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Dream Theater Octavarium Atlantic Records
ATL 83793
· Produced By: Dream Theater

· Running Time:

· Release Date: Out Now

· Released: WORLD

· Musical Style: Progressive Melodic Hard Rock

· Links: Dream Theater
93%
Songs: 93%
Sound: 93%
Review By: Mick Ward

I wasn't one to shy away from Train of Thought. It was about time for Dream Theater to shake things up and Train of Thought took a dramatic push toward heavy and a number of fans were left wondering what had happened. And considering Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence wasn't brilliant, a return to form and something special was quite rightly expected. But were we prepared for something as special as say Metropolis Part II? Cause that my friends, is what we have here. Another bonafide classic Dream Theater album.
Having said that mind, on a small note - if you are looking to be mentally challenged be prepared for a little disappointment. There is nothing that truly pushes the envelope here. Though not unlike previous DT albums there's nothing too difficult about Octavarium. It stands fast in the progressive genre but for the most part the force feeding of previous outings is absent.
Funnily enough the production is big but the music isn't. No one song towers over the rest of the album and as a whole the songs aren't conceptual but do travel the same road.
The Root of all Evil kicks Octavarium into a mid gear akin to New Millennium and thrives on its simplicity. There's no stop start as such but the typical change for the hell of it is definitely working well here. But check out the 5 minute mark where they guys briefly copy themselves with the 'I can feel my body shaking' music and all (from first track off Train of Thought if I remember right!?). Obviously there's good reason for this but I found it strange.
Sounds awesome but 'Answers required please!' Regardless, 8 minutes plus is over well before you know it and what a ride this tune turned out to be. Following track The Answer Lies Within kind of stinks for being so slow so soon on the album, a ballad that on one hand annoys me for that very reason whilst keeping me damn interested on the other cause to be honest these lyrics are sharp and the song is flat out good.
Track three, These Walls is smooth sailing playing with both rock and calm, its bridge very Images and Words, piano and guitar sharing the spotlight 'pending on what section you refer to. There's no meddling with time here, These Walls being strong enough to stand on its own merits much like I Walk Beside You which follows in similarly structured manner. I Walk Beside You is annoyingly pop much like U2, but at the same time wonderful. Brilliant even. DT have done this kinda thing before but perhaps not so overtly. I Walk Beside You is embarrassingly good!
Panic Attack brings back the Train of Thought approach but has one difference. It's better than anything of that album. Being the metal head I am Panic Attacks' thundering for want of a better word 'attack' was very refreshing. This is my album favorite due simply to its no holds bared approach. Everything I could want from heavy Dream Theater is here, dark nasty and fast as lightening, love the bass intro! The sheer joy of this song never fails me regardless of the mass volume of air time it's had at my home! Perfect!
Wanting to leave a few surprises, all I'll say regarding the remaining three songs is that they're mostly up to speed with the earlier part of the album, a tad slow on a few occasions and not my favorite side if I were referring to the good old days of vinyl, but still balances the album well enough. There's even a direct stab at the whole 9/11 thing which is interesting and entertaining enough considering its delicate subject matter has so many varying emotions it's sure to work for some whilst not others. Good work!
The Bottom Line
So, bold intriguing and wonderfully progressive, Octavarium is everything most of us could hope for from a Dream Theater album, not least to say this is the best Dream Theater album I think we could hope for at this point in their career! I'm curious whether Dream Theater have switched to Decaf for their beverage of choice, as less indulgence has allowed these songs more room to breathe and for me that has makes Octavarium a done deal! A somewhat subtle album that speaks volumes! 93%
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· When Dream And Day Unite
· Images And Words
· Awake
· A Change Of Seasons
· Falling Into Infinity
· Scenes From A Memory
· Six Degrees Of Inner Turbulence
· Train Of Thought
· Octavarium

Line Up:
· James LaBrie: Vocals
· John Petrucci: Guitar
· Mike Portnoy: Drums
· John Myung: Bass
· Jordan Rudess: Keyboards

Essential For Fans Of:
· Dream Theater
Track Listing
· The Root Of All Evil
· The Answer Lies Within
· These Walls*
· I Walk Beside You*
· Panic Attack*
· Never Enough
· Sacrificed Sons
· Octavarium


10/10/05: Norwegian - n@n.no
Rating: 80
I bought this album after their concert 30 of September in Oslo. After playing it for several days now I have to say that it is the best "rock" album I have heard for a very long time. The rating 80 is probably very unfair, but I personally dislike the obvious relation to other bands like Pink Floyd and Muse (even U2?). The title track is very good written; a quality that is not common in these comercial days.

