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Dream Theater - Octavarium CD (album) cover

OCTAVARIUM

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.67 | 2031 ratings

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Luke. J
3 stars A tribute to...

After Dream Theater were exploring heavy metal territory, they decided to come back into some lighter atmosphere. They however have souvenirs from their trip to Metallica and co. Also, with ''Octavarium'' the band shows which groups had an influence on them in the past years. The album is full of quotations of more or less famous songs and bands from the wide realm of rock. If you feel a bit bored, you can try to spot them. Yet because of the quotations, the music suffers a bit. The well- written material here has a lot potential, but the sometimes forced will to qoute and pay tribute drags us down from the high moments. As an independent record I would have rated it four stars.

''The Root of All Evil'' starts the album with an intro very reminiscent of Pink Floyd's ''Welcome to the Machine''. When Petrucci plays his first chord, however, it is clear that the least we can expect are melodic soundscapes. It continues the AA-suite, and is like the predecessors a more metallic track. With ''The Answer Lies Within'' you can lay back from the foregoing rush. The ballad has almost pop sound, Rudess plays mellow piano sections, LaBrie gently sings. Nothing special, maybe a weak point on this album. ''These Walls'' is again more heavy, but the playing more creates an atmosphere than aggressive riffs. For the tribute paying, the hearbeat in the end might be to honour the start of ''Dark Side of the Moon'', but this is unclear since the sound was used by various artists before. ''I Walk Beside You'' returns the poppy sound, a more mid-tempo, light song. It sounds much like U2, who were, by the band's account, an influence on them in the last time. ''Panic Attack'' is all what the title promises. The leather jackets of ''Train of Thought'' return, LaBrie tends to shout, heavy, dark guitars and background keyboards. Is there again something hidden? Not at first look, but the sequence at the end may be familiar to some Pink Floyd sequence. ''Never Enough'' could also have been recorded by Muse and LaBrie doing guest vocals. Decide for yourself if this still is a tribute or imitation. This is Portnoy's lyrical revenge to his dissatisfied fans. Where they come from I do not know, for me he does the best he can on drums. For a band with origin in the USA/New York, it was nearly inevitable to write a song about the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center on 9/11. The result of the feelings is titled ''Sacrificed Sons''. At first, it seems like another ballad. The spoken words in the beginning are echoes on the event, and lyrical content deals with the motivations. It stays not as mellow as in the first part, but ends in an instrumental section. The comparison might be drawn from far away, but in some way it reminds of King Crimson's ''Moonchild''. In opposite to the song, ''Sacrificed Sons'' is more composed than jammed together. The next track, the title track of this album, is a 24-minute-monster, consisting of five (or eight, if you consider the instrumental) parts. I will not describe all of them, just the song. From the intro compareable to Pink Floyd's ''Shine on you Crazy Diamond'' up to part IV, there is a progression of heaviness. A high point is the beginning of the fourth part. What LaBrie does here, is outstanding. Again, this climax in voice and mood is a tribute. To list all melodies of other songs spread all over the track. With referrences to names, it is easier to say ''Section III Full Circle''. You get why when reading, it is a row of names and titles. The fifth section closes it all, very pompous keys and guitars to the end. We hear the same piano key with which ''The Root of All Evil'' started (F), and have our full circle.

In conclusion, this is a very solid effort from Dream Theater, but not their most constant. Either the songs are exceptional good or bad. What is also missing sometimes is the OWN sound of Dream Theater, pushed in the background for some tribute-paying. As afore mentioned, as an independent record they would have done much better, at least for me. To complete it with my staple sentence, ''three stars is not a bad rating'', I would like to add that I was close to giving it four. Recommended, but by no point necessary.

Luke. J | 3/5 |

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