“Sacrificed Sons” by Dream Theater, album: Octavarium
This is the seventh song on Dream Theater’s latest album. Like The Great Debate (album: Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence), this is a song packed with political statements. From the title, one can hazard a guess—it’s about religious fanaticism and terrorism.
The song begins with snippets of news reports and religious chanting. This sets the stage for the lyrics, taking the listener back to the chaos of the day two airplanes struck the Twin Towers in New York City.
With a forlorn keyboard melody in the background, lead singer James LaBrie’s voice begins to sing in a mournful tone from the viewpoint of an American citizen on that day. He witnesses the smoke and fire from the buildings on television, feeling helpless and deeply disturbed by this supposed “act of faith” by terrorists. This mirrors the general sentiment Americans felt, a sense of bewilderment mixed with grief. After the initial shock, he ponders the dreadful question of survivors: how many died? How many are missing? How many managed to escape? Americans were glued to their TVs during those weeks, watching the death toll fluctuate, the endless posters asking for information on missing family members, the candlelight vigils and flower-decked memorials for the victims.
The lyrics imply that every channel covers this devastating event, playing scenes from the destruction of the buildings over and over. Along with those scenes are tributes to policemen and firefighters, esteemed as heroes who climbed up the buildings while they were soon to fall down. LaBrie’s voice begins to grow more tense, and emotions change from shock and grief to anger.
He questions the rigid religious doctrine that inspired the terrorists who sacrificed themselves to a cause they believed was right. He questions who would commit such a crime while claiming it was God’s will? However, there is balance in the tone of this political statement. The lyrics do not blame Islam directly. They blame extremist misinterpretation of Muslims’ Holy Scripture, the Quran.
After a lengthy, intense instrumental break that expresses the conflict of the song without words, LaBrie continues in an angrier voice. The critique of extremist thinking goes on, likening it to brainwashing. The essential message is that no one can justify these acts of hate through faith. Perhaps the most powerful words in the song are “Words they preach I can’t relate, If God’s true love are acts of Hate.”
The last few lines of lyrics are like a warning to humankind in general. They again stay away from offending the religious through their wording. The extremists’ actions are called “Our mistakes,” implying that all of mankind plays some part in the potential downfall of humanity. Yet there is an urgent message of hope, telling us that time is short, and that “there’s no time to waste.” The last line poses a challenging question for all people of different cultures and religions: Who serves the truth for Heaven’s sake? This is a question for many to ponder. Can people of different faiths serve the truth if they do not believe in the same God and the same Scriptures? As with many Dream Theater songs, Sacrificed Sons leaves its listeners with thoughts to consider carefully. It is another display of Dream Theater’s technical prowess, while showcasing the band’s talent for meaningful lyrics.