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Dream Theater - Octavarium CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.66 | 1995 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

sleeper | 2/5 |


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