Octavarium [U.S. Version] CD
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Dream Theater have maintained a rare combination of stellar musicianship and unwavering passion for over a decade, selling millions of albums and filling concert venues worldwide. The band once again confirm their status as progressive hard rock's standard-bearers on their latest studio epic, Octavarium.
Prog rockers Dream Theater tallied 16 years as a band with the release of Octavarium, but in listening you're apt to suspect otherwise. As a collective they remain as tight as they were on 2003's obsessively dark Train of Thought (like all music-school outfits, they've exacted an all-for-one formula that doesn't allow a single player more than his share of swagger), but a post-hardcore edge--call it a leap into 2005--has invaded their pledge of allegiance to theatrical heavy rock. Hear it on "I Walk Beside You" and "The Answer Lies Within," both of which, at under five minutes, play like charming haikus from a band known for its epic poetry, and also on the orchestra-backed 20-plus-minute final cut, which skips around from Pink Floyd to Rush to Black Sabbath influences, stopping off every so often at a place fans of My Chemical Romance might find familiar. As with all the band's discs, guitars loom large and both doom and redemption seem no further than the next twisted verse. What's changed is Dream Theater's commitment to carrying on their reputation as underground progressive rock's classicists, and it seems well-timed. --Tammy La Gorce, All Music Guide
Top Customer Reviews
Octavarium is a different beast altogether, as is immediately apparent from the machine gun drum attack of opener The Root Of All Evil, ripped straight out of the previous album's This Dying Soul, coughed up and spat out into a killer riff that opens the album in style.
A combination of Train of Thought's ferocious riffing back through time to Images & Words via Scenes From A Memory with copious amounts of Awake and A Change of Seasons thrown in for good measure, Octavarium contains some of the band's best song writing in years. Stripped of much of the over-indulgence it is more tightly focussed and melodic, and contains some truly amazing musicianship that manages to impress whilst also being much more restrained than in recent efforts.
Portnoy's drumming, as technically brilliant as always, seems much more in touch with the feel of each song, rather than playing fancy fills every five seconds. Jordan Rudess has also reined himself in after a couple of less than convincing moments on the last two albums. The Cheese Man's vocal performance is as tight and convincing as ever, and he has some very good lyrics to sing here.
But for me the star of the show this time around is John Petrucci.Read more ›
Panic attack, is TOT notched up a couple levels on the hard metal scale and is a great track. There are a couple of good ballads, of which "I walk beside you" is very U2 like. The remaining tracks are excellent too, heavy but not overly extended with solos. In summary a great return to concise song writing (even the 24 minute epic is concise in that it doesn't have any unnecessary parts). As always the playing is great and the band really seem to be on top form.
The opening track, "The Root Of All Evil" is a hardrocker that could have been on TOT. In fact, there is a 15 second insert of "This Dying Soul" in the middle of the song. The second track, "The Answer Lies Within" is to me a less impressive soft breather (with - sorry to say this - quite cliched lyrics). Not really my cup of tea, but still okay. "These Walls" with its spacious sounds during the verse and melodic chorus over metallic guitar sounds is quite radio friendly, and after hearing the U2-like "I Walk Beside You" the progrock enthusiast may wonder where this band is heading. Especially so with the lack of instrumental virtuoso passages typical of DT during tracks 2-4. But not to worry, the remaining four songs are DT at their best. The hard rockin', up-tempo "Panic Attack" immeaditely became one of my all time DT favourite songs even before it got to the awesome solo sections by Rudess and Petrucci. "Never Enough" with ethereal vocals of LaBrie climaxes with a beautiful guitar passage towards the end. The epic "Sacificed Sons" deals with the 9/11 tragedy. After starting off smoothly the song builds up to typical DT characteristics. The title track is a 24 minute epic starting off with only keyboards and guitar. This intro sounds like Pink Floyd, later like Yes. LaBrie comes in at 5+ minutes and the song enters an instrumental pre-climax at 12+ minutes. We hear - among other things - (early)Genesis/Marillion-like keyboard passages and later, after further vocal parts, Zappa-influenced instrumental exercises.Read more ›
Back from the nebulous wastelands of conflicting musical identity that were Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence and Train of Thought. Neither of these two were bad albums, per se, each having their moments of brilliance, but neither matched up to the impossibly high standards the band set for themselves with Images and Words, their second album, and Awake, the third. But Octavarium is lightyears ahead of their last few mixed-bag releases, taking the best elements of their evolution in style and musical ability, with an infusion of a new passion, and doing away with the rest: the wastefulness, the questionable songwriting, and (critics of ToT, breathe a heavy sigh) the rap. Even the album's one reference to Train of Thought, the chorus to "Dying Soul" played during "Root of All Evil", sounds better in the new context of Octavarium.
Don't get me wrong. I enjoyed both of Dream Theater's previous albums, having never been one of DT's "disenchanted fans", but they lacked the magic that was strongest with IaW and was never seen to such a degree again. Until now. Octavarium has the magic again. It is brilliant. It is a masterpiece.
A part of the problem with the previous few albums was their emphasis on the album as a whole rather than the songs, and as a result some of the songs were rather weak. Octavarium shifts this focus onto the invidual songs, tightening up the lyrics, doing away with needless instrumentation, and bringing a diversity unseen since IaW. The songs flow better internally, and thus the album flows better as a whole. A new addition is the few seconds of "soundscaping" between each track that ties them all together, an interesting concept that makes everything flow together despite unrelated subject material.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Dreamy CD with rich, full sound - Amazon do soundscapes, I'll be bound.Published 18 months ago by John Wakeley
Dream Theater's career has been rather fast paced since they're inception in the mid to late eighties; in most years since they're debut, an average of one album every two year... Read morePublished on 4 Jun. 2014 by Agma