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Dream Theater - Octavarium CD (album) cover

OCTAVARIUM

Dream Theater

 

Progressive Metal

3.67 | 1982 ratings

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sbrushfan
4 stars OK...being that my notes for this review are missing (due to a house cleaning gone terribly awry), I'm gonna have to wing it here. Bear with me. "OCTAVARIUM" has to be one of the smartest purchases I've made all year (with the exception of Anna Nalick's CD "Wreck Of The Day", but that's non-prog...lol). No song-by-song review here, because the tracks seem to melt into each other.

Good parts first: The songwriting is VERY strong. Great arrangements abound, especially in songs like "Panic Attack", "These Walls" and, the uber-maligned "I Walk Beside You". Now, is it just me, or do I hear NO U2 in this track? That "choir" everyone refers to might as well be a chorus of overdubbed keyboards. Either way, it's still a fantastic song, and no doubt, it IS commerical. But, much like with Rush, it's always nice to see such a great band getting radio time. They deserve it as much as anyone, don't they? Hell, no one turned a deaf ear to Rush's "The Spirit Of Radio", did they? The answer is...no.

ANYWAY...I digress. I happen to be amazed at the level of thought put into "Panic Attack". The opening bassline doesn't sound so much like a bassline as it does a loop of troubled thoughts. And when the full band launches into the song, it's total meltdown. The keyboard lead is really great; Rudess smokes the keys. In fact, it seems like Rudess carries the brunt of the leadwork here, as he tends to shine in most of the songs.

That brings up one of my main problems with this disc. I read reviews of prior records like "TRAIN OF THOUGHT", where Petrucci seems to have overloaded on the lead playing. God help me; I know people are gonna hate me for this, but I WANT MORE!!!!! More leadwork from Petrucci and less keyboard soloing from Rudess.

That, coupled with the quasi-poor mixing (Portnoy's muffled and the drums sound somewhat hollow, IMO) makes me bring the disc down from 5 stars to 4. Not only that, but I noticed that the chorus melody from "Medicate" seems to come up a lot. Why is that? It comes up in "The Answer Lies Within" (2:55-3:02), the last part of the title track, and several other places. IMO, it seems like DT wrote this part of the song first, and then based every other song around it. That's a bit irritating. Don't get me wrong; this is still a great disc. I'm glad I started here. Now I just have to work my way back and see what all the fuss is about. I'm sure there's a five-star album lurking around here somewhere. I just have to find it.

sbrushfan | 4/5 |

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