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Dream Theater - Octavarium CD (album) cover

OCTAVARIUM

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.67 | 1994 ratings

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CVoss
4 stars Yes, the whole world has reviewed this by now, but I sure haven't. Dream Theater's Octavarium, the last album ever recorded at The Hit Factory, is a solid album from a band known for its bombast in the genre of prog-metal. When I first listened to DT, I was convinced that it was a theatrical version of Metallica with keyboards. Listen further, and there's even more to it. This time around, DT appears to be trying an overall harder record than any of its previous ones, which for the most part comes off as a strong effort. The one problem I have always had with Dream Theater still exists; some of Jordan Rudess' keyboard solos sound out of place in terms of timing. Still, I like the added effect of them, and Dream Theater continues to excel. I especially like the opener "The Root of All Evil," which drummer Mike Portnoy (a master of his own domain in terms of drumming) wrote about coping with alcoholism. It has an edge, and it sounds like a fresh opener. The next couple tracks can drag a bit at points, but they are still enjoyable. "I Walk Beside You" is a rare shorter piece, but they pull it off very well. "Panic Attack" begins with a great John Myung bass line, which leads into an assault of guitars and a keyboard flurry, before James LaBrie's signature vocal takes charge. The song seems more standard than other DT pieces, but I found it to be captivating because of the rush that comes with it. "Never Enough" is a nice fast number also, but once I heard that I realized that there appeared to be a bit more original, aside from the usual influences (i.e. Rush). John Petrucci's slashing guitars dominate the second half of the album, until the epic "Octavarium," which in many ways is their "Close to the Edge," meaning the long-form epic they have always wanted to design. The first four minutes are very reminiscent of "Shine on You Crazy Diamond," with the keyboard backing Petrucci's melodic but very morphed guitars, then leading into the very theatric second part, with solid rhythms and crisp vocal stylings. About ten minutes in, the piece sets up for a faster section, in time signatures that you hardly even hear in prog music itself (11/8, anyone?). By the end of the piece, it reverts to the original theme, but with an orchestral backing, with seems somewhat overdrawn to me, but is still captivating. No wonder the Hit Factory closed its doors after that album; that last number seems such a poetic ending. It may not be perfect, but it's still another great Dream Theater album, and there's more from them that I can always look forward to.
CVoss | 4/5 |

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