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Dream Theater

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Dream Theater Octavarium album cover
3.68 | 2210 ratings | 282 reviews | 26% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2005

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. The Root of All Evil (8:07) :
- vi. Ready
- vii. Remove
2. The Answer Lies Within (5:26)
3. These Walls (6:59)
4. I Walk Beside You (4:29)
5. Panic Attack (7:16)
6. Never Enough (6:33)
7. Sacrificed Sons (10:42)
8. Octavarium (24:00) :
- i. Someone Like Him
- ii. Medicate (Awakening)
- iii. Full Circle
- iv. Intervals
- v. Razor's Edge

Total Time 73:32

Line-up / Musicians

- James LaBrie / lead vocals
- John Petrucci / guitar, backing vocals, co-producer
- Jordan Rudess / keyboards, lap steel guitar, Continuum synth
- John Myung / bass
- Mike Portnoy / drums & percussion, backing vocals, co-producer

- Orchestra (violins, violas, cellos, flute, French horns) (7,8)
- Jamshied Sharifi / strings arranger & conductor

and String Quartet (2):
- Elena Barere / concert master, 1st violin
- Carol Webb / violin
- Vincent Lionti / violas
- Richard Locker / cello

Releases information

Artwork: Hugh Syme

2LP Atlantic - R1 83793 (2013, US)

Cass Atlantic - HAO 2408 (2005, US)
Cass Atlantic - 83793-4 (2005, Indonesia)

CD Atlantic 83793-2 (2005, US)
CD Atlantic 7567837932 (2005, Australia)
CD Atlantic 7567-83793-2 (2005, Argentina)
CD Atlantic 7567-83793-2 (2005, Europe)
CD Atlantic 8379321 (2005, Mexico)
CD Atlantic WPCR-12079 (2005, Japan)
CD Atlantic CD 83793 (2005, Canada)
CD Atlantic 756783793-2 (2005, Brazil)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
and to projeKct for the last updates
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Buy DREAM THEATER Octavarium Music

DREAM THEATER Octavarium ratings distribution

(2210 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(26%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(38%)
Good, but non-essential (24%)
Collectors/fans only (8%)
Poor. Only for completionists (3%)

DREAM THEATER Octavarium reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by FishyMonkey
4 stars Wow. What a change. What a ****ing change.

It's impossible to describe how much better this album is than its predecessor, Train of Thought. So much different so much better than ANYTHING they've written. More focused, no meandering solos for three minutes, no cheesy songs that get REALLY annoying after a cople listens (although I Walk Beside You almost did it if it weren't for the awesome begginning), no Labrie wailing everywhere.

No, this is probably Dream Theater at their best, no doubt. A more modern, focused, original and almost electronic sound at some points, while highly progressive and symphonic in others like the beastly title track. This album has...everything. It's such a huge difference, it's impossible to describe. At first I didn't like it. I was confused by how different it was than ToT, SDOIT, hell EVERYTHING they've done. It grew on me, slowly but surely, and now...I'm sure it's their best album. Only Images and Words, SDOIT disc 2 and SFAM give it a run for its money, but in the end, I flat out like Octavarium more.

The Root Of All Evil: This is an AWESOME song, no doubt. Consider it part 3 of The Glass Prison/This Dying Soul series, and it definitely is betetr than its predecessors just because it is so much more focused. It begins with a cool electronic feel, and then you hear the riff from This Dying Soul come in quietly, and some cool footsteps that make think of SFAM. Then the main part blasts in, and your face will be shocked. Simple guitar and drumming parts with Portnoy keeping time instead of going crazy, yet it sounds even better than SOME of those crazy moments. Labrie comes in, sounds very mature for a change, which is awesome. Soem powerful moments scattered throughout, the whole track is awesome. 9.5/10

The Answer Lies Within: Typical ballad. Not as good as Wait For Sleep, but pretty damn good. The segue between TROAE and this song is really relaxing, and the whoel song is a nice relaxing song. It's a nice listen, even if it isn't your most played song. Pretty, that's all. 7/10

These Walls: Well, when I first heard, I thought it was DT meets nu-metal. How wrong I was. The beginning part is always interesting, and how it leads into the opening riffs is awesome. Then the band explodes into this awesome 6/8 song with a strong melody and is very catchy overall. Petrucci doesn't really do much besides put in a memorable melody at the end. Portnoy is REALLY making it happen though, no doubt. His fills are interesting and catchy. The continuum makes the sound interesting as well. It's not perfect -- it still sounds a bit nu-metalish to me. But it's the best damn nu-metal I've everheard. 8/10

I Walk Beside You: The clocks and violin hits at the beginning is interesting, but the chorus sucks. That's this song in a nutshell. I like half of it, the other half can die. Too U2-ish for me. You'll listen to it once and then maybe twice, but for your ballad listen The Answer Lies Within, or better yet, go back to Images and Words. 5/10

Panic Attack: The heaviest, most thrashy DT song ever. And one of the best. Portnoy is once again AWESOME here, and Petrucci sounds great. Ruddess isn't really that prominent except in a couple parts. Labrie really does well here, no doubt. All in all, if you want to ease a metalhead into prog, this is a perfect transition piece. Awesome awesome stuff. 9.5/10

Never Enough: Maybe my favorite track on the album. It's pretty electronic, and features some of the BEST and most badass drumming I've ever heard. The opening guitar part reminds me of The Root Of All Evil in it's awesomeness. The chorus is semi powerful with lyrics that make you this it? DT's last album? Well, maybe not that sorta train of thought, but the song is definitely about the diservice we as fans have done to them. The chorus kinda drags though, keeping this from being another flawless song. It's just the drumming that keeps me coming back, the frikkin' drumming! The whole song is awesome though, so the lyrics are nullified cause the song is that good. After the first chorus, Portnoy really gets going, and it's AWESOME. 9.5/10

Sacrificed Sons: OK. Porcupine Tree fans. Take Russia On Ice. Make it heavier and a little more intense in the beginning. You get this song. It took a bit to sink in, much like Russia On Ice, but it is DEFINITELY an awesome song in every way. The beginning is t the song really gets going after about four minutes...good old DT. No complaints on this song, honestly. 10/10

Octavarium: OK. Here it is, the 24 minute epic. And boy, is it epic in ever yway. Starting off with Ruddess having a liiiiittle too much fun with continuum, the real song kicks off after about 3 or 4 minutes, don't remember which. Then a nice acoustic part comes in...and FLUTE! WOW! King Crimson influence right there baby, and I love it. Then for awhile, not much happens, although it's pretty. About halfway through the song, Ruddess goes crazy. It drags a bit, but it's still cool. Oh, at aroudn the 10 minute mark, I CAN HEAR MYUNG. AND IT REMINDS ME OF YES! Alright! Good stuff. The song builds more until it climaxes in an awesome way with Labrie shotuing at the top of his lungs. Labrie isn't really good at that,'s still REALLY effective. Then the song exludes with some French Horn and flute work, REALLY NICE! The whole song builds so great, it's really a great listening experience. I prefer some of the other songs on the album, though, just because the first 12 minutes get a little stale. I give this a 10/10 simply because of the sheer epicness of the whole piece, however, cause it's well executed. Not the best, but close. 10/10

(Edit on 6/15/05) For confirmation. It's been three weeks now since I started listening to it. I bought the album, listened more. My opinion has not changed. This is a beautiful piece of work, and anyone who wants to challenge me on that may gladly do so. Just please know that I did not listen to it once on the day it came out then review it right away. It too kme awhile to adjust. I didn't force myself to like it, I didn't force myself to adjust. This is just that good in my opinion.

(Edit on 9/17/05) It's been over three months since I started listening to this. Maybe even four. No, it doesn't have the lasting appeal I hoped it would. I hardly listen to it. However, much like SFAM, if I sit down and listen to it, it's great. However, it doesn't have the lasting effect, and some songs just blow now. And I gotta implement my new rating system to make this fair.

Soft parts: 6/10 Heavy parts: 9/10 Musicianship: 10/10 Originality/Creativity: 6/10 (too many ripoffs) Variety: 8/10 Lasting appeal: 7/10 The Root of All Evil: 9/10 The Answer Lies Within: 7/10 These Walls: 8/10 I Walk Beside You: 5/10 Panic Attack: 9.5/10 Never Enough: 9/10 Sacrificed Sons: 10/10 Octavarium: 10/10

Sum of scores: 113.5 113.5 / 14 = 8.1 8.1 = 4/5.

Review by Clayreon
5 stars DREAM THEATER is a band that will always lead to controversy. Their latest album "Train of Thoughts" was often subject of discussions, not at the least because the music was very heavy and was tending towards pure metal. Therefore a lot of prog fans have turned their back, maybe already after tracks like "The Glass Prison" on "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence". But let there be no single misunderstanding, "Octavarium" will be acclaimed by many music lovers, 'metal' has been replaced by a mix of alternative rock, sympho-progressive rock, space rock and some progressive metal. Certain tracks are very 'catchy' and could score very well in hit parades, considering they would receive a bit of airplay. It's not getting that commercial you know, but the guys have to earn their money like everybody else, who can blame them? It seems that they want to please all their fans this time (not obvious), the '8' tracks are very diverse, and yet there is a clear DT-sound, despite the references and influences of other, recent and not so recent bands.

Except for the variation there are a lot of other new elements compared to the previous albums. First, the keyboards are very present and Jordan Rudess is having a major role on this release (Petrucci is a bit modest here), this explains partially the progressive character of this album. Mike Portnoy shows his virtuosity less on the double bass drums, but is now a magician on the hi hats and the cymbals. James Labrie delivers one of his best vocal performances ever, he proves to be one of the best singers in the circuit, although he was often criticised in the past.

The album starts with a few sound scapes, a technique used throughout the album at the beginning and the end of many songs. "The Root Of All Evil" sounds pretty 'heavy', but is not determinate for the sound of the album. This track is the continuation of the story about the 'alcoholic addiction period' of Mike Portnoy (after The Glass Prison and This Dying Soul), and different themes and riffs of before have been renewed, both Rudess and Petrucci are playing stars from heaven. The end of the track on grand piano and the chimes (intro of Glass Prison) sets the beginning of the first (and not the last) ballad. "The Answer Lies Within" is very quiet and sensitive with an excellent Labrie, for sure a serious anti pole of the first track. Especially the symphonic fragments (piano and strings) remind me of the ballads of ELECTRIC LIGHT ORCHESTRA.

Petrucci is simulating the sound of Formula 1 cars on the intro of "These Walls", this track has been sent to radio stations for promotion and is a typical 'DREAM THEATER song', melodic and technically perfect, a catchy refrain ( "Tear Down These Walls For Me"), accessible progressive metal with a wonderful guitar solo of Petrucci. They have chosen for 'songwriting', rather than for instrumental highlights. Nevertheless, at the end of the track there is an impressive interplay between all instruments with again a symphonic support, where after it ends with an intriguing 'heart beat' and a clock ticking in "I Walk Beside You". This up tempo song is more appropriate for hit parades, both on length as for the song structure, the refrain has touches of U2, only it is music- technically spoken way better than the Irish, with all respect.

Back to the heavier work then, because "Panic Attack" pulls out all the stops, although it's never getting as hard as on "Train of Thoughts". This is purely progressive metal, full of surprising twists, breaks and contra rhythms (like DREAM THEATER has invented them). Rudess and Petrucci are delivering whirling solos. At the end you can hear again some surprising 'electronic' sound scapes, this seems to be a new element in their impressive work.

Mike Portnoy had shown his admiration for MUSE and in "Never Enough" it seems clear that they've listened well to Bellamy and his friends. In "Never Enough", you can hear the same bass and guitar riffs, the drum pattern and even the voice on 'Stockholm Syndrome'. Surprising and perhaps also 'the' way to attract younger people, so they will at last listen to an album like "Octavarium". If course, some die hard fans will say they've sold their souls by being 'too' commercial, but this is really a very good song, alternative rock on a DT basis. Even the guitar solo at the end could appear on a MUSE album, this is really no coincidence.

And at this point there is still more than 30 minutes of music to come, most of the other bands would have lack of inspiration, but here the best is yet to come. "Sacrificed Sons" starts with spoken fragments and interviews about terrorists (like 'The Great Debate'), an emotional ballad takes off, but later on this will continue with many tempo changes. After 4 minutes the guitars are taking the lead, but Rudess takes his chance again and brings the progressive touch to this 'melodic' progressive metal, what a 'power'. It is a lot more difficult nowadays to hear the difference between guitar and keyboards, surely when Jordan uses his new toy 'The Continuum Fingerboard'.

And the album ends with an epic of 24 minutes! In fact, you can subdivide this track into 6 parts of some 4 minutes each, no idea if this was on purpose or not. The first part is PINK FLOYD of the "Crazy Diamonds"-period, after that a ballad, again in FLOYD style but it can be compared with the ballads of ALAN PARSONS PROJECT (again beautifully sung full of emotion by Labrie), the third part starts with a strong piece of bass playing by Myung (he is great as ever) supported by Portnoy, giving the ballad some extra pigment, the fourth part is progressive rock at his best with influences of the seventies (even Lucy in the Sky is mentioned ), try to find the references to ELP, YES and TRANSATLANTIC. And if you think 'The Flight Of The Bumble Bee' is going fast, then just listen to the instrumental section at about 17', impressive again. At the end it becomes a bit heavier and darker with a 'screaming' Labrie, but immediately after that you can hear the most symphonic piece of the album, it culminates "Octavarium" to an absolute climax.

The conclusion is simple, this album is an absolute must for every music lover. And the variation on it could make it the best selling album of DREAM THEATER. Critics will always have their comments, but for me this is one of the best albums of the band, and I don't give a . if others will once again refer to "Images & Words". The band has given another direction to their musical career and you have to give them full credit.

My rating: 10/10

Review by Claude 'Clayreon' Bosschem

Review by Marc Baum
4 stars For some reason, I am both very pleased and somewhat at odds with Dream Theater’s new album. On one hand, they have ditched the excessive mallcore and aimless wankery for a more progressive album. On the other hand, a lot of this album seems contrived, as if the band went into the studio with the purpose “creating a diverse album.” Usually, this is a recipe for disaster, but in this case DT manage to pull it off unlike their last contrived effort to make “a classic metal album,” Train of Thought.

The album starts very solid with "The Root Of All Evil", which provides themes from the better sections of Train of Thought’s This Dying Soul as it is a continuation of the AA saga. The riffs in this song are genuine, and there is an amazing keyboard break as well as a highly solid Petrucci solo. To its credit, the solos don’t take over the song, and there is some great piano at the end.

The energy of this song transitions nicely into "The Answer Lies Within", which is one of contrived ballad songs that seems to have been written for the purpose of variety. It’s catchy and unusually simplistic for Dream Theater. Overall this track doesn’t offer much. Interestingly, this song also has no instrument solos, a rarity.

"These Walls" is a varied tempo catchy song with heavy and softer sections, keyboard melodies, a lot of hi-hat and stax by Portnoy, and a very interesting guitar solo that actually stays within the confines of the song (4:40 to 5:10). The keyboard melodies have a New Millenium vibe, but overall the song has a vibe like the Awake album.

"I Walk Beside You", begins with an eerie passage that turns into a fairly mainstream U2-like rock song. There is a cool key change near the end, and again …no solos.

"Panic Attack" is a heavy track full of keyboard scales, 5/4, catchy melodies, crazy solos, and time changes. This song is definitely one of the highlights on the album.

"Never Enough", is the most interesting for DT. It is very highly influenced by the British rock band Muse, but DT puts their own virtuostic spin on it. Musically, this track is very busy and has some excellent soloing.

The following track, Sacrificed Sons, is based on 9/11. It starts out much like a ballad, but around 4:15 it breaks into a classic DT instrumental section full of scales, key changes, and soloing. This section is includes orchestral accompaniment, and while it’s long, it doesn’t turn into a wankfest. The vocals come back in after this break with a much heavier background than the first 4:00 of the song. The song was written by James LaBrie and it has to be his best lyrical contribution to date.

The final title track is the big wow. Obviously an attempt to create another A Change of Seasons with the 24:00 running time, it doesn’t have the honesty that ACOS possesses, but it’s a great song in itself. There are all sorts of prog influences here from Yes to Pink Floyd to ELP with more orchestra. The song begins very slowly with the vocals in a story format and doesn’t really take off until after 12:00 at the simply amazing musical interlude. After 18:00, the vocals come back in spoken and slowly build up to a scream unlike anything Labrie has ever done before.

Overall, unless you’re already a Dream Theater or progressive fan, there is little chance that this album will draw your attention. With two softer songs and other's with softer sections, only 3 of the 8 tracks can consistently be considered metal, but this album is much more in tune to what Dream Theater is all about. I recommend it to everyone, but don’t expect anything "truely mindblowing".

album rating: 8.5/10 points = 87 % on MPV scale = 4/5 stars

point-system: 0 - 3 points = 1 star / 3.5 - 5.5 points = 2 stars / 6 - 7 points = 3 stars / 7.5 - 8.5 points = 4 stars / 9 - 10 points = 5 stars

Review by FloydWright
5 stars I am in a state of shock after my second listen to DREAM THEATER's Octavarium, and I sincerely apologize for the length of this...but I want to do this amazing album justice and put it into context. Given the controversy and the flaming DT tends to generate even before an album's release, I worried at first that my high assessment of Octavarium might be due to unfairly lowering my expectations. But after my second listen--this time knowing what I'd hear--I'm sure this really is a masterpiece of prog. DREAM THEATER has finally generated a work that really competes with its other magnum opus, Awake.

After losing atmospheric master and keyboardist KEVIN MOORE, DT had a difficult time returning to the kind of tight cohesion they had before. (I have not heard any albums with DEREK SHERINIAN; I write about the RUDESS era only.) While technically very talented, up until now their third keyboardist JORDAN RUDESS had yet to "click" with the rest of the band, sticking out of joint with meandering solos and grating keyboard patches. His first album with DT, Scenes from a Memory, while conceptually interesting and well-sung by JAMES LaBRIE, suffered seriously in my opinion from a lack of musical direction. The next album I've heard, Train of Thought got closer to integrating RUDESS, and while I know some didn't care for it because of its hard edge and yes...still some over-noodling, it was a decent album. I've always believed, though, that the keyboardist makes or breaks the atmosphere of a prog record, and I worried that if RUDESS did not fully assimilate this time, it was going to be the end for DT.

Thankfully, this album is a best-case scenario beyond my wildest imagination! All the way from the creepy, "Welcome to the Machine"-like introduction of "The Root of All Evil" to the reprise at the end of "Octavarium", there is very little I can find about this that isn't tightly-composed, well-performed, and genuinely moving. The transitions between songs are carefully managed, flowing, and even tiny details have been attended to by the band--right down to taking care to making the track titles display on your CD player and marking the interstitial areas between songs with a "countdown".

"The Root of All Evil" makes a nice sequel to "This Dying Soul", and is part of MIKE PORTNOY's AA series. This one really seems to represent the moment of committing oneself to change...and I've got to give PORTNOY cool points for having the guts to "go public" this way. LaBRIE's voice has been processed in a way that's very strange at first...but to my mind, very effective. And immediately, I notice in the subtler keys of the outro, that RUDESS has learned control. But I hadn't heard anything yet...

The album's softest, sweetest moment, "The Answer Lies Within", reminded me in a strange way of something from Natalie Merchant; but I mean that favorably. I truly felt something stir inside of me not only at the excellent use of the orchestra and piano, but also at LaBRIE's delivery of the lyrics, which was genuinely touching and makes me want to sing along. And at one point, he does a gorgeous multi-tracking of his own voice that is among his best "harmony" moments I've ever heard. It also helps that this song speaks very nicely to where I am in my life--and the fact that I connect on this level is a testament to what DT has done on Octavarium.

"These Walls" and "I Walk Beside You" I'll address together. Both are mellower tracks (once past the intro to "These Walls"), and both have traits that some people are calling "commercial". However--why people are knocking them for that is beyond me. What I hear is good music with a real flow to it...and, even uplifting. Wouldn't you guys rather that all music on the radio was this good?

"Panic Attack"...I admit I don't feel as much just from the music (a very heavy track in contrast to what went before it)--but let me tell you something: this is about as authentic to the real experience of a panic attack that you can get. PETRUCCI has hit the nail on the head with the lyrics, LaBRIE has successfully worked the nameless fear into his singing especially with the intentionally-exaggerated vibrato in places, and even the outro, with the obsessively-repeating note, very much evokes the obsessive looping of a mind locked into a true panic attack. On "Never Enough", JORDAN RUDESS decisively proves what he's made of. While he's low in the mix at times, he really makes his synth blend with the music, and his solos are well-planned, not ever feeling like they were "noodled-through" on the fly. MIKE PORTNOY's cymbal fills caught my attention. As for the lyrical content...this seems to be a sequel to "Honor Thy Father".

For "Sacrificed Sons", I warn anyone who suffers severely from remembering 9/11 to skip to "Octavarium", because this is very evocative, using real TV clips from that day, not to mention a very powerful, emotional musical atmosphere--mournfully soft at times, ragingly heavy and angry at others. During PETRUCCI's solo, he lets out some bone-chilling sounds: he imitates emergency sirens...and not long after that what sounds like a muezzin's call to prayer. I give credit to JAMES LaBRIE not only for singing--but for setting on paper feelings that I think any American can identify with. Thank goodness...this isn't a war protest--rather, it's the cry of shock and indignation that I think every one of us, regardless of political affiliation, felt after the attack on America. The terrorists deserve the lyrical roasting LaBRIE hurls at them--but I commend him for not sinking to the nastiness of a ROGER WATERS even with the mournful sarcasm this justifiably brings out of him.

