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Dream Theater - Octavarium CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.66 | 2012 ratings

From, the ultimate progressive rock music website

Cygnus X-2
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Now, I don't want to come off as a DT fanboy, but I must say that this is an incredible effort. After the excessively heavy Train of Thought, Dream Theater fans were left wanting them to return to their contemporary roots, more prog less metal. This album is a combination of metal and progressive rock, with a twist of pop here and there, and the collaboration of all of these elements is well used. The musicianship, as always, is top notch. Gone are the excessive mind numbing solos from Petrucci, who now plays with a more melodic approach. Jordan Rudess is the star of the album, playing incredible pianos and synths throughout each of the eight tracks. John Myung, normally unhearable on previous albums, is now very audible. He always gives great performances throughout. Mike Portnoy also plays great drums throughout, but nothing out of the ordinary or spectacular. And finally, James LaBrie is now a tolerable vocalist, his voice is great throughout.

The album opener, The Root of all Evil, is a continuation of Mike Portnoy's saga about alcoholism and the ability to clean up. It begins quietly, with a chilling piano note coming first. As the drums kick in (playing the "riff" from This Dying Soul from a percussive standpoint), and the guitar comes through the speakers, the listener is taken for a ride. Petrucci finally has some self-control and keeps with the flow, playing with more of a rhythm approach. Rudess is the only one keeping to the old DT staple, playing off the wall and needlessly complicated keyboard solos. The vocals on this track are also top notch, and the lyrics are among the best that Portnoy has written.

The second track, The Answer Lies Within, is a more laid back tune, with Rudess leading the way throughout. Myung's bass work on this track is great, and LaBrie really is at a high with his singing. Nothing much more to say on this track.

The third track, These Walls, begins with a fade in of Petrucci overly distorted guitar. What begins as a muddy, dirty track, quickly becomes a more symphonic track. Rudess's synths take the forefront again, and they never let up. The vocals are great, and the lyrics that Petrucci wrote are also among his best.

The fourth track, the poppiest track of the album (the only one I dislike), I Walk Beside You sounds like DT covering a U2 track. From a guitarist's view, the guitar is very well done, as is the bass. The drumming is very adequate, as is the keyboard. LaBrie is the star of this track, giving a very emotional vocal line.

The fifth track, Panic Attack, begins with an incredible bass intro. After that, it sounds like old DT. The bass work throughout is phenomenal, one of the best Myung has ever done. The guitar is also intricate and complex without being too technical, the keyboard also makes the song feel more symphonic. In a word, one of the best songs on the album, really harking back to their roots.

The sixth song, Never Enough, has a great riff, great vocals from LaBrie and lyrics from Portnoy. The keyboard and drum on this track are among the best of the album. Not saying that the guitar isn't great either, it's just not up to par with the rest of the album. A great track not to be left out.

The seventh track, perhaps the most emotional on the album, is Sacrificed Sons. The song, with lyrics concerning 9/11 and all of the terrorism in the world. Features awesome keyboard from Rudess, great guitar from Petrucci, and incredible vocals from LaBrie. The guitar solo on this track is also very emotional, at one point sounding like an ambulance. Another very symphonic track from DT.

The finale, the best track on the album, is the 24 minute epic, Octavarium. It begins with a very Floydian intro, just keyboards. Rudess' use of the Continuum in the intro of this track is flawless, and his work with the lap steel is also a great addition to the mix. What comes next is 18 or 19 minutes of prog nirvana. Featuring great bass work from Myung during Awakening, great guitar from Petrucci throughout (especially the opening acoustic work), great drumming and lyrics from Portnoy, and great vocals and lyrics from LaBrie, this is arguably the best track DT has ever done. With lyrics in the middle sections alluding to famous works of Genesis, Pink Floyd, The Beatles, and Yes, the metal combines perfectly with the symphony. The last haunting piano note is the same as the opening one in the Root of all Evil.

Overall, this is one of the most balanced work DT has ever done. There are very few dry spots, I Walk Beside You the biggest one, and the musicianship is impeccable. I recommend this album to any fan of progressive music who isn't tired of the endless DT debates. 4/5.

Cygnus X-2 | 4/5 |


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