08/10/05: Vince - nealschonfan@yahoo.com
Rating: 90
It took me about a week to get into Octavarium. At first I was very disapointed, but it has grown on me and I think it is in my top 3 DT's album. Of course, overall, it is smoother than Train of Thought and people who only like heavy songs might not find what they are looking for with Octavarium.

Octavarium prooves, once again, that Dream Theater is such a versatile band. To haunting ballads like The Answer Lies Within to great heavy metal songs like Panic Attack and a bit of pop with the catchy I Walk Beside You (one of their best song, could have been a great radio hit, IMO), everything sound right on this album.

Portnoy and Petrucci seems to have put their egos aside and let the other member shines. Labrie has never sounded better. Myung seems to be more creative than on the past few records since Scenes From A Memory. This may also be Rudess's best work since that same album. Portnoy's drumming is more restrain than usual, but it serves the album well. Petrucci is still one of the best versatile guitar player in the music industry.

Tight playing, great songwritting and a big sound production is just what Dream Theater should be about and Octavarium has it all!

Undoubtfully one of the best album of the year and their best since Scenes From A Memory or even Awake.

90%

07/10/05: Matt - urnote@comcast.net
Rating: 95
Is this album I&W caliber? No. Is this album SfaM caliber? No. Is this album damn good? Yes. I can't believe I Walk Beside You was given a "best track" asterisk... by far the weakest song on the album! Answer Lies Within, the other oft-criticized track from the album, is much more enjoyable. The title track is easily one of the best epics in prog history... the Continuum intro, the flute intro, Rudess's stunning Moog solo, the unison shredding, and the orchestral ending are all chill-inspiring moments that any progger worth his salt should love. Other than that, Root of All Evil, Answer Lies Within, Panic Attack, and Sacrificed Sons have proven to be the tracks with the most staying power for me in the months since I bought the album (the day it came out).

The only track that hasn't had several repeat plays is probably I Walk Beside You... it just doesn't do it for me. I think the U2/Genesis "influence" on Lifting Shadows Off A Dream (Awake) was far, far better... one of DT's best songs imo. I saw them play Panic Attack and Root of All Evil on Gigantour... they are both incredible heavy-hitters that hold up great live. I can't wait til they come through again by themselves so I can see Octavarium (the song) performed live... that is honestly my only concert goal within the next year. Great album that is very close to being on par with all of their fantastic work from the past. A full fledged return to the prog sounds of When Day and Dream Unite, Awake, and I&W is in order for the next album... I hope! I'll never forget this summer, where in a single weekend I saw my two favorite bands on back to back nights: Journey and DT. What an incredible experience. Hopefully I can relive that soon.

28/09/05: beau - bmanikoth@hotmail.com
Rating: 79
as i dream theater fan, i continue to anticipate each upcoming CD or DVD with much excitement. they are arguably the best of this genre (alive & rocking). but with each new album, i find myself missing the dream-theater-of-the-first-three albums: WD&DU, IMAGES & WORDS, and AWAKE. i miss the instrumental interplay and lyrics of KEVIN MOORE, JOHN MYUNG, JOHN PETRUCCI, & MIKE PORTNOY. i miss hearing the dynamics of the four instruments. the feelings those albums bring are fantastic, power, intelligence, and poetry. the songs are unique and inspiring. that's what music does: it inspires.

now, dream theater has become a shred fest of the guitars & keyboards with the bass and drums (sometimes) pushed back in the mix. the songs sound mediocre; with the longer ones sounding scotch-taped together with little to no flow. the passages are technically impressive, but often, they are too quirky and unpleasant to listen to. tracks #7 & #8 on OCTAVARIUM are almost meaningless. the continuum & steel lap guitar intro to #8 just drags on and on until the acoustic guitar finally enters...completely boring. just about every new song sounds synthesized. waaaaaaay too synthesized!

and what is the deal with JAMES LABRIE's christian-theme lyrics? why isn't JOHN MYUNG & JORDAN RUDESS allowed to contribute lyrics?

as incredible as JORDAN RUDESSS and JOHN PETRUCCI are on their respective instruments, i wish they would play more melody than notes. way too many damn notes!

