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Dream Theater - Octavarium CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.67 | 1994 ratings

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4 stars Hmm I am not a Prog Metal fan but I play one on TV ..OK enough bad jokes I must at least explain that I am not a big fan of metal in general except for some of the harder groups from the 70's. I also am rating this almost three years after the Dream Theater wars here at Progachives.Com when every other topic was about them and everyone was really on one side or the other. I didn't want that to be an influence on the music I was hearing. This is the only Dream Theater album I have heard.

What is funny however is how I came about owning this CD. I was buying online one day and wanted to get Spock's Beard Octane but accidentally ordered this instead. So now I own a Dream Theater CD the next question is will I listen to it? My son likes these guys I thought but he then again likes a lot of metal. After a week or so I thought what the hell and gave it a spin. My first thought after that was well this isn't really something I would choose often but it doesn't make my ears bleed or make me want to get a tattoo and wear leather either. So then a couple of weeks later I played it again and there were some distinction between some movements that didn't distinguish on the initial spin but still not much. Then I put it away and did not listen it to it for a year and half.

I had just seen Jordan Rudess perform with Rod Morgenstein at Calprog and was impressed by him as a keyboard player. So again I put it on and some things became clearer. Then I got Jordan's last solo CD and after listening to that I put it on again. Then I just listened to both Liquid Tension Experiment CD's recently and so now I am listening to it again. This time I hear it and get it and it isn't half bad.

There are just enough metal parts in it to call it metal I suppose but these guys have some talent as songwriters as well. Some criticism of this album is that it is just a metal CD not prog. I disagree with that assessment. While there are some metal trappings (of course there are the band knows its core audience) there also is some skillful and clever songwriting as well in the Pink Floyd, early Crimson vein and even some early Kerry Livgren Kansas. Yes there is a lot of metal in the Root of All Evil(I can hit the play next button pretty easily) but there are several songs with none at all.

Another controversy is James LeBrie's voice. Now James will never make my list of top ten singers I have heard worse and in some respected prog bands like the Tangent. The real problem with Labrie's voice is that it is too nondescript and lacks real emotion that distracts for the intent of the song The Answer Lies Within is a good example. This is a beautifully crafted chord projection but the voice doesn't match that softness or emotion. But then again it doesn't ruin it either. He reminds me of Klaus Meine of The Scorpions. So James LaBire is not a deal breaker for me either.

The song that really made me sit up and take notice is Sacrificed Sons the tribute piece for 9/11 victims. I love the "song' part and the radical change in the middle that displays a musical vision of that tragedy. Other things like the aforementioned The Answer Lies Within and These walls have a lot for me to like as well. Yes there is about 10 seconds of metal guitar in the latter but the rest of the song could have been written by Kerry Livgren of Kansas. I don't hear a overblown metal guitar solo either just a nice tasteful melodic one played skillfully by Petruci and some great keyboards by Rudess. The poewer of Portnoy's drums give DT a metal edge already but he also is a skilled drummer as well and he knows his prog and does a great job on many of the fills.

I Walk beside You again has some nice chord structures even a bit like U2 in parts. Panic Attack and Never Enough are about the only other songs with a lot of metal trappings the latter I don't care for but the former isn't too bad. As for the epic title song cut out the two minute part where LaBrie is screaming Octavrium and I like it.

This isn't a bad album at all and I will listen to it when the mood strikes. For now I am giving it 4 stars and may change that after I explore a few more things from this band.

Garion81 | 4/5 |


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