"Octavarium"...this was the final test DREAM THEATER had to pass: to prove that they had (re)learned to write a cohesive epic. The first four minutes literally bring me to a halt in whatever I'm doing--this moody, spacy section evokes both PINK FLOYD and AYREON. I'm not exactly sure what this song is about, but here's my best guess at it: it seems to show someone who is alienated from this modern era and under severe psychological strain because of it. The section subtitled "Awakening" is a real lyrical clue--go to IMDB for a summary of the movie Awakenings to understand. The next section's disjointed references to the great works of the 60s and 70s (including lyrical nods to GENESIS and PINK FLOYD) help confirm my impression. The musical build- up from section to section is very well-composed and powerful to hear...and not only that, towards the end LaBRIE goes from a dark, spoken vocal up to the kind of screaming, snarling sounds I haven't heard out of him since Awake--and for me, it's great to have that back. I should also add that RUDESS is in fine form...and without him there's no way the band could successfully pull off an epic of this caliber. By the time the end arrives, you find yourself reflecting sadly that "Octavarium" would go on forever. It is an incredible ride.

The only thing I noticed that might keep this one from knocking Awake to second place is a murky mix that sometimes threatens to swallow LaBRIE's vocals. If you've heard Blind Guardian's A Night at the Opera, that should give you a clue what to expect. But like that example, the composition and performance itself is solid...and it won't blow your head off if you listen on earphones! I also had one little complaint with a passage from RUDESS in "The Root of All Evil" that sounded a bit too video game-ish and reminiscent of the things that got on my nerves in previous albums-- but he stopped within seconds and after that he truly shined. Neither of these things are nearly enough to knock Octavarium to four stars.

This is the real McCoy...DREAM THEATER is back!

(And the "meandering" torch is hereby passed to me!)

Review by Gatot
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Sacrificed Sons" has killed me!

Review on Octavarium? Oh come on . it's already 130 entries by now , with many differing views for those who hated it or loved it - all with their own reasons. That's the beauty of prog isn't it? This album may have won top marks for controversy - splitting fans old and new right down the middle. Those who like the heavy part of the band (as Mike Portnoy commented in DVD Live at Budokan about Japanese fans) would have hated this album. But those who wanted a change in the band's music would have loved it. The fact is: the band is becoming much more popular now. It's good, prog ruleszzz!!

I don't want to call this as review - it's more on experience sharing. For excellent reviews you can read those written by colleague collaborators FloydWright, FishyMonkey, Claude or review by Cam.

What I experienced was truly amazing: at first spin I was stuck with track no 7: Sacrificed Sons and kept repeating this track over and over. Oh man .. This track is truly awesome! Tell me, from which point you wanna have a discussion? Composition? It has a very tight composition strengthened with beautiful orchestration. Musicianship? You must be joking . who will argue on this subject? Melody? It's definitely killing me! Honestly, at first spin I was wrong seeing the track title and I thought it was Never Enough. But I was really hooked to the music especially the melody! For me, this track is reflecting my experience in 1985 when I heard Marillion's Heart of Lothian "It's getting late ." which the melody was also killing me and got me repeating the track over and over. It applies the same with Sacrificed Sons. Initially, I was not aware on what subject this track was talking about but I was totally numb listening the musical harmony produced through this track. There is only one single phrase that best describes what I feel - and my apology for using my locality language - it's called: "mbrebes mili" (having tears in my eyes) and "nggeblak" (I'm stunned and my mind is totally paralyzed) enjoying the wonderful music of "Sacrificed Sons". Only by today I read the lyrics ..and now I realize the context of the lyrics, and am having more tears really with the touching lyrics. We share the same experience with the 9/11 even though the main cause was different; it's an act of God the Almighty, the Merciful - through the tsunami disaster.

The song starts off with news about the appearances of an extraordinarily well coordinated and devastating terrorist attack- But there are times in your life that are life changing, where your life can never be the same and this appears certainly to be one of them. What a touchy phrase! It is then followed with a silent passage where piano touch fills the silent followed with drum beats that brings the music in mellow style. LaBrie's voice enters wonderfully "Walls are closing anxiously ." oh my God .. what a fabulous melody and words! And when the lyrical part reaches "Who would wish this on our people" it makes my pulse racing very very rapidly (this is true, I'm not joking at all!); continued with another nice shot: "And proclaim That His will be done Scriptures they heed have misled them All praise their Sacrificed sons . All praise their Sacrificed sons " . uuuhhhhh .. What a killing melody here! I like the way when Labrie sings "All praise their Sacrificed sons". Hmmm .. I'm not done yet! The keyboard and orchestration sounds that follow are really nice and killing the listener. I mean it. Nggeblak man! I thought that's "it" but it is not done. The band has not finished to make me really dying: the music turns into faster tempo with really amazing interlude (instrumental break)! I cannot believe human being can create this great combination of hard driving rhythm, nice melody and awesome orchestration into one cohesive whole! It's so melodic and really memorable. Enough .. enough . I can not continue. You might think I'm exaggerating. Honestly, I am NOT! Am stunned. I don't even mind the band lends the Beatles melody "I Want You" nuance in its orchestration part.

The band's previous album "Train of Thought" means to me as "Stream of Consciousness" and with Octavarium, this means to me "Sacrificed Sons". This one track has overruled other things. I don't mean to say that other tracks are not excellent. The epic Octavarium is a great one where it has influences of previous bands like Pink Floyd (intro of Shine On You Crazy Diamond) and surprisingly Pallas (intro of Beat The Drum). I also like the high energy "Never Enough" especially in its rhythm section where keyboard and bass lines work nicely, keyboard solo; and also it has a good melody. The Root of All Evil is I think the band's continuation of "This Dying Soul" (ToT). "I Walk Beside You" intro is reminiscent of King Crimson. "Panic Attack" is another excellent track. The only problem with this album is two ballad tracks: "The Answer Lies Within" and "I Walk Beside You". Both are too poppy and the structure are both too straight forward. I do not favor these two tracks. So, I give an overall rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Highly recommended. Keep on proggin' .!!

Progressively yours,

GW - Review #325

"Who would wish this on our people. And proclaim That His will be done Scriptures they heed have misled them. All praise their Sacrificed sons. All praise their Sacrificed sons"

Review by Bj-1
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars Dream Theater's most recent release, "Octavarium", was a disappointment to me. After great albums such as "Awake", "Scenes From a Memory" and "Train of Thought", I was expecting more of this album. The song writing is duller and overall far from Dream Theater as I know them. This album is less heavy too, with a more modern prog feel to it, but it doesn't make it any better because of that. Of course there are some good songs here. The epic title track for example is highly enjoyable, but tracks such as "The Answer Lies Within" and "I Walk Beside You" are both far from my musical taste as it gets. The rest is good, but overall not nearly as great as earlier stuff.

I wish Dream Theater better luck with their next release, and hope they return to they "Awake" era sound (which will sadly most likely not happen, but we are allowed to hope, aren't we?)

If you like Dream Theater, give this one a try, you might either love it or hate it. As for me, I'm stuck in between. Overall a good album, but nothing really special, it might grow on me even more though, I guess I just have to wait and see...


Review by 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.

Review by maani
3 stars I seem to have been "spoiled" by having been introduced to DT through Metropolis (which I gave 4.5 stars). I then went back and listened to Images and Words, Awake and Change of Seasons, hoping to understand the "progression" that produced Metropolis. And although I have not heard Falling to Infinity, I got no sense of "Metropolis" having been arrived at through any particular "progression" of the band. And now (although I have not heard Six Degrees or Train of Thought), having heard Octavarium, I am more convinced than ever that Metropolis was a - very happy - fluke in DT's career.

Octavarium returns DT to its roots in Images and Words. In this regard, although I gave Images and Words three stars, I qualified it as follows: "This is NOT a prog album. What this IS is a speed/power metal album with some "prog sensibilities" (some more well-realized than others) and occasional "true" prog elements. Within its own genre (speed/power metal), I would give this album four stars, since it is a particularly excellent example of that genre. But prog? As a whole? I think not."

Similarly, Octavarium is NOT a prog album, but rather an admittedly impressive metal/speed metal album with perhaps a bit more "prog sensibility" than Images and Words, but not enough to qualify the album as a whole as "prog." True, the band makes a valiant attempt to recreate some of the "magic" of Metropolis in the title track, but not only is there simply not enough "there" there to reach that level, but the band is not as successful in filtering its influences: indeed, they seem to deliberately wear some of those influences on their sleeve.

The album opens with sound effects similar to "Welcome to the Machine." After this, "The Root of All Evil" is mostly straight-ahead (if good) metal, with very heartfelt lyrics about the pains of alcoholism. "The Answer Lies Within" is a nice piano-based ballad, with a particularly sweet vocal by LaBrie. "These Walls" opens with a nice jazzy 6/8 feel (actually three measures of 6/8, followed by a measure of 5/8) in the verses with "standard" 4/4 power-metal verses. There is a particularly nice, restrained solo by Petrucci at 4:45-5:10, and the piece ends with a quasi-symphonic prog ending, into more shameless PF nods, this time a heartbeat and clocks. This brings us to "I Walk Beside You," which has "hit" written all over it. [Indeed, if you listen carefully, you will find that it was EQ'd and mixed differently from the rest of the album.] "Panic Attack" is the most successful track, a "speed metal" composition with some of the best "prog" elements on the album, including a dangerously fast 5/4 tempo, and a nice, subtle mellotron at 1:30-1:45. The breaks at 4:22-6:15 and 6:45-7:30 sound like Queen gone amok (there are nods to "Stone Cold Crazy," among other songs), with LaBrie channeling Freddie Mercury and Petrucci channeling Brian May. "Never Enough" is a straightforward metal composition, with an interesting Lennon-esque chorus and Beatle- ish approach; in fact, this is what The Beatles might have sounded like had they tried doing metal. [As an aside, every time LaBrie sings the line "Because I can only take so much of your ungrateful ways," it sounds suspiciously like something from a Beatles song.] There is also a nice keyboard and guitar break at 3:30-4:45. "Sacrificed Sons" is DT's tribute to the fallen of 9/11. An appropriately "dirge"-y waltz, it has a quasi- Crimzoid jam at 4:20-7:45, and is a wonderful composition overall.

Which brings us to the 24-minute title track. It opens with yet more shameless PF nods, with Petrucci channeling Gilmour and Rudess channeling Wright for the first three- and-a-half minutes. This is followed by a very Yes-like section (3:50-4:20), and then some Gilmour-ish acoustic guitar (4:22-5:20). From 8:45-9:40 and then again from 10:40-11:15, we get the "funky" side of DT. Then it's back to Yes (12:20-13:50), with Rudess channeling Wakeman. From 13:50-15:45 we get lyrics that are suspiciously reminiscent of Belew's "free-associative" lyrics in "The World's My Oyster Soup Kitchen Floor Wax Museum," sung over music that sounds very Lamb-ish. From 16:45-18:30 the band channels at least four or five prog groups, including Yes, ELP and UK. And the quasi-symphonic build-up in the four minutes from 20:00 to the end is hopelessly Yes-like. Those sections not specifically noted are more recognizably DT. Despite all the weakly channeled influences, the composition works overall. But it does not have the cohesiveness or "snap" that it might have (and should have) had.

As usual, the lyrics on the album run the gamut from naïve to esoteric to intelligent, and the musicianship and production are top-notch. But it is clear that DT has given up almost all pretense of being distinctly "prog." Yet this is not necessarily a "bad" thing. Even if Metropolis was an extraordinary "accident," DT has been, and will likely remain, the best at what it does best: power metal and speed metal with occasional prog sensibilities, comparatively good lyrics, extraordinary musicianship, excellent production, and a willingness to "buck the trend" of standard power metal and make interesting, often compelling albums.

Review by Cesar Inca
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars "Octavarium" represents what DT should have done after "Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence" (IMHO, their best post-Moore studio effort) instead of the forcedly metal- driven "Train of Thought". This album stands somewhere between the diverse musical ambitions of "Six Degrees" Vol. 1 and the poppier facet of "Falling into Infinity", resulting in a more consistent album than the latter. It is clear that DT is not as much interested in using and abusing odd time signatures and tempo shifts as in the previous album, and maybe that's the main reason why some specific portions of "Octavarium" happen to remind me of the "Infinity" album to a certain degree. Anyway, it is the band's more metallic side what is shown at the starting point: the wild 'The Root of All Evil' (which continues the AA-inspired trilogy) kicks off the album with a explosion of emotional struggle that is well commanded by the solid combined performances. The aggressiveness is maintained and enhanced in 'Panic Attack' and in some sections of the dramatic second part of 'Sacrificed Sons'. Regarding the latter, it is particularly impressive how the eerie waltz-like first part stands as an autonomous region in itself, yet, together with the second part, they fulfill a cohesive whole - 'Sacrificed Sons' is one of the best compositions in this album. 'The Answer Lies Within' drifts on calmer waters, with LaBrie offering the inspirational sentimental drive that he usually delivers so well in DT's softer numbers (once again, the first part of 'Sacrificed Sons' comes to mind). The icing of the cake is the namesake closing suite, which fills the last 24 minutes of the album. It is good to learn that after more than 15 years writing and recording albums, the band can still manage to create something that is both true to their progressive influences and genuinely exciting. Even though there are many passages in which Portnoy's drumming, Myung's lines and Petrucci's guitar iterventions burn like forests in flames, it is the magic of "WYWH", the exultation of "Tarkus" and the splendor of "Supper's Ready" the raw materials that the band decided to study and recreate as a point of reference for the 'Octavarium' suite. This straightforward connection to the prog side of prog metal is the main factor that makes this whole album so closely related to the best of their multicolored trademark sound. In many passages of the album Rudess has made good use of the room given to his keyboard input (not unlike the 'SDOIT' suite), and in this particular monster track he effectively shines brighter than ever, including the steel guitar and its derivative, the Continuum (a bundled steel guitar-synthesizer). 'These Walls' is a ballsy rocker with a bit less fire than 'Panic Attack' or 'The Root Of All Evil', leaning closer to the realms of melodic hard rock in order to take advantage of its catchiness. A great deal of catchiness can also be found in 'I Walk Beside You', a pretty, not too complicated song which sounds very much like something out of U2's latest albums - perhaps the best song U2 hasn't written since the "Achtung Baby" days. 'I Walk beside You' is nothing special in the album's grand scheme, but indeed it is, in itself, an attractive song with plenty of potential to become a radio airwaves winner. Also, it showcases again the power that Labrie brings consistently to the band's most emotional repertoire: emotion with a rocking hook. More sophisticated, but bearing a British influence on its sleeve as well, 'Never Enough' brings a breeze of the so-called Brit-pop refashioned with prog metal clothes - like many before me, I've noticed the Muse influence in this one, as well as on 'Panic Attack', only that the latter happens to be more successful at conveying the sophisticated energy in pure DT fashion. Generally speaking, this album is not a step forward for DT, but a successful labour of reconstruction and rediscovery, a labour that, hopefully, will help them to look into a more constructive future horizon than the one that had been dreadfully anticipated (and is now diluted) in "Train of Thought". This is not a masterpiece, but it sure qualifies as excellent for the most part.
Review by Zitro
3 stars This is a good album, but below average for Dream Theater. It tries to be the second 'Images & Words" but it falls a bit flat.

The Root of All evil is a song about alcoholism and references 'The Dying Soul'. It is a good opener and while it is very simple, it is well constructed. It finishes with a grand piano finale 6.5/10

The Answer lies within is a decent mellow song in which the singer sings better than usual. 6/10

These Walls : mainstream sounding metal song. The keyboards are decent though. 5.5/10

I walk besides you : Another mainstream sounding song, reminiscent of U2 5/10

Panic Attack : An overrated song. It seems to repeat its good main theme that was began by the bass player over and over again until there is some uninspired soloing. 5.5/10

Never Enough : A song that while I heard it over 5 times, I had to go back and listen to it again because I didn't remember anything. Not very good, and sounds like Nu-metal. 5/10

Sacrificed Sons : This is an emotional song, and means a lot to the members. It is a tribute to the 9/11 tragedy, but I hate to admit that while the vocals are some of the best I heard of Labrie, the songwriting is not that strong in its instrumental section. It seems like they just wanted to solo around a bit. 7/10

Octavarium : not their best epic at all. I expected another 'seasons of Change' but they disappointed me with this. It is still a very solid epic that is influenced by pink floyd, yes, genesis, and other 70s bands. As a result, it sounds very 70s. 7.5/10

My Grade : C

Review by kunangkunangku
4 stars With three consecutive almost perfectly-crafted albums already in their laps the last five years, why should there be any reason to be weak at the next destination? Or, why not the other way around? These are fair questions. Without any intention to straightly respond to them, Dream Theater doing just well with this new, controversial album to show us how both optimism and skepticism can simultaneously occurred -- and to just compensate each others.

The weak side: there are things spread across almost every track that remind us on materials and characters of other bands, both from recent days and the past; we, therefore, are also elevated to a point from which we have to ask about the band's (let's call it) pledge of allegiance to progressive rock. And why not? Because in listening we can find The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Rush, Yes, Genesis, probably also Black Sabbath. We hear U2 and Muse as well.

Thanks to the band's solidity and maturity, and the individual and collective musicianships, virtuosities, and particularly songcraftsmanships, we can happily bury the weak side. This album, for instance, still offers Petrucci's proficient, jaw-dropping guitar solos in its rather reduced but well-placed portions. And the other guys are also still there. Above all, we have to admit the band's ability to take a wide range of musical genre and influence and make it all theirs, if not fresh.

This album is not the band's perfect effort indeed. Nevertheless, we still can see it as a proof that Dream Theater is not losing its rank and reputation as one of progressive rock champions yet.

Review by King of Loss
3 stars Dream Theater is one of my favorite bands and this is Dream Theater's 8th full-length studio release. This was long-awaited for me ever since news was put out about Octavarium, I just wanted to get it. So when I got it on the first day it came out, I wrote a short review on each song of the album. (Out of 10)

The Root of All Evil- 8/10 - A good opener, but not as good as Pull Me Under or 6:00, but certainly better than As I Am.

The Answer Lies Within- 6.5/10- Kinda poppy but however it is one of Dream Theater's better ballads, certainly not a bad song by any degree.

These Walls- 7/10- I really didn't like it at first because it sounded so boring at first, but I kind of like it now. Its not the greatest Dream Theater song by any means, but still good.

I Walk Beside You- 5/10- The "U2ish-like song" which is actually not that bad. Really nice Vocals by James Labrie.

Panic Attack- 8/10- One of the better songs on Octavarium, a real nice, "heavy" song and the instrumental section highly reminds me of Symphony X. We see how truly variant John Petrucci is here with him playing a NeoClassical solo.

Never Enough- 6/10- The song that is highly influenced by Muse. A lot of people say Dream Theater ripoffed Muse by making this song, but actually it sounds 100 % Dream Theater-like. A very good song, but however its not the greatest song by any mile either.

Sacrificed Sons- 8/10- A really good song, the first song on this album over 10 minutes. A very variant and intense track, I like it a lot.

Octavarium- 10/10 This title track can be described with a couple of words: SHEER MAGIC!

I totally love this track. A good combination of Classic Progressive Rock bands such as Genesis, Pink Floyd and ELP and the typical Progressive Metal that Dream Theater plays mixed in with Ayreon, Neo-Classical parts. One impressive long Twenty-four minute track.

Anyways, this album for me would deserve a solid 3 stars, could have been better and the album itself is not quite up to DT's standards, but 3 stars is still richly deserved.

Review by frenchie
4 stars This is a review that I have been waiting so long to write. I got the album and loved it as soon as it came out, but because of too many reviews piling in people got mad so I was forced to hold off for a long time. Now is just a random time that I have decided to write my review.

"Octavarium" is another quality album from Dream Theater. These guys are still the kings of prog metal. PAIN OF SALVATION, SYMPHONY X and SHADOW GALLERY can all go to hell knowing they will never be anywhere as good as Dream Theater! Yeah... I went there!

I am thoroughly impressed by this latest release. It is amazing and new enough to stop them being repetitive. Even though i think that "Train of Thought" is their 3rd best album, they managed to beat away the nay sayers by getting rid of some of the aspects that turned fans off with TOT. This album tones down some of the cheeiness of the keyboards, extended soloing and over pretentious moments that have always haunted their career. This one is a bit stripped down is recognizable straight from the explosive intro riff on "The Root of All Evil". It sounds like they have cautiously layed off over crowding it with too many instruments and gone for a plain old rock out.

"The Root of All Evil" is an impressive reprise of "This Dying Soul" from the previous album and carries on the 12 steps suite nicely. A very strong track indeed for some amazing and not uberly heavy riffage. "The Answer Lies Within" is a beautiful ballad. I still don't know why some people see Labrie as a weak vocalist, I think he has one of the best voices in prog and it is shown off well here! Again DT succeed in not overcrowding this track and it makes way for some really emotional keyboard work from Jordan Rudess, proving that he is an excellent addition to the band. "These Walls" & "I Walk Beside You" actually can be prog and still have choruses. These are some of Dream Theater's strongest works. "Panic Attack" allows the bands to have fun with their instruments with some impressive heavy jamming.

The last 3 songs are where some problems start showing off on the album. "Never Enough", "Sacrificed Sons" and "Octavarium" are all amazing tracks but they seem to have problems with originality. "Never Enough" sounds way too much like Muse, including the vocals. Perhaps it is a coincidence but I will let them off here. "Sacrificed Sons" has problems as this idea of 9/11 related themes has been done to death and quite frankly, its not done too well here. It is also about 4 years late but its still a nice effort. The song itself is probably the weakest on the album, it has it's moments but perhaps can stretch on and struggle at times. Nice to see some of their use of vocal insertion effects that have been used on every album I have heard. (Examples are Take the Time", 6:00", "Finally Free", "The Great Debate" & "Honor They Father").

