Since the higher ups in the Iron Council decided that this week would be Instrumental Music Week here at the Monolith, I refuse to not chime in on this most marvelous genre of music.
Instrumental music, in general, is a variety of music that I’ve always taken a rather keen liking to. What’s always attracted me most to it is that instrumental acts always seem to champion musicianship and composition over anything else. While certainly many folks would prefer to have vocals tell them a story, I would much rather just be given the music and let my own mind take me away on whatever adventure the music allows it to take.
In recent years, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the material being put out by the likes of Cloudkicker, Animals As Leaders, and Scale The Summit. Also, being a native of the Chicago area, I’m obligated to be a fan of Pelican and Russian Circles.
I thought for this shout-out to instrumental music, however, I’d bring my favorite instrumental metal song of all time to the forefront. Let us turn back the clocks to the year 2003 which brought about the seventh full length album from a progressive metal giant who actually happen not to be instrumental most of the time…
With the album Train Of Thought, prog titans Dream Theater brought unquestionably their most metal and darkest performance to date. It still kept the technical proficiency that was at the heart of Dream Theater, but it brought a much deeper and heavier tone than they had already built on their progressive rock foundations. This naturally attracted fans who leaned more towards the metal side of the spectrum – like myself. I can’t recommend this album enough to anyone who has never listened to it all the way through before. It remains, to this day, my absolute favorite Dream Theater album.
Aside from its extreme metal sensibility, Train Of Thought had one track in particular that truly sold me. The sixth track, “Stream Of Consciousness,” is an eleven minute instrumental track that still blows me away every time I listen to it. What’s brilliant about this track is that it’s a perfect representation of the actual term “stream of consciousness” which coincidentally is also an accurate descriptor of the Dream Theater sound. Musical patterns and techniques, much like human thoughts, are seemingly being summoned inadvertently and may not make the most sense at the time but eventually tie into something much larger when the track comes full circle.
In order to display its full brilliance, I decided to embed a live performance of “Stream Of Consciousness” from Dream Theater’s 2004 performance at the legendary Budokan venue in Tokyo. Happy instrumental week all!