT-147

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #61 on: August 07, 2018, 05:58:09 PM »
So as I see, I'm the only one that had a different experience while reading your article.. The truth is that I couldn't finish it, not because I don't agree with you (which I don't, because, although I think ToT is DT's best album, I also think their golden years came right along with and after it); I couldn't read more than half the article because of the way you were talking about songs and albums I find to be absolute masterpieces.. And then here you say things like these:

To each their own! Even as I showed in the blog, I can critique the living hell out of a song or album but still enjoy it.

Yeah, to each their own.. Everyone has an opinion, but I'll never get how anyone can criticize so much a work of art that she/he "enjoys".. Is art, a thing some people do for the rest of mankind; some ignore it, some don't like it, and some do.. Yet you (as many others also like to do) couldn't just concentrate in the things you like and love about ToT (which is what I naively expected to find in the article), but had to point out the negative -and almost only the negative- aspects of the albums from your point of view..

Anyways, this is, at the end of the day, also an opinion.. And since we're all here respectfully disagreeing with each other, I also do that, only that in a different matter..


tl/dr: ToT and TA both rules :hefdaddy (?)
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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #62 on: August 07, 2018, 07:38:29 PM »
I dunno. I criticize the hell out of music I love to death. I think it's healthy to keep things in perspective and understand where the flaws in your favorite artists lie. I would also say that going to such length to write this article shows just how passionate he is about the band and their music. That's just my two cents.
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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #63 on: August 07, 2018, 09:29:55 PM »
Yes, I'm not questioning anyone's passion.. Of course he is passionate.. I'm too.. We just have very different ways to express that..
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Offline OptionalPlayer

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #64 on: August 08, 2018, 09:52:36 AM »
I feel The Astonishing is more of a movie score than a stage production.

*smiles* I disagree. The Astonishing, structurally speaking, is a rigorously by the numbers stage production score, even more than a lot of current canonical stage productions. I Am Songs, I Want Songs, End of Act Concertatos, Change of Scene Tunes (NOMACS) and so on. Every traditional staple is covered painstakingly, everything is strictly taylored on the blueprint perfectioned by 70's and 80's pop-rock musicals.

Noxon nails it with the JCS (fun fact: it started as a concept album) and LesMiz (ditto!) comparisons, and not only musically speaking.

Yes, exactly.  OptionalPlayer, you are certainly free to have any opinion you choose about the album and its music.  But, really, it ISN'T a "score" in any sense, and it absolutely IS musical theater.  That is true of both the intent behind it, and the execution in terms of its structure and many other elements.  Of course, whether or not you or I or anyone else subjectively feels that it succeeded in being good musical theater is entirely up for debate.  I do.  As do others.  Many feel it did not.  And that's okay too.  But that does not change what the album actually is.
A fair point, Bosk! Like I've mentioned above, I certainly need to take another step back and re-listen to The Astonishing and give it another fair shot.

I don't think anybody, the band included, is telling you you have to enjoy The Astonishing.  And I don't think anyone is telling you how to enjoy it.  Just that understanding what it is is important to how it is evaluated.
Absolutely this. And perhaps I'm not understanding the album. That all being said - and in comparison to ToT - I still feel that regardless of my understanding of the album, ToT comes out on top because of its conciseness, stronger song-writing structure (as in less fluff/keeps me intrigued the whole way through), and source material (ie. Honor Thy Father is personal, ITNoG is philosophical/every-man discussion).

That said, I think DT did a very good job realizing their vision.  I think they are indeed very good at doing this sort of thing.  The music is great.  The story is great.  The lyrics are mostly great.  The overall execution and realization of what they were trying to accomplish are mostly great.  If this were a broadway show rather than a rock album, I would see it in a heartbeat, and would like enjoy it immensely and put it up there with a lot of the better ones I have seen.
If there was a Broadway production of the album, I'd see it too. Ah, the curse of being a Dream Theater fan. I'd disagree about the music, story, and lyrics, but to each their own! (And this has mostly turned into a The Astonishing vs. ToT thread. I honestly thought more people would go after me over Illumination Theory, but ah well!)

And that pretty much brings us back to the topic.  I view TA as a very good and perhaps great album.  And I would put every album released after TOT in either the "very good" or "great" categories, with perhaps the only exception being Black Clouds, which is a good album, but also somewhat of a disappointment.  I would also put every one of those albums other than Black Clouds ahead of TOT.  So...TOT as the "last 'great' album?"  Nope.  Not in my opinion.  I still love it.  But I disagree with your thesis because (1) I rank TOT more toward the bottom of DT's discography, despite loving it, and (2) regardless of point #1, I feel they have released several great or near-great albums since.
That's a great outlook to those albums. Obviously I disagree, but it'd be foolish to attempt to make you change your mind. All this is is to be a fun discussion, and I'm glad we're having it. I am, however, intrigued why Black Clouds is "good" in your eyes over say their self-titled or Octavarium.

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #65 on: August 08, 2018, 10:05:26 AM »
So as I see, I'm the only one that had a different experience while reading your article.. The truth is that I couldn't finish it, not because I don't agree with you (which I don't, because, although I think ToT is DT's best album, I also think their golden years came right along with and after it); I couldn't read more than half the article because of the way you were talking about songs and albums I find to be absolute masterpieces.. And then here you say things like these:

To each their own! Even as I showed in the blog, I can critique the living hell out of a song or album but still enjoy it.