"Octavarium" although it takes lyrics and sounds like Pink Floyd a lot it is still one of the best Dream Theater tracks ever made. This is the definition of an epic and is the best of their 20+ minute tracks. "Octavarium" makes all the prog stops, including some stunning spacey work that is reminiscent of "Shine On You Crazy Diamond" by Pink Floyd. This suite leads into some truely incredible use of orchestration and creates a truely epic sound. This has one of the best endings ever after the heavy "Trapped inside this Octavarium" section! Truely amazing work, nice flute additions that leaves me emotionally high, and completely blown away ever time i listen to it. A true masterpiece.

I would award this album 5 stars but I think it has just a few little niggles in it to prevent it from being a masterpiece. Not to worry though, as plenty of 5 star reviews have already been given. Dream Theater still very much "have it".

Review by Tony R
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
2 stars Dream Theater are, as one astute reviewer has observed, in the same bracket as ELP when it comes to making over-blown, pretentious rock music. I hear nothing that remotely sounds like Progressive Rock here and a whole lot that shouts "look at us,we can really play." Yawn, yawn guys - write a decent song will you!

Review the album damnit!! Ok, Petrucci's endless riffing is tiresome as is Portnoy's heavy- handed sub-Peart drumming. "Octavarium" (the track) is a case - in - point: the first few minutes are fine, but 20 minutes of this? Henry James said "In art economy is always beauty"- they should hang this on the wall next time they venture into the studio!

The first track "Root Of All Evil" starts wonderfully; a single piano key, a Floydian pulse, jangly reverb-guitar, then the drums enter battering away full of portentious intent. One full minute of intrigue and interest then bang! Heavy metal riffing. *Sighs* This track sums up the whole album!

This pretentious ponderous collection of metal disguised as God's own Prog is enough to prompt the question, 'What day did the Lord create Dream Theater, and couldn't he have rested on that day too?' Two stars. Bah!

Review by darkshade
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Octavarium. The 8th album from Dream Theater. I understand that the old sound is gone, where some dont. I understand that they rock out a lot more as well. I understand they have chosen to stay with The Glass Prison-esque production sound for a while. I understand they are not as progressive as they once were (although if you think about it, they've progressively gotten less progressive haha)

What I dont understand is how they made such a great album to follow Train of Thought, which was good because they made a 'heavy' album, they needed to. But to move on from that is just great. Another TOT wouldve sounded monotonous. One thing that makes this album stick out from the rest is the useage of dark elements in the music.

The music here is very diverse also. There's the rock out song in The Root of All Evil, which also follows the AA series of Mike Portnoy. Although the chorus is very melodic and insanely dark.

After a portion of the 2nd passage of the title song, the song moves to the ballad The Answer Lies Within. I was bummed when I first heard it because it just followed a great uptempo song. But the song itself is great, it has grown on me. Mostly piano and James.

These Walls is great. After I almost stopped the CD when I heard Korn type of riffing, the song exploded into what I like to hear from DT. The atmosphere is amazing. This atmosphere of being in a dimension of 0G's with stuff floating around. Very memorable.

I Walk Beside You sucks because it is Dream Theater. I Walk Beside You is the next #1 hit because it's U2.

Panic Attack is where the band held onto their TOT style for a song. Except I think this song would blow anything on TOT out of the water. It's so heavy and fast, very unlike most DT songs. James' falsetto use is amazing as well, wish he used it more in this song.

Never Enough is Muse, yes, but I like this song because the chorus just kicks so much ass. Very melodic and dark.

Sacraficed Sons is where the epic part of the album begins. It deals with 9-11, but the focus is really on the music more. When you consider the big instrumental break, you kinda forget what the song is about. Speaking of the instrumental break, Dream Theater, meet Megadeth ala Rust in Peace. Thats what it sounds like (coincidence theyre touring together?) Then they move to probably the best riff on the album. The one thats mixed with the orchestra and a whole [&*!#]load of pinch harmonics. Back to the chorus and one more time with the best riff and you have a great epic.

Speaking of great epics, a greater one follows. It is the title track. this 24 minute monster is magnificent. There are 5 passages with lyrics and i believe 8 all together. Makes sense with what Romulus141 mentioned about the 5:8 connection with this album.

The first passage is the darkest section of the entire album. Starts with effects ala Pink Floyd, explodes, then moves to really dark acoustics with flute. James' singing has never been better. The focus is mainly James and Petrucci's acoustic.

The second passage begins with Myung with a great bassline which flows through most of the passage. Melodies from this passage are heard throughout the album by the way. The 'chorus' of this passage is just so beautifully projected.

Passage 3 begins the pickup of the song. It is one of the 3 non-lyrical passages. A nice keyboard line that really caught my ear when I first heard it. The rest of the band just begins rockin out for a while.

After that, it moves to the 4th passage which is the full circle section. James' vocal line follows the keyboard for a while. Another 'chorus' type part here which is really memorable as well.

The fifth passage (again more irony, being the fifth) is the 'prog' section if you will. This is where Petrucci, where he held back on leads and wankery on most of the album, finally gets his chance to [%*!#]ing let loose and create one of the most maddening sections of a song I've ever heard from a DT song. There are moments where parts of other songs from past albums are used for a second. Finally, the song becomes so chaotic, you can't believe it's the same song as the first 2 passages. From insane solos, to a part of Jingle Bells, to some Spanish guitar work for like, 7 seconds, this section is the most fun.

The 6th passage the climax. It's chaotic much like the 5th, but with lyrics. This time, James gets to let loose, except he hasnt held back this album, he's held back for the past 4 albums. A final scream is held out while screaming "trapped inside this octavarium!"

The 7th and 8th passages are similar. They feature the orchestra but the 7th is with lyrics and a bit darker.

The 8th is instrumental and is the falling action of the song. I find this to be the masterpiece section and is so epic and chilling. I get chills everytime i hear this part. Being a classical fan myself, I enjoy the final notes with the whole orchestra, like the french horn thing at the end. The orchestra sounds like one youd hear in the 50's or something. Unbelieveable song and unbelieveable album.

Points off for I Walk Beside You. This is essential DT, no matter what anyone else says.

X-Posted at

Review by Trotsky
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars As far as I'm concerned, DT's previous album Train Of Thought was borderline awful ... a generally one-dimensional metal onslaught with the odd piano piece thrown in to simulate variety. On Octavarium (the band's ninth album) however, the guys seem to have gotten the mix correct and have produced the most balanced DT record I've ever heard.

There's still plenty for metalheads to chew on, though.The Root Of All Evil, Panic Attack and Never Enough (which has a nice classically inflected solo from Ruddess and seems to borrow from both J.S. Bach and Uriah Heep!) ride on incisive metal hooks while These Walls is also heavy, but is a slow-burning, metal blues monster with atmospheric vibes, and a mammoth chorus, topped off by Ruddess string-synths that make a cursory appearance towards the end.

One problem that I have had with earlier DT albums is that I really do not enjoy Petrucci's soloing style, which sacrifices melody and emotion for speed. This time though, the man seems to have reined in those tendancies (well, most of the time anyway!) and that has added to the value of the album. There are still some patchy moments though.

The Answer Lies Within continues another disturbing trend ... that of the DT piano ballad, (although it's almost redeemed by a lovely string quartet interlude) while I Walk Beside You is way too "pop-rock" for my tastes. Then there's Sacrificed Sons a song about the Al-Queda attack on New York. The subject matter is so overdone that it seems tasteless to me, but the song itself is a strong symphonic effort, with a number of moods ranging from sweeping piano and strings to a metallic centre, and some creative explorations towards the end.

Ultimately my assessment of this album hinges on the concluding title track, and it is a real winner. The 24 minute, five part epic Octavarium may not be best thing since sliced bread, but it is the best DT track since their awesome A Change Of Seasons (which came out a whopping 10 years ago!).

It gets off to a spacey Floydian start (uncannily similar at times to parts of Shine On You Crazy Diamond) that leads into a beautiful pastoral section, with Petricci doing some delicate work on acoustic guitar and Rudess adding piano to an eerie LaBrie vocal. This finally erupts into a Styx-like passage, before funky bass and slick drums announce Medicate (Awakening). When the anticipated power metal riff finally appears, it is thankfully accompanied by a superb Ruddess synth solo. I also like Ruddess' organ during Full Circle, and Petrucci's solo is much better than his average offering. The playing between Full Circle and Intervals is as exciting and progressive as this band have ever been, and the whole she-bang concludes with a epic orchestral sweep.

If it were not for the fine final track, I would rate this as a marginally above average metal album, but I have to say that the sheer scope of the epic makes this album a classic of progressive metal. ... 53% on the MPV scale

Review by Menswear
5 stars Is it me or it smells like teen spirit?

Funny to conclude that the best effort from Dream Theater is the most commercial one? It does smell like teen spirit, finally!

Honda Civic dudes and low cut jeans dudettes could find something for them in this record. My, my, times are really changing and so is Dream Theater. After all, I Walk Beside You is a pretty decent U2 copy!

Do you know what I love the most of this album? It's the little bits and parts of every album put in one. The vampiric gloominess of Awake, the melodies of Images and Words, the keyboards fireworks of Dream and Day Unite and the downright sonic violence of Train of Thought. Man this records shakes Metallica off the mantlepiece in many places, no kidding. It surprised me at first but it's getting more and more hardcore for DT.

This is the album that you should keep if you want one glimpse of what they are, because of it's superior darkness and spectacular power.

Get ready to vote on the nominees of 2005.

Review by Yanns
4 stars This year saw Dream Theater's eighth album, Octavarium, enter the scene. Yes, it must be said, this is indeed the band's most "commercial" album to date, but that doesn't mean much here. It is still an incredible album as you can see by the rating I give it. Excellent album, basically from beginning to end.

The band's playing is still in top form here. The band melds incredibly with each other. Also, this is the band's first effort where they concentrated on writing shorter songs. Luckily, it does pay off. This is not to say that their albums like Six Degrees are bad with longer songs. I love that album. They are the two different spectrums of Dream Theater's music.

The Root of All Evil: Very strong opener. From the moment the listener hears the opening riff, he or she learns two things: 1) This is the third part in the AA series, and 2) this is going to be a great song. And it is. One of the better songs on this album.

The Answer Lies Within: Here is where the album calms down, and it shows that Dream Theater is capable of writing absolutely beautiful songs. The piano is lovely, albeit simple. LaBrie shows time and time again that he is extremely talented at singing slower songs, and that he is not just a heavier singer.

These Walls: A slightly more commercial song than Root of All Evil, but still very good nonetheless. Petrucci is a madman on the guitar. This must be noted. As of right now in history, he basically cannot be beat.

I Walk Beside You: Eh, my least favorite song on the album. Everyone is right when they say that this sounds like a U2 song. Now, this might be fine, if it wasn't for the fact that I don't really like U2. Maybe if I did, I'd like the song a bit more. Still, it isn't bad, it's pretty good.

Panic Attack: Ah, here we go. This is one of the best Dream Theater songs ever. The time signatures are all over the place, and Rudess's piano works well, even in a heavier type song. Portnoy is insane. Just listen to this song, especially towards the end. Just listen, and you'll probably understand. Never Enough: Many people have compared this song to the band Muse. I've never heard the band, so I can't agree or disagree, but I can say that this is a very good song. The singing is very different, but it fits well with the message coming across in Portnoy's lyrics. Thought provoking lyrics, on that matter. But, yeah, great song besides.

Sacrificed Sons: Yep, here it is. The most touchy subject to come out of the last who- knows-how-long. LaBrie handles it very well with his lyrics, and the music itself is extremely meaningful to the matter at hand. If the previous song was thought provoking, this is emotion evoking, especially for those who experienced this firsthand. Executed extremely well.

Octavarium: The band can right all the 6 or 7 minute songs they want, but nothing can touch their epics. The continuum is fantastic, and it takes off, and you find yourself going for a ride. It is my belief that this is the most time-passing epic ever. Honestly, 24 minutes will pass by before you know it. Every time I listen to the song, I am absolutely shocked that 24 minutes went by. Also, the song isn't as heavy as many of their songs. It has a distinctly softer feel, and it's brilliant. Absolutely fantastic epic.

Pick up this album if you're curious. This is a very strong album, albeit commercial, as I said before. 4/5 stars.

Review by TRoTZ
2 stars PLAGIARISM. The best word to describe this album. A massive disappointment.Not only the band fails to achieve the technical power of other albuns (like the superb Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence or, at least, the last one, ToT) but also reveals a incredible lack of ideas (!). The new tendencies the album (seems) to have are authentic plagiarisms from other bands!

I explain: what about to say about song number six - Never Enough ? It is not similar, it is EQUAL to a MUSE song (except obviously the duration) - the nasalated effect voice and specially the psycho keyboard scales which are the TRADEMARK of MUSE ... no more comments. The same must be said about the epic song Octavarium. It could be a great song, the best of the album. The problem is that the first part of the song is JUST EXACTELY the homonimous part of PINK FLOYD's Shine on You Crazy Diamond! "These Walls" seems to be a ripp off of a LINKIN PARK song. The catchy mellower songs "The Answer Lies Between" and "I Walk Beside You" shows the commercial intent of the band, fusing pop influences from U2 to COLDPLAY. The openner track is the continuation of the saga initiated by the superb "The Glass Prision" from Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, but fails to reach the power of the previous ones. Perhaps the most achieved song of the album is "Panic Attack", which kick's off with it's frantic riffs. Sacrified Sons is a very well concepted song about the tragic 11 September, but perhaps if it was a bit shorter it could be better.

In overall, one thing is a band having INFLUENCES from other bands, fusing them to make someting different, OTHER THING is making it JUST EXACTELY it is in the influential band, and that's shamefull.

Review by Vanwarp
4 stars The Collins Cobuild dictionary states that "an octave is the musical interval between the first note and the eighth note of a scale." So, what might an "octavarium" be? Dream Theater's new album Octavarium appears to define the word perfectly. The album contains eight (8) mandatory songs and one could argue that between the first track and the eighth one there are eight musical intervals...

But, what everybody really wants to know: "is the album any good?" I am an avid fan of progressive metal music and have been a fan of Dream Theater from the very beginning of their career. I've enjoyed their music over the years but I was most impressed with their last release Train of Thought and I must admit that the band has again struck a very solid chord with me on Octavarium.

As always, you'll find some great guitar work by Petrucci, awesome drum work by Mike Portney, exquisite keyboard work by Jordan Ruddess and in my view, an Oscar winning vocal performance by James Labrie.

1. "The Root of All Evil" - 8m25s - (9.5/10)

Soft atmospheric intro followed by crunchy guitars, heavy bass and a big drum beat. Matter of factly, the music progresses 8 measures at a time. Dream Theater have been known to pay homage to the so-called leaders in metal. Can they be paying homage to Power Metal, the genre and style of music that this track can most closely be associated too? Labrie's vocals have a little more effects added to them than usual but they work out quite well with the music here.

2. "The Answer Lies Within" - 5m33s - (8/10)

Beautiful soft piano driven ballad. LaBrie's vocals are truly exhilarating. Acoustic guitar and other keyboard orchestrations (violin) are added to very good effect. Some may be reminded of Oasis? There most definitely is a parallel with the genre and style of music associated with Oasis but lets not get carried away with comparisons here. This is a powerful song, perhaps containing more mainstream elements than I care to find on a progressive metal album, but this a strong track, regardless of it's influences.

3. "These Walls" - 7m36s - (9.5/10)

Great experimental opening, lots of cool guitar effects. The opening moments is a little deceiving as it is another soft track with a heavier chorus. I like the soft keyboard work in the verses and the stronger, more urgent bridge and chorus are imposing musical moments as well. At this point of the album one might be wondering if this is really a progressive album at all. Progressive elements being kept at a minimum so far.

4. "I Walk Beside You" - 4m29s - (9/10)

A clock is ticking, panning from left to right while a simple keyboard lick (or is that a guitar lick) is repeated throughout the song. Many will be reminded of U2. I know I was. It certainly the kind of music that U2 have been doing for years. Of course, Dream Theater add their own little influences to the mix. I was impressed to hear such a song on a DT album. It really shows another side of the band that most are not familiar with and so, a most unpredictable track to find on an album by such a progressively influenced band.

5. "Panic Attack" - 8m13s - (10/10)

This track effectively instills in the listener everything one associates with a "panic attack." Fear, terror, frenetic behaviour are all highlighted here. This is a fast paced track with frantic musical moments and a most entertaining progressive passage. I love everything about this track. Labrie gives one of his best vocal performance right here.

6. "Never Enough" - 6m46s - (8.5/10)

The band continues to build on the momentum created by the previous track. Again, Labrie's vocal performance is topnotch. There is another excellent progressive musical moment. This track is different than the others in that the verse is faster and catchier than the chorus which is slow and not as exciting as the rest of the track. The band mixes everything up so that none of the songs sound alike. This is truly an awesome accomplishment.

(Side note - One need only listen to 90% of albums out right now to realized that most bands follow a formula that tends to make their songs sound similar, with very little variety overall. This album could be mistaken for like 8 different bands, each performing one song. Or, better yet, Octavarium is an album full of Dream Theater songs paying homage to a very wide variety of musical genres and styles?)

7. "Sacrificed Sons" - 10m42s - (9/10)

This track starts with a series of news flashes from 9/11, very eerie and atmospheric, very sad and gloomy track. It's not a gothic metal track but one could argue it certainly got the depressed atmospheric mood going for it. I like the James Bond orchestrations, I mean, every time I listen to this one I get the feeling that I'm at the movies, it's got the "movie soundtrack feel" going for it.

8. "Octavarium" - 23m59s - (9/10)

Starts off very slow and atmospheric, takes about 4 minutes for the song to get going. Pamela Sklar makes a guest appearance and plays the flute, you'll also hear an acoustic guitar and a piano, this is a very slow moving track. Seems to take forever to get started. There is a change of pace at about the 9 minute mark and then a 2 minute instrumental interlude at about the 12 minute mark. The song undergoes another change of pace at the 14 minute mark, building towards a faster and faster pace all the time. There is another 2 minute musical interlude before the track goes all out metal during what can only be described as the climax of the song. And just as everything started off, the last 4 minutes of the song returns to a slower atmospheric ending. Unfortunately, most people will not have the patience to sit though a 24 minute track, let alone appreciate such a lengthy song. It is a massive undertaking and a classic closer as far as I'm concerned.

There have been a slew of new albums promoting progressive music lately and particularly in the past couple of years that, in my view, all contain very, very good music. This prog addict is certainly not complaining...

A very motley mix and highly entertaining progressive metal album!

Review by AtLossForWords
5 stars Dream Theater latest release Octavarium is another top class album.

Octavarium showcases the band in a slightly diffrent shade than fans have seen before. After the decidely dark Train of Thought, Dream Theater comes back with Octavarium and mixes more of the old with the new.

The intro track The Root of All Evil is yet another addition to Mike Portnoy's struggle with alcoholism. The track sets a bluesy metal tone that hangs over the album. The track has all the trademarks from Dream Theater, lighting speed playing by Petrucci and Rudess, great kicks from Portnoy, intense grooves from Myung, and the soft and now harder voices of James LaBrie.

The next track The Answer Lies Within is a brighter ballad showcasing the older side of Dream Theater. This song takes a role similar to Another Day back on the Images and Words album.

These Walls is a little more of the classic Dream Theater. Jordan Rudess' synth sounds are much more along the lines of Kevin Moore with a little Moogtron influence. Rudess' role has changed from the second guitar style keyboard to a more of a pianist role with melody spots.

I Walk Beside you shows more of a pop U2 influence, but its a nice filler tune for the middle of the album. It's a constant build from here on out.

Panic Attack is the "chopbuster" of the standard tracks on the album. This is the tune that shows off the most of Petrucci and Rudess, but the intro by John Myung is something less than fantastic. Overall the track is a really good Prog Metal song.

Never Enough features some cool drumwork by Mike Portnoy, classic tricky rythmns from Dream Theater here with a little muse influence.

With Sacraficed Sons, we really have something noteworthy. This song is the nostalgic Dream Theater track of this album. We have the classic Dream Theater build in this song. There isn't a single note in this song that doesn't lead to another. This is the real masterpiece track of this album.

The final track and the title track Octavarium is another winner to close the album. The track once again starts out with the classic Dream Theater build. The song that climax's towards the middle with the lightning speed trades between Petrucci and Rudess. Rudess does excellent solo work on this track, some of his very best. The song also features a lyrical section that gives tribute to some Dream Theater influence I could only smile when i heard lyrics with "Supper's Ready" "Cinema Show" and "Ripper Owens". Great effort from Dream Theater.

The album is quite dark, but a much better mix of matierial and emotions than Train of Thought. The album also features more of the great Dream Theater insturmental moments we have grown to love.

Review by greenback
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars When you first knew in 1992 Dream theater with the "Image & words" album, you are very skeptical of that they have maintained all through the numerous following years the quality and uniqueness of the compositions involved. Octavarium is certainly not a bad album; it is far from a masterpiece too. The musicians just make simpler compositions here. The good electric rhythmic guitar sound could be a bit more razor and metal; it sounds a bit gross sometimes, especially on "Panic attack". I think the album lacks some color and speed, partly because the keyboards are not enough in the foreground.

The simple and conventional "Root of all Evil" has nothing really sensational. "The answer lies within" is more mellow, but it does not retain the attention too much. "These walls" has a very good combination of piano and distortion-free discrete guitar notes, but I find the refrains a bit deja vu. "I walk beside you" has a refrain pretty similar to the U2 of the 80's! The conventional metal track "Panic attack" has an elaborated and complex part between 4:30 and 6:10, but unfortunately it does not last very long: by this, you clearly see that the rest of the track is pretty ordinary. James Labrie uses a modified voice on "Never enough", and the fuzzy effects on the electric guitar should please the younger people. The very good first part of "Sacrificed sons" is more mellow and atmospheric, and then it abruptly changes to a more instrumental part: however, the musicians can do much better. The last track , "Octavarium", lasting nearly 24 minutes, starts with Floydian ethereal echoed guitars and ambient keyboards. Then, a good passage made of acoustic guitar, piano and flute reminds me Alan Parson's Project. The very good orchestral arrangements of the finale also reminds me the Transatlantic band. The track is good, but it has some lengthy & repetitive passages: Between 12:15 and 18:30, the track is at its best with an often impressive exhibition of technical skills: again, it clearly demonstrates that the rest of the track is less interesting.