03/09/05: W87 - w_12345@hotmail.com
Rating: 88
No question that Octavarium is a good, solid Dream Theater album. One of the best in fact. Yet for the premier progressive rock group in the world, they don't seem to be progressing very far - look through their back catalogue and find all the pre-packaged ingredients for Octavarium (maybe in a different time signature). Dream Theater, having established and mastering modern progressive rock, seem content on broadening its scope, rather than moving the genre in a new direction.
Mick Ward's breakdown of the songs are spot on, with Panic Attack being the pick of the album. Walk Beside You is fairly catchy, but don't crank it too loud lest someone hears you listening to it. I also enjoyed Sacrificed Sons, which again reminds you of Train of Thought (but better!). The obligatory epic track, 'Octavarium' reminds me of Pink Floyd for some reason at the start (by start I mean the first 8 minutes).
I was particularly impressed by Jordan Rudess in this album, mainly because of his restraint. His keyboards serve to add depth to the songs, rather than dominate. Not that there's anything wrong with dominating mind you. Jordan you absolute legend.
Any fan of progressive rock will buy Octavarium, as they should - just to see how progressive you can be without actually going anywhere.

02/09/05: Mike Singe - mikseinge@gmail.com
Rating: 52
Dream Theater are more and more becoming a commercial company, who put in less and less time in songwriting.
This album sounds like they hurriedly put in some of the best parts of previous albums, mixed together with some of the musical influences and there you go: a new DT album.

Like "Hey let's put out an album so we have an excuse for touring and overcharging on ticket prices and merchandise (30 euros for a lousy t-shirt!!!)

I hope they manage to scrap their pensions together cause it's time for retirement guys

31/08/05: Brian Heaton - briman04@yahoo.com
Rating: 80
Dream Theater: Octavarium
Atlantic Records (2005)

The members of Dream Theater have always been candid about their influences and what they are listening to. The band constantly pays homage to those influences in their writing, whether that is the art rock of Yes and Pink Floyd, the thrash metal of Megadeth and Metallica, or the pop rock of U2.

However, while commendable, the band’s leaning on both contemporary and classic artists is all too apparent on Dream Theater’s latest offering, Octavarium, and sours an otherwise well-crafted musical and artistic journey.

Songs such as “Never Enough” and “I Walk Beside You,” while enjoyable, are so reminiscent of Muse and U2, respectively, one wonders if Dream Theater shouldn’t just record cover tunes from those bands instead of writing their own songs. The lead track, “The Root of All Evil,” is a metal bombardment, continuing drummer Mike Portnoy’s creative endeavor to write songs based on all 12 steps of his alcohol addiction recovery. Although the song features very Megadeth-oriented guitar riffs, the other songs in this series of cuts (“The Glass Prison” from 2002’s Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and “This Dying Soul” from 2003’s Train of Thought) do as well, creating a nice feeling of continuity between the songs.

“These Walls,” a mid-tempo rocker, is probably the most radio-accessible song on the album, featuring a nice balance of heavy riffs, wonderful keyboards and a catchy chorus. However, again, the blatant appearance of influences detracts from the song, as guitarist John Petrucci’s solo could easily be mistaken as being performed by Neal Schon of Journey. “Panic Attack,” another full-on heavy progressive metal cut, is probably the most original-sounding track on Octavarium, with vocalist James LaBrie experimenting with some “stop and go” vocals. Unfortunately, while good, fans of Dream Theater can’t help but miss the similarity of this song to the band’s 1999 release, Scenes from a Memory.

