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Dream Theater - Octavarium CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.66 | 1996 ratings

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3 stars My DT rediscovery continues as I work backwards from Sytematic Chaos.

I don't think that Octavarium is nearly as solid as SC overall but is saved by the title track. The better tracks from the first part of the album would be "The Root of all Evil" with its irresistible heavy groove and "Sacrificed Sons" which qualifies for mini-epic status. "These Walls" has some really nice emotional guitar leads from Petrucci. "The Answer Lies Within" seemed incredibly hokey on the surface the first time I heard it but the song has grown on me. I think it's actually one of the better cheesy power ballads although the recent trend of affirmational lyrics gets old pretty fast for me. The other shorter songs are less successful with "I Walk Beside You" being pretty lame actually.

But the make or break here is the title track of course. It is 24 minutes of classic prog that is just jaw-dropping. It builds so beautifully and every idea works perfectly. At the risk of gushing I just love this song and feel it's one of the best tracks I've heard in a long time, putting to shame some of the wannabe albums I've heard lately from the likes of Spock's Beard or Magic Pie. Those groups wish they could pull off something like this.

The lyrics and themes are interesting throughout and some hit home. Regardless of what the band is writing about specifically, the issue of feeling trapped is something individual to all of us. Free will? Most people instinctively would say they have it and are almost offended at the idea of Determinism. My only comment is that while most feel they have total freedom, the choices they have are the conformist options allowed by the Establishment's systems. If your ideas of freedom do not conform to their rules you may well find yourself in economic ruin down the road. If you still call that "free will" then you're a true optimist. But that's what Labrie's rageful scream of "trapped inside this Octavarium" means to me. It's not the ability to make a "choice" that matters, but rather the meaningfulness of the choices offered-and our society has a ways to go in that regard.

Special mention for the stunning album cover, very cool. The title track is very close to a masterpiece but overall I'm at 3.25 stars for Octavarium. With that said, every prog fan should hear the title track-just realize the rest of the songs are not to that level.

Finnforest | 3/5 |


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