Raing: 3.5 stars

Review by imoeng
5 stars In every album, Dream Theater presents different style and genre. As for example, in Images and Words, they made a very progressive album, odd time signature, long composition songs and so on. While in Train of Thought, the style of the album is very heavy metal, although there is also some progressive element in the album. In this 8th studio album, Octavarium, Dream Theater brings more Dream Theater sound, progressive, metal and some pop rock songs. If you notice, Octavarium comes from the word, Octave, which is 8, and you will see many 8 numbers in this album, whether it's on the cover or in the songs itself. In every song lyrics, there is a time signature on top of it. These time signatures represent the time signature in the song below it. For instance, The Root of all evil, has F time signature, therefore it played in F time signature. Moreover, these 8 songs will create an octave. From track 1 to 8, the octave notations are F G A B C D E F. This is one of the things that made Dream Theater is a true progressive band, although they can produce many different styles of music.

The Root of All Evil A great song for the opening song, which Dream Theater always does in almost every album. The important aspect in this song is that the key is the same with the piano key in the last song in the last album. In The Name Of God from the album Train Of Thought. The style of the song is considered as a heavy song with lots of drums and guitar licks. As for the lyrics, there are some parts that were taken from the song This Dying Soul, "I can feel my body breaking." One thing to look at is in the end of the song, there are notes that are also used in the song "Octavarium", which is the last song.

The Answers Lies Within After a metal and heavy song composition in the previous song, Dream Theater presented a cool and relaxing song. The song has the same style as Hollow Years in the album Falling Into Infinity, which is very slow and "peaceful". Two thumbs up for James LaBrie, which sang the song very different with previous songs. LaBrie which somewhat identical with heavy and metal songs, sang very deep and beautiful help from Mike Portnoy and John Petrucci.

These Walls Another heavy song from Dream Theater, you can see from the very beginning of the song, a very heavy guitar riff and mixed with Jordan Rudess's amazing keyboard riff. One thing that I admire from this song is Mike Portnoy's drum sounds, which very identical with his playing, lots of splash cymbals to create certain effects of sound.

I Walk Beside You This song I think is the most commercial song in this album, I can say that because I have listen this song more than any Dream Theater songs in the radio. The style of this song is very pop-rock.

Panic Attack You can tell from the bass licks in the beginning of the song and expect metal song when the drum begins to play. And yes, this is the heaviest song in the album for me. The lyrics also represent the metal side of the song, which tells about the stream of panic. The guitar and keyboard solos are just the same with almost every Dream Theater songs, required virtuosity.

Never Enough For me, this song is pretty much influenced by Muse, just by looking at the bass licks in the beginning of the song, pretty much the same with Muse's song, Hysteria. Moreover, LaBrie uses sound effects for the first lyrics, which is very Muse. The coolest part of the song is the guitar solo, which consists of hard and complex arpeggios.

Sacrificed Sons In the beginning of the song, there are sounds of human talking about politics regarding the 9/11 tragedy. This concept is pretty much the same with one of Pink Floyd song. After metal style in the previous songs, more relaxing and peaceful song presented. One thing to look at is the lyrics, which is very deep and meaningful regarding the connection of human to the God.

Octavarium This is the most complex and progressive song in the album, Octavarium was divided in to five sub-songs, Someone Like Him, Medicate, Full Circle, Intervals and Razor's Edge. The song begins with complex sound effects from Jordan Rudess and continued with John Petrucci's relaxing guitar riffs. Don't expect the same style for the whole of the song, because in the first minutes of the song, especially in the "Someone Like Him", the style is pop-ish in slow beat. The best part for me is in the "Razor's Edge" part, where the lyrics explain all about the album. "We move in circle, Balanced all the while, On a gleaming razor's edge, A perfect sphere, Colliding with the fate, This story ends where it began." And continued with a very classy and beautiful ending solo.

Well actually, the concept of the album is about thing being repeated. Octavarium, comes from the word, Octave, in musical terms, it means one full notation, C D E F G A B C'. But in Octavarium, the keys used are F G A B C D E F, that's why the birds between the pendulum and the piano keys on the back of the cover represents F G A B C D E F piano keys.

Some people think it's the worst Dream Theater album, but when I look into it very deeply and recognize every section of the songs, I found out that this is one of the best Dream Theater albums and is a masterpiece of progressive music.

Review by sleeper
2 stars As you all know, this the eighth studio album by DT and like all their albums this one is not without its quirks. The first major one being that for some reason the band decided that this would end up being an almost tribute album to many of the big names in the world of music, Pink Floyd, Yes and (surprisingly) U2 being the major ones.

The guys also decided that the number eight would also feature heavily. As you know Oct means eight so this was an obvious choice of word to use in the album name and that of the title track. Now sticking with the play on words for the moment some people might have noticed that in the title the word Octave appears. The musically inclined amongst you would also have noticed that all the songs are played in key through an octave starting with F.

Now lets get to the meat of this review, the music. Those that know me also know that I am a massive fan of Dream Theater and this is solely down to the prodigious talents that make up the band, from James LaBrie's amazing vocals to Mike Portnoy's fantastic drumming. However, this is my least favourite of their albums as I believe that it is lacking in most areas throughout the album. The only parts that aren't lacking are Jordan Rudess's brilliant keyboards that are kept to the sky high standards that he set on Scenes From A Memory, and James LaBrie's vocals, that just seem to get better the older he gets (I thought it was supposed to be the other way round!)

The biggest problem that I have found on this album though is that it's very difficult on many tracks to hear John Myung's Bass, and as a budding bassist I am always trying to hear the bass but I find this very difficult on this album for some reason. I know that this statement is in complete opposition to what other reviewers have said but this is how I hear it and this is one of the albums major draw backs for me.

As I mentioned above the band has decided to use obvious references to some bands. Most notable is that The Root Of All Evil and Octavarium both start with a Pink Floyd esq. intro (specifically Welcome To The Machine and Shine On You Crazy Diamond respectively) and in Octavarium's case it ends on the same not that The Root... starts, although this is a nice touch as the last lines of the song are "A perfect sphere/ Colliding with our fate/ This story ends were it began"

The other major references are that I Walk Beside You and The Answer Lies Within both sound like they were written by U2, although I doubt that U2 have the technical ability to pull off these songs, and Never Enough ends sounding like it was performed and even sung by the British rock band Muse. Unfortunately a lot of these songs can be quickly forgotten due to the fact that they are pretty mediocre compared to some of the bands other albums.

Its safe to say that this album only has a couple of really stand out songs. These would be the last two, Sacrificed Sons and the title track, Octavarium. Sacrificed Sons is easily the best song on the album IMO and this is due to the fact that it develops from a slow, melodic song with unusual lyrics and slowly builds up with an impressive instrumental section. Octavarium is a good song but I think its too long, there's only enough material their to make a good 15 minute song, at most. That said, however, it does have some really good parts but nothing special IMO.

One other thing worthy of note is that on this album you get to see John Petrucci's more melodic side to his performances but unfortunately I really miss the technical exuberance that he deployed on the previous albums, he just seems more creative in that style. However this may be the start of a new direction in terms of playing style for Petrucci, but we'll have to wait and see on that one.

In summery then this is an OK performance by the band that everyone seems to judge as the current yardstick of modern progressive music but its not their best, with poor sound quality (at least on bass), not the most memorable lyrics/songs and Petrucci finding his feet in a new, slightly less technically driven guitar style. However this album does allude us to the possibility that we may not have seen the best from this band and I personally cant weight to here what they do next. Only for fans, though, as its rather poor compared to their previous albums, 2 stars.

Review by WaywardSon
4 stars Yet another Octavarium review! I must say that this is a massive improvement from Train of Thought.

"The root of all evil" is a good opener and the song has some great melodic changes (good song writing) James La Brie sounds so good on this album! He has really given it his all for this album!

Things slow down next with the ballad "The answer lies within" The song is excellent but I have to say the lyrics are a bit corny, "I know whatever you decide...youīre gonna shine!"

"These walls" is an interesting song with some really interesting drumming by Portnoy. It begins softly and builds up nicely, actually the album is great up to this point!

Then comes the worst track they have probably ever done, the cringe worthy "I walk beside you" Sounding as commercial as possible this song sticks out like a sore thumb.

Things get better again with "Panic Attack" and there is some great bass work (especially the introduction to the song) from John Myung. The band are very tight on this track and itīs like going on a roller coaster ride!

The intro to "Never Enough" is fantastic when Portnoy leads the band in. This is another great song, but like "The answer lies within" the lyrics are absolutely ridiculous. Basically they are moaning that their fans donīt appreciate the sacrifices they make!

Now comes for me what is the highlight of the album, "Sacrificed Sons" This song is about Sept 11th and really expresses the feelings of what happened on that day, first shock and then deep anger. It is also very well written with La Brie (who also wrote the lyrics) doing an excellent job on vocals. Petrucciīs lead toward the end is also very emotional. A DT classic if there ever was one!!

The album closes with the title track "Octavarium" Another long classic which borrows a lot of ideas from Marillion, Kansas, Floyd etc. The beginning sounds a lot like Floyd. But one canīt help but marvel at the sheer complexity of their playing which is somewhat mind boggling in parts and soon forget about who they ripped off or copied. Another long classic, on the same level(well almost) to A change of seasons.

If you take out "I walk beside you" and some of the cheesy lyrics on "Never Enough" you would have an almost perfect album!

Review by Australian
2 stars "Octovarium" is a rather disappointing album in my opinion. There are some amazing songs on the album, namely "Octovarium", however the rest of the album is very poppy and boring ("The Answer Lies Within.") "Octovarium" was successful for Dream Theater and It reached number 38 on the US charts. This is probably due to the fact that the majority of this album is leaning towards the pop side. The song "Octavarium" is one the best songs by Dream Theater, it is without a doubt a prog song. There is a very good synthesizer solo in the middle of the song, and the guitar work once again is impressive. The closing section of "Octovarium" is another highlight of the song. The rest of the album, excluding "Sacrificed Sons" and to a lesser extent "Panic Attack" is not up to Dream Theater standard.

1. The Root Of All Evil (2/5) 2. The Answer Lies within (1/5) 3. These Walls (2/5) 4. I Walk Beside You (1/5) 5. Panic Attack (3/5) 6. Never Enough (2/5) 7. Sacrificed Sons (3/5) 8. Octavarium (5/5) Total = 19 divided by 8 (number of songs) = 2.375 = 2 stars Collectors/fans only

It may seem I'm being a bit tight on the rating but I believe 2 stars is fair. I don't think "Octavrium" is a particularly good album, I would recommend it only for the song "Octovarium", other than that there is no real reason to get it unless you are a hardcore DT fan.

Review by OpethGuitarist
1 stars I thought I had reviewed this album, but seeing as I haven't, I'll give a breif statement.

I am almost in shock, now seeing all these reviews, as to how much this album is praised, despite the fact that a great deal of it is plagiarized. How one can call something progressive, and a masterpiece of music to an album that steals others work, is beyond me, as cheating and copying others works word for word, or in this case, note for note and beat for beat, is not progressive at all, it's stealing.

This album is not that bad, if you don't look at the plagiarism. There are many interesting melodies and Octavarium the song itself is ok. Other than a meaningless bass solo, its a really great song. Normally I would give an album like this 2 or 3 stars, because of the more "pop" nature of the album and because the title track is fairly good.

However, in this case, I would give the album -1 star. Tributing a band is one thing. Stealing their work and calling it yours is another. There are two song sections which are exact ripoffs of the band Muse. Before the recording of the album it was heard that the band had really gotten interested in Muse and liked that particular band. However, using their music and calling it yours is and will always be plagiarism. The opening riff in Panic Attack is a complete and utter steal from Muse, and I find it amazing that these talented musicians would do something like this and that a seemingly large portion of their fan base do not even care, but will blindly praise them anyway because they are Dream Theater.

Don't tell me that if DT had say, copied the acoustic chord progression from Wish You Were Here and tried to sing in the same manner and style, but just changed the lyrics, that you wouldn't think that was complete and utter theft, unless of course, they had credited the band and not tried to pass it off as "their own work."

Not worthy of my money or anyone else's for that matter. Stealing and cheating should not be praised. Having the same vibe as a band is one thing, but stealing thier work is entirely different.

Do not buy under any circumstances unless you don't mind stealing and cheating.

Review by Chicapah
4 stars From the "Old dog/new tricks" file I reiterate some of the same observations I made in my review of "Scenes from a memory" in that if you are over 50 like me and want something that excites you the same way Genesis and Yes did back in the 70s this is for you. These guys are fabulous musicians and songwriters and their music has the kind of power that moves me every time I slip the disc into the changer.

While not as exemplary overall as their landmark "Scenes" album, this CD shows them to be further branching out from just being a headbanger's paradise. There's plenty of guitar shredding by both Petrucci and Myung to be found here, for sure, but it's the variety of their approach this time that I find to be most alluring. "The Root of All Evil" is a very straightforward hard rocker that appeals directly to the metal lovers in their audience and I think it's very important that they honor that faction's loyalty. However, I seem to be in the minority here but I applaud their foray into a more "pop" vein with "The Answer Lies within" and especially "I Walk Beside You" because they're both damn good songs. Period. (And those don't grow on trees) Relax, it's not like they've changed their stripes and started making disco or hip hop music, fans. I don't mind that the latter tune sounds similar to U2 because it's on a par with that band's best stuff. I also love "These Walls" for its thrilling blend of so many different styles of rock music and Portnoy is very imaginative with his clean drum fills and ferocious double-bass work.

Yet not every track is my cup o' tea. "Panic Attack" and "Never Enough" grate on my nerves sometimes and I really have to be in the right mood to not skip over them. "Sacrificed Sons" has some of the most thoughtful lyrics I've ever heard from these guys and I love LaBrie's vocal delivery. James has really come a long, long way from the screaming mimi's of "Awake." Anyway, the epic that lifts this album into being one of their greatest achievements is the 24-minute tour de force of the title cut. "Octavarium" is a true definition of progressive rock that has every necessary element to bowl the listener over and I rank it right up there with "Six Degrees" as far as being expertly composed and arranged. Jordan Rudess shines like a beacon throughout this mammoth song.

I don't expect that this highly talented group will ever abandon their heavy metal upbringing but it seems to me that they've been there and done that enough to move on to less unsettling genres of progressive rock. But that's just me. I highly recommend this band and this album to those looking for a musical adventure. No matter what, Dream Theater is anything but boring. 4.2 stars.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars Lots of variety on this one in contrast to the previous album "Train Of Thought" which only knew one style and that was heavy. I much prefer "Train Of Thought" to this one. In fact i'd rate this near the bottom of their discography with their debut and "Falling Into Infinity". Still there's lots to like here.

"The Root of all Evil" is a good song but there's something about it that keeps me from saying it's a great song. It's much better than the followup "The Answer Lies Within" though. This is more or less a ballad that doesn't do anything for me at all."These Walls" is pretty good, the intro is really good. Very wild. It goes down hill from there though. "I Walk Beside You" is U2 sounding all the way and it's a little shocking that the band would be okay with releasing this song. "Panic Attack" has a frantic, heavy intro that continues throughout. This is one of the highlights for me. The vocals are rougher and Portnoy and Pertucci are all over the place wreaking havoc.

"Never Enough" is another heavy one and a top three for me. "Sacrificed Sons" is too mellow for the first 4 1/2 minutes then it changes thankfully to a heavier sound. The final song "Octavarium" is the 24 minute epic. Sounding like PINK FLOYD in the beginning with spacey synths, to an almost KING CRIMSON vibe with the flute and acoustic guitar, to listening to John Pertucci shining so brightly with his amazing guitar work, to James letting go with intense vocals. At times in this song i'm thinking to myself "This is DREAM THEATER ?" Anyway for a 24 minute epic it could have been a lot better.

I find this album a little confusing and have to wonder if they felt swayed to make it more commercial sounding at times. I don't get it.

Review by 1800iareyay
2 stars Before Octavarium's release, members of the Dream Theater claimed that this was their favorite album and that it was their crowning achievement so far. I should have been wary right there, since it's one thing for a band to look back 20 years later and pick the album they felt was best, but it's quite another when they say it at the time. I got into Dream Theater a little over a year ago and was blown away by their virtuosity. I give Scenes From a Memory and Images and Words regular spins. Octavarium was the last album I got. I bought it along with the recently released live opus Score. Score impressed me to no end. This, however, is the worst studio album in DT's otherwise illustrious career.

Fans of the album claim that this disc is a return to their prog roots. I don't know what they were listening to, but it certainly wasn't this album. In fact, only two of the songs on this eight track album are remotely proggish. The band envisioned the album as a summary of their career, conjuring sounds reminiscent of past albums. In that respect, I can overlook the lack of originality in some aspects, but not all.

"The Root of All Evil" opens the albums with the outro of In the Name of God, the final track from DT's controversial predecessor Train of Thought. It is a continuation of Mike Portnoy's Alcoholics Anonymous suite, so it borrows from Glass Prison and This Dying Soul, which is fine. This is a more straightforward metal track, and I like it.

"The Answer Lies Within" is a ballad that attempts to recall the brilliance of Another Day from Images and Words or Hollow Years from Falling Into Infinity. Unfortunately, it comes off as a poor AOR track with inane lyrics.

"These Walls" is a stab at bringing back the excellent Scarred from the superb Awake album. The song is decent, but pales in comparison to to its inspiration. Its redeeming quality is James' vocals, which are usually never mentioned in a positive light. He's an underrated singer, and its a shame his moment to shine was on this album.

"I Walk Beside You" is another AOR ballad trying to recall more FII straightforward rock. This is the worst track on the album with insipid lyrics and pop instrumentation.

"Panic Attack" is the answer to Train of Thought heaviness, with it sopening bassline to its pummelling guitar and drums. Somewhat decent, though not nearly as astounding as the material of the fantastic ToT.

"Never Enough" has the synth and keyboard dominant sound of the debut and FII. The song is on the cusp of goodness, but it never quite reaches a higher level

"Sacrificed Sons" opens with audio clips in the manner of The Great Debate from 6 Degrees. The songs centers around the September 11 attacks, and it is the first truly prog song on the album. This even begins to make up for the tracks between the first song and this.

"Octavarium" is the greatest epic the band has crafted so far. Even 6 Degrees can't match it. The song opens with Jordan fiddling with his new toy, the uber-cool continuum. He then hits the lap steel and the orchestra comes in to truly set off the first movement (Someone Like Him). James' voice comes in at barely above whisper over Petrucci's spare acoustic strumming. John Myung's bass (It's audible!!) leads into the second movement (Medicate Me) which keeps the soft tone of the first movement.

Suddenly the band hits the third movement (Full Circle). The lyrics name check the band influences via song titles (Lucy in the Sky, Supper's Ready, Cinema Show, etc) and even band mottoes (Gabba Gabba Hey [Ramones]). Jordan leads the band into an instrumental break which constitutes the first half of the fourth movement (Intervals). This is a superb bit of musicianship where the band, for maybe the first time, acts as a cohesive unit as opposed to out-soloing one another. Petruuci, Rudess, and Myung weave their instrument in and out of the other two's, and Portnoy is rather subdued and gives his notes time to breathe. Petrucci's solo is great and fits the break well.

The second half of Intervals is James' time to shine as his voice gets increasingly aggressive until he explodes "trapped inside this ocatavarium!" The orchestra slows things down and paves the way into the final movement (Razor's Edge), which sums up the epic quite nicely.

In conclusion, 2 out of 8 songs are essential DT (title and Sacrificed Sons), another 2 (Root of All Evil and Panic Attack) are resonably good, These Walls is decent, and the other three are monumental let downs. I recommend buying the excellent Score CD before you get this. The orchestra improves Octavarium's, Sacrificed Sons', and even The Answer Lies Within's studio arrangements (it makes TALW enjoyable). The band only versions of Root of All Evil and I Walk Beside You are improved as well (though IWBY is still mediocre at best). Plus the revamped versions of 6 Degrees and Metropolis are insanely good.

I give this album two stars because it is for fans and collectors only. It isn't atrocious and it's pretty good for a band's worst album, but it should be one of the last DT albums you buy.

Grade: D+

Review by Sean Trane
3 stars The last album I had heard in full (and in attentive listening) from these guys was the double live album, where they had an interesting 24-min track called a Change Of Season. Since then, after having seen the group twice live, I had cast it aside as simply not my cup of tea. For over a decade, but staying aware of their releases and lending an ear when the occasion arose, I was more than happy to live and let DT live. But this writer could not possibly spend many more years ignoring THE locomotive (commercial, anyway) of modern prog, so I went out of my way and actually rented their latest album, to see where these guys stood nowadays.

The least we can say is that DT have remained true to themselves, no matter how controversial LaBrie's vocals and lyrics are: he writes almost no lyrics, so that settles that side of the debate rather quickly and I have no qualms as to his voice's timbre (sounds like 100 other prog singers), but he is not really surprising or inventive. After a strong and credible opening Root Of All Evil (well at least they have no illusion about themselves (I know too easy, but I had to get that one in ;-), the album seems to sag with the slow Answer Lies Within, where DT fails to convince me and the added string quartet sounds completely superfluous to me. Funny enough that the non-metal progheads wish that the progmetal start doing something different than the usual crunching chords, the very same progheads do not find the group very credible in a softer role. But the following These Walls and Walk Beside You plunge me in the abyss of boredom (LaBrie's vocals are not the most inspired and even mechanic on this track) and glide on the shell of my indifference.