Despite the album’s drawbacks, credit has to be given to Dream Theater for listening to the concerns of some fans. After hearing criticism about portions of their last two releases being filled with long, slapped together instrumental passages, the band made a conscious point of writing mostly (for Dream Theater anyway) compact, shorter songs. With the exception of the final two tracks, “Sacrificed Sons,” a 9-11-inspired cut that clocks in at slightly less than 11 minutes, and the 24-minute title track, every song on the album is essentially eight minutes or less – a rarity for Dream Theater.

Known as a band of virtuosos, the individual talents of each band member are showcased in every song, but are kept in a scaled-down fashion. Bassist John Myung is finally highlighted in the mix of Octavarium, and keyboardist Jordan Rudess seems to finally have found the right balance for his instrument in comparison with the rest. This allows the listener to appreciate what they are hearing, without having to sit through five-minute instrumental passages that interrupt the flow of the song.

Probably the most interesting feature about the album isn’t the music. It’s the running theme between the lyrics and the album artwork. Octavarium is not a concept album, yet there is a theme based on the numbers eight and five, and coming “full-circle.” With artwork by acclaimed artist Hugh Syme, visually and lyrically, Octavarium is a fun challenge to decipher.

Overall, Octavarium is a mixed bag. As always with Dream Theater, the songs are well written, and every individual performance is a joy to listen to for the musicianship. However, the individual songs come across as very unoriginal, which continues a disturbing trend over the past six years with this band. Ultimately, this has culminated with a feeling that we’re listening to a group that is fresh out of original musical ideas.

A fresh start is needed, and since Octavarium marks the end of Dream Theater’s contract with Atlantic Records, perhaps the band’s next effort will bring back the originality that got them signed in the first place.


- Brian Heaton – http://www.breakdownroom.net

31/08/05: Marc Wolf - mwolf@foodbuy.com
Rating: 89
Let me first say that this is a solid album.. I do feel that they have softened up the sound just a bit.. Not as hard hitting as Train of Thought or dark, Octavarium seems to be trying to garner some airplay..As alway, the musicianship is first rate.. My personal favorite is the title track. It is a classic rating with some epic Pink Floyd moments...Anyone who enjoys Dream Theatre will enjoy this album, but it is not on the level of past albums......

30/08/05: ianjohnson - ian_752@msn.com
Rating: 95
Back to their best , Sacrificed Sons & Octivarium are worth the price of addmission on their own - stunning .

30/08/05: Freddy De Keyzer - freddk100@hotmail.com
Rating: 91
The absolute MASTERS of prog/hardrock/metal are back with yet another SUPERB release !
These guys are by far the best band on the planet these days.
They are fantastic musicians and they know how to write a SONG !
The result is this stunning release !
In fact ,they should top all charts around the globe.
BUY OR DIE !!!

30/08/05: Rob Mallory - ytserob2112@gmail.com
Rating: 100
After the heavy metal crunch of Dream Theater's seventh full length studio album 'Train of Thought', the band decided to switch gears yet again, and give their hardcore fans something they've been waiting for since 1999's masterpiece 'Scenes from a Memory', an all out classic progressive album.

'Octavarium' kicks off with the final note of 'ToT' (a tradition first used on '02s 'Six Degrees...') before launching into the 3rd part of drummer Portnoy's AA Saga. One of the heavier tracks on the album "The Root of all Evil" would not be out of place on 'Train', the next track however, would be. "The Answer Lies Within" is one of two beautiful "power ballads" on '8V' (the other being "I Walk Beside You"). Perhaps the second strongest song on the album, the crunchy "Panic Attack" has Dream Theater classic written all over it. And what would a DT album be without the one song that has fans bitching, "Never Enough" is lyrically inspired by all the crap that the fans put drummer Portnoy through, and the music is somewhat reminiscient of the band Muse, two facts that have supposed Dream Theater fans in an uproar. It's a shame that the fans can't see this track for what it is, an amazing piece of music. The biggest surprise for me was the fact that vocalist James LaBrie wrote the lyrics for "Sacraficed Sons", one of the best 9/11 tribute songs I have ever heard.

