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Dream Theater - Octavarium CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.67 | 1994 ratings

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The Quiet One
Prog Reviewer
2 stars My first encounter with a Prog Metal band, but not exactly Prog Metal

Octavarium was and still is quite a mixed bag for me, from the the straight-forward Metal songs with some commercial leanings to the Prog (Heavy)Metal tracks and finally to the Retro-Symphonic-esque epic. You really can't expect anything in the likes of the Moore/Sherinian-era in here, hence that the music since the entry of Jordan Rudess got darker and heavier, with more focus on the guitars and drums, and in the case of this album also lacking own ideas.

The album starts off with The Root of All Evil, which showcases a small intro very similar to Welcome to the Machine by Pink Floyd. The song moves on to heavy territory: Metal. It has a quite heavy riff, as well as an unstopabble massive drumming by Mike Portnoy who I already knew through Transatlantic. James vocals aren't that powerful nor expressive, but still they suit the band's style very good. The song overall, lasting over 7 minutes, is quite straight-forward metal, lacking of diversity thus making it a bit boring after some repeated listens if you're looking for Prog Metal, otherwise it's a great tune to rock out with.

Follows-up The Answer Lies Within, a soft tune led by James gentle vocals and Jordan's decent piano. Pretty simple, but that's not really the problem, the problem is that the originality and the emotion is mainly lacking, being very similar to 2003 hit single, Look What You've Done by Jet.

Then comes These Walls, resurrecting the heaviness from the opener, with a roaring guitar opening to then a massive heavy guitar riff. Just like the opener, it's a pretty straight-forward metal song allthrough, nothing really interesting for the Prog fan. Also here you can listen to traces from other bands, specially Linkin Park's 2004 single, From the Inside. Not bad per se, though.

Going further through this album you have I Walk Beside You. A Pop Metal song, if that genre really exists. Again, no traces of well-thought passages nor solos, and once again the word ''rip-off'' pops to my mind, with a chorus that truly makes you think you're listening to U2; that's another reason why I like James hitting the high notes like in the early days, he's totally recognisable, now he tries to emulates others and fails at it badly.

We move on, and we got Panic Attack. Gees, I was wondering where the Prog was in this album, damn why was I so intrigued about it? Opening with a monstrous rage of guitar and double bass drums, I literally get a panic attack everytime I listen to that intro. However, luckily for me, it softs down a little bit after that, making it beareable for my ears, as well as having a good bunch of time changes and an enjoyable guitar solo, making it even more beareable for my non-metal ears. In general, a pretty good Proggy (Heavy)Metal song, even if a bit too heavy some times.

Next stop, Never Enough, the last of the ''trilogy'' of straight-forward metal songs from this album. Just like the previous song, the opening of this one is very heavy, however the verse's, while pretty dark in mood, they're softer. Not a very enjoyable track allthrough and again other band's influences notably appear, this time from Muse.

Now to Sacrificed Sons, a dark and slowly evolving monster which turns out to be the best song in the album. This is 00's Prog Metal at it's best; not as heavy as the previous two, yet the metal characteristics are clear, and it still makes up a highly satisfactory 'original'(!) Prog song.

Finally the end, 8th track, Octavarium, is a full blown Symphonic Prog track resembling some of the Prog giants from the 70's, not only in the music, but as well as in the lyrics. However, despite it's length, it doesn't really match with any of the 70's giants epics to tell you the truth. Yes, it has divided parts which all have their own strength and they do connect *almost* flawlessly, however overall it's really lacking something brilliant and unique, despite some cool bass lines and powerful synth, the rest is quite un-inspired taking stuff from Supper's Ready as well as from Shine on You Crazy Diamond. Don't get me wrong, it's not really a rip-off, but I've heard modern symphonic-epics being way more original and grabbing, those from The Flower Kings and Transatlantic blow away this one in terms of originality and amusement, while in the instrumental side Dream Theater manages to be on par.

To conclude, Octavarium is overall lacking originality, but also the prog quotient isn't very high either. As far musicianship goes, in this album they play some nice heavy riffs and powerful drumming but not really on par with anything they've done before this. Got to admit though that the keyboards have more appearance here, yet they're still by no means essential nor as great as in the Moore-era.

A heavy, prog-less record, with more down's than up's. Recomended for those modern-symphonic lovers just for the epic, while I also recomend this to Rudess-era Dream Theater fans. Moore-era Dream Theater fans can pass this. Not a bad album despite the 2 stars I gave, it's decent and enjoyable but the lack of own ideas is something that doesn't deserve more than the 2 stars from a prog band.

The Quiet One | 2/5 |


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