Of course, the following Panic Attack is much more like what we expect from the band with its huge power chords with pompous keyboards. While DT uses all of the progmetal clichés (Spinal Tap-esque), even drawing a mocking smirk on our lips, the least that we can say is that they are very convincing at it, and obviously the group was born for this kind of epics. Yes, DT is impressive during moments like those. However the wrongly- titled Never Enough (oh yeah??? ;-) is actually rather good and fairly unusual from what we are used to and might just be their better track on this album. But the partly correctly-titled follow-up is best Forgotten (that's the correct part ;-). Then we get to the "plat de resistance", the title track, the cornerstone and the piece that will make or break this album. The 24-min 5-part epic Octavarium is starting out like a Gilmour's Floyd-esque piece, before pulling a Howe's Yes-esque (or should I say RudYess-que? ;- ) minute (with a flute, no shut(e) ;-), but as soon as the song finally really gets underway (that's after the sagging vocals of the second movement), Full Circle is actually of a quality that reminds me of their early major epic, A Change Of Seasons, coming at times to ELP or Yes's excellent moments. Yes (!! ;-), Octavarium is an excellent track and from what I've heard from DT (not that much really), it ranks in my top 2 tracks. Does it save the album, though?

Still not my cup of tea, but this early winter (or non-winter should I say), I've had my share of progmetal exposition hours, and of the many groups I heard, DT will not be amongst my fave, but their aura, and certain aptitude at staying on top of their game, still makes them a force to reckon with.

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars I finally have the chance to review Dream Theater's latest release, OCTAVARIUM. As everybody around PA knows, I'm one of the most critical objectors of this band's music, so it's with great interest and excitement that I proceed to give my opinion about the outfit's 8th release.

After a slightly awkward release (TRAIN OF THOUGHT) that left many fans in the dry because of its emphasis in heavy riffs and strongly rhythmic songs, Dream Theater takes a slightly different approach in OCTAVARIUM: though the "metal" side of their music is still present in each and every song, melody and atmospheres have somewhat returned to the band's overall sound. We don't get a lot of extra-heavy parts like in TOT, and all of DT's members have a better chance to shine here. Yes: while in TOT all we could say was "how fast and precise these guys can play", in OC. we can praise them not only for accuracy and precision but also for pure musicianship, for true skills in balancing a showing-off of his abilities and of true great song-writing craft.

Another comment that has to be made: if there was one band member that kind of got lost in the mix in TOT it was Jordan Rudess, whose keyboards really were almost nowhere to be found. In OC. they come back from the limbo they were sent to in TOT and the mature master has the opportunity, once again, to prove all of us that he's one of the instrument's true virtuosos. The keys are very in-your-face now in the mix, and not only that, but they are used to a much greater extent than in the preceding album (or in 6 DEGREES for that matter).

Not everything is brightness and color in OCTAVARIUM, though. While the album has its ups, as I mentioned before, it also has a few downs. One: the song structures are common-ground, we don't find almost any track that deviates from the verse-chorus path, and even though the songs are brilliantly composed within this rather mundane frame, we are talking about Dream Theater here, the same band that recorded IMAGES AND WORDS and SCENES FROM A MEMORY, neither of them a collection of "normal" songs but of complex, intricate constructions. It's sad to notice that the band insists on trying to reach an audience it won't reach, the mainstream-rock audience. And, two: for the first time ever, DT sounds a little bit "like somebody else", if only at times, at a few, scarce parts, but it DOES. We can feel the LaBrie-driven Mullmuzzler influence here; that we don't mind, because that's coming from one of the band members. But when we hear a song that sounds almost like a REPLICA of a song by another band (more on that later), we have to say it out loud: DT used to sound like 100% ORIGINAL DT, not just 95%. I hope this changes in the upcoming release.

On with the songs:

The Root Of All Evil (10/10), never has a DT album kicked off with its best song, but this is the case in here, in my humble opinion. A fantastic heavy-progressive-melodic ride, a non- regular song, LaBrie in good form, atmospheric at times, soulful, great. The chorus is excellent, almost superb, sounds like if it came straight from the golden fountain of music that bred Masterpiece SCENES FROM MEMORY. Terrific song. We have a reference to one of the tracks in TRAIN OF THOUGH halfway down the song. Part of the "Mike Portnoy repentance trilogy?"

The Answer Lies Within (8/10). To all James LaBrie's nay-sayers: please listen him singing this song and then go compare him with non-singers window-breakers. The song itself is not brilliant or anything, a rather regular ballad, but the canadian master saves it from oblivion with a soulful, melodic, MUSICAL performance. 6.5 for the song, 10 for LaBrie's singing.

These Walls (8.5/10), what's up with that start? Is this Machine Head (the band)? Then the main riff comes and the song gets interesting. It sounds a little like Vanden Plas, a band that sounds a lot like DT so everything is just a circle of influences here, as DT were the creators of this in the first place. Good classy drumming by Portnoy, only with hi-hat, a treat he should use more often (he relies too much in double-bass frenzy). The chorus sounds like Mullmuzzler or like James LaBrie's Elements of Persuasion. The song is not overly original, but it's good.

I Walk Beside You (8/10) Dream Theater-meets-U2, as illogical as that may sound. Very catchy song. I have to say it again: this is LaBrie's record. At times he just eats what's behind him. he makes rather mundane songs a lot more interesting. The track is nothing to write your lost brother about, but it doesn't hurt to listen to it, either. Thanks to LaBrie and partly to Portnoy, too, for showing restraint and class.

Panic Attack (9/10) The song is violent, extremely heavy-yet-progressive, great drumming by Portnoy, the pre-chorus piano-notes reminds us of Uber-masterpiece SCENES. Great song, if a little too frenetic at times. It builds up tension, released in the falsetto-sung part by Labrie, who again shows his atributes. A highlight.

Never Enough (5/10)??? What the h...The song is not that bad, BUT (and a big, CAPITAL "but") is that it's almost the SAME song as Muse's "Stockholm Syndrome" from ABSOLUTION. Especially the first part is incredibly alike, almost copy/paste alike (yes...sadly). So this song gets no props because of that factor. Anyway, the song itself is not very interesting. The low point in the album.

Sacrificed Sons (9.5/10), Man can LaBrie sing! After such an incredibly melodic, almost beautiful start with piano and LaBrie flowering the field over it, the song enters an ambiguous, doubtful territory. Then the anthemic chorus appears and we are happy again. The middle part is true-DT, complex, difficult, virtuose. The song has many different parts, faces, it drives us through a tunnel filled with kaleidoscopic images painted by the skillful hands of the 5 new-yorkers (well, 4 new-yorkers and one canadian). Another highlight. Another one of those songs that re-affirm why I regard this band as something slightly better than your average radio-hit band (insert your blinking face here).

Octavarium (9.5/10) We know this song is a hommage of sorts to the prog-giants that helped shape DT's sound, so we won't take points out of this track because of the incredibly Pink-Floyd-ish beginning; after more than 4 minutes of pure space-sychodelia, a flute in true Genesis-like form marks the appearance of LaBrie. From this point on, the song goes through many different moods. We have bits that sound like Yes, even like some of today's bands like The Flower Kings or Beard! But LaBrie with his fantastic voice makes the trip a pleasant experience. So what we got in this song is 80% DT, 20% a lot of different bands. But in this case we know is on purpose, they even tell us that in the lyrics ("Supper's Ready" anyone?) I find the song terrific, but slightly overrated. That is: everybody gives it a 10, say it's the best in the album (even those who don't like DT or this album say this song is the best), I personally think it's not perfect. It's not up to the level of ultra-masterpiece " A change of seaons" or "6 degrees of inner turbulences", but is almost there. At times it lacks melodic interest for me. But it's a fantastic song nevertheless.

In the end, my opinion of Dream Theater's OCTAVARIUM could be summed up like this: a good album, in a different vein than that of TRAIN OF THOUGHT, more melodic, but less virtuosic; more listener-friendly, but also less unique than its predecessor.

Once again, this is, at times, James LaBrie's record.

Recommended for: DT fans, prog-metal fans, good rock fans.

Not recommended for: DT-haters, of course; people that don't like anything to metallic, people that can't stand James LaBrie, but first of all, MUSE's lawyers....

... don't listen to this. I don't want you messing up with DT's economy.

Review by russellk
3 stars What a shame.

DREAM THEATER has done, it seems, what every artist is tempted to do: listened to their fans. Big mistake! They continue to search for a voice here, and the message they received from their fans about 'Train of Thought' was 'not that!'

So 'Octavarium' is a diluted offering, seeing DREAM THEATER falling between the metaphorical stools. Nothing here has the emotive and heavy riffage that stirred feelings on the previous album. It's a pity: DREAM THEATER are not lyrically or compositionally spohisticated enough to carry off this style of music.

Listening to 'Octavarium' has convinced me that their most authoritative and suitable voice is that of 'Six Degrees', 'A Change of Seasons' and 'Train of Thought.' That is, fast and furious.

So, to this album. A couple of tracks stand out: 'Panic Attack' and 'These Walls' are strong throughout, with memorable musical phrases. Other tracks are run-of-the-mill, stirring neither interest nor hatred. However, I must pass comment on the last two tracks. 'Sacrificed Sons' is excellent musically, but for me (avowedly left of centre politically) the politics are far too one-sided. I thought, from the title, that DREAM THEATER might take an even-handed look at the sons sacrificed on both sides - al la 'The Great Debate' on 'Six Degrees'. Both the samples and the lyrics are a shallow and trite exploration of the subject. A student presenting me with such an assessment would fail.

Now, for the final 'epic' track. I find this track extremely disappointing. It's a slow builder, but very little apart from LaBrie's excellent vocals captures my interest. But what kills it for me is the final section, so transparently constructed as an emotional coda. Is that a flugelhorn I hear at the end? My goodness, this could have been written by a Disney hack. I feel DREAM THEATER can aspire so much higher than this.

Ignore the comparisons between U2, Pink Floyd and Muse. People look for hooks to hang new experiences on; it's a human trait to make comparisons. This is another attempt by DREAM THEATER to find their own voice. They're still looking.

Review by Prog Leviathan
4 stars A focused, mature, artful, dynamic return to form which boasts some of the band's most dynamic and intense music yet-- what a relief after "Train of Thought"!

"Octavarium" features a refined sound that has much more of a group dynamic when compared to previous albums, with no one member dominating; everyone sounds awesome and has their moment in the spotlight. What really shines, is the song writing, and most of the tracks on "Octavarium" leave in impact-- especially "I Walk Beside You", which might be the band's most catchy and uplifting song yet. I especially enjoy "Sacrificed Sons" as well, both for its message and mighty instrumental passages.

The centerpiece, "Octavarium" is easily the band's best single extended track, wel conceived and played, finishing off the great album with a soaring, and uncharacteristically simple guitar solo.

Solid and enjoyable work, all around.

Songwriting: 4 Instrumental Performances: 4 Lyrics/Vocals: 4 Style/Emotion/Replay: 3

Review by Prog-jester
3 stars I had high hopes for this one, especially with 24-min long track mentioned in announce message. Unfortunately, this is another bitter disappointment a-la FII

DREAM THEATER have changed their idols. Now we hear MUSE, U2, LINKIN PARK and METALLICA instead of RUSH and YES. No, wait, there’s also some PINK FLOYD material thrown in there…In other words, this is the least natural album of them. Most track simply drag on without a reason. “The Answer lies within” is the cheesiest thing DT ever done. “Sacrificed Sons” just slipped through my ears without a trace leaving me totally cold. Finally, the title track had some moments to offer, but I had to wait for 15 minutes of filler for them to appear! “Systematic Chaos” is almost in the same way, but it does better to me anyway; dunno even why (to be honest)!

Best tracks: well, for this album! “These Walls” (best track LINKIN PARK never did), “Octavarium” (except for opening intro stolen from “Shine on your Crazy Diamond” which I always skip)

Best moments: riffing in “Panic Attack”, chorus’ beginning in “Never Enough”

Review by Finnforest
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars My DT rediscovery continues as I work backwards from Sytematic Chaos.

I don't think that Octavarium is nearly as solid as SC overall but is saved by the title track. The better tracks from the first part of the album would be "The Root of all Evil" with its irresistible heavy groove and "Sacrificed Sons" which qualifies for mini-epic status. "These Walls" has some really nice emotional guitar leads from Petrucci. "The Answer Lies Within" seemed incredibly hokey on the surface the first time I heard it but the song has grown on me. I think it's actually one of the better cheesy power ballads although the recent trend of affirmational lyrics gets old pretty fast for me. The other shorter songs are less successful with "I Walk Beside You" being pretty lame actually.

But the make or break here is the title track of course. It is 24 minutes of classic prog that is just jaw-dropping. It builds so beautifully and every idea works perfectly. At the risk of gushing I just love this song and feel it's one of the best tracks I've heard in a long time, putting to shame some of the wannabe albums I've heard lately from the likes of Spock's Beard or Magic Pie. Those groups wish they could pull off something like this.

The lyrics and themes are interesting throughout and some hit home. Regardless of what the band is writing about specifically, the issue of feeling trapped is something individual to all of us. Free will? Most people instinctively would say they have it and are almost offended at the idea of Determinism. My only comment is that while most feel they have total freedom, the choices they have are the conformist options allowed by the Establishment's systems. If your ideas of freedom do not conform to their rules you may well find yourself in economic ruin down the road. If you still call that "free will" then you're a true optimist. But that's what Labrie's rageful scream of "trapped inside this Octavarium" means to me. It's not the ability to make a "choice" that matters, but rather the meaningfulness of the choices offered-and our society has a ways to go in that regard.

Special mention for the stunning album cover, very cool. The title track is very close to a masterpiece but overall I'm at 3.25 stars for Octavarium. With that said, every prog fan should hear the title track-just realize the rest of the songs are not to that level.

Review by ZowieZiggy
4 stars Almost five hundred review for this album. Of which close to three hundred without comments... .

"Dream Theater" will always bring controversy, especially on a prog site. I really could not stand a second of their previous studio release "Train Of Thought" which was their most heavy-metal album so far. A major disappointment in comparion with "Six Degrees...").

The opening number of "Octavarium" shares the same influence as "As I Am". Fully "Sabbath" oriented. A mix of real heavy music, and at times some melodic chorus. But as far as I know, "Sabbath" was not the most progressive band in the seventies (but they might well be included one day in PA I guess...).

As usual, we'll get a rock ballad as well on this album (which was not really the case on "Train..."). Somewhat mellow but featuring a nice melody at least. A pleasant break.

The album really starts with "These Walls". It is again one the very good "DT". compositions : combining heavy riffs and truely melodic passages. These guys are really unique in this work. Mixing such a subtle guitar solo, some chords feeling (but these might just be some synth effects). The next song "I Walk Beside You" is also more rock oriented. Simple and short. It is more accessible for the casual fan.

When you listen to the very first notes of "Panic Attack" you immediately know that the classic "DT" is back. Extremely hard Petucci riffs and this "wall of music" which is omni-present in "DT" 's discography. But there is more than heavy stuff in here (even if it is on the forefront). The beat is incredible troughout its eight minutes. A great heavy-metal anthem with a few prog touches. At times it reminds me of "Muse". Actually, it reminds me "Muse" a lot. Especially the closing part.

The same "Muse" feeling is present during "Never Enough". Highly powerful, great vocals. A very good moment of music, but not really personal I would say.

"Sacrificed Sons" referred to the awful terrorist attacks on 9/11. It is a poignant song with a very dark mood (obviously). A nice homage to their hometown which has sufferred so much (as anyone in the world on that damned day - at least it was how I felt this day). It can be related to prog for the use of the keys and the global mood. As such it is my fave of the album so far.

Now, the title track. The epic "Octavarium". Few times was "SOYCD" borrowed as much (even if "Pendragon" did it with "The Walls of Babylon "). This opening part is just brilliant. Of course, most of the progheads will shout out loud that it is plagiatory, but I just like it. The structure of this great song is also very well thought. Fully prog (really), lots of theme changes, no loud and heavy passages. No, it is truely a very good prog song. You should have a listen to it; it really deserves it (just as I have recommend for " Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence".

I guess that if one should praise this song so much is that he /she likes the prog "DT" aspect that most of the true "DT" maniacs wouldn't care of. I just believe that it confirms that the band is really not only a metal one and that here and there they have produced great prog music (but no more than ten per cent of their releases is prog IMO, this also needs to be said).

In terms of true prog, "Octavarium" is my secong preferred epic of the band ("Six Degrees..." being my first one).

It happens that I was almost born with hard-rock and therefore could appreciate several of "DT" work. If you don't have this background (or broader view) I guess that is difficult to enter into their catalogue from a proghead point of view (although there might be some of you that could share this view).

It is always amazing to read that this album "is a true masterpiece of prog music" or that "DT" is the biggest "prog" band on earth. I like them moderately and I will attend my first "DT" concert next week. I doubt a lot of fan go there for their "progressive" side. But I'll be more confirmed in my judgment after this experience.

four stars for this very good album.

Review by progrules
4 stars It's a little late to do the review of Octavarium but I'm in a "cathing up" action so that's why. It's Octavarium time and this is really an interesting one to do the review of. And that's because the opinions about this album are so extremely versatile.

So what is my opinion ? I understand the disagreement because the distinction and the contrast between the best and the least song is really huge on this album. It almost goes without saying (at least to me) that the title track is a true masterpiece. But although that track is very long it's not the whole album. The other songs are at least debatable. But I disagree to call all the other songs poor efforts, this is exaggerated ! To me Sacrificed sons is a terrific track and also Panic attack is a very good song. The first part of the album + Never enough is indeed less but even those are not really bad, just less.

I always wonder why people give albums by DT 1 star. Are they DT-haters or are they so much disappointed compared with their expectations that out of frustration they give one star ? Because I think DT is done a lot of injustice by that. Their music is of such high quality and they are such great musicians (I witnessed them 7 (!) times live and they never had one poor performance) that they never deserve 1 star, 2 is already very low. That's not just a matter of taste, it's a matter of facts. Of course it's possible DT is not one's cup of tea but then at least have the decency to give 2 stars because of the craftmanship that is really there ! I'll leave it at this because this is actually a discussion for the forum but this really effects DT averages of ratings and I see it happen particularly with albums by THIS band. It's unfair !

So even while I think this isn't their best ever their basic level is at least 3 stars, I add one for Octavarium (track) and two nice others and end up with 4 stars.

Review by ProgBagel
2 stars Dream Theater - Octavarium 2.0 stars.

What the hell is this piece of trash? This is probably one of the worst albums I own. Never have I heard something that was so boring, poorly put together and plagued with plagiarism. This is Dream Theater trying to put a full circle around their history and creating a cd that sums everything up. Gone are the brilliant influences of Yes, Rush, Metallica and Iron Maiden.bands that Dream Theater will never be able to pass, to Muse and Coldplay.are they stooping this low? Truly the mighty have fallen. I honestly don't know why I gave this two stars. I suppose it stems from that I'm a huge fan of the band and I think just about every song sucks beyond belief.

'The Root of All Evil' is the third song in the AA suite by Mike Portnoy. The 'This Dying Soul' section is the intro to the song, and then is followed by a distasteful guitar riff. The song really doesn't stretch too far from there.

'The Answers Lie Within' is one of Dream Theater's worst. All it is is a slow ballad that just has no direction whatsoever. I can't really compare it to anything because mainstream music isn't to my taste. Take any mainstream band that put out a hit on their album, listen to all their lesser songs on the album and there you have it.this mess barely passable for a song.

'These Walls' I shouldn't really go into about. Listen to that Muse song that made it big. Plagiarism.

'I Walk Beside You' I won't go into about either. This is a U2 and Coldplay rip off track. Why should I waste my time describing stolen work?

'Panic Attack' is the only truly original song besides that title track. The intro is done by some awesome bass work by Myung and then extremely heavy tone by Petrucci. The song is dark and powerful.but not that great. Perhaps this and the title track saved it from the one star.

'Never Enough' is I guess a little pissy song done by Portnoy. It's about people not being happy with a certain individual or *cough band *cough, and then when they leave, you appreciate them.but then it's too late. Why would he write something about this if this album were supposed to be 'so great'. By the way.another Muse rip off.

'Sacrificed Sons' is another decent track thrown on to the album. It's really just a lesser version of 'The Great Debate' from Six Degrees. It could be a lot better if it was dragged on way too much.

'Octavarium' was a good song at first.but it definitely has dragged down quite a bit. Let's also not forget about 'A Change of Seasons' here. 'Octavarium' was dragged on by a Floyd influenced intro that really went nowhere. After 4 minutes the song finely truly begins with the verse. If you fast-forward 5 more minutes.well what do you know.nothing has changed! No wonder why they hyped up this song because of the length.must have been the only thing they were going for obviously. The thing that saves this song is the instrumental build up which is one of the most intense in the history of music. While that might save the song, it definitely did not do the same for the album.

John Petrucci stated this is the best Dream Theater album. If you look at when artists say this about one of their albums it is because it is new.they want people to believe it and buy it. When I see something like that I automatically think one thing,"Wow, this is going to be a real big hunk of [&*!#]!" Expect my rating to possibly go down to one star. I don't know what happened here. Only buy if you are a collector and fan.

'When Day and Dream Unite',' Images and Words' and 'Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence (song)' are all made up of 8 songs.was this also part of the big scheme for the album? No, they just happened to have 6 then 7 songs on their past albums.and what a dumb concept, the number 8. 8 sup-par songs for an 8th studio album. Clever.

Review by Queen By-Tor
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Something about the number 8.

Dream Theater's eighth studio album has always been a bit of a let down for me. In my hay-day of Dream Theater fandom this album was released and I bought it in full anticipation. While it was perhaps that anticipation that would eventually lead to my being let down, I think there's more than just that. After all, after the first couple listens I loved it! But with age it would seem that this album has worn off quite a bit. This is for a number of reasons, which I'll soon get into, but the main one being that in terms of Dream Theater, this is some of the more flat music they've done... It simply doesn't have that hook which will keep you coming back for more.

