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Andy Phillips (Teignmouth, Devon, England)

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Octavarium [U.S. Version]
Octavarium [U.S. Version]
Price: £5.02

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Top marks for Dream Theater's eighth release, 9 Jun. 2005
After listening to Dream Theater's eighth studio album Octavarium, I came to the conclusion that it was their best since 1999's Scenes From a Memory. Having strayed into thrash metal for their last album Train of Thought, I was left yearning for the more progressive side in their music - and thankfully, here it is! The Root of All Evil nicely continues the saga that began with 2002's Glass Prison and 2003's Dying Soul and is one of the more heavy songs on the album. The Answer Lies Within sees the band delving back into ballads, an area they hadn't explored since 1997's Falling into Infinity. The addition of a string quartet (and full orchestras on Sacrificed Sons and Octavarium) further broadens the musical canvas. These Walls is a traditional Dream Theater song reminiscent of Images and Words and When Dream and Day Unite and has some skilful percussive backing from Mike Portnoy. Sometimes the album seems to be a tribute to past achievements, hence the return of the 'tick-tock' sound of Regression at the start of I Walk Beside You, a song that for some reason, reminds me of U2? Panic Attack starts with some seriously good bass work from John Myung, and the song itself is a perfect work-out for the whole band. Never Enough evokes the gothic style of Muse (a favourite band of mine), and in this and the song before it, James Labrie seems to be using Matt Bellamy's singing style. Sacrificed Sons sees Labrie and Company take an unusual political stance with lyrics that obviously refer to 9/11 - perhaps a subject that is close to them - they are New Yorkers! However it is the title track, Octavarium that is the icing on the cake. An extended suite in the tradition of A Change of Seasons and Six Degrees of Inner Turbulence, the track acts as a tribute to just about every major 70's Progressive group. The introduction sounds like Pink Floyd's Shine on you Crazy Diamond, complete with steel guitar (Jordan at work?). Numerous other tributes appear in the music with a Tony Banks style keyboard solo and a passage that could come from any Emerson Lake and Palmer album. The lyrics also include references to Genesis's Supper's Ready and Cinema Show, the Beatles' Day Tripper and Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds, Pink Floyd's Careful with that axe Eugene, Yes' Machine Messiah, and the Who's My Generation. The song closes in epic style with band and orchestra at full bombastic volume and grandeur. Thus ends Dream Theater's eighth opus, a return to their progressive roots. My only reservation is that the album could have been mixed slightly better (no Kevin Shirley this time around) as sometimes the album can sound slightly muffled and lacks power in some of the heavier passages. However, this is only a minor quibble as the songs alone make this their best album of the new millennium.

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