Pulling out an old cliche, Dream Theater saves the best for last. Spanning the final 24 minutes of the album is the epic title track, quite possibly the greatest piece of music these amazing musicians have ever written. After a very Pink Floyd-ish intro, the song jumps all over the place, pulling in styles from Genesis, Rush, Metallica, etc. and even tossing in a bit of "Jingle Bells" for good measure. As impressive as the music is on this monster, the lyrics are incredible as well. The most impressive sections being "Full Circle" and "Intervals", both with lyrics from Portnoy. With the closing lyrics "this story ends where it begins", Dream Theater does just that, tacks the opening of the album onto the end.

It's hard to say that 'Octavarium' is Dream Theater's greatest album, what with such a large body of incredible work, but this eight full length studio album is certainly up there. So if you're in the mood for some good old fashioned progressive metal, give 'Octavarium' a spin.

One last note: Congrats to Jordan Rudess for breaking the Dream Theater keyboardist studio album streak!


for more reviews visit: www.yantz.com/ytsereviews/HomePage.php

30/08/05: Melodic Rocker - ksgandjrg@msn.com
Rating: 95
Dream Theater is without a doubt the most prolific and awe inspiring band - in my humble opinion of course. I get so tired of people who choose to criticize DT only to be - I guess - different. A person is definitely allowed to not be a fan of Dream Theater, but anyone who refuses to recognize their second to none musicianship is just being belligerent. I was a music major in college so I guess I am more apt to marvel at their musical ability as a group moreso than those people who only want to hear the 4 minute ditty that “regular” rock bands offer up. I love that stuff as much as the next person, but I love to lose myself in a song that takes my mind on a musical sojourn. I know some charge that progressive rock lacks heart and all that, but I say bah. To me Dream Theater is one of the very few prog acts to be both emotional and technical – not on every song, but within the context of any of their albums. This all being said, however, Octavarium, much like the last couple DT releases, is hit and miss when considering the aforementioned criteria.
Octavarium, like TOT and 6DoIT, doesn’t really take the mind on that musical journey I personally love. Gone are more of the musical tangents of Images and Words, Awake, or Scenes from a Memory, instead each song stays pretty much to one theme except the last two songs. Sacrificed Sons sees Dream Theater go off on a musical tangent that is reminiscent to earlier days. Octavarium, the title song, lasts a whopping 23 + minutes, the only problem is I don’t care much for the song – it’s ok, but not great. I will not do the song by song analysis, but I will comment on a couple. My favorite songs are ‘The Answer Lies Within’, ‘I Walk beside You’ and ‘These Walls’. Some complain about ‘I Walk beside You’ and for the life of me I don’t know why. Dream Theater has always included a few softer songs on each release and who cares if it resembles U2 in some way – which I don’t know if I completely agree – it is a damn fine song. The album as a whole is very different from TOT in that it is not nearly as heavy or dark.
I would like to make one last point about something that kind of bothers me. I believe someone else alluded to this, but not to the point I am going to. The problem is how Dream Theater, in somewhat of a proud way, have made it known that they sort of gather as a band and within 2 to 4 weeks write and record an album. I think it is time to go back to a MORE traditional writing style. Let songs gestate. There is no way in the short time of 2 weeks to a month that a song can truly evolve and take shape. I would like to see maybe both happen – some songs develop and others come from the cuff. Though I truly suspect this is really how it goes down now, but if not I would like to see them consider it.
Finally, I would like to use this forum to thank Dream Theater for the amazing music they have produced. Since ‘When Day and Dream Unite’ to ‘Octavarium’, I continue to marvel over it all on a daily basis and with every listen to any of your albums. There are many talented musicians and groups, but none match your perfection. I mean it from the bottom of my heart thanks and I hope you continue to make albums for at least another 20 years.

30/08/05: bas - -
Rating: 95
One of their best albums in years. The last album (ToT, which I liked) was more toward the metal side of their music, but this is progrock all the way. More melody, more songwriting, less guitar (ah, can't win them all), but definitely more PROG! This confirms why DT are still the leaders in the progrock field. Highly recommended!


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