Always with the eights...

Eight tracks, eighth album, and Octavarium, the title track is the eighth track. There's actually something very nice about this theme, and on the liner notes it's repeated with pictures of arachnids (eight legs) and octopuses (same) along with the boy holding the can to his ear bookending the album almost making the first and last track connect in a weird sort of way (after all, the first track is parts vi and vii of their ongoing AA series, while Octavarium only has five parts). Very meticulously thought out and executed, the concept here is the thing of progressive dreams! But will the music follow suit?

Well, kind of.

Octavarium gets off to a shaky start. THE ROOT OF ALL EVIL carries on the (by now) stale AA series started by Dream Theater back in 2002 with ''The Glass Prison''. While the series has been strong until this point this is kind of where it starts to stagnate. Recurring riffs come back like a bite in the ass and the song comes off as kind of weak. Still a good rocker in some respects, this song can be seen as good at best. Following that is the (IMHO) very poorly executed THE ANSWER LIES WITHIN. After a bombastic start the band just dies right off and does something a lot more lo-key. Likely the slowest song they've ever recorded, it's low volume and pace make it very inaccessible to most people. The song in itself is not so bad, but it's the (mis)placement and volume that really give the song a bad name in my books.

Luckily the album starts to pick up from here... but it's still a mixed bag.

THESE WALLS is a strong track that ranks among some of the best stuff that the band as ever put out. Powerful and dark, this is one that gets the blood rushing again. A memorable riff from Rudess and Petrucci make this track one to crank the volume on. Following that powerhouse comes another weaker song. I WALK BESIDE YOU is a good catchy song that would be great as a single. Poppy and redundant, this is one that may scare off the average prog goer. Have a heart, however, as its mid pace and light sibject are actually rather uplifting, making it one of the better songs on the album. PANIC ATTACK picks up more or less where THESE WALLS left off, it's bludgeoning guitar pounding out so that one has to shield themselves against the force. This is, of course, in a good way. The frantic pace of this song likely well simulates an actual panic attack, and as such earns it's keep on the album. NEVER ENOUGH is a song in the same vein which is not quite as well executed, although people who are mad a significant others may laugh evilly at the lyrics at points.

Coming to the end... the longer songs.

Dream Theater has always been a band whose longer compositions have always been enough to impress even the harshest of critics... and it's truly what makes them Dream Theater. On this outing we have two tracks that break the ten minute mark, and based on the content of the rest of the album, will they live up to their predecessors? Yes and no. SACRIFICED SONS has always been a song that (to me) never really did it. A strong lyrical content (albeit a bit late) makes for an emotional song in which the vocals are grossly overpowered by the instrumentals. While the beginning of the song is 'meh' the ending starts to get fantastic thanks to the instrumental work put forth by the rest of the band. While this ending part may be very redeeming to the song it definately gives it a terribly unbalanced feel, and that's not really something that the long, focus pulling song should ever do. OCTAVARIUM, on the other hand, is a work of art. Pulling together the scattered elements of the album, the title track manages to make the best of where the band is at. Surprisingly mid-paced for the band, this song is a lot different from an epic like 'A Change of Seasons', but it's a welcome change. Coursing along with an intriguing story as DT often does, Octavarium goes though it's motions until it comes to it's climax. Then, after quoting several other band and letting James LaBrie scream into the mic for a bit the song fades off into nothing. Quite the redeeming track.

While it may be redundant to be the 516th review of an album, this one still needs some more opinions to it (aka, I'm trying to catch up to my collection with reviews). It seems that the album is either love it or hate it, but I fall to the center of the road. What we have here is an album that is about as uneven as the Swedish Alps. Some very high and some very low points make for a good album. Some great tracks, some bad tracks. 3 stars, not essential, but Dream Theater fans can not be without the title track. Others can pass.

Review by Garion81
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
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.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Octavarium is as the title suggests the 8th album from Dream Theater. The last album from Dream Theater called Train of Thought was a really heavy and pretty dark affair. I was never too thrilled with that one. Octavarium is very different compared to the complex and dark Train of Thought. The song structures are generally much simpler and the mood a bit lighter.

The album consists of eight songs. The first seven are generally pretty normally structured songs with focus on vocal melodies while the last song which is the title track is a 24 minute epic where there is more place for instrumental excess. Besides the title track which is pretty good I only think The Root Of All Evil, The Answer Lies Within and the melodic Never Enough is worth my time. The rest is pretty trivial. All songs are good, but IMO they donīt add anything new to Dream Theaterīs discography. The songs are not very memorable and itīs a big problem IMO.

The musicianship is brilliant as ever, but there is no warmth in the music. It leaves me cold most of the time. One positive thing on Octavarium is that John Petrucciīs guitar solos are very melodic compared to the show of soloing of the last couple of albums. Jordan Rudess also plays some very melodic solos on the keyboard the only thing is that his solos doesnīt really sound like keyboard solos. The solo sound Jordan Rudess uses sounds like a guitar. Why on earth do you play keyboard solos that sounds like guitar solos when you already have a guitarist in the band ? The advantage of having a keyboard IMO is that you can play with all sorts of sounds that does NOT sound like guitar, bass or drums. Well itīs an aquired taste for sure.

The production is actually pretty good and I must say itīs Portnoy and Petrucciīs best production to date. Finally they have made a professional sounding production.

The overall impression I have after listening to Octavarium is that itīs a good progressive metal album. It adds nothing new to the genre or to Dream Theaterīs discography though and therefore I think itīs a very average album. 3 stars is deserved here.

Review by The Crow
3 stars Better than Train of Thought... But far from the Dream Theater's best moments!

Octavarium is a diverse album with a lot of good points, and some mistakes... The best I can say about this release is that it's funny to listen to. The songs flow peacefully and in an interesting way. The only bad chosen track is the boring The Anwer Lies Within. A ballad so slow and weak can't be a second track in my opinion... After the solid opening The Root of All Evil, this track low the level of the album miserably down.

But beside this fail, the rest of the tracks are good chosen to give an impression of variety... The average These Walls, with the typical Dream Theater's sound, is followed by the very weak I Walk Beside You, wich is a sad attempt to mix some Muse verses, with a typical U2 chorus... Very miserable for a band like Dream Theater is this song.

The rest of the album is OK... Panic Attack is one of the hardest songs of their career, technically outstanding. Never Enough is not bad, but the verses are again spoiled from Muse. What were this guys thinking? Even the LaBrie's voice reminds me to the english band... But then, we have Sacrified Sons, the best song of the album. Is a track a bit in the style of the short tracks of Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, but even more inspired. The album's classic, in my opinion.

Then we have the suite Octavarium... This track opens with a passage directly spoiled from Pink Floyd. After this, we have some melodies wich reminds me to Spock's Beard... Yes, even the John Myung's bass has a similar sound to the Dave Meros's one in some moments! But this lack of ideas is not a great problem, because the track is at least funny to listen to... At the time 12'15'', we have even a Neo-Prog section! I find it very cool, and the symphonic ending is also appropiate. So this track is not so good as A Change of Seasons, or Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, but it deserves a good listening.

The last thing I'd like to comment about this album, is the lack of strength of James LaBrie's voice... He sings in almost every song without real passion in my opinion, like he was tired or bored when he recorded this album. He has nothing to do with the energetic singer of the first Dream Theater albums, and he has not the inspiraton of Scenes from a Memory... The weakest fact of the album, in terms of playing.

Best tracks: The Root of all Evil (cool riffs for an appropiate opening...), Panic Attack (funny and powerful), Sacrified Sons (the best track in my opinion) and Ocatavarium (it has some flaws, but it's interesting anyway...)

Conclusion: an irregular album wich is better than the previous Dream Theater's release... But undoubtly, Octavarium is not one of the band's highlights. The band shows some lack of ideas, and they spoil too much from other bands in my opinion (I think that calling it influences is a bit hypocrite...) So being an insteresting album, wich some worthy moments, if you don't hear it you'll not be missing something really special.

My rating: ***

Review by J-Man
5 stars This has to be one of the most underrated albums on the entire site. I almost can't believe that a masterpiece like this has an average rating under 3.7 stars. This truly is a masterpiece, and in my honest opinion, is one of Dream Theater's best albums. This is stuck in between two average albums, but this is an essential album for any Dream Theater fan, and is also a great place to start listening to Dream Theater.

For people who aren't interested in prog metal, this is a great place to begin your DT journey. It maintains their status as a progressive metal band, but this will appeal to many more traditional prog rock fans. The closing epic is one of my favorite epics ever, this is without a weak track, and it just has a magical feeling throughout the whole album.


"The Root of All Evil"- This is the third part in Mike Portnoy's "Alcoholics Anonymous Suite", and it is one of the best steps in the suite. This is more of a straightforward metal song, but it has its progressive moments. This song really rocks, and has a great main riff. It introduces the theme to the title track at the end, and it ends on a sort-of cliffhanger for anyone that gets to know the music to this album well.

"The Answer Lies Within"- This is just a beautiful song, nothing more, nothing less. It proves that Dream Theater isn't all about shredding and brutal complexity. This is a very melodic song, with great orchestrations. This may disappoint prog fans, being that it isn't progressive, but if you can just forget about that and just enjoy the song, you won't be disappointed.

"These Walls"- This is a cool song with a great riff and a nice chorus. It has a cool opening with distorted guitars and has a great synth line. The outro gets me every time, and it just ends perfectly. This is one of my favorite songs on the album.

"I Walk Beside You"- This is a more straightforward song, but it has great chord progressions with excellent changes from light to dark. It starts out kind of dark, but then just has a beautiful chorus. I really love this song, and while it may disappoint some who are expecting something else, if you're listening to the music for what it is, it's hard not to like this one.

"Panic Attack"- This is the heaviest songs on the album, and shows the skills of the band. It has an incredibly difficult guitar solo, proving why John Petrucci is one of my all-time favorite guitarists.

"Never Enough"- One word can describe this song- Muse. I can't say I'm a big fan of them, but this is an excellent song with Muse sounds at times. The solos during the middle of the song are very good, and this is an exceptional song.

"Sacrificed Sons"- One of my all-time favorite Dream Theater songs. It is about the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York, and it definitely does an excellent job. It accurately captures a mood that makes you feel upset and angry at the same time. It has very dark piano chords that really are very good. It has a jam session that progresses back into the main theme perfectly. A masterpiece without a doubt.

"Octavarium"- This is another excellent Dream Theater epic that is easily in my top 10 songs over twenty minutes. It opens with a Pink Floyd-sounding opening (reminds me of Shine On You Crazy Diamond) and after it keeps building a synthesizer comes in and really is one of the great moments in music. The song progresses into a cool part that builds into a raging, almost gothic metal section that goes back into the main theme incredibly. The song ends with a French horn melody that just ends the album incredibly.

Well, there you have it. I know I'm by myself giving this a 5 star review, but I feel this really deserves it. It ranges from sounds by Pink Floyd to Metallica to Muse to Yes. I don't understand how this can get criticized for not being "original" enough, but I certainly find it to be far more than original. It will appeal to a wide range of audiences as well. I love progressive metal, and I'm not disappointed, and I know traditional prog fans who like this as well. There are excellent epics, and without a weak track, this deserves a 5 for sure.

5 stars.

Review by LiquidEternity
3 stars Like A Change of Seasons, Falling into Infinity, and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, Octavarium is very much a mixed bag.

The band came off the noodle-fest of Train of Thought and took a long look at their music. That's good. I approve of this sort of introspection. However, they overshot the wrong way and ended up with a few too many light and poppy tunes for the album truly to be well rounded. This release does get points from me, however, on account of the limited amount of noodling. There are short guitar solo in half the songs, a keyboard solo in one of them, and then a lot of surprisingly meaningful noodling in the title track, but more on that in a couple of paragraphs or so. An overall concept, or more like theme, uniting the eight tracks here give it enough of a creative and experimental edge to raise it above the level of the other post-Six Degrees albums. The music is very stripped down and focused on melody, which is a very welcome change. Furthermore, the songs fit with themselves very nicely. Unfortunately, the simplicity of the music, while refreshing at first, means that the music here is not nearly as deep or lasting as it could be.

The album opens with the Terminator theme, or something like it, which becomes the third part of the Alcoholics Anonymous suite (begun by The Glass Prison and This Dying Soul). The Root of All Evil is, in comparison with those two, much more laid back and human, focusing on the vocals and melodies rather than series of shredding solos and complicated unisons. The Answer Lies Within comes next, and while it is a nice track, it is not really much of a memorable tune. Something like Hollow Years or Through Her Eyes. These Walls arrives after this, built on an enthusiastic keyboard tune and a very clever bit of drumming. The chorus is one of the catchy and most solid the band has ever recorded. The guitar solo is short and not technical at all--a large surprise after the complete lack of lack of pure technicality on the previous release. All in all, this is a well rounded track, though not particularly progressive in many ways. I Walk Beside You is a fun little U2 jaunt. Nothing much more than that, really. Panic Attack is the fast paced metal song here (almost the only straight metal track on the whole album). The bass and drums especially are in a form not often seen even on Dream Theater albums.

Next wanders in the angst-riddled Never Enough, a cry for a bit of peace and quiet from the band's disgruntled fans who want this or that or whatever. While the band has gotten slammed often for so boldly getting angry back at their fans, I find it a nice bold move that shows that the band is human, and really the guys just want some people to enjoy their music and have fun. An okay song, too, with some cool drum fills and a strange unison portion. Sacrificed Sons is a mostly splendid track featuring some very haunting sounds and lyrics, but the noodling middle section here reminds me of nothing more than Train of Thought and how several great, emotive songs were cut down by random shredding and progressive riffing that didn't fit. Unfortunate, but these things sometimes happen. And with the end of this song, the end of what would be probably a two-star progressive metal album hits us, and from here on out, we have a very clever tune.

The title track is an epic coming on the tails of Dream Theater's last major epic, the forty minute plus Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence. Only, this song is built for prog nerds, which probably explains why I like it a lot. Opening like Pink Floyd's Shine On You Crazy Diamond, this twenty four minute tune is unique among songs of comparable length in that for most of the duration of the song, it's a constant building, each successive part adding energy and intensity. The entire time, famous bands are being musically quoted and name checked, many of which quite cleverly. Halfway through, Jordan Rudess enters his most entertaining solo to date, a two minute dallying with some keys reminiscent of Styx. The music continues to build, moving into an instrumental section that just begs to be dissected and examined for hidden musical references. It culminates in James LaBrie screaming as hard as he can over a pretty neat and headbangable rhythm, then twisting around and ending in a typical prog epic sort of orchestra way. The final guitar solo is very tasteful, too, not just wild shredding over strings.

If the album were up to the standard of the title track, this would be a very formidable Dream Theater release indeed. Instead, a number of interesting but not lasting tracks make this a good addition to their discography but nothing terribly impressive.

Review by The Quiet One
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.

Review by Conor Fynes
3 stars 'Octavarium' - Dream Theater (6/10)

I really don't see why some Dream Theater fans despise this album so much. What's wrong with it? Is it the fact that it has some relatively non-metal, mainstream leaning material? Is it the heavy drawing of influence from other prog rock sources? Nontheless, 'Octavarium' while not comparing to the truly amazing Dream Theater albums, is really good and if anything, worth buying it for the 25 minute epic.

The album really starts with a bang. 'The Root Of All Evil' is without a doubt the best part of the ongoing Alcoholic's Anonymous Suite. There is a fine mix of heaviness and progressiveness. It's essentially an example of what a good, modern Dream Theater song should sound like. Next is a song with heavy AOR influence, 'The Answer Lies Within.' It's pretty, but nothing special. It's probably the low point of the album, but it's indeed listenable.

'These Walls' is fine, although there's definately a few mainstream hooks in there. But the true mainstream feeling of the album comes in with 'I Walk Beside You,' which despite it being mainstream, I still enjoy it, and it has a very cool intro nontheless.

'Panic Attack' feels a bit too corny for me. There's great musicianship, but it's backed by rather lacking lyrics, and that spoils alot of the enjoyment for me. If you can stand the cheese though, 'Panic Attack' is a great song that showcases Dream Theater's heavier side.

Next comes 'Never Enough,' which has a great electronic/baroque feel. It's essentially a precursor to 'Systematic Chaos' 'Prophets Of War,' if you're more familiar with the newer Dream Theater. While being a great song, it still doesn't compare to the two remaining songs. This, ladies and gentlemen, is where the album starts to go full pace.

'Sacrificed Sons' is a ballad about the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. It's beautifully sung by LaBrie, and has some great songwriting, before going into an all-out prog metal jam session, which also feels like a 'Systematic Chaos' song, 'Ministry Of Lost Souls.' It's an amazing song, and as an oddity in Dream Theater's modern works, there are actually some great lyrics to go along with it.

Bringing the album to a close is the epic 'Octavarium.' While it's not up to par with 'A Change Of Seasons,' it's a masterpiece in it's own right. I can still remember the first time listening to this song, the day I bought the CD. I literally put down everything I was doing and for twenty minutes, I did nothing more than lie on my bed, and listen to the majesty of it all. Starting out with an enveloping trance-like Continuum solo from Jordan Rudess, the band suddenly cuts in and I'm blown away. I expect alot from DT epics, and this one certainly did not dissapoint at all.

Octavarium is a great album, and will definately be enjoyed, if there isn't any expectation for another highly progressive all-out masterpiece. It's very good, and despite some of it's mainstream leanings, is a great Dream Theater album that does not dissapoint.

Review by Sinusoid
2 stars If you take a real hard notice, Dream Theater really went out of their way to throw in a bunch of clues that tell us that OCTAVARIUM revolves around the numbers 5 and 8. This is their eighth album, it contains eight songs with the eighth being the epic title track of five parts, the fifth song mostly uses the 5/8 time signature, there are five hidden tracks in between the eight tracks, and the booklet contains many pictures that support this theory.

Okay, so does this have anything to do with their music? Not really. These nifty little nuggets are nice to prevent total boredom, but when the nuggets are the most memorable part of the album, then that's quite sad. OCTAVARIUM happens to have the distinct honour of being the first Dream Theater album I ever heard, and it might also hold the honour of being played the least amount of times. Why is that?

Basically, most of this really isn't that entertaining. It's just DT trying to get more mainstream exposure by throwing on their albums cheap, easy pop songs (''I Walk Beside You''), uber-boring ballads (''The Answer Lies Within''), and metal that seems to cater to the mainstream but sounds awkward at the same time (''These Walls''). Of the first seven songs, only ''The Root of All Evil'' sparks any lasting interest with me as I feel little from the others. (Although ''Sacrificed Sons'' is quite poignant)

The title track could have been the best thing that came out of the Dream Theater repertoire, and from when the vocals first come in to when the vocals end in the third part (about 13.5 minutes in) I would say support that claim. However, the first part sounds like Dream Theater covering Pink Floyd (call it SOYCD Part X) that doesn't quite reach the heights of the Floyd, and after the vocals are done in the third part, I hear about 4 minutes of mindless diarrhea of the soloing. The kicker though is the screaming towards the end of the piece in what essentially ruins a three star rating.

This just sounds not as inspired as any of the other DT albums I've heard. We're a LONG way from IMAGES AND WORDS here (of which I think is their greatest achievement), and the seemingly lack of inspiration can lead to a few themes sounding too familiar (prog or otherwise). Since this was a step backwards trying to get into DT, it gets only two stars. It would most please the fans, but outsiders should investigate elsewhere.

Review by The Truth
COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Very much to me Dream Theaters best album. Each song is a total masterpiece, starting with the head- banging Root of All Evil which starts off with a Metallica driven riff but still has elements of prog rock in it. The Answer Lies within doesn't seem to fit in with the rest of the album but it has to be there or it's just not the same. It is kind of like Beth on the Kiss album, Destroyer. These Walls is the heaviest track on the album showing the almost death metal sound Dream Theater has. I Walk Beside You is a nice song, almost like a rock ballad but just a little too heavy. Never Enough is the only song I don't like but it isn't enough to keep it from being a masterpiece. Sacrificed Sons is an amazing song probably more prog than others because of the way it's arranged and the epic track Octavarium is one of the best Dream Theater has ever released changing from soft prog to heavy metal very quickly. I call it a masterpiece alright!
Review by Ivan_Melgar_M
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
2 stars DREAM THEATER is one of those bands I absolutely dislike, but which I also respect. It's impossible to deny the skills of Myung, Petrucci, Portnoy and Rudess, but it's also truth that skills alone don't make a great band.

In my case I always thought that DREAM THEATER abuses of speed, solos and shredding, plus the fact that only four legged beings can attempt to listen Myung playing; if we add the bellow than average vocals of LaBrie, we get a band full of virtuoso musicians but little coherence.

So being that I don't like the band, I tried to avoid reviewing them, because don't want to be unfair, but his doesn't mean I didn't listened "Octavarium", as a fact nobody who was in Prog Archives when the album was released (and even before) could avoid getting involved, being that we had a record of 5 stars reviews in a couple of weeks, so after the things got more calmed, I bought a used copy very cheap from a disenchanted fan and now will try to review it.

The album starts with "The Root of all Evil", more or less what I expected of DREAM THEATER, well performed, fast but with terrible vocals and unnecessary guitar solo, even when I believe it's more a mainstream Metal track rather than a Prog Metal one, it's a pretty good song for any decent Metal band, but not enough for DREAM THEATER which by that moment was proclaimed as the best Prog band of history by not few fans.

"The Answer Lies Between" can be described as a ballad, not even a Power ballad, but a plain ballad, simple, repetitive and honestly boring, I never liked DT albums, but at least the previous kept me awake, this is stronger than Valium. I can't imagine how disappointed the faithful fans must be by this moment.

"These Walls" is musically a step forward, but lets be honest, smells to Muse everywhere, despite this fact, love the keyboard passages and how excellent Petrucci guitar sounds when he stops trying to be the fastest guitar in Prog, not very original, but very good track.

