Dream Theater: The making of Train of Thought

Front cover

Train of Thought is the 7th studio album by progressive metal band Dream Theater released on 11 November 2003. Inspired by the audience response to Dream Theater's heavier songs while on tour, the album was written in three weeks. It was engineered by Doug Oberkircher and mixed by Kevin Shirley. Most of the album was played in concert for the Live at Budokan DVD, however all songs from it have been played live to date.


As mentioned in videos of the recording/writing sessions, which were filmed by Mike Portnoy (edited by Joey Cruz), the band "cooped themselves in a rehearsal studio" in New York, and wrote the full album from March 10th through April 3rd 2003, in a record time of three weeks, after which they began recording, starting with the drum tracks and ending with the vocals. Dream Theater wanted Train of Thought to be a strong album with heavier, darker riffing, exposing them to a number of new metal fans. The first song "As I Am" starts with the ending synth/orchestral chord of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. 

As I Am

"This Dying Soul" continues Mike Portnoy's 12-step suite, started with "The Glass Prison" on Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and later continued with "The Root of All Evil" on Octavarium, "Repentance" on Systematic Chaos, and ending with "The Shattered Fortress" on Black Clouds & Silver Linings. These songs share some of the lyrics and melodies. For example, this song features a riff from "The Glass Prison", which is heard at the start of this song's step "Release". "Honor Thy Father" was written about Mike Portnoy's stepfather. Some of the mumbles during "Honor Thy Father" are taken from Paul Thomas Anderson's film Magnolia, in the scene when Jason Robards' character is talking to Philip Seymour Hoffman's character about his regrets in life. There are also parts taken from the film At Close Range in which a scene of Sean Penn and Christopher Walken's characters can be heard arguing. Other voice samples heard during the bridge were taken from the movies Ordinary People, The Royal Tenenbaums, and Oz. The lyrics to "Vacant" were inspired by James LaBrie's daughter, who fell into a short coma after suffering a sudden, unexplained seizure three days before her 7th birthday. "Stream of Consciousness" is the longest Dream Theater instrumental to date (not counting live mash-ups such as "Instrumedley"). Between 5:51 and 6:07 of the song "In the Name of God", there was a hidden composition buried beneath the far louder sounds of the song itself which lay undiscovered for over a year and a half. The band did not tell anyone that a hidden "nugget" (as it became known amongst Dream Theater fans) was present in the song, and only when Mike Portnoy mentioned it in his Mike Portnoy: Live at Budokan Drum-Cam DVD over a year later did someone find it. The Mike Portnoy message board was rife with fans scouring the song looking for what it might be, until a fan going by the pseudonymous name "DarrylRevok" mentioned that from 5:51 to 6:07 there appeared to be morse code audible, which Nick Bogovich (user handle "Bogie") isolated and translated. From 12:56 onwards of "In the Name of God", the American civil war hymn "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" can be heard in the right channel. Jordan Rudess played the final note in the album (heard at 14:06 of "In the Name of God") with his nose as shown in The making of Train of Thought documentary. This is also the first note of Octavarium's first song, "The Root of All Evil" and the last note of the last song, "Octavarium" (heard at 23:29).

Track listing:
1. As I Am 7:47
2. This Dying Soul 11:28
IV. Reflections of Reality (revisited) 6:31
V. Release 4:57
3. Endless Sacrifice 11:23
4. Honor Thy Father 10:14
5. Vacant 2:57
6. Stream of Consciousness (instrumental) 11:16
7. In the Name of God 14:14


Dream Theater:
James LaBrie–lead vocals
John Myung–bass
John Petrucci–guitar, backing vocals
Mike Portnoy–drums, backing vocals
Jordan Rudess–keyboards

Additional personnel:
Eugene Friesen–cello on "Vacant"

This is the making of Train of Thought documentary filmed during the recording sessions of the album in spring and summer 2003.