Yeah, to each their own.. Everyone has an opinion, but I'll never get how anyone can criticize so much a work of art that she/he "enjoys".. Is art, a thing some people do for the rest of mankind; some ignore it, some don't like it, and some do.. Yet you (as many others also like to do) couldn't just concentrate in the things you like and love about ToT (which is what I naively expected to find in the article), but had to point out the negative -and almost only the negative- aspects of the albums from your point of view..

Anyways, this is, at the end of the day, also an opinion.. And since we're all here respectfully disagreeing with each other, I also do that, only that in a different matter.
I appreciate your disagreement!

My friends always ask, "How can you say this is your favourite 'X' but still criticize it?" The answer is: because I can! I like to think that I can objectively see the good and bad in everything - regardless of my bias towards it. For example, I LOVE the 1986 Transformers movie. Is it bad? Absolutely. What's bad about it? I could write an essay over why. Weird Al is first that comes to mind. Do I still enjoy it? For sure! I've probably seen that movie more times than any other. I also own it on VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray. But it's still a bad movie that I love to death.

And honestly, I like to be able to do both - enjoy something and still criticize it. In my opinion, it keeps me honest and open-minded. I can rip apart my favourite TV shows, movies, albums, you name it. There's always something to criticize. But I can see the difference between criticism and enjoyment. I enjoy the discussion! If I didn't state my criticisms about my favourite band, I wouldn't have heard these takes on The Astonishing - an album that I'm now going to-revisit with a new set of ears. I find this sort of stuff healthy and fun. The important thing is not to take any of it to heart - but as I've said, (and you've quoted), to each their own! It's just important to respect that, but also to listen to what others are saying.

I dunno. I criticize the hell out of music I love to death. I think it's healthy to keep things in perspective and understand where the flaws in your favorite artists lie. I would also say that going to such length to write this article shows just how passionate he is about the band and their music. That's just my two cents.
Thanks, Kattoelox! I am passionate about the band and their albums. You hit the point home in that third sentence there.

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #66 on: August 08, 2018, 10:06:21 AM »
I am, however, intrigued why Black Clouds is "good" in your eyes over say their self-titled or Octavarium.

The short answer is, I just don't feel an emotional connection to much of Black Clouds.  Although I tend to gravitate toward DT's longer songs, the problem with having an album full of long songs, and only six of them, is that if a couple of them seem "just okay" that is a significant portion of the album.  If I go song-by-song, I like most of ANTR.  But the things that bother me about it are the same things that drag a few of the songs on TOT--it starts to feel long and repetitive toward the end.  Most of DT's longer songs don't feel that way to me, but this is one that slightly overstays its welcome.  AROP isn't bad, but isn't something I ever find myself actively wanting to listen to.  Wither bores me.  TSF is mostly great.  It also has some parts that feel that they drag on a bit too long.  And there are a couple of reprises I think the song would have been better off without.  But overall, it is one of my favorites on the album.  TBOT is one of my least favorite DT songs.  I really appreciate the subject matter. But it is so literal and specific that I have a hard time connecting with it.  And the music for some reason doesn't do anything for me.  TCOT has more than its share of great moments.  But the volume swell section really kills the momentum of the song and takes me out of the moment. 

That amounts to an album that is merely "good," but DT standards, in my opinion.  There are plenty of other albums where I actively like MUCH more of the content.  On Octavarium, I don't care for The Answer Lies Within, and can usually do without I Walk Beside You.  Otherwise, I love that album from start to finish.  Octavarium is a top 10 song, and a couple of others are close.  So I consider it a stronger album.  The self-titled is my fourth favorite from them, and I like every single song on it very much.
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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #67 on: August 08, 2018, 10:14:10 AM »
I dunno. I criticize the hell out of music I love to death. I think it's healthy to keep things in perspective and understand where the flaws in your favorite artists lie. I would also say that going to such length to write this article shows just how passionate he is about the band and their music. That's just my two cents.

Absolutely amen to that.

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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #68 on: August 08, 2018, 10:16:20 AM »
I mean it's hard to put a hard separation on "great" albums, but in general I agree with the sentiment. Better way for me to say it is that I truly love Train of Thought and don't believe they've come reasonably close to topping it since. While Octavarium is my favorite DT song and The Count of Tuscany comes in at #3 neither of those albums has supporting material as strong as Train of Thought.

It helps that ToT was one of my first Dream Theater albums, but it's always held a very special place for me, and even though I now consider Scenes their best work it's still a tossup between ToT and Images and Words for my #2. I've always said it represents "metal" as I wish it to be, and that Dream Theater, mainly known to have a "prog" label attached to their name did a metal album better than 99% of metal bands I know.
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Re: Train of Thought: Dream Theater's Last Great Album
« Reply #69 on: August 08, 2018, 10:27:08 AM »
I've always said it represents "metal" as I wish it to be, and that Dream Theater, mainly known to have a "prog" label attached to their name did a metal album better than 99% of metal bands I know.
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