"I Walk Beside You" is anything except what anybody expect from DREAM THEATER, has some sort of Aorish sound with RADIOHEAD touches and even a bit of U2...The question is where in hell can we find DT?

Musically is the weakest song in the album by this point, I guess no Prog Metal fan will feel satisfied by this hybrid.

At last a good Prog Metal track, "Panic Attack" has everything I could expect,. originality good riffs, sense of musicality, amazing drumming, even LaBrie sounds great, never thought I would applaud a Prog Metal track, but if I get a DREAM THEATER album I expect Prog Metal.

"Never Enough" is another strong track, the keyboards are simply breathtaking and the drums accurate as always, also influenced by MUSE but this time I can listen more of DT.

"Sacrificed Sons" is so boring that I will pass directly to the central theme Octavarium, a 23 minutes epic that I can say it's..............long, well that's the best I can say.

The intro is almost exact to "Shine on You Crazy Diamond", het they maybe should pay royalties, the flute section is very pretty, but again not something I would expect from this band, by moments seem they lost their teeth and can't bite anymore.

Rudess is above the average as always, but in some moments a bit cheesy, the vocals are correct but again correct is not enough. the guitar solo near the end is simply distasteful, yes the combination wit acoustic guitar is complex, buy nothing more, at the end becomes pompous and at least that's something.

I believe that if I had to choose a word that describes this album would be unimpressive, something that a band based in the spectacular skills of most of their members and impressive solos can't afford, I would say is bellow the average, and being that in our system the average is 3 stars, can't rate Octavarium with more than 2.5 sadly this is not possible, will have to rate it with 2 stars.

Review by TGM: Orb
2 stars Octavarium, Dream Theater, 2005


Octavarium marks a sort of double-effort by Dream Theater, aiming to create another distinctly Dream Theater album, with Dream Theater compositions, including obligatory ballads, metal songs and epic songs but also to do something new and artistic overall. So, I'm offering two opening analyses: one, the 'art', two, the 'songs' (they're not entirely indivisible, but they're not exactly too chummy either).

Personally, the first aim turns out rather better than the second, which goes in for the gimmicky 'nuggets' far more than truly novel ideas. I guess the best illustration is that if I'm meant to give them credit for having 8s and 5s, should I criticise them for having track limits that aren't 8.88s or 5.55s or not using cyclical track lengths, or say they should use something like ottava rima or a Sicilian octave for the rhyme scheme of the lyrics? Yes, it's arguably clever, and I have to admit one of the nuggets was actually, as I understand it, pretty good, but does it actually add anything to the album and the impact it has? I don't think so... the 5s, 8s and cycles are all referenced fairly often, and all sorts of influences are consciously and often openly aired, but again, that's just an artistic superfluity. So, that's one side on which the album attempts to make a lot of impact or show cleverness that really, just wasn't needed and doesn't add the overall piece.

So, the second: initial remark, the songwriting (or else pick-and-choosing: some reviewers have mentioned borrowings from bands I basically don't know, so for the sake of the review, I'll call it writing: just be aware I'm not 100% certain it always is) is pretty good. The four metal songs are effective and moderately individual, though they're not sing-in-the-shower memorable, and Sacrificed Sons, the Preppic (preparatory-epic), much as I don't really appreciate the lyrics, is a musical triumph, and the title track definitely has its moments, though honestly, I could happily cut it off the album's end. So, all-in-all, on the musical, and, for most of you, I guess, more important front, a success, though not an unqualified one.

Well, that's three times the usual space for an introduction, but what I'm going to say is something contradictory to expectations: if your listening approach is generally like mine, fussing over the effect of specific fills, whether a song should or shouldn't use a fade, whether a lyric is supported properly by the feel of the music and so forth, this album gets much better if you can just switch off, and let the music sink in rather than trying to seek the album's deeper conceptual fish, which are floating lifeless on the surface. At least, that's how it worked for me.

The first of eight (surprises there...) tracks, The Root Of All Evil starts promisingly with a firm, low piano note, a menacing hum and Rudess solidifying over Portnoy's startling, mechanical bursts. A thick riff coalesces very naturally from this, and from that, somewhat more awkwardly, the vocal bit. Labrie offers menacing and murky vocals for a snappy set of lyrics with a matching bass underpinning the whole thing. The slightly ambling chorus doesn't have the punch of the verses but on the other hand the superb squirming Petrucci solo and a tasteful piano part from the later Octavarium slipped in smoothly at the end make this an effective statement of intent, both for the metal and the artistic sides of the album. Not entirely certain we needed eight minutes to get it, though.

The Answer Lies Within is a somewhat typical Dream Theater power ballad in the vein of Another Day or The Spirit Carries On. While it doesn't have the inspiring guitar part of the former, it compensates with somewhat less painful lyrics and a fairly nice, if simple (for some reason, Rudess seems to turn the speed down on the 'emotional' piano parts), piano backing that is darkened neatly at the entrance of the violin. On the minus side, the harmonies just aren't something Dream Theater have convincingly engaged, and Labrie's basically good voice is hamstrung by the audible intake of breath before just about each word and an occasional ineffective echo choice. The violin's entrance and a nicely dark conclusion stand out, and all in all it's not a particularly important attraction, but a fairly pleasant break in between the album's general heaviness.

These Walls opens with a block of surprisingly effectively arranged noise which twists into one of DT's most convincing metal riffs. As Rudess enters at speed it's not really so much changed as revealed to be a more deep, dark, brooding song, and a drifting electro-acoustic or something of the ilk brings us to a great entrance from the still hard-breathing Labrie, as usual, slamming vibrato left, right and centre in a decent performance. Rudess takes the only real criticism for his pseudo-orchestral apparitions, which don't really give the Stravinskian punch I think they were meant to. But, even if the song could be a little more involving and stabbing, the melody is great, the bass part is really neat, the chorus is very memorable, and I don't dislike the lyrics. Petrucci's clever hooks offer it an almost unanticipated staying power (and he also takes credit for a calm, tasteful guitar solo with a good tone), and the rhythm section gives a spectacular, cohesive impression as well as the idea that these are really good individual players. I mean, as Dream Theater goes, this just about manages to unite all their best elements, and I can only criticise a couple of either basically insignificant or else very general elements (too many chorus repeats, maybe? Rushed ending? Not a lot of balance?, but these are all very general or nor really important).

I Walk Beside You opens with a fairly clever transition from a jumpy string-synth opening somewhat reminiscent of Queen's The Show Must Go On to a fairly horrendous pop track ? now, I admit that elsewhere I've been lavishly praising of 'pop' songs on otherwise 'prog' masterpieces: I Know What I Like on Selling England By The Pound, Love To Love You on Nine Feet Underground, Tua Casa Commoda on Ys... the difference between this one and those ones is that the classic prog bands were generally able to keep their identity and individuality, and also to throw out great hooks and compositions even when working within pop constraints: Dream Theater, here, at least, do not. Labrie's vocal begins well with a sort of jittering Myung bassline, but, as the chorus begins, the song moves from anything memorable to a general mess. The lyrics are uplifting in the sort of way that Finding Nemo was uplifting (terrible movie). The big crescendo is just trying far too hard (straining your voice is not the only way to evoke emotion with it... sometimes it's not even one of the ways), albeit balanced with a brief and somewhat more tasteful piano-sounding flourish. The issue with this isn't that it's pop, incongruous though it feels, but just that I get no impression of personality from it, just 4.27 which is, admittedly nice intro aside, emotionally blank and musically limp. Short, by the album's standards, and inviting the skip button.

Panic Attack continues the trend of the 'metal' songs on Octavarium being better than the pop/rock ones by a large margin, with a hell of a kicking riff interspersed with effective orchestra-lite melodies from Rudess. Energy, attack, a great vocal melody (later reprised in Octavarium with a bit of a twist). Labrie is again (I much prefer him this way) working on the darker side with a couple of neat wavering high notes, and the vocal melody is interweaved pretty cleverly with repeats of the riff. Petrucci and Portnoy are both in full force on this one, offering aggressive, mule-kick drumming and screechy guitar solos, with Rudess' selective decoration and this energy doesn't relent at all until the great end. I haven't a complaint... well, maybe the introduction of Petrucci's solo involves a couple of unneeded bars, but even with that tiny nitpick, it's a hell of a song. Best on the album.

Never Enough is another of the album's metal numbers, and with the heaviest riff, I think, though the build of the chorus leads us only to some very plodding long syllables (I can only take so much of your un-GRAAATEful wAAAYS) are emphasised agonisingly. That particularly section aside, Labrie's twisted, slightly distorted almost opera-metal vocals are among the best I've heard from him, and even his bawling long syllables seem to slip in unreasonably well. Portnoy's lyrics are pretty simple and direct, and dissecting them is naturally going to prove both unfair and unnecessary, but the chorus feels almost intently ambling by comparison with the verses. However, his drumming here is great: energy, attack, a mild element of surprise, fits neatly in with the bass parts, and not too dense for continued impact. Both Rudess and Petrucci seem to be contributing basically embellishments during the song's main chorus, they seem to twine together to create both the killer opening riff and the instrumental mid-section, but then, they're acting just right by the song, and, even if it's not musically visionary and the chorus isn't as great as it could be, it is really a very good song.

Sacrificed Sons finds itself in an awkward position. Automatically, it's the second-most-epic song on an album, which is never enviable, and it's put right against the title track, and it's clearly aiming to be something more than the metal tracks. So, in the album's context, I don't think it's really going to bring out its full potential ? guess that's the issue with making 70 minute albums rather than 40 minute ones. However, from the synthesis of Arabic-sounding prayers, a wandering violin and a set of quotations about 9/11, understandably a sensitive and relevant topic, and I credit the band for trying to engage with it. On the other hand, I don't particularly feel they engaged with it effectively but maybe I'm just too detached to really feel the human, emotional pull they're angling for.

A chilling, simple piano-voice-drums trio, with Labrie's voice on top form is augmented by a fairly harmless orchestral addition played off against swirling, brooding solos from Rudess and Petrucci. The initial melodies aren't especially creative, but the song's main attraction lies in Petrucci's astounding soloing - and all directed towards the song and its lyrical theme ? and the heady metallic mid-section, full of the sort of complex band-lines that made Metropolis pt. 1 such a classic. All, in all, were this the album's ending, I'd call it an almost unqualified success, as it is, the denouement before the album's intended piece de resistance doesn't really suit it, but still, a minor classic in the band's repertoire, and the best playing I've yet heard from the very talented Petrucci.

The centrepiece and twenty-four minute epic Octavarium is obviously the album's making-or-breaking, whether it'll be an occasional listen or a regular visitor to the headphones or CD-player. I personally can understand the accolades it receives on one level ? Dream Theater are a talented bunch of musicians, and they're producing an enormous piece jammed full of information and references in a strictly progressive rock track. I guess it's just not an idea that appeals to me, and the silly five/eight/cycles thing appears to gain any interest accidentally as much as by design ? OK, the notion of infinite reincarnation as a trap is interesting, but I'm not convinced with all the eight-octave-that's-a-cycle thing going on, and five-that's-like-the-black-notes-man. As for the reference soup in pt. III: well, I can't blame them for using them: who doesn't , but just slamming references down rather than using them to establish a point or something of the kind is essentially messy rather than insightful. Still, musically, it's not a bad thing, and addressing that:

So, the first four minutes or so are a twisted welding of Bijou and the introduction of Shine On You Crazy Diamond ? Petrucci's more than up to the task, not so convinced that Rudess' keys have the emotional grip that Wright never relinquished. After this and admittedly a very pretty flute part, a content guitar (any resemblance to Cadence and Cascade is probably an imagination on my part), a good Labrie vocal and the occasional reinforcing piano note. Portnoy's arriving rattle adds a slight, building depth, though the transition of 'I thought what I could tell' unfortunately sees Labrie straining to create effect. I find myself at about nine minutes in by now, with a cool bass groove, less cool lyrics, some neat fills by Portnoy and three minutes later, I'm still in much the same mood... it's not so much that the song's not good, but just that it's making no continued impression on me. I phase out and find myself waking up occasionally to check where I am by the lyrics.

A very neat synth solo ? according to the site I've got up, cribbed, but still, it's well-played ? is my next point of actual contact with the music, and after sitting through it and wondering just what it's meant to add to the piece before settling down to plain enjoy it. Now, Full Circle, part III, is a dilemma for me. As mentioned, I think the lyrics are a horrendous mess, but Labrie is on top form and the riff they've pulled out is really strong, and the descent into a sort of collective madness at around 16.00 is great, with what sounds like a brief reference to Metropolis pt. 1, or, at least, the same sort of complex fast-paced, high-energy progressive metal. Head-spinning assaults from the bass and guitar and synthesiser counterpointed with a big range of keyboards, solid ten-second references. I find myself strangely able to completely ignore the lyrics of the next section and carry my full enjoyment of the song across Labrie's odd, but effective, vocal stylings and the full yowling post-ordial swirl of the band. Razor's Edge, though itself somewhat unremarkable, does a good job of working out the tension and energy spilling over from the previous two sections. Some more Brian May-ish guitar-work takes us on our instrumental ride out with a complementary, if brief, appearance by the orchestra.

Well, left in the aftermath with one chilling low piano note, what do I think of Octavarium? Good question... my description's been pretty brief given the length ? and I've been trying to give impressions rather than a list you yourself can hear if you pick up the album. Still, it's an enjoyable progressive rock track, with some of Dream Theater's most focussed and impressive music yet, and yet it's a conceptual mess ? pritt-sticking a hundred influences together with little other than a lot of instrumental talent to do it. From an intellectual, puzzle-solver and poet, standpoint, I think it's decidedly lightweight, from an emotional standpoint, it almost pulls off the huge finale thing it was going for. And from about the 11.00 or 12.00 mark it never really lost my attention. Unfortunately, this isn't really a case where something less than absolute success can be enough, the album's impact clearly depends on this suite to unify it from a smorgasboard (I wouldn't recommend the cheese) of harmless pop/rock and artistically-leaning metal numbers, and for me, this one isn't good enough to do that.

So, all in all, I think Dream Theater somewhat overreached themselves by a sheer effort to be artistic here, instead ending with a jumble of circumstantial or arranged fives and eights and a couple of whole-album links that really are a bit too light to justify the effort put into them. Additionally, the enormous centrepiece supposedly unifying this is good, but just not good enough or intellectually convincing enough to iron out so many kinks. However, this artistic misfire actually has little effect on the enjoyment of the album proper and, all in all, we're left with some very good songs, in fact, some of DT's best, especially Never Enough, These Walls and Sacrificed Sons, and I think the band's overall sound benefits a bit from Rudess being a little less and Myung a little more noticeable (worth using a good set of headphones for this one ? really enjoyed the production). All in all, a pleasant, fairly memorable effort, and worth a few listens even if you're not the band's biggest fan, even if the whole effect doesn't really pull together and I Walk Beside You is a real monstrosity. Three deserved stars from me.

Rating: Three Stars, 10/15... if you want an introduction to the band, I'd say Images And Words (a sketchy 11/15) would be a better choice than this, and Awake a better album than either of them. Favourite Track: Panic Attack


For the record, this is the fifth Dream Theater album I've heard, and the fourth I've listened to enough times to get a good impression (about four or five 'complete' listens, and a fair few repeats of the various songs depending on inclination and challenge). However, given I'm reviewing this one based on the excellent Spotify, I find myself without the negative time between the tracks, so be aware that I'm missing about two minutes of the album's incidental music. Additionally, this review has hit, at the moment of completion, 2917 words... long reviews, I'm afraid, result from my style ? it wasn't just that I really hated Scenes From A Memory Metropolis. Oh, and I forgot: a mention for Myung's bass solo in Octavarium. Always good to hear a bass solo.

Edit: Cut to two as I'm moving to generally harsher ratings (not just because I'm having a go at Dream Theater... whose latest wasn't terrible, btw), I felt that maybe the derivative nature of the album works against it and there are noticeable patches of patchiness in among the neatness (I also figure that if I can't remember what happened in what I called the best song on the album, it probably isn't the best song on the album... heh).

Review by AtomicCrimsonRush
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars Review # 469

Following the very metal heavy sounds of Train of Thought, Dream Theater opened up their veritable can of prog worms to produce a fan pleaser with heaps of prog elements including the multi movement suite epic tacked on for good measure - result a very accessible and highly revered album.

The musicianship is absolutely brilliant. Rudess and Myung shine on this album as they play some intricate passages that far surpass earlier work. Portnoy is great on drums as usual and I am particularly impresssed with the vocal performance of LaBrie who is at his best on each track. The effort is excellent. Interesting to note that Petrucci does not launch into complex lengthy guitar solos, the band are really working together as a unified organised unit.

It begins with the riff heavy Portnoy penned The Root of all Evil, beginning with a soft piano that builds to a fortissimo of keyboards and bass.

The Answer Lies Within is a quiet ballad that is melodic and ambient.

These Walls blends symphonic prog with heavy guitar effectively. The wall of sound of synths is wonderful.

I Walk Beside You is radio friendly and the most accessible on the album, though not necessarily a great track, it is at least tolerable.

Panic Attack features a good bassline showcasing Myung's prowess and the track is one of the highlights.

Never Enough features prog riffs and very competent keyboards.

One of the best tracks is Sacrificed Sons which begins with the 9/11 report and therefore clearly a tribute to the disaster that changed the world. Everything about this is great especially LaBrie's emotional performance.

I loved most of all the epic that clocks in at 24 minutes, Octavarium. Live on 'Score', this is a treasure with an amusing animated clip to complement it. The 'Shine On' Pink Floyd intro is marvellous showcasing Rudess' continuum keyboard gadget, as seen on 'Score' DVD and this continues for quite some time before the guitars chime in, acoustic, slide and fuzzed distortion. A very melancholy ambience is created.

The prog references are interlaced in the lyrics as seen here:

III. Full Circle Sailing on the seven seize the day tripper Diem's ready Jack the Ripper Owen Wilson Phillips and my Supper's ready Lucy in the Sky with diamond Dave's not here I come to save the Day for Nightmare Cinema show me the way to get back home Again

Flying Off the Hand With careful with That axe Eugene Gene the dance machine messiah Light my Fire gabba, gabba Hey hey my my Generations home again

It builds up to a crunching heavy riff and La Brie screaming 'Trapped in this Octavarium'!

It finishes the album on a high note and you know you have heard one of the best DT tracks in their history. The live version is as accomplished as this studio version, in some ways even better. Conclusion ? this is one of the best DTs and well worth grabbing at your earliest opportunity.

Review by Evolver
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams
4 stars I must admit that this is a better than average Dream Theater disk. While it does have the obligatory schmaltzy Journey-like ballad ("The Answer Lies Within"), and a couple of boring, AOR sounding tunes ("These Walls" and "I Walk Beside You"), the rest of the album is very good, and the title track is actually great.

Although Mike Portnoy tries his best to ruin songs like "Panic Attack" by playing incessantly and maniacally over everything, including what might be a fantastic keyboard solo if we could hear it, the album has quite a bit of high energy interesting prog metal.

"Octavarium" itself is a twenty four minute symphonic prog opus, which starts out like Pink Floyd, and builds to a prog metal frenzy. Good enough to earn a place on my MP3 player.

Review by jampa17
5 stars I've noticed I had not review this album yet... My mistake...!!!

I want to add something usefull to the mix of reviews, so I will start with a worry: why DT tend to make that amount of criticism...??? possitive or negative, but at the end DT seem to be a band to love or hate, but nothing in between... I feel that some progheads still refuse to admit metal is a good part of prog and still try to let down THE icon band of prog metal... but it is ok... Prog rock is still alive on the mainstream notion because of Dream Theater success...

In Octavarium DT brings a lot of different inlfuences that build a very moody album, the first half oriented into a more "pop" routes while the second part is heavily focus on prog-metal but with more "futuristic" sound... I've heard that they stole songs of Muse and U2 in this album, and thats of course, again a liar from the DT haters... everbody has their influences and DT has never denied theirs, so, if you like U2 o Muse, well, hear the songs and decided if those are good or bad but not come with exagerated statements... please...

This album is Dream Theater leaving their 80's sound behind and bringing a complete fresh sound of the new millenia... and that's it... a little more electronic noises and ambients, a wonderful quality of sound, good lyrics and less solos and "showing off" that seems to put many people nervious... So I find it very interesting cause it's very untypical on them -there are songs without solos at all!!!!!- and Octavarium is one of the most impressive songs I've ever heard... so, I feel this album is great... What I've always respect from these guys is trying not to do what is expected but what they like... and this is surely one of their most solid albums... maybe not at the Images and Words standards but quite ok...!!!

Review by Rune2000
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars My introduction to Octavarium occurred when I saw Dream Theater perform at Sweden Rock Festival 2005 where they played a few new songs starting with the concert opener The Root Of All Evil. At the time I didn't know much about the new album but heard from a friend that the band would have one hour signing session a few hours after the gig. Needless to say, I went there.

The line to the room where the signing took place was huge and at the entrance there was a counter where they were selling Octavarium. Unlike some of my friends who weren't too happy about purchasing another copy of the new album when they already had the album pre-ordered, note that this signing took place just a day after the official release date, I was pretty lucky since I got to buy the new album, have it signed by all the band members and received an opportunity to have a quick chat with them. I was trying to prepare the perfect words to say for the occasion, but when it finally came to the moment I simply uttered a few words about how I loved their music and that I was looking forward to seeing them perform in Stockholm just a few month later.

Once I finally came back home from the festival with my brand new signed copy of Octavarium I literally didn't waste any time and put the CD in my record player. What I heard was definitely the same Dream Theater that I came to love on Scenes From A Memory but now there was a feeling of uncertainty coming from the music that I never noticed before. My guess is that Dream Theater basically reached their peak over the course of the previous three albums and began to search for a new direction with the release of Octavarium. Hence it did feel a bit like a letdown, but it would have been unfair for me to expect these guys to do the same thing album after album, progress is never a bad thing even if you have a good thing going!

