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Dream Theater - Octavarium CD (album) cover


Dream Theater


Progressive Metal

3.66 | 1995 ratings

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Prog Reviewer
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.

Chicapah | 4/5 |


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