I'm actually quite content with some of the new approaches that Dream Theater undertook with songs like Never Enough and Panic Attack, plus there are of course the classic performances like Sacrificed Sons and the 24 minute title track that should make any fan quite content with this album. Yes, there are a some lesser moments at the beginning of the album, a reoccurring trend that will continue on the next few releases, but the overall product is still the same great band that we all love and support.

Even if Octavarium was a step forward for the band, it was definitely a shaky such and Dream Theater tried to spread out the risk by making many different types of songs which would hopefully appeal to all the different fan demographics. At the end of the day it's still all about what style a particular fan enjoys the most. Since I like the heaviness in Dream Theater's sound, this album still gets a shaky excellent addition-recommendation on my part.

***** star songs: The Root Of All Evil (8:07) Never Enough (6:33)

**** star songs: The Answer Lies Within (5:26) Panic Attack (7:16) Sacrificed Sons (10:42) Octavarium (24:00)

*** star songs: These Walls (6:59) I Walk Beside You (4:29)

Review by EatThatPhonebook
3 stars Dream Theater's eight studio album is a big surprise. After the great "6 Degrees Of Inner Turbulence", where the band seemed to have reached a new type of sound, and "Train Of Thought", where the sound is even more diverse but a little less successful, Dream Theater return with an outstanding album. I must say, I really didn't expect it to be this good.

The style is the typical 00' DT sound: heavy guitars, virtuous keyboards, fast rhythms, nice catchy melodies and choruses: the same characteristics as their previous album, Train Of Thought, although "Octavarium" is much more original, creative, and fun to listen to.

"The Root Of All Evil" has now become one of my favorite DT songs. Catchy riff, great chorus, and a repetition of the chorus of the song "This Dying Soul", from their previous album, even though the lyrics are different. Fantastic, one of the best of the album.

"The Answer Lies Within" isn't as nice as the previous track, but it still has it's moments. It's mostly a ballad, with a nice melody, but the chorus doesn't seem to be at the same level as the verse. It would have been a nicer song otherwise.

"These Walls" is a great, heavy song, with a nice verse, chorus, nice everything. Mike Portnoy does a brilliant performance for this song, in my opinion.

"I Walk Beside You" is another really good song, kind of a weird verse, but a lovely chorus, very catchy and moving. Even the pre chorus has something special. But my favorite part is after the second chorus, where all the band joins for the backing vocals, and the melody is fantastic. Excellent.

"Panic Attack" is maybe the most technical and heavy song of the album. Personally It isn't one of my favorites, but there are some great passages. The verse is OK, the chorus is better but not as catchy as others. A little overrated song.

"Never Enough" has an awesome intro, but everything seems to go downhill from there. The verse is a little irritating, the chorus as well. The only thing that saves this song is the intro, which is also repeated after each chorus.

"Sacrificed Sons" is the second longest song of the album. The intro is just some different people, one of them sounds like Portnoy, talking about different stuff, but shortly after the song starts, with a pretty nice verse. The chorus, which arrives after a few minutes, is great, and really puts the song onto a new higher level. From there, the song is a little more brightened up. A fabulous, fast part arrives after the chorus. Very catchy. A short keyboard solo follows, then a guitar one. The melody then get's slower, then again fast. Then Labrie starts singing again, and it goes on until the end. A great song, one of the best of the album.

"Octavarium" can easily be the best Dream Theater song. It starts with a very Pink Floydish atmosphere: a slow, atmospheric keyboard, accompanied by an excellent Gilmour like guitar. The mood is quite mysterious, making it most definitely a progressive rock song, more than metal. Ahead, the mood gets more epic sounding (think Lord Of The Rings), even though the atmosphere is the same. All the band comes in in about 4'00'', immediately followed by a beautiful acoustic guitar part, accompanied with a flute, instrument that I've never heard in a DT song. Soon Labrie starts singing, and the music sounds more like a ballad now. There is an increasing, climax, until the part that seems to be the chorus arrives. And what a chorus, one of those choruses that makes you understand that it's just a start of an epic journey. Then a new verse comes, with a very crunchy bass riff, and an awesome rhythm section. A new chorus arrives, but it isn't as good as the first one. The verse is repeated, and when it ends, a new part of the song starts. The keyboards give an awesome and essential contribute to this grand opening: they sound very Symphonic Proggish. Another part starts, more aggressive and quite catchy. The verse is awesome, the chorus is even better, with Portnoy's backing vocals. After this whole part, there is an awesome, mind blowing, keyboard riff/solo, soon to be alternated with guitar and bass. After this, we find a lightning fast guitar solo, possibly my favorite Petrucci solo. Another awesome keyboard part comes in, immediately alternated with a great guitar part. When the new part comes in, everything is calmer, but the atmosphere gets more tense and tense, thanks to Labrie's increasing climax of aggressiveness. Until he's yelling like never before: "Trapped Inside This Octavarium". The part closes and a new part, which has the same melody as the one that was presented earlier, around the first six minutes, starts. A slower guitar solo is followed. Around 23'00'', the grand finale arrives. And the song ends, as well as this terrific album.

There are some truly great moments here, and I say to give this album a try.

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars 547 ratings already ? Short, experimental review then:

5(-) ...

why ? Well, from these 73 minutes, I can think of about 2/3 of it as top class (title song, The Root of All Evil, Panic Attack, Sacrified Sons). Why Octavarium is a great song is without doubts I suppose. Those who doubt won't be convinced so easily, so I'm not even trying (yep, you hear well). Great song that has everything, long synth intro (lengthened of about 250% on Score tour) and slowly graduated for whole song's length. Have you ever heard something like that ? Very rarely, if something like that exists. Yep, there are some rip-offs / homages (I've read the analysis of this song, it's interesting piece of work and from it, I realized many things which made me love this song much more). Also, equally charming is its story. Why not, I like these. A little bit of mystery, metaphors, philosophy or maybe social problems ? Put it all together. What I instantly noticed is that how Myung's bass works here. I'm glad because this is one of few bands where bass lines are clear to be heard. So, let's back to the song. Pop-cultural reference section is unique, as with a lot of things in this "song" (not your normal kind of song). Climax of Octavarium works perfectly, with every bombastic and pompous moment being turned on. I like that, I appreciate that and what's most important is that I think that this is the way I will rate it highly. This is top by my opinion.

Some will disagree though.

So even this song is of about 1/3 of this album, its presence is like about 2/3. Of course, it's the main reason why people will (probably) listen this album. The rest 1/3 songs I haven't mentioned are good, but it takes time to adjust for them. But this applies to previous ones as well.

Yet I still don't know what to think about I Walk Beside You. After reading FishyMonkey's remark about U2 similarity, I can't stop thinking about it and laughing to how true it is. Weird.

Review by Flucktrot
3 stars I'm going to be bluntly honest: this review is driven by one song, and one song only.

...and no, that one song is not Panic Attack!

Someone (I forget who) on ProgArchives referred to Octavarium as a museum of prog, and I think that is a wonderful description. I simply love this piece, from the spacey intro to the epic finale, and everything in between. Dream Theater has tapped into a common prog epic formula--one which, when done tastefully, houses some of my favorite musical moments of all time--and filled in the blanks about as well as any set of musicians ever have.

This of course is what turns many people off to the song. If you're always out for something uniquely creative and original, then Octavarium may seem stale and cliche. On the other hand, if you like the standard prog epic formula and rarely tire of creative and earnest imitations thereof, then Octavarium takes its place alongside the classics. And if you can't put it up with Supper's Ready, we can at least place it with some of the best metal and neo-prog epics (i.e., The Great Nothing, Milliontown, Stardust We Are, etc.).

Octavarium has it all: some tasteful flute, some nice (and audible!) bass from Myung, a few time changes, some creative and playful lyrics from LaBrie, a killer synth solo from Rudess, plenty of standard DT keyboard/guitar unison riffing, and, of course, the cathartic climax and guitar solo. Some will accuse me of sacrilege, but I put this solo up there with Comfortably Numb.

It's a personal preference, and I feel strongly about it, so I wanted to put it out there. Judge me not harshly, ye loyal Floydians, for verily I yet remain one of you still!

As for the non-title-track songs? Well, we've all heard the standard DT crunching before, as well as the "classic"--to put a positive spin on it--LaBrie/LaBrie overdubbed harmonies, and there's little to hold my interest (although Sacrificed Sons has admittedly grown on me just a bit over the years).

So, three stars for an average album, but five thumbs-up (and possibly any more thumbs I might have at my disposal on a given day) for the title track, today's featured exhibit in the museum of prog.

Review by Andy Webb
4 stars Never enough

I have stated countless times before that Dream Theater is my favorite band of all time. It may seem cliche, but I can't help it; they're great. This album is in the middle of a slouch period for the band, however. After their wonderful masterpiece Scenes from a Memory, the band slowly declined with less and less creative music. They still retained their wonderfully progressive and dynamic music, however, which is great. The band, although leaning towards much more popularly accessible melodies, have still retained a wonderful sense of progression and melodic grace. And of course, the massive title track is easily one of my favorite Dream Theater songs of all time, and a fantastic display of the band's technical, compositional, and progressive skill.

At this point the majority of the music appearing on this album seems like your generic progressive metal, but in reality the band has crafted some truly spectacular, melodically dense music. While some (most notably I Walk Beside You) have some obviously popularly leaning melodies, the music is still progressive and very much good. The band crafts some really cool stuff on this album, despite being pretty cliche.

However, this album is really made by the title track. The massive, 24 minute giant is truly the quintessential Dream Theater track: long, dynamic, inclusive of everything good about progressive music, some interesting (but not fantastic) lyrics, and an overall truly incredible vibe.

Overall, this is in no way Dream Theater's best work. However, this album is still indicative of a band who is willing to grow with the music industry while at the same time sticking to the roots that got them where they are. The album has pockets of genius, with an incredibly creative lose musical concept, some truly creative musical moments, and an overall inviting atmosphere. In the end, this is certainly a good Dream Theater release, and continued the band along the beaten path of progressive metal. 4 stars.

Review by Wicket
5 stars Quite the contrary to the heavy "Train Of Thought" but I figured on a progressive rock site that this record would be highly praised by prog fans alike.

Guess I was wrong. But why?

An album of a band coming off its period (so to speak) is, to no real surprise, going to be coming downhill in a softer, more sophisticated fashion. It's a bit unusual to hear that off "The Root Of All Evil", which opens on Rudess' low F chord left off on "In The Name Of God". Coincidence. It's part 3 in Mike Portnoy's Twelve-Step Suite, the shortest and probably the most accessible of the five tracks, which reall opens up the album in usual fashion. It segues into a nice bolas in "The Answer Lies Within". Coupled with a wonderful prog track in 'These Walls" and the pop rock wannabe "I Walk Beside You" makes this one of my favorite sequences in all of prog. The quality, the composition. This is far different from most DT albums ever made.

The second half starts with a blistering tune in "Panic Attack" followed by it's brother, "Never Enough". These are two particularly heavy tracks that follow the DT blueprint for prog metal success (whatever that may be). It only gets better with the gripping "Sacrificed Sons" (which contains the most epic ending ever conceived in metal history) and finishing with the incredible epic of "Octavarium".

While some people compare it as a failed "Six Degrees, Pt. 2", others can't compare the two because they can't tell which direction the band was taking with this album. I, however, believes this disc goes in a class of it's own. "Six Degrees" was the ultimate prog metal album at the time, based around the title track and a fascinating concept (the entire disc was very medical/disease related). "Octavarium" goes straight home. This is more of an emotional, gripping album. It tells of stories even average people like us can relate to. While I don't think this disc is absolutely as groundbreaking as "Six Degrees", "Octavarium" is another Dream Theater album that must be heard for fans of prog metal.

Review by b_olariu
3 stars Octavarium from 2005 finds Dream Theater in crisis of great ideas and memorable arrangements, at least for my ears. Anything from this album is mediocre at best, not bad, but to damn usual. If there were not the last epic pieces the title one, the album was a total failure. Is not enough to have great musicianship is very important that those musicians can offer intresting, memorable pieces where the listner can be hooked. This is not the case with this album, even has some good passages where Petrucci delivers some great guitar pieces like These Walls or I walk beside you are totaly unintresting and boring as hell, nothing is going one, only noodlings. I'm not a big fan of the band but I do appreciate their works over the years, Images and words are by far the best album and most original from them all, with Octavarium Dream Theater falls in the category of usual bands, nothing is groundbreaking here or inventive and is far from the peak of thir career the '90s. As I said the last tune Ocatavarium save the album,is more then ok piece, in places almost doesn't sound as a prog metal piece at all, a combination of Pink Floyd and Mike Oldfiled for the space intro with some symphonic prog keyboards added in the middle of the piece and the track ends quite good, one of the better DT pieces and by far the best from the album. After Scene from a memory they become heavier more and more, a thing that I'm not so keen about. 3 stars is best I can give a forgetable DT album, even not bad but totaly lacks in great and inventive passages as the albums from the '90s.I don't rank this album as one of the best DT releases even is not bad overall.
Review by Kempokid
2 stars Dream Theater are a band that are in a constant state of inconsistency, the changes in sound that they try often falling flat, and for every landmark album in their discography, you'll usually find a dud not too far ahead of behind. Unfortunately, they also have a similar problems with the consistency of songs within many of their albums, although often to a lesser extent. With this said, I feel as if Octavarium is the album to epitomise these issues, despite having some of the band's best work within it. The issue of an extremely clinical, emotionless feel within every element of it further exacerbates these issues by frequently derailing concepts through the band's infamous tendency to drag out a solo to its absolute limit, all without adding anything interesting to it, ultimately making this album a very mixed listening experience.

As seems to be quite common whenever I begin going into detail about why I don't like an album in my opening paragraph, the opening song here manages to avoid the majority of the issues I've just mentioned, and easily be one of the album's greatest tracks. As is standard with any part of the 12 step suite, The Root Of All Evil goes for a far more oppressive, dark tone to most of the band's work, complete with an extremely solid riff and a powerful feeling of helplessness. I love how the song is able to nicely blend aspects of The Glass Prison and This Dying Soul without taking away from its own individual identity, creating an extremely good song that shows that Dream Theater can definitely make songs full of power and emotion when they put their minds to it, even if the guitar solo wasn't really needed here, kinda doesn't properly fit in and takes away from the tone of the song, but at least it's reasonable in length, so it doesn't really bother me. The next worthwhile song to any degree is These Walls, although it's not very good regardless. This song is just straight up goofy in basically all the worst ways, with the overdramatic vocal performance by James being especially hard to stomach, especially since the vocal melody wouldn't sound good even with a more subdued vocalist. The instrumentation in general manages to be quite good however, nothing too flashy or long winded, which genuinely benefits the track immensely, as it doesn't keep trying to distract you from the core elements of the song, but genuinely works as a nice complement to the core of the song, shame that that aspect of it isn't anything special.

Panic Attack is the other song that I feel genuinely has some merit to it, outside the obvious song, as it attempts to establish a compellingly claustrophobic, frantic atmosphere that goes all out on the heavier side of the band that occasionally rears its head. First things first, that intro is absolutely amazing, for once, you can actually briefly hear the bass, before it's buried under the guitar. While the transition to the chorus is a bit forced, it overall works quite well and perpetuates the desperation that the track revels in. The constant changing of the vocal melody also works extremely well here, providing some freshness throughout, even if the chorus is frankly tedious after a single listen. Where this song fails is having Petrucci decide that he ought to play another solo which consists of more or less nothing but shredding over some downright awful riffs, and then once it seems as if the song's about to jump back into the main meat of the song, it just carries on, twice. This completely derails the tension that was building up within the song, substituting It with pointless wankery that goes on far too long and contributes nothing.

The second track is really what perfectly demonstrates the flaws in this album, because my god, The Answer Lies Within, just like most Dream Theater ballads, just straight up sucks, same with I Walk Beside You. These both are absolutely nothing other than saccharine drivel that are painful to listen to at the best of times, and if you're in the wrong mood, then these become downright frustrating to listen to. While Never Enough isn't too bad, it's hard to ignore the extreme influence from Muse's Stockholm Syndrome, especially the main riff. Now, I know that things like the chorus are different from it, but frankly, this is one of the weakest in the album, and definitely doesn't help a song that was already bordering on mediocre. Sacrificed Sons is able to be described with the sentence 'Hey, remember when DT turned a heartfelt ballad about 9/11 into an absolute wankfest?'. In actuality, this is a case where I really enjoy a ballad by Dream Theater, the other prominent example being Space Dye Vest. What I like about it is how it sounds almost apocalyptic in nature, but then with sweeping orchestral instrumentation being able to create moments of beauty within, making for a truly haunting piece. And then the instrumentation took centre stage and everything was ruined.

Fortunately, the album stops itself for being more or less entirely comprised of heavily flawed tracks (Root of All Evil excepted) with the 20 minute title track that definitely redeems the album by quite a bit, as this is what I consider to be far and away the band's best song, with each section of it perfectly fitting in with one another and escalating in a way that keeps raising the tension and intensity to the point where It impresses me so much even after listening to it countless times. The first 2 sections perfectly set the song up, with a long period of ambience that escalates into an explosion of one of the most grandiose moments in music I've heard, all before settling down to set the stage with an all around mysterious tone. This breaks into a more conventional part where the highlight is easily, once again, the bass (almost as if the bass should be a more integral part to Dream Theater overall), which is groovy and just really fun on the whole, along with establishing the gradual progression of the song through holding to a very steady beat with some more bite to it, compared to the first section, which utilised acoustic guitars and flutes. It's the third section where things begin to really pick up however, now with a more chaotic sound to it as an incredibly compelling performance from Labrie steals the show as he seems to be crying out in desperation while spouting utter nonsense in the form of various music references, definitely making for an extremely fun, interesting listen. This chaos becomes far more grounded in the 4th section, as the intensity rises, background vocals subtly counting up as a spoken word part is building up over the crescendos of each and every part of the band until it absolutely explodes with some screaming, before settling back down into a more melodic, beautiful way to end what is the greatest song Dream Theater have written.

While the album does extremely well to ensure that the listener will end the album thinking fondly, due to how amazing this final track is, it still doesn't change the fact that 6 tracks on this 8 track album are heavily flawed or just outright bad. Almost every song could have benefitted from either just not existing in the case of the couple of egregiously bad ballads, or not letting the sterile, bland guitar solos take up any time at all, because they almost all take away from the songs, rather than adding anything meaningful, since they often just devolve into shredding. What could have been something great ended up being marred by just how many aspects of it were as botched as they were here, which is a shame, considering how good the good stuff is.

Best tracks: The Root of All Evil, Octavarium

Weakest tracks: The Answer Lies Within, I Walk Beside You, Never Enough, Sacrificed Sons

Verdict: A heavily flawed album with traits of pure greatness found throughout. If the band were just able to comprehend restraint to any degree, this could have easily been amazing, since it's constantly this unbearable need to stretch out almost every song out with bland instrumentation that completely kills the album in a lot of respects, to the point where half of it being good just doesn't excuse how poorly composed most of this is. This is an album with a couple of great songs on it, but it's far from a good album.

Review by Warthur
5 stars After an album which saw their "prog" side cranked up to 11 (Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence) and one which saw them give more prominence to their metal side (Train of Thought), Dream Theater used Octavarium to slam the two halves together and recombine them in a way which feels simultaneously familiar and different.

Take, for instance, opening track The Root of All Evil - sure, you've got all the band members present and correct and doing more or less what they do best, but there's a different air to it. James LaBrie's vocal performance isn't as up- front and bombastic as we might expect for such an aggressive track - instead he's this sort of elusive presence lurking in the depths, like a transmission from somewhere far away and more than a little malevolent.

Then from the murk comes clarity, in the form of moving ballad The Answer Lies Within - the sort of material which could very easily cross the line into being cheesy, were not not clearly heartfelt. Again, LaBrie deserves applause here - from the murk of Root of All Evil he suddenly steps forward into a spotlight of crystal-clear clarity, and he absolutely nails it.

The song benefits from the sensitive addition of a string quartet, and isn't the only time on the album the band bring on some guests - the last 35 minutes or so of the album (accounting for a bit under half the running time) is performed alongside an orchestra, who add a classical touch to the concluding tracks, the 10 minute Sacrificed Sons and the 24 minute epic title track of the album. The former track is a 9/11 thinkpiece, though once the news snippets at the start die down it's a general enough anti-war sentiment to rise above that; Octavarium itself is a meandering, somewhat self-indulgent/self-celebratory piece which ends up being more endearing than I'm making it sound largely through sheer chutzpah.

As well as the inclusion of the orchestra, the album is notable for a new mellowness entering Dream Theater's music - captured on tracks like The Answer Lies Within or during the verses of These Walls, it's these moments of tranquility shot through with an underlying tension which gets across the idea that these moments of peace are fragile things, always at the risk of being shattered. (In other moments, they go absolutely frantic; Panic Attack and Never Enough sound like Dream Theater doing Muse better than Muse were by this point in time.) On the whole, Octavarium finds Dream Theater continuing their stylistic evolution in magnificent form.

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Report this review (#341174) | Posted by Postulate | Thursday, December 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

5 stars It's amazing how a band can vary from a dark death metal to symphonic rock and mainstream without losing what quality.Was Dream Theater did after the criticism of the "Train of Thought" (although I loved it)-the result is "Octavarium. " Yes, this album is the weakest of them in recent times.But i ... (read more)

Report this review (#319887) | Posted by voliveira | Sunday, November 14, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars 8variums. Well, I really hate most of the songs on this album. That being said I will only review 4 songs. 1. I WALK BESIDE YOU: This is by far Dream Theaters worse song. At first I thought it was a parody but the lyrics are too cheesy to even be a joke. DT playing Coldplay like songs... ... (read more)

Report this review (#299904) | Posted by trinidadx13 | Tuesday, September 21, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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